Air and Opportunity

The other day I was watching the year end review of a blogger/vlogger that I have been following for quite some time. Fly Brother is a black travel blogger who has traversed the world, he is also someone who is an incredible writer. He reminded me of an age old adage that I would always hear in the ‘hood when two people, namely boys, were so fed up with each other they were about to physically fight. Most of the time the beef was over some stupid ish, but when you’re young you don’t know no better. They would push each other sometimes with hands but most of the times with their shoulders. They would stand so close to each other their chest would bump and they would move around in a comical fashion. “What, what?!” they would yell until the braver  of the two (or dumber, your call) would push the other and say “Ain’t nothing between us but air and opportunity”.

Fly brother brought up a good way to turn this phrase around. Ain’t nothing between me and what I want …but air and opportunity. This will be my mantra, or theme for 2015. My plans are definitely not concrete, but they also are not impossible. I’ve always been private about my plans and I continue to do so. I believe in bad juju, and although my friends may want the best for me, there is always someone out there with a little envy. This envy can turn negative which could go out into the atmosphere and all I want right now are good vibes. I am not totally innocent in this. There have been times where someone has expressed their amazing plans and I feel a twinge of jelousy. Hey, I’m human.

But I can say that 2014 has been… Amazing. I’ve done quite a bit and have definitely reached a lot of my goals with a few surprises in between. Here’s some of the biggest moments…

1. Living in Europe

The year before I decided to go to Grad school in Europe. I had always wanted to live across the pond and I decided the only feasible way I can do it was to go to school. It also coincided with my plans to get a Masters anyway so…perfect timing!! I traveled to different countries like Germany, The Netherlands, France, Portugal and Spain. I’m back home, now but am looking for the opportunity to venture out again. Europe just may have stolen my heart.

2. You can make it on BuzzFeed, you can make it anywhere.

Ok , so this was a bit of a surprise. A while ago I submitted my photo to a Tumblr account Reclaiming The Latino Tag as a proud Latina of African descent. I am also a flag waving Garifuna-American. When people find out that I speak fluent Spanish, as expected, their faces go up in surprise. They never expect someone like me to be who I am: a dread-loced black nubian sista who can dance Salsa like the best of them. The Reclaiming The Latino Tag account has been instrumental in providing a voice to those of us who others may not consider Latina because of the color of our skin, or the way we look. In August, the account was picked up by Buzzfeed, and out of thousands of photos that was submitted, my photo was one of the few selected. Although it did not include my bio, it was still an honor to be included. Yes, we do exist!!

3. Sistas in Paris

My sister came to visit me while I was living in Belgium and we made our way to Paris. Why is this such a big deal? Because how many sixteen year-old’s from the housing projects in Brooklyn can say  they have been to the infamous City of Lights? She missed two days of school but she told me even her teachers were impressed- some have never been to Europe. I’m proud of her, making her way to Europe by herself. The first time I traveled on my own I was 21. Now she’s itching to explore.

4. Friends catch up

While in Belgium, I hopped on a bus and two hours later, I was with some great friends in Germany. I met these guys as a college freshman almost fourteen years ago as foreign exchange students. We kept in touch over the years and finally got together for a night of laughter and reminisced all night. It was one of the best trips I’d had in a long time.

5. I am a MASTER

After ten years of contemplation I finally completed a Master’s program. I had always been putting off getting my Master’s due to life and not thinking it was the time. But like with many other things, if you’re waiting for the right time, you might as well be waiting for forever. Opportunities don’t wait for you, and neither should you. And with that I picked the right program for me, in the place I wanted to live-Europe. Belgium was a great place to live with lots of interesting quirks, I enjoyed myself immensely. It was a tough year with a curriculum that took some getting used to, but I did it. I am a Master!

 

And with that I wish everyone a Happy New Year. If the ball has dropped in your area of the world, I wish you all the best in the coming year. And if not, I still wish you the best!

Remember- Air and Opportunity

8 Things I Thought I Would Do When I Got Home

It’s been about two months since I’ve been home after a couple of years away. I am so happy to be back home. After living in South America and Europe for almost four years, it feels really good to be back.. Grad school itself was exhausting and mind consuming, so yeah, I damn near ran all the way to Brooklyn. In anticipation of being home, I was chock full of ideas with things I was going to do, dishes to cook and people I would spend time with.

Chile, I lied.

Where the hell was I going with little to no money in this expensive ass city. The subway fares alone keep me at bay. Here is a list of more things I thought I was going to do when I got back.

  1. Cook what I learned on the Road I was talking to a friend who asked me what was the first thing I ate when I got back to NY. My answer? A sammich from the corner bodega. For those not familiar with NYC jargon a sammich is a sandwich from the corner store usually referred to as the bodega, a Latino-owned establishment. Living in Europe and South America taught me how to make different types of dishes including crepes, duck confit, different thai specialties and many more delicious meals. I was introduced to spices I had never cooked with before. My plan was to come home and make amazing dinners for my family…et voila!! But as soon as I settled in, I knew it wasn’t happenin’. At least not right now. It was much easier to just buy something that I had been craving sporadically during my travels, and for me it was a tasty sandwich from the corner bodega.
  2. Meet up with Friends This was actually tough. Coming back home I was eager to meet up with my peoples…but I wanted to relax at home first with my family. It had been a tough year of paper writings and dissertations and I had just finished a month-long jaunt to southern Spain. Since I plan on being home for a while, I figured I’d see all of my friends… eventually. Usually, when I’m back from a trip, I post on social media or call some friends up. This time, however, I chilled. Though some people knew I was home through Instagram, even less reached out to see how I was doing and to be honest, it kind of hurt.The older I get the smaller my circle becomes and I feel OK about that. On a brighter note, those who wanted to get in touch did, and some even came to see me.
  3. Eating healthy One of the things I learned while traveling was a way to eat healthy. Crazy considering I damn near devoured everything in sight. I wanted to try all new flavors and spices but I also wanted to eat in moderation. It was fairly easy but when I got home, that shit went out the window. I arrived at the beginning of the holiday season. Not only did I eat dem sammiches, but I had everything else my momma cooked at home. Did I gain weight? Hellz yes, but it was worth it. I’ll start getting back into shape when everyone else does- at the beginning of the new year. Sike!
  4. Appreciate the sights and sounds of NYC Girl, bye. I’m a New Yawka at heart, this is where I was born and raised. True New Yawkas have been appreciating this city our whole lives; we revel in it. Sure there are new things I want to see and things that have popped up since I’ve been gone ( I had to ask what the hell the green taxis were for), but it’s called the city that never sleeps for a reason.
  5. Immediately start looking for work Now this has taken a bit of time mainly due to the holiday season. But I’m back and roarin’ to work. I’ll be honest and say I haven’t tried as much as my peers, I wanted to take advantage of being in Europe and travel around a bit. I’ve come home and deflated but it has not been easy getting back into the swing of things. Now I’m taking my time, looking at my options, rediscovering my passions and tailoring my resume to suit. I’m ready world!
  6. Tell my friends all about my travels See number 2. I love my close group of friends, but I have spared them from countless stories and they, in turn, have spared me from glazed over eyes. We understand each other.
  7. Chilling in NYC What the hell?! NY has always been a relatively expensive city but GAHT DAMB! New restaurants and little eateries popping up in places that were more or less affordable. Gentrification has reared its ugly head in some of my most favorite places, bringing with it high prices. It’s ridiculous. It’s already taken over South Brooklyn. But something that I have noticed is the number of closed down restaurants. Is the tide turning? Transportation in the city is something else, with the price of the train fare going up. In March 2015, there will be another fare hike which will break the bank of many NY’ers.

But I digress. New York City is still one of the BEST cities in the world. Hopefully, I’ll find a fulfilling position that will make it easier to enjoy all of its comforts.

Any advice for free or low-cost things to do in the city?