Tag Archives: culture

A City of Many Colors

It’s funny how quickly time passes, especially when you get older. Here we are, headed back to New Orleans yet again! (It’ll be the fourth time for me!) Apparently, it’s going to be an adventure getting down there; tropical storm Cindy made landfall yesterday and the system is headed up here to Ohio. We’ll see if our plane gets delayed or not. Hopefully it won’t be cancelled!

Earlier I had a gent who was replacing my windshield wipers ask me what I love most about New Orleans. I always have trouble pinning down something specific in answer to those questions, but I would say, simply, I love the vibes. As a country gal with a back-door Catholic upbringing, I am not all I seem. I’m always pushing myself, headed on the next adventure; I embrace my eccentric spirit wholly, and, I like to think, people like that about me. I am myself.

And that is what New Orleans is; she is herself, there is no other way to describe her. She embraces the creepy and weird, the adventurous, the musical, the artistic, the mystical, and makes no apologies about what experiences you may have. She is colorful, extreme, fantastical, and a city with her own thing going. I love every bit of her!

This year, I’ll absolutely explore my usual haunts: Cafe Du Monde–BEIGNETS!– Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the Houses of Voodoo, and even the plantations! (It’s been a  while since I’ve been to Oak Alley. I’d like to go back!) I’ll also explore some new locations: Kermit’s Treme Mother-In-Law Lounge, recommended to me by Dustin Pari, is definitely on my list. I also want to catch a cemetery tour and see Marie Laveau’s tomb. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now.

We’ll see what adventures I go on this time around. I’m sure, though, that it’ll be a fun, relaxing experience, as it has been the past four times! I do adore you, New Orleans.

Sincerely, as I prep for my departure, I am praying for those affected by tropical storm Cindy. May all souls in turmoil find strength, may you be blessed in your rebuilding. And may all those who have passed too soon find their ways to Heaven.

See you guys in a few weeks!

Your turn: What are some of your favorite locations/things about New Orleans? Comment below!

Thank you, Moana! (You’re welcome)

DAMN IT–I have an ear worm in my head.

Personally, I blame Dustin Pari for this; he has been bopping around Twitter with pictures of Maui saying “You’re welcome.” Naturally, since I had yet to watch Moana, I decided to finally make time and view the acclaimed movie.

It. Did. Not. Disappoint!

And, now, as it happens with movies that you really, really love, I’m obsessed with how the movie was made and the Polynesian culture that weaved throughout the plot. (In fact, I purchased a Hawaiian legend book the other day at work.)

Legitimately, I have been singing “You’re Welcome” from Moana on repeat for a good week now. Darn you, Lin-Manuel Miranda and your catchy lyrics! I mean, I don’t know for sure who was responsible for the song–I know Lin, Mark Mancina, and Opetaia Foa’i all worked together on the Moana soundtrack and give them ALL the points–but “You’re Welcome” and “Shiny” both seem up Lin’s alley.

Also, I am in love with “We Know The Way.” There are so many beautiful feelings that swarm into me whenever I hear that song. It makes me dream of exploration, yes, but, also, the part inside me that appreciates spirituality, history, lineage, and respects nature adores it!

I especially get chills at the part of the song where they sing:

“We are explorers reading every sign.
We tell the stories of our elders in a never-ending chain.”

Here’s an official link to part of the song, so you can join me in the chills, whether you’ve see Moana or not (because even out of context it’s a gorgeous song):

I also give all the props to John Lasseter and the Moana creators; they wanted to respect the Polynesian culture and history, so they did a five year research excursion to talk with locals in the South Pacific. Bonus: they actually hired locals to fact check them, and even invited them back to Disney to approve the film.

This is how you make a movie!

Here’s an article in Vanity Fair that talks more about this story:
How Pacific Islanders Helped Disney’s Moana Find Its Way
(There’s also a documentary about this on Moana’s bonus features, which is where I learned of the development.)

In turn, Moana has, as excellently told stories do, inspired me in my own stories. (Note: I am not talking about plagiarism. I know I don’t have to say that, but I want to make that clear.) The rich mythology, scenery, and character development has made me reflect on my skills as a writer and given me the urge to match Moana’s quality in my own writing.

The same thing happened with American Gods and Anansi Boys, which I fell in love with about a month ago. (I talk about it in my post: “Current Status: In Love With American Gods.“)

Here’s the amazing thing about well-crafted stories: they make you want to be a better writer. They raise the bar of what you thought was possible, and set the target higher, causing you to push your development as a creator into different areas. Some of which you didn’t think needed worked on, but, after seeing another reach so far, you realized you needed to do better.

It’s not an ego-related thing. It’s not putting yourself down. It’s just looking at another story and saying: “Yes. I can do that. I can reach that level. I know I can.”

So, yet again, I have been inspired to push myself as an artist; to reach the quality that my heroes and role models have accomplished before me. It’s a simple strength exercise game.

I look forward to what comes from this!

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Current Status: In Love with American Gods

Oh my good lord I am in love with American Gods!

Well, ok, let’s be frank here: it doesn’t take much to get me excited about Neil Gaiman. I know I’ve exclaimed my love for Josh Gates on this blog in the past; Gaiman is my author version. Meaning, he’s my most favorite author. Hands down.

Gaiman’s always surprising me in each new story that I read–and making me chuckle at some of the descriptions he weaves together. His characters are always colorful and unique, generally with some element of sass and innocence thrown in. (I adore sass!)

Furthermore, his plot catches me by surprise, especially the endings, which is a hard thing thing to do anymore. And his world-building is so phenomenally complex.

Basically me, after I finish a Gaiman story:

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But American Gods!

American Gods takes it to a whole new level!

I mean, I finished American Gods last week and I’m still obsessed with it! In fact, I am currently blasting my way through Anansi Boys because I want to soak in so much more of this world Neil Gaiman has created.

One of the biggest reasons I’m so intrigued by American Gods is because it takes world cultures and mythology and places them in a universe where gods and supernatural beings really exist. Those kinds of stories are always huge draws for me.

In fact, my own novel series operates on a similar kind of platform; one where angels, ghosts, and other beings walk freely among us. (Although the difference with my series is that these entities are free to be themselves, while in American Gods, the gods are incognito.)

Another thing I love about American Gods is how delightfully gritty it is. I adore gritty, no-holds kind of stories. James Patterson, Stephen King, the later Harry Potter books, The Hunger Games. The stories that chill you right down to the core. The ones that get right down to the primal nature of things, where there’s truly nothing to hold back.

Side note: I realized this the other day when the boyfriend and I were talking about whether American Gods or Anansi Boys were our favorites. He enjoys storylines that are goofier and less lurid, while I like reading and writing darker things. With exceptions, of course. (His “job” as my editor is going to be very challenging! *snerk snerk*)

All in all, I absolutely recommend American Gods. Whether you enjoy fantasy or more “realistic” narratives, the book fits all types of people’s interests. I’m not surprised it’s a bestseller.

Just, be warned, it’s an adult book. There’s a character called Bilquis who, well…

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You get the idea.

For a more visual feel, catch the Starz trailer for American Gods (premiering April 30th):

I cannot wait for more Mad Sweeney!!! 

Another side note: I love how involved the cast and crew have been with Neil’s story. It’s always really cool to see those who are adapting the work make an effort to include the creator in some way.

Take care, fangirls and fanboys.

Remember: it doesn’t matter if people agree with your views or not, you just need to be yourself, express your passions, and be respectful and love one another. BE. YOU!

The Best Journeys

If you’ve ever taken a moment to pause one of my YouTube videos, you’ll find I have a lot of sayings floating around my room.

Literally.

Roald Dahl’s quotation of “Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you…” perches on the wall to my left as I type, while Josh Gates and Tom Hiddleston sayings flash above my mirror in the early afternoon sunlight. And that’s only scratching the surface of my decorated four walls! Whether they’re artwork or sayings from TJ Maxx, paintings friends have crafted, or a mural pieced together by my own hands, each piece of decoration on my wall has its own purpose, its own story to tell.

God, I love being in my room. Some people have told me that it’s too cluttered; that it’s good to clear out some wall space. However, while I have had my purging moments and have been deeply satisfied, my walls are truly a reflection of me.

Heck, whenever I change rooms (or houses), I’ll probably cover those walls with quotes too!

This month, a box quote that occupies the windowsill behind my laptop is particularly reaching out to me. I see it every day; it inspires me not only in adventure but in life. 

“The best journeys answer questions you didn’t even think to ask.”

This quote is what I would pick to describe my most recent years. There have been some good, adventurous, life changing moments… and some that have been absolute crap. But all of them have answered questions that I didn’t even think to ask in the first place.

Funny how God works, isn’t it?

This Monday, actually, was an anniversary for me. Two years ago, I started talking to my guardian angel (Zadkiel) and really opened up spiritually. And that’s when things started making sense. It was kind of like a puzzle; I found answers to some weird stuff that happened to me in the past, I gained more confidence in who I was–and in my soul and spirituality–and the pieces all clicked together.

In turn, I started to see the magic in the world around me and I stopped wishing I was somewhere else.

Yes, I did actually have moments in my life where I prayed to God that he would whisk me away to places like Middle-Earth or other alternate realities where I could hang out with characters I loved. Where I could adventure, romance, and just escape the responsibilities of our world. Even at the expense of my own family.

But, now, in the present, I really do love our world, and I’m eternally grateful that I do. I love to explore it, whether through travel or spiritual work. (That’s where I find the magic; the best in human kind.) It’s not solely black and white. You can do something so much deeper than a 9-to-5 job and pay bills. We’re here on this Earth to do important; to love, to live, and maybe even to leave a legacy behind. God has put us all here for a reason, it’s up to us to find it and persevere.

The answers will unveil themselves as long as you’re open to them.

Elton Pope from Doctor Who said it best:

“When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… grow up. Get a job. Get married. Get a house. Have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.”

There’s so much to explore! There’s so many journeys to be had! We only have one life to live, what are you waiting for?

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Love, Katie


Bonus: a few days ago I published a video about how this past year has been over all with some extra words of encouragement for those going through tough times.

Check it out if you want:

NOLA 2016!

Hip hip hooray!
It’s here at last!
The week I’m in
Good ol’ N’awlins
It’ll be a gas!
– A quick, weird, possibly terrible poem by yours truly!


Yes! The marathon prep has officially ended and I’m boarding a plane to New Orleans! I’m honestly pleased and surprised at all that I got done. It surely gives me perspective of what a to-do list, a lot of elbow grease, and stubbornness can get done! I’m so excited; I haven’t written so much in ages!

Now is time to rest, recuperate, and enjoy the spoils of my hard work!

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Honestly, there’s not a lot planned around this New Orleans trip. Really the only activity I reserved is seeing a psychic with my sister-in-law, which, hey, it’s NOLA and I’m always curious about what will be said! I know there’s also talk of visiting the shops (including the voodoo ones), seeing the bayou and going to a plantation, which I haven’t done since 2011. (Unfortunately Myrtles is too far away from the French Quarter, so that’ll have to wait for another time… again!)

We’re also looking at taking another Haunted History Tour, preferably the New Orleans Cemetery History Tour and I’ve had my eye on Ghost City Tour’s New Orleans Ghost Hunt Experience, but that one will probably wait until another trip.

Oh, and on another note, I definitely want to see what Pokémon GO looks like down there; maybe I’ll bring home some ghost Pokémon!

All I know is that we’re set to relax and explore, to soak in the wonderful blend of culture that is New Orleans. The music, food, accents, and, of course, legends that surround this place are amazing! It’s such a different vibe from my Ohio hometown, but I truly adore it. Plain and simple: I just love New Orleans! 

Hey, also, if you want to soak in some NOLA vibes for yourself, check out the Youtube video I made last year:

I’ll definitely post another video, at some point during my week in NOLA, on my Youtube Channel and I’ll be sharing pictures, of course, over on Instagram which will then feed to my other social media accounts.

Hope you guys have a great week! New Orleans, here I come!

Memories of An English Excursion: The Taxicab Driver

Alrighty! Well I’m pleasantly surprised to find I did journal about the taxicab driver when I was in England. All this weekend I’ve been submitting to journals. Yesterday was Chicken Soup for the Soul. Today I’m aiming for the Silver Linings Writing Contest and one other.

The “other” being… of a mature rating… of a certain kind of anthology…

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…. and also I may not get to it. We’ll see.

(Update: I know I’m not getting to it, so I’m not stressing. T’was low on my list. ANYWAYS.)

So, for my Silver Lining, I am reading through my England journalings. Back in 2009, I signed up for a study abroad program at Lancaster University. I was shy, scared, and on my own. For the first time in any of my travels. It’s one thing to travel alone for the first time in your home country. But another to travel alone for the first time in a completely new country.

My emotions were accurate.

The most memorable moment of my England jaunt was when I went to London to visit an American family. They were relatives of a woman at church and I promised I would connect with them. Around the time of Thanksgiving, I did. We had a wonderful visit. I was pleasantly surprised to find them with an American-English Thanksgiving feast in their kitchen. Honestly, I really hadn’t expected it. And I had been missing home. I remember at their house, I forgot I was in England.

The whole visit was a wonderful recharge from culture shock. Because of them, I could get through my finals that would start in a few weeks.

Man, I forgot how tough college is sometimes. Especially abroad.

So on the adventure back to Lancaster (in Northeast England — up between Manchester and The Lake District), it definitely took smarts.

  • The American family saw me off in Ely.
  • Train from Ely to Birmingham.
  • Train from Birmingham to Preston.
  • Train from Preston to Lanc–

–well, that’s when we hit a speed bump.

The train from Preston to Lancaster had been cancelled. It was 10PM. Thirty miles to Lancaster. No other trains were coming.

So. Close.

How was I to get back to my dorm? Was I to wait for the morning? Get a hotel room? Miss my Monday classes?

Cue Angelic interference. Three women I had talked to on the train disembarked. They saw my deer-in-the-headlight expression. They were headed to Lancaster too. Or past it. I don’t remember. All I remember: they were headed in the same direction.

Could they drop me off? Nope. Of course their car was full.

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However, the women did help me in another way. There were taxicabs lined up outside of the station. Waiting for a customer.

“Can someone give me a ride to Lancaster University?” I mumbled. Tired. Frustrated. Shy. Uncertain.

The drivers sprung into action. They bickered over who would take the large fair. In hindsight, I realized it was rare for most drivers to make a £45 fare. Honestly, I consider it a win-win for both of us. I really didn’t want to stay in a hotel, so I was happy to pay him. Like Kismet, I had the perfect amount of cash in my wallet — for fare and a generous tip.

10:00PM. Cab ride, Preston to Lancaster University.

The Indian driver and I chat here and there. I take in the M2 Motorway. Lancaster University was in the countryside, just outside of Lancaster itself. So I really hadn’t had the opportunity to take in a highway or city life. I did get to walk around London by myself for twenty minutes, and now I get to view the highway. Definitely an alluring sight.

The driver pipes up suddenly. The words that come out of his mouth floor me.

“You are gorgeous!” He says.

I’m sure my expression followed the Emoji: (⊙﹏⊙✿)

“Uh… thanks.” I stammer. At that point in my life I wasn’t really confident in my appearance. Especially because I had lost half of my weight before England through a starvation diet, only to gain it back during my three month stay.

“Do you have a boyfriend?” Asks the driver.

“Uh. Yeah.”

“Does he take care of you?”

“Yup.”

“Do you… ‘gupti-gupti’ with boyfriend?”

Again,  (⊙﹏⊙✿)

“Uh… uh. Yeah.”

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I mean, come on, what else was I going to say? I wasn’t sure where this conversation was leading… and frankly I didn’t go there. I wanted to get home. So I did what my parents raised me to do: politely change the subject.

Ten minutes later, I was back on Lancaster University. The memory behind me.

Honestly, looking back on that memory now, I chalk it up to a great story to tell. A travel story of my own. Almost six years later, I’m on my way to becoming the woman I always wanted to be. Maybe, just maybe, this cab driver was seeing what I couldn’t see: confidence, beauty, intelligence, and a passion for exploring the world.

Even if I was so shy back then, I am proud I made it through. I accomplished what I thought was impossible: a study abroad, with good marks, and a heck of a lot experience under my belt. Now, in 2015, I’m a passionate writer, an anxious explorer, and ready to take on the world. That is my Silver Lining.

Look out. Here I come.