Never Give Up- Cletus Rivera

We are Souls

on a timeless journey

traversing the Universe

towards an unknown destiny.

Let us picture the possibilities

that can be achieved

when we believe.

Be not deceived

by negative thoughts

that may exist .

Stay ambitious

regardless of the constant struggle.

Fight valiantly

and do not relinquish control.

You envision the mission

with a tactician’s precision.

To overcome reaching the goal.

Only then

will our soul’s journey

be worth its weight in gold.

-Cletus Rivera

Send the author some snail mail and tell him what you think about the poem.

Let’s Plan a Girl’s Trip

Girl’s Trip

Allow me to be the first to tell you that an all-girls trip should be on your priority list as a woman. Not only do you need to set aside time to be surrounded by your tribe. You also need that perfect getaway from your normal lifestyle. 

First things first: The Group Chat.

As you may already know, this is the most telling part of the girl’s trip process. In its initial phase, you or one of the other girls will create a chat group to include your tribe and extended friendships. 

Tip: Create the group chat in GroupMe. It’s easier to manage and not everyone has an iPhone. 

Note: this initial group will not be the final group. If it is the final group, please pat each other on the back because that is a major accomplishment in itself.


Well, that brings me to the second step: The Location.

Typically, you (or whoever initiated the idea) will have a location in mind. That location could be exciting for some and a ‘Nah, I’m good’ for others. 

You should expect that someone in the group will suggest somewhere else and attempt to change the plan. Affirm that the location is as is, and keep it pushing. Remove sis from the group if she’s not with it. No hard feelings, because there will be other trips. 

Tip if their presence will be missed: You can low key guilt trip her by suggesting that this will be the first of many for this group, nothing like FOMO to get people on board. 

Step three: The Budget!

Some women believe the budget should be the first step. Those are yearly budgeters that you want to keep around! However, for the sake of this article, it is step 3. 

For your trip budget, you will need to take a vote. 

You can create a poll in GroupMe and track who participates. Multiple polls can be created for queries such as price range for excursions, lodging per person, and food/drink per person, etc.

Tip: don’t create a new poll until the previous poll is voted on and agreed upon.

Step four: The Lodging!!

It’s not just about deciding on where to book. It is also about deciding on who will get the largest bed or bedroom and who will have to sleep in the open area/on the couch. The benefit of a group is that there is someone who will be willing to take one for the team. The little people always get the short end of the stick, so don’t volunteer your smallest friend. Allow them to volunteer on their own. Besides, if you can stretch out comfortably in a bathtub, you can take the couch for the team. 

Depending on your budget, everyone may end up sleeping equally comfy, in separate rooms, or sharing beds. 

Pro Tip: If the lodge is large enough, bring your own blow-up mattress and linens. 

Either way, the most important part is how much does the Hotel/Air BnB/HomeAway/Suite cost? Is it within your budget or significantly cheaper than your budget? 

Other factors to consider:

What are the amenities?

What are the house rules (if applicable)?

Is it near the action you seek or remote enough?

Is it renovated or run down?


Tip: If you are all booking flights somewhere, research all package sites such as Expedia. Adjust the budget as necessary.

Pro Tip: Whoever is making the deposit will be in charge of selecting a top 10 for lodging space. The top 10 should be multiple inputs from the group, not just your top 10. Once the top 10 is chosen, take a vote for the top 3 lodging spaces. 

Then you (depositor) decide on 2 lodging spaces for the rest of the group to vote between. (if there is a tie, then you would also vote on your number 1 pick.)

Step five: Making the Payments!!!!!

Pay the deposit. 

Pro Tip: divide the deposit into two and then divide that number by each person going. Collect that cost from each person immediately! Just because the full payment is going on your card doesn’t mean you should suffer too much from anyone dropping out last minute. 

Create a payment schedule. Whenever the final payment is due to the lodging, you should have four payments due to you in the meantime. Some women may need to wait and pay in full but, I encourage you all to make smaller payments throughout so there will be no excuses about being forgetful. Or someone not having the large lump sum at the last minute. Some women may pay upfront, out of sight, out of mind, but put that money towards the lodging immediately… 

Tip: If you are all booking flights somewhere, research all package sites such as Expedia.

Once the final payment is made. Celebrate! (Unless, of course, a pandemic hits and cancels all travel plans.)

Step six: The Committees

Committees are super necessary for a girl’s trip, especially if it’s a long trip or a cabin trip. 

Once the mini committee’s duties are filled, and final payments are sent, you are officially ready for your Girl’s Trip! Have Fun, Be Safe, Relax, Rejuvenate, and Turn up! 

Part Two

Our First Date 

March 5, 2017 4:00pm 


“Napping. What you doing?” I replied.

“Getting some things together. It’s my bday! So it’s a supreme situation all day.”

“Happy Birthday! You’re on the move, meanwhile, I’m playing mom trying to get the other two up. Foxy in here singing and cooking like somebody auntie.” 

“I feel you, well hit me up when y’all get moving.”

“Bet, we have massage appointments this afternoon, so we need to get moving soon.”

Twenty minutes went by and then another hour to get ready and walk out. I’m telling y’all, it is me x3 when I travel with the clique. 

“So where is your appointment at? I can meet you there?”

“It’s at Essence Spa but that plan is scrapped because their electricity is out.” 

“Your fake name too ha. Well, Damn. So what now? We going to the David Copperfield show you want to come?” he asked.

“Shh. It’s a real one in a way. What time? Yes. How much are tickets?”

“I can get yours but I dunno if your friends want to come or not.”

“What time? It’s most likely going to be my twin and me.”

“9 o’clock. $132. I got yours and it’s a table for four so your friend would be sat somewhere nearby if she came.”

If she came? Of course, she’s coming. I’m not getting kidnapped out here, oh no. 

“Okay, that’s perfect!”

Since he was a stranger, I asked my twin to go and she agreed as long as I paid for half. Luckily there was one seat left in the theater.

“We literally found the only empty seat in the theater. So, i’ll see you later. We also decided to stay in this dark ass spa. They’re lighting candles and the electricity may come back on during our sessions. I’ll text you after.”

“Okay cool. Just hit me up. We can meet at my place before?”

“Possibly, we have dinner plans. Where are you located?”

“The Cosmopolitan right now. 66th floor.”

“Okay. I’ll check back in with you later.”



We ended up meeting at will call. 

“Kaya, Ian. Ian, Kaya.” 

“Hi, nice to see you again.” He said giving her a half hug. “Did you enjoy yourself last night?”

“I did. Those massages today were definitely needed.” She responded. 

“Are y’all excited to see this?”

“Oh for sure. I’ve never been to a magic show.” I replied.

“Next in line.” The will call personnel called out to us. We moved forward. “Name?”

“Alexis Jackson.”

Ian chuckled.

“I.D.?” the personnel asked with her hand out. 

I handed it to her. “What’s funny Ian?”

“Nothing Ms. Jackson.” He smiled.

“Thank you. Here’s your ticket.” The personnel handed the ticket to my twin.

“Tell me what’s funny. I want to laugh too.”

“Okay. I can show you better than I can tell you,” he said as he removed his I.D. from his wallet, “My last name is Jackson too.”

“No way. Let me see that.” I grabbed his I.D. Sure enough, we shared the same last name.

“You know…”

“What, Mr. Jackson?” I teased. 

“Nothing.” He said as he led us into the theater. 

Inside, I was reintroduced to the engaged couple. I slid into the booth and sat next to the woman with Ian on my right. My twin sat directly in front of me and the lights went low. 

The show began, and it was a blend of comedy and magic. Copperfield brought out the cutest little foreigner and Ian teased that we looked alike. It was at that moment that Ian put his arm around my neck. I tensed up for a few minutes. But as the show continued on, it grew chillier in the theater and I cozied up as close as possible.

“That was awesome.” I shared with everyone as the lights came back on.

“I’ve never seen anything like it.” the woman shared.

“Yea I was impressed but i’ve been looking around trying to figure out the tricks,” Ian said, “This is his theater so I’m sure there’s something set up in here to pull that off.”

“Let the magic remain a mystery.” I responded as we walked toward the theater exit.

“Did you enjoy it?” Ian asked Twin.

“It was a great show, but I agree Ian. There has to be something set up in here.”

“See, she knows,” he nudged me, “Are ya’ll coming out tonight?”

“No, I’m pretty exhausted from the massage and foot detox from earlier. I need to rest.”

“Rookie mistake touring the strip in heels. I get it. Hopefully I get to see you before I fly out.”

“Hopefully! Happy Birthday and thanks again for inviting me.” I hugged him and waved goodbye to the couple.


Back at the condo, Ian and I conversed throughout the night until I fell asleep. 

“Don’t forget to let me know when you wake!”

“I’m definitely not going to forget about yo sexy ass.”


I woke up to a smiling creeper Foxy. “Are you making breakfast?” I asked.

“Ha no. We ran out of breakfast food. Dude, I’m salty. I’m hungry.”

“I’m sure you’ll find something.”

“There’s nothing.” She whined. Kaya pulled the covers over her head as I grabbed my phone.

“Shhhh. Let’s not wake the bear.” I giggled. I looked down at my phone and cackled.


“I got the booty call message. LOOK!”

Hey wyd


“Ahhhhh. He thought!” we twerked in the kitchen. 

“Look! We still have shit.” I swung the cabinet open and held up the liquor.

“Dude. I know you are not.”

“It’s Vegas. The V in Vegas stands for Vacation, which translates to ‘let’s get wasted’. I’m making a pitcher of sex on the beach.”

“Just waking up.” I responded to Ian as I grabbed more ingredients for breakfast.

“So how did your date go last night?” Justice spoke from across the room.

“It went well, surprisingly. I was mad comfortable,” I said, “But peep, that magic show was dope as fuck. I wish I could’ve taken photos. That little alien he brought out was so cute.”

“How was he? Was there a vibe?” Foxy asked.

“Yes, there was a vibe. What exactly that is, idk. Think he wants the cat. But he was a gentleman though. It was chill. Note, I didn’t get kidnapped.” My phone buzzed.

“Lol, it be like that. I wanted to see you again before I left.” 

I started the blender. “Yea, I totally don’t remember falling asleep either. And me too.”

“Ima send a Lyft to bring you over here. If you’re down….”

I poured my drink into a glass and bounced over to Justice, jumping on her. “Am I down sis? AM I DOWN?” I laughed showing her the message.


“Nah. Can’t eem do it bra.” Foxy chimed in.

I woke the sleeping bear from her half slumber. “What do you think, should I entertain this?”

She sucked her teeth at me. “Lex. You already know you’re not going. Let me sleep.” 

I laughed. “But you know, maybe it could just be a link-up. We could hang out by the pool. Have a poolside chat. Couple drinks. Maybe some fruit.”

We laughed and I heard the others laughing too. “You know damn well if you go over there, you’re fucking.”

“True. But I’m not fucking. Hashtag, celibate.” “What are you trying to do?” I finally responded.

“Well we got ‘til 11… just chill, watch a movie, I can give a decent massage. See where it goes from there… Idk if you’re drinking this early or not but that’s always available lol food etc.”

“Hmmm. This sounds like some fun kind of trouble. I’m trying to behave though.”

“There’s no such thing as behaving in Vegas. This is sin city. Besides, I dunno when I’ll see you again and we should make the most of each moment.”

“All facts lol.”

“So send me your address and let me know when you’re ready?”

“I want to see you too. Outside. Daylight. Where the good women roam.”

“Lol bet. What would you like to do, beautiful? My flight leaves at 1 and I have to check out at 11.”

“Brunch or gamble?”

“I don’t have an appetite, but we can definitely do something slow. You play poker?”

“Na, I only know how to play blackjack.”

“Okay. Your casino? Mine? I’m about to get dressed.”

“Mine. Southpoint. You can bring your bags here and leave straight to the airport. 9940 S Las Vegas Blvd.”

“I’m on the way.”


“Alright y’all he is on the way and we’re going to the casino over yonder.”

“He’s coming in here?” they asked in unison.

I looked around. “Uhm. No. Ima just set his bag in here but no.”

“What will we do today?”

“Idk. It’s my last day, we can turn up or explore. Y’all have the remainder of the week to do whatever. Just let me know. How’s the sex on the beach Foxy?”

“It’s good. Now that y’all bitches up I’m going to play music.” When the beat dropped we had a twerk session. 


He arrived, I took his bag in and forced him to drink a sex on the beach with me. Then we walked over to the South Point Casino. We discussed our lives, careers, goals, family, weird quirks and destinations on our travel list.

Time flew by and it was almost time for him to head out, so we left the casino.

Back at the timeshare, I brought a chair into the foyer and sat on his lap, cowgirl. He asked me more personal questions as we waited for his Lyft to arrive. During so, my eyes betrayed me because he asked,

“What are you looking at?”

To which I responded, “Those juicy ass lips.” 

He looked down at his phone, two minutes until arrival. We kissed until the Lyft pinged that it had arrived. 

“You know I can cancel this Lyft and reschedule this flight.”

“Lol, no. Not a good idea. You should get back.”


We kissed again. 

I pulled his bag from behind the closed door and hugged him tight.

“I’ll see you soon.”

I laughed. We probably won’t ever see each other again. But that was fun.

I still texted “Thank you for being the perfect gentleman. Have a safe flight!”

“You’re welcome. It got tough at the end there but no problem lol it was very nice meeting you. Hit me up when you’re on the way home.”

“I agree and okay, will do.”

Part One

The old saying goes, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and I defied that.

How We Met

Foxy, J-Bae, Twin and I were due for another trip and turn up. This time it was a $45 stay Las Vegas, Nevada. They planned to be there for an entire week, but I had a full- overtime career and could only stay for the weekend.

I knew that every time we cliqued up, shit got wild and hectic, so I decided to create an itinerary. Activities included everything except food.

We missed all of them.

For those of you that know me and my issues with timeliness, the clique is me x4. Having made the mistake of ignoring this fact, I lied about the check-in time for the last club adventure at Drai’s.

In line, drunk AF, we rehearsed our fake names and decided on a designated phony number to give out. It took us three rounds to settle on and remember them. For the record, my fake name was Essence.

“So, should I call you Alexis now and Essence when we get upstairs?” a tall, thick lipped, I-talian smiled our way. My girls shushed him.

“You can’t give away our secrets.” as I replied as the line moved forward. I looked around him. “Where are your friends?”

“They’re all asleep. Lames. It’s our last night in Vegas and everyone is dead.”

“Well I’ll be your wingman for the night.” Foxy locked arms with him as we all inched forward.

“Yay! Cheers to new friends.” he gave each of us a high-five. “What are the names again?”

We introduced our night time, drunken, selves to him and reminded him not to slip up.

“I’m not going to remember names at all then, I’ll just say HEY!” he laughed.


It was dark inside the nightclub, so we did a walkthrough to get a glimpse of the space.

Drai’s vibe was below my expectations. I assumed Vegas would be big lit 25/8. Confused, I treated Drai’s like any other club and walked towards the front near the dance floor. A rope blocked my path.

viceland GIF by Big Night Out

“Why can’t we be on the dancefloor, what kind of nonsense?” I asked aloud.

“Nelly is set to perform soon.” A club worker responded.

I didn’t see him at first, but gahdamn he scared me.

“Oh word? Nelly who? Furtado? If she’s performing we’ve got to go. This is not the vibe I was looking for.”

“No. HA! No. Nelly. Nelly like, if ya wanna take a ride with me Nelly.” he said doing a lil jig. I juged with him for a moment.

Then I turned to my girls, smirking.

“NELLY IS PERFORMING!!” I yelled belligerently. “We need to find a spot to see ‘em.” J-Bae was the only person who matched my enthusiasm.

The lights went down, and we followed Foxy away from the dance floor. Some music was going and a man grabbed her by the waist into a section. We followed suit.

The beat dropped.

happy dance party GIF by Bounce

Men in the section reached for each of us, J-Bae slid away from the handsome stranger that attempted to dance with her. I felt a hand on my thigh and looked back.

“Are you single?” I asked pointing to the other women in the section.

He shook his head up and down and proceeded to grab me by my waistline. We swayed back in forth in his attempt at dancing.

At the beginning of the next song, a girl approached me and whispered, “It’s my best friend’s birthday, this is her section, and you’re dancing with her boyfriend.”

x factor omg GIF by X Factor Global


I donkey kicked his leg and watched him fall back into his seat. I let the clique know what happened and we climbed the seats to exit her section. We passed by the girlfriend, I apologized and wished her a happy birthday.

Out of sight, Foxy, Twin, and J-Bae laughed. “We could’ve turned up with them girls instead. Should’ve kicked them niggas out!”

“Right, like I wish my nigga would be dancing in MY section with another bitch.”

“Niggas ain’t shit.”

“Oh well, free drinks!” Still lit we walked and danced our way doing another walk through. I led them to the top of Drai’s because I wanted to see Nelly. We were in a clear area, away from the crowd that was growing within the sections. That’s when this rolling beat came in and I couldn’t control my inner ratchet self…

I was mobbin’ through the beach, yeah the city by the sea Mama tried to keep me home, but I love the fuckin’ streets

My girls danced near me and hyped up whatever phony dance I did, although they hated the song and were probably embarrassed. (Real Friends)

Mid jig, I was stopped by a bouncer.

“Excuse me ladies, can y’all come this way?” The bouncer pointed to some man sitting behind a velvet rope.

“My mama said don’t talk to strangers sir.” I slurred. So, he introduced himself to me as he escorted us toward the rope.

There sat the man that invited us, another man and a woman with more than a bottle per person. I turned to Foxy,

“What do they want with us?” as I looked around to check for signs of a threat.

“I’m not going.” She said.

“It’s Vegas, let’s live a little,” I responded nodding towards the bottles, “I’ll be able to see Nelly from that spot.”

I heard Nelly’s voice on the mic and couldn’t see, so my happy ass walked right past the rope with the clique in toe. We introduced ourselves and the man poured up. He spoke with Twin and Foxy while Justice and I drank, twerked and turned up to Nelly’s performance.

At some point the man told us it was his birthday and Twin turned into Te’kaila real quick. If you don’t know what that means, you won’t ever know. Although he had me record some of the turn up on his phone.

zip it sharon stone GIF by Team Coco

Nelly’s performance ended, the bottles were empty and the three of them were making moves to leave. We thanked him and bid the others well wishes on their engagement and a safe trip. One foot out of the velvet rope and Twin disappeared.

Regular music was being played and I figured she was on her way to the dance floor. To my surprise, she was flying above me. Some rando had lifted her up into his section. Other members of his group helped each of us up too.

Shots were in our hands before names were exchanged.

alcohol partying GIF

Names were never exchanged.

After all the time we spent rehearsing our names, we didn’t need them.

I took another shot.

“Hey you!”

I looked around.

“I’m talking to you!” Some rando was down below yelling up at me at the top of his lungs.

“Haaahn?” I asked. For your information, my hearing is the first to go when I am under the influence. If you’re not the bass of a song, you might as well beat it.

“Come down here.” I imagined him say.

“I CAN’T HEAR,” I yelled as I sat down on the ledge, “I’M LEGALLY DEAF WHEN I’M DRUNK. P.O.P. HOL IT DOWN!”

“I’m not playing with you.” I imagined him say as he lifted me down to the floor. I locked eyes with the bouncer. He gave me a nod. I hoped he was looking out for me.

The rando conversed at me as I smiled and mmhmm‘d. Then he lifted me back up into the section and stepped back for a muscle flex.

The clique and I kicked it with them, drank and left their section for the dance floor. We found the rhythm in every song, no matter how corny it may have sounded. It was packed and hot.

“HEYY!” someone was right in my ear. I turned to my side confused. It was the I-talian from the line. We danced.

I blinked and it was 4:00am.

The clique and I left Drai’s and walked two blocks to a designated pick up area for our Lyft. The wind was so strong I thought I heard someone call out, “Essence.” I smiled to myself.

“Someone is calling you, Essence.” J-Bae said. We all turned around to see who it was.

The man that invited us into his section, was running across the street towards us. “I’ve been calling your name for a block.”

“I can’t really hear when I’m drunk. Thought it was the whistling of the wind.”

A conversation at that moment would’ve been useless. So we exchanged numbers instead.

call you wiz khalifa GIF

Back at the resort I goofed around with the baes until we were too tired to look at each other any longer. At the crack of dawn I woke up to messages from the man…

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