Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Countdown Continues......Mardi Gras 2.0

In preparation for Mardi Gras 2011 I dug up some memories from last year. Words cannot express our experience well enough, so here are some photos to do the job.

<---The weekend started out with alovely tour of the Abita Brewery (with a few tasty samples, who wouldn't love it).

After the tour, we went to our lovely "hotel" to check into the room and make our way to the parades. Due to the last minute impulse trip booking, we were lucky to receive such a prime room in this past orphanage turned into a bed/breakfast-ish creepy hotel. I wish I had exterior pictures for your viewing pleasure, but imagine an old scary building with a gated (and chained in) courtyard that has a slide from the second floor to the first (as a fire escape). Then picture creepy motion sensor lights that flicker (like the ones in horror movies).
You can see a lovely shot of our cozy room here. --------->
The walls were pink, the furniture was white wicker, and there was absolutely NO heat! To say the group was close this weekend is an understatement. There was a door to the adjoining room, which was home to a group of loud drunk British dudes that I had a lovely conversation with (through the door) one morning around 3am.

After checking in to our "resort" for the weekend, we hit up a
SHELL Station and packed the cooler for the parades. The reason SHELL is in all caps is because on our excursion from Abita to New Orleans, Emily and I were riding in the trunk and I kept mentioning that we should probably stop to grab some cold snacks before fighting the traffic to find parking. This idea was mentioned several times from the trunk with no response from the driver (geeze Jason!). Eventually I gave up with subtle hints,
and just screamed SHELL! Meaning that there's a Shell station on the corner and we should buy beer now. After explanation of my outburst this
made sense and we successfully secured our needed items. On to the parades!

Katherine (having grown up in NOLA) is really on her game when it comes to Mardi Gras. She is what I would consider an expert bead snatcher, but it's really so much more than that. If there are any other special trinkets thrown to the crowd, you can rest assured that KFing will emerge from the mound victorious! Literally, if Mardi Gras was an Olympic sport, KFing would win the Gold! For an added advantage, she used Jason as a ladder and approached the floats with open arms and came away with lots of festive gear!

Between her mad skills and Emily's expertise (also growing up attending Mardi Gras festivities), all of us first timers quickly caught on to the fabulous experience of Mardi Gras! Friday night was full of parades, fun parties, and of course red beans and rice. Emily's friends were excellent hosts!

On Saturday, we enjoyed more parades and good times. Em wasn't lying when she said use the bathroom when you can. Mardi Gras is one of the most unique experiences I've ever had. It's a lot like tailgaiting with the added danger of being hit in the head with beads. Some things I learned while attending Margi Gras:

1. When Em says wear comfortable shoes...DO IT!
2. Other than the rodeo, this will be the only other time in life I stand in a 10 minute long line to use a port-a-potty!
3. Look up (at all times) and be aware. If you do not do this, you will be pelted in the head with beads or some other plastic object and it will hurt. (Or stand next to KFing because she will catch anything flying through the air within a 25 ft radius)
4. Get there early! Much like tailgating, it's crucial to get to the parade route and stake out a spot (especially if you plan to stay for a while). The people next to us used a tarp to mark their territory, but failed to fill the tarp with people (so we took over!). You can't be shy, but you must be polite.
5. Parking is no fun (#1. there's tons of traffic, roads closed for parades, and one way nightmares #2. After you park, you have to walk with a full cooler) Keep it it!
6. There are tons of people (phones don't always work)....stay with your friends...always, and enjoy!

Mardi Gras 2.0 kicks off in 4 days....can't wait!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Countdown to Mardi Gras 2.0

At this time next week, I will be leaving a tour of the Abita Brewery with my friends and heading into New Orleans for a weekend of Mardi Gras parades. Last year the crew made a trip down to NOLA for the festivities and had quite a memorable time. Our "hotel" was more of a hostel with no heat and a slide for a fire escape, we attended the parades, enjoyed some parties, soaked up the culture, and survived our first Mardi Gras. Now, as our return journey approaches I find myself eager and impatient to get back down to warmer climates and close friends.

In preparation for this event, my always prepared friend Emily composed a Mardi Gras Survival Guide for the crew making the trip down. As always her travel tips are entertaining and useful. For anyone who has been to Mardi Gras before, you will appreciate her following rules/requirements of us:

3. Use the bathroom whenever it is available to you.
4. Do not pee in your pants or on the street because you will be mocked and/or end up in jail.

And a few things to know/be aware of at all times:

1. Where are my friends?
2. Where is the bathroom?
3. Where is my drink?

We've upgraded our hotel a little this year, and should have heat (though I hope in March we won't need it). If there is a fire, while there is no slide conveniently out of our window, we do have experience from our last visit to New Orleans for New Years. After that experience we are all prepared as to what items we will grab and run with.

My countdown begins now! 6 days!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What's LOVE got to do with it?

Valentine's day was this past Monday, and I must say that it was one of the best Valentine's day's I've ever had. I've never been a huge fan of Valentine's Day, because in my opinion if you're in love with someone you will show them every day instead of waiting for a hallmark holiday and a sugar high. On the flip side, if you're not in a relationship with someone, then the disturbing realization that you're alone on this couple day becomes that much more apparent. To add insult to this situation, you then have access to this extra large supply of chocolates to cope with your feelings. Gladly I did not choose the sugar high to relieve the stress and stigma of being, dare I say it "SINGLE", on this day of looooove.

Instead, I decided to spend the day with my friends (who were conveniently in the same predicament). Here's how my day went:

11am - Wake up =) Why not sleep in? I didn't have anything better to be doing because I took the day off. I had no desire to be at a sorority house accepting the deliveries of their flowers and chocolates, or worse listening to the girls not being showered with gifts.

11:30am - 2.5 mile jog. There's no better way to enjoy the absolutely PERFECT weather that the Lord blessed us with this past weekend.

1pm - Lunch with Sara and Emily at Moe's. Sara took a half day at work and came back to Auburn to hang out.

2pm - Mani/Pedi. What girl doesn't like to be pampered every now and then?

4pm - Time to hit the Gym. While Sara headed for the elliptical I joined in on the Body Pump class that was about to begin. Unfortunately we weren't sooner because all of the spots in the back had been taken. It's been since freshman year since I went to a Body Pump class and now I was front and center for everyone to see when my energy began to fade fast. Luckily the girls at JSU had encouraged me to do the Insanity workout DVDs, so Body Pump wasn't that challenging of a task, and turned out to be a great workout.

5pm - Made it home and decided on Hibachi Express for dinner. After working off all that fat, why not eat 8lbs of fried rice doused in orange sauce. SOOOO Good! While Sara, Em, and I were in the drive thru at Hibachi we realized that if we wanted to meet single guys, then this was probably a good place to do so. Think about it....who else would be going through a drive-thru on Valentine's Day? Right?!

10pm - Time to hit downtown for an entertaining display of fun, also known as Karaoke Night at Skybar. Emily, Sara, and I met up with Webb, Sullivan, Mike, and Cory and enjoyed listening to the interesting song selections of everyone in the crowd.

Around 1am we decided to head home to catch a nap before I had to catch a shuttle to the airport at 6am. This Valentine's weekend turned out to be a great break from work, and a much needed vacation with my friends. I can't wait until our next vacation, Mardi Gras, which is only 2 short weeks away now!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Staying Busy, Busy, Busy....

The month of January has come and gone, and I can't believe how fast the time has flown by (literally)! All of my travel for just the month of January consists of a combination of 8,000 miles flying and driving. So far I have spent 2011 in 6 different states: Louisiana (for New Years Eve), Indiana (for Indiana University's recruitment and then to Purdue for officer training), Illinois (for officer and advisor training), Texas (for area wide officer training), North Carolina (for a presentation), and finally to Wisconsin (for formal recruitment at Marquette). Technically, I guess you could also count Alabama since I traveled to Jacksonville State on the last day of January.

The month of February slows down for me a little, and I will only be in Alabama, Iowa, and Kansas. I am currently in Jacksonville, AL visiting JSU. The great thing about this visit is that I've worked with this chapter before this job, and I already know their Greek system and school. Another perk is that my grandparents only live 15 minutes away, so my parents were able to come down for a visit this past weekend so I could see them! During this job I seem to live in some alternate reality where all of my friends are virtual and my days and weeks don't operate on a normal schedule. It's difficult to stay in contact with everyone, but still manageable.

There's a good chance I won't know what to do with myself in April when I can actually get into a routine. The strangest part will probably be the fact that after 7 days I won't have to wake up at 3am and drag some girl out of bed so that I get to the airport in time to catch my flight, or that I actually have my own bedroom, bathroom, AND a CAR! I will be able to eat when and what I want every day of the week, and if I need more shampoo I can drive myself to get it! I will have 1-2 or no roommates instead of 18-54, and I won't have to constantly question which time zone I am in.

I have really enjoyed the experience this job has brought into my life, and cherish every new friendship that has been formed this year. I can honestly say that I have grown and gained a lot of character this year, and wouldn't be the same person without it. The other girls traveling with me, and other consultants we have met along the way, have become a great support system, and I look forward to how our relationships will change once we transition into the next phase of our lives. April 8th is my last day as an ELC, and although that is only two short months away, I still have a lot of ground to cover.