“Happiest place on earth” – Disney World Review

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Orlando, FL. October 2019

 

I would like to start by saying thank you to my best friend for doing the most in planning her bachelorette week celebration in Orlando, Florida. My family and I went to Universal Studios and Sea World when I was a kid so I was mostly excited about Disney World. As the blog title suggests, Disney World is known as “the happiest place on earth”. It should also be known as one of the most expensive places on earth as a bottle of water is like $5 U.S. dollars but anyway it was worth it. The place is truly and utterly beautiful, especially the magic kingdom where the picture to the left is taken. On the first day, I dressed up in “Princess Jasmine” inspired attired with a matching crop top and pant set from Fashion Nova (I bought this last year so it may no longer be on their website). My second favorite place was Epcot which features several recreations of different cities around the world and world cuisine including Tusker from Kenya. Disclaimer: Epcot food can never live up to the original world cuisine but most of the curated items are tasty (see pic below).

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peri peri skewered shrimp with rice on plate 1. curried beef on plate 2. Tusker Kenyan Beer in the lone cup.

The Magic Kingdom: A major part of what makes the magic kingdom so magical is the cinderella castle which is so captivating and which lights up at night. In addition, there is a fireworks show surrounding the castle at 9pm every night. And this is a fireworks show that you can actually write home about (case in point, this blog). I also loved pretending that I was Princess Jasmine when we found a bazaar that resembled those in the movie. (See pics below).

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Finally, let’s not forget the main event which was my best friend’s bachelorette celebration. I had a really fun time being around her and the other bridesmaids. Disney has a lot to offer although their rides are not really scary. I can’t wait to continue the celebration at the wedding in less than 30 days. Woohoo! Cheers to the soon to be newlyweds! 🙂 ❤

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Epcot, Disney World, October 2019

Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving! ❤

 

Anxiety & How to overcome it

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August 2019

I first realized that I struggle with anxiety when I was trying to plan a family dinner at a restaurant for mother’s day maybe 4 or 5 years ago. I had forgotten to make a reservation not realizing that the restaurant would be pretty busy because of course everybody takes their mother, auntie, sister, and grandmother out for such a holiday. So my family and I are waiting outside the restaurant waiting for our name to be called while my anxiety is building up such that I start calling other restaurants to try to make a quicker reservation. Basically, I wanted the day to go perfectly so that I did not disappoint my family and especially my mom. My older brother realized what I was doing and quickly asked me “you still get like that?” (alluding to my anxiety). Before he had mentioned it, I did not even realize I really had a problem or even a history of anxiety. But now that I look back, I realize that I had anxiety but I was not a chatty anxious person so people probably did not notice it (I could be wrong though). 

In my journey of addressing my anxiety, I have learned that it is one of the top psychological disorders affecting youth in the U.S.A maybe even the world. Pretty much everybody suffers from some sort of anxiety. It is a normal human response to stressful situations. You can meet the most put together and seemingly laid back people who suffer from anxiety. Like most things, anxiety is on a spectrum from mild to crippling. If it’s crippling your life and preventing you from leaving your house, definitely seek professional help. I am fortunate enough to be able to lead a normal life with my anxiety. It always helps to have people who understand you by your side. Clearly, my older brother is that person for me as he helps me create logical steps towards my problems. My mother is a therapist and one of the things she has taught me is about the importance of breathing. Deep breaths can relax your body with such ease and they’re free as long as we don’t kill off all the trees (I think that rhymed by the way 🙂 ) My younger brother gives the best hugs in the world and my dad fixes most of my car related issues. Also, my 2 year old niece is just the cutest thing in the world and her fearless boss baby attitude continues to inspire me to be a lady boss. Bible scripture and inspiring quotes can also help set the tone of your day. For example, Proverbs 16:3 says “commit to the lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans”. Finally, playing tennis teaches me to focus on each point on its own without thinking about winning or losing the match. Each point is a small battle while the match is a big war and if you know anything about wars, they are won through consistency in small fights. So keep on fighting the good fight of your life (please, no Tyrese “I am fighting for my life” videos).

In summary, my advice is to find the people and things in your life that bring you peace or inspire you to overcome fear. Always remember what Nelson Mandela said, “the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid but he who conquers that fear”. If a man who was in prison for 27 years for fighting for his people’s rights can say these words, then I believe they must be true. May we all face your fears. Literally, look at yourself in the mirror and see the Lion/Simba in you silencing the Scar in you with a growl/affirmation of power. Of course, you can also do this metaphorically if you’re not one for mirror pep talks with yourself. Either way, tell fear who is boss. You. You are your own boss. And for the days you feel like you are not, please listen to this song by Kiana Ledé that I think truly captures anxiety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkLA0p4BTTs

 

I wanna know guitar performance

I’ve been working on this song for about 2 months now and I finally recorded as I think there is nothing else to add. Adding some French to the song turned out beautifully and in the future, I would like to do a song in both English and Swahili. So more bilingual songs to come. FYI, the french words in the song are a translation of the English chorus.

LYRICS below:

I wanna know
I am looking for that sign
That green light
That tells me go
Or that red light
That tells me no

I wanna know
If this is real
If this is true
Me and you
Is this real?
Is this true?
I wanna know

Moi et toi
Est - ce vrais?
Je veux savoir

They say time will tell
If this love is a spell
Or if we both truly fell
So hold on to those wedding bells

Cause I wanna know
If this is real
If this is true
Me and you
Is this real?
Is this true?
I wanna know
Moi et toi
Est - ce vrais?
Je veux savoir

I wanna know
I wanna know

Lion King Movie Review ft East African Music

 

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July 2019

I know most of us have already watched the original lion king so there will be no spoilers from this review. The story from the first movie released in 1994 is pretty much the same in the 2019 release. Thankfully James Earl Jones is still alive to do the voice of Mufasa yet again because I cannot imagine anyone else doing it. Above all, the visuals were ridiculously amazing as they used images of real animals instead of cartoons. Beyoncé as Nala’s voice has been a source of frenzy among her wide fan base including me. She has even blessed us with a musical Lion King themed album entitled The Gift. However, there has been a bit of backlash from East Africans who felt that the album that Beyoncé released only featured West African artists while there are many solid East African artists who could have contributed to the album. This is especially controversial considering that Swahili, the second language used in the film, is an East African language. For example, mufasa means king while simba means lion in Swahili. And yes, “No worries” is actually “Hakuna Matata” in Swahili. As such, I will highlight 5 East African musicians who could have been featured on the album.

  1. Sauti Sol. 

Sauti Sol is a Kenyan band made up of four guys who have amazing vocal chords. This video is of an acapella performance that they did for the song “Kuliko Jana” which means “than yesterday”, as to say that today is better than yesterday. I think this song could have actually been a good background song for the movie especially in the beautiful ending of the Lion King story.

    2. Eddy Kenzo. 

Eddy Kenzo popularized the so called “ghetto dancing kids” from Uganda who were even featured in French Montana’s music video for the song “Unforgettable” with Swae Lee. I have seen him perform live in Dallas at a Kenyan event and he was amazing with so much energy.

    3. Selamawit Yohannes. 

I actually discovered Selamawit from a quick youtube search of top Ethiopian music which goes to show that there’s no excuse to being ignorant in this age of the internet. I have always loved Ethiopian music but somehow I forgot the names of the musicians so I need to work on that. Nevertheless, I love Ethiopian traditional dance and how they play the flute. Without a doubt, their music is very unique and would be a great addition to the Lion King movie soundtrack.

   4. Diamond Platnumz. 

Diamond is undeniably the most successful artist in East Africa right now so I do not know why he was left off the soundtrack. Diamond is such a diversified musician as he can make soulful r&b and club music easily. Basically, every song he touches turns to gold. If there will be another Lion King movie, he should not be forgotten especially since he sings in Swahili and English.

  5. Vanessa Mdee. 

Vanessa was at Essence Fest in New Orleans this year which goes to show that she is gaining popularity outside of Tanzania. I  would venture to say that she is Tanzania’s Beyoncé as she can sing, dance, and act (triple threat baby). I think her future is bright and she should be considered for Hollywood movies and soundtracks in the future.

Despite the lack of diversity in soundtrack, I do believe that the new Lion King is a worthwhile watch. Again, the visuals are absolutely beautiful and so surreal (the hyenas are a bit scary looking though so be ready if animals are a trigger for you). I really hope that we get a second film which has a more continent inclusive sound track. Also, I would really love a good backstory on Scar because understanding the psychology of a villain kind of excites me (Criminal Minds anyone?). I also just really love looking at images of lions so I think I could sit through hours of that haha. If you happen to watch the movie, feel free to comment with your thoughts 🙂 ❤

My version of “waiting in vain” by Bob Marley

Displayed above is a painting I recently did of Bob Marley. In 24 hours, I will no longer own it as I am gifting it to my neighbor who recorded a live album of his original music yesterday and who also taught me how to play guitar. Displayed below is a song I wrote out loud first while driving around town and just expressing what was on my heart at that time. I hope you enjoy both displays and soon enough, a video recording of me playing the song should follow. I mixed in a bit of French just to summarize the chorus in another language – also inspired by my guitar teacher. I was listening to Bob Marley’s “waiting in vain” on repeat around the time I wrote this song so I can attribute some inspiration to that as well.

I wanna know

I am looking for that sign

That green light

That tells me go

Or that red light

That tells me no

—–

I wanna know

If this is real

If this is true

Me and you

Is this real?

Is this true?

I wanna know

——

Moi et toi

Est – ce vrais?

Je veux savoir

——-

They say time will tell

If this love is a spell

Or if we both truly fell

So hold on to those wedding bells

——

Cause I wanna know

If this is real

If this is true

Me and you

Is this real?

Is this true?

I wanna know

——

Moi et toi

Est – ce vrais?

Je veux savoir

—Thanks for reading and entertaining my creativity in all capacities. 😃❤️

How to ENRICH your LIFE: La Joie de Vivre

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In summer of 2012, I interned at the Institute of Primate Research in Nairobi, Kenya where they conduct very groundbreaking research especially on tropical diseases (and before you ask, yes they conduct ethically sound research that follows World of Health Animal Research Protocols). My favorite part of the internship was the enrichment project where select staff, such as myself, played with the monkeys, chimps, and other primates for at least an hour a day. This enrichment project was created under the reason that the primates should still have a life with some daily fun even though they were being used for research. I was reflecting upon this experience recently and I realized that even humans are primates so we have to remember to always create some joy in our lives. The word enrichment is befitting because it enhances the value and quality of our lives. Another phrase that I love is “la joie de vivre” which is French for “joy of life”.

I personally find my joie de vivre in three things: art, food, and music. I just recently had a quick vacation to Houston that encompassed those three things so let me highlight them below in picture format.

ART (all pictures taken at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX)

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FOOD

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The Savoy Restaurant is definitely a must-visit spot for Indo-Pakistani food. At the bottom left of the photo, you can see green specks in the naan which are cilantro and Jalapeno peppers. As such, this naan is called “the bullet” naan. This was my first time having it and now I am obsessed. Also, tried goat brain masala which was better than one could expect. My favorite, of course, was the goat biryani.

MUSIC

The main person that inspired my recent trip to Houston is Lauryn Hill as she had a concert lined up on Thursday, May the 9th. Despite bad weather and flash flood warning, we showed up and luckily, she did too. Her performance was amazing and she delivered considering 20 plus years have passed since the release of her album, The MisEducation of Lauryn Hill. Her guitarists and backup singers were on point too. Please watch the clip below for a morsel of her performance.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you take time to reflect on how you can or will continue to ENRICH your LIFE. Thanks for reading 🙂 ❤

Guitar cover: Stay a little longer with me

This guitar cover is inspired by a song from a Bollywood movie known as Half-Girlfriend in which a boy agrees to a deal with a popular girl for her to be his half-girlfriend. I’ll stop there since I don’t want to give away the movie. However, I will link down the official music video of the song below:

Thanks to my dad for shooting the video for me and to my older brother for leaving his shoes in the video frame (I think it adds a nice touch lol). 🙂 ❤

Love like a gangsta ft Nipsey and Lauren London

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Photo from GQ-magazine Feb’19. Shot by Awol Erizku

If there is anything I have learned from rap songs, it is that “there’s nothing like hood love”. That Nelly and Kelly Rowland “Dilemma” kind of love. That 50 Cent “21 questions” kind of love. And to throw it way back, that Bonnie and Clyde kind of love. Now to bring it way to the front, that Nipsey Hussle (Ermias Asghedom) and New-New (Lauren London) kind of love.

           At first look, Nipsey was an intimidating looking kind of guy with his tall frame and face tattoos but we now all know, that he had a heart of gold. Lauren London (best known for her performance as New-New in the movie ATL) dated many of the richest rappers in the game such as Lil Wayne and even had his child. However, she found true love with Nipsey. Why? Because like she said in her speech at his funeral, she did not have to wear her “cool girl mask” anymore with Nipsey. Nipsey was her “turn up and her church”. He was not “perfect” and she would never ask him to be.  He was and still is “the coolest guy ever” to her. “His soul was majestic.” He was a “gentle father” and a “patient leader.”  These are all direct quotes from her beautiful speech at his funeral where she shared a text message that she wrote to him during January of this year while she was watching him sleep. Clearly, Lauren knew what she had found with Nipsey was truly special and I am sure Nipsey made her feel special as no woman would talk like that about a man that mistreats her. I repeat her “turn up and her church.” Many guys can fall into that “turn up” category but very few can be your “church.” That is a spiritual connection which is “beyond this earth”.

            Based on her and Nipsey’s spirituality, Lauren is probably better equipped to handle what has happened to her and her family. In her speech, she shared how Nipsey taught her that “you cannot possess people, you experience them.” The few years she got to experience him will last her a lifetime and maybe beyond that. Furthermore, he had told her that “the game is gonna test you, never fold.” “Stay ten toes down.” “It is not on you, it is in you and what is in you, they cannot take away.” I don’t know about y’all, but her speech gave me life and her strength was the real definition of “gangsta.” Even though the perpetrator of his death took Nipsey’s life, the love he shared with Lauren and his family can never be taken away. In fact, she shared that her greatest sadness is realizing that their 2-year-old son is “probably too young to remember how much his dad loved him”.

            I hope we may all experience such “gangsta love”. Not gangsta in regards to being in a gang or involved in crime (in the traditional sense of the word), but gangsta in how fiercely we protect it.  No side chicks have popped up from the woodworks stating that they were with Nipsey because he was all about Lauren. He was faithful, loyal, and most of all, he financially protected his family so that they would not have to starve without him. Instead of flashing his money for all the world to see on cars and other depreciating expenses, he invested in his community and educated people about financial literacy. As Lauren says, “he was brilliant” and the world is at a loss for such a man. One of Nipsey’s face tattoos says “PROLIFIC” and I had to google exactly what that word means: “producing much fruit or foliage or many offspring.” I believe that based on Nipsey’s hustle alone, his investments will continue to bear fruit for his community. His love, on the other hand, is limitless as it has even inspired people like me who are not a part of his direct community. Maybe we all get to experience this gangsta type of love in this lifetime and those to follow. As Lauren said, “the marathon continues.”

Boston Review: Resident & Tourist view

 

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March 2019

Some of you may know that I spent a little over half a decade (six years) in Boston, Massachusetts. So this is a review where I can delve both into being a resident and a tourist of the city. My first trip to Boston was in 2010 with my mom before the start of my senior year of high school to look at different universities in the area (Harvard, MIT, Boston University, and my alma mater of Northeastern University). The one campus that truly captured my eye and heart was Northeastern’s as it was right in the heart of Boston but still managed to be centralized; so you could feel like you were in your own world and still be in the mix of the city within less than a 5-minute walk.   I liked being in a worldly diverse school with students from all over the map and being in a city where all these cultures participated, especially in food.

Food. My favorite restaurant in Boston is actually a Senegalese restaurant called Teranga. It is a small place with a cozy vibe as the owner is super friendly and makes sure to talk to every table when he is around. One of my favorite quotes of his is “We are all African” which actually describes my experience in Boston because I made friends with Africans from other countries such as Nigeria and Somalia. I also loved the Boston Shawarma restaurant that I was on Huntington Avenue where my alma mater is located. I also loved eating really delicious Vietnamese soup called pho (thanks to my best friend’s mom for introducing this to me as her homemade pho is still the best in my book) at a restaurant called Pho & I which was also down the street from my school. I also loved samosas and biryani from an Indian restaurant called the Dosa Factory (I actually gave them my email one time to be contacted in case they were hiring). The China town in Boston is actually pretty legitimate and has very authentic Chinese food (sometimes so authentic that it doesn’t match your palette depending on which restaurant you frequent). My favorite is Gourmet Dumpling House which has a really nice pancake dish and obviously amazing dumplings. For brunch though, my favorite restaurant is Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen which has a soul/jazzy vibe with live music and a buffet brunch option. On my recent one-day trip to Boston, I actually did not eat out as my friend cooked shrimp & chicken Jollof for me which filled me up for the whole day (see picture below). It was actually the best Jollof I’ve ever had so shout out to Chef Ola.

 

 

Tourist Attractions. A lot of films are actually filmed in Boston so you should already know that it is beautiful (especially in the summer because snow can become a pain after a while). My favorite spot is the Boston Gardens which are right at the end of Newbury St where you can shop from various high-end stores like Gucci and even low-end stores like Forever 21. My friend and I went there to chill before heading to Macy’s which is within walking distance. We actually ended up climbing a tree together (mainly him climbing the tree and helping me up). After Macy’s, we went to the Charles River Esplanade which is another tourist attraction where you can watch sailboat races or just a beautiful sunset. There is also a little park by the banks of the river which I love to visit from time to time mainly for the monkey bars where I like to hang upside down like the primate that I am (every so often I like to do this just to make sure that I haven’t lost this skill yet haha). If you want a great view of Boston (no upside hanging involved), the Top of the Hub Restaurant which is at the top of the Prudential Building (also known as The Pru) is a great place to go especially during a clear day. If you are a museum enthusiast like myself, both the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and the Isabella Stewart Gardner (ISG) Museum are a must-see.

Nightlife. One of my favorite places to chill and listen to good music is the W Hotel in Boston. It never disappoints and the African City party this year was held in the hotel so I was excited to attend. My friend and I got there an hour and a half late but the party still had not started. When it did start around an hour later, it was actually a great party with a great DJ playing music from all over Africa (not just Nigerian and Ghanaian music). When he played Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s Umqombothi song that was when I knew he was the real deal. Unfortunately, clubs and bars close at 2am in Boston as it was/still is a Puritan city. This used to really frustrate me when I was in college but now that I am old, sleep is life so I do not mind the 2am curfew at all. Most of the time people have house parties afterward so there are ways to work around it which brings me to my next topic about accommodation.

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Travel & Accommodation. I won’t even try to sugarcoat it; Boston can be a little bit racist (I even talked to a white person who lived in Boston who stated this). I will say that I did experience some racism when trying to secure an Airbnb during my last year of school. For example, some prospective hosts will not even message you back based on skin color or will pretend that the dates are actually booked when they are not. Therefore, a hotel is probably the best option if you have a short stay (I guess unless you get lucky with Airbnb). If you are planning to stay in Boston long term, do bear in mind that rent is pretty expensive. You can live further out of the city for cheaper accommodation but if you do not have a car, the commute can be long by train or bus. I chose to stay close to campus because my major required long nights at the library and I wanted to be safe going home. Also, commuting during the winter can be hell with snow covered streets. In general, buy good shoes because the city of Boston requires a lot of walking and if you are a lady, the cobblestone will most likely ruin your stilettos. But one thing that makes Boston stand out from the rest is that it is a very clean city, your shoes will probably still be squeaky clean at the end of the day.

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New York City Trip Review

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March 2019, Brooklyn Bridge

I would like to start by sharing a quote that I read on a billboard while walking around New York City that stated that “NYC is like a pretty woman smoking a cigar”. It is kind of rough around the edges and definitely not everyone can survive living there. But they also say “if you can make it in NYC, you can make it everywhere”. I am fortunate to say that I have two friends who I grew up with in Alabama who are making it in NYC and I enjoyed hanging out with them. This was not my first time in NYC but 2015 was the last time I was there so a trip was long overdue. My review of the city starts with a food review because NYC is truly a melting pot where you can find cuisine from all over the world.

Food. I have never had a bad meal in NYC. This time around I was mostly looking forward to trying Peruvian food because my best friend is always talking about it. So when I saw a Peruvian restaurant in Queens called Jora, I was excited to try it out. My best friend recommended Ceviche which is raw seafood marinated with lime and onions. I am not a fan of raw fish, to be honest, but they also served a complimentary snack of banana chips with avocado/lime sauce which was so delicious that I have to try to recreate it at home. My friend also took me to a Greek restaurant called Taverna Kyclades which was great for me because I had been craving calamari that week. With calamari as the appetizer, I ordered lamb chops and lemon potatoes. The food was decent but my friend claims that the Taverna Kyclades in Queens is better than the one we went to. The best restaurant we experienced was Soco in Brooklyn which is black-owned and soul food/creole inspired. I had previously frequented this restaurant in 2015 with some college friends for brunch and I loved their fried chicken with red velvet waffles. Yes! Red Velvet waffles! My friend ordered the gumbo and we both enjoyed it. This time around I did not eat any street food but make sure to check out the halal food trucks if you’re ever in NYC.

 

Tourist attractions. NYC has a lot of tourist attractions but I am not really drawn to a lot of them such as the Statue of Liberty. My favorite attraction is the Brooklyn Bridge because the lower part of the bridge is for cars and the upper part is for pedestrians where you can walk while getting an amazing view of the NYC skyline. I also love Central Park just because it is so huge and is usually a great place to people watch. My friend and I also went to the top of the empire state building which had a great view of the skyline at night with all the lights all over the city. Surprisingly, we went on a Thursday and there were a lot of tourists there especially from France. I joked to my friend that French people view NYC the way American people view Paris: full of romance, class, and adventure. So Paris 2020 anyone?

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Night Life. On this trip, I was really looking to find a club that plays African music because that is something I do not get to experience where I live down South. I found an event in Brooklyn hosted by an African DJ in a lounge. My friend and I showed up an hour late to the event but we ended up being among the first 5 people there including the DJ. While we waited for more people to show up, I took the chance to play the DJ’s electronic drums which was actually pretty fun as you can see in the video below (sorry for the horrible quality).  By the end of the night, only 20 people had shown up but we still enjoyed as the DJ was on fire playing all the Afrobeats bangers. On my previous trips to NYC, I have gone to American clubs which are all over the place and can get really packed. That was a while back though so I won’t give any recommendations because things might have changed. But NYC still remains as the city that never sleeps so don’t sleep on it.

Accommodation & Transport. Ubers can be a pretty expensive way to travel since the city is so expansive. It is a necessary evil though mainly for airport trips and when you’ve exhausted all your energy by dancing all night. However, the train system in NYC is world class. Usually, it will take about the same travel time as a car to take the train as train stops are everywhere and the wait times are short. Also, NYC trains are known to have talented individuals displaying their talents in hopes of being discovered and making a bit of money. And of course trains and buses are much cheaper than Ubers. For accommodation, there are usually deals on Groupon especially during the offseason (Spring and Fall). I chose to stay at a hotel in Queens because LaGuardia Airport is in Queens and I did not want to be late to the airport as usual. Also, I have always wanted to stay in Queens after watching Coming to America with Eddie Murphy and Yes, I ❤ NY.

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Thanks for reading! 🙂