Tag Archives: California

A Big Weekend Back Home

I was recently home for a weekend visit. As I mentioned before, the plan originated when I got an invite for my friend, Ryan’s, baby shower. I met Ryan in 2008, at new-hire orientation for a bank we worked at. We’ve been friends ever since. She’s a world traveler and always inspired me (and encouraged me) to see the world. She had a huge influence on my decision to become a flight attendant. Now, she’s having twins, a boy and a girl. It’s exciting!
I wanted to make the most of my time in California. I knew that I was going to be reunited with lots of my girl friends at the baby shower and I wanted to make time for family, too.
I have a lot of family in Northern California. Growing up, I was raised with my mom’s side of the family who live about an hour and a half east of San Francisco in the city of Modesto. As for my dad’s side of the family, many of them live about an hour and a half south, in Watsonville – where I was born.
Recently, thanks to social media, I’ve reconnected with some of them. We’ve been making an effort to reach out and to get know each other. So, we planned a gathering for the day after the baby shower. I was looking forward to reuniting with some of them…& meeting some of them for the first time.
Other than a quick stop on my drive down Pacific Coast Highway, back on my 30th birthday, I hadn’t been back to Watsonville in over 20 years.
My trip started with a visit back home to San Diego. That’s when I had the chance to take my mom and my little sister to their first ever hip-hop show
The morning of the baby shower, I catch an early flight to San Francisco. When I land, I discover that Ryan’s having a bit of a busy morning. Something’s aren’t going as planned, but that doesn’t stop her. She’s expecting friends and family from all over to celebrate the joyous occasion.
Ryan’s house is beautiful! It looks like those homes you’d see on the cover of a magazine. The decor is equally as beautiful… our friend, Aimee, is a master of design.
The party plays out in such a lovely way. I’m reunited with friends (who started as co-workers at the bank) and I get to make new ones over yummy drinks and delicious food.

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That evening, a few of us head into the city & grab dinner. Then, a couple of us head to a show.

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The next day, most of us reunite for a delicious Sunday brunch at Bin 38. (I’m reminded of the fun tradition we used to have when we all lived in San Diego…good times). We share recaps of our night and indulge in wonderful conversations…& mimosas.

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After brunch, most of us will leave San Francisco to return home. For me, it’s family time…

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My two (very generous and patient) cousins offer to drive me. They live in Watsonville & make the trip just for me. They’re awesome!
When we get to my family’s ranch, I’m greeted by cousins, aunts, uncles…and amazing food! It’s great seeing everyone again…and it’s nice to finally meet some of them. They’re all warm and welcoming…and they make sure I’m well-fed, as they continue to bring food from the grill to our table. I’m surrounded by cousins, laughter & great stories. I gotta tell you, I have some amazing cousins!
The party moves inside & I share a bottle of Puerto Rican rum from my travels. We continue to bond & catch up…it’s great getting to know them all better. We take some pictures… well, lots of pictures (on lots of cell phones) before everyone heads home.

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A few of us cousins stay up for girl talk with my aunt. Later, we interrupt one cousin’s study session to go on a fun late-night run for coffee & donuts. It’s the perfect way to end the night!
I have to catch a flight back to Philadelphia in the morning. A couple of my guy cousins have offered to pick me up at the ranch & drive to the airport…in San Jose! Again, a very generous offer.
Before we hit the road, my aunt makes sure that we all have breakfast. We take our places at the table as she brings over course after course. It’s quite the spread. I’m humbled by the hospitality & I’m really enjoying this wonderful meal with my family. I feel like a kid again…
In San Jose, we stop to visit my godparents. I haven’t seen them since my age was in the single digits. We visit briefly, chat a bit and play around on their mini motorcycle. It’s great being a kid again!

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As we prepare to head to the airport, I realize that I’m missing something…my uniform! I left it in Watsonville, hanging in my cousin’s closet. Luckily, a couple of my cousins are heading our way. So, after a delicious cup of Phil’z Coffee & lunch at the famous Falafel’s Drive In (& maybe just a little panic attack) I’m off to the airport.
In the end, everything worked out…I had a wonderful visit back home. I got to see so many people that I love, meet so many new ones, and reconnect with distant relatives. Such an amazing trip!

Thanks for reading along, everyone. I really hope you enjoyed this post.

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My Morning Hike With Mom

During one of my recent (impromptu) visits home, I had the pleasure of having my mom all to myself…
It’s a beautiful morning in San Diego, CA (as usual). My mom has just prepared a delicious breakfast of eggs, veggies, papas, coffee & tortillas. My sister, Monica, popped in for a bite on her way to work. When she heads out, it’s just Mom and me until my flight later.
I want to make this time count…I’m wondering what we could do to make our morning even more special. Then, I have an idea…I look over at my mom & ask if she’d like to go on a hike and enjoy the beautiful weather before she takes me to the airport. She seems thrilled!
We get dressed in a hurry. We want to get out as quickly as possible. I drive, since I know exactly where I want to take her. It’s a familiar route. Torrey Pines is my favorite places to hike in San Diego (especially Broken Hill Trail). It’s just such a beautiful view…
We park near the beach. I can smell the salt in the air and a gentle breeze is blowing. The sound of the waves crashing is soothing and I’m happy to be here with my mom. It feels good to be home!
We start our walk to the national reserve and I realize that I have a question for my mom…”Have you ever even been hiking?”
“No,” she answers. I can’t believe it… & Now, I’m really excited! It’s such a treat to introduce my mom to something new & beautiful.
We’re having a great conversation & catching up as we make the uphill tread to the trail. I love my talks with my mom. She’s very animated when she shares her stories. (Especially the ones that are funny…she can barely make it through, because she’s laughing so hard). I enjoy watching her & hearing her express herself.
We take our time on our walk. I want to show her the different views & Just let her take it all in. It’s still a nice little workout…
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When we approach the trail, I take the lead on the narrow path. We’re still indulging in conversation & having a few laughs.
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Because I know what to expect, I stop ask my mom to take the lead as we approach the end of the trail. I probably shouldn’t admit this, because it’s kind of a *spoiler alert* but, I always get a kick out of doing this to Broken Hill Trail first-timers. The trail is true to it’s name…it literally just breaks off…and you’re left at the ledge…with a breath-taking view.
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I’ve seen different people react differently to this…some are immediately impressed by all the beauty around…others get scared when they see the sudden plunge in the trail. Either way, I always get a kick out of it!
As for my mom, she’s just calm…there’s a smile on her face & she seems at ease. It’s nice. We stand & enjoy the view for a while…& of course, snap a few pics…
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We head down another trail that leads to the beach & head back to the car. It’s time to shower & get ready for my flight. It’s always hard to leave this paradise I call home…especially after moments like this with my amazing mother.

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Feliz Dia De Las Madres, Mama. Te quiero mucho!

& Happy Mothers’ Day to all of you beautiful moms out there!

Sick Jacken in San Francisco

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a few days off & was spending time back home, in California. So, when I saw that Sick Jacken was going to be in San Francisco on the same night I’d be there, I knew I had to catch the show.
*You know Sick Jacken from the hip hop group Psycho Realm
I was in town for a baby shower for one of my favorite friends, Ryan. She’s having twins and we’re all so excited. It was great being reunited with so many lovely ladies. My friend, Nadia came as a surprise. I was so happy to see her! Nadia & our mutual friend, Jessica, booked a room in the city and invited me to stay with them. Nadia even agreed to accompany me to the show…now I’m really excited, because it’s her first hip hop show ever! I love it when things just work out.
We decide that we’re going to walk to the show & enjoy a little bit of the city. After a sushi dinner, we start the tread from Union Square to the Brick & Mortar Music Hall. It’s a beautiful night in the city…even along some of the “questionable” streets we pass. Lol.
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We get to the venue just in time to catch rap duo, I.L.A.M. The guys (Trey C & Playa Rae) are really working the crowd. It’s a small, intimate show (my favorite) and there’s a great vibe in the space. It’s the perfect setting for the next MC to hit the stage. Reppin’ for the ladies, is Gavlyn. During her set, she’s joined by special guest, Oh Blimey, to perform a fun track entitled “Ew.”
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Next up is Bambu. I’m stoked to catch his set, since I missed him at the Observatory the night before. He has a great stage presence; very entertaining. I’m super excited when he introduces his special guest…his “baby momma,” Rocky Rivera. They have great chemistry (obviously) & are a lot of fun to watch.

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Now that the crowd is hype, it’s time for the headliner to take his place. When Sick Jacken takes the stage, the crowd goes nuts…or should I say Psycho…? 😉 This guy is simply captivating.
Almost everyone in the audience is dressed in black, & wearing either the Psycho Realm, Soul Assassins, or Oakland Raiders logos (which I’m sure are all directly inspired by Sick Jacken’s wardrobe). Hands are in the air & heads are bobbing as the crowd joins in on spitting lyrics from classics like El Barrio from The Legend of the Mask & the Assassin (Sick Jacken’s collaboration with DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill). More crowd favorites from Terror Tapes Vol. 1 are performed & Sick Jacken tests just how psycho the attendees are when he goes on to perform tracks from Terror Tapes 2.
The whole show is very entertaining & Nadia & I are having a blast. When it’s time to wrap up, Sick Jacken (like other favorite artists of mine) takes the time to meet & greet fans, sign autographs and pose for pictures. I get the honor of chatting with him after the show & having a drink with him & some of the other performers in the green room. We discuss music, food, family, travel, and even more opportunities for future blog posts.
I treated our conversation as a casual one, not an interview, so, I won’t quote anything here. I will, however, say that Sick Jacken loves menudo! Lol. He’s a funny guy, with a big heart and a great smile. I look forward to sitting with him in the near future for an official interview. Stay tuned…!

For upcoming events, follow Sick Jacken on Instagram and Twitter

Thanks for reading along, everyone!

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A very sincere Special Thanks to Joaquin “Sick Jacken” Gonzalez for granting me access to the show!

Special Thanks to Federico, for special accommodations.

Mums In The OC – Stepbrothers at The Observatory

It’s no secret that I love Evidence…I guess you can say it’s pretty evident. 😉 So, when I saw that he had a show in Southern California with genius producer & fellow rapper The Alchemist (who also shares my birthday) when I’d be in town, I reached out about attending the show & covering it on the blog (again).
I had some time off this past weekend & really wanted to make the most of it…I planned on being in San Francisco for a baby shower on Saturday for one of my dearest friends. So, I squeezed in as much family, friend & fun time as I could in 4 days.
I flew to San Diego to spend time with my family before heading to Nor Cal. It all worked out great, too. I had originally planned on taking my bestie & her husband to the Stepbrothers show at The Observatory in Orange County, but our schedules didn’t allow for that. My mom “jokingly” asked if I’d take her instead…I thought it was a great idea! I checked the website & once I saw that it was an all ages event, I invited my little (13yr old) sister, too! This should be fun…hip hop with my mom & the lil’ sis…!
When I’m going to a show, I like to bump the artist’s music. It gets me in the mood for what’s to come. So, the soundtrack for the drive from San Diego to Orange County is, of course, Lord Steppington. I promise my mom & sister that I’ll have them at the venue by the time the album is over…& I keep my word. We pull up listening to Bally Shoe, the last track on the playlist. Once we’ve parked, we walk through the rain to the box office. As promised, my name’s on the list. Thanks, Ev… I “drove too far to hear they closed the guest list.” Ha!
When we get inside, we’re a little late… We’ve missed Bambu‘s & Fashawn‘s sets. I’m pretty bummed, but what can I do? At this point, I’m just excited to be there in time to catch the closing act.
I lead my mom & sister through the crowd, as I keep looking back to check on them. I remember hearing my mom say, “It looks like the Eminem movie in here.” Lol. We find a place near the stage, with a great view….and just in time, too. Evidence & Alchemist hit the stage with Just Step, a very playful & fun track from the album… With lyrics like “Rawr Rawr like a dragon dungeon. Change your shitty drawers cuz your pants got dumped in.” The guys are energetic & they have the crowd enthralled as they “spit each word meticulous…” They set the perfect tone for the night.
Being from Southern California, they are literally at home on stage. I heard the guys mention in an interview that they would utilize their European tour as a “survey” or “case study” to “watch the crowd” and see what works… & even though I didn’t think it was possible, they have absolutely perfected their set since I saw them at the opening of the tour in Amsterdam in January! Their connection to each other, to the music, and to the crowd is undeniable.
The audience sings along as the guys perform tracks from their debut collaborative album, some Dilated Peoples hits, and of course, solo classics. My mom & little sister are enjoying the show. My mom is especially ecstatic when Ev performs her personal favorite, You, the banger produced by the legendary DJ Premier on Ev’s Rhymesayers debut, Cats & Dogs. Mum’s got good taste. 😉
The show goes on to be a real crowd-pleaser. Everyone is cheering, hands are in the air…& when the guys say goodnight, per crowd request, they return the the stage for an encore. They close the show with the intro track from Lord Steppington, More Wins…and I must say, this show was definitely “another victory” for all in attendance. Bravo, gentlemen. Well done!

You can get upcoming show info, purchase tickets and buy the album here!

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After the show, Evidence stuck around to sign autographs, take pictures & connect with the fans. He didn’t leave until the venue was cleared. I even caught a quick pic with Fashawn. As you all know, I have nothing but love & respect for such humble artists.

One of my favorite things about shows like this, is the community…other fans, followers, hip hop heads who love the music & support the movement…my fellow travelers who catch shows in a city near them, or better yet, chase the tour!

http://instagram.com/itstheally
http://instagram.com/jo66prod
http://instagram.com/bossman75
http://instagram.com/aagatka87
http://instagram.com/buddhalovescats
http://instagram.com/nydia_lm
http://instagram.com/bobbyblunts619
http://instagram.com/mikesumoto
http://instagram.com/_arfkillah

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Special thanks to Mr. Michael Perretta for allowing me & my family access to this amazing show.

Special thanks Reina Salcedo for assistance with photography

Grouch & Eligh, The Tortoise & The Crow Tour – Boston and Philadelphia

As I mentioned before in several of my posts, I love music! Being from San Diego, I’m used to always catching great hip hop acts near by. Since I’ve been out in Philadelphia, it hasn’t been quite as easy for me. So, when I saw that two of my favorite California MCs, The Grouch and Eligh, were hitting the road to promote their new album, The Tortoise and The Crow/333, I knew I had to be a part of it!
I noticed that the guys would be hitting the East Coast & I immediately checked the dates to see what worked with my schedule. When I saw that they’d be in Boston during my days off, I made plans to be there. I arranged to stay with my cousin, Jennifer, and I was so excited!
Jennifer had never been to a live hip hop show before, and since she’s originally from California, too, I thought this would be the perfect way to get her feet wet… Two Cali girls, supporting two Cali guys out on the East Coast. Clayton, Jennifer’s roommate – also from CA, decided to join us. You met Jennifer and Clayton in my last post.
When we arrive to The Middle East, we notice that the venue has two levels. There’s a comedy show going on upstairs and the audience is enjoying wonderful menu items. Everything looks & smells fantastic. Too bad we just had dinner…
We make our way downstairs & fall in love with the decor. We take tons of pictures with the cool backdrops.

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When the guys hit the stage, we’re enthralled… Their stage presence is captivating. This is my first time ever seeing these West Coast masters rock an East Coast stage…it’s magical. In the crowd, hands are in the air & lyrics are being spit word-for-word. The guys are performing classic G&E hits, notable solo joints, and some of their new stuff. It’s a great show!

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After the performance, the guys stick around to sell merchandise, sign autographs, and to pose for pictures with fans. They have such a personable approach.
I stand back & wait my turn…I’ve been to plenty if their shows & have had the pleasure of meeting the guys on numerous occasions. It’ll be nice to catch up. After the crowd clears, I make my way over to say hi. They’re both sweet & sincere…they take such an interest in me & stories of my travels. I’m proud, because I know that they’ve had their fair-share of seeing the world, too.
It’s pretty cool that these two remarkable human beings – who have created such amazing lives for themselves – are impressed by what I’m up to in life. They’re just as impressed by Jennifer (the Harvard grad)….Their humbleness impresses me even more than their astounding talent. I’m reminded of why I love their music & more importantly, their message.

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A couple days later, I head back to Philadelphia to prepare to be on-call for work. It’s pretty cool that my commute to work is on an airplane. I’m listening to the album the entire flight. It’s beautiful looking out the widow, flying through the clouds, listening to their always-inspiring lyrics.
I’m off duty tonight & the guys have a show here in Phillly. They’re nice enough to add my name to their guest list. I bring my friend, Brittany, along. You met her in my first Puerto Rico post.
The crowd is a little smaller at The Barbary, but the enthusiasm is still there. When these guys are on stage, they ignite crowd participation. I’m enjoying every minute of their performance.

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After their set, they, again, stick around to sell merch, sign memorabilia, and take pictures. They even continue our conversation about travels. These guys really know what life on the road is all about…it’s great sharing stories. We snap a few pictures & say good night. The guys are off to get their rest. They’ll hit the road in the morning, off to the next city, and next show…

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Also touring with guys is DJ Fresh

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and Pigeon John

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If you get the chance, I urge you to catch these guys on a stage near you! They’re heading back to the West Coast this week…
Get your tickets here.
Buy the album here.

Special Thanks to The Grouch and Eligh for allowing me access to these amazing shows!

Across the Country Twice in a Day

My trip from Los Angeles got me back to Philadelphia at 6am EST. I had two full days off…so, I decided to catch a flight back to San Diego. I mean, why take the bus & walk in the cold Philly weather to sleep at my place here, when I could sleep on the plane and wake up in warm, sunny San Diego? Sure, I’d only be home for 27 hours…to me, it was so worth it.
I caught a 6:50am flight to Phoenix and I’d continue on to San Diego from there. I slept the entire flight to Phoenix. It felt great.
My connecting flight to San Diego was full, and since I fly stand-by, I didn’t get a seat. The next flight on my airline didn’t leave for 3 more hours. Another great perk of being a flight attendant is that we can actually fly with other carriers for free, too. So, I called to check flights and there was one leaving in an hour.
As I make my way through the terminal, I text my friend, Valerie to see if she’s available to pick me up. She is. I say I want to go on a hike when I land. She says I must have read her mind…
We head to Cowel’s Mountain from the airport. Valerie & I usually hike beautiful Torrey Pines, but today, we wanted a little more of a challenge. This is her first time. I’m excited to show her something new. Valerie’s fairly new to San Diego, so I love introducing her to different parts of this beautiful city.
Our hike was amazing. We got a great workout & the real reward was the beautiful view when we reached the top.

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After our hike, we’re in need of a nutrition break, so we stop at San Diego Blenders for some fresh juice & an acai bowl.

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Now, we’re off to meet Valerie’s brother & sister-in-law. They’re a cute couple. They welcome me into their home. We have some good laughs & share some travel stories. It’s a beautiful day out & the sun is shining & lighting up the living space. It’s these simple little pleasures that I love so much…It’s good to be home.
Later, my sister picks me up. We have dinner plans. Our friends are always raving about a mariscos restaurant in National City called Rincon del Mar…so, it’s time we try it. My friend Joe agreed to take me. My sister, Monica, and her boyfriend, Chris are joining us.
Since Joe is the expert, we let him order. It’s the right choice. He did one heck of a job at stimulating our pallets.

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After dinner, Joe and I grab a few drinks. We head to a local neighborhood bar, where I run into a friend of mine that I haven’t seen in a while. Then, my cousin who lives near by stops to visit briefly. It’s such a fun night.

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The next morning is not as fun. Haha. The night catches up to me as soon as my sister wakes me up. I want to sleep more, but I have to get in action & prepare to fly back to Philadelphia. We stop for a lovely breakfast before she drops me off & heads to work.
My younger sister, Angie, has agreed to drive me to the airport. I get to visit with her & my beautiful niece for a bit. I hear all about their fun two-day trip to Disneyland. My niece, Valentina, will be turning 3 tomorrow…It’s nice being able to deliver her birthday gift in person.

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The three of us have a very satisfying lunch – Pho, one of my favorite dishes. After lunch, it’s time to the airport…
This is the hardest part of flight attendant life…saying bye to my family. It never gets any easier…my eyes water every time. There’s something about airports and tears….right?
I go to get my last 2 year old kisses from my niece “while they’re hot,” as Angie says. Then, I hug, kiss and thank my sister for a wonderful afternoon.

I’m on my way back to the east coast for the second time in the last 48 hours…back and forth across the country, as I commute back to base to report for duty. At least I don’t have to worry about traffic! 😉

Stay tuned to see where I go next…

LA Layover

Ok, I’m a California girl through and through…so, getting paid to go home, is one of my favorite things in the world. Today I had the chance to hang out with my best friend, in one of my favorite cities, and it was for work!
I arrived in Los Angeles last night around 9:00pm. Our flight was, of course, star-studded. We had actors, athletes…& even one of my favorite singers on board.
My dear friend agreed to pick me up from the airport. It’s nice to not always have to stay in a hotel when I’m away on a layover. I was really excited to see Samantha. It was her birthday weekend and I missed her official celebration, because I was scheduled to be on duty with the airline.
When I arrive at LAX, we’re in communication & timing is perfect. She pulls up as I’m walking from my gate. As soon as I see her car, I run up to greet her. I startle her and she nearly jumps out of her seat…it’s hilarious…that’s the sort of thing she usually does! Haha. I got her!
The car ride to her house is full of laughter and warm conversation. Samantha and I have been friends for over ten years. We’ve always had a special bond. Over a year ago, she introduced me to the Landmark Forum. I completed the three day seminar, which empowers you to live life powerfully & to live a life you love, in January 2013 and since then, my life has completely transformed. I remind her of the impact she has made in my world (with my self-awareness, my career and even my family) & I thank her. There’s so much love flowing in the car. I’m enjoying every minute of it.
Samantha has a “do whatever makes you happy” kind of attitude. On our way to her house, I know we have to pass Circus Liqour – a recognizable store in North Hollywood that’s been featured in several films. So, I tell her that snapping a quick picture there would definitely make me smile…she pulls over & I get my picture. Simple things in life, you know…? 🙂

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When we get to her place, we take her pup, Puff, out for a walk and we make a stop at Vallarta, a Mexican supermarket. It’s a beautiful night and I’m excited to pick up some of my favorite things….fresh corn chips, ceviche, avocados, salsa, queso fresco, and cucumbers. These make the perfect munchies for our movie night. In honor of our stop at Circus Liqour, Samantha chooses Clueless (the famous neon clown is featured in the scene where Cher is held at gunpoint after being stranded by Elton when leaving the Valley Party…you girls all know what I’m talking about). We both fall asleep before the movie is over. Party animals.
In the morning, we have breakfast & Samantha gets a call for a video shoot. I’m happy to tag along for a behind-the-scenes experience. I’ve gone to work with her before, it’s always fun…& hey, when in LA…
The drive is beautiful, palm trees lining the streets, the sun shining….what more could I want? We drive through the heart of Hollywood & I’m so grateful for such a beautiful Monday. I love Mondays (now) because I love my job & I love my life. I remember there was a time I didn’t feel that way…I’m so glad I’ve gotten to this point. We pass all the beautiful mansions in Beverly Hills & we pick our favorites as we soak in each of the gorgeous structures. (I wish I had taken more pictures).

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The video shoot is for the song Waffle House, by Nezzo. Samantha’s role is to eat waffles in a bikini & to be exaggerated and comedic – these are things she’s mastered. I’m having fun watching her exceed their expectations. She’s funny and playful, and she is very comfortable being silly in front of the camera.

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When the shoot wraps, the crew thanks her for a job well done. They laugh and tell her they’re very pleased with the footage they’ve captured. It’s been an awesome afternoon.
We spend the evening at Samantha’s house. I take a nap, since I have to work the red-eye back to Philadelphia tonight. We watch another movie, Girl in Progress, get in a quick Zumba workout, and I shower & prepare for my flight, while Samantha prepares a delicious dinner of chicken tacos, all the (fresh) fixings imaginable, and steamed veggies. Yum!
After dinner, Samantha drives me to the airport. On our way there, we have yet another amazing conversation. We’re constantly in inquiry when we’re together & we love to discover new things about ourselves. This time is no different. We each got something for ourselves, just by sharing with each other about what’s going on in our lives & what’s not working as well as we’d like. We find it so beautiful, what unfolds, when you just own who you are, and show up for your life! It was the perfect way to end my visit with her & it has me in good spirits for the late night flight.
The trip back to Philadelphia is super easy. Almost every passenger is sleeping. One passenger, however, keeps visiting the galley…he wants to stretch, and he is very talkative…I gotta admit, he’s definitely made this the most interesting flight in the world

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😉

Until next time. Stay thirsty, my friends!

Special Thanks to Samantha Padilla follow her on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. Also to Nezzo , James Davis II and the rest of the production crew…and of course, to Jonathan Goldsmith,The most interesting man in the world.