Beads, Bums & Bars: My Mardi Gras Experience

What: Mardi Gras

Where: Bourbon Street in New Orleans, LA

When: February 9th-February 12th

Who: Myself, Gwen, Nate, Derrick, Gwen’s 2 college friends (Morgan & Leanne) and 6 other people

Why: When living in Louisiana, do as the New Orleanians do.

Wow. Mardi Gras. What an experience.  I think the easiest way to talk about my days in New Orleans is to break it up by day. So HERE WE GO…

Saturday

Music blaring and coffee in hand, I drove to A-town (AKA Alexandria) to Derrick’s apartment. From there he and I made the 3 1/2 hour drive to NOLA. After a failed attempt to use my ‘Mardi Gras Jam City’ playlist, we spent the tripping talking about life and trying to find a decent radio station. We only stopped once to get gas and get Starbucks, but due to poor city planning, we got back on the highway before making it to Starbucks. We hit major traffic getting into the New Orleans, but at least we got to  drive past the Super Dome (BEYONCE WAS HERE!)

Superdome!

We get into the city and we literally drive right up to a FREE and OPEN street parking spot that is a block from our hotel. Maybe this is a sign for a good weekend! Derrick and I are both starving, so we walk around and find a good place to eat. The streets are filled with Elephant Ear stands, Domino pizza carts and places to get frozen drinks. We feel like our luck is running out..We start wandering onto some of the side streets, turn a corner and what do we see? A man on the sidewalk, comatose. People were checking to see if he had a pulse. I don’t think he was breathing. We end up eating at Sergio’s, which was actually on Bobby Flay’s Throwdown where they tried to see who had the best Muffaletta. Even though Bobby Flay lost, we still got Shrimp Po-Boys and Bud Lights. We walk outside to a Mardi Gras Parade (one of many). We had a good time catching beads and watching the floats. A nice family even gave Derrick and I some jello shots.

We finally get into our hotel room and meet up with the rest of our group, as well as meet the other people we are staying in the room with. We had an awesome view of the street and parades from our hotel room. After spending some time in the room <drinking>, we made our way downstairs to a parade that was going on. Our group then tried to hang out Bourbon Street, but due to the immense crowds and craziness, we just hung out on canal street then got waffles at IHOP. We were up so late, we got to watch them clean the trash and beads from the street!! Crazy how much there was!

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Sunday

The next morning, Derrick and I got up and went to breakfast at The Ruby Slipper, which is near the Warehouse District. Since there was a 45 minute wait, we went and took a walk down by the Riverwalk. We walked down past the casino and took pictures in front of a lobster.

Crawfish Riverwalk

We made our way back to the restaurant and ate!! It was so good!! We both had peach bellinis then Derrick had shrimp & grits and I had a omelet with cheese, mushrooms and spinach with a side of grits. I was pleasantly surprised about the grits. They would have been better with cheese. The omelet was also really good. very fluffy, but filling.

The Ruby Slipper-Danae

Yum Yum Breakfast!

After breakfast, we met up with the rest of the group at the hotel and ran around. We spent sometime in Harrah’s. Leanne made 3 dollars, but the rest of us came out empty handed. We made our way back to Bourbon Street where I not only did we get Hand Grenades (a drink that we have no idea what is in it) at Tropical Isle, but I also got my picture taken with THE hand grenade. Although it was kind of groping me through is costume (that’s why I’m laughing). We went to a gay bar where I ran into guys that went to ULM and live currently in Chicago. Love running into people from home, even when I have no idea who they are. We also went to Pat O’ Brian’s to get their famous Hurricanes. The most exciting thing that happened that night was we went to Channing Tatum’s bar on Bourbon Street, Saints & Sinners. It looks pretty cute for having the name ‘Sinners’ in it. We even got on the balcony and through bead at people. A guy told us to come back the next night because they were taking pictures for the website…The night ended with seeing yet MORE passed out drunks and waffles at IHOP.

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Monday

On Monday it rained off and on all day! Leanne lost one of her contacts, so her, Gwen, Morgan and Nate ran to a local eye doctor. While they were gone, Derrick and I walked around in the rain trying to find coffee. After being “shooed” from a Starbucks, we wandered into a PJ’s coffee for some rain coverage and caffeine. While the coffee was bad, the company was good. We were hungry for lunch, but wanted to wait for the rest our group to eat lunch. We wandered into this little dive place and had some chicken gumbo. The work staff was…intense….but the food was good. When all met up again at Mother’s…a New Orleans must. The line was out the door, but we were entertained by the Commissioner of Tailgating himself, Mr. Joe Cahn. While we had no idea if his stories were true, we googled him and his story checked out. We even got a picture with him! He even does things for the Travel Channel. Check out his website here! We also walked down by the waterfront because there was the ZuLu music festival going on. We listened to this band at an outside cafe, we walked into an art gallery. Later that night, we thought we were going to go back to Saints & Sinners, but we looked rough after all the rain, so we decided to skip it. We also wandered to find this place called Mona Lisa Pizza. They ended up being closed, so that was a fail. We ended up eating at an overpriced pizza place. While bar hopping, we met up with 2 of Nate’s friends and went for a late night snack at Cafe Du Monde for beignets. Safe to say I was not being a dietitian this weekend…Also, we saw Nick Cannon on a parade float!! Pretty cool!

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Tuesday

Tuesday was our last night there. It rained off and on, but that didn’t stop us from spending our last day in NOLA outside on the streets. We tried to find place to eat lunch and went to Domenica’s inside The Roosevelt Hotel. I got this roasted eggplant pizza. SO GOOD!! After going back to the hotel and hanging out with people, we all went our separate ways. On our way out of town, Derrick and I got detoured due to the parade that was ongoing, but still managed to get on the highway. We went a different way then when we came. We actually went through Hammond, LA which is where the movie “The Lucky One” takes place.  We got Starbucks to tide us over until we got to Lafayette where we got the food we had been longing for since Saturday….JIMMY JOHNS! It was so good. By the time we got back to Alexandria, it was 8pm, then I still had a long (and lonely) drive back to Monroe. It was the first time I had been alone since the start of Mardi Gras. It felt soo go to be back in my own bed and unpack. Felt good to be clean again!

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Wednesday

Wednesday I was sore and tired. After sleeping the morning away, I awoke and joined Gwen, Nate, Morgan and Leanne to the Bierdharn Coke Museum and Gardens in Monroe. We got a history about the Biedharns, who moved to Monroe and bottled Coca-Cola. We even got cokes for a nickle in a glass bottle!! After the tour of the museum, we got a tour of Emmy-Lou Bierdharn’s home. She was the daughter of the man who started bottled Cokes in Monroe. She was a very wealthy woman and loved having nice things. She had a career as an opera singer in Europe but moved back to Monroe due to the war. I got to play on her grand piano!! (see picture below) We also walked around in the outside garden. If I was living in Monroe for the rest of my life, I would get married in this garden. It was gorgeous. Apparently they have concerts here in the spring and summer. I’m sure it is really pretty during that time.

I also planned on writing this blog entry, but that obviously, that did not happen. I could barely do my homework. I used Wednesday as a R&R day, and by R&R I mean rest and recover!

Overall, the weekend was great! Nobody got sick, nobody got hurt, nobody fought (at least with each other) and nobody got lost, raped or killed (except for that one guy that got shot on Bourbon)! Pretty successful for us! This time last week I was in New Orleans and a week later, I’m still recovering. Next week is a new week!

XOXO, Danae

P.S. I know I wrote a lot, but that is mainly for me, so I remember what I did!! 1000 brownie points for you if you actually read this whole thing!

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Just another kick in the kidneys..

Wow!! I have been meaning to write this post since last Thursday, but I am just NOW getting the time to write it out. I have been keeping a list of things to write. I’ll be honest, it is a long list. But I will get through it as briefly and less boringly as possible.

This last Tuesday I started at Fresenius Medical Care Dialysis Center. I did not think I was going to hate dialysis (apart from the blood. I knew I was going to hate that), but I did not think I was going to like it has much as I do. Yes, Renal is very complex, but I love the RD that I am with and I love that she is always doing different things. She never does the same thing everyday. Because these patient are hooked up to machines 3 days a week for 4 hours a time, the RD needs to be creative with education and information. You can not just do handouts all the time. That gets annoying…and who needs all that paper!

I have been doing several things this week. The first thing is working on an event called Protein Day! High protein is important for those on dialysis. We encourage our patients to use the Isolate Whey Protein Powder to help increase protein intake. We made the patients different items that they can make with the protein power. We made two protein shakes: 1 with Almond Milk and the protein powder, and another one with raspberry sherbet, sugar-free Sprite and protein powder. We also made “ice cream sandwiches” which is Cool Whip mixed with protein powder, smushed between two graham crackers. The patients really enjoy these! I also put together goodie bags which include a scoopful of the protein powder, a high protein cookie, a Zone bar and a recipe card with three recipes. We executed our protein day today for the MWF patients, and on Thursday we will do it again for our TRS patients.

My second project has been putting together bulletin boards. I made a bulletin board related to a contest that is going on at the dialysis center, a bulletin board about heart disease and dialysis for a dialysis center in Columbia and a bulletin discussing New Years Resolutions for patients and employees.

Bulletin Board about Heart Disease

Bulletin Board about Heart Disease

My last project, which was my main 4 day project was a “Shop Smart” bulletin board for education patients on foods that they CAN have while being on a renal diet/dialysis. I spent 4-5 hours walking around Wal-Mart looking at food labels and finding new food ideas for patients. Then I put together a tri-fold post organized into different areas of the grocery store. I also looked at prices and levels of phosphorus, sodium and potassium. It was quite the event, but I was really pleased with how the poster turned out…and so was my preceptor.

Shop Smart Angle 1

Shop Smart Angle 1

Shop Smart Angle 2

Shop Smart Angle 2

Whew…

Today I worked on putting together monthly educational materials and recipes for the next year.

XOXO, Danae

12 days until Mardi Gras in NOLA!

P.S. With 3 months and 19 days left of this internship (but I am not counting…), I am definitely looking forward to going back home. I saw this video the other day and it really made me miss the Chi.

I am not wishing away my internship, but I will be excited when I can graduate from this program and start working!

Airlines: Screwing People Over Since Forever

Oh the woes of traveling by flight…

When it comes to flying home, I have been 9 for 9 (6 flights over Thanksgiving, 2 for traveling home for Christmas and 1 for working my way back to LA). I was almost 10 for 10, but United Airlines didn’t feel like giving me 100%.

I flew from Chicago to Houston with ease. When I got off the plane, I made sure that the flight to Monroe was on time…and it was. By the time I walked to the gate, the flight had been cancelled!! How can a plane break down in under 6 minutes??!!!

Credit to: CartoonStock

Credit to: CartoonStock

After talking with fellow flyers, arguing with the United ticket guy and calling my parents, it had come to the conclusion that the only way for me to get to Monroe the same day was to fly into Shreveport. The evening flight to Monroe was overbooked and the earliest they could get me into Monroe was 3 pm….THE NEXT DAY! Yeah…I am not using one of my three sick days because United Airlines can’t have a working plane.

The flight to Shreveport left at 3 pm, so I only had to wait in the Houston airport for 3 hours (Thank God for Starbucks and free WIFI). Thankfully, Jon (Kelly’s boyfriend, who was picking me up anyway at the Monroe Airport), graciously drove out to Shreveport to pick up stranded, little old me! We managed to make it home by 6 pm, giving me enough time to unpack, eat dinner, and enjoy what was left of my relaxing evening. I am just glad my luggage didn’t get lost.

I may be 9 for 10, flight-wise, but at least percentage-wise, I still get an A!

XOXO, Danae

Fall Community Rotation Part 3 of 3: Completed! (Next Stop Home!)

Well, not only is the third part of my community rotation completed, but  I have finished my second quarter of graduate school/internship!! It is crazy how fast time has flown by. It has been a hard quarter, so I have definitely earned a break!

My last week at the diabetes center was great. I love the atmosphere there– it is so laid back. I love the ability to follow up with patients and see how they are doing, yet I love it when I have some free time to sit with my co-workers and drink homemade hot cocoa. The people I worked with were so sweet and I am going to miss working with them. I would so the most interesting patient I had this week was I sat in on a lap-band surgery consultation for a girl who is just 10 days older than me! 10 DAYS! It is so sad when someone is 23 years old and they are that overweight that they need the lap band, when it actuality, with diet and exercise they could most likely lose the weight. But  I guess if you won’t put forth the effort to cut back, exercise and eat right it makes sense to take the easy way out? I don’t know if I 100% agree with that.

Because Monroe Airport is so small (Only three airlines fly into this airport and they probably have 5-10 flight in and out of there is a day), I have mucho connecting flights. You can only get to Monroe Airport via Houston Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and Atlanta Airport. I start my flight journey at 6 something in the AM, but I get into the Chi around 3:30. So and early start, but I get to spend the rest of the afternoon with my family and wine!  Below is  visualization.

Monroe–> Dallas/Ft. Worth –> Peoria –> Chicago

Gwen and Nate and myself (along with possibly some other guests) are going to Enoch’s Irish Pub tonight to celebrate a number of things like:

  1. My finishing hell previously known as Research Proposal
  2. Gwen has completed both of her management rotations
  3. Me going home.
  4. Completion of Gwen’s Management Theme Day
  5. Completion of Fall Quarter
  6. It’s the weekend!
  7. Good Final Evaluations

You get the point…there is a lot to celebrate!

I plan on having fun tonight, but I am very excited to hop on that plane tomorrow morning! I will try to at least write one entry while home.

I want to know what YOU love about Thanksgiving. Take my poll!!

And to my family that is reading this right now…I’m coming home!! Can’t wait to see you!!

XOXO, Danae

1 Day until Home!