What Are You Waiting For?

Tired of waiting for your friends to get their lives and their money together so you can FINALLY leave the country? Well, here’s a list of the 20 best places to go solo. I’ve been to six, five solo, and I vouch for these places. Stop being a ‘fraidy cat and letting other people keep you from doing what you want to do! Had I waited on other people, I’d be 40 with no stamps in my passport!

Even if it’s just a restaurant or a movie, don’t wait for other people. JUST GO!! I hate hearing people say, “I want to go to [insert place here] but I don’t have anyone to go with.” Why not go alone? Do you not enjoy your own company? If you don’t enjoy your own company or are uncomfortable spending time with you, why should anyone else want to spend time with you? If you don’t like you, you can’t reasonably expect that anyone else will like you.
So get comfortable with you and get going!


R.I.P. to My Travel Companion

The year was 2004. I was dating a techie who prided himself on having the latest and greatest of anything that even vaguely resembled a gadget. He was so obsessed that his house had very little in the way of actual furniture or dishes. However, if one of his gadgets needed a stand, a case or a shelf, it had the top of the line stand, shelf or case. One day we were riding in his car headed to dinner. I didn’t like what was playing on his radio and asked if he had any CDs. He got as excited as a kid on Christmas as he pulled out an MP3 player. I had no idea what it was but he took great delight in explaining it to me. At the time I had roughly 450 – 500 CDs. He didn’t know exactly how many CDs I had but he knew that my collection was pretty large. He went on and on and on about how if I were willing to spend a mere $500 that I could put all of my music on one of these MP3 players. If you know me, you know I’m cheap. I hadn’t yet developed the International travel bug but I had traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and did so frequently. Even back then I wasn’t spending $500 on anything unless it involved an airplane.

About a year later someone in my office insisted that I borrow their iPod to show me how great the thing was. After a couple of hours, I was hooked! I left the office that very afternoon and spent a couple of hours in the Best Buy talking to the salesman about all of my options. I believe that my options back then were “this one” or “that one” but that didn’t stop me from taking up all of his time talking about the gadget and all the accessories I would need (e.g., want) to go along with it. I spent all night and half the next day (it was a weekend) uploading my CDs. I wouldn’t be happy until they were all in there. After hours and hours of uploading, I had all 4,000+ of my songs in one spot. COOL! I spent another couple of hours creating and re-creating playlists of my favorite songs and artists. I was in music heaven!

As I began to travel more this little device proved to be invaluable. Prior to my iPod, I would have to pack a discman then decide which 24 or 48 CDs I just couldn’t stand to be without on that trip. That made my luggage quite heavy. Now I didn’t have to choose which CDs or artists I thought I might want to listen to on a given trip because I could take them all with me. That iPod moved from Phoenix to Chicago with me. It traveled all over the Midwest with me as I worked my territory for my job. It accompanied me on every vacation. It was with me every STRESSFUL holiday travel season and saved a LOT of annoying travelers from having to meet “Chrissy.” It was even with me when I took that ill-advised flight to Bermuda with a double ear infection and a sinus infection. (One day I’ll tell that story. It’s tragically hilarious. Trust me, it really is!).

After returning to Chicago from Bermuda, my iPod went on the fritz. I did the old reset and I was back in business. It started to get a little wonky more and more frequently. It probably had something to to with excessive use and dropping it from various heights onto all kinds of surfaces. I’m clumsy. The thing probably should have already been dead by then but it had kept on ticking. Then one day, about a week before a trip to London, it cut off and wasn’t responding to the usual reset routine. At that point I did the only thing I knew how to do, I spoke to it:

“Hey, look. I know I’ve put you through a lot. You’ve done more than any one iPod should be asked to do. But I need you to do this one last thing. Get me to and from London, and if you’re still not feeling it, I’ll put you down, Old Girl. Just do me this solid, ok?”

Wouldn’t you know it, five minutes later she went from the sad face of death to just needing a little charge. We were back in business!  A week after returning from London I was standing on the Red Line platform at the Harrison station when she finally said “That’s it!” I didn’t even try to restart it this time. I honored my promise and put her down.

In comes Sadie, the replacement. I got her two weeks after I put her predecessor down. That was the Summer of 2008. Since then Sadie and I have racked up some serious miles. If she had a passport, it’d be quite impressive. All those miles have taken a toll on her. Last week she decided to give up. I took her into the Apple store to see if they could do anything with her. I was told that Sadie was considered “Vintage.” Vintage was one step above “Obsolete.” Apple doesn’t service these old dogs. They don’t even carry the parts to do so. So, after 6 years, 14 countries and 50+ cities, Sadie is being laid to rest.

We’ve had fun, Old Girl! It’s a good thing you can’t talk to tell the stories though. Rest easy!
iPod RIP Pic

The People You Meet Series: #3

I met a Bum and Hustler from Spain. He’s the “just enough” type of guy. He’s just handsome enough, just charming enough and just interesting enough to get women to talk to him. He’s also just dumb enough to choose the wrong one as a Mark. I walked into the bar to watch a little football. I got there after 6:30pm which meant that the bar was packed.  Finding a waitress to order a beer was difficult. Finding a place to sit was pretty much impossible. Continue reading

(Link Fixed) The People You Meet Series: #2

NOTE: I posted this earlier. I even went to the site, outside of the app, and confirmed that it posted. The link posted on Facebook but somehow it disappeared. I guess this is what happens when you’re dealing with sketchy wi-fi & SIM Cards while traveling between countries. From now on, I’ll try to only post when I have a solid signal. Thanks for your patience!!

During my time in Paris I met a young girl from New Jersey who lives in the Caribbean and is in Paris studying at Le Cordon Bleu. She’s traveled the world and was able to give me some great recommendations for places to go and great tips on how to do it inexpensively. She’s the type of young girl that, on some level, I wished I’d been.

I often tell people that I wish I’d traveled more when I was younger, when I was still poor and didn’t have all these lofty travel standards. When you’re a poor college student, or fresh out of college and still poor, you stay wherever you can afford even if it means that you and your best friend end up in some Days Inn in downtown Charlotte, NC that looks more like a roach motel than a hotel for humans. True Story. We arrived after working a ten hour day and driving half the night from Detroit (her) and Clevelend (where she picked me up). Why? She called me at work that Monday and said,

“Teena Marie is gonna be at the Tom Joyner Sky Show in Charlotte!!! Too bad we can’t go.”

Me: “Why can’t we?”

And off we went that Thursday afternoon. Our room was awful! We napped for three hours with the lights on for fear that critters would appear if we allowed the room to go dark. We awoke and took the fastest showers ever in the barely clean bathroom then raced out the door to get in line for the show. As long and tiring as the drive was, as bad as the room was, we didn’t really care because it was about the experience and not the accommodations.

I admire the fact that this young girl has had the courage to wander around the globe chasing her dreams. I don’t regret the path I’ve chosen. However, if I had it to do over, I’d do it just a little bit differently with a lot more travel.

The People You Meet Series: #1

Today is my 23rd day in Paris. During my stay I’ve met a lot of interesting people from all over the world. And from each of them I’ve learned a little something. I originally started this as one piece but after five people it started to get a little long. And since I’ll likely continue meeting people, I’ve decided to make it a series of shorts, one about each person. Up first, the first person I met in Paris. Continue reading

J+B = Beyoncé Part III

ICYMI: Part I (J+B = Beyonce Part I) and Part II (J+B = Beyonce Part II)

Following the “Flawless” remix, Beyoncé performed “Yonce” before once again disappearing through the stage and being replaced by Jay-Z. The rest of the concert’s format was much the same with the couple alternating sets and sometimes appearing together on songs that feature one another. When the tour was first announced, there was a lot of speculation about who would open, how they would close, who would get more stage time and could it even work for their very different audiences? The couple, and their production team, managed to put together a show that was a perfect blend of the artists’ catalogues and hits.

Continue reading

J+B = Beyoncé Part II

ICYMI Part I: http://wp.me/p3MPGw-7j

“Call me back, I need some more packs.” Those are the last words we hear from Beyoncé before “Move that Dope” by Future comes blaring from the speakers. As awful as this song is (and I do mean awful), I LOVE it! And much like the rest of the crowd I danced and sang along. After a few bars, the moment we’d all been waiting for arrived! Jay-Z and Beyoncé appeared on stage and, somewhat predictably, performed their hit, “Bonnie & Clyde.” The couple then went into a medley of their hits together including “Upgrade U,” and “Crazy in Love” before Beyoncé left the stage and we saw the first solo performance of the evening. Continue reading

J+B = Beyoncé Part I

(I started writing this piece last Saturday after attending the On the Run Tour on Friday, September 12th. I’d put it away after starting to work on something else. The concert aired on HBO last night and I awoke to virtually my entire Facebook timeline discussing it. So I decided to finish this piece. It’s a little long so I’ve split it into three parts already scheduled to be posted later today. Here you go . . .)

Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s “On the Run” concert stage features a prominent “J+B” logo. However, on the night of September 12th the Parisian audience in Stade de France clearly belonged to B! Continue reading