This week our little Witty family finds itself in San Diego (insert Anchorman joke here). It’s been fun so far seeing my nieces light up with excitement over everything from the donut shop to the hotel room sliding glass door. It’s not been the best to see them freak out over sharing and pushing elevator buttons buuuut you win some, you lose some.
- The Donut Bar: Don’t let the simple name fool you. This sweet shop offers fun, festive donuts and a ton of drinks on tap (including rich chocolate milk). It also happens to be a block from our hotel, making it almost impossible to resist. Somehow, we’ve only managed to go twice so far 😉 And, compared to SF prices, they’re a good deal for the size of the sweets.
- The Taco Stand: I won’t give San Diego points for naming creativity, but maybe their businesses just benefit from Google search terms. Right next to The Donut Bar is this fan favorite of locals and visitors alike. I tried the nopal (cactus), fried fish, and shrimp varieties, and 2/3 were truly perfect. We’re heading to the La Jolla location for sunset on Friday, so I’ll be sure to report back about round two.
- Muppet Babies: One of the benefits of being around kiddos is learning about all the stuff they watch. I had no idea this classic cartoon was redone for Disney and featuring an all-new (to me) character, a penguin named Summer. Fozzie still has awful jokes; Kermie is still helpless without my fave, Miss Piggy; and Animal is still my younger niece’s spirit… animal. Gonzo rounds out the crew for ridiculous adventures and antics.
- Disneyland: A second benefit of kid time is seeing the
worlder, land, through their eyes. Even though they’re already experts at Walt Disney World, they got to experience a whole new (to them) park and distinguish differences between the two. From the classic It’s a Small World and Thunder Mountain Railroad to the Star Wars area, infinity and beyond, they had an absolute blast.
In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday, I’ve researched countless “things to do before 30” lists. And while there are plenty to choose from, I kept coming back to “Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.”
The List was originally published in Glamour by columnist Pamela Redmond Satran in 1997. Over the next 30 weeks, I’ll be tackling each item on The List and reflecting about it here… publicly (gulp). I hope you enjoy and we can grow together. After all, turning older is a privilege denied to many.
By 30, you should have…
6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.
Ayana Byrd began this week’s chapter describing her affinity for staying safe in the middle, never veering too far from the center to make waves.
I didn’t immediately relate. I’ve often considered myself somewhat of a rebel — or at least the black sheep — of my family. After all, I’m the only one who has a facial piercing (my nose, but it counts)! I’m the only one of my generation (until very recently) to get a tattoo — and at that, I have multiple. The horror! I’m the only one who left Florida to pursue a life beyond the Sunshine State.
This is where Ayana and I connect. She detailed her many adventures abroad, feeling limitless as she ventured far beyond the comfort zone of the middle.
It’s always surprised me when someone compliments me on my own big moves. I haven’t given them all that much thought, until now.
New York and San Francisco are largely made up of transplants. Sure, you have your lifers, the people who are quick to remind you they were born and raised there, and will call you out for any embarrassing transplant behavior. But by and large, there are tons of people in both places who’ve moved into these cities for the pursuit of something more. And probably because of that, I haven’t felt like my leaving Florida was all that big a deal. Plenty of people do it. Heck, lots of my colleagues have traveled much further — and risked much more — to come here.
But I shouldn’t lessen its importance, or how much those moves have changed me. Compared to my colleagues and friends, and yes, Ayana Byrd, I’ve done a paltry amount of traveling abroad. But aside from family who served in the Armed Forces, I’ve got the most stamps on my passport.
And without even leaving my zip code, I can see the world in a much more diverse way — challenging the status quo constantly — because I live and breathe in a city that pushes for progress and change.
I’ve had the privilege of learning about more cultures and backgrounds in four years away than I had in the 25 years prior. I’ve experimented with foreign (to me) ingredients, entertainment, customs and traditions. I’ve broadened my perspective on what an impact a life well-traveled can mean. I even spent seven weeks of the last year traveling — albeit, all domestic — because I can always find a reason to say “Yes” to a new experience.
Ayana’s story reminds me there’s so much to say “Yes” to, beyond the 50 states and how it’s OK to be a little scared the first (or every) time you venture somewhere new. Of all my wild and crazy antics, I’ll happily share a full passport and broader understanding of our world for years to come.
I’m back from a ridiculous, fun, amazing weekend in Music City and couldn’t be more excited to share my trip highlights with y’all. Saddle up:
- The Southern: This place came highly recommended for both brunch and dinner, so we moseyed on over after touring the Grand Ole Opry. The drinks were delish, the food phenomenal and the service stellar. Highly recommend checking it out — maybe even for more than one meal!
- Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum: I’m a total history nerd, and what better way to escape the sultry southern heat than step back in time and learn about country music’s roots? There’s a super cool exhibit chronicling Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash’s musical mojo, too. I dig it.
- The Listening Room Café: The now-canceled show, “Nashville” led plenty of people to the famed Bluebird Café. But within walking distance of Broadway is this fabulous venue with local musicians and satisfying menu selections. Tickets for the 6pm show were FIVE DOLLARS each. It doesn’t get much better than that.
- Rose Creek: Among the many talented musicians we saw this weekend, these guys were my favorite. They had great stage presence, were fun and engaging, and I even got a signed CD… you never know where they’ll be in a year! Check out their first single, “High,” here.
After months of planning and anticipation, my cousin’s wedding was absolutely amazing! The newlyweds ended the evening with a firework sendoff fit for a fairytale. I’m sort of back to reality while working remotely from Tampa this week — so here are four things I’m loving while in the 813. Are you surprised they’re all food-related?
- The Columbia: We celebrated my sister-in-law’s birthday Sunday at this iconic Ybor establishment. From mojitos to the 1905 salad to “good rice” that’s to die for, it’s no wonder this Cuban cookery has been a Tampa tradition for 110+ years. Don’t pass through Tampa without stopping by!
- Moreno Bakery: What birthday dinner would be complete without a towering, tantalizing cake? My SIL’s mom provided a fantastic Bananas Foster cake that left us all with sugar comas beyond compare. I’m actually drooling at the thought.
- Publix Subs: These things have a cult following for a reason. The PubSub is actually life-changing, and being so far from this grocery store makes them all that more special when I’m in Florida. Boar’s Head Italian FTW!
- “Sugar” – Maroon 5: Full disclosure: I actually can’t stand this song (or Adam Levine’s voice, still). But something about hearing it at a wedding — or when my niece is in the car — just gets the people going. Plus, the video is just the cutest ever (fake or not).
September is always a month that kicks my ass. Between five birthdays in the family, the anniversary of my dad’s death, and whatever else life throws at me, I can’t seem to keep my head above water. Luckily, I have a long vacation coming up this month (on the water) and can focus on the positive vibes that will surely bring.
- Fantasy Football: What else does this month mean? FOOTBALL. And because I’m a glutton for punishment, I’ve committed myself to three fantasy teams. And a survivor league. And a weekly pick ‘em. Too much? Never. Bring it on.
- Modern Romance: I love Aziz Ansari and can’t wait to see him perform live in October. Till then, I had to get my fix with his highly entertaining — and informative — take on dating in today’s day and age. It’s a must, especially for any man who “doesn’t get” why he’s striking out.
- Balboa Café: I ran into a friend on the bus last week and we determined it was high time to schedule a brunch date. This neighborhood spot introduced me to crab cakes eggs benedict, and was quite literally life-changing. I didn’t get to sample their famous Bloody Mary … all the more reason to return.
- “Gossip Folks” – Missy Elliot f. Ms. Jade & Ludacris: I love that Missy had a quasi-comeback during this year’s Super Bowl, but lately, I can’t seem to get this song out of my head. Maybe it’s the catchy beat. Or the (NSFW) ridiculous lyrics. Or the addictive video. Whatever the reason, I’m not mad about it.
There’s a phenomenon I hadn’t experienced until moving to San Francisco, known as Mercury in retrograde. This three-week period of time is said to wreak havoc on technology, communication and life in general … and it started today. Let’s try to put some balance back in our lives, shall we?
- Skellie @omgliterallydead: This viral Instagram takes all the millennialisms we love to hate and turns them into hilarious, filtered photos. This one’s caption? “Morning Yoga!! #yoga #yogaselfie #betterthancoffee #jk #nothingbeatscoffee #namastae #namastayinbed #om #flexible”
- Mr. Holmes Bakehouse: This SF bakery invented possibly the most delicious dessert craze ever — the cruffin. It’s a hybrid of flaky croissant pastry in the shape of a muffin, and the strawberries ‘n cream cruffin I had this weekend was pure heaven.
- Blue Apron: I don’t really know how to adult, but one of my goals this year is to gain more confidence in the kitchen (I can’t bake brownies for dinner forever). Enter this service, which delivers fresh ingredients and exciting recipes right to my door! I made my first meal with it last night, and I couldn’t be more proud.
- “Try” – Colbie Caillat: I can’t believe I haven’t featured this song yet, since it’s a constant star in my daily playlist. The video is powerful, and Caillat’s message is simple: You don’t have to change who you are, so long as you love yourself.
It’s been a weird week, getting back into the swing of things at work and trying to get the last of my movers’ boxes unpacked. Weird, I thought staring at the boxes for hours on end would prompt them to unpack themselves. Hmph.
- National Singles’ Day: You guys hear about this? Apparently November 11 is China’s National Singles’ Day. The most impressive feat of all? Alibaba (similar to Amazon in the US) took full advantage to have more than $9 BILLION in sales. Dayummm, girl.
- Straw: This carnival-themed restaurant in Hayes Valley serves up delicious food and whimsical decor at a decent price. We didn’t get to sit in the Tilt-O-Whirl booth this time … all the more reason to go back soon!
- OKCupid: I recently joined this dating site in an attempt to take my relationships more seriously (had nothing to do with Singles’ Day, I swear). So far, it’s a better experience than my first few days on Tinder. We’ll see how long this lasts.
- “Secrets” – Mary Lambert: This soulful singer is well-known after last year’s “Same Love” with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis — and now her upbeat and honest follow-up is sure to be another smash. In the words of my mother: You go girl!
I know I say it a lot, but I am truly exhausted today.
Why, you ask?
Well, I spent the last few days in San Fran looking at apartments and working from my new office, and then returned to New York on a red-eye this morning. No less than three cups of coffee later, and I’m finally certain that it is, in fact, Wednesday.
- Oren’s Daily Roast: I wouldn’t have survived today without my favorite downstairs baristas at Oren’s. If you want frou frou, go to Starbucks. If you want exciting flavor combos and coffee that tastes like coffee, check out this NYC staple.
- Out The Door: Back in California, some friends gave me a crash course on the SF food scene via OTD. Everything we tried was delicious, particularly the crispy salt & pepper squid salad. Yum!
- MUNI: It’s weird to be obsessed with public transportation — and its bus component, no less —but as someone who loathes the buses in NYC, I applaud SF’s city planners for thinking this one through. MUNI is easy to navigate and well-maintained … we’ll see if I’m still singing the same tune come October.
- “Leave the Night On” – Sam Hunt: I can’t put my finger on what it is that makes me gaga for this song, but I’m hooked. It doesn’t hurt that Hunt is foxy and he mentions Cali!
I spent the first part of this week in San Francisco for work and got back to New York, exhausted, today. I’m not even entirely sure it’s Wednesday, as I’ve been awake since 5, but we’re gonna just go with it.
- The Grove: I reunited with a dear friend over adult PB&Js and a bottle of vino at this fabulous little find. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, and the company was even better!
- Alibi: My Cali co-workers introduced us to this swanky Financial District spot for happy hour. While they were out of quite a few liquors, they had my trusty blueberry-vodka-and-soda available — so I was thrilled.
- Gracias Madre: After happy hour, it was only fitting we stuff our faces. This vegan restaurant in the Mission District served plate after plate of amazing food. ¡Que delicioso!
- “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” – Tony Bennett: OK, so maybe I didn’t leave my heart there … but I thought I left my contact lenses and glasses case, so that’s pretty close. And in all seriousness, I hope to make it out to SF for a longer stay very soon.
I say it every month, but seriously — how are we already halfway through October? Cooler weather is in full effect, causing all of NYC to layer up and party down.
Halloween is just 15 days away, which means the early-celebators of Christmas are already being assholes. Can’t time just slow down for a little?
- James Wolk: I first loved this guy from his short stint on “Happy Endings” and really enjoyed him rocking shorty shorts on “Mad Men” this season. Now the hottie with a body is on “The Crazy Ones,” and I will buy whatever he is selling. Hands down.
- “I Am Malala”: This memoir from women’s rights and education activist (not to mention, medical miracle) Malala Yousufzai just arrived in my mailbox. It’s no wonder she was the youngest Nobel Prize nominee — check out her interview with Jon Stewart and feel terrible about how little you accomplished by 16.
- Catch: I had the pleasure of meeting my second cousin last week, and she introduced me to this phenomenal seafood restaurant in the Meatpacking District. We shared scallops, shrimp and a few other appetizers … each one more delicious than the last.
- “Roar” – Katy Perry: This song made a stir a few months back, due to its uncanny resemblance to Sara Bareilles’s single, “Brave.” Whatever your take, I prefer Perry’s music for once in my life. Grrrrowl.