Oh Canada, I guess I fell in love

maine

Today was one of those days where it was in a movie. I decided last minute to visit Canada before I left Maine, so close to the border.

Canada is a different land mine.

Full of the French language and architecture that will make you question America’s monopoly as the North American mecca.

I see now how New Orleans tried to imitate a French landscape and how Canada did it better. The colors, flags, and people are loud and vibrant. Ranging in colors and languages. It’s mandatory for everyone to learn French and English.

Before coming, I knew doing Quebec City in one day would be difficult and so I decided to do a food tour. Combining two of my loves, food and history.

The guide stuck close to me and answered my questions walking in between places. Mostly about politics, the immigration policies, how that affected local Canadians, the election, and as always, I asked about superstitions in the area.

He answered kindly and we kept up a nice conversation about him. He was an archeology major who moved to Quebec for the historical reasons. He accidentally got stuck doing tours since 2013 and works seven days a week.

His views on immigration ranged from condescending about the amount of respect Canada gets for a more “open policy” as he says that it’s easy to get in but hard to stay in Canada. He told stories about how many engineers and doctor’s he knows that can’t find a job because they can not speak English.

The motto is, speaking English you can get a job anywhere. If you speak French and not English, you won’t find a thing.

Says a lot about the political landscape of Canada.

Not to downplay the food though. Because I can live in Canada and remaining what I’ve been told as “slim thick”. Which the term is altogether problematic but I won’t get into it now.

The food experience included: poutine, the Canadian version of shepard’s pie, stew, maple toffee, pea soup, some cream sugar cube, croissant, wines, and mac and cheese with Canadian-smoked bacon.

I am in heaven.

Currently, I am eating a meat and cheese board after my wine tasting at a local famous winery. My view consists of a vineyard (of course) with falls, mountains, and the city of Quebec in the background. My life is definitely different from how it was about a year ago.

Weird how one break-up and a weird job can change you.

postal office montgomery alabama

I Got Yelled At By Alabamians For Not Knowing Who Nick Saban Was

Alabama

Wednesday, it’s the day. I woke up at 6 and worked till 9 so I wouldn’t be guilty. I had been planning this specific trip for years. This museum.
I headed for Montgomery and turned onto to Zelda Lane.
The Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum was on the corner of a real neighborhood. Stuck in the middle of Montgomery with the only sign being near the road on top of the mailbox.IMG_8381

Inside, it was one of those Southern homes were you can still picture tea time on the porch or hot nights in August.

This museum had recently promoted staying overnight as an AirBnB. Personally, I am too superstitious to ever mess with that but it’s a great idea. It spanned about 5 rooms, going into detail over Zelda.

The director of the museum came out to great me. She was this badass with a monotone voice. I had hoped the museum would go over more the relational details of Zelda and Scott ( I mean they were mad crazy).

I spent the rest of the day basically picturing myself in the 50’s and trying to get work done.

*I’m doing 2 days in one because they flow together.

Now tomorrow (Thursday), I was supposed to head out to Detroit. I had a work exchange offer to help out with the website at this new hostel. The day before I was supposed to go, she called truly upset saying they over booked their volunteers and could not host me.

Well, that kind of put a hinderance on what I needed to do.

Frantically, I begin messaging hostels or anywhere trying to find a work/exchange program. I was having no luck and I had 12 hours to go.

After mass messaging, I decided to take a coffee break and went into Montgomery. This was probably one of the best ideas I had and resulted in probably the best night so far of my trip. 

I ended meeting this guy. This wonderfully amazing guy. He is a journalist for the Montgomery paper and was probably the most interesting person I had met. We talked over nerdy stuff, politics, the rising issue with media. He even began to through out bigwig media names he had worked with. And I was impressed the moment he dropped BBC. We ended up talking for hours until he had to go.

Instead of parting:

“Hey so some of my friends and I are having a family potluck. We are cooking all this crazy stuff.”

He could have been an axe murderer or a creep but I decided to just go with it.

The meal consisted of me meeting his four other friends. One was in a popular reggae band and gave it up to with his kids. His wife was the freaking director of the museum, and she had this monotone voice that delivered sarcasm perfectly (kind of like April from Parks and Rec). Another was in the socialist party and the last was a folk singer.

That night is what I want in a friend group. They were these crazy intellectual people flouting between political jokes and movie quotes. We debated modern-day imperialism and if the deaths in Serenity were worth it.

Me and Gonzo Journalist ended back at his place and hung out for awhile.

*Cough fast forward cough*

He actually invited me to stay with him while trying to find a place. I actually said yes. That night was amazing between the conversation and meeting his amazing group of friends.

But as fate would have it, I got a call in the morning from a hostel in Maine that I reached out too. They said they needed help and to be there on Friday.

My goal is to say yes to experiences. That’s how I ended up at a random person’s house in Montgomery going over Tolstoy. So, I packed my bags and began a 25 hour drive to Maine.

I did text Gonzo and definitely going to keep in touch, because who knows.

 

I Know As A Minority I Shouldn’t, But I Love Alabama

Alabama

The past couple of days here have been what I’ve looking for. I found peace, mediation, began full fiction writing again, basically the creative juices are in full swing.

Monday, I began my trek from Altmore to Montgomery with a stop in-between. I did not know the literary background of Alabama. It’s amazing. I noticed a sign that said thirty minutes to Harper Lee‘s hometown and basis for “To Kill A Mockingbird“. I stopped my car and turned real quick.

Lee’s book is iconic and while I’m not the greatest fan of her 70 year follow up book, she is still a magnificent queen in my book. I get to the town of Monroeville and look around. No one was there. No on driving, no one in the shops. It did seem a little eery especially with my being a minority and all. But I chalked it up to Labor Day and did the walking tour. Nobody bothered me.

But wait there’s more

Turns out it’s Truman Capote‘s hometown too. Alabama now rivals Texas as my favorite state at this point.

I came to Montgomery and settled in with. It was easy driving through with no one on the roads again. My goal of the day was to eat at an icon’s place and find my hostel. Well, I ate at Ms. B‘s in Montgomery and had drive to Prattsville, Alabama to find my hostel. I did not realize when getting this place, that it would be a permaculture.

(Background: permaculture is a food forest done by local individuals who are either tired of the price of food going up, wanting to make a more sustainable living, provide food for farmer’s markets, or both.)

This couple opened their farm and their animals to strangers around the world. The farm is far enough away from the city, that when you enter it’s on a gravel road. The greenery completely surrounds you for the last ten miles. I think I may like Northern U.S. more than I thought.

 

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coffee shops new orleans

I Spent 2 Days Recovering And Now I’m Ready New Orleans

Louisiana

I have not put out a blog because I truly have not done anything interesting for the past couple of days. Tuesday was me recovering, I put one half-assed article out before passing out and throwing up for the rest of the day. Just call me Glamorous by Fergie, right?

Wednesday was me working. I sat in a coffee shop, working for 8 hours. The coffee helped and gave me an idea for an easy work article.

Thursday, I was about to force myself out of bed and get my friend to accompany on a coffee binder. We explored the drip coffee options in and around New Orleans. Ranking them on a number of issues such as atmosphere, cost, hipsterness, and parking. If you want to read what I wrote about the New Orlean’s coffee scene, look The Best Coffee in New Orleans. Because let me tell you, the parking in New Orleans is crazy stupid. This entire town has transportation issues up the wazhoo.

But we went to about 5 different shops before I started getting sick from all the coffee. Jp and I hung around Who Dat Coffee Shop (my favorite in the area).

We ended up going over everything from the past 3 years. So here is the tea. Jp, stopped talking to me because his ex was jealous of our relationship. This wouldn’t have been bad except I introduced them and both were supposed to be some of my best friends. The girl had also tried to get with my ex (while I was with him) but you know she wasn’t a bad person, she high key just needed someone stable there for her. Short story, this was the first time talking in years. He apologized and we moved on.

It was like no time had passed.

The rest of the day, I was online writing and working. I tried to explore some of the city but honestly the roads kept me away. There also has not been a day when that hasn’t been any rain. When people said it never stops raining in New Orleans, it wasn’t a lie. Also, fuck Katrina. 

I never knew the damage that had happened. To me it was just an enigma that had happened on the news. It is so odd to see the aftermath or hear the stories from people.

The x’s on the wall are from when rescuers where looking for survivors. The top number are the people alive and needing help.

The bottom number are the amount dead. They had to write it and come back later.

The city is still scarred and people are still talking about seeing death, rape, and other horrible things in the Superdome.

Since then, it is now my firm belief that New Orleans has become one of the first anarchist cities in the U.S. The police, don’t care. The government is apparently so corrupted, people have given up.

New Orleans Travel

Day 5: The Time I Accidentally Walked Into A Strip Club In New Orleans

Louisiana

New Orleans, a city that is supposed to be a party in a city. I met up with one of my friend’s, JP, there. A little background over our friendship, we were best friends till about 4 years ago when a girl made him choose between him and I. This is our first hangout and even long conversation since then. Totally weird and I went into the situation unsure of what would happen.

But it ended up feeling like there was no time between then and now.

We ended up going to Felipe’s, Museum of Death, and Museum of Voodoo.

“I’ve lived here for 11 months and haven’t done this much stuff in one day.”

We then went back to his place and he smoked while we waiting to go out to the iconic Bourbon Street.

(NSFW moments from here on out, I’m looking at you mom)

The rest of the night was out of a movie it felt like.

We grabbed our first gallon drink and I saw a cabaret. Let me start by saying that I have never been to anything like that. I imagined walking into a Christina Aguilera-themed burlesque show.

Well, we had to chug our drinks and JP needed to smoke. I don’t ever smoke. It makes me anxious and I over analyze every move I make. I went into a bar blaring music that allowed us outside drinks in. The music was decent but then I spotted stairs. Whenever I see stairs I have to go up them.

We ended up finding an empty upstairs bar and we went out to the balcony. GET THIS, he lit up overlooking Bourbon Street. Standing there we drank, he smoked, and we judged the people walking below us. Peasants, am I right? (just kidding)

Once finished, we went to the cabaret. Okay, like I said, I thought I was about to enter a carnival-esque wonderland where females are praised for their bodies.

THAT WAS A HARD NO

It was a strip club. Like a strip club with naked people. I sat there with my mouth open. I accidentally walked into a strip club and JP thought it was the funniest thing.

“I thought you just wanted the full Bourbon St. experience.”

After another drink I started appreciating the dancers for what they were doing.

It wasn’t until men began lining the stage and the girls put on shows for them. It turned from an art form to sleaze real fast and we chugged our drinks (#2) and left.

Going in and out of bars with music, we were just trying to find one that vibed with us. I even bought a fishbowl because I wanted to have the full experience.

We walked into the Cat’s Meow, a karaoke bar that we saw on the second floor balcony. This was the best decision we could have made. I prepared myself for knocking off another bucket list item of singing in front of strangers. I ended up taking double shots before and after getting on stage.

Like any good bar movie, I then met a bunch of ladies in the restroom.

I can now say, I formed a girl pack and that is the greatest form of feminism I could do in New Orleans. I signed up for another song, had a couple shots paid for me and next thing I know, my super social and networking self popped out. Whenever you take me out and I start drinking, I turn into the most social person you will ever meet.

“You Give Love A Bad Name”, came on and I pulled all these girls on stage. We sang and danced to Bon Jovi like we were a Russian girl group.

We left the bar and went to a place to dance and I had a dance off with strangers in a crowded bar.

I feel like I could end the post and it would still be the traditional let’s get messed up New Orleans night. But we ended up getting lost for like an hour trying to get food. In this hour, we have the talk. Basically a drunken cry on my part about how I lost his friendship because of a girl and how we missed each other.

Lame but it needed to happen and what better time than with homeless people surrounding you lost in New Orleans at 3 a.m.

Whenever there was an open door, I walked through it and I introduced myself to every single person I met on the street. I wanted to know everyone’s story.

We finally made it to Daisy Duke’s, a 24-hour diner. After eating food while watching Parks and Rec…

(Technically I’m homeless…..)

We jammed out to emo music and I passed out the second I laid down. Overall, it was one of those nights that I want to remember.

Lafayette Louisiana travel

Day 4: Louisiana Doesn’t Work On A Sunday, But I Do

Louisiana

I honestly did not expect to enjoying doing work as much as I do. My days are mostly working and then a couple hours of exploring. It works out best in my opinion, really hard to get bored or sad that way.

So on Sunday, I decided to have a Louisiana day. Church, brunch, chill (or work at a relaxing pace).

The biggest impact came early in the morning, something told me to go to church. Mind you, I have not been other than Christmas since the day I turned 18. I was raised in a very Catholic household including Catholic school, Sunday’s spent all day at the church, youth involvement, choir involvement, mentoring, and whatever other minor thing that comes with Catholicism. I had noticed that a key thing to do in Lafayette was to visit St. John’s Catholic Church. So I went.

There will always be a soft spot for cathedrals. Just the architecture and glass windows makes me want mediate over every bad decision of my life. But this was me just experiencing the mass. Before, I was always forced and what the priest seemed irrelevant and stuffy at best.

Actually, the priest started off by talking about the latest scandal in Pennsylvania. The cases of molestation from inside the church. It was one of the most beautiful homilies that I have seen. This young priest started off saying he was re-thinking his job in the church. That this was disgusting and he was angry at the church, at the priests, at the whole situations. It was candid and truthful. Something I had not expected from someone in the Catholic church, call me a cynic.

After that, my day went mostly to working and trying some foods. Prejean’s in Lafayette was not all it’s cracked up to be. But I did spend some time downtown shooting which you can check out here.

So Shark Tank and I had a good 10 hour run. Sat there with it on the background and I was just plugging away at writing. After a few hours, my hostel host came in a hung out with me for awhile. He is the professor at the local college and travels with the AirBnB money. He told me about a bunch of places to stop by and his travels around the world. He reminded me of a Cajun Mark Walhberg to be honest. One of the places he recommended was the Mountain Light Sanctuary, which I totally booked right then. It is in the forests of North Carolina and I am staying in a bungalow with a babbling creek and forest right beside me. Can you tell I am excited. But if you are interested in some good ideas for hostels and stuff check out his travel blog.

I had my first experience with my weird, deathly-fearful of the night. Growing up, my family thought the best way to teach morality lessons (besides the church) was to basically tell horror stories to a child. Those stories have kept me in check more than once but they also attributed to my unhealthy fear of the night.

Last night, alone in the hostel, I freaked myself out. I did not even have one of those hair-raising or intuitive moments, nope. It was just being alone in an unknown household. Hopefully along this trip I can get rid of that debilitating fear but keep the healthy respect of any supernatural side.

Let’s see how New Orleans goes….

Day 2: Ron Swanson is from North Louisiana

Louisiana

*Side note: the man from yesterday was not as pure of heart as I thought. I woke up with a ‘hey beautiful, hope you’re doing well babe’ text. He then proceeded to text me all day long with no response about him golfing and how he wanted pictures of me because he thought I was catfishing him.*

Second day’s seem to be infinitely better. Like in high school, on your second day that is when you get the feel of things. Like your new teachers, the friends you could make, and if you really needed that sparkle pen set.

That is kind of how it was for me. I jumped in and now, I felt like I could handle anything. Still camping in northern Louisiana in Minden. Found this amazing spot out there called Beaver Lake. If anyone wants to go there, I highly suggest it. Because A freaking 1.

bonnie&clyde

Camping is $9.50 with a pass, and you wake up on a lake (hopefully not as humid as I went). I did yoga in the morning and my whole pre-mediation that puts me in the right headspace. This seems kind of odd, I know but it has helped me focus and pull my thoughts together. I visited the Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum, which was awesome. A little pricey for my taste but it went to Gibsland Historical Foundation.

 I will through my ass in a circle for any historical foundation.

I found a cute little dinner, Bon Temps, in a gas station. The line was out the door and no seating. I ended up having to sit at the end of a table with some cool guys. They didn’t say much the moment I sat down but posi vibes, right.

The rest of the day was devoted to working. This means me moving about 100 times in 7 hours because I can never sit and work. At one of these points I was outside my tent, working on a newsletter, when this guy came up to me and just sat right there. Now, I am from Texas and shyness is strange to me but this was different.

He starts talking as if we know each other and honestly, he was an interesting man. He told me how he put his kid’s through LSU and they are finally understanding what it means to not be “sucklin his teat” (his words). And then he asked if I was political.

I could feel myself shrinking but said yes, I keep up pretty well.

“Oh, well I’m guessing you’re one of them liberals”.

“Yes sir, I would consider myself that.”

We then had a thirty minute conversation about our beliefs mostly politically. It ranged from government handouts, welfare programs, to immigrant policies. We never yelled and we both made concessions. At the same time, I did have to steer conversation away when it became a stalemate, like when we talked about ICE.

But by the end of the conversation,

“You’re too smart to be a liberal. Are you sure you won’t consider being a Republican?”

“No sir, I have to many differences to ever be considered that.”

He then invited me for supper at his camper, with his family and said goodnight.

Then about an hour later, the park ranger pulls into my campground driveway and comments on my cooking. Veggie burgers, broccoli, and potatoes.

He kept saying, “I’m a meat and potatoes only type of man.”

The questions weren’t long and he did not stay there for awhile but he did have a lasting impact.

“Where you going?”

“Heading up to New York right now.”

“I could never go there.”

“You want to know why?”

“Because of all them damn fagg*** living up there. I couldn’t handle watching them with purses on their arms.”

I smiled and said, “Well, I am looking forward to going up there. I find Northerners to be more accepting.”

Turning my back, I busied myself with some cooking. I just could not get over the difference in these two men. Both obviously Southern, both about the same education level, but one who was respectful and the other who was a park ranger. Wild is all I could say.