Monday, July 24, 2017

Music Mondays: Linkin Park

As most of you probably know - Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park committed suicide last week. I'm not going to go into any other details here, it's too rough. I've already struggled on whether or not I wanted to do this post. Linkin Park has always been close to my heart, and a personal favorite of mine. I didn't always publicize my love for the band the way I have with others because they helped me through stages of my life where I felt misunderstood and lost. And I wanted to keep that part of me private. I could relate to their music in a way that I couldn't with people. When I was in my room listening to LP, it gave me an escape, an outlet to just forget about the bullshit. They were the first band I ever loved with my whole heart and craved more. I could not get enough of their music, always had their CDs on repeat. Begging my mom to buy the CDs for me, even when she thought that me listening to their music was going to corrupt me. I cried when my cousins broke my copy of Hybrid Theory and laughed about it. It wasn't until Collision Course that my cousins understood just how big Linkin Park was. I, on the other hand, was never big on rap/hip hop because I didn't grow up with it. I was never really exposed to it. So this collab was disappointing to me at that time. I said Jay ruined the sound! Growing up after that though, I learned to like it. And while I didn't like the way some of their newer tracks sounded - I felt like they were changing their style too much - I can appreciate that it was their artistic vision.

I'm forever grateful that I was able to see Linkin Park perform live in concert, and while I am saddened that I won't be able to see Chester perform again, I can seek solace in their albums and hope that he is in a better place.

If you or anyone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255. 

- L



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Travel Tuesdays: Packing Cubes

I know, I know. I am late to the game on this one. For as much as I travel, I was always against packing cubes because I felt that they would take up more space than they saved. But after seeing a few of my close friends using them, I decided to get on board. And I'm glad I did! I did a 6 day trip in my Delsey carry-on with the packing cubes and had space to spare. That also included 2 pairs of shoes (3 on the return trip!)

Normally anything longer than 3 days I will check my bag, but I wasn't flying on my airline of choice and was not in the mood to pay that fee. So I broke and started looking at packing cubes. While there are so many choices when it comes to cubes, I went with something on the cheaper end in case I didn't like it. I ended up with these JJ Power Packing Cubes in Tangerine. The reviews were decent, and I figured 6 cubes were better than the 4 most other sets had. Plus side - Amazon has a really great return policy. What I also liked about these, was that it had a printed guide on the inside of each cube to give you an idea of what to use each cube for.

Guide inside the small cube

I used the 2 Large cubes (17.8"x13.8"x4.7") and 1 Medium cube (13.6"x8.7"x3") inside my 21" carry on suitcase, along with my cosmetics bag in the main compartment of my suitcase. My shoes fit in the lid of my suitcase and I was all set to go! I was able to lay my clothes out pretty flat in the cubes with minimal folding in the 2 large cubes. I put my underwear and socks in the medium cube because there was no way my big ol' grandma bras were fitting in that small cube. HAHA. And I prefer to keep all my undies together. OCD and all that. At the end of my trip, 1 large cube held clothes I didn't wear, while the other one held my dirty clothes. The medium was folded up neatly inside the large cube, and I was able to fit in the pair of shoes I bought on my trip!

I would definitely recommend packing cubes to save space and keep your suitcase organized. I can see now how people can do 2 weeks in Europe with just a carry-on! With the price of checked luggage these days, we need to cut corners where we can.

Now faithfully pro-cube,
- L

**Everything was purchased by me. These are NOT affiliate links.**

Friday, July 14, 2017

MealPal Review: Financial District NYC

For the past few months, I've been using MealPal (formerly MealPass) and decided to do a mini review on it. MealPal is a prepaid meal plan, and depending on the plan you choose, lunches are roughly $5.99 to $6.99 each. It might seem like a lot to buy all of your lunches upfront, especially since you are paying the total cost. But if you factor how much you spend on average for lunch, MealPal is a deal. At least for me. I typically spend $10-12 on lunch - sometimes more - depending on the credit card or delivery minimums here in the Financial District. If you add that up for the month, that's a pretty penny on lunch for the month! I don't usually deviate from the places I get lunch from, and that's how I found out about MealPal. I saw more and more of my usual spots with MealPal signs and decided to take the plunge. I read up on it and saw mixed reviews, but signed up anyway. What's the worst that could happen?

MealPal Plans

When I signed up in the middle of May, there were only 2 options - the 12 plan or the 20 plan - but at the time of writing, there is now a 3rd plan for 6 meals. The plan and price breakdowns are pretty straight forward. You buy the meals ahead of time at the beginning of each 30 day cycle, and each night after 5 pm, you reserve lunch and done. BUT if you don't use all your meals within the 30 days, then you lose them. They do NOT roll over to the next month. From a business perspective, I get it. From the consumer side, I am miffed. Also - if you work on a weekday that happens to be a holiday, then no MealPal for you. I don't think that should matter because people still have to eat, but I guess MealPal doesn't think so.

There was a promo to get the 20 meal plan for the price of 12, so I started with that. I figured that if I used at least 10 of the meals, I would break even, anything over it would be a deal. After answering questions on food allergies, which foods I liked, etc. I ordered my first meal and waited anxiously to see how this would work out. I skipped out to lunch the following afternoon and was happy to see my lunch ready and waiting for me. Over the course of the month, I learned which places would have my food ready vs waiting for it to be made. I had a few crappy meals but was overall satisfied with the choices. By my second month, I was trying new restaurants and venturing out further into the neighborhood. While most of the places are within walking distance of my office, some were definitely pushing the boundary of how far I could do the round trip during my 30 min break.

Pros:

  • Cheaper meals
  • Plenty of options 
  • Found new places
  • Great customer service
  • Little to no wait time
Cons:
  • Some meals repetitive
  • Good meals sell out quickly
  • Meals not offered on holidays
  • Meals don't roll over
While I have a few gripes with MealPal, I'm satisfied enough to keep renewing my plan. At the end of the day, I am a creature of habit and don't change my lunch options often enough to care *THAT* much, although it would be nice if some more variety was added. Now if they rolled this out to more neighborhoods, especially in the boroughs, it'd hit the spot! 

- L

**This is NOT a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.**

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Travel Tuesdays: BlerDCon 2017

Excited for #Blerdcon

This weekend my cousin and I went to BlerDCon in Crystal City/Arlington, VA. If you aren't familiar, "blerd" is black nerd. Blerdcon caters to the minorities of the geek/nerd community - POC, women, LGBTQ, and many more underrepresented groups. From comics to cosplay, to fan art, collectibles, and gaming, it was all there at the con. It was great to see a lot of independent comics and hear the creators talk about their work. I was touched by the passion, creativity, and pride everyone exuded, and was not disappointed by what I saw. 

I was impressed with the details and time many of the cosplayers put into their costumes, down to the accessories. Especially since I was too chicken to cosplay myself. One of my favorites – Ronald Seaman as Iron Merman - paid attention to everything, including the reflective inserts on his palms that he painted with his wife’s nail polish. That takes dedication! He said there is always room for improvement and has plans for an even better Iron Merman. I can’t wait to see it.
  
ronald seaman, iron mermaid, merman cosplay, merman
Iron Merman

While there were plenty of tables to peruse and purchase from, the Bmore Comfy table really caught my eye. I've been interested in more eco-friendly alternatives to pads and tampons, and this was right up my alley. Not only are their cloth pads reusable, but they have GEEK patterns on them! Not the usual girlie prints or colors, but Star Trek, The Walking Dead, Supernatural, Batman, and more! They have different absorbencies and lengths to suit your flow.  
Bleed Geek, bleed geeks, bmore comfy, cloth pads
Bmore Comfy #BleedGeek

I enjoyed my time at BlerDCon, even getting beat at the arcade games (looking at you Mortal Kombat) added to the fun. It being my first comic/nerd con, I will definitely attend more in the future.

For more pictures from BlerDCon check my Facebook page!

Anything you'd like to see in Travel Tuesdays? Drop a comment below and let me know.

- L


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Oh Sister, Sister

To say the past few weeks have been rough is an understatement. I woke up Sat, May 20th, 2017 to get ready for work in Cali and got a message that threw me for a loop. My half sister - whom I have not spoken to in years - sent me a message on Facebook to tell me our father passed away the night before. She didn't have a contact number for me and told me to call her. I did so immediately and broke down once I heard her say it out loud. It seemed so surreal. This couldn't be happening, how could it be? There are things in life you can never be prepared for, and this was one of them. I couldn't believe it and didn't know how to process it. I still don't. My sister said she would keep me posted about arrangements, etc. I told my managers what happened and changed my flight to go home that day.

It was a long flight home and I couldn't didn't want to think about anything. So I zoned out to movies on the plane. And wouldn't you know that I watched movies that revolved somewhat about death? Maybe it was a subconscious thing. I watched PS, I Love You because Gerard Butler is funny. Not even realizing it was about him helping his wife move on after he was gone. Next up was The Departed with George Clooney because you can't go wrong with Clooney. And there he was dealing with taking his wife off life support and dealing with the emotions involved with that (and yes, finding out she cheated on him.) On some level, I related to both movies and felt all the feels on level 200 intensity. I was a crying, snotty mess in the middle seat. It was not a pretty sight.

I have had regrets. That I didn't try harder to get to know my dad (even if he was an asshole.) That it took me so long to want to go meet him. That I didn't ask my mom about him sooner. But in the end, none of that can be changed and I can't let it bring me down. Maybe one day I'll explain my dad's story, but not now. Not here. What I do regret, is that it took my father's passing for me and my sister to meet. But I am still grateful for it.

After all these years, I finally met my sister on Sat, June 10th, 2017. I was nervous, yet excited about meeting her. Nervous because what if she didn't like me? What if I wasn't cool enough? What if I didn't meet her expectations? Excited because after wanting a sibling for so long, I was going to get one. A real life sister of my own. I tried to calm myself down and not go in all gung ho. I didn't want to scare her off. We're technically strangers. After a few phone conversations, I had felt more comfortable speaking with my sis and more confident in meeting her. But it did not prepare me for that day, seeing her in person, up close, living and breathing in HD, full color.

We hung out a few times while I was there (FLL) and spent some time getting to know each other. While we didn't make it to best friend level (c'mon son) I could see the similarities in our personalities, and also the differences. I'm older than her by 9 years (!!) so we aren't quite at the same stage in life, but not far enough to make it impossible to relate to each other. I'm not going to force the relationship. I just want to be here for her when she is ready. And prepare myself to be a real-life big sister and get myself together so I can be a better role model.

- L

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Feelings... (With a LONG Overdue Update)

Feelings...there are a lot of those floating around lately. And it’s getting draining trying to suppress them like they aren’t there, like they aren’t important. It’s finally hitting me all at once and I am a hot mess. With everything going on at work and in my ‘ship life, I can’t handle it right now. At the very least my apartment is mostly together, so that’s one less thing to worry about. I forgot, it’s been awhile, so y’all don’t know! I moved into a new apartment in Jan. I got it on my own and its Mr ex free. Something that’s 100% my own space. And it feels great. It took a lot of adjusting to get used to it. But I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I can say I did this, this is mine. Spread my arms out and re-enact that scene from “The Sound of Music” where Julie Andrews is in the field of flowers. It just makes me feel GREAT. I am grateful I was able to get that part of my life together and take that step.

But back to all these pesky little feelings.. and other things you aren’t all aware of. I filed for divorce in Dec, right around the holidays because that’s as good a time as any right? He wasn’t going to initiate it until he had the money, etc etc (insert excuses here) but I needed it done for something else and I didn’t want to spend 2017 in even more limbo. I wanted to make it a clean break and a fresh start. So I took myself to court and submitted the paperwork one day before work. Let me tell you something. It is no easy task to do your own divorce. We don’t have any kids or assets to split, so not worth a lawyer. But jeez.. the forms are never-ending. Then there’s a waiting game to see if a judge will approve everything. Silly me, I didn’t know it would take a few MONTHS before I got a decision. I don’t know why I assumed it would have been all done in a few weeks. But as of 4/3/2017 I am officially divorced. I’m now a single woman and can take my name back. *APPLAUSE*

Everyone’s asked me how I felt about it and I just kind of shrugged it off. They’re expecting me to be sad, devastated, lost. But I’m happy that it’s over right? Put on a nonchalant fa├žade about it. Fuck it, he doesn’t know what he lost, I’m better off without him right? WRONG. I’ve tried to hide all the feels. But they’re finally catching up to me. It’s bittersweet maybe? I can breathe a sigh of relief now that I can close that chapter. But then I’m saddened that it is over. Even though I can stand back and look at everything that wasn’t ideal about our relationship/marriage, it still hurts. It still sucks. I had loved him. We loved each other. And now it’s over. That was a lot of time/energy/emotion invested for it to end like that. Then there is all this vulnerability that comes with it. Did I really do my best? Did we really try to make it work? We could have done counseling, therapy. We could have sat down and tried to listen to each other. But ultimately I know none of that would have made a difference. We grew apart. We are not the same people we were in college. Still I feel rejected. The man I married, the one I committed myself to, promised to love forever no longer wants me. After our separation, he came to the conclusion that I was not for him. The relationship was not what he wanted or needed at this juncture in his life. And that shit fucking hurts. No one wants to feel rejected, and isn’t this one of the biggest rejections? Granted, I came to the same conclusion that this relationship wasn’t for me, but still… Sigh.

I haven’t exactly thrown myself into dating either, not enthusiastically anyway. I somehow can’t manage to fully wrap my head around being single, how to be single. It’s been a long time and the game has changed. I talked to a few guys, but nothing serious. I vacillate between wanting a relationship and wanting to just enjoy my freedom and having my own space. Not having to explain myself to anyone, go about my own business and just be me. But then I want a kid(s) and how can that happen if there’s no one in the picture? I’m also not ready for that. Is there a timeline I should follow? An amount of time I’m supposed to be single before I hit the streets looking for Mr. material? Do I even want to get married again? (Probably not….)

For as much crap as I talk, I am not the better person here. I talk smack to make it seem like I’m fine. And maybe one day I will be. But right now I am not. Remember folks, everything you see on the surface, or on social media, is not what’s real. You are only seeing what I want you to see, what I want to show you. I DO NOT have my life together by any means. I only seem like I do.

On that note. I will end this essay here.

- L