Archive | March, 2018

Team Team: The DREAM TEAM

18 Mar

When I say “girls’ trip,” you might think of the usual suspect: Vegas. But nope!  Or, you may think of the actual movie, Girls Trip. And yes! For Colleens birthday destination, we traveled to a city with energy, abundance of life, and soul. And luckily for you, what happens there doesn’t have to stay there…it’s all in this blog. Think jazz, voodoo, mardi gras; the epicenter of vibrancy. Think, New Orleans!


The image that should pop into your head when you think of New Orleans.



Can you see the music in this photo?  Is it coming from the green or the black?  The black?  I love that!

So now before I continue, let me introduce to you the members of Team Team (that’s what we named the squad. Is it creative? Debatable. Is it original? Dubious. Is it catchy?  No doubt.  Is it fun? Absolutely).


The squad:


Lookin’ good!  “My one…er two true love(s).”.  — from you know who.


We wore these smiles all around town.


Introducing….Team Team!


We’re serving you The Beatles on Abbey Road realness.


Our wonderfully fun loving group consisted of yours truly and Nina, photography extraordinaire (almost every picture in this post was taken by her. And as you can see, the quality is amazing so I’m going to take a moment for some shameless friend promotion and say that you should check out her stuff at Next part of the dream team is McKenzie, Colleen’s future roommate, coworker, and extra fun addition to the group; and last but not least, Colleen, my bestie, who brought us all together for the trip. McKenzie, Nina, and I didn’t know each other before this trip started, but knowing that (clearly) Colleen has great taste in friends, we were all really excited to meet each other.

We arrived at separate times, and even though it was for her birthday, Colleen showed us mad love by picking each of us up at the airport. We rented the car, which got nick-named the screaming b*tch mobile, and we went on our merry way to get to know each other and settle into the airbnb.

When we got there, Nina asked if we wanted to see her collection of indie movie DVDs, which she had laid out to display in the other room. The answer was no, but she was reaallllyyy eager for us to see the collection. After asking about it a couple more times (and us awkwardly finding excuses not to go see the collection), she found another reason to get us into the other room anyway and came back with a cake. It was then that we realized that it had never been about about the DVDs…she had been trying to surprise Colleen! Not only was this a super cute gesture, but we were also relieved that Nina wasn’t that into her DVD collection of indie movies.

So after playing some games (including the memorable Fresh air. Sitting in a chair.  No hair. #Don’tcare) and celebrating Colleen, all with a dawning realizing that we were going to have the best time together, we prepared ourselves for the excursions to come. The next day, we ended up on a swamp tour… because when in NOLA, right?

Swamp pig sittin’ pretty.


No alligators that we could see.

Lazy river cruise.

New swamp pals.

The swamp tour was very interesting to say the least. It was something I had done once before on a previous trip to New Orleans (you’ll read about it soon, don’t worry, folks. It’s only from last September, working on getting caught up.), but on the last one I hadn’t seen any mammels. It was neat to see the wildlife this time around.

Back to the car we changed clothes, added some lip color (!), and headed out for the day.  We ended up on Frenchman street and were inspired to have fun wherever we went.  I dared Collen to go take a bite of some random guy’s sandwich. I, of course, knew she would do it but was still excited to see her execution plan. She and the guy talked for 3 minutes and then, she looked straight at me and took, not one, but TWO large bites. So, Colleen was the truth or dare champion.

Back in the car on our way to some other shenanigans at home, sober Nina drove and I was the to copilot.  #shotgun  Nina was always several steps ahead of me.  For example, when I saw a car trying to merge, I would alert her 3 seconds after she already reacted. We passed a cop car, and I alerted her moments after she had seen it and we already safely passed. I used other car time to change every setting on the radio and air conditioning, just to make sure we were the most comfortable. Can’t wait to get into the car with her again.  It was a hilarious ride, and no one would question whether Nina will allow me to copilot again because she absolutely will.


Pilot questioning my decisions.



Pilot putting copilot in her place.



Pilot and copilot take the backseat.



So, while we were not in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, we were there for St. Patrick’s Day. Same thing?  No. But still a party? You betcha. During our St. Patrick’s Day excursions, we found a pretty photogenic parking + photogenic women = photoshoot, so that is precisely what we decided to do. Here are some of the best shots:

Red brick to make the green pop!



Hugz N’ Smilez.



Beads N’ Stickerz.


Happy weirdos.



Birthday joy!









Leeny helping me keep my whites white.


So after the photoshoot, our St. Patty’s Day spirits led us to Hunk Oasis…or did we end up at Hunk O’ Mania? Either way…the name isn’t important. What was important was what was inside!  The hunks!  This was our first time in a male strip club and it won’t be our last.

So I know that I said whatever happens in NOLA doesn’t have to stay there…but maybe some things should. Like the rest of these pictures!


One of my favorite nights, though, was when we went out, and due to volume, I waited outside of a club while the ladies danced.   I met this guy, and although I was tempted to do another round of truth or dare and make him take a bite of someone’s food à la Colleen, we ended up putting a little spin on the game…Introducing: Truth or Make Someone’s Life Better. The rest of the night, we did kind favors for people, took pictures of couples together when they needed a photographer instead of taking selfies, and nice things like that.  It was really fulfilling.

The next couple of days were filled with even more adventures. We went to brunch at a restaurant where you could make your own bloody Mary’s.


Birthday cake ordered for the birthday girl by the birthday girl.


The coolest guy in town, Uriah!



Nina, practically begging me to spill water on her.


Another standout event was the tarot card reading. Some of Team Team went to get their fortunes read, but apparently the tarot card reader wasn’t very intuitive and only told them things they already knew or things that weren’t true. Oh, and she farted the whole way through the reading.

While that was going on, I was also able to go see my favorite band called New Thousand. By accident.  I saw them the last time I was in New Orleans, and they were just as good this time. At the street side show, I also ran into a kid I met at summer camp yeeeears ago! Dimitri.  Talk about a throwback!

All around, there were so many laughs, so many dares, and three new formed friendships. It was a great trip, and I couldn’t have asked for a better team. Team Team, that is.

It was a prrriiiiiivilege to have met you ladies! 😉




Genuine hugs.






These glitter shoes, getting the attention they deserve.


We love our Colleen!


Nina takes the best photos in the whole world.



You’ll be seeing these ears again sometime soon…



Saying goodbye to Nola.


Settling in…

5 Mar

Sometimes doing the most mundane, everyday things can respark your love for your everyday life. I had been reading a book called Surprise, courtesy of Katie B, when I needed to go get my phone plan changed. For those of you who know me, I’ve been having a lack of data problem recently.  But for some reason, I couldn’t switch carriers it unless I paid extra, and the guy at T-Mobile literally gave me $11 out of his own pocket so that I could change my plan. Faith in humanity = RESTORED. It was such a nice gesture; it was something out of the ordinary even amidst the familiar. It reminded me that even at home, you can still have just as many adventures as when you’re abroad.  


Speaking of at-home adventures…I decided to pay it forward and do some Couchsurfing hosting since I had been so graciously hosted on the road. Maybe I’d even let a disheveled traveler with only one pair of pants do some laundry at my house if they needed. Turns out, the chore my visitor preferred was cooking (how’d I get so lucky?!) My Couchsurfer was from India, and he was happy to cook us some (amazing) Indian food.



Home-cooked Indian food? Yes, please!










And when he wasn’t cooking Indian food, he found and an amazing Indian restaurant and we went out for some more amazing Indian food…


Not home-cooked, but still…yes, please!


When in Rome! Or, when India comes to you!  Hanging out, the three of us, I really got to see Helens sense of humor translate across cultures.  (Another time, when we were watching the Olympics a guy from Georgia fell — “Well, he’s probably drunk”.)


Food seemed to be a reoccuring theme… For example, I celebrated Chinese New Year for the first time with a friend I knew through Ben. It was her first time celebrating her New Years in America, and she, too, was super into food (so we got along well), but she had a very…let’s say, artistic palette. She would make dumplings but add Doritos or whipped cream, she also make some cupcake dumplings.  It was a memorable Chines New Years for both of us.

But home-cooked food from abroad wasn’t the only fun thing I got to experience. I was also fortunate enough to watch Helen do standup (it was hilarious, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my best friend. I’m saying it because she paid me to. Just kidding). She’s so professional; I’m always beaming with pride while watching the show.




Wish I could capture both the joke and the audience’s laughter in a picture.



Everyone’s pretty much clapping specifically for Helen…right? Yes. Even Helen is clapping for Helen.


Besides the standup, another standout during those first few weeks back was when Andy drove in from Cleveland. Tony organized a tabletop game for me, Ben, Jodi, Julie, Andy, and we all had a blast. We also spent two nights in a row at the Banff Mountain Film Festival (so good), and ended our time with spontanious fireworks from the Pirates game, which made the whole experience feel even more magical.


With smiles like these, it must be game night.


IMG_2005 2


Flag football.  Taking a 5…or a 10…or a 60-min. break.


One crazy memorable (or not memorable) night at Cantley’s it was Andrews birthday party 🙂 I won’t go into details but it’s not because I can’t remember them.


Stalker pic of the fam from above. But really, check out that massive bag of peanuts in the top right hand corner.


My mom took me to an anti-assault rifle rally in Pittsburgh, she made signs, and we marched in solidarity with the Parkland victims.  It was really inspiring to be around so many people who felt the same way we did. She’s a great mom.


No lies here…


Alex and Emily telling them to put your $$ where your thoughts & prayers are.


Overall, it’s been amazing to be back. Other than Newt Gingrich who is the worst.  Like I said earlier, there are definitely adventures hidden all around home. It would probably be poetic to say “you just have to go look for them,” but really, you don’t always. Even at home, sometimes the adventures just come to you in the simplest of forms. I don’t think you necessarily have to find them; you just have to appreciate them. It makes me think of the quote from Seinfeld: “I’ve come to think that the non-event is the best part of life.”

Full of non-events,