This mother’s day I felt an enormous amount of love for the special holiday. The past few mother’s days I focused more on my own mother, and didn’t quite feel the position our little ones were honoring. This year was different, and I felt an overwhelming sense of joy and pride. All mothers should be proud of themselves. The sacrifice it takes to devote your every waking moment to care for another human being. We all have that common bond of unconditional love and awe of our offspring. I felt accomplished because cleaning, cooking, making doctor appointments, sports practices, worrying about financial situations, nutrition and employment is not for the weak of heart. I am proud of myself, because motherhood is wonderful, and most fulfilling job on the planet, but it is also hard and exhausting. To be single, and a young mother… Well dammit.. odds are against you… More than half of single mothers in the US live in extreme poverty, and the rest aren’t doing much better. I was looking on the internet for more young single moms who may be living the life I’m living. To be honest it was quite depressing. Articles saying, “Don’t worry.. It’ll get better.” “Don’t even think about dating.”  People accusing Single moms of playing part in the economic downturn, and statistics prove children from one parent households are more likely to commit a crime and end up in jail. My position is merely this…Being a young, single, independent mother is insanely difficult…but not impossible.

Be Creative

     The world is not set up for single moms. To their grueling schedule, to meeting the numbers to pay your bills. Rent, utilities, child care, phone, car payment, car insurance… it is hard to pay these bills when you don’t have an education, or high paying job to meet the demand. So you have to be creative, young single moms. You have to meet the numbers and be flexible with your schedule. You have to be multi-tasking wonder woman. A double jointed damsel in distress. You will have to sacrifice some relationships and dating may go on the back burner, but don’t worry. It won’t be long until you can balance a career, a relationship, your finances and most importantly a healthy and thriving relationship with your child.

Here is some of the advice, I can give to younger single moms, from what I’ve learned. Know that I am not an expert, and my unorthodox practices may not be for you, and that’s fine. But this is how I managed without breaking the bank, losing my mind, and how I kept my shit together through the rollercoaster.

Be the Parent that you are.

me and rowan

     Of course it is good to keep up on articles and books on good parenting but take it with a grain of salt, and be the mother you inherently know how to be. I had my son at 21 (pregnant at 20) we are very close. To an outsider it may look like a heavily themed brother-sister relationship. We play together all the time. If it’s kicking the soccer ball, throwing footballs, taking apart the dishwasher, throwing rocks and drawing. We tickle, tease, and chase each other. We battle with swords and sometimes we fight. I still implement rules in my house, and he is not allowed to curse or be disrespectful, but ultimately felt closer to my son, just being myself. If that’s a kid, then so be it. I am the older kid mother who runs the household. But don’t forget I am still the boss. This works for us, do whatever works for you.

Have smart relationships

You can date, you just have to choose who you’re dating wisely. He has to be good for you, but he also has to be the right match for your child. I have made dating and relationships work throughout my single motherhood by keeping my boyfriends at bay, for a while. If my partner builds enough trust, I will slowly bring him in to meet my son as a friend. At this point, I let this person teach and show my son some of his best qualities. If it’s hardworking, I let him show him some work ethic skills, if he’s a fisher man I let him show my son how to string a line. It could be shooting a basket, building a robot or skipping the best stones. Find the best people to date, and let them teach your son their best qualities. Keep in mind, if your child does not have a father figure in his life, you should find strong father figures they can look up to. Be it good friends, uncles, grandparents, or priests. (Use extreme caution with the priests) If he is right for you, it will organically grow from there, and he will fit right into your little family.

Now don’t me wrong, we all fuck up sometimes and things do not work out. Hopefully you figured that out in the “distance” stage and he can fade out. Just proceed with care and caution.

Friendships. Lucky for you, your true friends show their colors when you have a child. All the fake friends fade away and the people who were meant to stay will continue to do so.  How lucky you are to have this natural straining process.

Get your education, utilize your inner circle

      Sister, it is going to be the hardest thing you will ever have to do. I was pregnant with my son my first semester at a Junior college. I was literally dumping quarters out of my piggy bank to pay for credits. I was bartending nights at a local bar. All of my money was going to utility bills, child care and college. (Thankfully my mother allowed me to live in her upstairs apartment, while he was a baby. My mother was my magical life saver, and I can never repay her or thank her for her kindness.) I hope that you too, have a mother like mine, or at least a close friend and family member you can lean on when you’re in a bind.

Get your education in something girlfriend. Be it a certification, a license, anything to put you over the minimal wage or long nights on your feet waiting tables, wishing you were home with your baby. Apply for every grant, scholarship, and try to get the best deals on your loan. Yes, it seems enticing to go to that elite private college, but more often than not, it wasn’t worth the astronomical student debt you will face after graduation. You are not through the tunnel just because you graduated college..hell you’re not through the tunnel until your child graduates college. So keep your focus, your drive and see the whole forest, don’t get stuck with your face against a tree.

Be adaptable.

    While banging out my 18 credit semesters which I somehow managed to do in 3 ½ years. ( I have to give myself a little credit here, because I nearly didn’t graduate high school.) In the fall, I realized my son had grown out of all his clothes, his pants were too short, his shirts too tight. Horrified, I didn’t have enough money in my account to buy him new ones. My credit cards were maxed out, and the child support of (just under) $200 a month hadn’t been deposited since the winter before. I jumped in my car, drove to the nearest city and found a higher paying night club job.  You do whatever you have to do to survive, young, single moms. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices… of your time, your social life, your relationships, and of yourself.. To better your own life, but more importantly the life of your child. When your plan is falling short, you have to make a new plan and adapt to your needs.

Find your mentors, build your network.

real estate

 When I finished college, I got my real estate license and understudied under a fabulous sales woman of 30 years. I can not over emphasize the importance of finding strong, solid, successful women to learn from in your career. They will be a rock in your life, and they will guide you and teach you. My mentor Ann, was a saving grace, and pulled me back to my calling of real estate every time I through my hands up, and felt I couldn’t go on anymore. I am forever grateful to her, and am lucky to have worked by her side. Find as many mentors as you can, and build a network you can rely on.

Grow, and move on to the next step.


   I continued to work in the night club, until I found a partner who could help me with some of my finances. Again, this man has been instrumental in my success and wellbeing, and I am blessed to have him come into my life. I could sleep a little easier, without the exhaustion, and weight of my finances and worries on my head.

To me life has been a series of stepping stones that appeared on my path. You have to see the stone and jump on it to the next. Don’t rest on one, it might get weary and crack. Keep your eye out, and keep moving forward. So far it has taken me into a city, with higher paying properties to sell, and a more dependable steady relationship. Higher income, better schools, nicer apartments, more culture and opportunities to pursue.

In the words of Maya Angelou, “When you know better, you do better.” Just because something worked for you in the past, doesn’t mean it will work for you presently or in the future.  My night club gig paid my bills for a period, but it turned wreck less and left me exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally after a while. I used it in a pinch and evolved onto my next stone. Which meant moving away. You have to evolve and adapt to your life.

And as Tennessee Williams puts it, “ I rely on the kindness of strangers. Young, single, moms I will tell you. Life is hard, but we face even more obstacles. Sometimes you have to ask for help, even if it means asking strangers. But if you work hard, stay focused, pray, laugh, be kind and keep your fingers crossed, you will get lucky, and people will help you. The world will simply be in your favor. And remember.. Fortune favors the bold.. so be daring, be creative, take leaps of faith. The world deserves too see you and your baby succeed… and you guys deserve the world.

#GIRLBOSS, 2015 Reading List, Bossypants, Eat Pray Love, Fabulosity, go outside, If you have to cry, Inspiring women, My horizontal Life, Yes Please

Girl Power: Top 10 Summer 2015 Reading List

Ladies, here is the Girl Power Summer 2015 reading list. It includes titles from models, comedians, fashion icons, CEO’s, business entrepreneurs, world travelers and story tellers. They are spicy, erotic, brutally honest and hilarious. Women who inspire us to work hard…live widely, vastly and unapologetically. They teach us to grow, thrive, be proud of ourselves and enjoy the journey. So revamp your spirit with my summer reading list and be the fabulous, timeless and unforgettable Queen that you are. Enjoy.

chelsea handler

“Men don’t realize that if we’re sleeping with them on the first date, we’re probably not interested in seeing them again either.” ― Chelsea Handler

I implore everyone to read Chelsea Handler’s, “My Horizontal Life, A collection of one-night stands.” Handler is laugh out loud funny,  embracing her sexual adventures into a gold mine of a collection for any forward thinking, sexually open and honest woman. She audaciously depicts details of her one night romps in which she sleeps with a midget, a stranger and a black man her father chases out of her bedroom. Lets talk about equal opportunity v-a-g-i-n-a-s. She is honest and hilarious and shamelessly  speaks of her love of alcohol, drugs, sex, men and partying and is extraordinarily blunt. Lets face it, every girl goes through the post break up single girl- “I’m free! Lets fuck the whole neighborhood time of her life,” and Chelsea put it on paper. Ultimately, she decides to grow up and start acting responsible but you truly get the nitty gritty Jersey girl truths and appreciate Handler for being so candid.


“You can do anything you put your mind to, and you can do it in stilettos.” ― Kimora Lee Simmons

Kimora Lee Simmons, “Fabulosity,” is an oldie but goodie. Empowering and inspiring. Her story illustrates the power of being different (half Asian, half African American and over 5 feet 10 inches tall in 4th grade) and making it uniquely work for you. She has the 16 rules of success for becoming the best woman you can be. She combines her love of fashion and hip hop to create a multi-million dollar brand “Baby Phat,” and takes a seat down at the boys table. She believes you can be strong, smart and business savvy while looking fabulous. You gotta look it, feel it, and go get it sista.

eat pray love

“A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…” ―Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love,” is the bible for every girl who is going through a breakthrough, break-up or breakdown. She explores and gets to the truth of true love, soul mates, life, chance, and giving up everything so you can find yourself. Even if that means giving away your belongings, your marriage, your money and taking a trip across the world. Sometimes you truly have to fall apart to rebuild the life you want, and Gilbert starts off the novel on her knees in a puddle of her own tears on the bathroom floor. She speaks to your heart, and shows you the importance of finding out who you, why you’re here and what you’re going to do about it. I read this book when my heart was broken, and it was instrumental in putting back the pieces.

lena dunham

“You’ve learned a new rule and it’s simple: don’t put yourself in situations you’d like to run away from. But when you run, run back to yourself, like that bunny in Runaway Bunny runs to its mother, but you are the mother, and you’ll see that laer and be very, very proud.” ― Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham’s “Not That Kind of Girl,” is  the uncensored female version of Catcher in the Rye. It’s the story of what she learned growing up in New York City. She is observantly comical, ten pounds overweight and a bit odd, but her honesty in dating/relationships/family and starting out in a  career hits close to home.  Lena tells us to embrace our dysfunctional families and childhood. Love your imperfect bodies (were only young once, enjoy it), embrace the unique gift of being female, and don’t rip other women down. She also advises us to respect ourselves, don’t feel pressured by men in your bed or in your career. Don’t let jerks and douchebags make you feel disposable, call the shots in your own life! It’s self-reflective, rich, playful and a must read.

bossy pants

“You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.” -Tina Fey

Tina Fey’s “Bossypants,” is honest, subtle and hilarious. She gives an account of her nerdy childhood, awkward pubescent years, and starting out in improve. She gives tidbits of advice that she has learned along her journey advising women to empower each other, work hard, and do the never-been-done. Don’t waste your energy on changing people’s opinions. Surround yourself with talented people, and don’t hesitate, just do. It’s the highest compliment to be called bossy! Be a boss!

the invention of wings

“you got to figure out which end of the needle you’re gon be, the one that’s fastened to the thread or the end that pierces the cloth.” -Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd’s “The invention of wings,” is a historical account based on the life of Sarah Grimke abolitionist and women’s rights leader. It tells of a friendship between her and her slave “Handful,” who was given to her on her 10th birthday. Both girls form a friendship and it illustrates the importance of keeping promises, being loyal, compassionate, kind, and keeping your sisterhood. It contains many striking characters throughout the book, including Handful’s mother Charlotte who would sacrifice everything for freedom. It teaches you to belong most to yourself, and not other people. A truly moving masterpiece and  a reminder of how hard women have fought for rights, liberty, freedom and equality.

why men love bitches

“When you meet someone who is truly great, he makes you believe you can be great, too. This is the kind of relationship you want, and it’s the only kind of relationship worth having.”

I re-read Sherry Argov’s “Why Men Love Bitches,” at least once a year. It’s a girl’s guide to holding her own in a relationship. Men think differently than us,, so it’s good to know the ground rules, well, if your going to play the game. Be fierce, be strong, be independent, and above all, respect yourself. Honey, if you’re not going to, he’s not going to either. It also helps you weed out the dickheads and focus on finding Mr. Right. By following Argov’s instruction you will surely have him eating out of your hand, getting down on one knee, or a happy mixture of both.

girl boss

“Each time you make a good decision or do something nice or take care of yourself; each time you show up to work and work hard and do your best at everything you can do, you’re planting seeds for a life that you can only hope will grow beyond your wildest dreams. Take care of the little things—even the little things that you hate—and treat them as promises to your own future. Soon you’ll see that fortune favors the bold who get shit done.” ― Sophia Amoruso

Sophia Amoruso’s, “#GIRLBOSS,” is riddled with inspiration. She started out as an uneducated thief, who started her own empire by going through garbage and dead people’s closets. She worked like an animal, and now currently owns +100 million dollar company. (She did this before her 30th birthday)  Her funky, eccentric cutting edge style turned on the masses and she is oh so inspiring for the girl willing to work for it. Go get it, girlllll.

yes please

“Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that- that’s what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s really special and if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself” ― Amy Poehler

 Amy Poehler’s, “Yes, Please,” hits all the rights spots. It’s funny and endearing and written by a comic, actress, writer, divorcee and mother of two extraordinaire. Poehler gives insight into the balance of raising a family, having a slam dunk career, and being a good lover.  Her advice to women (on sex),

“Try not to fake it. I know you are tired/nervous/eager to please/unsure of how to get there. Just remember to allow yourself real pleasure and not worry about how long it takes … God punished us with the gift of being able to fake it. Show God who the real boss is by getting off and getting yours.”

Her advice to men (on sex)

“If you don’t eat pussy, keep walking.”   Perfectttt.

She asks us to be a friend to ourselves first (knock it off with negative body image) and the incredible luck of having lifelong friendships. She begs us to do what we do, and not apologize for it. If they don’t like it, fuck them. It’s as simple as that.

cry go outside

“This was when I learned that you have to give up your life as you know it to get a new one: that sometimes you need to let go of everything you’re clinging to and start over, whether because you’ve outgrown it or because it’s not working anymore, or because it was wrong for you in the first place.” ― Kelly Cutrone

All hail Kelly Cutrone’s, “If You Have To Cry, Go Outside.” She is quick witted, wise and wonderful. The first chapter of her book “Are you there, babe? It’s me your soul,” cut right into me. Cutrone illustrates the importance of getting in touch with our inner self, so you can figure out your passion and purpose. We’ve been spoon-fed a bunch of bullshit our whole lives and its best to sift through that baggage and figure out our own truth. Her adventures in NYC, include coke fueled fashion parties, filled with artists, musicians and movie stars, to all the ups and downs when trying to make it in the big city. Starting out homeless to one of the most sought after publicists in Manhattan, her story is intriguing to say the least. She advises you to find your own “tribe members,” fill your life with people who intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually inspire you. Fake it till you make it in your career. (You weren’t born a CEO, but if you can fake it for a little while you will eventually become it) Don’t be a worrier, be a warrior. Above all be your perfectly unique self. You are the brand, and a copy just isn’t going to cut it.

El Yunque National Forest, Marmalade, Puerto Rico, Spring Break, Vacation

San Juan, Puerto Rico

“You know, you may not be born in Puerto Rico, but Puerto Rico is definitely born in you.”-Rosie Perez

 me puerto rico

   I headed down to Puerto Rico for Spring break 2015 with my boyfriend, his two children, his babysitter Marta, and my son, Rowan. We brought Marta along to help with our wild boys and to allow us to enjoy some of Puerto Rico’s famous night life. We stayed at San Juan’s Ritz Carlton, and explored the city which is rich in culture, art, music, dance, religion and history. The food was heavenly, the people were engaging and the streets were historic and lovely. Puerto Rican people are proud, and they have every right to be, a must see for a family vacation trip.

 me and rowan puerto ricorowan and owen

        With one missed flight out of JFK from Delta (they refused to let us board 15 minutes before the plane was to take off, but don’t let me started on that) we arrived at the beautiful Ritz Carlton Hotel in San Juan. We were graciously welcomed with a mimosa, and our luggage was taken up to our rooms. We jumped in our bathing suits and headed down to the silky soft sand, out looking the vast Atlantic. We drank coconut water out of freshly sliced coconuts, and had our towels changed by the workers who paid attention to every detail. I drank lavender mists, and dipped dried plantains into the freshest ceviche any island ever presented to me. The Ritz’s mantra is “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” The luxury hotel stands true to that credo. The resort boasts a casino, a Tiffany’s and a sweet little shop named Little Switzerland where I found a gorgeous silver dragon necklace handmade in Bali. They had the most delightful, helpful and pleasant staff I have met in a long time. From handing out cotton candy and toy squirt guns to our children, to finding me razors, dropping of Tylenol and making restaurant reservations in the trendiest and most delectable restaurants. It is the perfect family hotel if you’re looking to relax, be pampered and completely spoiled. The gym, spa, tennis courts, pools and Jacuzzis, were luxurious without being ostentatious.

    me rowan pr

      I was so surprised by the mouthwatering and palatable cuisine in Puerto Rico, my inside fat kid was raving. If I rant on, please forgive me, but this was one of the most pleasurable and delicious dining experiences I’ve ever had, so bear with me. The first night we dined at Carli’s fine bistro and Piano bar located in Old San Juan. Which is owned by a former member of the Beach Boys, pianist and composer Carli Munoz. We listened to the piano while the  children dined on steak (in a sweet mushroom sauce) and vegetables while I ate the best (I kid you not) homemade lobster ravioli in a champagne sauce, I’ve ever had in my life. We drank Malbec and raspberry lemon drop martinis, and enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere. It is warm, charming, and located in a historic art deco part of town.

The next night we ate at the Picayo restaurant inside The Candado Plaza Hilton. The tuna tar tar with jalapeno and caviar, and famous chocolate and cheese soufflés makes it a must see. Fine dining and a bit snobby servers. That’s when I really know when I’m in a fancy or high end restaurant… when the waiter snubs me. A sight outside pulled at my heartstrings.. there was a blind homeless man, without eyes.. he was holding a sign that read, “It’s a beautiful day, and I can’t see it.” It seems, even in heaven you will have homeless.

    global warming

The last night we ate at Marmalade. My absolute favorite cuisine of the trip. Located on an alley with cobble stone streets. The hostess was a slender, tanned and beautiful. She had a short bob, black rimmed glasses and a golden Star of David around her neck. Now keep in mind this is Easter weekend, and Puerto Ricans are devout and deeply religious Roman Catholics. All of the bars closed early, the casinos shut down, the people were fasting out of respect for their savior. You may very well go to hell for eating a hot dog in this town. How beautiful, and lucky my generations is to have the freedom and respect to represent ourselves and our faith so freely and openly and not be treated unequally. We may have not suffered or fought for this freedom like our ancestors, but it is not taken for granted by me, and I feel blessed to be in this beautiful time. The patrons of the restaurant were trendy, young, foodies, experienced travelers, savvy locals. We drank “global warming” margaritas, with habanero peppers and melted ice. The longer you wait, the spicier they get. TO DIE For. We had a 4 course meal, of spicy popcorn shrimp (grilled shrimp with actual popcorn) and white bean truffle soup which came out in teacups you sip. It was one of the most delicious soups I’ve ever tried, and after raving about it to the waitress she came out with a recipe that I could take home. Dessert was banana bread pudding and smoked raspberry and dark chocolate mousse. Tipsy, from the margaritas we roamed around San Juan which is covered in graffiti art and murals. One slim bumpy brick road took us to an underground salsa club.

  A few shots of tequila has me doing the salsa. Which I believe my boyfriend is more of an over optimistic dancer, thinking that spinning me is the authentic dance, it may just be one of those fake it till you make it type of things.. Like a hip move, a twirl and quick grab, over and over again. Obviously I was half in the bag and we could have looked like complete idiots, but I didn’t care, we were having fun, and I only stopped when I felt the tequila coming back up.

graffitistreet art pr

  The next street took us to a more local place. The bartender’s shirt was rolled up and she had a sleeve of tattoos. The legal drinking age is 18 in Puerto Rico, and the crowd was covered in tattoos piercings, and the regular hipster type of clothing you would run into at a Starbucks at 10 o’clock on a Friday night in Philly. The whole bar was graffiti and clouds of smoke puffed up while 2 little Chihuahuas ran under our feet.

rowan el yunque

     On our trip we checked out El Yunque natural forest. I was extremely hung over and the tour guide had my eyes drooping as she kept pointing out the moss and termites. However, she did point out all these giant leaves, curled, white and belly up on the rainforest floor.

“These leaves predict the weather with 80% accuracy, when they’re belly up it means the rain is coming.”

“No way! That’s definitely more accurate that our weather channel.” I quickly pulled up my phone to google this ridiculous claim. It was true! Deciduous trees do often turn upwards before heavy rain. The soft leaves can’t take the humidity and it flips them over. Mother Nature, you wonderful, mysterious bitch.

tower puerto ricoforest puerto rico

     I did come across a Puerto Rican parrot that squealed “Hola,” but quicky began screeching this horrible noise when Rowan kept chanting “HOLA, HOLA, HOLA!” in his face. Exhausted I climbed a tower, to give me a better view of the mountains. Round and round it went until I was up at the very top. A truly magnificent sight, when a mountain belongs to a forest.

     me rowan horse puerto ricola fortelza

      Our other excursion was horseback riding on an old farm. The owners left their mansion, full of horses, a tequila bar, a mansion and wandering reindeer. The sun was hot and I got an old hungry slow horse named, Luna. Rowan and I rode her for nearly two hours, the first hour was relaxing. The second was annoying, because I kept hitting the woman behind me smack dab in the face with the branches, to keep from hitting Rowan. She was hissing Spanish curse words behind my head, while Rowan kept repeating, “Mom, I farted on Luna, and I’m thirsty.” We ended the night with a trip to la Fortaleza at the San Juan National Historic Site. It was pitch black out and the glowing mansion looked like some kind of magic 2 football fields away. The taxi driver parked his car so we could get out and peak. I just couldn’t help myself, so I took off my shoes and started running towards it. Followed by 3 small children behind me, laughing, twirling with their arms open. Sometimes such grand things, give you an emotion you can’t deal with, so the best way to cope, is act like a child. Spinning around until your dizzy, fall flat on the grass and look up at the stars.

Marta took the children home and my boyfriend and I headed to a local bar in town. We ended up seeing some servers from some of the restaurants and we all became fast friends. I found many people from the states working in living in Puerto Rico, maybe to take a break from their lives, or maybe trying to begin new lives. The locals were friendly, spoke excellent English and were just as interested in us, as we were of them. The beers and shots flowed all with good people in good humor, Puerto Ricans are more than welcoming and especially proud of their famous natives, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, and Joaquin Phoenix. (To name a few) The only time I see their faces get tense is when their independence is brought up. Although Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, they live in an unincorporated territory not a state, and they do not have the same constitutional rights as other US. Citizens. They cannot vote in the presidential elections, they have no say on most federal laws and regulations which govern them, and no voice on foreign policy. The tension is real, and Puerto Ricans feel they should either have complete independent from the United States or equal statehood. Listen to the people!

I highly suggest a couple/family vacation to Puerto Rico. The people are engaging, fun, saucy and benevolent. You get the out of the country kind of vibe, without language barriers or currency exchange. Plus, the tropical beaches, magnificent mountains, exquisite dining experience, the historic streets, art and landmarks, and the fun tequila driven salsa nights make it all worth your while. You will not be disappointed. Viva la Puerto Rico!

puerto rican flag

Best Friends Wedding, Bittersweet, Dominican Republic, Marriage, Punta Cana

My best friend’s wedding in the Dominican Republic

The day your best friend ties the knot is a bittersweet one, to say the least. 3 shots down and your walking behind her to the bridal march with tears dripping down your cheeks, hoping you can pass it off as tears of joy. Don’t get me wrong I was beyond happy and grateful my bestie found the love of her life.. but you can’t help but feel the subtle exit of her walking out of yours.

She was married at Now Larimar, a 5 star gorgeous resort located in Punta Cana. It was spectacular.. the island had crystal clear water, white sandy beaches, lazy palm trees and the happiest, most handsome brown boys doing the salsa and pouring Pina coladas. 24-hour room service, meticulous rooms, Olympic size pools and Jacuzzi tubs. 30 people made their way to the Caribbean paradise to watch my best friend and the love of her life walk down the aisle. The same boy just so happened to be her childhood crush, the one we’d run behind, yell his name, snap his picture and run away giggling. The picture she would frame and kiss, and faint over.. The same boy ended up becoming her husband.. oh.. the irony.

Ten years earlier, Kylah (my best friend) her mother Lisa, (my mom’s best friend) my mother and myself had vacationed in Punta Cana. I couldn’t help but have flashbacks during our stay, and lingering on all of our moments as free spirited brazen and fabulous 16 year olds. You never quite realize what a good time you’re having until its past. Back then, her parents were still married, my dad was alive, and life was good. We had all the money to go around, and we made every excuse to have a party. When we arrived at the DR Kylah and I were beyond excited that there was no legal drinking age… We were adults, and god dammit we were going to be treated like them. We squeezed into our matching tube tops, put on red lipstick to really be taken seriously. We wore high heels neither of us could walk in and clickity- clicked down to the bar. We pretended to speak Spanish by adding o’s to every word and took tequila shots until we had to take turns holding each other’s hair in the bathroom stalls. We ordered the security guards around, like they were our personal assistants, “Take us here.” We’d yell directing them around in the golf cart..”Do you know my father is in the FBI, she’d warn if they gave us an argument?..I loved when she pulled that line. We ate lobster, para sailed, and let in room service every time our mothers were in their underwear. To which, we rolled around in hysterics… to us that was the funniest thing of all time. We hung out with Dominican brothers, climbed the walls out of our resort, and tried to catch flamingos. This was the good old days in the Dominican.

Her whole wedding week felt like a dream. We arrived at the resort a few days before, and Ashlee (our other best friend), my son, and my current boyfriend at the time shared a room. I was already on edge, with the impending loss of my sister soul mate, and a crowded room is not exactly the ideal space for a quarter life crisis…but I put on my big girl panties and slapped a smile on my face. We took go carts into town, and went down to see the waterfalls. The resort had good music with modern themed night clubs, and the whole crew of girls who have been Kylah’s nearest and dearest swapped all our favorite ridiculous and cherished memories. I laughed, but I kept having moments where worry would encompass me.. “Are we still going to have girl’s nights? Is he going to hear her secrets first? Is she going to forget about me? Why am I not married? Should I be married? She is too young to be married! What is she thinking?! Why is this happending?… but I digress.

me and kylah

     The night before the wedding I floated in Kylah’s outside Jacuzzi filled with bubbles up to my chin. My feet up on the faucet, rolling a glass of champagne in my hand… My mind drifted through all the memories we shared together, and I tried my best to be present and be happy in that. Change is hard, but it is good. I thought about all the times we had together.. stealing my dads pot and living in our bathing suits all summer.. laughing… because Belzar from the coneheads is the ultimate prank phone call.. squealing over boys, and what we were going to be when we grew up.. Planning our own weddings, and what our kids might look like. Skipping school, drinking flavored rum and keystone light, going on country rides, laughing until we cried.. Oh and did we cry… we went through divorces, heartbreaks, job losses, economy crashes and death.. Not once, did we ever leave each other’s side for those things.. we really sat through the tears, through the births, through all the lucky and unlucky events of our lives. How lucky one is to have a best friend, and how lonely it must be without one. I am truly blessed to have her there, not only for the good times, but more importantly the hard ones.

kylah dancing with dad

     As I peep through the blinds into the suite, I can see Kylah practicing her dance with her dad. ( As Ashlee claps her hands to the beat) I take a deep breath.. Something about that sight made me begin to realize.. I can be happy for my friend, I am not losing her, I am just with her as she gains something else. The outstanding luck I feel to watch my best friend get everything she wants, a true friend just wants the other to be happy, and I know she is. I know that Nick is truly the one. They even look like each other, for Christ’s sake.. True love, looks like it was predestined… like God matched them together before they were even born. Yes, things have changed, were growing up. That’s ok.. The show is not over.. it’s just getting better.

kylah getting dressed weddkylah walking down the aisle

     As I watch my best friend, put on her beautiful white gown, she is a vision. Her sister Koryn and I lock eyes and both of us are thinking the same thing? “Are we really this old? Is this really happening? Should I be getting married too?… Nahhhhh, we shake our heads.. We still have a few good years left.. Ashlee and I wink, and whisper.. “Another one bites the dust…”, but as we walk barefoot into the sand, I felt like I was walking on a cloud, and I was filled with complete happiness and gratitude.

kylah and nick kissing

     As the sun was setting, Kylah and Nick repeated “In sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live, I do.” ..If magic does exist, I think it would look something like that. Everyone broke out in tears and cries of joy. It was perfect, the place, the setting the people…our 16 year old selves would be so proud and impressed . Although, my skinny dipping, school skipping, shit talking, giggle ridden, secret keeping, adventuress, hilarious and loyal best friend won’t be the single gal I grew up with, she will make one good hell of a wife, and I look forward to being with her in that next chapter of her life.


Casa Tua, Cuban, Florida, Fontainebleau, Liv, Miami, Psychic, South Beach, Spanish, Welcome to Miami

Welcome to Miami

 best me miami

   “Miami is a melting pot in which none of the stones melt. They rattle around.” – Tom Wolfe

Miami is the closest you are going to get to feel like you are in a different country while being in the United States. I took a weekend trip the first week of March and stayed at the Fontainebleau, one of the most luxurious beach front hotels in South Florida. Its grand pools, jacuzzis, day beds and spas make it hard to want to leave the resort. The waitresses and bartenders are gorgeous, as they mix drinks while grinding and free styling to house music blazing from the speakers. South beach has some of the most beautiful and surgically-perfected women you have ever seen. Big fake boobs squeezed into $500 La Perla swimsuits, voluptuous lips and not a wrinkle in sight. Hair flowing down their back, and a sassy stuck up Miami accent. English and Spanish swapped word for word, and you can understand each other somewhere in the middle. Everything is crisp, white and clean. The humidity and sweetness hang in the air and you can almost lick it off your skin. A mixture of miss universe walking around taunting men who look like sun-kissed Spartans. Home to numerous celebrities and sports stars alike, and a popular travel destination to millions year round.

miami shops

     I absolutely love the diversity in this city. You have Latinos, Cubans, Asians, Puerto Ricans, Haitians, Italians, Portuguese, Brazilians, blacks and whites. Much, if not all of these groups of people, keep and are proud of their cultural traits. Speaking their own languages, representing their own religions and traditions, cooking their own cuisine and bringing their own unique music and cultural heritages to this city. In turn, making it the ultimate melting pot. Its predominantly Spanish speaking, and some of the stop signs read “PARE.” The smells of spicy chili’s, roasted pork, basil tequila, and perfumes enamor your senses. While your ears pick up on the traffic, club promotors, jesus saves preachers, different beats of music and languages dancing around you. Miami is its own breed of beast.

The city boasts sky scrapers, palm trees and a myriad of restaurants, night clubs, shopping and activities. It is one of the cleanest and fashion forward cities in America, it truly moves to its own rhythm. Orange and lime green Lamborghinis, tight and barely there clothing, people seem to only care about looking sexy and having sex.

 liv nightclub

     I spent the day lounging at fountain bleu’s pool. We soaked in the rays while mingling into other people’s cabanas. We ate dinner at Casa Tua.. a quaint and elegantly designed Italian boutique hotel. The whole gorgeous staff spoke Italian, and were glamorously dreamy. I ate grilled lobster dandelion salad, and truffle fettuccini underneath paper lanterns. Later that night we headed to Liv night club located in our hotel. The whole atmosphere changes from day to night and the floors glow neon. The only way men get into the club is if they are buying a table (tab ran us just under $2k) and its $50 a head for females. We popped a bottle of champagne and grey goose and found some locals and Philadelphians to drink with us.  Go-go dancers, confetti and the newest and hottest beats blared through the club. The people were gorgeous but young. Ranging from 21(supposedly)-25 age group. We raved until 3 am, and wafts of marijuana and cigarette smoke took over the club.

jet ski miami

     The next morning, I popped Tylenol, chugged a Gatorade and headed to the beach to Jet Ski. I cleaned up, got my hair, nails and make up done at the spa. Where I found out Justin Bieber just checked in to celebrate his 21st birthday.

We headed to Joe’s Stone Crab for dinner. A 2 hour wait let us run down for some mango margaritas at a Mexican place called, Jalapeno. We parked our rented maserati in valet. After a quick drink and shot of tequila, we went to pay the man.. a whopping $300 bill for 45 minutes. When we were parking, he asked us if we wanted street parking and we said yes, we didn’t realize in microscopic letters, the sign read VIP $300. The Brazilian man smirked but what was my boyfriend going to do, fight the Felipe Massa look alike. Scammer alert. We headed to the restaurant and ate crab legs and pecan pie, slightly annoyed. I do have to say.. if you’re going to get scammed, it might as well be by someone beautiful. It makes it just a little bit better, you think more along the lines.. “Oh that poor beautiful bastard, they must need the money more than I do.”

I roamed around South Beach shopping and checking the place out, I came across a psychic. I rang the doorbell and headed up the stairs. I had a spirit reading, the place smelled like patchouli oil and she spoke very calm and steady. She might have been on pills, now that I think of it, but the enchanting way her words came out, was purely hypnotizing. The usual reading… “You are a woman of deep intuition and you will be be a leader in your field,” (great, which field exactly?) and sorry my dear..your love receptor is broken.” (Fantastic!) Another product she offered would open up the blockage… it’s on my to do list. After I figure out that whole career thing of course.

What I love about Miami is that everything is bright, shiny and new. The layout actually makes sense, unlike some cities I’ve traveled too. Of course any type of metropolitan city on a turquoise ocean, surrounded by a golden beach, and sprawling tropical plant life isn’t hard to take a shine to. The city is simultaneously fast-paced, loud, sexy, raunchy, bold, and booming.

The billboards are filled with fashion images and also HIV awareness. Which I think is pretty damn important in one of the horniest cities in America.  It’s health conscious, fueled by free expression and a kind of place that lets you leisurely relax or party your ass off. Underneath all the glitter of South Beach is a deeply diverse and authentic neighborhood. It’s quite possibly the best of the best of every nationality. In terms of physical attraction, rawness and sexual energy of course. Look good, feel good, and go vacation in Miami.


Bogota, Columbia, Jesus Christ, Monserrate, Prostitutes

Bogotá, Columbia.

If you want to party with reckless abandon, with a sudden touch of salvation go to Bogota, Columbia.

me 19

I visited the capital city of Columbia in 2007 when I was 19 years old. Its political unease has coined it one of the most “violent cities in the world,” with of course, some of the most beautiful people. It is located high in the Andes Mountains, it has foggy days and rainy nights. In the North resides the wealthy, and in the south lives the displaced and poverty stricken. It boasts historical and modern architecture, art museums, universities, and colonial catholic churches. The traffic is wild and the streets are lined with graffiti covered deeply rooted trees. Drug lords, prostitutes and thieves was something I was willing to bare, to find out where my coffee came from.

I met Anthony the night before on a blind date. We talked over a candle lit dinner for 4 hours. We were both Italian, living in Palm Beach and he was just shy of 20 years older than me. He was a 3rd generation hairstylist. I decided I loved him and he said “Lets jump on a plane to Bogota tomorrow.” These were the days I was an exuberant amount of anxiety medication, and everything seemed like a good idea at the time. My lack of responsibility and yearning for adrenaline rushes found me on a first class flight out of the country. I called my mom from the airport, told her I was off to South America with the man I may marry. She was trying to contact the FBI, certain I was being sold into sex slavery.

street art

The taxi dropped us off at his brick colonial with black iron gates and matching window bars. Beggars and peddlers swarmed to us as we stepped out. Anthony owned the building and rented it out to Americans getting plastic surgery. He made a profit through the patients and had some sort of set up with the doctors. There I met Joe, who was staying in the basement apartment for the month and was getting jaw reconstruction surgery. Joe had been smoking crack, but is 15 years sober and the price to get his jaw fixed in the US was a whopping $30k, here it rang him just under $8k. Joe had two drop-dead gorgeous Colombian models on each side, with their legs wrapped around him. They looked more like the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, than a party of 3.

I decided to wear my gold, sparkly cocktail dress, Anthony’s Gucci fur jacket, and my quilted Channel purse. We drank champagne and smoked French cigarettes. The night club we visited, treated us like royalty. Waiters and hostesses complimenting and doting on us. A line of gorgeous to mediocre women standing in a line, waiting to be “picked.” All wearing outfits that belonged at a strip club, smiling at us. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. I was trying to give them a rye look back, but my forehead still frozen from the Botox a surgeon who casually stopped by beforehand injected me with..to give me a more chiseled South American look. While Anthony clapped oowed and awed in delight.

monserrate perfect

The club bored me so we decided to take cable cars up to Monserrate. It was a church with a shrine on a mountain in the city. If I had known then what I know now, I would have crawled up the mountain on my knees with the rest of the old women. It is a religious pilgrimage taken by believers and tourists alike. Legend has it, if you crawl up the mountain you will be granted a miracle. I stepped out of the cable car into the cool air, I felt light headed because of the elevation. My jaw dropped and I was filled with awe. The doors of the church were wide open. The whole courtyard was swarming with hundreds of monarch butterflies, flying in and about. Almost seemingly kissing you and granting wishes. Falling and taking a rest on the crying, exhausted and lonely. I walked down the aisles of the mysterious and golden church and fell to my knees. The most torturously beautiful statue I have ever seen. Of Christ, beaten, bloody and in pain. Lying on his side, trying to stand up. My heart clung to my rib cage and I was overwhelmed with a rush of love, despair, and loyalty for this heavenly statue. Tears ran out of my eyes, as I felt an intense yearning. I prayed for forgiveness for everything I’ve done since the 8th grade. Every rotten, terrible thought and action.. I begged for redemption. Then I decided to make a desperate wish… A prayer… A hopeful and wild suggestion…


“I love you. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I pray that you had the strength to get up.. I pray that if you could.. Somehow give me the strength to get up, find my way out of this life. Send me to the light, show me my purpose and my path.. Help me heavenly one.”

The next day we took a boat over to an island. The creamy colored Columbians with their sharp black eyes and hair turned into dark brown island people. How strange to see such different colored Columbians in one country. We fished our lunch right off of the shore and drank coco locos while we scuba dove. We were surrounded by women with diamond studs in their teeth.. I wasn’t quite sure where all these women were coming from..but oh my, did they come.

That night we bounced around Columbian bars, accompanied by a bodyguard who carried an AK47. We partied in our house until 4 am, crowds of people, clouds of smoke, illicit drugs and drunken hazy nonsense. When I drink, I believe I can speak Spanish, so I engaged one of these party girls in conversation. No older then 20, long lashes and chocolate milk eyes.

Seniorita, Are you being paid to be here?

“Yes, 86 American dollars.”

“For the night?!”

“For the week…

Why do you do it?”

“Senora we are poor, don’t you see the people out there. We have no money, and my family has to eat.”

I pulled the $10 out of my pocket and gave it to her.. thinking of the hauntingly low number in my bank account, the fact that I had no idea how to dial the United States and I didn’t speak the language, made me feel as alone and desperate as these young girls. I wanted to save her, bring her back to America. Maybe she could live in my loft. I turned my head, when she rummaged through my purse and stole my watch, and again when she took off with my case of red bull.

Anthony was laughing and throwing fruit around the apartment as I wandered onto the balcony. I was buzzing and I had a sense of deep and beautiful sadness, is the best way I can describe it. I dangled my 5 inch pumps over the edge and wondered how wonderful it would be to jump right off.

Pondering it and trying to walk a straight line as close to the edge as I could, astonished by my own lack of fear… I wondered if people would miss me, if it would have mattered at all, if my family would ever know what happened to me…

With that ,all of a sudden I was filled with the exact same light that I felt at Monserrate… and a voice, I can’t quite say I heard it in my head, but more of felt it in my heart, said.. “Girl, get down..” All of these certainties filled my head.. I was certain that this Gucci fur jacket, Channel bag and designer clothes meant nothing. How silly I was to put such precedence in materialistic things. I realized Anthony was a jerk, and these girls( although they lived very sad lives, were not people I belonged with) that I needed to be home with my family who loved me, immediately… And get the hell out of Bogota. I’m still to this day not sure if it was a heavenly intervention, or a drug induced hallucination.. but I am certain I’m glad it happened. The following conversation went like this..

“Anthony take me back to Miami.”

“No, I thought we were going to stay the rest of the week.”

“Anthony take me back to Miami or I am going to smash my face off of this counter, and run to the American Embassy and tell them you’ve kidnapped me.”

I was on a one way ticket back the next morning.

When I got back to Palm Beach, I hibernated in my room for a month. I was decompressing the substances I abused from partying and cried it all out. What a crumby life I felt I had, and felt even more terrible for the crumby lives of the girls I left behind.

When I finally left my house to go down the street for some cigarettes, cheap wine and doritos- I locked myself out of my apartment. I sat on the curb waiting for my roommate while a bunch of fire ants made their way up my shorts. What else could possibly go wrong for me today? With that, a sudden onset of nausea hit me like a brick and I leaned over and threw up in the perennials.

Everything in my body grew tingly, and I knew, as sure as I knew my name that I was pregnant.

The statue, or Christ, or whomever you want to call it has answered my prayer. Or what the locals call it… my miracle. Thoughts, like film ran through my head. I knew I could not possibly go back to the life I was living, and must move forward onto something else, something greater. Everything was different now, I literally felt the path of my life shift. The Christ hadn’t given me anything I had asked for but, everything I had asked for… He had given me something to stand up and finally live for.

Thank you Bogota and all the prostitutes… you were the crossroads in my darkened night… and thank you Jesus for finally leading me back towards the light.

monarch butterflies

Las Vegas Travel Arizona

Sin City & Sunset Land

    me smoking vegas

  I’m okay with Vegas.

My mother and step father absolutely adored it there. As I was contemplating what trip to write about today, an old photo of my passed and happy go lucky step parent fell  to the floor. Low and behold he was wearing a Las Vegas t-shirt, and I took it as a sign. They took dozens of trips there throughout my young adult life, and even took me there as my 16th “birthday present.” Although I spent most of the time in my room watching “The Ya-Ya sisterhood’ because I couldn’t go anywhere they served alcohol. I enjoyed the Cirque du Soleil “O” at Belagio, tranny showgirls, and floating around the pool at Caesars. This year I went out to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

December is the coldest month in Nevada and I could really feel it on my naked legs. Stockings didn’t go with my BEBE dress and boa, and nude pantyhose always made me think of old maids trying to hide varicose veins. I was going for a wicked fabulous look.

Cosmopolitan hotwel

     We stayed at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. The pillars had changing images of naked bodies, exotic flowers, storms and libraries. It was modern and dreamy. My brain was spinning in complete sensory overload. I always feel a sense of jet lag and the mental stimulation again, made me feel like I was walking in a dream. White lights, bright lights, twinkling lights, electrical music and general noise. There was a diverse mix of people. Foreigners and Americans. Rich and poor.

The family of 7 from Vietnam dressed in Nike jumpsuits with their children dragging along on rainbow leashes. Trendy city people, looking to party and win a buck. You had streetwalkers, gamblers, business men, beautiful women and ballers all mingling on playing tables. They were cheering, cursing, laughing, yelling, drinking and smoking. The dealers wore vests and changed positions every 30 minutes, scanning the crowds with an emotion of boredom and perhaps disdain. Non-stop cards being dealt, dice being thrown, wheels being turned and slots being pulled. Again, I saw the black woman in the red lace, 2 piece dress, just enough of her stomach showing. Who I often see on all my travels. This time she was an escort hustling her way up to every white, bald business man in a tailored suit.

statue of libertyzumanity

     We took a limo down the Las Vegas strip. Casinos blinking, the Eiffel tower, the statue of liberty, oversize guitar, and “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. People walking everywhere, excitement and drunk luck in their pockets. Panhandlers spray painted copper and silver, and people handing out cards that read “Girls, Girls, Girls!” That night we saw cirque du soleils, “Zumanity”. A cabaret style, acrobatic sex tease, to be specific. It was erotic and enchanting. The men were tall, sexually explicit bad boys. Each person having their own girl. The tattooed, mohawked bad ass whipping his naughty red headed, leather wearing girlfriend. The blond school girl, horny stay at home mom, with the sexy black pool boy. There was a midget, fat naked twin sisters, and cheerleaders. Men on men, girl on girl. It held nothing back. The production ended with an onstage orgy and whistles from the crowd. People either went home and had a hell of a night together, or wondered why their sex life was so uneventful.

We checked out a strip club off the strip, but I felt like I was going to be mugged so we headed home. For some reason, I had a notion in my head Vegas dancers were supreme money making all stars, they looked like women who couldn’t make it as a showgirl, but were too pretty for real life. We played blackjack until 4am and decided it was time to turn in. My boyfriend was losing, (both of us are sore losers) so we ended it before it turned into a moody night.

 me spa

     The next morning I spent the day at the spa in our hotel. I swam around the Jacuzzi room topless and decompressed some of the alcohol in the eucalyptus steam room. I received a full body massage from a German gay man, and got my hair blown out and makeup done.

I chatted with the Devina, my make-up girl.

“You know its crazy down here this time of year, the party gets out of control and you have people from all over the world.”

My brain was heavy, and my body was exhausted and her words floated around me.

“This town is the most transient place I’ve ever lived. Full of broke and young money, and these boys be arrogant too.”

Devina is a former New Yorker and moved down here to make some money and evolve her makeup artistry. Her previous boyfriend was a boxer and her current one an underground rapper.

“They think theyre all great and shit, and leave your ass for the next hot young thing that rolls in the club. It happens to all men in Vegas, didn’t you ever hear the saying ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?’ Men get all hot, bothered, and crazy. “

Ok Devina, lets wrap it up. I had been gone for a few hours and I wanted to make sure my boyfriend hadn’t been dragged off by one of the girls on the back of the cards, or the red dress.

“Be careful tonight,. Us, locals steer clear of the strip, especially on New Years Eve, you never know what kind of crazy is walking around.”

“Thanks Devina, good luck in Vegas, and Happy New Years.”

I couldn’t take it anymore… The gamblers smoking for hours on end, constant noise, lights, and stimulation made me feel like my head was going to explode. Did I mention my least favorite holiday is New Year’s Eve? I hate expectations and everyone has such a high one of how great your NYE is going to be. SO that was that. We decided to end our vacation short in Las Vegas. Rent a Mercedes SUV and take it over to the Grand Canyon for some peace and quiet. I have never been to the Grand Canyon but the grandiose magnificence I’ve seen on TV makes me want to have my ashes thrown into it.

So amongst warning from the cab driver and car rental guy, and every other person telling us of the oncoming snow storm, we jumped in our vehicle and headed the 5 hours over to Grand Canyon West. As we got closer to our destination, we could only see as far as our headlights would illuminate. It was vast, black and covered with twiggy trees and cactuses. We finally arrived at a ranch on an Indian reservation in the middle of God damn nowhere Arizona, named Hualapai Ranch. It was late and we were exhausted. A cowboy was waiting for us.

“Hello Folks,” he said.

He was dressed in an ankle waist leather trench coat, a cowboy hat and a handle bar mustache.

“This is a dry reservation. No alcohol, no drugs, and no food after 8pm.”

My stomach growled as I looked at my iPhone reading 8:15. This is what happens when you let your boyfriend make spontaneous reservations. My eyes wondered over the numbers on the wall with the accompanying key underneath. It focused on the number 13, and dread filled my stomach.

“Sir what room are we staying in?”


“No sir, I can’t I will have to sleep in the car.”

“Okay how about 7?”

“7 will be fine. “ I grabbed my munchkins and latte and followed the big cowboy Indian to our little cottage across the ranch. Even though there was no TV, no WiFi, and a gas lantern… there was peace to our little room. I think this is the kind of place people come to, to dry out from a wild weekend in Vegas. Which actually kind of suited us.

“Isn’t this wonderful!” My boyfriend exclaimed as I rolled my eyes and swallowed an Ambien.

me arizona horses

     The next morning the whole ranch was covered in snow. They had black horses in red wooden stables, horse shoes, fire pits and big signs that said “Watch out for snakes!” It was completely enchanting and after all I survived the night completely disconnected from the world, the polar opposite of where I had been the night before.

We ate scrambled eggs and sausages in an old dance hall served up by the cook, Miguel, before we headed to the Skywalk of the Grand Canyon.

The ride there (for my boyfriend) was terrifying. Cars and tractor trailers turned over, and an intense snow storm we were driving into. (I was comfortably wrapped in a blanket, refusing to look out the window) Poor thing, bless his heart

The Skywalk to my disappointment was closed so we headed back to the strip. I took it as a sign, I was meant to see the Grand Canyon with my son, Rowan, so I wasn’t too terribly disappointed. We stopped at the Hoover Damn, which my boyfriend thought was the best thing ever (must be a guy thing) it was massive, shiny and vast I’ll give you that, but it was not the Grand Canyon. I do have to say something about the endless backcountry we were viewing on our way back. Millions of acres of vast, breathtaking valleys and plateaus. A desert sprinkled with cactuses, with the sun pouring its love all over. It was magical swirls of browns, creams, reds, yellow gold and white.

We made it home, just in time to catch our flight and have some mediocre wings at a joint by the airport. Our flight landed in Philadelphia just as the ball dropped. My boyfriend and I had a great time but I made a vow/NY resolution to never be away from my son when the clock struck midnight, because when the ball dropped, my heart did too…and I missed and yearned for him terribly. Even though it’s a holiday made for fun and partying, I believe it is best spent with family.

I suggest Vegas for bachelor/bachelorette parties, girls/boys getaways and all around friend weekends. Although it can be intensely exciting with the right group of friends, it was overwhelming and left room for wanting, for a couples retreat.


London, England.


I love London.

Every place I travel I fall in love with, but this exquisite city is one I can actually envision myself living in, if I wouldn’t be so far away from my family. London, was my first European trip, which my grandmother had experienced over 50 years ago. My beloved, beautiful and deceased grandmother. She was Italian and feisty, she said the place was rainy and the food was lousy, I hope I did not share in her opinion.

My boyfriend works in the financial district and often travels to the U.K. He invited myself and my 5-year-old son for a long weekend in October. I was in an Edgar Allen Poe type of season. Listening to Amy Winehouse and wearing black, Burberry trench coats. It was a rainy, chilly, orange and auburn fall we were having.

I am obsessed with Harry Potter, and Hogwarts is truly a place I want to retire, so when our plane finally landed after 6 hours from Philadelphia, I was jetlagged, fueled by pumpkin lattes and felt a bit dreamy…my mind wandering off envisioning Harry waiting for us at the gate.

We jumped into a black taxi and headed to our suite at the Marriott Vacation Club in Mayfair. It was romantic and classic, with a marble foyer, wrap around staircases, with well-dressed and impeccable bell hops. We threw on some party clothes and headed to dinner at La Petite Maison in Brooks Mew (a popular French restaurant). I kept Rowan on U.S time, from their looks, I believe everyone was wondering why this poor girl didn’t have a nanny. We dined on filet mignon and truffle mac and cheese.

The people were diverse and enchanting. Euro-trash in the highest regard possible. Picture blond Asian bombshell, chatting with 25 year old Arabian suitor. They are young, elite, privileged and fashion-forward. I can see the stunning black model in the red dress, looking at me wondering where I came from..and me, her.

The red, double-decker buses, crazy drivers speeding down windy roads, creates a dangerous and exciting feel in the air. Protests popping up all over the streets, and the British accents and flag waving at you ever place you turn. There is a heartbeat in the city, clockwork orange meets Edward Cullen type of feel.

The next morning, we shopped at Hamley’s, the world’s oldest and largest toy store. I was enchanted by the 7 stories, overflowing with oversized animals, Legos, baby dolls and flying machines. I adored window shopping at Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Dior. We did some tourism…admiring Big Ben, the London Eye (the greatest Ferris wheel I’ve ever seen) The Kew Gardens, Westminster Abbey, and we waved frantically at the palace… chanting “God Save the Queen.”


The Tower of London was by far the most magical place we visited. Artist, Paul Cummins created an installation of 888,245 red poppy flowers pouring into and around the moat of the castle. He entitled it “Blood swept lands and seas of red.” It represented every fallen British soldier since World War 1, marking their 100th year of British involvement of the war. It was truly a magnificent sight. We explored the dungeons, dragons, crown jewels and hidden passageways of the palace.


After our excursion, we stopped at the Athaneum hotel on Piccadilly Road. Watching my son sip tea and eat scones did my heart good. The hotel was beautiful and charming. The marmalade finger sandwiches and chocolate tea cups filled with orange mousse was fit for the Queen, or perhaps Paddington Bear.

We ate dinner at the original Hakkasan at Hamway Place (Cantonese inspired and delectable) and drinks at Annabel’s (members only). It was a short fun-packed weekend. Regretfully, the two things we had to cut from our trip was the Mr. Fox puppet show (sold out) and to see the change of guard. (Lack of time) We jam packed our schedules full of sight-seeing, that we all threw ourselves into our feather down beds… and instantly drifted to sleep. Ironically, every night I spent in London I experienced vivid dreams of my grandmother. She was young, wearing fabulous silver, silk dresses, gloves and smoking long cigarettes. I felt her watching over us as we gallivanted around the city.

I highly suggest visiting London for travelers looking to experience a taste of Europe in an English speaking city. It is ancient but remarkable, historical intricately woven with modern times. I am also amazed by how my son and I get excited an point every time we see big ben, red telephone booths or the British flag. Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, 101 Dalmatians, and Paddington get us shouting, “That’s London! We were there!” It was exhilarating, intoxicating and pure brilliant.

For anyone planning a trip, my boyfriend highly recommends seeing a cricket match at Loads. Checking out “The Box,” a theatre of curiosities (kind of soft core porn meets drunken ballerina) with guests such as Paris Hilton and Prince Harry. Also, he believes the London West End Theatre District rivals Broadway in New York. He encourages you to take a boat down Thames to Greenwich and the Maritime Museum.

I look forward to one day spending some time in this metropolitan and leading global city. It’s a major game player in the arts, media, commerce, finance, architecture, and entertainment industry. Just the thoughts of turning down an alley, not knowing if you’ll run into Jack the Ripper or Jude Law leaves you giddy and wanting more. I loved London, and if you get to visit it, I’m sure you will too.


Genevieve Livesey