29: purposefully defiant

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you know, I  was a little more than disappointed when I realized my birthday was going to be on a Wednesday this year…until I realized that basically gave me the weekend before AND after to celebrate because it’s directly in the middle of those two things. I have debated about what to do and where to go because I always make a big deal out of my birthday, but this year? Nothing. Not a shred of interest in planning. I couldn’t land on a specific taste bud or wish or thought. I knew I wanted to blast Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj all day while driving to and from things, but that was it. Normally, I could honestly care less about any other holiday or break or whatever — I just want to celebrate the hell out of my birthday; every year, always have, always will. This year was different; I felt…underwhelmed. I’m not sure if it’s the idea of rounding the corner to thirty that’s scaring me or if I just don’t care about a number that seems so lame…either way, I didn’t really give a fck about my birthday until everyone else did. That’s never happened. I have people in my life that give a shit about me. ……..weird. right?  I seriously hope some of you are out there experiencing some amazing friendships and love BECAUSE IT EXISTS, Y’ALL. I could expound, but we’d be here until I turn thirty.

I have hit the stride in my life where the people who don’t want to be around aren’t and the people that give a shit are. I heard from all of the major players today before 10am; I’d say that’s pretty good for a bunch of millennials that don’t have normal working hours, most with children, most still in school and balancing a millennial’s worth of work. I am beyond impressed with where my friends are and what we’re doing and accomplishing for a generation that seems so lost to the rest of society. Yeah, it’s hard. It’s ridiculous, it’s a circus; it’s far too emotional and involved than it should be, but that’s the way the cards fell. We’re the Jetsons; we’re creating everything and displaying everything and gathering humble credit by the heap. Sometimes we make it purposefully difficult for ourselves, but that’s everyone I think. For the push, for the drive, or just out of sheer laziness. I’m closer to thirty and honestly no better than the rest of the world at making decisions or choices. I keep thinking that I’ll hit thirty next year and just know what the hell I’m doing; those that I know over thirty hear that and laugh. “We make it up as we go,” a friend says in a reassuring voice, and I know it’s true.

twenty-eight led me to doing more and seeing more and waking the fck up….way more than I thought. I taught 115 (maybe more, maybe less) yoga classes. I traveled to several places in the US and visited Mexico; put on more miles than since my father was alive. I tried new foods, read new authors, explored new religions, and music and ideas. I discovered this whole new me I didn’t know was there, but felt familiar once I found her. I am a more open version of myself; less judgmental, more rational, understanding and willing to forgive. It’s a hard thing to know you don’t want to forgive a person, or situation or moment…but once you do. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew. Wowzers. The introspection is ridiculous and the clarity is unparalleled. Seriously. Approach thirty and get over yourself. It’s amazing.

entering year twenty-nine has made me realize a number of things. I made this list as I laid in bed with my best friend last night (I slept on a giant, fluffy, pink unicorn after laughing my ass off about nothing at all.) I was fearful I might not remember by morning, and I may still be leaving some things out, though these are more observations than anything else::

  1. [most] my tattoos are ten years old. they have been on me and part of my body for an entire decade. I remember walking in to the old location of Speakeasy (a place that does not even exist any more) and thinking, “Okay. One down, 100 to go.” While I don’t plan on have 100 tattoos…I don’t regret them yet. I think they make me unique and I like the idea of maybe one day having to be identified by the treble/bass clef on my right rib cage.
  2. I cannot handle a hangover. Though it does not keep me from testing my limits every now and then. (Last Thursday night was proof, though worth it. Laughter always is. Laugh hard, deal with the hangover, keep going.)
  3. when I am tired, that’s the end. there’s no going back, no second wind, no hope. I am a lost cause to the room I am left in and lets hope there a blanket and a contact case with solution in it.
  4.  i constantly miss my father. the ten-year anniversary of his passing sifted right before my eyes this year and all i could do was blink to acknowledge it. it can’t possibly have been this long. how fast does time pass? is there a way to measure grief? i can’t possibly be continuing on without my best friend, but that’s what I’ve been doing because that’s what he taught me to do; I’ll do it for ten years more, I suppose.
  5. I am finally able to find the humor in abysmal situations. I feel like I could elaborate on this, but if you know me, or if you’re over 25, you know what I mean.

twenty-nine years has really gone too fast. ten years since my dad passed, nearly eleven years since highschool, still in college, no kids, no husband. But I am whole. I am learning, growing, connecting, disconnecting, reflecting, and moving forward. Social formalities seem to allude me.

I know it’s normal to make New Year’s resolutions, but I always wait until my birthday to commit to things. There’s something about being a January baby that just makes your commitment to the happenings of the new year more connected and final. I am aware that everyone has 364 days between their birthdays, but I feel like it’s much more refreshing in January. (and how appropriate for the most OCD star sign, the Capricorn.) This year, I have promised myself to be  better to my mind and my body; to make selections on what I do, drink, eat and etc. that will have only positive effects. I have committed to being purposefully defiant. It’s in my nature to go against the grain, to feel and empathize with minorities, to always be way outside the box and color outside the lines. This year, I’m following the rules to get where I need to be; I’m defying myself — in the sense that I’m reinventing/reshaping what once was — and isn’t that refreshing?  It isn’t always easy for me to say “yes” to what is expected, but sometimes, it’s necessary. I’m following along certain paths to make my dreams easier to reach, and I feel confident certainty is the most adult gift I could ever give myself during this pivotal year. “Thirty, flirty, and thriving,” doesn’t happen over night. I cannot disappoint Jenna.

As I close my eyes to sleep tonight, I am fully aware that:: I am focused, loved, happy, driven, subtly eccentric, and smart. I’m a weirdo, I’m wired backwards..and I wouldn’t change a damn thing. Happy new year and happy birthday to me. May the rest of this twenty-ninth year be full of discovery, travels, and nothing but daily celebration of breath and life.

 

 

EDIT:: I would like to make a note that after I posted this, WordPress notified me that this was my 100th blog. I believe in coincidence and milestone. happy birthday, indeed.

oh baby, i was bound for mexico.

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I’ve been home two weeks and just managed to get my suitcases off the floor. All of my clothes from the trip have been washed and dried several times; I put some back in the open-face suitcase just so it looked a little fuller, the rest have formed a nice body pillow on my bed. It’s like I can’t mentally let go of this trip. I feel that if I really unpack, put my clean laundry away and store all of my tiny, TSA approved toiletries, the experience is over. I can’t deal.

In my mind, I see the low, burnt, orange peel of a moon that guided us from Alexandria to Shreveport, through to Dallas and on to the bright, freshly squeezed sun of Cancun, and I smile. I should have known that the rare moon symbolized how unique and unpredictable the trip was going to be. The group trip, my first real trip with more than my family and a few friends, to Tulum, Quintana-Roo was new nostalgia, permanent memories that have only crossed me in my dreams ever-so often, but not quite enough.

Last night I stuck my mouth under the cool faucet for a rinse after brushing my teeth, a feeling I reveled in like never before. We couldn’t do that in Mexico, not where we were (though I wouldn’t recommend doing that anywhere. I think my stomach is still pissed for the few sips that seeped in.) That refreshing swish reminded me of how easy we have it in America, the simple luxury that is pure drinking water; we’re spoiled. The word germophobe seems like the most asinine term in the dictionary; we know nothing of germs, disease, or real poverty here. In Tulum, I had to wipe and throw my toilet paper in the trash, as there is no real sewage system. As you can imagine, this wasn’t pleasant for the first day or so, but we all got used to it. Well, kind of.

The simple act of being unable to flush my poop humbled me, though I was humbled over and over throughout the trip, and thought constantly of how I hoped my attitude towards the place I call home would change.I am here to say, my perspective has been thoroughly and forever reshaped; the United States, and the people in it, will never be the same in my mind. It’s one thing to read about countries like this, it’s another to see it; while we definitely do have an impoverished, homeless population here, the face is totally different from the one I saw in Tulum.

Our Riviera Maya AirBnB surpassed spectacular, though I wasn’t positive I was going to feel that way getting there. I’ll admit it, I was being judgy. After arriving in Cancun, we had to find transportation to our home in Tulum, which was about an hour or so away – technically two but there is one speed in Mexico and that is fast: the speech, the food, the taxis. All the speed of light. We drove through Cancun in all of its over-sized, Americanized, touristy glory. We drove past dwarfing entrances to exclusive resorts, spas and – what I assume to be – rehabilitation centers. And then, just as I was nodding off, weary from thirty hours or so of awakeness, we entered Tulum.

The roads were dirty and only lightly peppered with people, a sight I am always happy to see, especially when traveling; crowds aren’t really my thing anymore. We zoomed through what I mentally labeled “Bohemia” and eventually slammed in to the residential area that backed up to the jungle – yes, you read that right. I didn’t know what to think, so I surveyed the area in a decaffeinated haze: overcast sky, trees everywhere, many stray dogs. Isn’t it supposed to be sunny? Where’s the beach? I was promised beach!!! A faint stench in the air filled my nose – trash and salt, mostly – not a great smell but my senses adjusted quickly. Late twenties early thirties men stood at all levels, working on various houses. Some looked on with friendly faces, others whistled, while the rest just stared and laughed at the group of Americans trying to count pesos. – We didn’t get very good at this until the third day of the trip. And by we I mean everyone else, because I would just melt in to a weeping, margarita puddle every time we had to figure out what we owed. I learned I am not good with currency exchange.

Our host greeted us a few minutes later and upon opening the door to the casa we could only stand with our jaws on the floor or meander around in wonderment. The house was three stories high, ground floor hosting two more than reasonably sized rooms, a large kitchen and dining space, and a patio/swimming pool to boot. Second floor was the master suite, which include a giant office/multimedia room, and the top floor was designed for open-seating and hammock swinging. We were in paradise, and we hadn’t seen the beach yet!

I immediately tossed my bag on the floor and began exploring the house…the massive, amazing space I’d only seen in my dreams or magazines on airplanes. Our host, a lovely Scottish chap, completely designed the place himself and lived a few doors down in an equally impressive casa. I could do nothing but drink it all in; two hours in to Mexico and I’d already mentally filled half of a notebook with observations.

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third story swingin’

 

After we’d settled in to our spaces, the seven of us set off in search of tacos, because what else would we want after landing in Mexico? We found tacos, we found the best tacos straight out the gate at a little hole in the wall, La Chiapaneca. I think everyone was picturing dinner at a beautiful, patio-style restaurant with a menu pages and pages long. Instead, the seven of us huddled around a table just big enough to fit us all, were served drinks with no ice and ordered tacos by the plate, which were served plain. I was so excited I got to decorate my own tacos with: hotter than hell Habanero sauce, cool jalapeno sauce, lettuce and sliced radishes. I was in taco heaven.

I promised myself I would eat fifteen tacos on the trip, though only made it through five; I had to branch out and try some other things. Authentic Mexican fare was just too good to pass up.

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Other fresh delicacies that couldn’t be missed? Local markets that were filled with amazing fruits and vegetables that we would eventually chop up and snack on all week.

I have to take the time to mention the freaking spectacular mojitos at a local bar named Batey’s (Ba-tay.) Seriously, if you’re ever in the area, this is a must. We were ushered in by the friendliest staff in town and served mojitos so fresh I looked around for a mojito tree. The large glasses of the sweet drink were packed with homegrown mint, fruit of your choice (I chose watermelon, for the first few)and completed with a raw sugar cane. Can you say perfection? The evening was just beginning as our first round of drinks arrived and Maria and her husband – a 60+ professional flamenco dancer/guitarist duo – took the stage. We were entertained by the charming couple for a few hours; long enough to catch a thick buzz that would lull me in to the sleep of the dead.

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Our first morning in Tulum was cloudy and gorgeous. I was surprised when a cool breeze hit me in the face as I walked up the steps for an early swing in the hammock. Everyone else slept while I took in the quiet sounds of morning. I rocked back and forth and thought about how just hours ago I’d been on American soil, feeling overwhelmed by the arrival and passing of summer. Life is constantly pushing us forward, and sometimes, rather quickly.

Through my contemplation, I heard the arrival of the men building new houses in our neighborhood. I heard one talking loudly, a voice so close I thought he was behind me. I said, “Hola,” to the faceless voice and heard nothing, then out of nowhere, a tiny hat and pair of dark brown, smiling eyes popped up over the edge of the house and the voice greeted me, “Hola, senorita.” I smiled back, waved and headed down the stairs as the hat disappeared.

Other voices were exchanging random dialogue as I meandered back in to the house in search of coffee. Here’s a thing about Mexico that I don’t like: instant coffee. Though I didn’t understand why then, it has donned on me since that instant coffee uses less water for preparation; makes perfect sense now, though I still don’t enjoy it. To satiate my coffee craving (craving = addiction) my loving boyfriend and his sweet sister took me to find a cup of hot coffee. We walked through the quiet streets scouting out potential supper spots, noting where to rent bicycles, and who had the best vegetarian menus. I popped in to a few small Bodega in search of “non-preparado” coffee, with no luck at all. They really drink this shit like this?! Impossible! I’m coffee snob, no matter what country I’m in.

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the perfect macchiato. i’m still drooling. 

 

The night before, on our short trek home, Krishna pointed out a little spot, Burrito Amor. I made a mental note that we should try it out, “how bad could it be? The word ‘burrito’ is in the name!” I’m so happy I love burritos so much and can be lured in so easily; it was hands-down the best decision of the trip…well, maybe. There, Neil found an iced coffee, Krishna an iced latte and a hot macchiato and a bag of coffee the size of my forearm for me. I was so so so pleased that I didn’t have to “suffer” through instant coffee for the rest of the trip. We brought burritos home for everyone, which we quickly consumed before heading to the beach.

Here’s where the trip becomes one long series of sunrises and sunsets for me. I don’t remember much of the details of each day because I was in such bliss. Our cab ride to the beach filled me with such wild anticipation, like I’d never seen a beach before or something; really, it was slightly ridiculous, but I didn’t care. The beach, any beach at all, is instantly my happy place. There’s something about the cohesiveness of it all: the sights, the sounds, the smell. I take it all in for as long as I possibly can, like a vitamin. This beach, Tulum, was no different; in fact, it was more.

FullSizeRender.jpgWe were dropped at a public beach, which if you’ve ever been to Pensacola or Destin, is beautiful but slightly overwhelming because of the crowds, nearby resorts, etc.

This beach was completely untouched, and I mean that when I say it. No resorts, no restaurants, no nothing aside from the small tiki bar that was serving up coconut drinks and fresh fish all day; talk about glorious. Upon walking up, it took everything in me not to drop my things and immediately run in to the water like a child. Sand, whiter than snow, ocean, bluer than any ink or paint I’ve seen on a palette. I close my eyes and think of it now and all I can do is sigh. How something like that can seem ordinary to anyone is beyond my comprehension.

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The next few days were filled with long strolls through the jungle of Tulum to get from point A to point B, separate cab rides since vans were hard to come by, and random explorations of different parts of the city. I ate gorgeous fresh food, drank exotic coconut drinks and slept better than I have in years. It was equal parts vacation and work and I loved it. Working for your fun is totally worth the semi-headache.

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 I’m really a mermaid.

 

I think my face was actually in water more than it was out and I’m pretty positive my hair was only dry while I was sleeping. I snorkeled in a cave! A CAVE! I did yoga in the middle of the jungle, taught by a woman who spoke more Spanish than she did English and then, I snorkeled some more. I felt like a living mermaid the entire trip and really gained some perspective about what’s been going on in my life and the world around me. It’s easy to feel small when you’re floating above a stingray that could cover you like a blanket.

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post snorkel snap

 

 

Mexico, for me, was about understanding that we need less than what we have and that we should be thankful every damn day that we’re immeasurably blessed with more. Growing up, I always stayed in resorts and had every little thing handed to me when I wanted it. I adored traveling that way, but even then I felt like I was missing part of the puzzle of these amazing places I was experiencing, and I was. I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world, but I’m glad to have to opportunity to immerse myself in different cultures in a fresh way.

One thing I can’t get over: when we went grocery shopping, we filled an entire basket full to the top with all kinds of things I knew we’d never eat in four days. What would have cost $150+ here was a whopping $70 there. I think about this every time I go to Wal-Mart/Target/wherever now. There were people just waiting for us to leave so they could go through our trash to see what could be salvaged. Could you imagine doing that? I know habits can’t change overnight, but this part of the trip humbled me in a way I can’t explain, and I am definitely making a conscious effort to clean my plate when I eat.

I realize I’m leaving out so many parts of this excursion of a lifetime, but I couldn’t possibly write it all down without it being lengthier than it already is. Tulum will always be this dream trip, where I swam with exotic fish while holding hands with the love of my life. It will be me looking over my shoulder on the ride back to the shore and seeing the Mayan ruins staring back at me. It will be the schoolkids buying tacos and ice cream from the cart outside their playground. It will be the long walks to nowhere and back, in the sun and in the shade. It will be sunsets, sunrises and the freedom, promise, and gratitude of more.

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coconut dreams at the dive

 

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happiness is real. 

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more. 

 

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until we meet again…

new york, new york.

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I can’t believe I haven’t posted since the new year. Life is an all-consuming swamp of a mess sometimes, an obstacle we have no choice but to find a way to get through.

A few weeks ago, Neil informed me that Lonely Planet was calling for submissions for a travel book. I immediately got to plucking at my keys, a sensation I haven’t allowed myself to feel since school started. I was hitting over 2000 words when it donned on me that the contest may have a cap on words. I checked and sure enough, a limit to 3000 words, which I scoffed at and immediately decided I’d just write the piece the anyway and see how far I’d go.

I went over by 1080 words. They are all here and they tell the story of all the things Neil and I did in New York, give or take a few moments that I’m saving just for me.

It’s lengthy, it’s detailed, and pictures are included. Enjoy!

 

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“New York,” he says, “look at dates,” he says. I lift my eyebrows in disbelief – this relationship is so good, I can barely tell what’s real and what’s not most days. It’s no-shit that good and I am so over the moon that he loves to travel. When he said New York, I was apprehensive. Yes, I had previously, thoughtlessly, in passing, stated that I would love to see the city at Christmas time, that I’d never seen real, delicious, veloured snow and that NYC would be a dream during winter; I never expected that I’d actually get to take that trip. For the last decade, traveling has been done in my mind only. I relished the simple idea of getting to frolic around in snow in a big city, though as it turned out, NYC was as warm as New Orleans for our entire stay, not one little flake of snow fell, the entire point of the adventure; I can’t help but laugh at that. Lack of snow did not hinder our adventuring though; we created our own fun, we shaped our own experience.

Neil’s the kind of guy that puts a latte in my hands before I even realize I’ve got a caffeine-withdrawal headache and need a fix, so allowing me to not only entertain the idea of taking a trip to NYC, but plan one was like setting me loose in a Intelligentsia warehouse, blindfolded.

We booked flights, an excitement that I will most certainly never, ever tire from, made AirBnB arrangements and started dreaming about four days in New York. The possibilities were endless, though we just wanted to drink great coffee, eat inspiring food, and soak up the city’s diversity.

I researched, I Googled, I surfed, perusing the web for underground bands and secret eats. It just so happened that one of my favorite bands, Sleater-Kinney, would be performing at King’s Theater in Brooklyn the second night of our stay. My mom obliged tickets as an early birthday present; my head was spinning…this trip was shaping up in the most dream-like of scenarios.

Three weeks passed and it was time to roll out. I stuffed every piece of warm, black clothing I own in to my mom’s tiny little red carry-on, very neatly organized by day and outfit. Then I re-organized it. I panicked for days about having too many little bottles in my purse; I pouted about having to find a smaller bottle of perfume because it wasn’t sensible for me to bring the large bottle. I wanted to be sensible and sensational in New York.

I was too nervous to eat at 4:30a.m. before our flight, go figure. The delicious, greasy, perfect drunk-food omelets at City Diner went uneaten. This was my first major trip out of Louisiana in twelve years, my stomach was in knots.

Our flights were perfect, though it could have crashed and I probably would have died smiling. I was floating in the air with the love of my life and a few perfect strangers, heading towards adventure.

I knew I was in New York when I was nearly run over simultaneously by three giant men, eyes burning in to their giant spaceship phones. Note: Do not stand within fifty-feet of the restroom entrances at LaGuardia. You will be killed.

We grabbed our bags and called our first Uber; we live in the fucking future, people. I get it, this may not be revolutionary to you, but in Small-ish Town, USA, Uber is like having the Secret Service or one of the Jetsons come pick you up. Off to the Bronx! – SoBro to be exact. I didn’t know what to think or expect, I only have small clips in my memory from traveling here as a child. The buildings were so amazing and large; bigger than I remembered, even as a kid. I’d been to NYC before when I was seven. The most I gleaned from that trip was that I wanted Juniors cheesecake for every meal. I didn’t know what to look at first. I close my eyes and think of the moment we passed the bay and can still feel the faintest fluttering in my stomach. The feeling of being somewhere new, somewhere with people, places, and ideas so completely removed from everything you know…that’s humbling. I felt so human in New York, it was wild. Small town life is comparative to being under a looking-glass 24/7 so to be in New York, surrounded by strangers, was relieving.

We came in to our neighborhood and I immediately wanted to start snapping pictures, but I refrained. Yes, I wanted to capture images of every aspect of this trip, but I also wanted to make it a point to be present. We weren’t staying in a part of New York that gets very much attention. Nothing was glamorous about the area (aside from the fact that our AirBnB hosts were fabulous, successful artists of various types.) I took small videos here and there; I knew I’d regret not having more than just a still moment to reflect on. New York has such movement, I wanted to capture just a pinch of that whenever possible.

As we stood on the doorstep, waiting for our host to greet us I took snapshots in my mind of specific things: the tacky Santa, strung up with Christmas lights across the street, the poinsettias on the front steps, the sounds of taxis honking and the peaceful silence that followed. This part of New York had a quietness that I immediately appreciated.

We dropped our bags in our room, which was located inside a three story, eclectic-chic apartment; I feel like I should refer to it as a “flat,” it felt so cool. We were starving at this point. Awake and hungry from 4am-1pm is quite a stretch to go with minimal in-flight snack fair as sustenance. We wanted experience! And boy oh boy, were we ever in the right place.

For the first hour and a half of on our quest for food, we meandered around South Bronx, unable to land on a specific taste bud. Indian cuisine? Greasy Chinese? Pizza pie? We couldn’t choose! Eventually, my magnificent counterpart says, “Let’s go freshen up and get some Italian food. This is ridiculous.” I happily agreed, thrilled that we’d decided on a culinary selection – the battle during this excursion to make food selections was overwhelming. There are far, far too many options. — We made a mad dash back to the apartment, I swapped boots and spritzed while Neil changed shoes and put on his coat. Our second Uber arrived on time and we were off to Little Italy.

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Of course, this required more roaming around and more pointed decision making: which street? What pizza? Best sauce? OH GOD! Pizza is already a major food group in my life, how the people of New York make a “best” selection beats the hell out of me. Though now that I think of it, that is a committee I would happily and actively join. We settled on a delicious spot, RubiRosa. House wine and classic sauce for me, beer and vodka sauce for Neil. The slices were bigger than I could have hoped for! I only ate one slice at this particular restaurant, feigning fullness – and I was, but deep down, I wanted an entire pie. (I tallied up my slices, and at the end of the trip I’d done just that. Bravo.)

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wine and slice from RubiRosa

In Little Italy, we found cannolis that would change my life, that would make all other cannolis seem feeble and bland. We found two speakeasies, gold for those whom have never experienced such. The first, while offering an exclusive atmosphere fell short of my expectations; my writer’s-brain has a way of forcing me to be disappointed in experience sometimes, though thankfully, not often. The second stop – which will remain nameless, as to keep with the tradition – surpassed making up for the lackluster of our first attempt to be hip in New York.

My cousin, sous chef to the fabulous Rocco DiSpirito, recommended this place. She’s been in the city for a stretch and is a whiz on all things cocktail and cuisine, so she’s got the scoop on local gems, the shiny ones. She really knocked it out of the park on her first pitch. This place was everything. Some tall someone came outside to check IDs as space became available. He would come out, look at your license, walk back inside and return a few minutes later to escort you to the table – in our case, the bar. We watched the talented, what I can only call mad-scientists, work their magic. Effortlessly churning out one perfectly handcrafted beverage after the next, I was fascinated. Hand-carved ice, specialty ingredients, perfect glassware; not a detail was missed. There was a tangible energy flowing through this place, one we carried out and took with us as we tipsy ventured into Manhattan.

We emerged from a subway that spat us out at the foot of the Trump Tower, which gave us both a laugh. I spun around a few times, my jaw gaping awkwardly, I know. I felt smaller than microscopic, dwarfed by the size of these buildings, these monstrosities. I subconsciously became concerned for the sake of the architect and engineer’s mind; the amount of math and precision required to design such things completely baffles me.

Our directions were to meet my cousin at the Time Warner Center, a polished and impressive building. The second I laid eyes on her I began chuckling to myself. NYC is massive compared to where we’re from, the chances of seeing someone you know on the street is rare. To be able to see family and friends during our stay was remarkable to me, especially since this place feels so far away. I spent a portion of this trip thinking how interesting it must be to live in a place where it is truly peculiar to see the same person twice. I spent an even larger portion wishing that was so in the case of my hometown; familiarity, to it’s most extreme, makes us complacent, and often, less appreciative.

Jacquie took us to Clarke’s, where I was consumed with the buzz of local New Yorkers enjoying the holiday spirit. I took a survey: servers from other restaurants convened by the entrance to decompress after long shifts, stretches of long tables for large families littered the restaurant, small groups of friends huddled together over appetizers; this kind of life was wonderful to see. I was flushed from the walk, the wind, and my own tipsiness, but that didn’t stop me from giggling at everyone like a schoolgirl.

We ordered a hot, bubbly something for an appetizer and another round of drinks while browsing the detailed menu. I finally decided on the French onion soup, which was absolute perfection (despite my drunk taste-buds) and Neil, in true Bostonian fashion, order a lobster roll (to die for.) We laughed, we talked, we enjoyed. A friend of Jacquie’s joined us later and assisted in directing us back to the Bronx.

Note: Public transportation is totally acceptable. I have no idea what people are afraid of. It’s affordable and reliable (though be prepared for delays) and I am all about anything that keeps me from being behind the wheel.

“You guys came a long way, SoBro is so far!” Yeah, we didn’t quite realize that, but we didn’t care. We were seeing NY as never seen before.

After stumbling into the BnB with a bag of Dunkin’ Donuts for Neil, we passed out with a plan to be up and at it by at least 8a.m. and woke up to a glorious, IDGAF 10:30a.m. So far, so good.

First up on day two? Lunch in Brooklyn! This whole day revolved around our concert later, so we dressed for the day, called our faithful Uber and hit the road. The ride was…colorful. I didn’t expect to find myself feeling sick on the way to a day of adventure awesomeness, but there I was, crossing the bridge to Brooklyn, nearly throwing up in my purse in the Uber. I called to mind Ujiiy breathing and all was well; I suppose it pays to be a crunchy yoga girl every now and then.

Our intentions were to eat at that place that Jay-Z likes to eat at, but the line was completely wrapped around the building, so we opted for the place next door, Roomr. I was not sad or disappointed that I didn’t get to eat Jay-Z’s favorite pizza or drink Bey’s favorite wine. Roomr took forever, but it had killer tomato soup, ice-cold Coca-Cola in a bottle and flare, so we were happy.

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tom soup mmm

This day was so magical. I vividly remember walking through the streets of DUMBO, a suburb of BKLYN, feeling envious of its residents. I was blown away by the view of the Statue of Liberty from where we were standing, somewhere close to Pineapple St.

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[self-explanatory]

We realized that we’d been in New York for twenty-four hours without so much as one drop of coffee, and that was long enough for me. We’d conceded defeat on the snow, but coffee still needed conquering.

I’d made lists on lists on lists of coffee shops I wanted to try. I spent an hour researching my own Instagram to make notes on all the hot NYC coffee stops I needed to visit…there wasn’t enough time and my bladder wouldn’t have made it. Neil’s buddy Ned came to the rescue and recommended a place off of Pineapple St, Vineapple. I ordered an iced macchiato and thought the barista was going to flip on to his head. I still haven’t figured out if I ordered it wrong or if he’d never made one, life’s mysteries.

We sat and had a long chat with Ned, a theme of the trip I was noticing. Here we were, in the middle of a giant city with a million things to do, and all we wanted was conversations over drinks, the only thing I’m ever really interested in. There was a bit of familiarity in everything we did, despite the larger-than-life surrealness, and everything felt surreal. Traveling gives you that gift and wraps it up in a way nothing else can.

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not pictured: Lady Liberty (to the left)

As the sun was setting behind Lady Liberty, we started thinking about supper. Ned suggested a few places, to which we ventured and found hour long waits. We hadn’t planned for this, so instead of getting frustrated, we stopped at a soda shop to regroup. We were taken back in time to cuffed sleeves, brass taps and sundae dishes; Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain wasn’t our final destination, but did not disappoint. We tried calling a few more places, but eventually ended up calling a group-Uber to scoop us up and bring us to Flatbush Avenue for the show. An adorable couple, heading to a holiday party, joined in on our Uber fun. It took everything in me not to rob the woman of the delicious smelling casserole dish she was holding; I was hungry and knew it was filled with baked ziti. Really, the self-control I showed deserved a medal, it was homemade and smelled amazing.

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BKLYN Farmacy

We stepped out of the car and Google-mapped the venue. We were exceptionally far from where we needed to be, which meant we had a hike in front of us. I know it seems like we were unplanned and unorganized, but that was half the fun. This was a semi-whim trip and I ate it up. Vacations for as long as I can remember, traveling with family and the occasional friend, were non-stop scheduled, pages-long itineraries. Going with the NY flow was a dream.

We walked and talked, grabbed a slice at some hole-in-the-wall on Flatbush and walked some more. We walked through parts of NY I never envisioned. We saw the lighting of the Menorah near the Brooklyn library, we stopped for fresh coconut water and cane juice in Little Jamaica; the date-night stroll of our lives. When I thought I could walk no longer, Neil pointed out the gorgeous, sparkling sign of Kings Theater, we’d finally arrived.

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omgomgomgomg

I was floored, humbled, amazed. We entered the theater, the Gothic, bright, intricately detailed theater that was a flutter with undercuts, tattoos and a whole lot of riot grrrl energy. I thought to myself, “this is what heaven must be like.” The thought was foolish, I hadn’t stepped inside to the main-stage yet. One half of a toe in and I instantly felt like a speck of stardust, floating among other flecks and constellations. This place boasted a vintage, an age and grace I can barely describe; a space so beautiful I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, my eyes the puppet, my brain the master.

This thought lasted right through the set, which was delivered in a phenomenal, forceful, Sleater-Kinney throat punch. It hurt so good. When the audience was convinced the show really was over, Carrie, Corin and Janet returned to the stage to entertain and entice us once more, with a traditional Hanukkah song followed by one of my favorite SK songs, Modern Girl. The trio bid their audience a final farewell, leaving us to float out  on our clouds, into the quiet Brooklyn night with quiet fires burning inside.

I am still on that cloud.

We ventured through Williamsburg, hoping to check out a bit of the scene. Black on black on black: miniskirts, crop tops, leather pants. Lines wrapped around buildings with laserbeams for lights and a thumping bass blasting. I’d clearly packed on point for the trip, I didn’t notice anyone wearing much color…I loved it. “The scene,” however, wasn’t for us, so we opted for taco truck tacos that were legit. Fusion food isn’t a thing we encounter often in our hometown, unless venturing to NOLA or whipping something up, so to be able to find jerk-style tacos, complete with sauteed plantains and avocado-jalapeno cream at 1 in the morning was wild. We meandered through the streets of Williamsburg, stopping for a hot, spiced beverage and a few kisses under the open sky.

Our final day was spent wandering the outskirts of Brooklyn with a childhood friend of mine. We started with a long subway ride to meet her, from South Bronx to Ditmas, another suburb of Brooklyn. Café Madeleine was first on the agenda, and wow, wow, wow! Legit nitro brewed coffee and a menu that would take days to choose from. My friend and her chap selected their usuals while we chose at random, our meals leaving us full to the brim, wanting to sample the entire menu though no room for it. From there, we hiked to and through Prospect Park. I was thrilled to see so many people out and about being active and creative. Running, jogging, walking, ice-skating, painting, posing…you name it, we saw it, with the gorgeous added benefit of a stunning overcast sunset.

The four of us walked back from the park, enjoyed more caffeinated beverages from a shop called Lark, and went our separate ways.

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aforementioned lattes from Lark 

Supper, as recommended from a friend, was at a small Italian pasta artistry, Epistrophy; what a gem. Handmade pastas and bread to die for, tucked in to a neatly wrapped, eclectic and compact restaurant feel. We were basically sitting on the stage, which I didn’t mind a bit, though I did catch myself wishing that there was a violinist playing something soft and sweet, just for us. We shared burrata cheese for our appetizer, which was served with beets and basil, a combination I was apprehensive towards but quickly gobbled up. Our entrees…..just the thought of our entrees has my mouth watering as I type this. I ordered the homemade gnocchi with a medley of mushrooms and white truffle oil. OHHHHHHHHMIgad. Neil went for the roast, which might as well have been butter it was so tender and delicious. I was too consumed wiping the butteriness off of my hands and lips to snap a picture of our dishes. OH FREAKING WELL.

New York is a metropolis for cuisine and fashion, if anyone tells you otherwise, they’re boring.

After, I thanked myself for being bright enough to only wear tights on this trip, as to make plenty of room for all of the deliciousness. We set off for Greenwich Village, in search of late night coffee and bad comedy. We found both and oh how I wished I had a week to stand in line for every comedy show that was hosted. Aptly referred to by locals as, “the Village,” this part of lower-Manhattan emits an addicting spirit of laughter, and definitely, debauchery. Had I known how sucked in I’d get, I’d have started here on night one and never left. I could feel kindred spirits all around me, the freedom in me, freedom that has been on the loose for a year or so now, I could feel that letting go in the company of fellow wild minds. I was blissed out to the max, caring less about the flat latte I was drinking and more about drinking up the experience. Neil and I bummed around the park for a while, watched a show or two, had a few beers and decided to roll out, in search of sights and more people watching.

I had a secret agenda. I pulled up directions to 64 Perry St. and weaved my man through the streets of Manhattan. I felt chic, walking around in my all-black uniform and multi-colored hair. I didn’t feel like I stuck out like a sore-thumb or that anyone was giving a second thought to the blue pieces that framed my face. It didn’t phase the bar keep at The East Village Craft Beer Shop when I ordered a sour – which, I can’t remember – or when I was able to drink most of it (not all, those things fill me up!)

I led us along gorgeous Fifth Avenue and had to pause for a moment. This place seems untouchable, yet there I stood, moments of insecurity and uncertainty fleeing from my mind. I made it to and through New York with nothing but a few dollars in my pocket and my best friend by my side, proving anything in life is possible. After Neil and I stopped at another pizza shop, where we scooped up the last two slices of the night, I finally told him where we were going. He rolled his eyes at me and said, “come on.” More winding, another left, a few rights and whammo….I delivered us right to Carrie Bradshaw’s doorstep. I know, it’s dumb, but I had to see it. I wasn’t a fan of how women were often depicted in Sex & the City but I loved watching, thinking about what it would be like to operate life in a city that full of opportunity, love and surprise.

My phone died as I attempted to snap a few crappy pictures, of course. I laughed it off, wrapped my arm around my love and let him lead me out of Manhattan. – But not before we each had another slice of pizza pie and got lost riding the subway. I took my contacts out of my eyes and stuck them on the windows at one point I think. My eyes didn’t handle the wind between the buildings too well, and though I wanted to see things on the ride home, I also wanted to close my eyes and duplicate these beautiful images over and over and over.

Four days was a tease for two travelers looking to roam from corner to corner of unknown parts of well-known cities. All of the above could be summarized to the naked eye as not much, lackluster, unorganized, a waste of time, etc etc. Nothing I can tell you about this trip could ever adequately paint the colorful picture it was; images that are stamped in my memory forever. I will never forget waking up next to Neil in the late Bronx morning, thinking that I would happily wake up in a different adventure every day as long as he is by my side. I recharged up there, gained perspective that I needed. I will never be able to express how wonderful it was to be away, to feel the euphoria of leaving things behind and look towards something new, even if only for a moment.

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BKLYN, I’ll be back for you.

bonheur 

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It’s time to show some real gratitude for the happiness that has been bestowed upon me.

I wasn’t sure I’d ever look in the mirror and see my usual, crooked smile ever again. I was convinced I was bound to internally frown forever, until I started making decisions for myself, happiness being numero uno on that list. I know I’ve spoken on this before, but I’ve been reaping the benefits this year and I want to make sure I put something down to remind me when I’m feel a little lackluster – and I have been.

It is possible, yes, it is, for some one to make you happy, but they should not be your only source of happiness. Yes, it is possible for some thing to make you happy; but again, it should not be the only fountain of joy in your life. Your happiness is the responsibility of exactly no one but you. There are so, so many avenues to take to find internal happiness and peace; you just need the desire to find it. Because I made happiness a conscious decision every day this year, I was fortunate to reconnect with yoga, which opened up my heart and mind to all kinds of things, and deepen my love and appreciate for other. Not to mention, it helped strengthen my relationships with those around me.

In that same turn, I feel like my life has been on a deep cleanse, a yearlong Spring Clean, a purge, if you will. It is possible to find happiness in letting go; you just have to allow yourself. I’m not saying it feels good, and I’m not saying it’s easy, but you will be happier when you let go of the things that bind you to negativity. I don’t care to admit it, but I was down – really down, last week. It was one of those weeks where every morning was a wrong-side-of-the-bed-empty-coffee-pot kind of morning and every day rounded out to less than mediocre; just a nonsensical shitty week for me and every single one of my friends and several of my family members. I made jokes about Mercury’s retrograde, but if you’d have seen me last week, you’d have been convinced that yes indeed, the cosmos were relishing in the mischievousness.

I keep losing my other thoughts to this one, so maybe I should just write that down: happiness is a choice. It’s YOUR choice and no one else can make it for you, and you cannot punish the people in your life for not making you happy. That is all on you. Until you can look in the mirror and be happy with/for yourself, you’re going to spend a lot of negative energy, and that ends up being quite expensive. Your insecurities will constantly be whispering in your ear and the longer they persist, the harder they are to silence.

If you look at the world through a negative lens, that’s what you’re going to see. It is more than easy to stand before the world’s destruction and spend your time assessing the damage, wallowing in self-deprecation. People can beg and plead with you, but no one can pull you out of that pool except yourself – trust me, I know.

For crying out loud y’all, we live a world where beautiful things just pop out of the ground, we can feel the sun shine on our faces and observe planets that just so happen to hang out in the sky, for our viewing pleasure. Also….COFFEE BEANS? In a world like this, how hard is it to choose to be happy? Making that decision requires a good bit of raw honesty from you, I realize, and some days, you just don’t want to do it. It’s a pain in the ass to ask yourself these very necessary questions: “Am I making the right choice? Is this choice positive? Will it negatively affect anyone in my life? Is this decision destructive in any way?” BUT! They are essential questions to ask. You can’t reach pure happiness until you let these things fall away. Once that happens, once joy is the forefront of your thinking, the rest of it falls in place. I’m not saying things won’t come up because, shit happens. I’m saying that making these cognizant decisions makes everything so much easier…resulting in happiness. Residual effects, ya hearrrd.

We really underestimate the power of conscious happiness. It snowballs in to so many other things and replicates in to conscious positivism, breeding all the happy things. This kind of happiness radiates; I feel it from other people and its addicting. Once you encounter that one person that you know is internally happy, you want it for yourself.  I think it’s really awful that people associate self-appreciation for arrogance. There is abso-fcking-lutely NOTHING wrong with being happy, happy to the point of irritating. I should know – sometimes I irritate myself, and I’m so grateful for that. When you’ve seen the ugly flipside of that smiling reflection, you’re so beyond grateful to be that annoyingly cheerful person.

“What are you on? And can I have some?”

“Absolutely. Wake up, choose happiness.”  The end.

this just in: girl climbs mountain

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I sat down to write something completely different. It was entitled, “and she never came back.” I may still finish it one day, but the girl who wanted to write that was bitter, wounded and weak.

I am not that girl. 

My divorce will be finalized on August 12th, a week from today, the week I travel to the beach for some SERIOUS healing. To say that this has been a surreal feeling would be an understatement; perhaps, the understatement of my last decade. But you know what? I wouldn’t trade my experiences over this last decade for the world. I have endured the loss of my father, of friendships, of a life I thought I knew. I’ve lost close friends to the uncertainty of life and I lost my marriage, and all of the things he was to me. I lost myself, more times than I can count on one hand.

I’m not that girl.

I changed my attitude, y’all; I had to. I changed the word “suffered,” to, “endured,” because that’s what it was, endurance. Did I suffer? Yes, but we all suffer. I still feel like my suffering is suffocating some days, but if I think about it like that, if I approach that way, I always end up feeling like the victim. I knew if I continued thinking that way, I’d always feeling like the girl who lost her daddy, her husband and her way.

AND I AM NOT THAT GIRL. 

I reflect on seventeen through twenty-seven and I marvel. I revel. I have overcome more personally than I ever knew – no one really prepares you for it, you just have to accept things as they come and keep going, but no one tells you that when you’re growing up. Take a moment and briefly think about where you were a decade ago in comparison to where you are now. DAMN, right? When you’re growing up, you only hear about how wonderful life is. How sharing a life with someone makes life worth living, that you’re going to get to do all and be all that you could ever want and, for whatever reason, seeds are planted that make you believe that it is all going to fall right at your finger tips. But it doesn’t. We work, tirelessly it seems, to build things. “We beat on, boats against the current…” Careers, friendships, relationships…we spend our days constantly working towards something. Goals are great and necessary and fulfilling, but sometimes those things can pile up and seem like a mountain and we’re never going to reach the top.

I think about my goals, the list large and wide in front of me and I falter. I roll my eyes and think to myself, “I haven’t reached that place yet, I never will.” But, it’s just not true. Life has this way of – for lack of a better word – blooming right before our eyes. I am a paid writer now, a dream I thought would never come to fruition…and it’s only the beginning. We must pause for an appreciative thought for these things; gratitude.

I’ve had several long talks with family and friends lately about, “well when do we get there? when am I ever going to find real balance? when is life going to stop throwing rocks at me?!’ And you know what? I won’t. It never will. It is an endless cycle of the ups, downs, and roundabouts and we must keep going because life keeps going; we cannot stop just because shit gets hard, unfathomably hard. And you won’t be prepared for it and you won’t know it’s coming or when it’s going to end, you just gird your loins, buy the ticket and take the freaking ride.

After the almost decade of, what I can only refer to as The Awakening, Revolution and Revival, I am happy to say that enough of the fear has dissipated. I think it’s healthy to be a little fearful, a little leery, perhaps that’s a better word, for the sake of the thrill. Things aren’t thrilling unless they’re a little bit scary. Don’t you agree?

Two short years ago, had you asked me to climb a mountain, I would have looked at you and said, “What the hell for?” But I’m not that girl anymore. Now, I dare you to ask me. I am hungry for challenges, adventures and obstacles. If you’d ask me to climb a mountain right now, I’d say, “why the hell not?!” and race you to the peak…because I am that girl.

The hill you thought you’d never pass and valleys that seemed so deep are magnificent when you’re standing on top of the mountain. Trust me, the view is worth the climb.

thank you Courtney Wimmert for the artwork/ future ink.

love is a verb.

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FOR ONCE I can allow myself to gush about love and I’m so happy.

LOVE:: lets talk about it. 

It’s filling, it’s overwhelming. It makes you the happiest you’ve ever been while simultaneously being the deepest, darkest pool you’ll ever dive into, blindly…but you do it without batting an eye because of the wonder; the feeling of the unknown, the promise of discovery. It drives us, whether it’s to learn more about ourselves, or others; it pushes us. It’s demonstrative of everything we absorb and it’s a reflective illustration of who we are and what we want.

It’s a thirst, it’s a hunger; something we are innately designed to crave in one form or another. It is equal parts misery and ecstasy, the truest yin-yang I could ever imagine. It’s scary and wrong and right and hopeless and triumphant and glorious. Love is comprehensive, global. It spins the world…and often stops it.

We are so lucky because we are free to love; it’s the one thing in the world that is priceless, regardless of how high the cost may seem….love is free. It’s a right and a privilege all our own to choose it and live it and thrive in it. And now, we can all have it, equally.

For years I’ve tried to understand how the government could ever possibly dictate when and how two people could love each other and express that commitment. Though society may try, no one tells me how to dress or what to eat or how to think. I don’t see color, I don’t see sexual orientation or race or gender or religious affiliation; I see people. Today’s announcement sent me over the moon. My friends, ALL of my friends, now have the right that I have always had. I thankfully haven’t had to see or worry with much bigotry on social media because most of my friends and family are like-minded and open about these kinds of things, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not thinking about it. I know that local governments are going to fight marriage equality. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

A person is a person, man or woman, and that person has the right to love whomever they choose. BUT here’s the thing: we don’t choose, love chooses for us. I was given the right at birth to choose who I love and express it in any way I see fit. How do men who like men and women who like women not get the same right? You can’t help who you love. I can’t help that I was drawn to someone who would eventually stop loving me and fighting for our love. I can’t help that I’ve got too many opinions and thoughts in my head and that I’m not afraid to share them. I have watched my friends and friends of my mom and friends of her friends move their entire lives across the country to more supportive states so they could spend the rest of their lives with the person they’re meant to be with. That would never happen to me, because what? I just happen to prefer men over women? What the hell? What happened to humanity? The idea of that is so oppressive I can barely stand it. I am so so soooooo happy don’t have to even think of it because now, I can attend all of the amazing, beautiful, harmonious, sanctimonious ceremonies I know are going to take place. I can’t wait to support of my friends as they take their steps, just as they supported me.

I grew up in a Christian home, church twice a week and all that. I’ve studied several different forms of religion and there are just too many questions in my head for me to ever say what it is that I am. I have a moral code that I live by and I try to keep myself in check. But I would like to make a statement to the people who claim to be Christians (and this is the only comment I’m going to make on this end of it):: WE ARE CALLED TO LOVE.  And I’m really sorry, but there should be zero stipulations on love. When we start breaking it down, putting rules and regulations on the who, what, when, where, how and why of love, we ruin it. I have as much right as the next guy or girl to love who I want, when I want to and so on.

Love is a verb. A VERB. Action, a force, a response, a movement. Gay, straight, black, white…whatever. It’s all about love: demonstrating it and respecting it. NOW LETS DO IT.

the restoration period

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I had a flawless weekend. Let me tell you all about it in the greatest of detail – way more than you need but it was sooooooo perf I have to allow myself time to gush.

I kicked Friday night off right with a hot shower after work and put on an outfit I’ve been dying to try. My style is really tailored and classic, so stepping out in a geometric peach-grey number that buttoned all the way to my clavicle with metallic wedges was really, really pushing my fashion limits. It went over well I think; I felt sassy and chic, and though I immediately put on yoga pants and a tank a few hours later, it was great to feel mega-girly for a minute.

To continue on with the girlishness of Friday night (and the entire weekend,) I spent the night with one of my best friends. We just laid around all night, watched The Interview and talked until we passed out at the very late hour of midnight – we’re old, okay?

Saturday morning we were up and at it! First on the agenda was blackberry picking at Inglewood Farm. I think could pick berries all day, every day…I seriously loved it. I thought about pies and cobblers and ice cream the whole time; it was heaven. Tiffany (the friend I was with all weekend – it’s really difficult sometimes to have a BFF with your name, but convenient at others) brought her adorable son along for the fun and I know he had a blast too! Kids just make everything more fun. I’m glad I’ve got so many friends with kids to light up my life, for real. We bought these really interesting melon-cucumbers and some crazy mint-cucumber jam and other delicious, local, organic things, then headed for lunch…which was also tasty and perfect and al fresco. After that? Poolside for a few hours to soak up some sun before having the yummy taco soup Tiff made for supper. – I told you….I had THE PERFECT WEEKEND.

After we realized we were worn out and sleepy from all the fun we took showers and said, “live music? why the hell not?! SAUCE IS PLAYING!” So we dolled up a bit and walked to this little dive bar that’s close to my apartment and watched our friends jam for about an hour. Nothing feeds my soul like live music, except watching live music with my friends, being played by friends.

We then conceded defeat to our sleepiness and headed home for what can only be described as the best couch-rest I’ve ever had. But before we were allowed sleep…cobbler had to be made. So in our glasses and pajamas we made blackberry-strawberry cobbler and begged it to hurry up and bake. When it was finally out of the oven, we scooped some out in to coffee mugs and let our tastebuds dance all over the kitchen. It’s no surprise that I slept harder and more peacefully than I did all week long. I was beyond satisfied and happy.

Sunday was productive in the morning and lazy in the afternoon. Fresh sheets, clean towels; all of my laundry is done. YAY! I visited with friends then went out to the pool for more hang time, and definitely caught some sun! I haven’t had a summer in what feels like a really, really long time so I am loving all of this outdoor action. I mean, I’m actually catching a little tan and everything (no worries, lots of sunscreen!) Though, I think I may be forming an addiction to vitamin-D….I suppose there are worse things to find addicting.

The best part about this weekend? I was with my friends the entire time. This weekend was very remnant of those few and far between days I got to do this last summer with my NOLA crew. I can’t wait for my sets of friends to collide at some point this year, it’s going to be a riot.

I feel like this cleanse (and that glorious weekend) has helped me breach that weird limbo I was in. Now, don’t get it twisted. I still have no idea what’s going on in my head really, but I’m happily focusing on the day-to-day and that is legit as shit. I suppose it’s safe to call this my restoration period, and it’s been a long time coming.

What I learned from my first week of cleansing:

Sugar is hard to give up. Sugar is in EVERYTHING…e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I can’t even explain how much I’m noticing and it’s just been a week and I cheated with sweets twice….I can only imagine how my body will feel after the next 12 days.

Regular oil-pulling is really helping whiten my teeth and get rid of all those dumb stains that cigarettes were giving me.

I don’t miss alcohol, unless I’m in the pool; and only then do I want some sort of umbrella drink served to me by a Mr. Hottie McHotterton that is also offering to cover me in coconut oil. English optional.

Making time to read is really, really challenging. Between work, popups and the random little things that come up in between, I just don’t have the energy when I get home. I’m also trying to get in bed and asleep at a decent time during this cleanse (in hopes for discipline) and it really just falls to the wayside. It might have to do with my selection. Dune is wonderful, but it’s heavy. The sunshine is beckoning me to pick up something light-hearted and funny, so maybe I’ll swap out for a little while and revisit Dune at a different time.

Life without all of the coffee I want is miserable. “I can’t even.” The headaches are bearable but I miss that part of my ritual. I did cheat a little by going to Tamp&Grind after yoga on Thursday afternoon, but I had a delightful cup of Oolong tea with hibiscus leaves and it satisfied my craving for something hot.

Raw foods/clean eating is a breeze but I feel hungry a good bit, so it’s time to incorporate EVEN MORE water, if that’s possible. I feel like all I did last week was pee, but hey. I guess that’s the name of the game. BTW, the clean eating is easier than you think. It’s all about conscious decisions (like everything else in life,) though I know that’s easier said than done. I know that I want my mind and body to feel better, so I use that as motivation to keep me going and it works!

I had a beautiful practice yesterday morning and it reminded me how much I love doing yoga solo. I can make the session as long or short as I want. I can take an inversion in the middle if I’m feeling it and long savasanas. It reminded me of why I wanted to make active gratitude my New Year’s resolution and why I wanted to participate in the cleanse.

Soul Cleanse, Week #2 Goals:

Learn a new song on the guitar. I don’t play nearly as much as I should because I’m so super obsessed with playing my drums (especially my beautiful new djembe!) and that’s awesome, but my guit-fiddle needs some love too. Gotta get on it.

Give more hugs. I didn’t realize that not being touched affectionately for almost a year really turned me off to being touched at all. I feel like my space is being invaded or something and that makes me really sad because I used to be super touchy-feely all the time. I made a conscious effort to hug my friends this weekend and there is such restorative power in that sensation.

No extra sugar, at all this week. I splurged a little with my mom on Tuesday last week after our trip to the law office, because let’s be honest, chocolate fro-yo is a lifesaver. Then…the cobbler of all cobblers. Though Tiff and I sweetened it only with light agave nectar, I knew I was being bad. None at all this week! No treating myself to sweet cheats.

Long story made short – she says after over 1,000 words – I feel like hope has been restored in fistfuls and I am absolutely in love. I know the days might be hard and the nights might be long, but I understand that tomorrow is coming and that I’m in control. Once you get your grip on that, you’re golden, baby.

Who knows, my Golden Era may be approaching.