The Only Semi-Appropriate Photos of Our Trip to New Orleans

I’m back from New Orleans and I’ve got 349 photos and only about 17 that are blog appropriate. That’s the way a bachelorette party should be, right?

So, in order to not incriminate the bride, here are the clips of the trip that I can share with you. And also the ones that aren’t blurry. Did you know that a daiquiri + a hurricane + fireball shots + something called a “resurrection” are not conducive to high quality iPhone pictures? Yeah, I know, shocked the hell out of me too.

2nd Line

New life goal: Someday I will be a part of a Second Line. Royal Street will shut down and I’ll dance my way right down the middle.

p.s. Thank you Kaylin for picking bridesmaids dresses that look nothing like these.

Beignets

I didn’t know what a Beignet was going in to this trip. I do now – it’s funnel cake for fancy people. One of the girls asked me if I wanted to share an order with her. I laughed in her face.

New Orleans Bachelorette PartyNew Orleans Desserts

Why order one dessert when you can order 5?! Two desserts not pictured because someone was too busy ooohing and ahhhing at the tableside flames to get a proper photo of the Bananas Foster. And yes, that is a fleur-de-lis in powdered sugar on the crème brûlée.

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True dat. Texted this one to the groom-to-be. Because I’m a good friend.New Orleans Architecture Bride in New Orleans

The beautiful bride wore a sash the entire time – day and night. Reason number 873 why I love her. Also because she’s the only one who openly uses the term YOYO with me. It’s like YOLO but it’s “you’re only young once”. Don’t even bother telling me we didn’t invent it.

New Orleans Carriage

I overheard a tour guide saying that all the carriage pulling horse looking things were actually mules. This one was particularly adorable and possible albino. I kept seeing him and loving him.

Extra fun horse fact: New Orleans Police ride them too and don’t mind one bit if drunk people on Bourbon Street pet them nicely at 3:30am. I may have been one of those people. Extra points to me for still being out at 3:30am.

New Orleans Street Music

Kaylin has fun

The bride clearly had a terrible time. Fireball was her weapon of choice and while her tambourine skills were questionable, she killed it on the dance floor.

Also…

Dear Guy who fell asleep standing up, You had this picture coming.

DG Does New Orleans

Obligatory anchor wave. I don’t think you can get in the Anchora (the sorority magazine) for being drunk fools but by God, I will try.

canthang

And if there ever was a truth in this world, I CAN NOT HANG. Girlfriend needed her afternoon naps.

Perhaps I was dreaming about my upcoming engagement, happy relationship, healthy family, and two future children (a boy and a girl). Those voodoo preistess tarot card readers sure know how to tell a girl what she wants to hear!


Filed Under: Personal

The Loneliness of Terror

I’d like to figure out how to stop being afraid of something. Do you let a spider just crawl all over you until you don’t have the heebie geebies anymore? Do you go to the top of every tall building and stay there until you can look over the edge? Do you just get on airplane after airplane until takeoff no longer makes you believe you’re about to die? I’m just saying, if someone has figured out how to actually get over a fear, I’d like to know.

Paralyzing Fear

I’ve been afraid of flying for as long as I can remember. I remember the first time I had a panic attack, age 12 and an unaccompanied minor, sitting next to my little brother who held my hand as I sobbed that we’d never see Mom again. He kept hitting the bell for the flight attendant, asking for hot tea and more napkins as my tears soaked through them. I remember looking out over the Rocky Mountains and knowing for sure that we’d be crashing into them. Luckily, it was just bad turbulence. But I don’t remember a plane ride after that without a panic attack, until I started taking medication to fly.

Facing fears isn’t brave and it doesn’t build character. It doesn’t get easier and I don’t get stronger. It’s terrifying every.single.time. It’s strange and humiliating and lonely to be terrified of something that no one else is.

I’m sure there are other people afraid on airplanes. Statistically about 40% of people have some level of anxiety about flying and about 6.5% of people have a real phobia or anxiety disorder about it. It’s just not like they have a support group right before the flight or anything so all the wimps can meet and sit together. You’re left to just look around and wonder, is anyone else as afraid as I am right now?

In the past few weeks I’ve had varying plane related nightmares. Sometimes it’s just me on a crashing airplane. Sometimes it’s me with my loved ones on a crashing airplane. Many times it’s me getting to the airport and realizing that I’ve forgotten my airplane meds (which would never ever happen) and realizing that I can’t go back and get them. Sometimes it’s just me digging through my bag searching for them, knowing that I can’t get home without them. The sheer terror in my dreams so closely resembles the panic attack I’d experience if I were awake. But what are nightmares really? Panic attacks unpredictable little brother.

I realize that I sounded a little bit like a drug addict there for a minute. I only take anti-anxiety meds to fly. That’s it. And I’m so grateful that they exist to help people like me to experience all the things I couldn’t if I was too afraid to get on an airplane. I’m sure the researcher who invented it doesn’t realize how much he or she changed my life. They may not realize they enabled me to visit my family, to have adventures with friends, and made it possible for me to experience other cultures. But they did and I’m so glad.

In the days leading up to the flight though, my crazy thoughts invade more than my dreams. I constantly hope to be on a baby filled airplane. Yes, you read that right. All the babies. Sure, put the screaming one right next to me. Because if there is a God (and remember, I’m not so convinced that there is) at least I know that isn’t the plane that’s going down. Not the one with all the precious babes on it.

My wandering mind considers every possible scenerio. Every single thing that could go wrong. I google “how long are planes built to last” and then find the average age of fleet for the airline I’m flying. I try to figure out if I’m flying a Boeing or an Airbus. For some reason I trust Boeing more. I like to fly some airlines more than others. Southwest has zero passenger fatalities. I like that, so I like them. American Airlines has money issues so I jump to the conclusion that they aren’t maintaining their airplanes (completely untrue, but still, I won’t fly them). I online check in the very second that I’m able to, as I scan the remaining seats on the plane and frantically decide which to pick. Are odd-numbered rows bad? Should I sit all the way in the back of the plane, knowing that’s where I’m most likely to survive a crash?

And then there’s the casual phone calls. Sometime in the days before my flight, I call nearly everyone I love. Just to say hi, check in, pretend to be normal. The whole time I’m wondering, what if this is the last time I talk to them? I make sure everyone knows I love them. I remind N that he can have all my money if I die but he has to take Archie to visit my parents occasionally. He laughs like I’m kidding and hugs me tight and we both know that I’m not kidding and we both wonder how or why he loves me anyway.

He drives me to the airport, I’m already hazy and relaxing as my meds kick in and I tell him I love him 47 times in 20 miles. I get there hours before I need to be. I scramble through security, always nervous that my meds are making me slow and I’m annoying other passengers. I find a cafe near my gate and get a hot chocolate. Specifically a hot chocolate and nothing else. I find the “news” store and pick up a trashy magazine. I can never remember what I read if I try to read a real book once I’ve taken my meds. Then I sit casually at the gate, flipping through the magazine and sipping my hot chocolate, like I haven’t got a care in the world.


Filed Under: Personal

How to Plan a Destination Bachelorette Party

On Thursday morning, I’ll be on a plane to New Orleans to celebrate my best friend’s bachelorette party. It’s pretty much all I can think about because I’m SO FREAKING EXCITED.

When Kaylin called me to tell me she wanted to have her bachelorette party in New Orleans and wanted me to plan it, two things came to my mind.

1. She thinks I’m her most fun friend. This might not be true but let me believe it, okay?

And 2. She trusts me to organize a lot of logistics and people. This is funny because I’ve never planned something like this before and I didn’t really trust me to do it right. But now that the itinerary is finalized, I’m so happy and maybe just a little proud of myself.

Here’s the timeline for how I got everything in order for an EPIC destination bachelorette party.

How to Plan a Destination Bachelorette Party #bachelorette #wedding #bride

3 Months Out

Send out invitations. Yes, this is super early but for a destination trip where everyone needs to buy a flight, the more heads up, the better.

Get flight information from guests as they book. I added all flight information to a Google Drive spreadsheet.

2 Months Out

Book the hotel. Take a look at Google Maps and consider what part of town you want to be in. Vegas? I’d pick something near the center of the strip. In New Orleans, I chose a hotel near Bourbon street and close to all of the activities I had in mind.

Start booking activities. We arrive on Thursday, have full days on Friday and Saturday, and all fly out Sunday. I’ve focused the activities on Friday and Saturday. I found many of the activities by googling “New Orleans bachelorette party” and getting suggestions from friends. With a large enough group (we have 7 total) it’s actually cheaper to have a private tour and there are several activities that have group pricing for events like ours.

1 Month Out

Finalize itinerary and share with group. I sent out the itinerary of what I had booked to the group along with tentative costs. Everyone should be able to have a ballpark idea of what they expect to spend in New Orleans. Additionally, I reminded the group that all costs for Kaylin are being split amongst the group. The bride won’t be paying for anything once we get there, though she did pay for her flight.

Ask for feedback and ideas. Some people may have activities in mind that they’d really like to do. I did ask this with each email but rarely got response, so I asked about more specific ideas. I asked the group if they’d be interested in getting blow outs one day. The consensus seemed to be that it wasn’t necessary and they’d rather do something more “New Orleans”. I’m glad I asked, because I would have booked them.

3 Weeks Out

Meal Reservations. Most restaurants won’t allow you to make reservations more than a month out. With the help of Yelp and Val, I found a few places I knew we’d definitely want to eat.

Buy some goodies. Bachelorette sash? Check. Clip in veil? Check. Penis paraphernalia? Check.

Put together the hangover kits. I know we’ll be needing these so I’ve put together goodie bags for the ladies. I’ll have more on these later this week.

2 Weeks Out

Call hotel to confirm reservation. Ask for adjoining rooms. Our hotel would not allow me to request that until arrival but it was worth a shot. My flight gets in first so I will request this upon arrival.

Start planning your outfits. Oh come on, you knew this was going to be on here. In one of my emails I asked the ladies to pack a little black dress which we’ll all wear one night while the bride wears white.

1 Week Out

Discuss finances with the group. So far, I’ve covered the cost for the hotel and several activities. Each girl currently has a “balance” with me. We are utilizing an app called Travefy which has made things SO much easier. For all group expenses, it allows you to add the expense and who paid for it, along with who is responsible for sharing the costs. Throughout the trip, each girl will be able to look and see what their balance is with me. At the end of the trip we are going to settle up by using Venmo or by check. If you are concerned about the financial capability of anyone in the group (i.e. you’re worried you won’t get paid back), I’d send this email out earlier.

Make a cute itinerary to print out and give to each of the girls. The one I made matches the invitations I sent out *pats herself on the back*. I’ll also send it in photo form to everyone so we can reference it throughout the trip.

1 Day Out

Start a group text. If your group is like mine, we all know each other but don’t have each others contact info. I’ve gathered everyone’s cell phone numbers and will start a group text the day before so that we can keep each other up to date on flights and arrival, as well as make it easy to find someone to call if we get separated.

So that’s what we’ve got so far. Later this week I’ll be sharing the Bachelorette Hangover Kits and post-trip, I’ll share a full recap. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for the bride!

Have you planned a bachelorette party? Have I left anything off this list? Do tell!


Filed Under: Life

3 Blogging Lessons from 3 Years in a Restaurant

Hi East & readers! My name is Kiersten, and usually you can find my over at She is Fierce, where I like to write about blogging, current events, feminism, and even some creative writing among other things.  Today though, Nadine was nice enough to let me come hang out with you guys and talk about what waitressing throughout college has taught me about blogging.

photo from here

Throughout college – and even now that I have a “real” job in my field – I spent my weekend nights serving cocktails and Bangers and Mash to hundreds of different people.  One could argue the point that all this got me was a deep-seated hatred for kilts and enough money to pay the bills, but I’d say I learned so much more than that.  There have been a million lessons buried underneath the tables to be bussed and $14.00-after-taxes-paychecks, and some of those lessons have helped me out in the blogging world.

 1 // It’s not as easy as it looks

As a waitress, I had a lot of people insinuate that what I was doing was easy because it was not a job which required a college education.  “Why should I tip you,” they would ask, incredulous. “All you do is bring me my food.”  Let me just be the one to tell you – it is so much more than that, and so is blogging.  When I started my first blog, a joint effort with my high-school best friend five years ago, I thought it would be as easy as write when I feel like it, hit the publish button, and be done with it.

Five years later, and I can tell you that writing it and hitting post is a lot more than 1-2-3, and after that, there’s plenty more work like sponsorships, affiliate programs, social media, e-mails, and much much more.

2 // Some people just don’t want to be happy

At least not with what you’re able to give them.  You’ll have customers come into an Irish restaurant looking for a specialty frozen margarita, who simply won’t understand why that’s not an option here but might be at the Mexican restaurant a block away.  You’ll have women who insist on remaining in the restaurant throughout a two hour black-out which is spanning a three-block radius, and who will demand that you bring them food even though the kitchen is literally pitch black.  Surely they are aware that these are illogical requests, but they will ask anyway.

As a blogger, you will get these questions as well.  Fashion bloggers will request that your food blog write more about which foundation you prefer.  Companies will ask you to advertise their product free-of-charge.  And they will be simply incredulous when you cannot fulfill their requests.  Trust me when I say, they know their requests are ridiculous, and they are not going to be happy with any of your reasonable offers to help them.

3 // It’s all worth it at the end of the day

Usually, at least.  You might have had a 6-year-old throw his cranberry juice at you because he wanted ketchup, and you might have had a table leave without tipping you.  But at the end of the night, when you’re counting your tips, it’s usually worth the last nine hours you spent running a marathon around the restaurant.

In blogging, I’ve found that despite the rude comments, and the posts that don’t seem to go over as well as you’d expected, it’s usually all worth it for the incredible community you get back, and the rewarding feeling you get to experience when you see that people are actually enjoying what you have to say.

Nadine here, and I have to add, I was once a waitress and to this day, it was the hardest job I ever had. But isn’t Kiersten awesome? Make sure you head over to She is Fierce, follow on Bloglovin, or catch up with Kiersten on Twitter.


Filed Under: blogging

God?

Today I’m sharing something that maybe seen as controversial or may be hard for some people to read. Please know that I’ve tried my best to get my words out in a thoughtful way. I’m human. What you believe is what you believe, and that’s okay. We can still be friends. We can agree to disagree. Here are my thoughts on where my life experiences have led my beliefs.

Cross

For the past two years I’ve worked with families of kids with cancer. What I’ve found is that as kids get sicker, families seek God. Each day I opened thank you notes from families across the country thanking us and praising God. Families of kids with cancer, thanking God, talking about how blessed they are. And I’d just sit at my desk and stare at the letters, feeling strangely proud and slightly confused. When the absolute worst happens, why is God the answer?

Over my two years, I had many intense conversations with loved ones about this. Each time I couldn’t see how any God would let such terrible things happen to wonderful families. To beautiful children. Any merciful God would not have let a dear friend of mine, age 18 and dying of Osteosarcoma, linger for so long, in so much pain. She retained her faith until the very last moment, while I lost hope of ever finding mine.

When I’d have this discussion with the faithful people in my life, they’d implore me not blame God. But if we can’t blame God for the bad, why should we praise him for the good?

I’ve had many people use the phrase “God only gives you what you can handle” and let me tell you, I (and many families I worked with) strongly dislike (see how I didn’t use the word hate? I wanted to, oh I sure did, but I didn’t use it) that phrase. I’ve yet to see a family who can “handle” the loss of a child or sibling. A piece of them is gone forever. This phrase doesn’t lessen pain or provide hope.

Certainly we can’t blame anyone but the individual(s) for human acts of terror. But when it’s something as tiny as one cell mutating (after all, that’s how cancer starts), who do we blame, God or science? Perhaps it’s my lack of maturity to look for someone, something to blame. Although I’m not sure how anyone could see kids dying and not look around and wonder why.

N and I have talked a lot about what we believe and what we want to raise our kids to believe. Neither of these involves a higher power. I’m a good person. I know that in my heart. A heart that doesn’t beat for Jesus or because of him. It beats because of electric impulses in my body. It beats because I grew cell by cell. Just as you may believe in scripture, that is my belief.

Until he met me, N had never been in a religious building of any kind. He hadn’t been in a mosque or a synagogue or a big stone Catholic church. He didn’t know what it meant that I was baptized Episcopalian but that I come from a predominantly Catholic family. He’d never heard the nicene creed and was shocked to see me recite it, word for word, the first time we stood in church together at the obligatory Christmas service. He had almost zero religious influences in his life. Today, he is one of the best people I know. We both agree that religion isn’t necessary to turn out “right”.

And I’m sure you’re wondering (or you know, without a doubt), what if she’s wrong? Well I might be wrong. With all the world religions, all the atheists and agnostics, someone has to be wrong. I’m telling you, it could definitely be me.

But here’s what I’m hoping: If there is a God, if I get up to those pearly gates and Jesus, Mohammad, Joseph Smith, or even my great-great grandmother comes out to greet me, I’m guessing they’ll know I lived my life in a good way. That I tried to help people. That my moral compass was strong and that I deeply loved and truly lived and hopefully, made the world a better place. And I bet they’ll let me in anyway.

So no, I don’t believe what most of the world believes. I’m definitely in the minority in blog world. But that’s okay. I sleep just fine at night.


Filed Under: Personal