Catch Up With Me

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I’ve completely lost any sort of schedule I may have had for this blog. I firstly want to say sorry. I didn’t mean to. I got caught up with things going on which include traveling/living in London temporarily, enjoying time with my boyfriend, learning about film production, networking with various producers, trying to see friends and family, writing a bit for Huffpost, looking for job prospects, etc. You name it, I’ve probably been trying to sort something out in that arena.

So right now, although I know I owe multiple Sicily stories, I’m catching you up on me and my thoughts. What’s changed? I still find life hard, or rather, challenging. Every day is a new battle. I’m fighting negative thoughts of what am I doing with my life (as in, who do I think I am, taking time off again to be in London like I’m some sort of privileged individual). Thinking, did I mess up? Should I have stayed longer and earned more money at my previous job? Thinking, where are you actually getting on your quest of applications, new business emails, networking and the like. But I need to give myself more credit. I’ve done a lot and been through a lot.

These past two and half months (nearly three!), I’ve had a lot of happy moments and trying ones. I’ve doubted my ability to succeed and earn a living up to my standards (nice quality of life where I can help some family members if they need but also take care of myself to do the new things I’ve grown accustomed to doing (travel, nice brunches, etc).

I want so much but I want to be grateful. I also don’t want to want for too much either. Like, I don’t want to be greedy but I don’t plan on denying myself things that I’m capable of getting and making happen.

I want others around me who are striving for things and putting their all into it, to get what they want. I want people to achieve because I think if you put in a lot of effort, don’t let people talk you out of things or let self doubt throw you into a spiral, your dreams can come true.

Me, I’m trying. I’m still optimistic about what I can do and how it can be done. I’m not being naive – I think I’m being realistic about it but I need to positive as well. Positivity can change a lot of things for you – how you see certain situations and opportunities. It also can motivate a person into putting themselves into more situations where even better things can result just because you take everything in stride.

That’s what I’m doing. Taking things in stride and learning day by day. That’s my excuse for the lack of blogging. I’ve been hustling as much as I can with the intention of blogging at night but sometimes, my mind just needs a break. Some Youtube clips of The Real, movie reviews and news of Trump and Theresa May have distracted me. I’ll try to do better!

Sicily – Enter Cefalu

After settling in a London for a week, it was time to head off again to Sicily.

The closest I had ever been to Italy was Malta last summer but I was dying to get a taste of pasta, gelato, pizza… and of course see the sights.haha But yeah, I was off to Italy with the boyfriend for our first taste of Sicilian culture.

We arrived at Gatwick at the crack of dawn to take our flight via EasyJet. I was tired but nervous more than anything. I was excited to see Italy but nervous about leaving London and Trump ruining my chances for getting back in. I took a leap of faith and boarded my flight with my boyfriend mocking me the entire way.

A few hours later, we land at Palermo airport and I’m dying for the sun. We try to run through security because we don’t want to get caught behind a school group on vacation and we beat them. Small victories. We also step outside and it’s warm. Another victory! All we need to do is find the rental car and we’re off to Cefalu.

So an hour later, we have the car and we hit the road. One thing that is true, Italian drivers are a bit crazy. But we drive past rolling green fields, Mt Etna and a few farms before we arrive in Cefalu.

We find our Airbnb (it was cute but basic in the sweetest way),

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we go down to the center of Cefalu,

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and then we realize we’re starving and food isn’t really served until 7 PM (3 hours from then). I literally start to feel hangry bubbles form but we walk around and take some pictures until we stumble across tourists stuffing their faces with a slice of pizza. Out of desperation, the boyfriend asks them where they found food and 10 minutes later, we get something in our stomachs.

Although we had a full day, it felt like we arrived at night after driving across the island to the north east side. We wandered a bit more and then order pizzas to go where we sat in our Airbnb next to each other for body heat (the mountains get cold at night).

The next day, we prepared to picnic and make our way to Castelbuono for a hike.

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The hike ended up getting crazy as we couldn’t really find the designated path. The boyfriend insisted we were going the right way but I knew it wasn’t. lol We had to hop a fence, passed by a bull and then came to a pasture of bulls that he wanted to walk through. I said this aint right and eventually he agreed but it got testy.

We tried to follow walks found in this guide but they were harder to navigate than we thought.

We then head back to Castelbuono to see the city itself and take a few pictures (all was forgiven at this point).

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The next day, we had misadventures with his vape. But stay tuned for more!

 

Wake Up & Smell The Hot Cocoa

So December snuck on me – that was lovely. Lovely because so many things are about to happen. A trip to Tenerife, Christmas, Holiday Parties, A Long Overdue meet up with the BF (I have one now), etc. All of this sounds so crazy but the craziest thing of all is the fact that this year is my golden birthday.

What’s that you may ask? Golden birthday is when you turn the age of the date you were born on (at least, that’s what I was told). For some, they experienced their golden birthday at the ripe age of 3. Me, I’m going to be turning 27 on the 27th this year.

I don’t really love my birthday in general. I mean, I’m glad to be alive but don’t really look forward to the whole getting older thing but this year, I don’t mind. Partly because it’s my golden birthday and I’ll be in Tenerife with my BF on that day, but the other half of that is I feel like I *may* be hitting a stride or turning point?

I don’t want to jinx myself but I’m very positive about the things to come and achieving what I ultimately want. I think 2017 will be wonderful, despite all the tragic political craziness happening around the world. I have to be optimistic though. What kind of life do I expect to lead if I can’t see greatness for myself in the future? A pretty dark one is what I think.

This feeling of general glee and excitement came over me while sipping on the hot cocoa pictured in the featured image. I was out this weekend and treated myself to some hot cocoa. Although the taste and the atmosphere of the shop I was in didn’t transport me back to London, I couldn’t help but reflect on all the progress I made and the transformations I underwent.

It was a heck of a time. A time where I experimented and truly tried to figure out who I was and where I was going. Everything was on me to figure out (how to get around, pay bills, find a place to live, find work/internship, make friends, etc). It was all hard but worth it. I accomplished so much and feel energized in a way to tackle more and continue to blaze down the path I’ve started to carve out for myself. I know I can do it, I just have to not get lost!

I feel like so many people, especially the millennial type in their 20’s, are so confused. Worried about blazing down a particular path or doing something that isn’t considered too risky for the sake of money. Money is an important thing for sure – we need it to live and satiate certain wants – but we are all soo sooo worried about it. I’d love if we could all find ways to break free of that vice. I mean I haven’t. Not even close. I still feel the pressure to bring home the green on order to live a life I can be “happy” with (note happy is in quotes because everyone has a different way in which they measure happy). I do wish we could escape it though, life might be better.

But yeah, this December I’m feeling excited about what’s to come. I believe a lot of good things have happened to me this year. I may have felt completely lost while they happened and experienced plenty of bad or traumatizing to balance it out but nonetheless, all of it needed to happen. Perhaps me drinking this hot cocoa needed to happen too – so I could truly think about the good.

London Fashion Week: Palmer/Harding

Better late than never I sometimes say.

While in London, I had the privilege of checking out two events during London Fashion Week. I had realized a bit late (literally three or four days before the start of fashion week) to attempt to line up amazing seats at Burberry or Michael Kors but I did score some nice invites. What I would have given to be part of it and run into some of my favorite London fashion influencers (Patricia Bright or Shirley Eniang for starters)?!

However I did go to a Stradivarius launch party where we (we being me and my Canadian friend) got goody bags, roamed the store with free drinks and took photos using the photo booth. It was really cool seeing as the event was on Oxford Street and that day, the temperature was beautiful. The epitome of a lovely summer day and night.

Two days later, I got to see the real hard fashion at a Palmer/Harding preview for Fall.

It was a bunch of neutrals, navys and reds – all done up in high fashion styles I honestly probably can’t pull off.

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I felt so cool in London. Like, look at me at a fashion show and living life. I mean, the show did get a boring but that was mainly my bad. As it was a presentation, after all the girls walked, they came back out to hang around for late comers to see. I decided to just stay there after the show to kill time so as you’d imagine, I was bored since I saw everything.

The show was overall really nice – interesting fashions for the simple comfort seeking woman (that’s how I’d describe it).

 

Big City, Loads of Noises

Sirens again. Honking again. Screaming imbeciles again. That’s what I hear.

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It’s been three weeks since I’ve been back in NYC after spending 5 months away. Although I studied abroad and spent nearly the same amount of time away in Paris during my Junior year of college, this past experience feels so different.

Back then, when I had been a foreign country studying another language and truly living on my own for the first time, I was shocked. I was unprepared and didn’t really know what I had. This time while in London, my outlook was different. I loved nearly every minute of it. There were some lows, don’t get me wrong, but I truly saw another part of life and happiness. Even though I was spending my savings and putting myself through an endless test – joy ran through my veins. I was constantly going out to events, networking mixers, emailing companies and trying to do and learn as much as I could. Every day was a new challenge. I walked the city and discovered new restaurants and bakeries of course.

Now being back in NYC, I feel odd. I enjoy seeing old friends and family members I hadn’t seen in awhile but I do feel like I’m in a haze. I don’t want to lose all of the amazing things I learned and did while in London. I loved what I accomplished. I’d hate to let it go by being back “home” and falling back to the normal I wanted so badly to escape. Well, I guess not escape – I wanted to learn and feel a level of happiness I wasn’t quite getting. I found it in London and I don’t want to let go. In my heart though, I know I can’t lose it, unless I choose to.

I think that what I learned the most about London was not to be afraid of taking chances, putting my effort into something and asking for real results, doing me without too much hesitation, etc. It really informed my way of thinking and interacting with people. I already knew I gave too many s**ts about what people think and London helped me shake that a bit.

When I look around me, I see so many tall buildings. It’s pretty in a NYC way but the romanticism I felt in London isn’t here with me right now. Maybe I still need to get used to everything? But I don’t want to. I want to do what I want to and feel the same level of joy. I know I can still continue to push forward with the dreams that I was living in London. I also plan on going back. If there is something I know I haven’t lost, it’s my will. I don’t like to give up and I know the things that I’m after now are very possible! One step at a time. Nothing worth having is supposed to be THAT easy. It’s what they say, ain’t it?

October in London

It’s October of 2016! How in the world did that happen? I remember when the year just started and I was in NYC dreaming of all the things I would and could do this year.

Now I feel like 2017 is just around the corner and it’s just… wow. Not to mention, I’m still in London going through life trials and tribulations. Meeting new people who have been encouraging to me when they have no real reason to be (I’m a stranger), hard talks and realities thrown on me by people I’d never suspect (I’m not a stranger) and just running into random experiences and adventures through some unknown will I keep stumbling across. It’s still great. It’s still hard. It’s life.

In one way, time is running out. Well my London time is. I’ve extended my ticket and thought about the big life question that everyone ponders “what’s next?” I have a vague idea. Very foggy and vague I might add, but I’m still going to try for this idea. Part of what’s in that idea is figuring out how to make my European dreams come true. I mean, lots of great Europe things have happened but I believe in always striving for more.

Some amazing things I’ve done as fall set in on me in another country:

  • Assit in editing a video for a Walking Dead promo
  • Help out on a shoot for Ugg
  • Learn more about using software like Premiere and After Effects
  • Learn way more about marketing than I intended (Google Adwords, Mailchimp, Tweedtdeck, etc)
  • Meet incredible people in the London film and production industry with drive and passion as well as lovely social skills (haha)
  • Go to movies in London (simple pleasures)
  • Move into my own place and share with girls that are super nice
  • Make friends despite having a network or good everyday social setting to find them (it’s hard stuff, believe me)
  • Go to a random concert, clubs, bakeries, book store, play
  • Travel to some new cities in Europe
  • Shop a little and grab some cute pieces (even if it hasn’t been warm enough to wear them)
  • Discover things about my self and what I can improve

That’s just a small bit of the list but there are plenty of things, including bad, that have in the end helped me to have a better understanding about what I want. I know that may be a selfish statement and it is, but it’s also not in some ways (learning more about how I want to treat others vs how people treat(ed) me is one way in wish it’s more people friendly).

I’m glad to be here, in London in October. I do admit I wasn’t sure if that would happen but I’ve been making it since June. If only I could find a way to make it last for as long as I chose. I mean, maybe I can and will stumble into that situation but overall I’m just glad… and grateful.

So yeah, that’s just a bit of my thoughts on making it to London and living here. It’s been crazy but I don’t regret even in my weak moments of disappointment and negativity.

 

Fall Fashion Finds UK

So I don’t have a person here in the UK to take every photo of every outfit I find worthy of showcasing “my style” but I do have a style and some fashion finds I’d like to start blogging about.

During my travels, I’ve done a bit of window shopping and actual shopping. I’ve wandered through Primark, Zara, River Island, Topshop, Pull & Bear, local shops and more, seeing the beautiful patterns, textures and colors in the shops. It was hard to hold myself back from buying a few cute things for fall and just in general.

Below are some finds I’m excited to bust out and wanted to share with you all for a bit of inspiration.

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-2-19-12-pm I kind of wish I had seen this color before I made my purchase but I still love it. I have something exactly like this from River Island – a comfy and warm bomber jacket. The colors are pink and black and it’s super nice. Although the UK has weather where I could have busted this out earlier this summer, I’ve kind of been saving this little gem. You can pair this with a dress or jeans to make any look cute and casual.

These are so cute and cheap! Velvet overall dresses in fall inspired colors from Primark. The sides are low cut so I recommend wearing this with a t-shirt or long-sleeved blouse that’s pretty neutral. The dress is also short so if you don’t feel comfortable with showing a bit of extra leg, you can also wear this with some leggings/tights.

These shirts are from Primark. The short-sleeved velvet shirt is something I got but in a burgundy color. I plan on pairing this with some jeans (white and denim) or some cute denim shorts. The long-sleeved shirt is something I got to pair with the overall dress above.

I love all of these pieces and plan to bust them out soon. I’ll make my best effort to style them and photograph them for a new fashion series. But again, I need the help of a photographer so we’ll see how that comes along!

Joe & The Juice Musings

I’m sitting in this Brooklyn-esque coffee shop/juice bar in London, reading a book about lessening worry.

I’m not sure it will actually help me. If at the end of the day, it’s just me wasting money since I’ve already been making my own efforts to worry less, well at least no one can say that I didn’t try! haha

So far, the book outlines the art of worry and how things in the past should remain as such – in the past. But while reading, this thought popped up. I started thinking about why I worry and the things I worry about and at the end of the day, it all stems from other people.

I think you should be able to tell others your opinions but at what point are others opinions someone else’s worries. Is it the individual’s fault for letting someone else’s words invade their minds to the point of stress and anxiety? Maybe. But when should others just shut their trap and live their own life (be it miserable or full of happiness)?

I consider myself a curious open minded person but as I get older and start to get more confused about life, I start to wish others just kept their ill informed opinions to themselves. Maybe that’s where the mean old lady stereotype comes from, young girls tired of being confused by life and receiving unwarranted thoughts morphing them into b*tch. But I kid. I mean, I don’t truly wish to not hear other perspectives. I still admit that I like to hear what goes on in another person’s brain out of curiosity. It’ll then lead me down a road where I’ll try to analyze the nuts off what was said or done when I really don’t need to go into super-sleuth “what did you really mean” mode. I need to stop that. It’s not like someone will confirm my analysis. It will forever be a hypothetical.

But worry. I don’t like it. It adds years onto you, makes you tired and often causes you to be blind to happiness and joy of the here and now. I don’t want that to be me and I don’t think that is me. I do wish that it were easier to hear other people without letting their idiotic thoughts about what you should do and where you should be get to you. And on that note, there is no “should.” There just is when it comes to your life. And if there is a “should,” it’s your should not someone else’s notions.

Don’t let someone fill your head with ways you’re inadequate or how you suck. I mean maybe people aren’t doing that and I’m reading between the lines when there actually isn’t any space to read. But what I’m learning is that if you’re true to you then worry will start to fall away.

If worry is burdening you because of others words then stop it! Learn to recognize what you find important and necessary and just do it/live by it. As long as you gave it your all, things will somehow find their way to nice ending.

 

Manchester Madness

Manchester is a city that when spoken about amongst Londoners, has them scoffing at the thought of any tourist actually wanting to check it out.

At least, that was what I encountered when I went there a few weeks ago but I didn’t let the negative words or laughs at my attempt to explore the UK stop me. I hopped on a Virgin train into the vibrant city that was once the shining gem in the UK crown.

Manchester is a beautiful city that is typically undermined by the rain and grey mist of clouds that hover over. There’s a large amount to do: restaurants, shopping centers, theater, nightlife and more.

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The photo above is a shot of Deansgate. It’s a popular street home to a lot of pubs and a few clubs. You can basically walk this long endless road and run into a variety of options to party your night away. I ended up at one club (the name of which is escaping me but is in fact on Deansgate) that required me to pay an entry fee that went into the double digits. I decided to fork over the cash as I wanted to have a good night and I was promised all the drinks I could swallow before 10 PM (I powered through four large glasses of champagne in an hour). The music was ok and the venue was a nice space but it was literally empty for the entire time I was there. I stayed from like 9 PM until 11:30 PM. I guess I could have stayed longer but when you’re at a club by yourself for more than 2 hours and no one is there to really talk to, things get old quick. I did text a few friends at home in the states but again, it gets old.

I probably chose wrong in regards to club but it was generally a good deal since I had a lot of drinks and there were free snacks. I do know that you can have a good time in Manchester though for way less money than is required in London. Just make sure you choose better than me!

Manchester food. I was starved my first day and ended up at Byron which I thought was a local burger joint but later realized it was a chain restaurant all over the UK.

Byron Burgers was freaking awesome! The burger was so tasty and the mac and cheese, DELICIOUS! It’s a must eat if you ask me and the price isn’t terrible. The restaurant was also a nice way to hide from the rainy mist that came down the first day I arrived. Just think, had it not rained, I would have never bothered to try Byron Burgers. I think Manchester earned loads of cool points just for that fact. Thanks rain!

Later on in my trip, I went to this cute cafe for breakfast on my last day called Teacup. They had a huge selection of teas and beautiful decor. I ordered a breakfast scone with rose tea and imagine my delight when they came out with a tea timer to ensure I had the perfect cup of tea! I was a bit confused as to how it worked but super delighted by it. It made me feel as if I were at a tea party thrown by the girliest girl known to man. Overall it was a nice breakfast. A definite must try if you have a super sweet tooth. Very sugary scone.

I also tried to have some local fare which was a meat pie. Um, I should have went back to Byron. I mean it was ok (I went to a place called Pie & Ale) but wished it was better for the price I paid. I also ordered potato skins with bacon and cheese and what I got, maybe I’m just used to American skins. I would not recommend ordering.

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The city is rich with history! I went on an unofficial tour of Manchester hosted by a guy who is from the city and recently graduated from university. The tour is listed on Facebook and is free but he does ask for donations if you enjoy the tour and what he shared. The guy is Really good! He takes the whole group around Manchester shedding light on the music scene, the gay district, the history of Vimto, where Victoria and David Beckham had their first date, museums and more. It’s great and a really nice way to spend a few hours in Manchester as well as get to know the area. You literally walk everywhere. At the end of the tour I went to a show recommended by the guide in this special round theater . The show was full of inside jokes about being from Manchester and the UK as the play chronicled the life of a growing boy in Manchester and his obsession with ping pong. I was able to catch on to the inside jokes fairly quickly but I’m glad I made myself check out the show.

As for where I stayed, I was at the YHA hostel. It was clean and good for just a basic place to rest your head. Nothing to run home and tell mom about especially seeing as our room had this really weird porto toilet but again, it was fine to sleep in for the weekend.

I feel like my negative points or notes on what I didn’t like about my trip might be outshining the overall post but Manchester was really great. I learned so much about how Manchester played a part in the slave trade, the influence on the music scene and just the general bustling nature of the city. Lots to do but everyone isn’t in a rush.

If you want pop into a European city, check out Manchester. I promise Londoners are just a little full of themselves here. haha

Traveling While Black

I feel like my title might be controversial but this is a topic that has popped into my head whilst I’ve been traveling about Europe and living a life that always seemed like something that could NEVER really happen.

A few days ago, I was coming back from my recent trip to Malta. My flight left late so I arrived later than planned. Not a fan. I make a mad dash to the border control because I didn’t want to wait forever and the trains in London stop running after 12, which would have forced me to take cab when I didn’t want to nor did I budget to do so.

After running for what seemed like 10 minutes, I arrive dat the border to see a massive line that was about two hours long. TWO HOURS! How in gods green earth that was the case, I don’t know. Maybe it was because I was at Heathrow? Any who, I tried to be patient, letting out a few moans, sighs and chats with myself about how ridiculous the line was to finally get to an agent.

I presented my passport and landing card and out of nowhere, I found myself questioned about my travels. I’ve been in London for about 6 weeks and while here, I’ve been to Amsterdam, Manchester and Malta (with a layover in Vienna). The woman/agent started questioning my travel. Asking me where else I was going and how long I would be in London. I explain that I’m traveling for the summer and visiting family among other things. The answer didn’t satisfy her.

She then started to ask about how much money I had, if I was still employed, requested to see my tickets for my other trips and probed into how I was related to my sister. This all seemed extra to me as I know plenty of people and friends of the non color persuasion who have traveled Europe for the summer without any problems. Have you heard of the young millennial backpacker for heavens sakes?

I produced everything she asked for and then she seemed satisfied enough to let me through. Just in time as the last tube into London city center was about to take off in 2 minutes.

Why did she question me so hard? Were my movements really that suspicious or was it that me, a young black female couldn’t possibly travel Europe for the summer without trying to do some shady immigration thing? Could I be digging? Could the woman just have been doing her job? Perhaps, but it was odd.

It was odd because when I do vacation, it is rare to see other brown people traveling and relaxing. There aren’t many of “me” around, only people who live locally and most likely happen to be lower class. I saw it in Malta, I saw it when I went to Mexico, I saw it when I went to Stockholm, I usually always see it.

Then there’s also the case of my friend hand her boyfriend. Her boyfriend just got back from spending a month traveling around Europe for work. He is also brown. Upon returning to NYC, he was detained in a “brown people line” while his white co-workers were able to breeze through. They did the same traveling but why did he get the third degree?

This is just a rant but it is sad that I can’t travel around without it looking odd. Does my last name being Obama as an explanation and would that even be enough?