You really can’t dance here, man

I hope that one day, I’m asked where’s the weirdest place I’ve watched a film (a common question), because after this week, I’ll be able to say in a sand filled room on the fourth floor of Liberty.

I haven’t really got into the whole pop-up immersive cinema scene.  I’ve seen friends get all dressed up to see Star Wars or Back to the Future and thought “meh, seems like a lot of effort to me”.  I love comfort, so sitting on a rug on the floor whilst straining my neck to see the screen doesn’t scream fun for me.

However, something about the Backyard Cinema screenings at Liberty appealed to me. It might have been the Miami theme (considering my recent visit), it might have been that it was being held in my favourite store, or it could have been the brilliant selection of films.  We’ll never know.

The whole summer, Backyard Cinema is based at the Mercato Metropolitano in South London, a place I have yet to visit but looks amazing.  They’re showing some absolute classics there – new and old, children’s, comedy, action – all sorts.  And as a little offshoot to their summer season, they set up shop in the Disappearing Store on 4 at Liberty.  
Tim and I got tickets for Footloose, and I really do recommend seeing Footloose with him as he is a world renowned expert on all things Ren McCormack.  The last time I watched it with him was at the Prince Charles Cinema at one of their overnight PJ parties, and I shamefully fell asleep midway through.  I’m not sure if he’s forgiven me for that.

We were given flip flops before we went into the room because they had filled the whole place with sand, sadly not Liberty print flip flops which was my only criticism.  There were about 20 deckchairs set up with little tables full of sweets and popcorn, and we were given a drink when we arrived.  It was so satisfying to sit in the deckchair and feel the sand between your toes.  Made me really nostalgic for Surfside.  I really can’t think of a better place to watch a film.  They did such a great job with the staging, and I’m tempted to visit their main location.  I’ll definitely keep checking in with them to see what new experiences they come up with.

Also, I became obsessed with the Liberty cushions.  Damn, they’re pretty.  Possibly just a wee bit outside my price range however…

Returning to Surfside, FL

A few months ago, Mum decided she want to treat me and my brother to a ‘do-nothing’ holiday, and asked my opinion on where we should go.  The first place that came to mind was Surfside, Florida after falling in love with it last year.

I knew my Mum would love it – she’s a sun worshipper, loves the beach and a bit of shopping, but ultimately looks for peace and quiet on her holidays which is what Surfside excels at.  Fortunately, she adored it as much as I do and is even making some plans to return next year.  My brother and sister-in-law equally had a wonderful time, and my little niece took to Florida like a pro, strutting round the place with her sunnies and beachwear.

We stayed at the same(ish) hotel as last year as well – the Grand Beach Hotel – but instead of staying at their beachside property, we chose the sister building across the road.  Because there were six of us, we ideally wanted the three bedroom suite that could only be found at the West building which was a bit of a shame as we would have loved a balcony overlooking the ocean.  There were definitely benefits though – as it was smaller, the second hotel is much quieter and we hardly ever saw anyone else.  It also meant that we had the rooftop pool to ourselves most of the time so it felt much more exclusive.  Never a bad thing.

There aren’t any catering facilities in the West building so you have to plan ahead, but that didn’t cause us any problems at all – it’s slightly closer to the shops in Surfside so we were in the Publix and CVS every day (I think I actually went to Publix three times on one of the days – I bloody love it).  The main hotel is barely a two minute walk, so when we weren’t sunning ourselves on the roof, we were in the palm garden or eating quesadillas in the restaurant.It was pretty damn hot most of the time, but once again we beat the weather with only one tiny storm making us change our plans.  Last year, I read an insane amount of books, but I was so dedicated to relaxing this time round that I couldn’t even manage to hold my kindle.  I am genuinely struggling to remember how i filled 8 hours in the garden – it was next level ‘do-nothing’.

We did all the usual things on this trip again – South Beach, Aventura Mall, dinner in Bal Harbour and on Harding Ave – with the only new location being Dolphin Mall where I bought a bright pink Kate Spade bag from Bloomingdales which was such a ridiculous bargain.  I felt bad about dragging the poor Uber driver out so far as it was a bit trafficy in Hialeah, but he wasn’t bothered at all.  As is now tradition, we went up to the rooftop bar at the Grand Beach on the last night for some cocktails under the pinky glow of a Miami sunset – there was a glorious breeze and I once again wondered if I should start paying the lottery so I can give up work and just be on a permanent vacation.  Curse you Surfside – you make it so easy to dream about running away from my mortgage!


Until next time (which might be next year, the way plans are going at the moment!)

May Things

Wow, it has been a while.

For a bit of a kick in the butt, I’ve decided to follow a lot of other bloggers and post a monthly review, because then I’ll at least have one post a month.  Hopefully, this will get me back in the habit of regularly writing though.

No real format here – I’m just going to pick five things of note each month which I might have already blogged about or not, but definitely memorable for good (or not so good) reasons.  Let’s get started with May 2017.

Miami Trip
This deserves it’s own post, and is definitely my highlight of the month.  After a series of events and conversations, my Mum decided to take me and Husband, and my baby brother and his family to Miami, specifically my beautiful Surfside and I cannot emphasise enough how much relaxing we did.  It was perhaps a smidge too warm for some of us, but I spent most of the time lying in the palm garden not doing anything.  And the rest of the time shopping, which brings me to…

Sephora
What is a holiday without a trip to Sephora?  This isn’t everything that I bought – I also picked up some essentials like a million sheet masks – but I was really happy to find this Summer Hair Saviours kit – the Sephora at Aventura Mall has actually moved since I went last year, and is now much bigger so has more of these sets in stock.  The photo missing a couple of items that I’ve already used, but I’m excited to try the rest.  I love miniatures!

Eurovision
Once again, I failed to pick the popular songs.  I actually hated the twee-ness from the winning song – Eurovision for me needs high energy, bouncy, Europop and the Portuguese winner was the absolute antithesis of this.  Never mind.  My favourite was I Feel Alive by IMRI, and it has not left my playlist all month.

BFF Dinner
I have been an entirely crap friend of late, but I couldn’t miss celebrating the BFF‘s birthday, so we met for dinner at the National Theatre Terrace – what a great restaurant.  Once we’d actually found each other – for some reason, we both got to the table from entirely different entrances – and once we’d realised it was tapas and not just an odd menu.  I had deep fried veg with aioli which were so moreish, and delicious patatas bravas.  After dinner, we went for coffee and I had some very much needed chatty time.

Reflection
I didn’t really know how to title this.  Part of the reason for the time away is that May has become a tough month for us.  It was the first anniversary of my Dad’s death which is obviously something none of us will ever get over, so I took the day off work and had some time to myself to reflect.  I feel really close to my Dad when I’m outside as he loved nature, so I went for a long walk around the Pond on my own.  I felt it was the best way to mark the day.

I left my soul there, down by the sea

Our overnight trips to Brighton follow a well established routine:

Last weekend was much the same, with one excellent new addition.

We stayed at The Grand again, and took advantage of their renovations to get a heavily discounted sea front room.  We got such a great room – huge, with a separate dressing room and lovely bathroom.  It was bigger than my house, and the only (tiny) downside was the scaffolding at the front.

We could still see the sea!

The excellent new addition to our Brighton schedule is Befries on West Street, mere metres from our hotel.  Befries sells Belgian fries.  That’s it.  Doesn’t sound very exciting, but OH MY GOD, they are the most amazing fries ever.  Even more exciting than that, they offer a mad selection of dips and offered us as many to try as we wanted.Now let me see if I can remember what we had; Belgian mayo, curry ketchup, sate, Dutch mayo, frites sauce, Hannibal (an onion sauce), and one other which I’ve forgotten!  One of them tasted like pickled onion Monster Munch which went so perfect with the fluffy fries.  We actually only chose a couple of dips to start with, but one of the guys behind the counter convinced us to get more – they are such a friendly team and were so welcoming.

It’s definitely my new favourite place.

Which we’ll be going back to in a couple of weeks as we’ve decided to book another quick trip whilst the scaffolding is still up.   And to get more fries. YES!

Sticker Swaps Subscription – part 2

A couple of months ago, the lovely people at Stickers Swaps contacted me to see if I’d like to review their stickers subscription service.  They emailed again to let me know they’ve been making changes to the monthly mailouts, so wondered if I’d like another set.

I love the new packaging they have – very smart, with the link to this month’s stickers across the top.  They’ve also focussed their selection a bit – instead of lots of random stickers, they’ve decided to send 10 “featured artists” stickers, so the quality is maintained at a really high level.

There’s lots of great designs, like Emma Brett‘s skulls and Steve Hind‘s moka pot.  I picked out my favourite three which just happened to be from the same artist.

These very adorable burger, tomato, and Stay Puft man stickers are by Cocorino who also sells through his own Etsy shop.  His Instagram is full of great designs.

If you like what you see, use the code UNTOLD50 for 50% off the first month which can be used on any of their subscription options.

Thanks guys – am loving the changes!

Living in a movie scene

I wish I could tell you my second day in New York was different to the first, but it was just more of the same – walking around, drinking coffee, and going into shops on the east side of the island.  I bloody loved it.  

I started off in Korea Town at the amazing Tony Moly store.   I spent ages in there, and must have picked up every single item in the shop but I could not decide what to get.  I ended up with bunny lip gloss, panda mascara, and many sheet masks, and I’d even spent enough for freebies.  This was possibly my favourite shop on my entire trip.

I was very tempted to get the hair mayo – who wouldn’t be?

I carried on south down Park Avenue, stopping in at Sephora and Bath and Body Works for my cousin.  It was much colder today, and the wind was back to it’s usual wicked self so I was very grateful for my coat – I can’t believe I was considering not bringing it with me.  I eventually reached Union Square and spent ages in Barnes and Noble, swiftly followed by Nordstrom Rack.I’d been ducking into loads of bookshops trying to find Leah Remini’s book on Scientology, and had been getting dirty looks from shop assistants when I asked if they had it presumably because they thought it was pro-Scientology, so thank goodness for Barnes and Noble – they had loads of copies (it’s such a great book by the way, and finally got a UK release shortly after I got back).

Nordstrom Rack is very similar to TK Maxx, and I found so many pairs of Kate Spade shoes that I have absolutely no need for.  It also has Wi-Fi so I could check my bearings – WOO!

Even further south I ventured, and found myself in the tiny Milk Bar East Village.  I had accidentally sent a co-worker to the Las Vegas store before it had opened, so wanted to make it up to her by getting some cereal milk.  I also got myself a Chocolate Chocolate Cookie which was so salty, but so good.  Should have got more.On into Soho.  I aimed for the Egg Shop restaurant as I really fancied some eggs, but the wait was too long once I got there (I also chickened out on the solo dining front too – I was too intimidated).  No eggs for me today, but I was just around the corner from the BirchBox New York store so of course paid a visit.  This shop was SO NICE.  If I hadn’t have entirely filled my suitcase already, I would have spent a serious amount of money.  Such a beautiful, beautiful place.  You can build your own BirchBox with a bunch of different miniatures, but they also stocked a lot of full size products as well.  
It was now 1pm and I was feeling sleepy and hungry so walked back to my hotel.  I walked through Washington Square Park and came across an anti-Trump rally.  I sat watching for a while, picking up a couple of badges and reading all the placards.   Back to the hotel with yet another Lenwich – what can I tell you, I’m obsessed with the Chicken Chedder – I watched a bit of TV and Hangout-ed Husband.

After my batteries had been recharged, I headed back out and up to the HBO shop which should be renamed the Game of Thrones shop.  They had about four items in the entire shop which weren’t GoT, but I did get Husband a Silicon Valley t-shirt.  I had a quick wander around Rockefeller Center, picking up an EMS t-shirt for my little brother from the Fire Zone.

Friday night in Midtown was so busy, and so different to my peaceful walks around Greenwich Vilage and Soho. I considered going to Macy’s but despite being 8pm, it looked crazy busy.  I was also sad that the Shake Shack had a queue out the door, but that is the downside of staying in this area.  I did managed to get a few more shops in before retiring for the evening.  28,000 steps for the whole day, not too shabby.

I’m obsessed with the mess that’s America

I had two full days in New York entirely to myself – utter freedom to do as little or as much as I wanted.  I stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites near Penn Station which was perfect – perfect room, perfect location, perfect staff.  Plus I had the above view from my room – I didn’t ever close the curtains as I couldn’t get enough of it.  Waking up to that view each day was so memorable.

I decided to split the island, take the west side first and the east second.  After a quick diversion for roadworks, I made my way to the High Line – my favourite space in New York.  I hoped to walk around the Hudson Yards considering this was closed on our last trip thanks to Snowmageddon 2015.  But again, it was still not to be.

Much less snow in 2017, but still closed.  It only snowed for about 5 minutes on this visit, but they hadn’t been able to clear the snow from a few days before so kept the Hudson Yards closed.  A bit disappointed, I made my way down the rest of the High Line which was blissfully quiet, if not a bit windy.  There’s a lot of construction work around 30th St so some of the High Line is under cover – I guess there’s going to be a lot of new apartments and offices within the next couple of years (also a lot of ugly looking buildings…)

I dropped down to street level at 14th St to visit Chelsea Market – another favourite place of mine.  I had a sticky bun and some lemonade from Amy’s Bread whilst texting Husband, feeling really homesick for him at this point as we’d visited Amy’s in 2015.  As much as I enjoyed my solo trip around NY, I did experience a few pangs of sehnsucht for him.

After a further wander round the market, I carried on south to the iconic Bleecker Street.  I am in love with the whole of Greenwich Village, and Bleecker even more so.  It was so peaceful and so different to Midtown.  I decided to just give in and be a cliched tourist.  I hit Kate Spade (where I experienced the best customer service I’ve ever had), Co Bigelow, Sephora, and you guessed it, Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment.  I was having the best me-time.

So cheesy, but LOOK!  CARRIE LIVES HERE!  There were some British tourists taking selfies in front of her stoop whilst I pretended I was a local, just out for spot of shopping.  It’s such a beautiful street and whilst I felt a bit guilty for traipsing down a regular residential street, I tried to be very respectful of this.

I’m such a dork.

So after buying a beautiful Kate Spade bag and some Co Bigelow goodies, I walked back up 6th Avenue, popping in to the Container Store to see what all the fuss is about, before picking up a very late lunch from Lenwich.  I intended to have a quick nap before going out for some evening shopping, but I ended up getting sucked into TV.  The bed was too comfy, so I snuggled in and watched the sun set.

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee – live taping!

The very first thing I did when I got to New York last month was attend the taping of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.   I landed at JFK at 2.30pm, jumped on the LIRR, dumped my bags at my hotel room on 33rd at 4pm, and made my way uptown to the CBS Broadcast Centre on 57th getting there exactly on time.  It was a bit of a stressful way to start my NY mini-break but I would have regretted missing the taping.

I applied for a ticket as soon as the schedule was updated three weeks before.  The confirmation said that I’d hear within 5-7 days, and if I didn’t hear anything before 5pm the day before, then I’d not got a ticket.  I didn’t hear anything so I forgot all about it.

And then at 11pm the night before, as I sat on the beach in Florida, I got the confirmation email.  I.  Was.  Excited.  I hadn’t booked my NY flight intending to go to the taping, so I was very lucky the timing worked out for me.  Slightly breathless from my JFK trek, I was just super happy that I made it at 5pm on the dot.  You’re asked to get there between 5 and 5.15, but there were already about 20 people in front of me – I’d suggest the earlier the better.

As it turned out, being in the “fan line” was still no guarantee that I’d get to the studio.   I first joined a queue to get through security – they advise you not to bring large bags, food, drink, or cameras (you also have to wear “camera friendly clothes”).  You do get searched and have to go through a metal detector, so I only brought the essentials.  After the security queue, you queue to get in a holding area, where your name is ticked off on a list and you’re seated in a windowless room (with Wi-Fi though, so it wasn’t all bad).  Everyone sat in rows in the order we arrived, and we were given regular reminders to go to the bathroom, and worryingly that we still weren’t guaranteed a seat.  I had a horrible feeling that I wouldn’t get in, especially as the time ticked away and the email had said the taping would be over by 7ish.

It felt like we waited for a really long time, but it was about 45 minutes overall, the room filling up and overspilling into another.   The woman in charge kept telling us that they were waiting for the ‘proper’ guest list people to get seated (there was another room full of those people apparently), but then we were ushered out of the room and through the corridors to the studio upstairs.  I could not stop grinning as I entered the studio and saw the iconic set.  I was sat on the right side of the audience which was already about 2/3rds full as I sat down.  Once everyone was seated, we waited for a bit more and then Allana Harkin came out to warm us all up.  Still feeling a bit giddy from the conference, I put my hand up when she asked if anyone was from outside NY and after she found out that Full Frontal isn’t shown in the UK, she had a good reason to yell at a producer about why not (I had to explain us Brits watch it on YouTube).  There was someone from Australia in the audience, but she’d been in New York for a month, so that didn’t count.  I was promised merch for travelling so far, but sadly that didn’t pay off.

Talking of merch, I’d hoped to get a Nasty Woman or Feminist t-shirt, but there isn’t a shop there.  Allana (and later Sam) threw out some t-shirts and tote bags, but only a few people got those.

Suitabley warmed, Allana introduced Samantha. It goes without saying that she was hilarious, but I wasn’t expecting how under control everything was.  It was filmed exactly as it was shown, each segment in one take and with only a short break between to reset the cameras. Ashley Nicole Black came on to present a segment she’d filmed on Black History Month – I don’t know if the other contributors are always at tapings, but I loved that I’d been able to see both Allana and Ashley.

When all the segments had been filmed, Samantha checked to see if anything needed re-filming (it didn’t – she’d nailed it) and then we were done!  I can’t believe how little time it took – we were out of the studio by about 7.30, leaving me plenty of time to get back to my room, find TBS, and watch the show again at 10.30.

An amazing start to my NY trip.

SACRAO 2017

SPB3We’ve established that I managed to get myself to St Pete Beach and back on my own, but what was I doing there?

For the past 4 years or so I’ve visited some genuinely lovely towns and some even lovelier university campuses on the conference circuit.  All very much UK based though – I don’t work in a role that offers any international travel, and I’m ok with that.

However, one of the yearly conferences I attend (the incredibly valuable SROC) offers two bursaries to attend the American SACRAO, which in 2017 would be held in Florida.  As a recent Florida convert, I thought I’d try my luck again with the bursary and what do you know – I won!

From the start, I was under no illusion that this was a holiday.  The conference schedule was pretty full on – Pivot table training on Sunday afternoon, 8 am starts, and over 100 seminars to choose from on a huge variety of topics.  Just figuring out what I wanted to attend was pretty much a full time job – I had project management software set up just to manage my schedule to start with (fortunately, SACRAO uses the Guidebook App which is dream).  All this plus a presidential reception (special treatment for us Brits) and a beach party.

Admittedly, I may have just undermined my “this was hard work” by mentioning the beach party.SPB4There were three of us from the UK, and we bonded really quickly.  We all work for different institutions and in different areas, so whilst there were a couple of sessions that we all went to, most of the time we chose different things and compared notes afterwards.

One fun thing about being one of three British people was that as soon as we started chatting, Americans would flock to us.  We.  Were.  Popular.  I don’t mean to boast, but everyone wanted to talk to us, find out about how things work in our sector, where we lived, our TV shows.  I even offered to job swap with a hilarious guy from Georgia (still thinking about taking him up on that for reals).  We felt like the centre of attention, and to be honest, it’s going to be really hard to attend our next conference just as ‘normal’ attendees.

And I loved the Americans just as much as they loved us.  Every person I spoke to was friendly, every presenter was amazing.  I came out of each seminar wanting to work in their sector because it was all so inspiring, including:

  • A Wonder Woman themed open discussion on how to be more confident at work (WONDER WOMAN!)
  • An LGBTQ student panel which made me want to hug everyone that spoke. What an astonishing group of students.
  • A seminar on communication styles where we all did a quiz and I apparently am very similar to Einstein.  I’ll accept that
  • Many other nerdy things that I LOVED because I am a nerd

Although the US University system is different to ours, there was still lots to learn, and plenty to take back to my job.  I always love finding a new way to manage or a new way to process, and there were so many opportunities to do this.  Comparing notes with my American counterparts was fascinating, and I like to think some of them learnt a lot about our system from me as well.

We visited exhibitors who graciously spoke to us (and gave us free stuff) even though they knew we wouldn’t be able to buy their products.  We attended the SACRAO town hall meeting where we found out about the huge level of organisation that goes into running the conference each year.

And yes, there was a beach party but how could there not be.  The sun set as we networked, and I had one of my favourite moments of the event.  Earlier in the day, I was scrolling through Facebook  when I noticed a friend who I haven’t seen for 10 years had posted a photo of his Mother receiving an award.  An award which I had witnessed in person a couple of hours beforehand.  Of all the places I could meet a friend’s Mum, I would never imagined it would be at an American work conference.  It was so lovely to meet her, and a really fun coincidence!

I’ve only been back at work a couple of weeks, but it feels like SACRAO has had such a positive impact on me already.  I wish I could do this every year – 2018 is in Nashville and I want to go so badly!  I’ve already told people that I want to retire and just do the conference circuit.  Sadly, I think I’m many years away from that.

It’s one of those experiences which I don’t think I’ll forget any time soon.  Plus I fulfilled a lifelong ambition – my very first S’more!  And it was absolutely delicious.  SPB5

A shyness that is criminally vulgar

SPB2AKA this introvert’s guide to solo travel.

I had such a  good time on my trip to Florida and New York, a fact that surprises me.  I thought my social anxiety would be a barrier and put me on edge all the time, but being without anyone I knew actually helped in a way.

My trip started with a 9 hour flight, and it was easy to be alone for that.  Headphones on, films playing.  Virgin Atlantic doesn’t have a lot of choice if you’re up to date with recent releases, so I had an iPad full of TV shows as a back up.  My main gripe was the lack of space in standard economy – when travelling with Husband, he always pays for extra leg room for us both as he’s a giant but who knew how cramped economy actually is!

NYC_2017_2My stopover was in Detroit, and I did experience a bit of fuss getting through immigration.  I’ve done American immigration many times before, but wasn’t prepared for them to ask me why there was a Green Card on my file (no idea whatsoever – something has gone wrong somewhere!) and then start questioning me about why I was on my own.  I did succumb to a bit of panic at that point.  Fortunately, after a bit of questioning, I was let through and could spend an hour and half wandering around the airport.  I had a coffee, got a bit of a manicure at the Be Relax spa, and stretched my legs before the next flight.

A flight that I wasn’t actually booked on.  I’ve asked Expedia to look into what happened as I very nearly didn’t get on the plane – it was only because one of the other passengers didn’t turn up that I was given a seat.  It was almost better that I was alone as I didn’t need to worry about keeping Husband chilled out.  I figured that considering I’d paid for a flight, they’d have to get me to Tampa so ultimately it wasn’t worth worrying about.

I’ve done conferences alone on many occasions, and I’ve tended to keep myself to myself, sneaking back for some room service, or out into town for a bit of shopping.  I wanted to do this conference differently, and it was definitely easier because of the Americans.  As soon as anyone heard me or the other two Brits talk, they instantly gravitated towards us and I met so many fun people that it was impossible to be introverted.  I even stayed until the very end of the party which I never do.

I remember saying to one of the other attendees that I didn’t recognise the American version of me – I got used to sitting down in a seminar, just talking to the person next to me, and not worrying about whether they thought I was odd.  Of course I was odd – I was from an entirely different country!  I just had to make sure I had space for a few restorative niches for my own sanity – there is only so much chit-chat I can take sometimes.

Outside of the conference, I walked on the beach, I sat by the pool – no one stared and pointed because I was on my own.  I was in my own little world and so relaxed.

My final three days were spent in New York which is an amazing city to visit alone.  I have been there twice with Husband – if this was my first trip I would have done things very differently but I didn’t feel like I had to do any of the touristy things because I’ve done them.  I had my own schedule – I’d wake up naturally, watch Good Day New York (mainly because of the inimitable Greg Kelly), stop at one of the many Starbucks for some coffee, and then just wander around.

I’ll blog seperately about where I wandered (or more specifically, where I shopped), but I didn’t mind being alone at all.  A lot of the advice I got before going away was “just chat to random strangers!” but being an introvert, this wasn’t always what I wanted to do.  Fortunately as an introvert, I don’t mind my own company.  In fact, I positively love it.  Yes, I did miss having Husband with me and I was very chatty on Hangouts with him as there was so much I wanted to share but I had the freedom to spend an hour in Sephora without feeling bad.

NYC_2017_3Once I’d mastered solo travel, there was only one hurdle left – eating alone.  Starbucks and Lenwich were easy, but despite reading loads about how New York is the best place for dining-for-one, it still felt really difficult.  I avoided it for a couple of days (those Lenwich lunches were really filling) but on my final morning, I armed myself with my Kindle, took a deep breath, and went to Friedmans.  I sat down and immediately saw two other people dining on their own.  I really had nothing to worry about, and ended up with a plate of the most amazing eggs.

I don’t know whether I’ll get the opportunity for solo travel again, but I know that I won’t need to worry if I do.