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Carnival Season: The Survival Guide

As ashamed as I am to admit this, having celebrated five glorious Carnival seasons in New Orleans (once as a visitor and the rest as a resident), I have never actually made it to Mardi Gras day. OK, who am I kidding here; I usually don't last until Lundi Gras. I normally fizzle out at some point during the parades on Sunday and remain in a coma-like state for the remainder of the week, despite having to appear functional at work Wednesday through Friday.

Much like a race, the first one out of the gate is usually not the winner, and after two solid weeks of drinking, even the self-proclaimed party-pro starts to lose her momentum. This year provides even more challenges with the Super Bowl squeezed in between, stretching the celebrations to nearly three weeks now instead of the usual two.

Not to worry, this year I have a plan ...a nd I am willing to share.

Here are my top five tips for surviving what I have coined "Super Mardi Gras" 2013:

5. Go easy on the king cake.
Too many carbs coated in too much sugar. You will want to be light on your feet while chasing down the float that skimped you on the beads or pushing little kids out of your way. Commit to no more than one small slice per week and avoid the office kitchen to stick to your plan.

4. Pick a signature drink.
Preferably something mixed with Red Bull or 5-hour energy (definitely not both) and a dash of Emergen-C. Lots of germs will be shared and getting sick in the non-alcohol-induced sense is a sure-fire way to end your journey early. Mixing drinks and making yourself sick in the other way is as well.

3. Dress for a mess, not to impress.
In all other scenarios I choose style over comfort, but Mardi Gras is different. Nothing makes you leave a party/parade faster than rushing to the store to buy Oxiclean after a Hurricane gets spilled on your favorite shirt. Spills will happen, so plan accordingly. Dressing in all  black is a great way to avoid stains without looking like you are headed to the gym or a day of couch surfing.

2. Pace yourself.
Remember Aesop? Slow and steady winning the race is no fable after all. Skip the mediocre parades and save your fun factor for activities worth the hangover.

1. Power nap.
If you aren't familiar with the 15-minute nap, it's time to get yourself acquainted. These mini sleep sessions are perfect for on the go and can be accomplished almost anywhere. Sneak one in every time a parade stalls (at that rate you will be accumulating more sleep than you do on a normal night); or, if you are feeling adventurous, hide in a dark corner of the bar to rest your eyes.

NOTE: Sleeping on the bar at Igor's is frowned upon and may result in being escorted out.

Party safely, and you will see me in the Quarter on Fat Tuesday! Really.