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Destination Wedding Guest, This Really Ain’t Your Vacation

I recently went to an amazing destination wedding in Mexico. I was amped.

I felt like it was going to be a 2-for-1, where I’d get to see a beautiful couple I’d been rooting for a long time get hitched, and 2. I’d get a much-needed break from my hustle.

I was bummed from being on academic suspension, I had a huge project at work with looming deadlines, and my lengthy commute was starting to wear on me.

I welcomed four days of fun in the sun with open arms and a lot of relief. Per my usual vacations, I was expecting time to reflect, relax and unwind. I wanted to come back refreshed and inspired and with some kind of grand revelation that pushes me forward, as my trips tend to do.

Well, as a first-time attendee to a destination wedding, while there were moments to do your own thing, I realized trips that have schedules of any kind, may not contribute to the usual relaxation and pace of my other vacations.

Therefore, that probably contributed to me not having my usual moment of enlightenment, or feeling completely recharged. It also didn’t help that I was tending to some serious sunburn for the duration of the trip and well after.

As for the schedule, there was the bachelorette party, the rehearsal dinner, and of course, the wedding itself. I enjoyed every moment and appreciated the great lengths the bride and groom went through to plan such fun events. I really enjoyed myself, which was what was supposed to happen.But, I needed to put my expectation of complete vacation zen to the side, to be a present and active participant in the festivities.

While there was a good amount of time to lounge on the beach, enjoy the great food and book a spa treatment or two, I always felt like in the back of my head I had to be back to my room to have enough time to do something with my hair (Natural girl problems, but I think I did an awesome job for every occasion after being on the beach!), shower and get dressed to get to a designated spot at a designated time.

A group of folks from the wedding party were going on an all day excursion, and I passed to just relax on the beach and get in some spa time. I knew I’d be exhausted. And the start time for the trip was somewhere around 6 a.m. after hanging out into the wee hours the previous night. NOPE.

So, I say all of that to say this: if you’re going on a trip for a destination wedding, it isn’t safe to assume you’d get the amount of rest you’d normally get during a vacation you’ve planned for yourself, because of having to stick to a schedule someone else lovingly set. We tend to try to kill two birds with one stone (not just with destination weddings and vacations), but the real mission of the trip is to celebrate and shower love upon the couple who just happened to tie the knot in a beautiful locale.

If you keep these things in mind, you won’t find yourself wondering how you still wound up so tired upon your return. So my lesson was, don’t try to turn the destination wedding into your personal vacation and expect the same results. Be present for the happy couple and focus your energy on that.  Just book another trip! It’s a great excuse to just GO, again!!


On VACATION and Keeping It Simple

Simplicity. Simplicity.

I’ve been trying to apply this to my upcoming trip to Curacao TOMORROW!!! Yes, yes, yall.

Your girl is finally taking a relaxing 5-day getaway and I haven’t had a trip like this since 2008. So this is nuts.

Anyway, I was packing last night, determined to get everything into just one carry-on bag and one large tote.

I’ll admit it, when my friend said, “You’re only taking a carry-on? It’s an international flight we don’t get charged extra.”

I told her after being the long distance queen, I used to be able to pack a carry on like a pro and I don’t want to be bogged down with luggage. It felt cumbersome when I went to New Orleans with two bags and I was angry standing in long lines to have my bag checked and nearly missing my flight with the mass exodus leaving New Orleans after EssenceFest that Monday morning. Also, I hate standing around staring at bags circling the carousel that look just like mine and knowing it’s not mine yet and jockeying for position to grab it as quickly as possible.

Nope. I want to keep this trip simple. So much so, I added my own cornrow extensions last night. They don’t look professional, but they aren’t completely terrible. I can live with it. But I don’t have to do my hair or bring extra products to tame it.


Simplicity. The first day of my trip I have no choice. I’m poor. My paycheck doesn’t arrive into my account until Friday so I got to make a little bit of money last.

I realized instead of lugging my awesome Coach tote that I love and live by, I would take a much larger, pink recyclable tote I got from the National Book Fair last year and carry a bunch of crap and not worry about it getting lost or stolen or sand in it.


I’m still bringing five swimsuits. (In case I feel really fat and bloated) Oh well.

I picked up a cool pad of sheets that say “I tried It.” I think it’s a good idea to bring it along and just jot down new things I attempt to try during my trip and will encourage my travelmates to do the same. I think it will be fun. On the sheets of paper, it even has a space to check off and talk about how you felt after you tried that new thing and whether or not you’ll do it again.

I’m strongly considering trying snorkeling.

There’s this weird-looking local slimy dish, that I probably should try, but eh. I’m not so sure about that.

Either way, I’ve decided one bag. I’m keeping it simple. I should have everything I could possibly need in one bag and I’m not going to make myself nuts about shoes and bulky things like that. I don’t want to spend my time trying to decide what to wear. I want to spend time on the beach, in or by the pool, exploring the island and trying new things.

I’m beyond excited! It’s going to be an adventure!!! Can’t wait to tell you all about it upon my return. In fact, I picked up a small journal so I can jot down and share my thoughts. Super happy!!






Secret Travel Obsessions

I have obsessions that come and go.

My most recent was looking for the perfect mid height, chunky, strappy high heel, that would work well for my upcoming trip to New Orleans this summer.

I found them. I’m good.

But I have another. There’s a show on T.V. called “Sweet Retreats” where people go to a city they want to vacation in and have a choice of three kinds of vacation homes they want to rent. They visit the homes, weigh out the pros and cons of each and pick a winner.

I think renting homes and bed and breakfasts are probably the most awesome way to go when you are vacationing and you are as serious about relaxing as you are seeing stuff. Hotels to me, are convenient and places to lay your head and shower. But rentals and B&Bs feel way more homey, and you can even taste the memories later on. Staying in places like that, to me, really feels like you are a part of the experience and the community you are visiting. You can cook or order take out, but eat on plates. You can really relax, and if you are sharing with others, there’s more space and privacy.

When my cousin had a lovely rental in the heart of Catalina Island, I thought to myself, yes. This is how you do it. I stayed in a lovely hotel, but we spent a good amount of time hanging out, eating and drinking and cooking at the rental.

You can really make it a party, when you have your loved ones around in a paradise-like place, and usually, as “Sweet Retreats” reveals, when you split up the cost, spending $2,000 for a six-bedroom two- or three-bathroom house for a week among you and the homies, it’s a pretty good deal.

I wouldn’t advise getting into such an endeavor with shady friends or family members, but if you know your crew is good for the cash, and won’t annoy the hell out of you for a week, I think it’s worth doing.

I would honestly love to chill in a lovely rental home either near the beaches of anywhere from the Mid Atlantic on down to the south. Another friend recommended the Poconos. I’m down for that too.

I’m also having a growing interest in visiting new places in the United States that I would have never gone before. There are some spots in Colorado, Utah (Park City), Arizona (Sedona), New Mexico and Kentucky (the Makers Mark factory) that I’d love to see.

I’m dying to travel out of the country too. One of my good friends tends to have the attitude that it ain’t a real vacation if it ain’t on a beach outside of the U.S. That is cool, but for me, honestly if I can get some fresh air and sunshine in a beautiful place and there is a pool, I don’t have to be on a beach.

Not sure, but as I get older, I want the planning and execution of my vacations to be just as uncomplicated and drama-free as my actual vacation. I don’t have to have strict wall-to-wall plans for every moment of the day, I don’t care about night life as long as there’s a bar someplace or a movie theater. I guess as a working adult, the ability to relax is paramount.

Everywhere I visit, I always book a spa appointment. And I always yelp restaurants. I also look for local theater, historical sites and museums and where shops are. It’s only right.

So what do you tend to look for when you are planning your trips and vacations? Do you need lots of excitement? Beautiful scenery? Peace and quiet? Adventures that test yourself?

Pardon Me, Miss. You’re New York Is Showing

I’m leaving for California tomorrow and I’m thrilled.

Beyond thrilled. My suitcase is filled with bright colors, floral prints and easy breezy outfits, that I believe are “California-inspired.” I’ve even been stalking pinterest boards for inspiration.

However, I’m playing all my favorite NY-rap songs, getting pumped up for it.

I like when people ask me where I’m from. I’m not even from NYC or the five boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island), but my chest sticks out.

New York is a special place. People are excited about it everywhere you go. There’s a certain swagger NY people have, that most outsiders mistake for arrogance, over confidence and overall jerkiness.

It’s ok. New Yorkers have a tough skin. We are fighters. Especially in the city it’s a tough, strange place, full of equally tough, strange people. And more droves of people show up on a daily basis to chase their dreams permanently, or even just during a vacation from someplace halfway across the globe.

Because we know this, there is a pride that’s just hard to describe and New Yorkers start thinking we are more awesome than everyone else at an early age.

I remember my southern cousins always being impressed and excited when we came to town because we talked differently and dressed differently and we just seemed unfazed or unimpressed, too cool for school.

Even on an eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C. I remember being in the bathroom at the Air and Space Museum, and some girls from some other school someplace else muttering, “Those girls think they are all that because they are from New York.”

While washing her hands, one of my classmates yelled out, “We do!”

Damn cocky New Yorkers.

Even to this day, although I reside in Maryland, I always preface it with, “I’m from New York.” Can’t help it. I can’t bring myself to say, “I’m from Maryland.”

It’s not really the truth. I do live in Maryland and I love it. But I’m not from here.

In my adult life, when I lived other places, I always said. I am from New York. It seems men who are not from New York, LOVE New York women, or either have stories about New York women ruining their lives. Either way. They all agree, there is something about us.

But there is something in particular about New Yorkers and California. (I’m going to watch Sex and the City when the girls go to LA for more inspiration. Carrie Bradshaw also mentions the New York Vs. Cali conundrum).

For some reason, I feel the need to be extra New York while I’m there. No, I will not thicken my accent, or wear Yankess caps everywhere I go, but, my New York soul is going to be turned up to the max. Oh, the swagger.

For some reason, there’s a geographic Hatfields and McCoys kind of rivalry that’s gone on for further back than I can remember. Both coasts being really proud and claiming its better than the other. Usually it’s playful, but yes, it eventually got serious among rappers, several years ago.

Here’s the list of ridiculous things I was trained to believe about NY and California. I’m so serious.

New Yorkers are supposed to hate California.

Even if you go for a visit, and you actually think it’s cool, you still have to point out everything you don’t like and explain why the East Coast is better.

You actually have to say, “This was cool, but…”

Yes, we know. We are professional haters. We are so friggin good at it. We take our hating seriously.

New Yorkers are supposed to be more cosmopolitan, and fast.

Californians are supposed to be laid back and slow and say things like “dude” and “gnarly.” All of the white people can surf and all of the black people are some how affiliated with a gang. Offensive? Totally.

New Yorkers have this ideal sense of culture and are serious and intellectual.

While Californians (particularly L.A.) are supposed to be vain and vapid.

All Californians are vegetarians.

California Pizza Kitchen is an oxymoron.

There is no bad sushi or Mexican food in California.

God hates California because of all of the earthquakes, fires and mudslides.

Don’t wear significant amounts of red or blue (The Bloods and Crips will kill you. Twice. Because neither group can be outdone in killing.).

Here are some of the songs in my mix:

NY Sh^& by Busta Rhymes

Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)

Blahzay Blahzay Danger (When the East Is in the House)

And let’s throw in my favorite California hip hop songs… California Love. Tupac

And let’s do “Going Back to Cali” with the Notorious B.I.G.

I love, love, love this song. I was going real hard with the Hip Hop.  “It Never Rains In Southern California” by Tony, Toni, Tone!

Weekend Wonders

Hello campers!

I’ve missed you folks, but I’ve been busy this weekend taking a break from everything even blogging– and having a blast.

The brief hiatus has actually been fruitful because I’m brimming with things to discuss.

First things first.

Shout out to all of the veterans, all of the service people who fight for the freedom of Americans and other global citizens everywhere, and let us remember those who lost their lives in service to our nation. That, after all is what Memorial Day is all about. So while I’m glad I had a three-day weekend where I got to get blasted off of wine as early as 10:30 a.m. or saw the Avengers or got to kick it on a beach, I got to do all of those things without fear, because folks take great care to protect our beautiful country.

Now back to my weekend. I decided to check out a Caribbean wine festival at a local vineyard with some homies, and I was impressed. Thankfully, we arrived early because folks weren’t playing. We simply had blankets, snacks and a cooler filled with water and Gatorade because it was H-O-T. I had to learn the hard way that not eating breakfast, sampling wine, having friendly neighbors who liked to share the bottles and bottles of wine they purchased, while sitting in the hot sun can leave one, well dehydrated and eventually nauseous.

The grounds were packed. So much so, you could not see a blade of grass on the whole place by noon (the event started at 10 a.m.). Folks were so prepared, there was even a designated area for tents and those folks were bringing large platters of food and made a day of it for real. There was live music and a great dj. A large dancing area and places for folks to hula hoop. I did want to eventually dance, but me getting sick didn’t help the cause.

I’m partially ashamed and partially proud of myself for finding a place to vomit discreetly amongst the sea of humanity (around the side of a building where there was lovely landscaping and wood chips to kick over the evidence when I was done. Nasty, yes, but efficient and non-offensive to other revelers.)

I had to recover for the rest of the night after I showered.

Sunday, I met up with my friend and we headed to the beach, and so did everyone else so much so, the beach was closed to more folks and we were told we could return hours later, which ended up working out better for us. So we went to a nearby mall, saw The Avengers which was awesome!!! I’m in love with Robert Downey Jr. ever since Iron Man I and I think the guy who played Captain America was super hot too. But Bob is my boy. Swagger for days and days and days. That dark hair, that beard. I LOVE MEN WITH FACIAL HAIR.

We also spent that time learning that red velvet cake ice cream does indeed exist and now I can’t stop thinking about it.

So after all of that, we were able to return to a far less crowded beach, and the sand did not burn our feet and the water felt awesome. We were out there for about an hour and a half, and I’m totally glad we weren’t out there in the peak craziness of the day and in the blistering heat. It worked out. I am ridiculously proud of myself for just going with the flow and wherever the day took me.

I’m also proud of me because I didn’t eat like a fool. All this progress and an upcoming wedding in California is keeping me honest. I wore a two-piece swimsuit yesterday that I wore like five years ago in Mexico. I’m a rockstar. I wore some plaid short shorts today, that I know I couldn’t button months ago. It’s an American holiday weekend. I deserved a real burger, so I had one, but I didn’t have fries with it, I didn’t put cheese on it and I drank water with it and I didn’t feel all bloated and nasty after.

I’m also ridiculously proud of me because this weekend marks the second anniversary of my proposal. I don’t remember last year because I was simply trying to get through it and get over the fact that it all imploded on me. This year, I didn’t cry, and I actually didn’t remember because I was too busy having so much fun.

This was a great Memorial Day weekend, and I have a feeling this is going to be the last year I refer to it as the anniversary of my proposal.

Old news girlfriend. You made it. Patting myself on the back.

Oh yeah, and life is awesome because I’m going to California for the first time ever in like two weeks. I’m thrilled. I’ve never technically been to the West Coast, except if you consider Vegas the west. But I’m going to be chillin in lovely Catalina with some of my favorite family members and it’s going to be epic. What’s even better is my cousin said the wedding is super low-key and beachy that I can get away with a gorgeous flowy dress I just purchased for $14. It’s a long turquoise dress, that has a low v-cut in the back. I’m going to rock some gladiator sandals and an awesome statement necklace and it’s on and poppin. I’m just struggling with the gift for the bride and groom. The groom, my cousin has been married, well a couple of times and he’s older and can afford whatever he pleases. I don’t want to bring anything cheap, but I’m clearly not rolling like he is. So I’m down for thoughtful, budget-friendly suggestions.

Summer is officially here. Let’s get it.

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