Truth & Lies About Donuts and Birthdays Dec04

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Truth & Lies About Donuts and Birthdays

Birthdays are the perfect time to reset personal order, priorities and perspective. Much like the December 31st New Years, birthdays are the personalized version. An opportunity to create a new and improved – one year older you. I enjoy time reflecting on gratitude and developing a few ideas to further enhance my existence. Sometimes as simple as a commitment to always wear my seat belt or flossing or being less defensive or eating less processed and more whole foods. It feels more genuine to make these commitments to myself on a day that celebrates me instead of an arbitrary day on the calendar (12/31). So as this year’s birthday approached, I had some soul searching to do.

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Although this perspective came much later in life, I still hold fondly to one I learned early on. Age is a state of mind. I’m as old as I feel, or dare I say it, as old as I look. See, mom wasn’t a fan of declaring her real age. And she probably got away with it for as long as she did because she had flawless skin for much of her life. Fibbing about her age was a thing for her, and it became very natural for me to participate in her absence of truth. We weren’t allowed to disclose her real age, so it’s no wonder I celebrated my 29th birthday multiple times. In fact I think it was several months, maybe even years into the courting of her husband Ken, before he discovered her true age. Discovered via an open wallet and her drivers license laying out in plain sight – unveiling the truth. Obviously not a problem for Ken, but I think for mom, the actual number just made her seem older than she felt. All this to say, I came by my propensity to fib about my age, naturally.

Mom&Ali Like mother like daughter, fast forward to the year 2005 when Lin and I started dating. At that time I had already celebrated my 30th twice. So when asked my age, 29 was a very natural response, I’d had more than 1,000 days practice. It wasn’t a malicious lie and over time it became unconscious. And then it happened. Eventually Lin shared details of this new relationship with her mom, who expressed some concern over the age difference, which Lin rebutted, due to my maturity. Honestly, it really was harmless fib, but now I was lying to my future mother in law and before I’d even met her. Thankfully, we all laugh about it now.

This year’s pre-birthday introspection led me to decide that I would own all 41 years. I’ve lived and experienced, celebrated and suffered all the days of those years and that’s to be celebrated. No more lying about my age. Besides, it occurred to me that when I cheat my actual age, I’m also being dishonest about my remaining years. Giving me a false sense of where I actually am versus where I want to be in my life. And so it was, in New Orleans we celebrated the beginning of a new perspective, owning all of my 41 years.

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Now onto the donuts.

By virtue of Mardi Gras, New Orleans is a festive city. But even without that, there seems to be a party just around every corner. Having never been before, we planned to spend four days touring indulging in the Big Easy. With party hats affixed, we drove the 1/2 hour into town to see what this city had to offer.

Jackson Square & Saint Louis Cathedral

Jackson Square & Saint Louis Cathedral

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First stop CafĂ© du Monde on Decatur Street in the French Quarter for their renowned beignets. Beignet, a french word for donut, had legendary status in my mind. Ask anyone who’s been to New Orleans for suggestions and they will undoubtedly recommend eating a beignet. Now, I love me a good donut, but somehow this version of fried dough loaded with powdered sugar didn’t bring stars to my eyes. In fact, ingesting these took some skill. I had to be careful not to inhale while taking a bite otherwise asphyxiation would occur as powdered sugar dust wafted down my throat. Don’t even talk to me about dunking – that just makes the donut soggy and ruins the coffee with floating and sinking bits. Ewww

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Besides, the gauntlet had been laid down by the Amish baker in Philadelphia, who forever altered my ability to really appreciate another donut as much as hers.

At this point in the journey, we had down-shifted a bit and even New Orleans didn’t create enough RPMs to get us revved up back into 4th gear. Meaning, there were plenty of things we could have done, but honestly, we were a little tired of running all about. And it was HOT and rainy at times. So, we choose a select few attractions and made our way around slowly, leaving plenty to see should we decide to return for another visit.

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Reviews of Natchez were poor, so we just watched from shore

Reviews of Natchez were poor, so we just watched from shore

Friends had also suggested we try the pecan pancakes at The Camellia Grill and take in a local band at Bacchanal, a wine & cheese bar. Both felt like local joints, not so touristy, which was much appreciated. Another evening we were loured to Chikie Wah Wah for more music and a very non-traditional lobster roll that included Sriracha, mango, and fried lobster.

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Mmm good, pecan waffles at Camellia Grill

Mmm good, pecan waffles at Camellia Grill

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We also discovered that to-go’s are an acceptable option, which I’ll admit we partook in one hot afternoon. Heat and booze isn’t always the best combination, which led us to the air-conditioned lounge at the Four Seasons for a ginger ale and some people watching. This place had comfy couches and let’s just say only one of us watched the people with her eyes open. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Literally the size of the door's entrance.

Literally the size of the door’s entrance.

When in Rome....

When in Rome….

A few other random photos that I just couldn’t not include. A street pick up band is one way to detour traffic while beads permanently adorn the trees along the parade routes.

IMG_3184 Pick up street band
Beads permanently adorn the trees along the parade routes IMG_3059

I’ll dedicate another post to photos of Mardi Gras World and Lafayette Cemetery as I was a bit of a shutterbug. The truth is New Orleans had ranked high on the list of places I wanted to see. However, after all the other cities we’ve visited, I’m not sure it would top the list for a return. Never the less, I will always remember where I celebrated my 41st. Here’s to 42, ok, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Where's the party?  This is Bourbon St. after all...

Where’s the party? This is Bourbon St. after all…