11 Reasons To Visit New Orleans

11 Reasons To Visit New Orleans

If you have ever thought of visiting New Orleans, here are some reasons why you definitely should.
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New Orleans is my favorite place I've ever been to. No matter how many different states and countries I go to, I always come back to New Orleans. There's this kind of magic to it that is hard to really put into words. I just got back from my most recent trip here, and that magic is still fresh in my mind. And during this time where there is sadly flooding going on in Louisiana, it's good to focus on all the wonderful aspects of New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA).

1. The Food

I have never eaten anything I haven't liked in New Orleans. Whether it was a diner or a Steak House, the food was always out of this world. If you like sea food, you'll be in heaven. And if you're like me and you don't like sea food, there is always something for you as well.

2. The Haunted History

I can't go to New Orleans without going on a ghost tour. I know most of the stories at this point, but it's always fun to revisit the places and hear the stories once more. If you watched the third season of American Horror Story, you probably are familiar with the story of Marie Delphine LaLaurie. Believe it or not, that's a real story, and the truth is even more gruesome. Most ghost tours make a stop at her house. It's just as creepy and atmospheric as you would expect.

3. Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street is party central. If you visit there anytime after six, it is packed with people. There are A LOT of seedy places and people on Bourbon Street, but it's something everyone needs to experience at least once. New Orleans follows a little thing called the Napoleonic Code. Which among other things, means it is legal to walk around with your drinks. It makes for interesting night life.

4. The People

You'd be hard pressed to find a more interesting group of people. Almost all of the people in New Orleans are very nice and helpful. They love to party and have a good time. And those accents.

5. Vampires

I'm not going to lie. One of the main reasons I became infatuated with NOLA in the first place is because of my love for Anne Rice. I love her Vampire Chronicles books and I love the film adaptation of "Interview with the Vampire." Since some of the filming for the movie was done in New Orleans, there are spots you can recognize straight out of the film. If you love the books, there are spots that Lestat and Louis have visited through out their adventures. It's like my favorite books have come to life. Anne Rice also owns property in the Garden District, if you're interested in seeing where she lives. But besides all that, there are legends of actual vampires there. You can go on a vampire tour and hear all about them. There is also a vampire club where people dress like vampires, and get plastic surgery to look like vampires. Or maybe they're actually vampires.... It's up to you to decide.

6. Bread Pudding

I already mentioned the food, but the bread pudding deserves its own category. They serve it almost everywhere in New Orleans, and although the recipe is never exactly the same, it is always a little slice of heaven.

7. Bayous

You may recognize the bayous from the Disney movie "The Princess and the Frog," but they are real places and they're just as beautiful as the film portrays. Plus, there is so much wildlife there. If you want to see real live alligators, go on a swamp tour and you are guaranteed to see plenty of them.

8. Grave Yards

In New Orleans they bury people above ground, in part because they are located below sea level, and want to make sure the bodies stay buried. But this makes for beautiful grave yards. You need a tour guide to go into the graveyards, but it's worth it to be able to explore these unique graves.

9. The Architecture

The architecture is just plain breathtaking. Particularly in the French Quarter, it really is just like stepping back in time. If you want to view beautiful mansions, visit the Garden District. The architecture is just as beautiful there.

10. The Music

New Orleans is famous for their jazz music, it's where the genre originated. And while you're walking along the French Quarter, there is a good chance you will hear jazz music following you around. As you pass different shops and bars, there is always different types of music playing as well. It is never silent there.

11. Mardi Gras

I'll admit, I've never actually been to New Orleans during Mardi Gras, but it's on my bucket list. It's weeks of celebrating. There are floats where they throw things to the crowds, most popularly beads. And everybody just has a good time and celebrates life. What's not to love?

Cover Image Credit: http://www.strengthsinternational.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/New-Orleans.jpg

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

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When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

Cover Image Credit: http://crashingintolove.tumblr.com/post/62246881826/pieffysessanta-tumblr-com

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Be White Feminists

I am white. I am a feminist. But I try very hard to avoid being a "white feminist."

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Preamble 1: I'm not sure if you're aware, but it's a humid, grey April afternoon and being a woman comes with extra challenges, to which I definitely did not agree but they were probably in some fine print that I skimmed. Bummer. Anyway, feminism! Feminism's place in 2019 is contested but I am coming from a place of having heard many of the sides; given that, it would be lovely if you would hear my side.

Preamble 2: Before I get into this topic, I want to acknowledge the place of privilege from which I come. Look at my fully Irish name, I am white. Believing in social, economic, and political gender equality, I am a feminist. But I try very hard to avoid being a "white feminist". As a student at Texas A&M;, a university that sometimes strays into homogeneity in both thought and demographic, I've been noticing a pattern in many conversations concerning gender equality. The pattern is that of white feminism.

White feminism is a Western-styled picking and choosing of feminism that entails a set of beliefs tolerating the ignorance of issues that mostly impact women of color.

Contrast this philosophy with intersectional feminism, which recognizes multiple identities and experiences within us, while promoting more united gender equality. Without intersectionality, our essence cannot stand against oppression and stand for equality without acknowledgment of the nuances of different historical struggles. As women, we face difficulties, but not all women face the same oppressions and marginalizations – and that cannot be overlooked in narratives.

As far as gendered-based violence goes, the Justice Department estimates that one in five women and one in seventy-one men will experience rape in the US. However, here's where the necessary nuances come in.

Women and men of color are more likely to experience this form of violence than white women or men. Women and men who are LGBTQ+are more likely to experience this form of violence than straight women or men. Lower income women and men are more likely to experience this form of violence than women or men in the highest income brackets.

So, yes, one in five women and one in seventy-one men are rape victims. But quoting that statistic without disambiguating the data can mislead readers or listeners of the ways that different identities amalgamate into this final number. Essentially, disproportional oppressions exist. All people are at risk for gendered violence, specifically rape, in America, but some people are more at risk.

If you need more of an explanation, think of the following analogy. White feminism is to intersectional feminism what #AllLivesMatter is to #BlackLivesMatter. Everyday Feminism contends, "the former's attempt at inclusiveness can actually erase the latter's acknowledgment of a unique issue that disproportionately affects a specific group of people".

If you ever find yourself guilty of white feminism, (I've been there!) know that we are all evolving. As long as you are open to education, we are all on the same side.

Here are three vital steps you can take to make your feminism intersectional!

1. Reflect on yourself. 

Reflect on your long-held beliefs based on your perspective alone could not apply to someone else. Reflect on your privileged experiences and acknowledge them for what they are.

2. Think about others. 

Once you've figured your internal state out from step one, you ought to look at the experiences of others with the same level of validity as your own. Ethically, feminism focuses on equality. Yes, that means stopping sexism, but it also expands to mean stopping complicated systemic oppressions that affect more than just white women. That said, white feminists are not the enemy in the fight for equality, rather, they are underinformed.

3. Don’t be afraid to grow. 

Say you were wrong. There's less shame in it than you think. In fact, I genuinely wish our culture was more forgiving of people who made an honest mistake in their past, but their hearts were/are in the right place.

Allow yourself to move onwards and upwards. We are all works-in-progress. We are all striving for better versions of ourselves. Intention is everything and your intention should be to always learn.

Intersectional feminism is challenging, like all educations. If you're doing it right, it should force you to think and even make you feel a little bit uncomfortable. After all, while feminism is here to help, it is not here for your (or my) comfort.

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