The Loner’s guide: Mad Money on Trips

Hello Groovy People,

In this post I will explain why everyone needs to have mad money when visiting others, or when traveling with others. 

The first thing I want to do is explain what Mad Money means. If you do a google search it states: Mad money is discretionary money set aside for an emergency or for personal use.

I first heard of the term mad money from an older woman. This was after telling her about a tough time I had visiting someone. She said that you should always have mad money because you never know when things go south. If they do, you can always have a way to take care of yourself. 

Mad Money is something useful when you visit others, whether they are friends or family. When traveling, before traveling solo, I would visit others a lot. When visiting, I was strap for cash and would depend on staying in someone else’s home. Now this isn’t a bad thing. After all, you save money by not getting a hotel and you get to spend time with others. A win win right??? Well…this is not always the case. When you are a guest in someone’s home you must play by their rules. I am pretty laid back and a people pleaser. However, when dealing with different personalities and sometimes bad moods, you are bound to encounter issues from time to time. 

I won’t detail any specifics here, but from the stories I’ve heard, sometimes hosts can be a bit persnickety. They mean well, but some people are truly controlling. When you are on a trip, trying to relax and enjoy time away from home, the last thing you want is to butt heads with your host. You can either deal with it, or have mad money on the side. 

I can personally attest to the fact that although I try my best to people please, sometimes I am brought to my limit. This is the main reason why I now choose to never stay with anyone when I travel. An hour or so visit is great, but being in anyone’s home, whether that be a friend or family member is no longer a reasonable option for myself. I like the freedom of being in my own personal space, while still being able to socialize. This is of course, on my terms. 

Maybe this isn’t you. Maybe you like staying with others. However, having mad money doesn’t mean you don’t like your hosts or that you expect a problem. If anything it means insurance. A “just in case” fund. 

Mad money isn’t just for getting a hotel when you have issues with your host. It can also be for other things that may be pertinent to you whenever you see fit. 

This blog post is also a podcast. Please share and remember, you only live once, so explore!

Until then…

The Loner’s Guide: Best Trip Ever!

Hello Groovy People!

Welcome to The Loner’s Guide. In this post I will give you tips about planning the best trip ever! No matter where you go or want to do, you will have everything you need to get things prepared. Keep in mind that these tips are based on my personal experiences and may not apply to everyone. Find what works for you and explore! *This post is also available as a podcast!*

Step one:

Where do you want to go? When traveling alone, I try to go to places that are relatively safe. Regardless of where you go, you must always be mindful that dangers lurk in every country. For example, I love going to Japan. Despite the safety of the country and most people keeping to themselves, there are places that aren’t so safe that I do avoid going to at night or even alone. So it is safe to say that you must also keep this mindset when you pick your destination. 

Start with a place you like and do your research! Are there locations that the locals will find problematic? Are there other travelers who have certain experiences? Yes, their views could be fueled by prejudice and stereotypes, but when traveling by oneself, you must keep in mind your safety. Therefore, doing your research and getting a variety of perspectives is key. If you know someone from said country, that is even better! They can give you an upfront unfiltered idea of what things are really like and what to avoid.

Step two: 

What will you do? Like in step one, you must research this as well. Now if you are a carefree traveler, then that’s great. However, having this mindset will purge your wallet of funds rather quickly unless you have very inexpensive tastes. I love traveling because I can experience something different than what I can do at home. So I like to find activities that are unique and give me an idea of what the culture is like. Some things are free, like walking on a waterfront or even a museum. However, other activities, like a tour, cost money. So with that, you must think about what types of activities you like to do and see what costs money and how you can do all the things you like without going broke during your trip.

Step three:

Where will you stay? Now this really depends on a few factors. Are you an extrovert who likes meeting strangers and being around people all the time? Do you like personal space? Are you a mixture of both? I personally like having my own space and meeting people sparingly. If you want to save money on a hotel, you can always get a hostel. It comes with a bed, but all the common places, including your bedroom will be shared by people you don’t know. The only pro I can think of is that a week or two week stay will only cost you $300 or less! Of course, this depends on how long you stay and where you go. Now if that sounds grand, then do it! But if you want to have your personal time to yourself and not be around others when unwinding after a long day of exploring, then here is a tip I think you will like. 

Look for hotel apartments from booking.com. The great thing is that more and more companies are trying to appeal to the idea of a home away from home. With a hotel apartment, you get a living space, a full kitchen that includes a refrigerator, sink and stove, a full bathroom, and separate bedroom. Many of these apartments come with a washer. In rare cases, a washer/dryer combo! When I went to New Zealand and Tokyo, I had all of these amenities courteous of booking.com. A 12 day stay was also about $1,200. This was roughly the same for New Zealand and Tokyo! Surprisingly, the location of these apartments were close to the areas I like to explore and supermarkets! Now that may sound like a lot of money, but let me tell ya, $1,200 for 12 days is about $100 a day. That is not only reasonable but think of all the things you get for that money! A kitchen, a living room, a separate bedroom, bathroom, and washer/dryer combo!!!! That is a steal! The best perk is that after a long day I can relax in what is essentially a home away from home. The plus side is that these hotel apartments are from companies and not privately owned. Which means you don’t have to worry about some stranger and all their baggage! 

Step Four:

How will you get there? This applies to getting to the country and getting to the hotel. Now to save money you may want to get an economy seat. However, when planning a great trip within budget, it’s okay to splurge just a bit. Now if your trip takes less than 5 hours, get economy. Most short trips like that will have only certain planes available anyway and a business seat is not that different than an economy seat. Maybe an inch wider, but it really isn’t worth the extra money. Now if you are going international and the flight is over 9 hours, you may want to invest a few hundred dollars more. When going to Japan for the first time I wanted to save money and spent $1,100. There were eight planes involved, and it was a long flight; just terrible! With travelers wanting more comfort, but not wanting to destroy their funds, airlines have made a new seating option called premium economy or premium seats. 

I flew United and at times All Nippon Airways. Both companies have premium seats. These seats are between economy and business class. There are about 12-20 seats, so very few. The good thing is that you get more space, which means you don’t have to fight over arm rests or brush legs with your seat mate. You also get more room in front and leg rests! Not just foot rests, leg rests!! There are also some extra food perks such as business class desserts that you may not get in economy! 

Premium seats can be more expensive than economy, but are loads cheaper than business and a fraction of the cost of first class. When your flight is frightfully long, you deserve comfort and with my experience, comfort costs money. Just invest, and thank me later! 

Now let’s change gears and discuss how you will get from the airport to your hotel once you’re there. I suggest you research trains and buses and even shuttles depending on the hotel. Nowadays I keep it simple and find taxis’ from booking.com. I booked a taxi for the first time when I went to Tokyo in 2020, before the pandemic. Setting it up on the website was easy, just plug in your hotel’s address, your flight number and date, then browse the type of taxi you need. There’s even an option for the sign the driver holds up so you know exactly who your person will be. This is key when traveling alone! I personally think a taxi is best when you want to keep it simple, safe, and easy. The average flight for when I travel is always 12 plus hours. So I am just exhausted when I arrive and no longer want to do trains. Find out what’s best for you!

Step Five:

Bring less, take back more! Now if you are a fashionista or just into going all out with your personal style, you may bring an extra large suitcase. However, large cases weight more and if you want to buy things during your trip, you will have to foot the bill of all that weight! So take my advise and take a medium sized bag, plus a separate carry on with little to nothing in it! That way you can fill it with all the things you buy without spending extra on weight fees. From my experience, taking an international flight means you get two free checked bags. Even if you can only take one checked bag, you can still have a carry on with a personal bag such as a backpack or purse. With that in mind, you can have two suitcases, a backpack or purse and still be within your limits going to and from your country of choice! This is why I stress having a washer/dryer combo because you can take clothes that you can wash so that you have room for other things. 

I am not sure how others travel, but I take clothes that match each other so that I can change things up even though there is very little. I wash them when I wear certain items too much and that way I can keep things clean and reasonable. I travel to explore, not to impress. This step may be the most interesting as this really depends on your personal style and how you pack bags.

Conclusion and Safety Tips for the Loners:

Regardless of what you decide to do, remember, this is your trip. Think about what you want, what you want to do, and research! When going it alone, definitely keep your safety in mind always! Know your options and if possible, get a cheap international phone. If you can, order it online and have it with you before getting there. When you get to your destination, turn it on in the airport and try a local number. That way if it doesn’t work, airports always have phones available. The staff are usually helpful too! Know of all important numbers such as that country’s emergency numbers. Also, have the embassy of your country in mind when traveling. You never know if you need to contact them for anything, even in emergencies! This may seem like a lot, but these are quick google searches that can mean the difference between having the time of your life, and being stuck in a really crap situation. 

I hope you enjoyed the podcast. Please share and remember, you only live once, so explore!

Until then…

 

 

Will Work For Air

Hello Groovy People!

Recently I published my first short story, Will Work for Air. It is available at Amazon.com. You can get this short story on a Kindle, or a physical copy! Here is the cover and description of Will Work for Air. To see the full image, move the arrow to the left or right. If you can, please rate and leave any and all comments on Amazon. I can really use the input!

Until then…

Journey’s End, Audio Snippet

Hello Groovy People!

Journey’s End is my second self published novel. If you would like to hear the first chapter read aloud, please go to Journal Jazzi’s Youtube page! If you would like to read the first chapter, please head to this link!

If you enjoy complex characters and thrilling adventures, please read, Journey’s End.I hope you enjoy!

Until then…

Marketing Goals and Woes

Hello Groovy People,

As December comes to an end, I have started a new plan in marketing my book. It was always easier to create a story, and over the last several years, it was even easy to publish. However, without being attached to a publishing company, I must do all the hard work of publicity alone. There is so much information out there on what to do, how to do it, how to do it right… But there are no real answers as to what will work for me. As frustrating as this has been, I look at my current plan with optimism. Perhaps I am just happy that I have varied ways of marketing my book (for free), even if it doesn’t generate the numbers I need (yet).

Anywho, I have an instagram page, and now a YouTube page dedicated to putting myself out there. Will it drive traffic to my books? Not certain, but I have high hopes. If you would like to see my pages and support me by subscribing, click the following links:

Journal Jazzi YouTube

Journal Jazzi Instagram

Until then…

New year, same goals

Helloy Groovy People,

It’s been a while since I last posted. 2020 is a chaotic year with so many downers. To be honest, it kind of feels like an average Tuesday to me. Being in solitude and having setbacks is quite the norm in my life. However, in 2021, I want that to change. I want the new year to reignite my original goals. I won’t just sit back and hope for a publisher to see my work. I won’t sit by and watch as others follow their dreams. I won’t let despair and doubt plague my mind and set me back ten steps. I will do more to market my book and accomplish yet another goal.

With everything happening in the world, I could really use a focus. Something positive to take up my time. As much as I wanted to focus on my book and future as a writer, there were always road blocks. There were always excuses as to why I couldn’t do this or that. Being a self published author has its drawbacks, but I should not let that stop me. So starting now, before 2021, I will take the steps to make my dreams come true. So that in 2021, I can see the fruits of my labor ripe with accomplishment!

For anyone that wants to attain their goals despite the setbacks of this devastating year, I implore you to make a list of the things you want. Then find ways to meet them. Go slow and don’t expect major change too quickly. Most importantly, you must be your own cheerleader. Self motivation is key to any success, especially when you have to do the bulk of the work on your own.

That is what I must do. That is what I hope to have in 2021. As I go through this process, I will keep you all in the loop.

Until then…

The Border

A poem by Jasmine Clark

A tightrope in the middle

Happy on one side

Sad on the other

You teeter on the balance with ease

I fall to either side

Unable to climb back up

Drowning in this emotion

I choke on its power

You see me down there

Impossible to imagine why I can’t get myself out

For I am stuck in the abyss of emotion

To strong to let me go

You reach out to save me

But eventually you tire

A mere bout of kindness is stifled by that abyss

It continues to cover me

You leave

And here I am left with a void

Alone, I find myself on the tightrope, the balance you once stood

Only to fall to another side

You reluctantly return

But like before, you leave

Exhausted and done, you never come back

And as a cycle always finding itself back at the same point

I repeat my climb to the tightrope

But it repeats, and I fall

Only, I am alone

Forgotten

Cold

Despair

Fear

Abandoned.

Boundaries and why they’re important

Hello Groovy People!

I am a people pleaser. I am not sure when this started, but I wasn’t always like this. I do know that at some point in my life I began to emphathize with others. It got to the point where I’d change my thoughts, words, and even actions to make sure I did not offend or hurt anyone around me. This, as you can tell, is not healthy. Nor is it conducive for a fulfilling relationship with others. Yet, I did it any way. The issue is the fear of rejection if I offend or do something that someone doesn’t like. As you can also tell, this makes me very frustrated and often alone. You would think that being kind, nurturing, and always thinking of other people’s feelings would make people like you. It does not. If anything, people use it as a way to hurt you or belittle you. Not everyone is like this, but most are.

This leads me to my next tid bit about myself. As much of a people pleaser I am, I do have boundaries. This has been learned over time and it is not easy. In college, my first time around, I met a young woman who I believed was a friend. I had went out of my way to make new friends in college and was sucessful in that endeavor. I am, or was, good at making friends. Long story short, this particular woman was not a good friend to me. I did my best to be kind and enjoy her company, but she was often rude and told me to shut up. While some people may see this as normal for friends, I personally did not. It took months to gain the courage to tell her about my feelings and even longer to rid myself of her. This was because I was not used to revealing my feelings, for fear of hurting her’s. Granted to say, I did manage to tell her how I felt and how she made me feel when she used those hurtful words. She did not understand and did not care. Some time later I did manage to rid myself of the platonic blunder by ghosting her (a term not used until over 10 years later by social media).

This incident, along with others, made me realize that I needed to create boundaries. The idea of boundaries, to me anyway, is that you set a standard for how you want to be treated. This does not mean the other person can’t be themselves, but if their behavior is hurting you mentally, emotionally, or even physically, then you have the right to let them know how you feel. Any relationship is a two way street. Respect and knowing your worth is something that most people can understand. Now, if the other person is not in agreement with your personal boundaries, then perhaps that relationship is not worth it.

As far away as that college incident was, I was reminded of my journey of establishing boundaries when I recently went to visit blood relatives for a graduation party. Due to the plague, I only went because I was told the graduate would be there. The idea was to drop off my gift, say some parting words, and leave. I was told there would be masks, distancing, and the graduate would be there. To my surprise, the person I was there to see was not there. To make matters worse, the home began filling with others (one woman who did not have a mask along with my aunt). I remained calm and thought I’d wait a bit so that I can see the graduate off. Again my people pleasing took hold and I ignored my notion to leave. As more people entered the small dwelling, I decided to leave to not risk my health. I had on a mask, but the social distancing would be impossible by the time the graduate made it back home(he was graduating at his high school which was something I was told about once I got there).

Before leaving, his mother, my aunt, asked me to take a picture by the wall. I did not mind and smiled through my mask. The idea of smiling even though no one would see it was amusing and so I made a remark joking as I usually do. She then proceeded to ask me to take off the mask for the picture. I did not comply. Not only was this a small kitchen, but two people there did not have masks, and there were two others in the room as well. In this moment I had decided to maintain my stance. She did not like this.

My offense was not taking off a mask during a plague for a photo opt. Her tone changed, she ridiculed me for being scared and asked why I would even show up. Perhaps many would agree with her, but I found the display of her words quite rude. I was not afraid to go to a small gathering of four people (initially the aunt, the graduate, and my father who I live with). I was not afraid to give a gift and leave quickly. The point I am trying to make is that I was fine with the idea of showing up as long as the number was small, masks were worn, and I did not stay long. This however was not the case and I had been misled multiple times. The issue was that there were several people there and two without masks. I did not want to risk exposing myself or others to a pathogen. Was I wrong? Still refusing to remove my mask I told her that I was not comfortable taking it off and that I did not want to risk infection. I also answered her very rude question of asking me why I even came if I was so scared. Humiliated, I laughed it off to not continue the uncomfortable situtation. She insisted I take a plate and passive agressively asked me to wash my hands. Funny how she just berated me for being cautious and not understanding why I was refusing to remove my mask. But she wanted me to cleanse my hands. I complied, and once I had my plate I left.

I am very sensative and felt utterly shocked and exhausted by the entire ordeal. I played it over multiple times in my head and cried on my drive home. Was I being too sensitive? Did she have a right? The point is that boundaries are about your comfort and well being. As long as your boundaries do not impead on the life of another, it cannot be bad. The most you do is risk going against someone else’s way of thinking. I was proud of myself for not risking myself and stood by the firm belief that going to the party with the lies told to me was not a risk, but it had become one once more people gathered.

I had a clear boundary of not risking my health and when someone challenged it, I stood firmly in my stance. Refusing to take off my mask was not going to hurt anyone and the risk of infection outwayed any faux pass that my behavior caused. Yet, the aftermath was a nightmare. Sometimes your boundaries and what you are willing to allow don’t fit what others want or expect. Regardless, if your boundaries help your state of mind or health, then there can be no wrong. I know it is hard to have boundaries. If I didn’t develop strong boundaries so long ago, I would have caved and took off my mask. Sure there could be a chance that I did not get sick, but the point is why risk it? It matters to me.

What are some of your experiences with boundaries? How did you feel when you made it clear to others? Did they accept or did they ridicule you?

Natural Hair: a journey

Hello Groovy People,

So I wanted to make a post about my hair. Years ago I stated I wanted to go natural. For a few weeks I did. However, it didn’t last because it was really difficult. I had no idea how to braid my own hair and I didn’t want to rely on anyone to help me. After all, in the past I had to rely on others and when they fell through, my hair suffered.

Can I tell you a story?

As a young black girl in the 90s I had my natural hair. It was done up in cornrows by my mom every week. Lush and strong, my hair was one of my strongest attributes. Around the age of twelve I noticed a shift in hairstyles. Girls stopped wearing cornrows and started showing off their chemically straight hair. Boys were now growing their hair out and wearing braids. Perhaps it was an observation that only I noticed, but nonetheless, it bothered me.

It wasn’t until I was in the eight grade when a woman at the store mistook me for a boy. I was a tomboy. Hurt at the misunderstanding, I asked my mom for straight hair. She also had chemically straight hair, although that was not the reason I wanted one too. Growing older I wanted a more feminine and grown up hairstyle. Reluctant, but finally worn down, my mom paid for a stylist to give me straight hair.

I marveled at myself in the mirror. My long straight hair made me look 13 and feel like a lady. When I debuted my new style at school, I basked in the praise from my peers. Feeling confident and assured by others, I was certain this style was a good choice.

Years into my high school days, my hair went through a perpetual hell. Swimming class in 9th grade was terrible for my hair. The chemical mixture that made my hair straight was not well receiving of the chlorine from the pool. As a result of being ignorant of proper hair care, my hair fell out. Damaged, I continued to change up my styles to hide my insecurities. Braids, faux pony tails, weaves, and whatever else I could try. By the time my twenties came along, my hair was not the same as it once was when I was a young child.

As much as I wanted my natural hair back, I felt the strong sense that it would not be accepted. So for years I tried to keep my hair up myself. But something changed.

It was the year 2018, I was substitute teaching in a first grade class. I noticed that many of the black students, girls, wore their natural hair in braids. Perhaps it was nostalgia that hit hard, but I was reminded of my once beautiful full hair. In that moment I had enough. I was tired of chemically straightening my hair, breathing in those nasty fumes, having my mother breath those nasty fumes in an attempt to help me. I was done. So, I put aside my insecurities and started braiding my own hair.

It was not easy, and surely was a mess. However, I continued as my natural growth took over. After months, my hair was growing. It was stronger, fuller, and most importantly, easy to deal with.

I just want to say that regardless of why you go natural, do it for you. Don’t be deterred by the misconception that 4c hair is impossible to comb. If you condition your hair, keep it moisturized throughout the week, and comb it twice or so a week, then it’ll be soft. Yes, 4c hair is soft. It is beautiful, strong, and can be shaped into any style you want.

I want to end this post with a few pictures of my progress. It was not easy at first and it was truly difficult emotionally to go to work with “crazy in progress” hair. However, the end results are so much better. Not to mention, chemical straighteners are just so damaging to your lungs and scalp. My journey is not done, but my transition is complete.

Until then…

2018 just starting my natural hair transition.
2018, June
2019
2019, summer
Cornrows March 2020
March 2020
Progress! Took 2 years and a lot of effort. Keep going, don’t get discouraged.

A stranger upstairs pt. 3

The following is a fictional story. It may not be suitable for children under the

age of 18.

For part one: A Stranger Upstairs
For part two: A Stranger Upstairs

The midday sun illuminates the lids of my eyes, beckoning me from my dream. As my vision, partially distorted from sleep, clears, I see my young lover. Her mouth is slightly open, perched lips and scrunched nose. I turn to lay for a few more minutes. Now fully aware of my reality, I reach for my phone on my nightstand. No messages. I place the phone down and turn toward the sleeping beauty. Nudging her shoulder, she stirs from slumber. A bit disoriented she finally comes to and smiles. She reaches for my head, to kiss me I assume, but I push her away. I am in no mood for any more rounds. 

We wash up, separately, and get dressed in silence. Like a used toy so once loved by a small child, I discard her without care. If the circumstances around my sister weren’t so dire, I’d keep her like a pet, having her tend to my needs and I to her’s. But, my sister is hurt.  So with mutual understanding conveyed in silent stares, we part ways outside. She goes off to her rich family and friends, and I to the hospital. 

At the hospital I see my sister. She is awake and eating pudding. Her face is full of disgust, but she has no choice. When she notices me, the face of disgust turns to happiness. I know she is grateful that I am here, to rescue her from the moodiness of our parents, but her glee is partially from the fact that I snuck in a brownie and latte from her favorite coffee chain. Removing the contents of the dreadful hospital food, I replace it with the savory treats. Clapping with joy she reaches over to me. As we embrace she whispers. Our parents return and aren’t exactly happy to see me or the contraband I brought. With the voice of her words still lingering on my ears, I don’t notice my father removing the food from the tray. 

“Why can’t I have what I want!” my sister screams.

“You’re still recovering from your incident” my father pleads. 

The fake concern in his voice was honestly more shocking than what my sister had said earlier and I was just too taken back from it all that I stood there stunned. Silence filled the room and for once I saw true concern on my mother’s face. Perhaps it was what my sister had said, or the oddness of my parents’ parental affection for my sister, that I felt so deeply disturbed. I left the room and didn’t look back. Even as my sister’s sweet laced voice cried out for me. 

I was back at the resort and stood by the banquet hall. This was what I needed, a moment of silence away from them and away from that damned creepy house. As I was taking a moment, I saw my young lover. Was there something in my face that prompted the look of concern on her’s I wasn’t sure, but she came closer and held my hand.  

Sitting side by side on the marble steps, I kept quiet. After all, she was just a fling. I didn’t exactly want to tell her about the random things happening to my family. Of all the rich, as I am sure her’s was too, my family was the richest. Well, wealthiest. Our fortune was like the Sun to everyone else’s Pluto. And although I didn’t want to involve her into my personal affairs, I needed help. If my sister was here I’d have her to listen to my concerns, but she wasn’t. So, in the end, I told my lover what happened. I left out what my sister said in the hospital. 

I was relieved to know she understood, or a better word would be accepted. Together we went back to my grandparents’ home and to the junk room on the second floor. There we walked closer as I passed my sister’s room. From the door I could see it open a crack. Odd, I thought it was open from the previous day. Regardless, I continued to the junk room. Pressing my palm against the door knob, I wrapped my fingers around and squeezed. Behind me my young lover gulped as if her throat were dry and she mustered up all the moisture in her body to swallow. I too was trembling as the door opened. A waft of air pressed against my nose as a familiar smell entered my nostrils. My sister’s perfume!

Part four coming soon!

Author is Jasmine Clark. The work is fiction, and shall not be published, or sampled without the author’s permission.