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.

It’s Been A Maine Minute But Look At That I’m In Maine

maine

The past week in Maine has been like visiting an English, pretty-American country. So like an English-speaking Puerto Rico.

I’m going to start by saying the overall belief that Northerners have no manners and are a crisp, cold kind; is something I have yet to run into.

Everyone I have met from the postal office workers to the people at the laundry mat have been kind to an almost fault.

Example: I needed a box. There is not a place to buy a box in Rangeley Maine. A random lady heard my cries and told me to follow her in her 4 by 4. Next thing I know, I’m on a dirt road about 15 miles from Rangeley on an overlook talking to a weird lady about her son’s upcoming wedding with a box in my hand.

This keeps happening. Little acts of kindness and I pass it on as much as I can. Which lead me to meeting an infamous online poker player from Florida. He is doing the Appalachian Trail to escape the digital realm but he spends time between Florida and Las Vegas. Not sure if I believe him but he gave a good story regardless.

Being a bartender has allowed me to meet people. And it’s my y’all and yes mam’s that have people having a constant flow of conversation.

A week in and I’m a little tired of telling my story. There have been majorly 3 outcomes of people learning that I’m traveling and doing a work exchange program: oh you’re trying to find yourself, tell me everything because I need to tell my son/daughter, and wonder how your parents are feeling.

A couple days into being in small-town Maine, I decided to go to a BBQ joint. The moment the waitress found out where I was from, she immediately went into a spiel about how different the BBQ was. That I shouldn’t expect what I know. It’s sweeter, lighter (somehow, I mean it’s the same meat).

Probably one of the biggest cultural breakdowns I have seen (semi-joking).

Between working and working, I haven’t had much time for much else. I’ve hiked a couple trails and seen some waterfalls. I can’t get over the views I have seen. You can never decide what is better; day or night.

During the day, you can go to overlooks and hike to the tops of mountains and you are literally in the clouds.

During the night, Rangeley is an unpolluted sky and you can spot the Milky Way.

Life in Rangeley is a small town. Everyone knows everyone else. I see people stopping in the middle of the street to have a full conversation with each other. Sometimes it feels like I’m in a Stephen King movie. Low-key segue, Stephen King owns a house over here. I’m floored and on a daily mission to not fangirl and try to find it.

 

Alabama: The Series

Alabama

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

My first taste of Alabama was by far a better experience than Florida. Plus, all the literary goals.

 


I Got Yelled At By Alabamians For Not Knowing Who Nick Saban Waspostal office montgomery alabama

Had one of the best times in Montgomery. Met some wild people and saw some great sites. Alabama, I definitely appreciate ya’.

Call Me A Manie-iac

maine, Uncategorized

My first day in Maine was me sleeping. The drive was brutal and if it weren’t for Binge Mode: Harry Potter, I probably would have crashed at hour 17. Instead, I made the trip in 26 hours and slept away on Friday.

A cool thing that happened to me on my trip was stopping at a Bojangles in Tennessee. Nothing special about that restaurant. I wanted to see a Tennessee classic in action. It was the manager who changed the restaurant chain.

We went through the normal polite banter while he was helping me and I told him a little about what I was doing. Next thing I know, I was about to start eating and he joins me.

He begins to tell me about his life. 72 years old, in and around Air Force bases throughout America. He then told me to visit with an artist in Knoxville. Tell Rochelle that you know Paul, she will know what to do.

Five minutes later into the conversation, he tells me that she is his wife. He waits and explains. Her art is currently in the Vatican, she was the first solo female artist for the Olympics in the 80’s, and has done multiple sets of Olympics both winter and summer.

My jaw slowly dropped as he continued giving me her past art history.

“Well, heck, when you go see her, give her a call. I will let her know to set something aside for you. You just remind me of her and she would go bonkers just meeting you. A young lady traveling like you, it’s something she would do.”

The drive after that, was pretty standard. Drove through mountains then cities then mountains again.

On Friday, getting closer to the Rangeley Inn, the streets turned to 35 mph and winded in around each other. It took a couple hours in the foothills and mountains of Northern Maine before I arrived. But not before seeing a “Moose Crossing” sign. An icon to me now.

Welcome to Rangeley, a town of 2 stop lights and known for the the landscape. Later I would find out that Stephen King has a house somewhere near here (*insert hyperventilation*).

The second I arrived, my head hit the pillow and took a nap. Woke up to talk to Travis, the owner of Rangeley Inn.

I have never met an owner of an inn but I did not expect someone who looks like he just stepped off a trail somewhere in California. Complete with the easy going nature, my temporary boss gave me my schedule. A quick tour and I ran back to bed.

boobs

Don’t Go To Bourbon Street Sober

Louisiana

Today, we woke up late and went to The Pharmacy Museum in downtown New Orleans. High key, this is the best bang for your buck when talking about New Orleans museum.

After finishing up my work and getting ready to leave on Saturday, I decided to go to the French Quarter to photograph Southern Decadence.

I was out taking photos and this dude started talking to me (check out photos here).

He was not visibly drunk or hitting on me. He told me he was a tour guide with a Cajun accent and his beard did not wrap around his chin. In other words, he looked completely harmless.

This complete stranger asked if he could show me around, with him being a tour guide, I figured I would learn something. He settled in for following me while I took my pictures and pointing at things. Once again, my red flag of supposed womanly intuition did not raise. We were in extreme public and he had yet to even try to touch me.

An hour into our exploration of drunken bodies and alcohol, he had to leave. I thought that was it, but instead he asked for a hug.

It seemed like an acceptable motion between two strangers.

He pulled me in and when I tried to back away, his hand gripped my back. Next thing I know, his head is angling and his eyes close. Again, I try to back away but his grip tightens and he kisses me. My face froze and I just took it.

I’m not sure if it was the shock factor that I did not automatically knee him in his groin but all I did was push him away with force. I turned and walked away as fast as I could while trying to keep what little dignity I felt I didn’t have.

The kiss happened without warning, without me giving any inclination that I wanted him to feel me up. It just happened.

So I had my most uncomfortable and unnecessary kiss of my life in New Orleans.

I ran to Cafe Du Monde after that. I hate men.

At Cafe Du Monde, I ended up hanging out with a local man. He was singing on the side of the street and told me about his life.

singer in new orleans

Street Choir

He was a choir singer at a local New Orleans church but lost his house (I think from Katrina but he was talking so fast, I may not have got it right).

But he sang me church songs, while I sat there getting fat with my beignets.

The beginning of the French Quarter was awkward and filled with stupid horniness and ended with me meeting an interesting man who could sing with all his heart.

I am of firm belief that New Orleans is one crazy, weird city.

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.

Day 3: Lafayette, Isn’t That The Guy From True Blood

Louisiana

I started off in Gibsland, Louisiana. Let me tell you, I was ready to leave. The quiet was great but the mixture of moisture, slight twinge of racism made me ready to leave.

The next city I went too, was a memory lane trip. Monroe, Louisiana. It is the most known for Duck Dynasty. Need more than that name and the fact it’s in Louisiana, check out this video of the semi-illiterate uncle. 

I spent my 1st-5th grade here, but only 4 years. I was able to skip 4th grade (a small fun fact that most people don’t know about me).  The only place I could still navigate to was the Catholic private school I went to.  Leftover Catholic guilt, a special place in my heart; who knows. Our Lady of Fatima, is a tiny school that still looks like it could be in a Tarentino movie. I tried to walk into the church to offer some sort of balance for all the Eucharistic wafers I used to eat there while alter serving, but the doors were locked. All I was able to see was the statues that I took my First Communion pictures on. Maybe I will upload them later on because this girl was an adorable Mexican child.

I decided after, that it was time to leave Monroe. There really was nothing left for and I don’t really give a “duck” about it..

Moving on from my weird childhood experiences, I drove to Lafayette. Let me tell you, this is a beautiful drive with some sad sights. A lot of ghost towns and going through Alexandria (my surname) was what death looks like for a city. Is this why I am an emo girl?

Arriving to the great Lafayette, movies are filmed here, zydeco was born here. But I need to start lowering my expectations with cities I suppose. It’s hot and humid. I tried to go through downtown and take pictures and although beautifully laid out, it was not the metro hotspot I was expecting.

It did provide a good time to catch up on work but as for a culturally hub, it was a let down.

Something that was not a letdown, the hostel I stayed at (www.cajunhostel.com). My first experience with a hostel and I felt wary. I’ve seen the movie “Hostel” and read about Natalee Holloway. But this experience was clean, it smelled like a bakery and I ended up having the room to myself. There was another couple staying in the room besides me and other than hearing them either fighting or having intense sex (or both), they were private and British. The only details I really got out of them.

It was a quiet day with minimal interactions. I love those days, call me an introvert.  

 

Day 1: Guess it really is a hot hell in Shreveport

Louisiana

Today was a day where a lot of minor things kept happening. All of them separately and I would have handled them like a pro. Spit-balled them out, used a think tank to come up with ideas to break out of them. But instead, they happened back to back. Leaving me wondering if I should just turn around and head back for Texas.

The day I woke up and found out I drove to the DMV for no reason- minor inconvenience, right. The day proceeded with bad, over priced gas station food (I never realized that was a thing) and me stopping at Walmart for a lot of items I had forgetton. It was not till I hit Shreveport, LA at a post station when I was truly mailed to the wall (ha pun).

My starter just stopped. So, like any millennial I tried to get it fixed but I did not want to pay for towing. But damn it, I am a strong independent woman who don’t need no mechanic. So I bought a starter and attempted to take apart my car. Background: I know nothing about cars and have only put oil in my car previously. I literally was that meme of a girl hitting a wrench to her car to make it open up but at least trying to follow YouTube videos.

About 4 cars passed by me, each with a single male yelling, “Hey honey, you need some help?” or variations of that, this include; darling, sweetie, sweet looking. I needed help but my feminism pride and suspicion of these fellows left me alone.

Then a man in a huge decked out truck just got out and started to help me. Didn’t even ask, and the best part he had a wedding ring. He ended up doing all the work for me, while I just sat there.

Every time I tried to help, I was met with a, “ oh honey you are just going to get in the way.”

He fixed my car and refused the money I tried to pay him for it. Pulling out of the driveway, I literally sat in my car and thought,” Thank God for Southern men.”

I made it to my campsite before dark and was able to set up my tent, relax, and get started on my next assignment before I passed out at the earliest I have ever passed out: 9:30.

All in all, I figure that somehow that was a sign. Whether it was a sign saying, shit is like this so keep moving or yeah, you’re anxiety is not going to be able to handle this trip. Regardless, I made the decision to keep on moving.