Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Orleans: Let's go for a ride, Sergeant Zulu?

What makes a trip affordable, you ask? Let's see:

1. skimp on the total nights by creating one heck of an exhaustive itinerary
2. fly in early (as in: the butt-crack of dawn),
3. fly late on your last day,
4. and finally, train yourself not to need so much food
(to put it simply, I only listed four of the most important).

I basically got...mmm...three out of the four listed above. Looking down at my stretchy pants - which I apparently no longer wear for sheer pleasure but for necessity - I'd venture you might guess that I didn't quite accomplish the last point on that list. Honestly, I was going to Louisiana - no way was I going to skimp on all the good food!

To begin, our flight was at 6:05 a.m. from SFO with a layover in Austin before finally landing in New Orleans. Chris and I, probably had had about a little over 3 hours of sleep before waking up at 3:45 am and coercing his Dad with promises of getting him "something good, we promise!", to drive us to the airport.

I'll skip the details on the flight because we mostly did a whole of snoring and drooling, with a little bit of forehead-pressed-against-window as we watched the cities below us. After an exhaustive flight we crossed our fingers and hoped that the hotel would please, please, pretty please let us check in early so we could catch some sleep before haunting - err, I mean - touring the French Quarter. Luckily, they didn't seemed the least bit irritated with our early arrival - and to my delight, I got to hear an authentic Cajun drawl from the receptionist, sweet! - and immediately crashed for a couple hours.

It took me a little while longer to sleep because honestly, the room felt like it was haunted and just a little bit eeky. Lots of heebie-jeebie feelings...With tall windows topped by a semi-circle window above, thick, heavy drapes and an old worldly feeling that gave me goosebumps on my neck, leaving me far from feeling comfortable. But I was in New Orleans! With buildings that were hundreds of years old - voted for being one of the most haunted cities in the U.S.! Wait...why the hell did I want to come here again? All this excitement coming from someone who had nightmares for weeks after watching Paranormal Activity...hmm...

After our much needed nap, Chris and I ventured out to explore the French Quarter, the oldest and most famous neighborhood in New Orleans. You know, where Mardi Gras is often celebrated along the famous street of Bourbon. Don't forget, Decatur, Royal St., and Chartres St. We explored the shops, filled with Voodoo charms and knick-knacks, colorful markets full of masks, boas, and all sorts of dried up alligator body parts souvenirs.

We stopped at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville on Decatur. To which I asked, "Who's Jimmy Buffet?" shrugging and then ordering up a mango hurricane when I found out it was happy hour. Woohoo! You'd be sad to know that we didn't order up anything on the menu that screamed New Orleans! - instead, having french fries (me!), tacos (Chris), jalapeno macaroni and cheese (definitely Chris).

Happy hour concluded and we made our way back to Jackson Square to pick up a buggy - or rather - be picked up for a buggy ride around the neighborhood. Our driver's name was Sergeant (errr - something close to Sergeant) with a middle name of Zulu. Huh...Sergeant Zulu? Or maybe the horse's name was Zulu. Anyway, he was a total hoot; taking us around, telling us some scary stories, giving us suggestions on which restaurants to visit, where not to visit at night, and all sorts of wonderful tidbits only a local can give to you.

Sergeant Zulu concluded our ride with a stop at Cafe du Monde, New Orleans original French Market coffee stand where we hoovered some very nicely fried Beignets (pronounced: Ben-yays - French donuts with an insane amount of powdered sugar) and hot chocolate. Aw man, I could kill for some right now.

Most of the evening was pretty least until we got to Bourbon St. Oh boy...

Bourbon Street is full of...well...all kinds of folks. Folks mostly looking for some crazy fun. Music rang loud in every corner, from live bands in the restaurants or out on the street, to club d.j.'s., street peddlers dressed in costumes, neon lights everywhere and loud partiers...kinda like Vegas.

I didn't realize how much like Vegas until we walked through the heart of Bourbon St. Where at one point a man in front me says, "I'm not going to a strip club where the strippers weigh more than me." Huh? Strippers? Where??

That's when I saw them. Beautiful - so as not to be mean - women, wearing...well...not much, standing outside the doors of gentleman's clubs. I had to admit that there were quite a few women nearly naked that probably shouldn't be so scantily dressed, considering - ahem - all the jiggling I saw...and I'm not talking about their chests. The clubs themselves displayed some of the most graphic nude pictures along the outside walls that made me do a whole lotta double takes - gaping as I asked, "Wow, they're umm...allowed to post those outside?"

Beads were everywhere as people wished to party like it was Mardi Gras...even though it wasn't (eye roll). Men and women walked openly with large fluted daiquiris and beer - lots and lots of beer, talking loudly and drunkenly, some dressed just downright weird. From Gothic garbs and black lipstick, trench coat and fish hat wearing desert nomads, to cowboys in hats and boots; you name it, we probably saw it.

Sure was a fun first night in NoLa!

Tell me that doesn't look haunted to you?

Neat mask, huh?

This one was nice!

Gators everywhere!

Decatur's pretty spooky at night.

Margaritaville! Happy Hour~!

Sergeant Zulu...who I get the feeling is lying about his real identity.

Carriage ride around the French Market

Move! I gotta take a pic of the horse!

Cafe du Monde

Beignets and good ol' hot chocolate

Down and around Jackson Square

Just in front of St. Charles Cathedral - totally, not scary at all......

Careful! I got me some voodoo dolls...don't want to get on my bad side..Mwahaha

What's a hand grenade, you ask...wait and see my friend...wait and see...

More to come! :) Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Orleans & A Drugged out Toot Toot

Hi Everyone!
I know it's been some time since I've posted a blog and I thought with the trip to New Orleans happening tomorrow that I would give you an update on my writing.

As a motivational tool (and many thanks to Cela for this one) I've signed up for NaNoWriMo - which is National Novel Writing Month. For the month of November, which is 30 days, the goal is to write 50,000 words and/or finish your novel. Prior to starting, I had about 18,000 words already written but after a week of Nano, I quickly added another 10,000. Reazling then, that - Holy crap, this works! - I quickly hauled ass and drugged up my muse, aptly named Toot Toot, to help me to win Nano. Yes, it's an actual contest and having reached 42,000 words yesterday, I can't tell you how amazing it feels to have gotten this far. To complete my novel, it would probably take another 40,000 but I'm trying not to view it by numbers, rather, letting the story unfold and decide the proper length for itself.

A lot of people have asked me, "how are you writing your story?", "does it just pop out of your butt and you're basically winging it?, "what kind of techniques, other than praying every night and drugging up your muse do you do?", "what do you do when your muse slaps you in face and leaves you for being such a slave driver...what then?".

Well, there are a few. I bribe my muse with McDonald's and a reprieve from the writing by playing Micky D's Monopoly - Toot Toot hopes that maybe I'll just win a million dollars and never have to harass or abuse her again. Trust me, I pray for this too. In terms of techniques, I do just enough planning and writing a flexible outline to get the main scenes plotted out and to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. For the rest, I let it unfold as I sit staring at my laptop.

This is what I love the most about writing. Some days I get lucky sitting for 6 to 8 hours in front of my laptop and poop out 6,000 words a day and some days I get about 1,000 to 2,000 combined with a whole lot of tears and shouting, "Toot Toot, you make for a sucky muse sometimes! Why can't you be reliable huh? Micky D's cost money that we haven't made yet, you know." But that's the fun and joy of writing. It surprises even me and I can't tell you how much I love it - going back, rereading and laughing at my characters, excited to see where they turn up next.

My current novel falls under the genre of Chick Literature. There's so much humor in life and especially life as a woman, combined with offbeat family members, loyal and loving friends, the sometimes difficulty we face in the romance section, and the crap the fates likes to throw at us just to bring a little spice into our lives. Although, this is obviously not a new kind of story, my goal is to make people fall in love with the main character and to watch her grow, to laugh and to cry (because they're laughing even harder) and to root for her.

For those of you who know me, I'm not particularly funny in real life (har har) because I'm actually pretty shy and awkward sometimes. It's why I love to write because I get to express a side of myself that not many people get to see everyday.

Before I continue to get carried away, I just wanted to say thanks for reading! I'm headed to New Orleans tomorrow and I can't even begin to tell you all the things I have planned because I'd just be babbling. S'okay because I'm famous for babbling but not so good for a blog where the last thing I want is for people to start thinking about what to eat for lunch or whether they should clean up their dog's poop outside...yeah...I hope to make my blog worth reading and enjoying, not making you consider that now would be a great time to pick up your dogs poop.

So, I'll write back when I can and post some pictures of NoLa and after a bit of editing, perhaps post some pieces from the novel.

Au Revoir!