Blurred Lines Summer Concert Tour

Blurred Lines Summer Concert Tour from Monique on Vimeo.

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Two months later: Taking It Back

My time has flown.

Not only does today mark the third day of November, but 75 days since I have been living in Boston.  Goodness gracious!  But since I haven’t really had a chance to talk about this whole experience, let’s start this tale from the beginning.

Although I had almost a month to prepare for the move to Boston, leaving California was a whirlwind.  Something about this trip, this move, was different than the others.  In truth, this was my 4th time moving across country: CT to FL, FL to CT, MA to CA, CA to MA.  You’d think I’d have it down by now.  But the first move was really my parents and I was just an innocent bystander, and moving from FL to College, didn’t require too much besides packing up my clothes and a few knick knacks since I didn’t have a ton of worldly possessions at that time.  The last two moves were my own, and shockingly wildly different from each other.

Moving from MA to Cali, was “easy.”  I had mentally and physically prepared for a move of that magnitude for the better part of a year.  The plan was straight forward.. get my worldly possessions down to one car load of things, find a job, drive a cross country.

Not so simple the second time around.  The job found me.  And by the time the opportunity presented itself I had 30 days give or take to get my act together and my butt in Boston.  But how?  Ship my things? Hire movers?  Ship my car? Drive my car?  When it comes to moving your things across country there are loads of options, but understanding what you can afford and have time for are very different things.

The last month in San Diego was very tough.  There I was, already living a pretty full life and pressed for time: working, exercising, eating clean, running the Yale Club, volunteering for the Red Cross, and a host of other things.  My days were already full and I was struggling to go home at night and make it to bed by 9, to make it to the gym by 5:30.  So how do you all those things, and still find 2-5 hours per day to clean and organize your things, pack your apartment, deal with all the administrative stuff of moving (hiring movers, vetting quotes, finding a storage facility, etc…)?

You don’t.

It took me a while to realize it but if I was already doing lets say, 14 hours a day of stuff that was important to me, there was no way I can fit in 2-5 more hours of stuff, without making some tough compromises.  I learned early, that compromising my sleep was a non-negotiable.  On less than  8 hours of sleep, I am cranky, disoriented, and mildly dysfunctional. Call me high maintenance but a girl needs her beauty rest.

And what about food? I still needed to eat.. and I liked the clean unprocessed eating that it took me so long to tailor to my nutritional and fitness goals, but was it worth it to return to SAD (the Standard American Diet) for the ease of getting 1-2 hours back per day where instead of cooking I was packing?

These and other questions were among the “tough” decisions that had to be made back in July.  I say “tough” in quotation marks because I recognize that these are #firstworldproblems.  I had a job. I was gainfully employed.  And I was moving from one fabulous city where I had a strong support system and good friends to another fabulous city where I had a strong support system and good friends.  Take a step back, and life isn’t so bad.  But it’s like a Claude Monet painting, when you look really closely, no matter how you slice it, moving 3,000 miles (unless you are fairly wealthy) is just messy.

So I will spare you the gory details here.  But suffices to say, that once I got through the mess and figured out how I was going to get me and my things out of San Diego and in to Boston without spending a small fortune or doing everything myself, and stressing myself out, things seems to fall more easily into place.  There were still lots of tears, sleepless nights, lots of money spent and wasted,  and I needed a LOT of help from my friends.  But at the end of the day, I got here safely and securely and so did my things so let’s talk about how it’s been.  Shall we?



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Got it!


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Mt. Rushmore Jump Attempts

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What Happens In Mt. Rushmore

… May or may not stay in Mt. Rushmore.


So here’s what happened.  (All three weeks later I know!) So I had this vision for my cross country trip of getting all those cool and awesome photos at historic (i.e. Mt. Rushmore) and random (e.g. Lovelock, NV) sites across America.  Initially, I tried to do creative selfies.  I even googled how to do cool self portraits.  But the folks on those sites had way more experience and time with their camera than a cross country flight.  I was basically going off of what I knew about a manual SLR and from reading the manual.  Hence.. very little.

What I did know.. was that jumping shots, are always awesome shots.  So when my album cover, pensive, and reflective poses weren’t working out back in Tahoe, I decide to stick to jumping.  So then I had this clever idea of being in mid air with Mt. Rushmore behind me.  It would be the Sistine Chapel of my trip… my finest work.  My peak.  But it turns out it was my peak in a different way..

I had done sufficient practice with the auto-timer (see Reno hotel room pictures) so I felt confident that I could nail a jump shot in 1-2 tries using the auto-timer and the tripod. It’d be a quick job. So I saddle up to Mt. Rushmore, tripod and camera in hand, ready for the best jumping shot of my life.  I look a little suspect setting up the tripod and running back and forth from the camera doing set up shots… but Honey Badger don’t care.

Once the shot was lined up, I learned that my timing is only awesome when I can HEAR the timer, which means I need to be close enough to the camera to hear the beeps and very little ambient noise.  This wasn’t happening at Mt. Rushmore, where the angle required that I be about a good 20ft or so (IDK.. I am bad at estimating distance) away from the camera not to mention all the human traffic at the site.  So it took me a WHILE to get the jumping shot.  And by a WHILE.. I mean.. like 10 minutes later and I was still working on it.  I looked like an idiot, running back and forth to my camera.. waiting for the light.. jumping.. then running back to see the shot.. verifying that I DID not get the mid-air shot.. and then setting up the auto-timer and running back and forth to the same spot again.  This went on for some time.  But I persevered. I wasn’t leaving South Dakota without that picture.  It was in fact, the picture I drive almost 200 miles out of my way for.  I’d be there all night if I had to.

Finally, someone offered to help.  The scene of me running back and forth to the camera must have been tortuous/comical for these people so a kind woman stops me and asks, “Can my husband help you?”   Yes.. yes, he can I said.  So I showed the husband how to use the camera and we figured out that burst mode would be the best idea for the shot.  All we would have to do is hold the shutter down, and the camera would take pictures at millisecond intervals ensuring a mid-air shot.  Burst mode! Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that before?

So we try it.  First shot.. burst mode doesn’t take. We somehow miss the shot.  So we try again 1..2…3… JUMP!  I stick the landing, but my dress does not.  There I am in the middle of the Mt. Rushmore plaza with my dress over my butt and my underwear showing for the world to see.  OOOPS.  So I make some joke of it.. and pull my dress down.. but now I am super embarrassed.  Interestingly enough, we don’t get the shot.  The camera was on some setting that over exposed the picture so although he got me in mid-air (panties and all) the light was too blinding.  What’s great though, is that by now, a crowd had formed.. and random strangers were trying to take the shot too with their iPhones and cameras.  Who knew that a black woman jumping at Mt. Rushmore would be a crowd pleaser?

SO I am sure some of those people got the panty shot.. although I ironically didn’t.  We try one more time.. nail the shot.. and boom.. like the old adage says, third time’s a charm.

So here’s what I learned from this story:

Moving tip #16: LEARN HOW TO USE YOUR CAMERA before you leave.

Moving tip #17: Use burst mode for jump shots.

Moving tip #18: Don’t do jumping shots in a dress.

Note: to this day I am still not sure if you can do burst mode and self-timer.. but maybe you can.. I don’t know..


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So a question I often get these days is something along the lines of “How are you settling in?”  The question is often met with a look of confusion on my part.  A little bit like a smile, mixed with a look of fear.  In short, I don’t really know how to answer that question.  A much easier question to answer is “how are things going?”  and the answer to that would be “Great!”

Work is great. Home is great. Weather is great. Everything is going swimmingly.   But I think the reason why the settling question bothers me so much is that I am a bit too literal.  It wasn’t until January 2013 that I actually felt “settled” in San Diego so God knows how long it will be before I feel settled in here.

There are some things that I may never be comfortable or “settled” with like the pricier produce, the craziness of Massachusetts drivers, the hurried rushed culture of city life, etc… There are some parts of my life that pre-Cali Monique were comfortable with because she didn’t know better or because she was simply younger.  But California and age have “unsettled” those things, and showed me a different way, and now, I’m not entirely comfortable being a masshole or paying $1.50 for an avocado.  Some things have been unsettled and may never be “settled” again.

But that could also be the newness talking.  Maybe after another month of trying to be a polite California driver I will surrender and become a Masshole.  And maybe I’ll be so changed by the lower gas prices that paying nearly two bucks for one avocado will not even be a big deal.  After all, kale is cheaper here.  Or maybe this will be like California.. where 3 1/2 years from now, I will finally have put pictures on my wall, bought furnishings to fit my place, and feel “settled” …

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Aerial Shot of the Falls

Okay.. so it’s not aerial… but from a grassy knoll atop the falls.. but still… great view!



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Niagara Ups

Catching ups at Niagara Falls…

Catching ups at Niagara Falls…

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Welcome To…

I had this goal of getting one or two pictures by the “Welcome to… (insert state here)” sign.  Most of these signs are right on the side of the highway but a handful of them are located at rest stops.  It’s a little dangerous to get the highway sign but I was able to snag this one at a rest stop.  In truth, this one photo cost me 30 minutes…

I passed the rest stop, saw the sign, then had to exit the highway… go BACK into Minnesota.. and then go back on the Eastbound side of the highway to exit to the rest stop.  Again, I set up the tripod, but from the lesson learned in Mt. Rushmore (story still to come)… I knew it was going to take me a while to nail the shot.  Especially since this time I was trying to do the “casual jump” shot.. it’s a little bit trickier since you can’t look at the camera.  Fortunately, two nice girls came by, witnessing my struggles, and offered to help out.  Using burst mode we got this shot in a few minutes.  And then I snagged a couple of jumping shots for them on their iPhone.  Shocking how little time it takes when you have someone to help you…


Just getting my read on…

Just getting my read on…

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Niagara Falls

View from the US side of the falls

View from the US side of the falls

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