Posts Tagged ‘LinkedIn’

Sending March Out with a Woman-Sized Roar

April 2, 2016

Sometimes you just need to break out of your daily routine and seek out something (or someone) so inspirational that you won’t even mind going back to work afterwards. Yesterday afternoon my friend Julie (yes the same Julie from the Skaneateles Mail Boat adventure last summer!) and I went to the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. Our first stop was a guided tour of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton home, which I admit I wasn’t too excited about seeing. However I was pleasantly surprised, not by the house itself which was nothing exceptional, but by the stories the park ranger told us about Ms. Cady Stanton.

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Sometimes we forget that these women in history books were quite similar to us. Like women today, they wanted their contributions to be acknowledged, their intelligence and hard work appreciated, equal pay for the same jobs, and the right to be able to vote and help shape America’s policies. They poured the foundation on which we all stand today, still striving for equal treatment.

But they weren’t cardboard cutouts, they were real people with faults and strengths. Elizabeth Cady Stanton had a relationship with her brother-in-law, struggled with disciplining her sons, and chafed at having to do housework when she would rather be writing or thinking about how to advance the causes she cared so passionately about. When Ms. Cady Stanton got desperate enough she’d make “Aunt” Susan B. Anthony come to her house and cook and watch the children for her so she could write speeches for the childless, unmarried woman from Rochester to share all over the country. Does that story resonate with any of you?

The other thing I like about the Women’s Rights Park Visitor Center is that the exhibits link the past and present in ways that engage your interest and curiosity while making you aware of how important all human rights, not just those of certain groups, are. Also of how movements are made up of a diversity of people (who may not always agree with each other!) not just the ones mentioned in the history books. Additionally, it’s amazing to me that the Women’s Rights movement began right here in the Finger Lakes Region of New York instead of Boston or Chicago or Washington DC.

One of the reasons I wanted to visit the Center this March was that one of my favorite artists, Alice Gant, who creates incredible colorful and imaginative cloth banners about “influential and interesting individuals” had an art display there. As usual it did not disappoint, and reading why Ms. Gant had chosen to commemorate the people in her banners was just as compelling as the illustrations themselves.

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At the end of the day my old friend and I agreed that letting ourselves become immersed in the accomplishments of all of these strong and dedicated women was an excellent reminder that, though we’ve come really far, there is still a long way to go.

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Good Things Come to Those who Wait

March 22, 2016

Every writer out there knows what this means. As well as all of you who have been waiting for this next blog post, already a few days overdue… A lot of the writing life is a waiting game.  Some of the reasons you may find yourself waiting are internal, others are external. One of the hardest lessons for me to learn was that sometimes you just need to be patient and sit tight, letting things evolve at their own pace. A few places where I frequently find myself waiting include:

Waiting for sources to return my calls or emails

One way to minimize this wait is to be very specific when you phone, email, or text someone about the article for the first time. Be sure to include what type of information you are looking for from them, a few days and times that you would be able to interview them, how long you expect the conversation to take, and when your deadline is. It’s also a good idea to contact a few different people, so at least you can be assured of hearing from one of them, and to have a backup plan, like a second angle you can take the piece in with a new batch of sources if the first one falls through.

Waiting for a meeting or event to begin

As a journalist, when you are covering a public event you often want a seat near the front, in case the speaker turns out to be hard to hear or understand, the microphone malfunctions, and so you’re close enough to get a few good photos. If you write for newspapers on a regular basis, you tend to develop an instinct about how popular a meeting or forum will be and time your arrival based on that. Who the audience will be will also influence this decision. For example, college kids tend to arrive about five minutes before the program begins and like to sit in the back seats so if I get there 15 minutes ahead of time I’ll be fine. On the opposite end of the spectrum, for my recent article on “A Conversation with Bill Gates” I had to call in advance, get a media pass, and arrive an hour early.

Waiting to get paid

Hands down, this is my least favorite type of waiting but there is no way to get around the unpredictable cash flow situation when you’re a freelancer.

Waiting to hear about queries or contest entries

This is always stressful and arduous. Depending on how busy editors are or how many contest entries need to be judged, it can take days, weeks, or months to hear back from anyone. In some cases you may never even get a response. On a more positive note, other days an unexpected check may arrive in your mailbox!

Waiting for inspiration 

I find this kind of waiting the easiest because you can continue to go about your business, or actively troll for ideas, while you are waiting for something interesting to pop into your head. Inspiration can come at any time, in the shower, while driving, during a conversation over dinner, or when you’re skimming through the newspaper. Just remember to always have something nearby to write with, or on, when you’re waiting for that lightning bolt to strike!

How your friends can help make your writing better

March 15, 2016

Judi, Melissa, and I have known each other since kindergarten. Naturally I was really excited when they both ended up in Phoenix because it meant I could see both of them whenever I visited. This trip was a bit different, as I made a strategic decision beforehand to combine business with pleasure.

My coauthor and I have recently started writing the last few chapters of our book on college transfer. Our publisher recommended that we run portions of our drafts by “readers”, to get their feedback on what they liked or what they felt needed some clarification or improvements. Rather than simply emailing the pages to my first batch of readers, I chose to bring hard copies with me to Phoenix. My plan was to have them mark these up, after which we’d discuss their suggestions and brainstorm ways to make the book better. The beauty of choosing old pals for this assignment was that I knew I didn’t need to worry about them mincing words or editing their true reactions for fear of hurting my feelings.

This plan worked out even better than I had dreamed. Melissa (an avid nonfiction reader) and Judi (a past transfer herself who works in a college) gave me all sorts of ideas about the tone, the format, and the student and parent quotes I had chosen to accentuate the points I was making. They were also able to point out a few awkward sentences and areas they felt like I should expand on. The best part though was when we talked about why they had found the topic intriguing and how the pages they read sparked their interest college transfer, in particular how it impacted students’ lives after graduation. Better still was when they volunteered (unprompted by me!) to read upcoming sections as I complete the drafts.

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Another unexpected bonus was when Leonard, Melissa’s husband, agreed to look my book pages while I read a short story he was working on. I had completely forgotten that Leonard was a guidance counselor who worked with many high school students and colleges in Arizona for over twenty years. Not only that, but his mother was an English teacher. With this level of knowledge and experience he added a whole new dimension to the critiquing.

Leonard

This mixing of business and pleasure reminded me that your friends can be invaluable resources when you need someone to provide honest feedback that will make your writing better than ever. And-no need to pay for their editing services. A post-critique glass of Chardonnay at Postino Wine Cafe will do just fine!

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What’s in my Orlando Travel Journal?

March 8, 2016

I have a confession to make. I’ve never been that fond of Florida as a vacation destination. When I think of that southern state, I envision strip malls, mobile home parks, and slow drivers. What will we possibly do there for five days? I wondered. But never let it be said that my husband and I can’t rise to a challenge! We found four awesome outdoors things to do, just a short drive away.

What to Do

Black Point Wildlife Drive, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Normally I prefer hiking trails to driving ones, but the reality is that the animals and birds on Merritt Island are really wild so they spook easily. They’ve become somewhat acclimated to the cars on the six-mile trail, but once you open the door, they’re gone in a flurry of wings. I learned this the hard way when I startled a flock of Roseate Spoonbills before I could even aim my camera. Luckily there are several stopping points along the way where you can stretch your legs on paths, hiking trails, and at observation areas. Besides too many birds to count, we also saw alligators and my first wild armadillo.

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We ended up taking a second loop at sunset and found it even more impossibly beautiful than during the daylight hours. Bring binoculars or borrow them from the visitor center and be sure to pick up a copy of the brochure when you pay your $5.00 entry fee for a day pass.

Canaveral National Seashore

Since the pass got us into all the National areas that day, our next stop was the Canaveral National Seashore. Though it was a bit brisk, the beach was pristine and the water actually felt warmer than the air! This is a fantastic natural, unspoiled area where you can swim, surf fish, or just relax to your heart’s content without the crowds and noise that you’ll find at other beaches.

Manatee Viewing Area

We found this by accident when we spotted a small sign so we quickly detoured to the east side of the bridge where the Haulover Canal connects Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River. It’s simple and free; there’s a viewing platform, interpretive signs, and a polarized viewer are located at the observation area. The manatees are covered with barnacles and the most we got a glimpse of was a crusty tail or a large snout, but it was still fun to watch for them to surface.

Loomis Outdoor Adventures

Billed as a “full river adventure”, this canoe, kayak, and fishing rental business is just a short drive from Orlando and was the perfect way for a group of wedding guests to end the vacation. You rent a canoe or kayak for $40/boat, launch it there, and paddle down the Rock Springs River about 8.5 miles to the pickup point. It’s not an endeavor for the faint of heart! You navigate through submerged stumps and branches thick forests of lily pads, and unexpected currents or sandbars. We unexpectedly tipped the canoe a few minutes after spotting an alligator sunning himself on the river bank and I almost had a heart attack trying to get back in the boat before he discovered me in the water! But the frequent wildlife spotting, the abundant flora and fauna, and the timelessness of drifting lazily down a river make it worth it.

Fresh from the swamp paddle!

Fresh from the swamp paddle!

To Eat

A few ideas if you find yourself in the Orlando area:

The Melting Pot

When you think of Florida, I’m sure the last thing to cross your mind would be fondue. Yet, there we found ourselves dipping fruits, vegetables, meats, and desserts into a plethora of sauces. Our waiter was excellent and the restaurant ambiance unexpectedly private and romantic.

The Corner Cafe

Chef Michael serves “comfort chic cuisine” in a causal atmosphere, adjacent to the Sanford River Work. Must-haves are the Signature French Onion Soup, served in a toasted bread bowl and the Classic Cuban Press.

The Corner Cafe in Sanford.

The Corner Cafe in Sanford.

The Vineyard Wine Company

Once again, fabulous service combined with delicious appetizers in a relaxing setting. The Napa Nachos are an unusual twist on the standard bar version and the Pine Ridge “Forefront” Cabernet was well worth the price.

I left Florida looking forward to a return visit. The beauty is there if you just take the time to look!

Is your Creative Well Running Dry?

March 2, 2016

It happens to the best of us. One morning you wake up and it seems like everything you try to write takes twice as long, no fresh ideas trickle into your less-than-fertile brain, and the work you usually take pleasure from feels like a ball and chain around your ankle. Though it could simply be a bad case of the winter doldrums, more than likely these symptoms indicate that it’s time to schedule an artist’s date or two to replenish your creative soul.

By the end of February, it was clear that I was at the end of my creative rope. My solution? A few days in Cleveland! Before you fall out of your seat laughing, what I’m trying to get at is that filling the well doesn’t need to involve planning a major trip abroad or spending an exorbitant amount of money. You can often find inexpensive ways to reenergize your creativity much closer to home without breaking the bank. So, I hopped into my car and headed west to visit my son.

Three things I did:

If/Then at Playhouse Square-expensive 

Written by the Pulitzer Prize and Tony-award winning creators of Next to Normal (Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt) If/Then is a musical described as being set at the intersection “where choice and chance collide”. The playwrights do a phenomenal job of showing the parallel lives the actors could lead, based on the decisions they make every day related to living life with a closed heart or an open one, taking chances or sticking to the safe and predictable route. The birthday party is an especially well-done scene and the song “You Learn to Live Without” still tugs at my heartstrings a week later.

There wasn’t a weak link in the play; both the story and the songs were surprising, fresh, funny, and tragic, everything a memorable play should be. I left the theatre feeling like life has unlimited possibilities and the dream that someday I would be able to write something even half that good.

The student union at Case Western-free

My son had classes so I took my adult coloring book to the union and settled down to color, people-watch, and eavesdrop to my heart’s content. It was an enjoyable way to relax and spend a few hours just letting various thoughts drift through my head. By the time he showed up to collect me I had come up with a few ideas and titles for short stories as well as a few things to do to improve my writing.

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Dinner at Happy Dog with college students-cheap

In case you weren’t aware, hot dogs and tater tots are the latest hipster trend! Though this neighborhood corner bar/restaurant had a slightly seedy appearance and clientele, the beer list was good and the food even better.

Each customer gets a pencil and an order sheet. There are three initial choices you need to make-draft or bottle, beef or veggie, and tots or fries. But then it gets complicated. The seemingly endless topping list for the quarter-pound hot dogs on Orlando buns includes unusual items like Spaghetti-O’s and Fruit Loops (none of us were that adventurous!), a truly amazing array of pickled vegetables, globally flavored novelty sauces and ketchups, and the ever-present fried egg. Everything was unbelievably delicious, the service was quick and efficient, and the bill for five of us came to $55.

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But it was conversing with college students that provided the final drops of creativity needed to bring my wellspring back to the top where it belongs. I love talking to people in their early twenties because they still make time to think about things besides housework, jobs, money, and kids. They can talk endlessly about current events, various philosophies, ideas, concepts, visions, and ethics. We discussed domestic and international politics, women’s rights, different types of writing, movies and television shows, and ethical dilemmas. For three hours! Haven’t done that in quite a while and it was refreshing and invigorating. Filling your creative well may seem frivolous and not part of your “real work”. But it’s essential if you want to keep generating good work.

What’s your favorite artist’s date?

Why I Like LinkedIn Updates

February 20, 2016

For me, LinkedIn updates offer a perfect way to showcase the articles I’ve written about parenting, education, farm-to-table, politics, and fun in the Finger Lakes with my followers. The pieces I share are intended to enlighten, inform, or entertain all my professional connections, not just my writing colleagues. Not only do these updates increase my visibility as a freelance writer, they also promote the people, organizations, businesses, and events that I write about. Providing regular links to my newspaper and magazine articles on LinkedIn also benefits the editors and publishers that I work for by attracting new readers to their online publications.

I also set some time aside each day to read, and sometimes comment on, other people’s updates. There are certain connections that I know are interested in the same issues and topics I am so I usually turn to them first, but I try to check out someone new each day as well.

The other thing I like about LinkedIn updates are that they are short and to the point. This makes it easier to read them and to pick out ones you want to peruse at greater length.

A few guidelines I follow when I’m on LinkedIn:

  • Avoid making overly negative or controversial comments. This doesn’t mean you should be completely neutral in everything you put out there or comment on; it just means you should think about the words you’re choosing before you hit “Share”.
  • Keep in mind that this is a business site, not a social one. Your updates should relate to your profession in some way.
  • Don’t only post images of uplifting or motivational sayings or quotes. I have been known to “like” these so I’m not a total Scrooge but in my opinion they are over utilized by many businessmen and women.
  • Attach photos or links related to your update whenever possible.
  • Respond to anyone who comments on your update.
  • Always hit “Share with Public and Twitter”. Not only will this send your updates to a broader audience, it will also make you more message-conscious as the update will only show 140 characters to the Tweeters.

Any other tips for using LinkedIn updates? Feel free to share them!

Taking Oral Histories: A Different Type of Interviewing Skill

February 6, 2016

One of my 2016 New Year’s resolutions was to try one different thing to improve my writing skills each month. So the last week of January found me attending an Oral History 101 workshop at The History Center in Tompkins County with about forty other people.

Here are a few things I learned from presenter John Lewis:

  • Oral histories are a way to gather data we can’t get any other way. However, they don’t stop there. A really good oral history collection should allow a historian to make links, associations, and connections that no one saw before.
  • As with any interview, an oral history requires some research before you even sit down with your subject for the first time. Lewis explained that without this background, you won’t be able to recognize key nuggets of new information or experience those “Aha!” moments during the interview.
  • Listening to, and really hearing, the person you’re speaking with is key. At the same time be aware of nonverbal cues (i.e. body language, pauses). You can always circle back to a topic or question that you feel wasn’t answered fully.
  • Before you begin, jot down a few field notes such as where the interview takes place, the date and time, the subject’s appearance and demeanor, and if anyone else was present. Make sure that the place you’re conducting the interview is comfortable for the interviewee.
  • Be transparent.  Tell the person whose history you’re taking the type of information you’re collecting, how it will be used and under what circumstances, and who else will have access to it. If your subject hesitates or seems uncomfortable, it’s best not to move forward at that time.
  • It’s essential to be very comfortable with the recording equipment you’re using. Have a backup (like your Smartphone or even pen and paper) in case of a malfunction.
  • At the interview, review how you did. Conducting oral history interviews can involve years of practice. Identify any mistakes you made and try not to repeat them next time. It’s especially important not to react, verbally or nonverbally, to what the person says as this may cut the interview short or inhibit the conversation. Try to look neutral, safe, and supportive at all times. One thing you can do is use silence as a way to elicit more information.

Like me, Lewis finds Studs Terkel, bestselling author of many diverse books of oral history, including Working, The Good War, and Division Street: America, a standout oral historian. If you haven’t read his work, check him out.

Or, if you have a favorite oral historian, let me know!

How to have a Really Good Interview

January 21, 2016

As a feature article writer, a journalist, and a budding nonfiction book writer, interviewing ends up being a huge chunk of my daily work schedule. Fortunately it’s a part of my job that I like. In fact, I enjoy my interviews almost as much as the writing process or the thrill of seeing my articles online or in print.

Not everyone feels this way. In fact, for some professionals, interviews are torturous minefields, which somehow never yield the material they want or the satisfaction that comes with a job well-done. For those of you that feel this way, I’ve put together three tips that I’ve found helpful over the years.

Always do your homework

Never begin an interview without having some basic background information about who you’re talking to. This investigative work can take a little time but it will be worth it-trust me. You can look up your source on their business or organization website or on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. You can read their blog if they have one. Or simply Google them and see what comes up. This gives you a feel for who you’ll be speaking with and any photos you find will also give you a visual image to relate to if you’re doing a phone interview, or a way to recognize them if you’re meeting in a public place for the first time.

The same goes for the topic you’re covering. You should have some idea of the history behind it, current issues related to it, and why you think your readers will find it thought-provoking and informative.

Warmup exercises work

I usually lead into my interview by asking if the subject has any questions about me, the publication I’m writing for, or the book I’m writing coauthoring. At this stage, sometimes people will be anxious or apprehensive, especially if they’re new to interviewing, saying things like “I’m not sure I have anything valuable to share” or “Maybe I’m not the best person for you to talk to”. Reassure them that they probably know more than they think! Then ease into the interview by asking straightforward questions about their job title, how long they’ve been working in their field, and any special qualifications or experience they have. This tends to remind them that they really do know what they’re talking about.

Questions can make or break an interview

I always try to write out at least five questions beforehand. Not doing this can lead to awkward pauses and silences or, even worse, an abruptly terminated interview if the source feels like they’re wasting their time talking to you. These questions are meant to be guideposts, not written in stone, and you can always add to, or abandon them entirely, if the articles focus changes during the interview.

Open-ended questions will usually elicit more information or perceptions. Expounding on a topic is by asking things like “Your thoughts?”, “Can you give me an example?”, or “Tell me more about that” works well for me. If you don’t like the answer you got to a particular question (i.e. too short or it felt like the interviewee was avoiding it), you can always instantly rephrase it or circle back to it near the end of the interview. If you feel like it’s essential to the interview, don’t give up to easily.

Remember-If you approach each conversation (because that’s what a good interview will feel like) with a genuine curiosity and an open mind and heart, things will almost always go well.

What’s on my Bedside Reading Table?

January 13, 2016

Winter is a fantastic time to curl up in your bed or your favorite chair with a good book (unless it happens to have been hijacked by an entitled dog!)

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Here’s what’s been keeping me company so far this month.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This was a Christmas gift from my friend Tammy and I loved it, even though I cried bittersweet tears at the end. We all know someone like Ove, a cranky oldster who has an intensely developed sense of what’s right and wrong and who has no problem voicing his opinions regardless of others’ feelings. Ove is what used to be called a “man’s man” in that he has only owned Saab’s his whole life, has a solution for every problem, and can fix anything that is broken, with the possible exception of his shattered heart after his beloved wife passed away. Just as he’s decided to end it all for good, an army of unlikely saviors invades his quiet, orderly home. These include a battered, strong-willed cat, a pregnant young Persian mother, a juvenile delinquent trying to better himself, and Rune, his oldest neighbor and occasional friend, that he’s been feuding with for too many years to count. Ove’s gradual transformation from a bitter, angry senior into a vital part of his neighborhood and community, is heartwarming without being the least bit sappy. And his ultimate victory over the Swedish bureaucracy is nothing short of miraculous. Besides that, it’s a funny book. I was hooked in the first chapter when Ove goes to the store to try to purchase an “O-Pad” from an IT guy and I found myself laughing out loud more than once after that.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This issue of Writers Digest featured an interview with Jojo Moyes and I was instantly attracted to her professional and personal style. Since I just happened to be passing a bookstore in Pirates Alley in NOLA, I wandered in and purchased this book which Moyes says she had received more personal letters about than anything she has written in her long career. It took me a week to open the first page though. Frankly, I found the storyline of a local girl becoming a personal aide for a rich young wheelchair-bound quadriplegic, somewhat daunting, if not completely depressing. But, the novel was fantastic because it turns out that both of the characters, from polar-opposite backgrounds, actually need each other to make themselves whole again. It also offers you a unique look into the world of someone who was once physically active and now, due to a freak accident, has no use of their limbs, and the casual cruelties and indifference others can inflict on them, either purposefully or unknowingly. Despite its potential to be a major downer, the book is anything but that. It’s a romance, it treats dark subjects with humor, and it openly and compassionately addresses the “die with dignity” and quality of life issues that touch many of us in some way.

And, a retro read, Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

I haven’t read this book since high school and I’m not sure what prompted me to pick it up this month but I absolutely loved journeying across America with Steinbeck and his French poodle, Charley for a second time. There could be a number of reasons for this. First of all, Steinbeck was sixty when he took the trip, just a little older than me, which is a far different life stage then when you drive cross-country as a young and unencumbered twenty-something. I would still like to make the trek from sea to shining sea one more time before I get too old or unhealthy so seeing him do it successfully was inspiring. Steinbeck is a realist, not only sharing the good parts of his tour, but openly discussing the bad, scary, and sad parts too.  Plus, he’s such a descriptive writer that I’d find myself reading certain passages over and over again, particularly some of his observations as he travelled through the South, trying to deconstruct how he did it, how he chose and positioned words to bring out a particular feeling in the reader. Best of all, was his assertion that “people don’t take trips, trips take people”. Don’t we all want to be transported somewhere else sometimes, even if it’s only in our minds?

Ringing in 2016 with a NOLA New Year’s Celebration

January 5, 2016

Some people like to ring in the New Year with a bang; innovative cocktails, loud bands, crowds, and a fireworks display preceded by something large dropping from several stories above their heads. Others prefer to hunker down at home with a fancy dinner, a few friends, and a good movie. I’m an unabashed member of the former group so this December 31 found me in New Orleans ready to whoop it up with my husband and two sons, native Louisianians, and fellow tourists. I wasn’t disappointed.

Our afternoon started at the 801 Royal which claimed to have the best with Bloody Mary’s in town. Garnished with giant olives, lemon, lime, and dilly beans, they were a work of art, as well as semi-healthy and affordable. The bar and restaurant have a relaxed, neighborhood pub feeling and conversations flowed along with the drinks.

801 Royal

Next up was the annual Sugar Bowl Parade, featuring a plethora of dedicated high school bands from all over the South, floats manned by enthusiastic people tossing candy, beads, and potholders to the shrieking crowd below, and the requisite fire trucks. Though the game wouldn’t be played until Saturday night, Ole Miss Rebels and Oklahoma State Cowboy fans were already gearing up for it and their passion was contagious. I can truthfully say I have never seen so much orange in one town!

Parade float

Being NOLA New Year’s novices, we neglected to make a reservation for dinner and were repeatedly told there was no room at the inn. Eventually we were able to finagle a table squeezed next to the entryway at Pere Antoine where we enjoyed seafood, a surprisingly flavorful sauce with the traditional red beans and rice, and a high-spirited waitress. Fortified, we parted ways. Who wants to be with their parents (or kids!) on New Year’s Eve?Bourbon Street was everything I expected and more. Sequins sparkled, there was the sound of laughter and music echoing down every side street, and everywhere bright green drinks glowed in oddly shaped containers

http://www.nola.com/drink/index.ssf/2014/07/bourbon_street_hand_grenade_au.html

We people-watched to our hearts content and had many strange and interesting conversations with revelers of all ages. In all my travels, I’ve never experienced anything quite like it!

Around 11:15 we strolled around the periphery of Jackson Square (which the city had wisely locked up for the night) listening to more street music and daring each other to get our fortunes told (we didn’t). We ended up on the banks of the Mississippi River where we watched the Fleur de Lis drop off the Jax building (disappointing) and the fireworks set off over the water (amazing). It was there that we had our most unusual encounter of the night, when a young man in a red, white, and blue Ugly Sweater Suit (see http://www.whatonearthcatalog.com/ ) decided to use the mighty Mississippi as his own personal toilet and wanted to make sure that we all understood how symbolically important it was for him to do this. Once everyone had stopped laughing, we wished each other a “Happy New Year” and started back to the Bourbon Hotel. It was definitely a night to remember and I’d highly recommend it to those of you who need to work on character description for a short story or novel or simply have a well-developed sense of adventure. Great start to 2016!


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