Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bucket List Item #9: Spend My *Birthday* in Hawaii

Okay I'll be honest, my initial bucket list item said to spend NYE in Hawaii...I modified it last year when I decided to go to Oahu last year (Jan 2014) to climb the Haiku Stairs. If you don't know about the Haiku Stairs (or the Stairway to Heaven), please see here: Yelp Review: Haiku Stairs. And technically my birthday is a New Year right...so I will claim it.

So I booked a direct flight on Hawaiian Airlines (via Priceline-always check Priceline first) and lucky for me I had enough air miles for a free return flight on American Airline. I booked an ocean view king room at Hyatt Place Waikiki for a reasonable price. Note...a lot ppl say Hawaii is expensive but I spent just about the same amount booking this trip as I did going to Essence last year, so I can't even call it. I chose to spend 5 days/4 nights in Oahu and it was amazing. How I spent my first trip to Hawaii is below:

Thursday: I arrived around 4 pm and took a shuttle to the hotel ($30 roundtrip, very reasonable). My girls weren't coming until after 11 pm so I had plenty of time to myself. During this time I walked up and down the board walk, had garlic shrimp (that was $6.50), and went shopping where I bought a silk dress that I do not need for anything ever in life. But it's cute so it's okay. I walked along the beach and enjoyed the light rain...then I took a nap. Once my friends arrived, we went to a restaurant and chilled on the beach until about 330 am or so.

Friday: We looked into our options and decided to go on a tour on Saturday...which left today for whatever. We went to the zoo and it was cool but not worth $14. Do NOT go to the zoo. There is nothing special at the zoo. I can't stress this enough. Then, we got garlic shrimp. Again. From the same place. It was $7.00 this time. Then we went shopping because guess who didn't try on their bikini top before they got to Hawaii?!?! We shopped for a while and then jet lag caught up with us but we still managed to go out to eat then go to bed since we had to be up at 6 the next day.

Saturday: The ultimate EcoTour! I loved opting to go on the all day tour because we got to see a lot of the North Shore and side of the island. We went to several beaches, got to eat amazing pineapple ice cream, drink macadamia nut coffee, and swim at a waterfall. Lunch was included, which we ate at a ranch before we almost died at Sunset Beach. Just a note...when the signs at the beach say "Warning/Dangerous" please TRUST that it means that because Brandi and I almost died. I literally looked at the wave and said "this is the biggest wave I ever saw" and then proceeded to try to take a picture of it and instead got washed by this wave and almost dragged out to die. But God blessed me. (The pic to your left is the Byodo-In Temple, the second highlight of the tour for me...as far as sites go because we all know the pineapple ice cream was highlights 1-10 for me).

Sunday: My birthday. I'm old. We laid out on the beach and I got a killer tan. Ate more garlic shrimp. I think. Then we went to a luau at Paradise Cove and it was fantastic. Finally...authentic roasted in the ground with hot rocks pig. When I tell you the pork was the best thing I ever ate...(as far as pork goes)...I mean it. If you go, try it before you add the sauce. For some reason, people love to add the sauce before they taste the meat but the pork is like a good steak. If it's done correctly, no sauce is necessary.  I also tried poi, which basically tastes like glue. It wasn't bad and if you liked glue as a child, you'd love it now. It was just different. But the food and drinks and dancers (male and female) were great. When we got back we were tired. It was late (my body thought it was 2 am) and I was tipsy because the drinks were so good.

Monday: Last day. Really didn't do much. Ate breakfast, tried to get my ear pierced (failed...but I will get it done now that I'm home), and did some light weight shopping. I left around 5 pm to go back to NYC. I also returned my lei back to the island.

All in all, I think I spent the perfect amount of time in Oahu. I wasn't able to do the hike I wanted to do because one of the people who was suppose to attend this trip wasn't able to make it at the last minute. That lowkey sucked because this person had completed the hike before and I was not confident with it being just me and one other person, so we substituted that hike for the hike to the waterfall. Also shout out to Keith of Paradise Cove! He gave me a cd full of authentic Hawaiian music and I have no clue what they are singing about but I still love it.

Also shout out to Pam, Thembi, and Brandi for coming out and spending my birthday in Hawaii. I appreciate it more than you know (also thank you Pam for the Sephora gift card that I used to buy all the things I didn't need).

I tried to add pics not on my IG here...Oahu is beautiful! You can see those pics here (@steph_bmore) I can't wait to go back and visit the other islands and yes, I plan to go back and do the Haiku Stairs but this time I won't depend on someone else to help me...I will train on my own so I can do it on my own. Also note...I didn't edit any of these pictures, they are still raw because I'm lazy.

Next year...I'm thinking of spending my birthday in Cuba...Havana is also very beautiful.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Prose: Urban Fabulous-ness or "How It's Cool When White People Do It"

As young broke black teens we would dye our hair with packets of kool-aid,
Marveling at how, in the sun, the red, orange, or blue colors would pop.
Our perms were not used to make our hair curly, but to "relax" it into a straight state,
And then we'd style it up into braids, waves, waterfalls, twists, buns, rolls;
While jars of ampro lined our dressers, beside the soft brushes we'd use to lay down our edges.
Our nails were long and adorned with different colors, jewels, and sometimes dollar bills.
Fitted jeans and Baby Phat tees.
Timberlands were not work gear, but a symbol of social status.
Juicy Fruit. Bangles. Bad Attitudes.
Not bad meaning bad but bad meaning, I'm so good.
Through our speakers banged the voice of our generation:
Biggie, Tupac, Bone Thugs, TLC, Xscape, Aaliyah.
Our bodies moved in sync to the rhythms of their words and we were great.
But we weren't seen as good, but more like hood.
Ghetto in every way. Don't hang around them or they will lead you astray.
Don't care about school, and thinks its cool to hang out on the corner.
Their parents don't care about them, and all they do sin.
Sinners. They need Jesus.They need to pray. They need us to tell them what's right and wrong.

Fast forward 20 years later, now they praise us.
The colorful hair is now the next big think.
Baby hairs are now "slicked down tendrils."
Braids are BOLD. Long pointy nails are EDGY.
Du-rags are now made of vegan leather.
Kente clothed items are available at your local store,
and if you don't have a black friend, you ain't cool.
The bad hip hop is now okay because we now see white faces spitting rhymes.
White faces with urbanized accents to lend authenticity to a culture they appropriated.
And now we don't need a special channel or a special show to see our favorite rap videos.
That's dope right?
The Harlem shake is no longer a nod to the fiends who walked up and down 125th
But a comedic meme that shows no love to the original.
Miley invented the twerk, and if you are confused, there's plenty of articles and videos.
And "nigga what, nigga who" why can't we say what you do?
Gangsta grillz...no gold mouth adornment that can urbanized your look.
There is never any love to the original.

See it's not enough to be stolen. Or to have your history stolen.
The one thing that we can still be actively involved in is our culture.
The one thing we thought we owned, that no one could steal or take from us.
For years, our culture was less than.
So less than that it's now cool and on the runways of Milan and NYC
Our culture is on the cover of magazines. In the pages of Vogue, Marie Claire.
You want that fab slicked down hair? Or see the latest in street wear?
Youtube is there.
But we aren't there.
Because when we do it, it's ghetto.
When white people do it, it's cool.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

One Mo' Gin...

I don't know if I stated this or not but I didn't get into grad school last year. I was "wait-listed" after contacting my first choice to see what was going on...it was almost May and I hadn't heard anything. To say I was shocked would be an understatement and an overstatement at the same time. I was shocked because I believed I was a shoe-in. I had the grades, the test scores, the resume...everything. Why wouldn't this little school want me? But I wasn't shocked because I had bullshitted with my application. I got great recommendations but I rushed the essay portion and to be honest, my GRE scores could have been better. My resume should have been a  CV to outline all of the public health research I have completed...so many things could have been better...had I just took the time.

Months later I can admit that now. I can say to myself "You didn't do what you should have done to win." I think what hurts most is to know that I didn't try my hardest...it's one thing to do all you can and get rejected, but it's quite another thing to get rejected while being lazy. Because all I can do is blame myself. And I do.

But I can't dwell on the past.

The past few months I have been looking at schools again. I also have been studying message boards (one in particular actually...the grad cafe), and trying to find blogs...the key word: TRYING. I don't know why it's so hard to find blogs written by people who wish to pursue higher education. Message Boards are cool but limited...and I think it would be extremely helpful to read about other people's journey...but I digress. I did my homework. I plotted and planned. And decided...I would try again. This time I selected a few other schools (one in particular that my friends told me to go for but I didn't because I thought I wasn't good enough...) and I'm going to try again.

And I'm going to give it my all this time.

Pray for me.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


It's quite frustrating to have a bunch of words in your mind
You want to write them down or speak them or share them somehow
But when you sit down to write, or open your mouth...

Often times I have these grand theatrics in my mind of how I will say this and how I will say that...
I can defend myself, or explain myself, or even apologize...
But nothing. These words don't come easy.

My mind races, like 1000 words a minute. I have all of the thoughts.
I have all of the ideas. I have all of the plans.
I have none of the conviction, none of the organization, and none of the spine.

You want to be great.
You feel the greatness in your spirit.
You know you were meant to be a flame.

If only the words would slow down.
If only your thoughts would organize themselves.
Give me a minute to work this out...before you give me something else.

I wonder if this is what ADD feels like...I often wonder if there is a way to stop my mind from wondering. My friend told me sometimes I get lost in myself...and it's true. Sometimes there are so many thoughts, I don't hear anything. I don't recognize anything. I'm truly lost in my own world.
This is not voices, it's me...telling myself this is what needs to be done.

I'm so frustrated.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Negative Isn't Always Negative

Growth is hard. We all know this, but what we all don't do is own it. Some of us just ride the tide, going through the ups and downs of life, and we hope...we pray...to land safely on both feet, with minor scratches. But sometimes that ride can break you.

I'm breaking.

This is not necessarily a negative thing...this is about self realization. I have been making minor changes in my life for the past few years and some have worked, and some I have failed at miserably. And it is these failures that shine brighter than the achievements because you see, I want to be a better person. I actually fight to be a better person every day. You might not see it. But I do.

The first step to becoming a better person is to recognize your faults. Write them down. Read them out loud. Acknowledge that these characteristics are the ones holding you back. It's important to be honest in this. A lot of the time we make excuses for our bad habits because they aren't "that bad". But this is bad.


Now some ppl will say to focus on your good attributes but that's silly to me...because focusing on my good qualities will not make the bad ones go away. I really dislike that concept of just trying to be happy 24/7 because life isn't happy all the time.

Life is complex.
Life is love.
Life is pain.
Life is winning and sometimes losing.
Life can be an incredible high or the lowest of lows.
Life is amazing. Life is beautiful.

And if it wasn't for the pain, how would I know how great life can be? So I chose to focus on those bad aspects of me that I want to change...and while it's simple enough. I don't know how to change them.

How do you become a better person?

This is just a random musing. I don't know what's going on here.