10 Things That Made Me Happy On International Happiness Day

Yesterday was International Day of Happiness! What an awesome thing to recognize, right?

I’m a generally happy person and yesterday wasn’t any different. In fact, there were several reasons to be happy and I thought I’d share them.

1. International Happiness Day was also the first day of Spring.  Goodbye Uggs, hello sandals!

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2. I got to enjoy my morning coffee with this cutie via FaceTime

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3. Stumbled upon Paula Adbul’s “Straight Up” on the radio while driving. Cue the dancing!

4. Had lunch with this handsome devil:

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5. Got new glasses!

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6. Had a long and pleasant conversation with a stranger over coffee (one of my favorite things ever).

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7. Found a new favorite beer:

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8. Received an unexpected compliment on something I wrote.

9. Dreamed up some new places to travel

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10. Solidified a new friendship over Mexican Food and Margarita’s (Apparently, I have no pics of either of those items so you’ll have to use your imagination =)

What makes you happy?

10 Signs That I’m A Big City Girl

Times Square was crowded as usual.
Times Square, crowded as usual.

I spent most of my childhood in a small town called Waveland, MS. When I was 21-years-old I moved to Seattle, WA to escape the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This was the first time I had ever lived out of the south and the culture shock was great. Until then, the only languages I had ever heard were English and occasionally Spanish. I had never seen someone wear a turban on their head or any other type of ethnic clothing for that matter. Everything was so different than what I was used to.

I quickly learned that not everyone wanted to engage in conversation while on the elevator (go figure), saying “ya’ll” got you laughed at and my southern-cajun accent was hard to understand.

Since then I’ve traveled (and lived) in many cities and boy have I learned a lot. For instance, I can now take a hint when someone doesn’t want to engage in small talk (even though I’ll never understand why). I know that I have to speak up or I’ll never get anywhere and I can hail a cab with the best of them.

While I grew up in a small town I’m a big city girl through and through. I’ve rounded up 10 Signs that make is obvious that buying a house in the country will never be for me and I won’t be moving back home anytime soon. Sorry mom.

1. I hate driving

For me, getting behind the wheel of a car is pretty much the worse thing ever. I’m a very cautious driver; I don’t speed or switch lanes with ease. This means I get honked at and flipped off on a regular basis. I would much rather rely on public transit to get me where I need to go. In fact, reliable public transit is the biggest lure to big city living for me.

2. I love A Good Walk

Say I want to catch a movie but the nearest theater is two miles away. This is no problem for me if I’m in a big city. You’d be surprised how fast it goes by when there’s so much going on around you. That same distance in a small town is a different story, however. Two miles may as well be 20 when there’s no people, food vendors, musicians, sculptures, etc. to entertain you.

3. Ethnic Food Is Where It’s At

Eating is like a hobby of mine which is totally fine when you’re a walking fool like I am. The town I grew up in had a very small selection of foods to choose from: Seafood (It was situated on the Gulf of Mexico), Fast Food, Mexican, Chinese Buffet, Pizza (but only Domino’s and Pizza Hut) and that’s it. Funny thing happened when I grew up and moved to big cities. I found out very quickly that I loved ethnic food. All of it; Thai, Japanese, Indian, Brazilian, French. All. Of. It. Now, I love taking my nieces and nephews to try all of these different flavors when they come to visit. Usually, they enjoy it just as much as I do.

4. I Enjoy Getting Out Of My Comfort Zone

I’m not saying that people in small town don’t also enjoy this but I think it’s important to be flexible if you’re going to live in a big city. I’m a pretty adventurous person. I love striking up conversations with strangers and/or exploring a new areas by myself. Being shy or stand-offish won’t get you far in the city. I actually credit my welcoming and bold personality to the fact that I grew up in a small, friendly Southern town.

5. Sometimes I Eat Dinner at 10 p.m.

I know I’m crazy but every now and then hunger doesn’t strike until late at night. Back home, my only options would be a Mickey D’s drive through or Taco Bell (both of which I hate.) In the big city. however, my options aren’t very limited. In fact, it usually seems as if everyone else had the same idea because many bars and restaurants are pretty packed late into the night.

6. Food Delivery Is The Best Thing Ever

Food is a big part of why I love big city life. Combine that fact that I love all types of food (see # 3) and sometimes eat pretty late (see # 5). Now factor in that I can have pretty much ANYTHING delivered to my front door at all hours of the day or night. Awesome, right? I once had a pint of Ben & Jerry’s delivered at 11:30 p.m. That’s not lazy, it’s taking advantage of an opportunity.

7. I Enjoy Noise

I love the sounds of a big city. Car horns lull me to sleep. Crickets, not so much. Noise proves that life is going on around me and it’s a beautiful thing. My favorite place to write is a busy coffee shop. Grounds grinding, keyboards clicking and people chattering help me focus. Put me in a quiet room with nothing but my thoughts and I’m useless.

8. I Get Easily Bored

This may not come as much of a surprise after reading my previous points but I am always looking forward to the next thing. I’m not really a fan of this trait, I wish that I could better enjoy what’s going on at the time. As I’m getting ready for my day I’m already thinking about who may be available to meet for dinner. This is the perfect segue to number 9.

9. I’m A Social Butterfly 

I love having a full calendar of things to do. Museums, comedy shows, theater, dinner dates, happy hours, trips, etc. This is so easy to do in a big city. There is always something going on. Growing up, I did a lot of staring at walls. As an adult, living in big cities is like a dream come true.

10. I don’t scare easy 

I don’t get intimidated asking strangers for directions or standing up for myself when I encounter a rude person. In fact, not a lot shakes me up; getting lost, smelly sidewalks, strangers yelling at me. Bring it on, I can handle it. Living in a big city brings surprises on a daily basis and I find each and everyone of them invigorating.

Do you prefer big cities or small towns? Why?

Telo Time – My Visit To A Sex Hotel In Buenos Aires

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When my husband and I decided to take a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina I immediately began planning things to do. The typical websites suggested the typical things:  Explore Recoleta Cemetery, Stroll Through Jardín Botánico, Dance the Tango.  I was dutifully taking notes as I noticed a naughty suggestion – “Frolic in a Love Hotel” –  hmmm, this was definitely worth looking into. I added it to my list with a question mark beside it.

As I began researching I quickly learned that “Love Hotel’s” are pay-by-the-hour sex hotels and are more commonly known as Telo’s.  For me, this type of establishment conjures up thoughts of red, blinking neon signs ; women in tight dresses walking the nearby streets and dirty needles strewn about. Not a place I’d be too keen on visiting.

However, in Argentina Telo’s are something quite different. The common patron includes young couples looking for a place to be alone. People here tend to live with their parents until they marry, going straight from their parents house to their spouses house. For most, that means until wedding vows are exchanged there isn’t a great place to be intimate.

Enter the Telo, a safe and affordable place for people to go for some much needed alone time before saying “I do”.

I’m sure not everyone who frequents this type of establishment is a fresh-faced guy or gal looking for some cuddle time. Just like anywhere else in the world there are adulterers looking for a private place to rendezvous, strangers in search of hook-ups and married travel writers whose curiosity got the best of them.

I pitched the idea to my husband and wasn’t too surprised by how readily he agreed to frolic with me. All of a sudden the question mark was gone and  our run-of-the-mill vacation became a little more exciting. Before long, that unexpected suggestion was the thing I looked forward to the most.

Yes, the idea of standing in the Plaza de Mayo and gazing at the very balcony where first lady, Evita Perrón famously addressed the citizens of the country gave me goosebumps but there was something about visiting a Telo that just got my blood rushing.

We decided on a place called Rampa Car in the swanky Palermo neighborhood. The website boasted a variety of themed rooms where you could play out your fantasies in a spaceship,  Roman temple or Egyptian pyramid. You don’t make reservations, just show up.

We hailed a cab and gave our driver the address. I blushed assuming he knew exactly where we were headed. He dropped us off at the end of the street and we walked a block to the entrance.

I had read that the building would be inconspicuous and it was. Only a simple, sleek sign that read “Rampa Car” confirmed that we were at the right place.

As we approached, I thought maybe it was closed. No one was outside and there was no obvious entry. It looked like we were standing in front of an abandoned garage. All of a sudden, a black tinted window opened slightly and a room key slipped through the tiny crack. We took the key and a gate opened. We walked through and took the elevator to the number that was printed on the card.

The halls were dimly lit and completely empty. We didn’t exchange words with anyone so there was no opportunity to request the type of room we wanted.

When we entered my first thought was, “This room is not made for sleeping.”  Everything screamed sex.  My adorably money-conscious husband immediately set his phone for one hour so I promptly got to exploring.

A round bed lay in the center of the room and one wall was completely covered in mirrors. On the bed were two packages; each containing a condom, toothbrush and toothpaste.  On the wall there was a panel of buttons that controlled the lighting and music.

A fireplace mantel held several menus; one contained food and beverages while the other offered a variety of adult toys, lotions and potions. Colorful vibrators and flavored lubricants could be delivered to your room for a fee. I giggled at the thought of placing an order, “Yes, I’d like the chicken ceasar salad and neon pink dildo, please.”

After a little extra sleuthing I discovered a box outside of our room with a buzzer nearby. Apparently, once you placed an order someone would deliver it to the box and ring the buzzer. You give them a minute to leave and you can retrieve your goodies without ever having to encounter another soul. How clever.

On the television, porn was mingled in with the regularly scheduled programming.  Once you make your way to the bed you quickly realize that it spins and sits below a ceiling of tiled mirrors. To sleep in this room would be a shame.

When you leave simply pass your card back to the kind stranger behind the glass. He calculates your total and once you’ve paid you are buzzed out back into the world. For one hour we paid $30.

As I walked down the empty street to hail a cab I thought about how cool

it is that people here recognize this particular need and have found a way to offer clean, safe way to meet that need. Simple supply and demand, no shame. Sure Telo’s are discreet but there’s a difference between that and turning something into a taboo because it makes us feel uncomfortable.

I’m glad I stepped out of the box to discover this naughty side of Buenos Aires and myself. In doing so, I learned that naughty doesn’t necessarily mean wrong. Sometimes it simply means naughty and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Note: This piece was originally published in the Fall 2013 issue of Eidé Magazine.

Running Low on Fuel

This post is more of an observation after almost two weeks of traveling through Europe.

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When you’re planning a multi-destination trip try and think ahead to how you’re likely to feel in the last days of said trip. You may want to plan so that your OK with your last destination being more laid-back.

The beginning of a trip is much different than the end, at least for me. Allow me to elaborate:

First Half of Trip

– Up bright and early every morning

-Make-up and hair is perfect

– I must see EVERYTHING

– Oh, look at that! Let me get my camera ready.

– Take a picture of me in front of this…and this….and this.

– Selfie time!

– Let’s do that again tomorrow!

Second Half Of Trip

– Let’s just sleep in this one time

– Pony-tail and lip gloss is good enough

– I really need to wash my socks, ugh.

– We can skip that. Maybe we can come back to it.

– Let’s just leave the camera. I can take pictures with my phone.

– If you take a picture of me I’ll kill you! Do you not see how puffy my eyes are?

The trick  to the second half of your trip is moderation and simply powering through the fatigue. My last destination is London and while I’ve enjoyed sleeping in and having a lazy day (something that was unheard of during the first part of my trip) I’m also picking myself up and exploring the city. So off I go!!

Oh yeah, Happy New Year =)

Atlantans Protest NSA Spying

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“The right of the people to be secure…against unreasonable searches and seizure, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” – Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

The above is what was distributed to those who chose to spend this Independance Day protesting the National Security Agency (NSA) and its newly discovered surveillance program of citizens’ telephone records and Internet traffic.

About 50 Atlantans gathered outside the State Capitol Building with signs and chanting such things as “Hey! Hey! NSA, How many calls did you track today?”

Copwatch of East Atlanta,  an organization designed to protect communities from police abuse and educate the public on their rights, was also on hand to speak with people about getting involved with their efforts.

While the whole scene was pretty unorganized, people had the opportunity to voice their opinions,  concerns and criticism in an open-mic format. One man wondered why the protest was happening in front of an empty state capitol building surrounded only by like-minded individuals. Many agreed and tentative plans were made for future protests and demonstrations in an effort to better spread their message.

We Americans like to think that we set the standard for the rest of the world when it comes to freedom and liberty but the current standard in not something to be proud of. NSA spying is not reflective of the Constitution and is not something to ignore.

I hope that people in Atlanta and all over the country can stand together on this issue and let our government officials know that we are not OK with imposing on our rights in this way.