Travel Journal: New Orleans

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This is a guide for all you homebody introverts who love a good adventure and want to see the world, but don’t love being drained beyond reason by the time you get home. In this series, I share my city tips on how to conserve your introverted energy and have the best time ever all at once. YOU. CAN. DO. IT. Some people like to call this traveling, but I like to call all trips a vacation. Welcome to a vacationer’s guide to easy travel. You’ll see me uses (+) to denote added energy and (-) to denote lost energy. 

5 Things to Do:

Ferry Boat Ride ($2 each way) 
Energy Level: +5

Practical, relaxing and scenic all at once. If you decide to stay across the river from the French Quarter, this provides views, seats, and a very short “cruise” across the Mississippi. Bonus points for a sunset ride and enjoying the water.

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City Park + Sculpture Garden all at once!
Energy Level: -5

This is just a park, but it’s a pretty park with great trees, interesting sculptures, and a playground. It was fun to walk around this area, appreciate the art, and take a break on a bench every once in awhile.

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Bourbon Street
Energy Level: -10000000

We simply just walked down the street and looked around. Josh bought a drink at one of the stands along the street, just to have the rebellious feeling of carrying a drink in the streets. New Orleans is the only city that allows it, so it’s basically a cultural experience, right? This is loud, dirty, entertaining, fun, and mostly draining if you hate crowds, but love a good scene. Walk through it anyway.

Jazz Bars
Energy Level: +5

After walking along Bourbon street, listen with your ears for the sound of live jazz. I’m sure you’ll find it – just walk towards it until you’re inside and sitting. Ahhhh, jazz music and sitting and drinking. The best. Once you’re inside and find a seat, it’s very relaxing and chill. It’s just getting there that’s the hard part! We went to Fritzel’s and Maison Bourbon Jazz Club. We looked up other places, but ended up here using our mere instincts and grit (ears). Let your ears guide you, people!

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Harrah’s
Energy Level: +2

Casino. So, this only works if you’re with someone who likes to play cards or throw away money into machines. Josh likes to play cards, or that’s what I call it. 😉 This is inside, which was great on a rainy day. It was a surprisingly calming to be in a clean space that felt organized and maintained. (Contrast: Bourbon) This is also called #compromise. I don’t play cards, but had a leisure stroll around the casino and thought about taking a small nap in the bar area. (I didn’t. But I could have. It’s all about having that option, you know?) I ended up watching Josh play cards which was actually entertaining.

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Book Shops: Mid-City Book Shop & Garden District Book Shop
Energy Level: +5

I love a good local book shop. It’s hard for me to justify dishing out $20 for the latest book, so I rarely every buy brand new books. But, I love looking at the locally featured authors and the selection that each shop has. It’s quaint, quiet, and cute – and that for sure refills my energy for a bit. Bonus points for sitting and reading part of a book for a bit, too.

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5 Things to Eat:

Cafe Du Monde (+5)

The line goes by super fast, especially at 11pm at night. Or, it did when we were there. It’s worth the wait to get a table and sit down, don’t be deceived by the “to-go” line that looks shorter. In my opinion, it’s probably not. This gets a +5 energy rating because SUGAR COFFEE DOUGHNUTS, ya hear?

Hansen’s Snow-Bliz Shop (+8)

Refreshing, snowy, and yum. This is a shaved ice place, but with ice that is super smooth and flavors that basically make it taste like ice cream. Thus, it’s the perfect blend between shaved ice and ice cream. Aka the best things ever invented.

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Canjun Seafood (-5)

Crawfish is hard work, so there’s that. There’s no pictures of this because who can pick up a camera when your hands have absorbed all of the juices involved in crawfish. So very tasty, but so much work.

Restaurant Rebirth (+100000000)

An introverts dream! Small, quiet, not crowded, comfy, great bathrooms, and the best and most fancy seafood we’ll ever eat. This is a fancy pants place where you have to be prepared to spend a lot of money, but it’s totally worth it. If anything, you can save all your money eating just this meal and beignets the whole time. It’s worth it. Best and most fresh seafood we’ve ever had. Reservations only. Do it.

Mojo Coffee (+2)

Low key coffee shop that is spacious, has good bathrooms, and good coffee. We had to sit outside in the cold, but that was a small price to pay for the laid back atmosphere and break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Bonus points for reading a book for just a couple of minutes. It’s always worth it.

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Summary:

New Orleans is known for being a crazy party city, but with the right stops throughout the day and a little bit of research in picking out a cozy, yet lively jazz bar for the night, it’s totally doable. I didn’t feel drained at all throughout this trip and my husband Josh and I were quite proud of our ability to stay out #alldaylong. Feel free to leave questions in the comments below! Happy vacationing!

 

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The Top 5 Letters in My Alphabet

My February series was a doozy for me, but I keep thinking about how much  I learned about discipline in my writing from it. I’ve also been reflecting on what caught people’s eye the most.

Here are the most popular posts of the alphabet:

5. B is for Books – 4 Reasons to Pick Up a Book Right Now

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4. C is for Change – How to Make a Change Right This Second

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3. S is for Start – What You Need to Do Right No to Jump Start Your Passions

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2. F is for Faith – The Beginner’s Guide to Writing About Faith

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1. A is for Asian Americans – What You Need to Know About the Asian American Identity

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Which one of these stands out to you the most? How about in the rest of the series? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

P is for Privilege

I sit here in a hipster Austin coffee shop on South Lamar writing about my passion for writing. Fueling my energy into this bloggy blog that I want to start. Seeking out even more comfort for my already comfortable life.

Josh leans over and tells me about refugees that had already been vetted to come to America can no longer come because of an executive order that was just signed that restricted travel from these countries. These families have already sold all of their things to buy these plane tickets. It was already done. And just like that, it’s all taken away. The livelihood of these people. Their entire lives in flux. 

I sit here thinking about how I can make my writing career happen. Writing about how much I love books and words. But, what good are my words if they just promote my own privilege, power, and position?

It’s not my fault that I have privilege. But, it is my fault if I use it all for myself.

I recently had a conversation with a student who questioned whether or not it was possible for marginalized groups of people to use their race or religion as a way to manipulate situations or conversations. As much as I wanted to scream truth at him in regards to his false assumptions, I realize that each of these moments in time is pinnacle in reaching the next generation. The questions that kids raise about racism, justice, and privilege are important.

He asked these questions based on playground banter where someone had called him racist, and he recognized how there was nothing that he could say to that. He didn’t understand why, but he felt ostracized and shut down. His privilege lay in the fact that he had not experienced racism himself, thus he’s never had to enter into these conversations from the victim’s perspective.

We talked about how this was the point where he had to put his feelings of being offended aside. We talked about how this was important because it gave him an opportunity to understand the other side. If somebody called him racist, there was something that he said (whether intentional or not) that triggered hurt in the other person. And because of that, it was his job to start a conversation and seek to understand.

In seeking to understand, this is where we can use our privilege to empower the oppressed. In seeking to build a bridge through conversation and dialogue, this student can learn to use his privilege or position to support the marginalized. Instead of lashing out in anger that somebody called him out on his racism or privilege, he can listen to the stories of his peers and understand the hurt that he has caused them. At a young age, he has the opportunity to be a person of privilege and power that continually learns how to speak up for injustices that do not necessarily plague him directly.

We can’t undo our privilege. What we were born with is what our stories will always hold. However, we can undo the ways that we are accustomed to using our privilege.

The first step is recognizing the privilege that I have. From there, I want to take all the steps that I possibly can to use the gifts, talents, position, power, and privilege to empower the marginalized, bring justice to the oppressed, and give voice to the voiceless.

A is for Asian American

In the month of February, I’m challenging myself to write more (everyday), share more, and risk more. So, here’s the start of an A to Z series based on whatever came to my mind first. 😉 Enjoy the ride! 


I think a lot about what it means to be both Asian and American. My earliest memories of realizing my racial identity as “being different” came from hearing whispers of the term “diversity” from my mom regarding their decision to move me and my brother from our White Christian Private School to the Public School.

When arriving at said Public School, my memories include mean boys assuming that all the things I did on the weekend were That Chinese Thing. These were the first whispers telling me that I was different than Them, that I was inferior, and that an “Us” existed but I wasn’t part of it. I learned that it was possible for others to know me only for what I looked like: my chubby cheeks, dark hair, small eyes, and flat nose.

I remember hearing whispers from my parents of the reason why we attended the Chinese Church. We wanted to be around people who looked like us. But, at church, I met whispers in Chinese that I didn’t understand. My parents had never been to China and didn’t speak Chinese. While everyone else studied for their Chinese School tests, I sat by chilling out. I didn’t envy their dreaded Chinese School homework, but it was yet again, another point of difference.

This persists in present time. I meet others with expectations of my cultural and linguistic background. As if my dark hair, small eyes, and flat nose, They are able to derive the values and traditions that I grew up with.  Assumptions are made about my knowledge of “my country.” The country that I’ve never been to, yet supposedly carry with me everywhere that I go.

All things considered, I didn’t have a problem with my racial identity growing up the only thing confusing about it was that other people seemed to be confused. Yet, at the same time, I’m not going to lie – as a budding teenager I often thought that it’d be easier to be a white girl. I could blend in more, not be called out as much, not questioned for my lack of bilingual-ness, and maybe be heard more for what I had to say.

Yet even still, the woes of discrimination as an Asian American woman are limited. Nobody assumes me to be dangerous or stupid. Nobody assumes me to be illegal or dishonest. The social stereotypes of Asian Americans are unacceptable, yes. However, a stereotype that disrupts my comfort is far different than a stereotype that disrupts my safety as a human being. And in that, I must recognize the privilege that I hold.

In college, I learned to embrace my unique cultural and racial identity. My college courses put terms  to my experiences and ideologies that explained the racism I had experienced. I surrounded myself with a homogenous group of Asian American Christians, and I finally felt “normal.” I felt safe to be myself and to explore the diversity that exists within a homogeneous group like this. Even more so, I felt grateful that I had the privilege to choose to situate myself in groups where I was either in the majority or the minority.

As I’ve learned more and more about my racial identity as a 2nd generation Chinese American woman, I can honestly say that I love who I am. I love the bridge that my culture is able to build between one generation to the next. I love the shared experiences that I can embrace between anyone who looks Asian, and the way that we are all unified by the way that the world perceives us. I love that I am able to defy others’ expectations and sometimes serve as an educator in culture.

In recent years, what I’ve grown to love most is the empathy that I can begin to build with other people of color, and the challenge that I have to take on their hurt and racism as my own. I love that my identity has fueled me to ferociously and passionately call racism when I see it, learn more about the injustices of the world, and act justly in all the best ways that I know. And even more so, to never stop seeking to do that more deeply and expansively.

What about you? What’s your story?