Hello, thanks for stopping by!
I don’t update here any more (it’s been some time since I have), but you can find me in a lot of other places on the web.
V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N! When you enter the real world, this, along with your ten federal holiday’s, is one of the biggest things to look forward to.
In August 2008, my dad was on the brink of losing thousands of frequent flier miles. So, like any good daughter, I offered to use them before all of his spending and traveling went to waste, and booked a flight for my sister Molly and I to Puerto Rico.
I’ve only visited Puerto Rico once, and it was before and after a Royal Caribbean cruise with my family. We only spend 2 total days on the island, and most of our time was spent in transit or at the hotel beach.
This time, I planned to spend a lot less time in transit and a lot more time on the beach.
There’s no question, I was very excited to go on a vacation for 10 days with my friends and lay on the beach. The group of included: me, my sister Molly, her coworker Christine, and our mutual friends Scott and Emily. Our first flight left Washington D.C. around 8am, we hung out in Miami for about an hour and finally landed in Puerto Rico at 2:30pm. Puerto Rico greeted us with warm breezes and sunshine- definitely welcomed after enduring cold rains in D.C. that morning.
After a very confusing taxi ride from the airport, we made it to our hotel- El Patio Guest House. I’d describe it as a mix between a hotel and a hostel- definitely budget/young adult friendly. I was skeptical at first, but pleasantly surprised. It was located in a neighborhood off the main strip in Isla Verde in San Juan. This was nice because it only took 5 minutes to walk to the beach, bars, etc., but it was in a quiet and safe location. The guest house had a pool, fully operational kitchen with pots, pans and utensils. Our rooms were about the size of a college dorm room, but not tiny. We had hot water, sinks, our own beds, a phone and cable TV. I believe the facility even had wireless internet. Best part of all? A woman about the age of 75 ran and managed the whole place. She treated us as guests in her house and was nothing but hospitable.
We settled into our rooms and geared up to explore our surroundings. We ventured out to Carolina beach in Isla Verde, San Juan. It was so nice to be on the beach, feel the fresh air and most importantly, relax.
After playing around in the sand for a bit, we went to a beach-side bar and restaurant we named “Karen’s Place” after our waitress who happened to be from Richmond, Virginia. I decided to do as the Puerto Ricans do and eat a traditional island meal of Mango Mojitos and Carne Frita. Molly tried the Mofongo- a traditional dish made up of meat and mashed plantains.
After dinner, we happened upon a dance performance sponsored by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. They featured traditional dances of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. My favorite dance- the bomba- a dance in which the dancers take turns challenging the drums, creating a dialog with their movements that the solo drummers answer.
Unanimously, everyone decided that today would be a full on beach day. I live life at a rate of 100 miles per hour, 7 days a week, and thankfully one cannot live like that on vacation! As I laid on the beach and let the sun drench my skin, Spending 8 hours in the surf and sand > 8 hours in the office (despite the fact that my job is indeed, rad).
For lunch, we walked further down the beach to the Intercontinental Hotel and ate an overpriced, but delicious lunch at their Ciao Mediterranean cafe.
After a few more hours on the beach, we headed back to our guest house, freshened up and headed out for our first time to explore San Juan. For dinner, we stopped at a cafe right down the street from the guest house, Panaderia Espana. We all ordered traditional “Cubano” Sanwiches and were not dissapointed! The cafe had an “Ikea” look and feel to it, and the patrons and employees were nothing but hospitable.
After dinner, we hopped in a Taxi and headed to Old San Juan to explore the town. Fifteen minutes and twenty dollars later, we were hitting the cobble stone and venturing into the night. When I was in Puerto Rico two years ago, Old San Juan is where I spent the majority of my time. The colors and architecture of the buildings are beautiful, vibrant, and unique.
All the going and doing made us very tired and we took the morning to sleep in! After waking up, Emily and I walked to the Panaderia Espana for breakfast. I love challanges and being in a Spanish speaking territory was no exception. Between middle school and high school, I took about 4 years of Spanish and switched to Italian in college– BAD IDEA. Most things that came out of my mouth on this trip was a mixture of Spanish and Italian, but I got by. The employees at Panaderia Espana appreciated the effort (I think) and were very eager to share new words with us (I got a 5 minute lesson on forks, spoons, and knives, aka: el tenedor, la cuchara el cuchillo).
Today we decided to investigate the “national” drink of Puerto Rico- Rum. We took the AquaExpreso ferry from Old San Juan to Catano. From there, we took a 5 minute publico ride (essentially, a taxi) to the Bacardi factory- Casa Bacardi.
This was by far the most obnoxious tourist event we participated in, but worth it. The tour provided historical information regarding the Bacardi family and the role Rum plays in the Caribbean culture (yes, it is definitely a part of the culture). After learning about the many types of Rum, we were were given two tokens for free drinks. I decided to try the most feminine rums available: coconut rum with pineapple juice and passion fruit rum with pineapple juice. Delicious.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon strolling the streets of Old San Juan (this time in daylight) and had a delicious dinner at Mojitos. Once back in Isla Verde, we spent the evening exploring, eating ice cream, and strolling the beach. I also tripped up on some spanish, which proved to be amusing. I walked into a Walgreens in search of a restroom. Instead of asking, “¿Dónde está el baño?” I exclaimed, “¿Tengo el baño?” which translates to: “I have bathroom?” Awesome.
Today was probably the day I was looking forward to the most: visiting El Yunque, the rain forest (which happens to be the only rain forest in the U.S. Parks system). We woke up early, rented a car from Charlie Car Rental ($217 total for five days), and hit the road. Driving in Puerto Rico wasn’t as bad as I had imagined (I do live in the D.C. Metro area, I can’t imagine it being much worse…) and my sister molly served as a GREAT navigtor. We didn’t have a GPS or Google Maps to help us, just a regular paper map. After about a 30 minute drive, we arrived to El Yunque. Literally the moment we parked, it started pouring. Not just raining, but POURING. We met up with Christine and some of her friends who live on the island and started to hike La Mina Falls. As we hiked through the forest, the rain continued and I felt like I was looking at my feet more than the beautiful nature surrounding me. Luckily, just as we approached the falls, the rain died down and we jumped in!
Swimming around in the falls was underscribable. The currents were a bit strong, the water was temperate, and I was completly humbled by the beautiy of the situation. After being in the water for about 15 minutes, I got out and attempted to dry off a bit. As I was rummaging around, two people approached me and asked if I went to JMU (I was wearing a JMU underarmor shirt). It turns out that they had graduated from JMU this year- small world!
We took a quick break for lunch and decided to hike the Mt. Britton trail next. The park map says that this hike is only supposed to take 40 minutes, but in actuality, it’s about an hour long hike. This hike was definitely a work out, but after days of laying on the beach, a little intense physical activity felt nice. At the top of the trail is a small castle-like structure with a marker that read the elevation: 3,051 ft. We were so high that one minute we’d have a clear view of the valley’s and beaches far off in the distance, and the next we’d be engulfed in clouds. At one point we looked down and saw a rainbow below us! Definitely a beautiful experience with wonderful people.
On the way back to Isla Verde, we took the scenic route home and made a pit stop to Luquillo beach to take in the sites.
We checked out of our guest house, dropped Scott off at the airport and started our journey to visit my friend Manuel (aka, Manny), who lives in Guanica. Manny lives in a penthouse beach apartment and it is a true bachelor pad. Once we got to his apartment around 5pm, we explored the beach infront of his apartment, cooked dinner, and settled in- this was our “hotel” for the next 3 days. Manny made delicious ribs, aka costillas and let me be his kitchen helper. He taught me to make BBQ sauce that consisted of ketchup, coca-cola, and spices.
The beach near Manny’s house is called Playa Santa, and unlike the water in Isla Verde, San Juan, this was the Caribbean ocean, not the Atlantic. The water was as warm as bathwater and it was very still without many waves. I worked on evening out my tan and we played a little bit of volleyball.
Pino’s Boats and Water Fun has a station at Playa Santa and we decided it would be fun to ride the banana boat. At 7 bucks per person, I figured, “why not?!” The boat ride lasted about 30 minutes and we acted like a bunch of hooligans on it- I even fell off! I was at the back of the boat and we were rocking from side to side. Well, due to physics, as everyone was shifting to the other side, I didn’t quite make it. Literally, I was hanging on by one as the boat speed along. Thanfully, I had a life jacked on and I thought the whole incident was hilarious.
After the boat ride, we headed back to Manny’s apartment just up the street and took a swim in the Mangroves.
Staying at Manny’s house was relaxing and sort of felt like camping. This evening, Manny cooked lasagna and tostones (fried plantains) for us ladies, his brother Andy and friend Franz. I baked a cake. The night continued with good friends, Don Q, and the quintessential college card game, Kings.
Day 7 was a LONG day. We drove into Ponce, about 30 minutes from the apartment and it’s where Manny’s parents live. I had envisiond us going around and seeing all the beautiful historic landmarks of the city, but things took a pleasant twist. We parked the car and headed into a busy lunchtime bakery, “Classic Delights.”
Like she does best, Molly started talking to a group of people who happened to be Americans from the states. Long story short, we all had lunch together, strolled around Ponce, grabbed some drinks at a rinky-dinky bar (I had tropical juice, ha) and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. Growing up in a military family, I’ve definitely honed the ability to meet new friends. After some awesome company and conversation, we said our goodbye’s, planned to meet up later that evening and headed back to the apartment.
Since this was our last night with Manny, we decided to go out for dinner and hit the town. We made a pit-stop at Manny’s parents house and for wine and hors d’oeuvres. His parents were absolutely wonderful and more than hospitable. I can’t wait to see them again.
We had dinner at a nice little spot and headed out to La Guancha. La Guancha is a beautiful boardwalk lined with bars and boats. Manny introduced us to his friend Jorge and Franz from the previous day and our American friends from earlier met up with us. The night progressed with great conversation, laughs, and authentic Puertorican rum- Don Q.
The festivities continued back at Manny’s apartment with dancing, relaxing, Kings, and good company. Around 5:30am we went for a swim among the mangroves to watch the sunrise. The sunrise was amazing, the events that followed weren’t. Both Molly and Manny ended up stepping on sea urchins! Molly’s didn’t end up bothering her, but Manny’s were quite severe. He managed to get about 20 prickles in his foot. Once we managed to get him up to the apartment, the long journey to remove them began. Oh, did I mention it was now 7:00am? I started the preliminary operations then Christine took over and I went to bed, since we’d be driving back to San Juan in less than 5 hours.
We left Manny’s apartment at noon and ventured back to San Juan, this time to stay at the Hampton Inn. We booked our hotel through Orbitz and got a great rate of $129 per night. The hotel had a hot tub, a pool (with pool bar!), continental breakfast, business suite and was located literally 1 minute away from the airport. Omar, one of the managers, was extremely helpful and offered to get us on the list to any party or club on the street. He was full of dining suggestions and was generally interested in making sure we had a good time.
We were all pretty beat from the night/morning before and the drive up. We took it easy, and ate at Chilis (ugh, SO “American,” though the menu did have a traditional Spanish twist to it).
Day 9 was a pretty depressing day. Christine flew back to Philly and the day was plagued by rain, therefore squashing two attempted trips to the beach to finish up our tans. We hung by the pool, hung out in the room and packed. It was a rainy, gloomy day.
Once we were all packed, we headed to Lupi’s Mexican Grill & Sports Cantina for our “last supper” and our last Medalla. After dinner and a quick outfit change, we headed to the El San Juan Hotel to check out the Casino. After spending too much money on slots and being surrounded by Puerto Rican grandma’s and grandpa’s, we decided gambling wasn’t really for us, heh.
Got up at 5:00am, hit up the continental breakfast, returned the rental car, flew home.
Overall, I had a great time in Puerto Rico. Next time (yes, next time) I want to visit Culebra, Ricon (a famed surf town), see more of historic Ponce, and visit the mountains in the middle of the island.
Any takers for Puerto Rico round two?
Last night I saw Coldplay in concert at Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Virginia. I interned with Live Nation-DC last summer in their booking office and my former boss is awesome and hooked me up with section 101 seats (read: OMG).
I’ve always wanted to see Coldplay live, it’s been a “something to do before I die,” and I was very happy to experience it with my awesome friend Sarah who enjoys their music just as much as I do (click the link, she blogged about our concert adventure too!).
Despite the fact that Chris Martin (lead singer, Coldplay) loves himself more than he should (read: outrageous ego), I couldn’t help but really like him! He said “Thank you” after every song, and really let the audience know that he appreciated our time, support and money (Ok, he didn’t say money, but lets be honest…).
He kept saying something that was a little odd: “This is our last time in Washington, D.C. for long time” or “I don’t know when we’ll be back here yet.” Are they going on a break? Are they breaking up? Does this mean, “don’t expect an album anytime soon”?
Nonetheless, the show was fantastic and I’m currently suffereing “Post Concert Depression- that sad feeling you feel after experiencing a great show, knowing you won’t experience that same moment again. Something I love about concerts is the audience/community aspect- You’re best friends with the stranger sitting next to you and everyone is a family. Ah, it’s a beautiful thing! Seriously, when the concert started EVERYONE was screaming and cheering, it was almost emotional- I literally said to Sarah, “I feel like I’m going to cry!!”
Anyways, the set list is below, the staging was awesome, and I couldn’t have imagined a better night.
-pictures after the jump-
Life In Technicolor
In My Place
Glass Of Water
Cemeteries Of London
God Put A Smile Upon Your Face (techno version)
Talk (techno version)
The Hardest Part (Chris piano)
Postcards From Far Away (piano instrumental)
Viva La Vida
Green Eyes (acoustic)
Death Will Never Conquer (acoustic – Will vocals)
I’m A Believer (Neil Diamond Cover – acoustic)
Viva La Vida (remix interlude)
Lovers In Japan
Death And All His Friends
Life in Technicolor ii
The Escapist (outro)
Because our tix were free, we felt as though it was ok to purchase $16 frozen Margaritas:
This picture was taken by NDwas and it is awesome:
#FollowFriday is a great way to find new and inspiring people to follow on Twitter. You don’t always get an explanation as to why someone picks their #FollowFriday pick because of character limits on Twitter.
My #FollowFriday picks for Twitter include:
-he was one of the first people to follow me on Twitter
-he’s probably one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met
-founded this AWESOME site: http://goodness500.org/
-all around good guy
-he’s super excited about Social Media
-started Operation Follow on Twitter (#OpFollow) which raised awareness of all the military branches on Twitter
-he’s going to revitalize the way ARMY PAO’s communicate and interact on CORE
-she’s one of the most hilarious, sarcastic, and inappropriate people I’ve ever met= NEVER a dull moment around this girl
-we go way back, about 8 years!
-she’s done everything: Wedding planner, DC United Soccer team intern, super involved in high school and college and how she’s rocking
it out at the National Communication Association in DC
-this girl is the reason I’m into social media. She introduced me to Twitter!
-she’s going to have a masters degree from Emerson College in just about a month
-shes a creative and fashion savvy girl, always inspiring me
There you have it, just a few people who’ve been inspiring me lately.
Feel free to follow them and follow me on Twitter.
When my good friend Jenny and I let this phrase escape our lips, we know what one another is saying:
“I’m completely overwhelmed with the direction of my life.”
Today is my 23rd birthday! Well, it’s my sister’s birthday too, we’re twins. She’ll be quick to point out that she is older by three minutes, but looks at least a year younger than me. When I celebrate my mature appearance, she doesn’t let me forget that, “when we’re 50, I’ll look years younger than you!” Humph.
I distinctly remember my 22nd birthday. I was freaking out about graduating and if you were to tell me that I’d be loving my job as a Social Media strategist for the Army’s official homepage, ARMY.MIL, I’d probably laugh in your face. It’s not that I can’t imagine working for the military (I’m a proud product of a military family) or that I wouldn’t want a job in social media (what could be better?). It’s just that, a year ago I would have never let a position like this enter my radar. I thought I knew what I wanted.
Graduating and transitioning into “the real world” is hard. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting here being a whiny, narcissistic millennial who’s asking to be coddled and doesn’t understand the value of a hard days work. Having a student loan, a car payment, and opting to live at home until I pay those off has certainly provided me with a VERY clear understanding of the value of a dollar. Despite these “debts” and “sacrifices,” I still consider myself very fortunate and well off compared to many of my peers.
Whats hardest is the glaring reality that nothing at this age is stable, though we are told we can have it all. We’re somewhat fresh out of college, wide-eyed and ready to take on the world, but trusted companies are failing before our very eyes, people our parents age are getting laid off, people our age are getting laid off, and our brothers and sisters are fighting a war halfway around the world.
…but despite it all, us millennials are excited about the future.
I’m so excited about the future, I’m overwhelmed. The lives we are living, and are set to live are very different than any generation before us. My friends and I are not experiencing or following in the footsteps of traditional, “boomer-esq” post-college behavior. Unlike generations before us, we won’t have the same job forever. My friends are scattered all over the world, pursuing their passions, giving back and I can assure you, they’re not doing it for the money (that they’re not getting). The millennial’s and I are out searching for our passions, not our careers.
As exciting and empowering as all that sounds, it’s quite daunting and overwhelming too. It might even bring you to say, “Oh, life.”
How can I pursue my passions, pay off my student loan, move out on my own, contribute to my community, and cherish those around me?
That’s a pretty tall order, but I’m learning to force myself to step outside of this vision and remind myself:
I’m young! Despite the fact that 23 sounds old (I know, I know), I am so blessed to remain excited about the future, even if I cannot have the future I want at this very instant.
Yesterday I had coffee with a friend who’s in a very similar situation. We’re both military brats, living in the same town we went to high school in, living with our parents post graduation and we’re both completely restless.
“We’re gunna be alright…we’re going to be better than alright,” she concluded our conversation with.
I’m confident that she’s on to something.
This year, my birthday present to myself is a pledge of perspective. I can have it all (or at least a good chunk of it), but it doesn’t have to happen overnight.
If you’re more seasoned than I am in this game of life, please feel free to leave me some birthday wisdom.
What was 23 like for you? What surprised you? What didn’t? Any advice?
As I wait tables and figure out my life, I manage a band. They’re called Earthtone and they’re some of the most passionate individuals I know. Honestly, these guys live and breathe for the opportunity to share their music with others.
A huge thing I love about them is their ability to dream big. To them, the sky is the limit and no idea is impossible. Personally, I look at life quite realistically- I think about all the “if’s,” “ands,” or “buts,” and evaluate the pros and cons before actually pursuing an idea. Now, this doesn’t mean I won’t pursue something if it seems “hard” or “impossible,” but I definitely consider and weigh the options before doing so; I want to know what I’m up against.
About two months ago when I became their manager, Earthtone decided that they wanted to perform at Howard University’s annual Homecoming concert, Yardfest. It didn’t matter that the deadline to register to perform had passed, these guys had it set that they would perform at HU’s Yardfest. They did their research, contacted the head of the steering committee, got an extension, and had their application and demo in his hands the following week.
Two weeks later, we got a personal call from the head of the steering committee saying Earthtone had been selected to perform and that they were among the top picks for the show. Yardfest is nothing short of a big deal: legends such as Jay-Z, Kanye West and Diddy (P.Diddy, Puff Daddy, Sean Jean, Sean Combs…tomato tomato) have graced the Yard. Needless to say, it was an honor for the boys to be selected and invited to perform.
This past Friday was Yardfest. I was up at 8am preparing and getting ready to face the traffic that would inevitability invade DC for the event. As we checked in and prepared to head backstage, the staff told us they were already big fans of Earthtone and were excited to see them perform. Shortly after checking in, Earthtone was called to stand on deck, they were going on next.
As the host introduced the group as, “a fresh sound out of Richmond, Virginia” the boys jumped up on stage and really got the crowd going. Up until the boys went on, the crowd had been quite unresponsive; Earthtone changed that. People were cheering, dancing, clapping, singing along (mind you, the song was new to the crowd).
While all of this was going on, I stood on the back of the stage with tears in my eyes. What I was witnessing was so beautiful: people boldly pursuing their passion. I felt so blessed to be able to help them do it.
With the state of the economy and lack of job security these days, it’s easy to loose sight of our dreams, and settle for security. Being a band manager is stressful, there really is no specific blue print as to how to go about it, and really, its not easy. But moments like standing on stage watching people I care about fully pursue their passion, reminds me why I decided to become their manager.
A few days ago I was organizing files on my external hard drive and I came across my application for admission to the Music Industry program that I completed in college. One part of the application required us to outline our “professional goals.”
As I read it, I realized that I was on track to achieving my goals in the music industry, it just it took the help of people doing what they love to remind me.
“I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve.
But I was outside Bagdad Theatre in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for 15 minutes, and he never opened his eyes.
After that I liked jazz music.
Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself.
It is as if they are showing you the way.”
-Don Miller, Blue Like Jazz
Earthtone and their Manager at Howard University’s Yardfest, October 17th, 2008