"Yes! My sister and a few friends all went for a girls getaway."
WAS THAT YOUR FIRST TME THERE?
"No. I had gone with my ex-boyfriend three or four times over a decade ago. Then we broke up and I met my (now) husband and had a baby. That was pretty much it for trips to Mardi Gras, or anywhere like that."
ANYWHERE LIKE THAT? HAVE YOU BEEN TO OTHER SIMILAR PLACES?
"Well, we went to Burning Man the first year we were together. And a bunch of other festival type deals. But, when I was much younger, my Godmother and I went to Carnival in Brazil. It was part college graduation gift, part going away party. She was moving to Spain for work and we were really close. I knew it'd be really long stretches between times we'd see one another. And that trip was what really made me just love that kind of thing, that carnival type atmosphere."
WOW. CARNIVAL AS A YOUNG COLLEGE GIRL! WHAT WAS THAT LIKE? CAN YOU TELL PEOPLE WHO ARENT FAMILIAR WITH IT A LITTLE ABOUT IT?
"Well, I was 20, so not even legal to drink here in the U.S. but yeah, it was totally beyond anything that I had ever seen. Like a million times beyond. Basically it is a big street party that takes place in Rio (de Janeiro, Brazil) every year. It lasts like 4 or 5 days. It is just total debauchery. Naked or half naked people parading down the streets. Really elaborate costumes and flashy floats in a big parade. It all culminates with a big masquerade ball. I actually think I was too young to even fully appreciate it. I mean, I thought it was cool obviously. I was really excited by all the drinking and the staying out all night and that stuff. I really didn't appreciate the cultural aspect of it, and all of the incredible costumes and masks and things like that."
SO YOUR TRIP TO CARNIVAL INSPIRED YOU AND YOUR BOYFRIEND TO MAKE THE TRIP TO MARDI GRAS?
"Well, obviously people always draw on the similarity of the two. It was really his idea though. It was while he was in grad school. His friends wanted to go in lieu of going on spring break that year. I basically tagged along. I wasn't even really thinking about the connection. But we had so much fun and it had been really reminiscent of having been at Carnival several years before that. We went back the next, I guess three years in a row."
"Well, when we go down it's usually the Friday or Saturday before Fat Tuesday, but there is stuff going on for a while before that. It starts right after The Epiphany, but the parades and all of that culminate in the big party on Fat Tuesday. It's always the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the start of Lent, so basically it's the last hoorah, the last chance to go crazy before giving up whatever vices you plan to give up for Lent. It's pretty much accurate as to what you see it portrayed as. Drunken revelry. Parties. Parades. Lots of women (and men) showing their breasts and other things. Beads. It's pretty much a no-rules, no holds barred situation."
I THINK EVERYONE PROBABLY KNOWS ABOUT THE BEAD TRADITION. SO, DID YOU EARN YOUR BEADS?
"Well since I'm not giving my name and I know my kids won't dig this up someday, I have definitely earned a few strands of beads in my day. But that was before I was married with a child."
SO ON THIS LAST TRIP THERE WERE NO BEADS GRABBED?
"I'm going to plead the fifth on that one."
YOU MENTIONED LENT, DO YOU TYPICALLY GIVE UP ANYTHING FOR LENT?
"No. I'm not Catholic. If I did, I'd probably give up something I really would't miss all that much, like doing laundry (laughter). My husband is Catholic, at least he was raised Catholic, and every year he tries to give up bread. Every year in the 7 that we've been together, bread. Usually by about 4 days in I find him in the kitchen making french toast or eating a bagel, and I'm like, "How's that whole Lent situation going?" It's harder than it sounds I guess."
ARE YOU HEADED DOWN TO MARDI GRAS THIS TIME?
"Nope. We had a great time last time as a girls getaway, but we are planning on trying to do a different place every other year."
"I think we're doing Austin next time. Riverwalk and all of that stuff."
THAT'S A BIT OF A DEPARTURE FROM MARDI GRAS AND CARNIVAL ISN'T IT?
"You think (laughter)? If it's somewhere I can take my son, it is definitely NOT anything like Mardi Gras!"