Category Archives: IMO

Live & Learn: By Land Or By Sea?

What’s Your Travel Style

My husband and I are avid travelers. We recently came back from a Western Caribbean cruise and asked ourselves: What’s better? Cruises or destination trips?

You might be a cruise person if…

You like to dress up and go to a fancy dinner every night. The main dining room features a different menu each night with many appetizers, entrees, and desserts to choose from. If you’re really hungry you can order multiple entrees from the menu. Alcohol and soft drinks aren’t included, but typically you can use your room key as a “drink card” and put drinks on your tab. This process is very convenient, but as my husband and I found was way too easy to rack up money on the final bill.

You are a social person. Cruises are full of tourists from all across the country and some international. The ships are crowded and they offer many group activities where you can’t help but socialize with other guests.

You like free, cheesy shows and bingo. Cruises boast many on-board activities like bingo, casinos, wine tasting, karaoke, spas, and nightly entertainment. The nightly shows are very campy, and the cast is not always so talented, but they’re definitely worth a look and a laugh. Speaking of entertainment, if you like to dance, most cruise lines have a disco; that is if you like watching middle-aged people and teenagers do their interpretation of the “Soulja Boy.”

You like to visit many places on one trip. On a seven-day cruise, you may visit up to six ports of call. So, if you’ve been wanting to visit an island, but you’re not sure you’d want to stay there for a week, the ports of call are a good way to get a look-see.

You might be a destination trip person if…

You like relaxing without being on a timetable. To me, there’s nothing more relaxing than lying out on the beach all day with a book and a cocktail and no time constraints. Or waking up knowing that you don’t have to do anything, but if you choose to, it will be on your terms.
You like culture. While cruise ports of call provide a snap shot of a locale, I’ve found that it takes a lot more than one day to learn about a location’s culture and take full advantage of what it has to offer. You can interact with the locals and see how they live, experience native cuisines and nightlife, and leisurely take in the sites.  Staying for at least a few days in one destination is worthwhile to soak up the culture.

You like privacy. You can rent a private villa or condo, or stay at a hotel, which is still less congested than cruise ships. You can go on group excursions or private ones by personal taxi. You can eat whenever you want, wherever you want, with whomever you want, unlike on cruise ships, where you’re assigned to a table with strangers unless you travel with a large group and make prior arrangements.

What am I?

I am definitely a destination trip person. While I enjoy the food, activities, and ports of call on cruise ships, I like to make up my own rules as I go along. There are so many options with destination traveling that you can tailor your vacation to meet your needs. You can do an all-inclusive package where food and drinks are included, or opt to eat at different venues every day. Housing accommodations are plentiful, too, from villas, condos, cottages, hotels, or even staying with family. You can make your trip as busy or relaxing as you want.

I also enjoy being immersed in cultures different from my own.  Not only do I learn a lot, but I feel like I’m in a different world. After all, isn’t that the point of a vacation—to escape reality?

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Live & Learn – Too Old For The Club??

Are We Too Old for the Club?

“Now, I’m the old b—– at the club.”
—Kerry Washington, I Think I Love My Wife.

I never thought people would perceive me as the old b—- at the club; that is until recently . . . I mean I still look very young for my thirty-something years. People often mistake me for much younger — mid to low twenties, even. My body is not as perky as it used to be, but I work out often, so I still have my curves.

I love to dance, and I love music. I don’t hit the clubs often, but every now and then I like to shake things up. One night a while back, I went out with some of my girlfriends to celebrate a birthday. We had a good time and were about to leave when I heard someone call my name. I look up and see my barely legal cousin out with some of her girlfriends. When she saw it was me, the look on her face morphed from surprise to pity. Suddenly embarrassed, I found myself explaining why I was there. It was a pretty uncomfortable experience. It was then that I realized that I need to revisit the type of venues I patronize.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop hanging out. Nowhere is it written that once you reach a certain age, you can’t go out and enjoy yourself anymore. You just have to be more selective about where you go and maybe not go out every weekend! Since I like music and dancing, now I look for more mature venues like jazz and neo-soul clubs. I’ve found that you have to be of a certain age to appreciate house music, and I find these venues to have an older, but still lively crowd. Old school hip-hop concerts and clubs also attract older crowds, so you’re safe there too. Salsa and reggae clubs and places that offer ballroom/hustle lessons are fun alternatives, and they’re a great form of exercise.

One huge advantage of being older is now you have more disposable income to travel. If you’re a music fanatic like me, there are several must-see music festivals, such as the Soul Beach Music Festival in Aruba, Macy’s Cincinnati Jazz Festival, Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, and one of my personal favorites, the Reggae Sunfest in Jamaica. 

Moral of the story: you’re never too old to do what you love, but do all things in moderation.

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LIVE & LEARN: The Wire – We Reminence Over You


It’s the end of an era. “The Wire” was one of the most poignant, authentic, heart-wrenching series of its time. Although the show may have not been as popular or high in ratings as other HBO series like “The Sopranos,” it developed a cult following, and the stories about politics, schools, media, crime, and the police force resonated with people on many levels. I especially enjoyed it because it was so real and relatable for people who live in urban areas like Baltimore. We all know a Dookie, a Michael, a Bubbles, a Marlo, and even an Omar — an ordinary individual who becomes an extraordinary legend through time as stories are passed on.

The characters that tore apart people across the board were the kids from the Fourth Season: Michael, Dookie, Namond, and Randy. I’m a regular reader and contributor to the blogs out there on The Wire, and I found that a great majority of the comments were in sympathy for these boys. Of all the character outcomes, most people rooted for the kids to overcome their potentially doomed fates. When I saw Dookie lighting up in the ending montage, I too was broken hearted.  How can someone — a kid no less — go through so much and have no real choice or hope for their future? The sad truth is that a lot of kids are like Dookie and are doomed out of the womb. I think this show was a great platform to educate the public about the pressures, pitfalls, and disparities of living in poverty-stricken areas. People have learned that criminals are not born, they’re made. Maybe The Wire will galvanize a stronger response to help those in these circumstances.

Another reason I will miss The Wire is because of its stellar cast. From the corner boys, to the ambitious yet wayward politicians; from the sometimes crooked/sometimes honest po-lice, to the people caught up in the hood and trying to make a better way, they were all convincing. Never mind the cast was at least 60% African-American. How often do you see that in a drama series, or any television show for that matter? I just hope that now since the show has wrapped up, these actors can find roles — meaningful ones. I will miss The Wire. It may be a long time before another series comes out that I love and hate at the same time.  

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Live & Learn

My name is Tracey, and I am hip hop. My love affair with hip hop began in the 1980s. Yes, I was a b-girl. I had a rap alias (which I refuse to divulge) and I used to break dance with the fellas from my neighborhood on wood paneling and cardboard.  When I wasn’t dancing or rapping, I watched Friday Night Videos, one of the only video shows on at the time. I remember taping videos and practicing whole routines with my girlfriends. My fashion choices reflected the popular songs of the decade. Salt-n-Pepa introduced me to biker shorts. I couldn’t afford the satin Adidas track suits that Run D.M.C. wore, but I did save up and buy some shell toes eventually! I had an African medallion and wore red, black, and green Cross Color outfits. I had at least two pair of bamboo earrings. You get the picture… 

There was so much diversity in hip hop back then. You had music to break dance to, fun rap, straight lyricists, beat boxing, bravado rhymes, etc. Several conscious artists and songs also emerged in the ’80s calling for unity, black pride, and putting an end to senseless violence.

More artists came up in the ’90s and hip hop solidified its place in American pop culture. The jit was the dance of the decade. Hip hop and R&B joined together to create hip-hop soul, and showcased artists like Mary J. Blige, TLC, and Guy. The West Coast also made their stake in hip hop, with the beginnings of gangster rap.

Hip hop is always evolving and has definitely changed over the years. Maybe I’m just getting old, but to me, it has become more one-dimensional. The South has made a strong showing in the new century, but not much else new has come about. Meaningful lyrics and substance have been replaced with simple hooks, dances, disrespectful lyrics, violence, and bragging rights. Some of it is fun, but I miss the mix of artists we had back in the day. You still have a few conscious, substantive artists and lyricists reminiscent of old school, but only a few get airplay. A lot of these artists go underground because their sound isn’t “hot” right now (more about this topic at a later date). Don’t get me wrong, I still have love for hip hop. I’m guess I’m just waiting for the “next movement.”

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