What Not to Say to a New Orleans Native (and What to Say Instead)

It’s been about 11 years since I moved away from my home town, and when I tell people I’m originally from New Orleans, I still get certain reactions. So for my non- NOLA friends, here’s some advice on what not to say when you meet a New Orleanian:

1)You don’t sound like you’re from Orleans. Why don’t you have an accent?

Most of us don’t have accents, and those of us who do, sound more like we’re from New Jersey than from the South. (Although even that is not an apt description.)

What you should say instead: Where ya at? How’s ya mama an’ ’em?

Whatever accent we do have will come out in response to these questions. To my New Orleanian friends, yes, I can hear your collective eye roll. You’re thinking, Oh puleeze, nobody really talks like that. The truth is … some of us kind of do. You just don’t realize it until you don’t hear it anymore, and then you miss it.

2) Have you ever been to the Mardi Gras?

I know the concept of Mardi Gras may be foreign to you, so it’s OK if you have questions, but just know this one thing: Mardi Gras is not a destination. Would you ask, Have you ever been to the Halloween? Much like Halloween, Mardi Gras is a holiday that involves dressing in costumes and getting free stuff. It’s also the most fun when you’re a little kid. (Really!)

What to say instead: What’s your favorite thing about the city?

This may bring up a conversation about Mardi Gras, but it will likely bring up something much more interesting.

3) Is the city back?

New Orleans didn’t actually go anywhere, but I know what you mean by this question. You are dancing around the K-word. Yes, the city went through some very dark days and is forever changed because of it. We really don’t want to talk about that anymore. If you want to know how New Orleans is doing, then plan a trip and see for yourself.

What to say instead: What’s your favorite place to eat?  

This will put an instant smile on the face of any New Oleanian, and will get you some useful recommendations for that trip.

4) Oh, so you’re Cajun!

Nope. See earlier blog post, Dear Floridians, for more information on this topic.

What to say instead: Oh, so you’re awesome! Yep. Because we are.

5) I went there once and hated it. I could never live there.

Excuse me while I take this dagger out of my back. As a native New Orleanian, this comment pains me. I can’t help but take it personaly, because the city of New Orleans is like a family member – a big loud, loving family member who wants to feed you and give you gifts and show you a good time. So when you say you had a bad time, you might as well say that you hate my grandmother. If you truly had a bad experience, it hurts my soul to hear that. New Orleanians desperately want you to have a good time and to love the city as much as we do. We want to make it right. We want you to give us another chance. Please!

What to say instead: Teach me to peel crawfish. Or Where’d you go to high school? Or Tell me about sno-balls. Or Let’s go get a drink. Or Let’s go out to eat. Or Show me how to make a roux…

Because just about anything is better than telling us you hate our maw-maw.

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Matters Not So Small

I’ve thought long and hard about this post, because I normally abhor writing about politics. My objective is not to change anyone’s mind. I am not arrogant enough to think that I can. My objective is not to offend anyone. As much as I don’t want to care what people think, I do prefer to be liked. As with all my writing, my main objective is simply to quiet my own mind. Secondarily, I hope that someone else reads this and gets some level of enjoyment out of it.

So here goes… With all the political rants on facebook, I feel like the left and the right are constantly questioning why. Why would anyone vote for him / her? They must be … racist / liars / stupid / criminal / hypocritical / ignorant / duped by the media etc.

Sometimes those assumptions are true, but most of the time, I don’t believe they are. You know why so many decent Christians voted for Donald Trump? It’s because he said he was pro-life. For so many people that alone was enough. That may have been combined with hatred, but it’s the hatred of Hillary Clinton’s alleged criminal activities, the hatred of higher taxes, Obamacare and the “liberal media.”

Do you know why so many loving and honest people voted for Hillary Clinton? It’s because they are truly fearful of the racist sects that have galvanized behind Trump. However marginal these groups may be, no one can deny they are there. For many people, that alone was enough to vote for Clinton, though it’s likely combined with the hatred of Donald Trump’s alleged criminal activities, inappropriate comments and lack of experience.

I realize I am oversimplifying things a bit, because this is the internet. Abortion, racism, and hatred are not small matters, so I will not delve into them here. These are complex issues that can’t be solved with a meme (or a blog). They likely can’t be solved by our president either. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make your little corner of the world a better place whenever you can.

And because everything in my life relates back to television, I will leave you with something lighter.

There is an old Saturday Night Live sketch that aired the week after Sinead O’Connor tore up a picture of the pope on the show. Adam Sandler plays an audience member who stands up and says to ‘Sinead O’Connor’ (played by Jan Hooks) “Don’t you understand, we don’t want you to hate, we want you to love!”

I think of this phrase every time I scroll through my facebook newsfeed and see something obnoxiously hateful. So come on America! Find something to love!

Or don’t. Just be cool. Whatevs.

A Sometimes Parent

One thing experts agree on when it comes to parenting is that consistency is key, but I have a confession to make: I am a sometimes parent.

Sometimes my kid eats a balanced meal at the dinner table, complete with green leafy vegetables like broccoli or kale. Sometimes he gets a bowl of chips in front of the TV.

But of course he never watches more than 2 hours of television a day, except for those days when he watches 4 or 5.

Sometimes he spends almost the entire day in the backyard. He runs around picking dandelions, collecting rocks, throwing balls and chasing the dog, and I only check in for meal times and potty breaks, because I would never want to be a helicopter parent.

But sometimes I hover over him in his room, teaching him the right way to play with toys and draw with a pencil. I make sure he doesn’t break anything. I’d never want him to get hurt or feel neglected.

Sometimes I make sure he wears pants.

I breastfed until I bottlefed. I pumped until the pump broke. I formula fed until I was broke. I bought jarred babyfood,  and sometimes made my own.

I always placed my baby in his crib to sleep, except for the times I brought him in bed to sleep with me.

Sometimes I bribe. Sometimes I punish. Sometimes I ignore. I absolutely never, ever give in to tantrums, except for when I do.

I always acknowledge feelings and kiss boo boos and model empathy, except for the times I lose my patience and tell the kid to suck it up.

The one thing I’ve learned in my short time as a mom is that there is no such thing as a parenting expert.

You can get a degree in child psychology. You can get a degree in early childhood education. You can become a pediatrician. So you may be an expert in psychology, teaching, or pediatric medicine. Last I checked, there is no PhD in parenting.

Even the parent of ten children is only an expert on those ten children, and I guarantee you, even that tenth child was full of surprises.

Before I had a kid, I was as prepared as I possibly could have been. I read blogs and articles, took classes, babysat and talked to other parents. I even read an entire book on potty training before I ever got pregnant. (Now I could write my own: How to Potty Train in One Easy Year!)

I’ve still got a long way to go on this journey, but I’ve learned that you can’t know everything. You can’t do everything right all the time.

There is only one absolute. I always love my son, all of the time – no exceptions. I only hope it’s enough.