Tales of a First Time Solo Traveler

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I have never traveled alone. Sure I’ve studied abroad and gone to a work conference but I always knew people who were going and they weren’t for fun. There were planned classes/workshops that took the thought out of what to do and going to class or training alone isn’t so hard.

But taking the time to actually travel for pleasure on your own can be a bit daunting. I have two images in my mind, one of a woman getting kidnapped like in Taken. The other is of Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie in Sex and the City during the series finale (An American Girl in Paris Part Deux). She roams around Paris alone (her boyfriend busy with work), eats alone (eats a lot), sits alone, looks longingly at groups of gal pals together, steps in some crap. It’s a pretty sad scene coupled with some sad french music. Needless to say, I did not want to travel alone.

But something compelled me to try it out. Would it be liberating. Would it get me out of my comfort zone and force me to be more in tune with the world and others?

So I got in my car and did a two hour plus drive to Philadelphia from the D.C. area. Okay not a big trip, but girl needs baby steps. So here are some things I learned:

  1. You take a lot of selfies or pictures of landmarks/scenery. I wanted to take some pictures with the scenes behind me but I don’t trust strangers to not take off with my camera phone to snap a photo of me so well…
  2. Eating alone makes you very conscious of what you eat. I grabbed a bite to eat and sat at the bar, alone, my phone had died and I forgot to bring a book. So I ate with just me and my thoughts. It made me pay attention to the food and I ate slower and ate less. Which is good. I think I will try to do that more often. Eat at a table instead of in front of a TV or while working which distracts me from the act of eating.One thing to note, i also ate out a lot. I wanted more down time and eating out was it so although I ate less at each outing, I did go on more outings.
  3. You can do what you want. You don’t have to discuss it. Just do it. Want to get up and go workout, just go? Want to veer off the plans? Why not?
  4. Nighttime can be lonely. I wouldn’t want to go out at night alone. For safety reasons mainly. I have a history of attracting wierdos in the daytime, no need to go off alone in a place I am not familiar with at night. So you can end up in your hotel on a Saturday listening to others go out and have a good time. (Lucky for me I had a friend there and I met up with her so I did go out).
  5. Try not to look like a traveler which draws undesired attention to you. I pride myself on blending in and feel a sense of accomplishment when I get approached by tourist asking me for directions (which I cannot help them with). My secret? Use your phone’s map instead of a big paper map and if you can’t use the wifi/data, snap a photo of the map and look at the picture of the map on your phone. 
  6. You notice your surroundings a lot more. I am aware of what’s behind me and I talk to strangers more because, well, who else I’m going to talk to?
  7. Get lost. Seriously. Getting lost helps you learn a city. I mean don’t walk down a scary alley way but turning a wrong way and getting back to the right way can really help you learn your way around a place.
  8. You read more. If you have down time, you get more time to read. If I was with someone, we’d probably just chat and being alone forces you to pick up a book.

Well those are the thing I learned on my own. I had a good time and I lucked out with no traffic. I’d do it again. Not ready for international travel alone but this was pretty enlightening. 

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Nooo I wasn’t ready!

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My parents are pretty in touch with pop culture and technology for their generation but I’m still freaked out a little by their ability to do certain things or catch certain references. Mind you I came from a mother who couldn’t put a VHS in a VCR. Which filtered down to me (I held on to CDs till The Man tore em from my arms and I still hold special nostalgia for the days I made mix tapes from the songs I caught on the radio). So when I see my parents be “trendy”, well it weirds me out.

Exhibit 1- My mom hastags me. It’s funny but still a bit odd to get a #sheneedstohaveseveralseats or #aintnobodygottimeforthat hastag from my mom

Exhibit 2- Let me be honest, it was weird in general to even get a text from my mom. I’m just used to her calling. Usually she text things like “I’m home”, “I’m going shopping” “I’m going walking” “What you doing?”.  Sometimes late at night. Shouldn’t she be sleeping? It’s 11pm! Sigh the life of a retiree.

Exhibit 3- Getting emoticons or abbriviations from parents. My dad using “LOL”, my mom using “:-)”  No wonder the kids are getting off Facebook

Exhibit 4- Which leads me to, my parents are on Facebook. Which is really why kids aren’t on it anymore. It used to be the place where the young could act a fool but now with your parents friending you it’s not the same. And who isn’t going to accept the friend request from your parents. I mean it’d be mean to just ignore it (says the girl who ignored her dad’s request for as long a she could)

Exhibit 5- My parents dressing…well. Literally my sister and I have scored on shoes from my mom because she is so stylish and for their to be a 30 year age gap that’s saying something. And my dad’s a snazzy dresser to and not just “for his age” (Except for the kango hat dad, You are not Samuel L. Jackson and I don’t want to hear you talk about some mfing snakes on a plane). When did this happen?

Things you don’t want to see your parents do, ever, because it will never be cool on them- twerking, tube tops, rapping to lyrics outside of early 80s, dropping “it” low- it’s dangerous, going to a Jay-Z concert- why?, using the term “YOLO”, getting a piercing outside of the ear.

That’s all I got for now.

Last Chance to win!

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Hey good people it’s your last weekend to enter to win a ebook copy of my novel The Mission.
Follow this link for details :http://selfpublishersshowcase.com/win-an-ebook-copy-of-c-c-solomons-the-mission/

Here’s a synopsis of the book:

Sheila and Denise are successful, funny and attractive, but very single women. Not that being single is horrible; but when Denise is hassled to have a date to an old friend’s wedding-of-the-century, and Shelia needs an escort to an industry banquet where everyone who’s anyone will be in attendance, being single loses its perks. To add to the dilemma, Sheila tells a little white lie to her workplace nemesis about dating a successful music producer, which explodes into a career-threatening rumor. Under extreme pressure from family, friends and coworkers, they resort to making a pact. Their Mission: Get A Man in Three Months. They will use “proven” rules to finding their Mr. Rights. Rules that worked for a friend of a friend …how hard could it be?

Join them in their hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking adventures as chapter by chapter they follow a new rule, and delve into the treacherous world of Washington, D.C. dating. Surrounded by family drama, stereotypes, workplace stressors and their own hang-ups about love, will the rules actually help them find (and keep) their Mr. Rights in time for their events? 

Good luck! 

Things that would make me fight in an elevator

So by now everyone has heard about the Solange attack on Jay-Z after the Met Gala. We won’t know what set her off and I’m not here to justify it or speculate on what went down.

Honestly it’s none of my business and I don’t think they should have to explain anything other than saying “keep us lifted in your prayers”. But it did get me thinking about what would get me to act violently especially against a man. I mean, I haven’t fought since middle school (hey, it was self defense) so violence is not an easy thing to resort to. But I did come up with some reasons that might get me to wig snatching:

  • You lay hands on a female family member. I’m all turn the other cheek unless you hit my mother or my sister then I’m Mike Tyson. The males can defend themselves so I’m not jumping in their affairs. But if you are a man (or a woman) and decide you want to hurt my mom, well, call me Ali. Unless you’re The Rock or built like him, then I’m not getting in grown folks business because I don’t fancy a broken nose. But when the elevator door opens I will tase you and take off like the wind.
  • I was an angry drunk. I have too much of a sensitive stomach to get to the drunk stage and binge drinking isn’t my thang. Even then I imagine I’m a happy drunk but if I were angry I could see how alcohol could make things worse. Especially if you clowned my balloon dress and bowl cut (sorry for the shade but I just didn’t like the look and I usually love Solange’s style).
  • I have anger management issues. Which I don’t but if I did, I suppose fighting would be a normal thing for me. Angry people try to goad you in to their angry world by overreacting to things. I’ve had someone curse me out because of the laptop I wanted to purchase for myself. You just walk away slowly or quickly, whatever works. Or in JayZ’s position, cover your goods. 
  • You hit me. Like I stated earlier, I will fight in self defense. If you hit me then I’ll hit you back. Throw some hot grits on ya, something. Morale of the story is MLK/Ghandi would not be pleased. But as long as I’m free I don’t see myself sitting down calmly as someone pummels me.
  • I learned you did something that required a violent response. I don’t agree with this one but I’m trying to think out loud here. Maybe I watch too much Law & Order: SUV where some angry parent attacks the suspect who was accused of hurting their kid or murdering their partner.Or cheating. I don’t know if that justifies getting spit on but hurting or murdering someone sure does.

That’s all folks. I don’t condone violence. Not even trying to guess what the blow up was about but it did have this typically non violent gal asking what would make me come out my heels should I have a violent temperament.

Thing not to ask single people over the age of 30 if you expect a real answer

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I know people are well meaning and no one asks these questions to be mean. It’s just that people tend to think the way they live their lives and the opportunities that have been afforded them are normal. If we’ve gone to college we don’t understand those who don’t? If we love the suburbs we can’t get why anyone would want to live in a congested city. If we are travel lovers we don’t get how there are people who have never left the country.  But when it comes to being a single 30 something person, some things happen on purpose and some things happen by chance. And for the most part, it’s the latter. Therefore, asking a person in their late twenties and up these questions will rarely, if ever, provide you with a suitable answer. In fact, I provide matching questions that I find equally hard to answer to give a feel of just how difficult answering these questions can be.

  1. Don’t you still want to get married? Don’t you still want to have your health?:  Unless I profess not wanting to get married, asking me if I still want to get married because you have deemed that I should have been married by now doesn’t help. Thanks for highlighting that I haven’t met “the one” yet.
  2. Why are you still single? Why haven’t you won the lotto? For those who want to find love, being single, for the most part, is not a conscious decision. It just is what it is. I haven’t turned down any respectable marriage proposals. I don’t think any answer to this question will result in anything meaningful beyond “I just haven’t found the right one” or “I’m taking a break on dating right now”. Does that answer really satisfy you?
  3. Why don’t you have kids? Why haven’t you lost that weight you’ve been talking about dropping? Ok, you might not want to really ask someone that but I find the first question equally annoying. Unless I have said that I don’t want kids. If I am not married and never have been, then your answer probably is that since I’m not married or divorced/widowed, I don’t have kids. I don’t think I’ve reached the time yet  (is there a time?) where I am expected to actively get inseminated or adopt on my own. There should be no expectation that one must be a single mother (or father- do men get asked this question? Seriously if you are a 40 (because I think men get more time) year old man who was never married and had no kids, do people ask you this?).
  4. Why don’t you have a new/high end car? Why don’t you give me some money? I think people assume that you have all this money if you are single and without kids. I wish. I have a child and she is called a student loan. And if you have no dependents or property you aren’t getting as much back in your taxes. And not sharing the payment of rent/mortgage, utilities/cable/internet can add up for jut one person to pay.
  5. Why don’t you own a home yet? Will you co-sign for me? I am not a homeowner at this time for several reasons but I will tell you this, like I wrote earlier, it’s easier on the pockets to split a mortgage. And when something goes wrong with the house, I’m an old fashioned gal, I’d like he man to fix it.