A Taste of Summer

“I left home but there’s one thing that I still know,
It’s always summer in my heart and in my soul.”

— Yellowcard, “Always Summer”

We stood at the top of the hill on Shoreline Drive and I started to remember all of the people I’ve seen skate down it.  I once saw some guy walk up from the beach and ride down the hill on a skateboard with a surfboard in hand.  If he could do that, it’d be easy-peasy for me.  Or, at least, that’s what I tried to think.

I thought we were just gonna go for an easy ride through the park.  It was dusk on a Monday evening and we had followed my parents to the park on their evening walk.

The cruise through the park was nice – there was a little hill I managed to skate through (after stopping and telling everyone I was scared).  Now, we were standing at the crest of a larger hill at the edge of Shoreline Park.

Lex went first.  He was always the brave one even when we were younger.  He pushed off the ground and rode his tiny skateboard down the hill, weaving back and forth between bike lanes in a wave motion.

Eugene followed.  I saw him bail out about half-way down.  That was always an option.

Then Niko and I stood at the hill’s crest.

I put my board on the ground and Niko muttered to himself, “I can do this,” while he put Freelines on the ground and pushed off.

We rushed down the hill.  The pavement was really rocky and made loud scraping sounds as the plastic wheels on my board turned.  I jumped off of my board half-way down and chased it for a little bit as gravity took it further towards the flat part before the hill.

Niko and I kept getting back on and then jumping off when we felt like we were losing control until we reached the place where Lex and Eugene were waiting.

As I walked back up the hill with Niko and Lex and Eugene, I felt excited that I actually tried going down the hill.

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That evening felt like the beginning of summer.  Not because of the longer day or the fact that it’s June. I was spending time with good people, enjoying the everlasting sunshine, and having a sort-of adventure down the hill.

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An Anniversary Poem

"anniversary"

the road runs underneath us
and orange lights pass
through the windows of our car
as we drive home

you sleep in the 
passenger seat

and i drive and drive 
and think about that day

we wore our best -
a tux and a white dress

and we stood before 
a crowd of people

i told you that 
i'd love you
for better or worse

i told you that i'd love you
for all the days
of your life

and you held your 
left hand out to me

and i slipped a golden ring
around your fourth finger

you smiled 

(i think the whole world 
lights up when 
you smile
by the way)

and as we drive down 
this road

i think about that smile
and all the smiles 
and tears and laughter and anger
i've seen since then

i will drive and drive and 
i will wait eagerly

to see that whatever comes
when you wake

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for my parents, who have taught me that love requires dedication, patience and sacrifice, and that there are no limitations to what love can do. happy anniversary!

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The Year in Transition

“Will I be something?
Am I something?

And the answer comes:
I already am.
I always was.
And I still have time to be.”

— Anis Mojgani, “Here Am I”

 

Things can get a little crazy during graduation time...

Things can get a little crazy during graduation time…

I’ve been seeing a lot of news coverage of graduation commencement speeches.  Sandra Bullock surprised a senior class at a New Orleans high school with a short address and Charlie Day yelled at the Class of 2014 at Merrimack College.  They gave certain advice to graduates such as:

  • Bet on yourself
  • Don’t pick your nose in public
  • Make your own opportunities
  • Leave the house with a skip in your step
  • Don’t give a shit about what people think

Of course, seeing all of these commencement videos reminds me of my own graduation, which took place a year ago.

We didn’t have a super famous person come to our school.  I kind of remember that he was a pretty successful entrepreneur and that he talked about Hurricane Sandy.  But I don’t remember really what his advice to us was.

I do remember being scared and sad for a lot of weeks after graduation.  Scared that I was back at home to no job prospects or graduate school prospects.  Sad that I left the happy, comfortable home I made in San Diego with my friends.  Life had just become fifty times more confusing than it was before I got a diploma.

Despite all the wisdom and advice that people tried to pass on to me, I did not take chances or do something crazy.  I didn’t move across the country to start a new life.  I didn’t join the Peace Corp.  I played it safe.

My life is pretty simple as of now because of this.  I have two part-time jobs now, meaning that I make my own money and am able to slowly pay off my student loans.  I live in my childhood home.  I am surrounded by the love and support of my family and friends.  I live in a town that just declared a stage two drought condition and I live with two dogs.

I have career and life goals, but you don’t need to hear more about them.

I’ve realized that I can talk about my goals over and over again, but the thing that really matters is what I’m doing right now to make them happen.

When I graduated, I thought that I had to be doing something amazing right now, one year after graduating.  I actually know some people from my class who are doing the extraordinary.  Some of my classmates are in the Peace Corp and some have moved or plan to move far away from their homes to start a new career.  But I’m not them.

So what am I doing right now?  What am I going to do after I finish this blog post?  Will I keep marathon-ing television shows that I’ve watched before on Netflix?  Will I ever finish that story I’ve been working on?  Will I go take pictures of those purple trees that I saw yesterday?

Probably neither of these things.  I will probably put on my shoes, do my make-up, and go to work, where I will be picking up half-eaten string cheese from the ground and getting tear stains on my jeans.

While it’s not glamourous (I don’t think taking care of children will ever be anything close to it), I have the job for a reason, and until further notice, it’s what I’m doing now.  And I can’t really picture myself doing anything else at this moment.

It doesn’t really matter if what I’m doing right now is amazing or not.  Because there are a lot of amazing things ahead for me that I’m building towards.

And all I have to do is concentrate on what I’m doing now.

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Peaceful Hotel Hangout

Poolside hangout with the bestie.  

Poolside hangout with the bestie.

There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned stay-cation to get shake up my routine.

This week, I had the opportunity to take myself on a little road trip to Los Angeles to reunite with friends and my boyfriend.

I love road trips.  I love just jumping in the car and actively propelling myself towards a destination.

The drive to LA is nice because it’s a short drive, only an hour and a half and it’s usually sunny and warm so I can roll the windows down and open up the sun/moon roof.  Yes, the traffic is terrible in the area, but it’s not too bad if I leave at the right time.

While I stayed in Glendale, I spent most of the day driving around the city and meeting up with my friends at different places.

They were attending a concert on Tuesday night, so we spent the whole day at their hotel downtown, the JW Marriot Los Angeles LA Live.  I was worried about parking, but it was actually an ok time for me – it was a weekday morning, so I probably should not have worried so much.

We spent the morning poolside.  It was bright and then cool, but it was peaceful.  It was nice to do nothing and to talk about random things with trusted friends.

Plenty of clouds floated through the sky on Tuesday. 

Plenty of clouds floated through the sky on Tuesday.

Why does she have to live 2,000 miles away?

Why does she have to live 2,000 miles away?

I also creepily took pictures as they got ready for their concert.  I loved the light in the room…

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After I left them to do their thing at their concert, I drove back to Glendale to spend time with my boyfriend.

As I drove around by myself, I found myself wanting to go to Griffith Park just to stare at the Los Angeles skyline or having the desire to go to a Dodgers game the next time I had the opportunity.

There is definitely something about Los Angeles.  I’d love to live in a big city like this someday, but we will see what happens.

With all this and nostalgia for times when I was surrounded by friends, my head has definitely been filled with plenty of thoughts.  For now, however, I’m still trying to soak up all the peace and quiet of doing no work before my spring break ends.

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Rediscovering the Wonders Within Books

There is nothing so magical as a good book.  

There is nothing so magical as a good book.

When I was a kid, I remember going to a small library near my elementary school a few days in the week after school.  It was quiet and bright space, with no more than three small rooms full of books, with one room dedicated to children’s and teen books.

My brothers and I would scan all of the shelves and baskets in that room and each borrow a few books with our own library cards.  I remember that I loved reading Amelia Bedelia books and the Amelia’s Notebook series.  I must have had a thing for the name.  Or looked in the same section all the time.

This was a time in my life when I started to really latch onto certain books and types of stories.  I loved fantasy books and reading about other worlds.  Wherever I went, I would bring a book with me.  I would read at the dinner table, read in the car on the way to a party, or read in between my classes in middle school.  All of my copies of the Harry Potter books are worn out due to this.

My poor, taped-up copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone went with me to all places, including to Europe.  

My poor, taped-up copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone went with me to all places, including to Europe.

I don’t know if it was an exactly healthy habit.  Of course, reading is seen as a good, smart thing to be doing because it expands the mind and increases vocabulary and all of that.  However, I feel as though books were a way to close myself off from the world. From high school to college, I started reading less – more because I started watching television, having a social life, and because homework required me to read certain books. During this post-grad time, reading now has a new meaning for me.

While I still love fictitious stories and worlds,  I find that I am also interested in reading about the real world. For example, the last time I went to the library, I picked out a couple of books about photography.  I’ve always liked taking pictures, but what makes photography an art form?  Reading about how certain artists saw the medium will help me understand it.

I guess it may sound like I’m trying to be an expert at something, but it comes down to this difference: I don’t have to become an expert on Ansel Adams – I can read about and look at his works for the sake of learning about photography.  And if for some reason I don’t enjoy it or connect with, I can move on to something else without consequence.

So as of now, I am enjoying my reading time and exploring the world/s within these books, with the hope that it will eventually expand my own reality as well.

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Letter to Self | “Bahala na…”

"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like."  - Lao Tzu

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu

Yesterday, I realized that Memorial Day Weekend 2014 is the weekend of many happenings:

  • My parents’ anniversary
  • My best friend will be back in California
  • The graduation of the Class of 2015 from USD
  • My cousin’s wedding
  • One of the weekends I planned to spend with my long-distance boyfriend

The first thing I thought of is how I could possibly be at each occasion and how I should prioritize them.

Naturally, the things that come first are family events, so weddings and anniversaries should be at the top. I have a lifetime obligation to my family and they will always come first.  However, there are things that are important to me outside of my family members and I know that I will regret missing them.

Then I thought, “It’s not fair.”  It’s not fair that so many important occasions are happening within two days’ time.

As I talked to my boyfriend last night, I kind of imploded with frustration.  There is no way that I will be present at everything, esp. since all of these events will be happening at different places within the two days of the weekend.

Whenever my plans go awry, I think of a Filipino saying that I learned about last year: Bahala na, which loosely translates to either “Come what may,” or “Whatever will be, will be.”  My mom also says Bahala na ang diyos which means “Leave it up to God.”

I’ve heard this phrase a lot in my years of listening to the language, but I didn’t learn the meaning until last year at a workshop for Filipino history.  I connected with the phrase immediately because of all the chaos that I was experiencing at the time during my second-to-last semester of college.  On top of my school work, I was working on campus, I was a student leader in the Filipino organization, I was having car troubles, and I was having financial aid problems.

That semester, I kept thinking,”maybe if I didn’t do so-and-so, then I would have been able to avoid all the trouble.”  But, the fact that everything was happening at once wasn’t under my control.  It just happened that way.  And looking back at the events that transpired that semester, I don’t regret anything that I participated in at all.  If I’ve learned anything from experiences like that and my current situation, it’s that nothing ever goes as planned. And all you can do is roll with it.

So, as I make my plans for the summer and throughout my life, I just have to remember that life goes on.  When things don’t happen as I plan them, I want to remember that it will be ok and that Fate or God has another path for me to follow.

I want to keep telling myself, “bahala na, bahala na,” like a tattoo on my heart.

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Letter to Self | Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

While attempting to get back in the yoga game last week, my focus became a little skewed.

While attempting to get back in the yoga game last week, my focus became a little skewed.

Sometimes, you can look at a picture of something hanging in a museum or see a person doing some sort of activity and say, “Pshhh, that’s easy, I can do that.”  That is what I was thinking last week as I scrolled through Tumblr and saw my fellow bloggers posting pictures of themselves doing some yoga moves.  

However, when you actually set out to do what you’re seeing someone else do, it’s not really the same.  

After skipping out on yoga for a couple of months, I was inspired to get back on the mat after following a couple of yoga blogs by doing a yoga challenge.  

Previously, my practice was a combination between yoga videos from Tara Stiles and a beginner’s sequence from B.K.S. Iyengar’s yoga bible, Light on Yoga.  I tried some old poses that I knew from these yoga series’ and new poses from the yoga challenge.

It was hard to do a simple triangle pose and other standing poses from the beginner’s series, and I couldn’t even dream of doing some of the arm balances from the yoga challenge.  It was difficult and disappointing.  

Part of my failure to do some of these easy poses was that I haven’t done yoga in awhile.  The other, larger part of the problem was that I was trying to do moves that were at an intermediate/advanced level that I just wasn’t ready for.   

I’ve always enjoyed challenging myself, but this challenge in particular was different.  Not because I couldn’t do the challenge, but because of the motivation behind me wanting to do try it out.  I wanted to prove to people that I could do certain poses.  I wanted to have cool pictures on my Tumblr and be bendy and graceful.  

I realized that I cannot have cool pictures and be bendy and graceful like other people.  I can only be me.   

Something that I’ve been constantly reminded of when I watch Pilates videos by Cassey Ho of Blogilates is that everyone is on their own fitness journey.  In the same way, I’m on my own yoga journey, I’m on my own relationship journey, I’m on my own career path, and so on.  

I don’t want to sound defeatist or sound like I’m limiting myself.  However, I can really only do what’s within my physical and mental limits – for the time being.  But I can always stretch those limits.  I can still go for those challenging yoga poses, but I have to remember that it won’t look like what other people are doing.  Yoga is about practice, not perfection.  My practice will never be perfect the first, second, or twentieth time.  I can also attempt a career in journalism and attempt other challenging life stuff, but I can never have a career like other writers or follow the same life path as another person.   

I can only ever be me.  So why beat myself up if I can’t be like someone else?    

Rough, Rough Drafts | “Ode to Laundry Pile”

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Here’s a rough, rough draft of something that’s been on my mind all week – laundry.  I’ve had a huge pile in my room since the holidays.  I set some time aside to do it this week, but every time I’ve checked our home’s washing machine, it’s been occupied.

I’ve also been itching to write something new and show it, even if it’s not perfect.  I’ve been working on some drafts of old short stories and working on some other stuff, so this blog has kind of gone by the wayside for the past two weeks.  There’s a draft I’m working on where the opening lines are just stumping me.

Drafts are never perfect, especially first drafts.  I can already see things I want to revise after I post, but I think I will always see things that I want to change, even if I get lucky enough to publish stuff.

So here’s to celebrating the rough, rough drafts and imperfection.

Ode to laundry pile

Monday, just a pair of underwear and a towel, slightly damp / Tuesday, my favorite jeans after a walk on the boardwalk / Wednesday, more underwear, more t-shirts, and a pair of socks / / It’s Sunday now and you’ve outgrown your laundry basket // I’m sorry – I’ll wash you soon.

The Resolution

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At the end of the day, there is only one resolution I need to keep.

Yesterday morning, I sat in the cramped dining room of my grandmother’s home with my cousins, Sam and JP.  We ate fried spam, vienna sausages, and eggs, sunny-side up on paper plates with flowers printed on the edges.

It didn’t feel like the last day of 2013 until they started talking about New Year’s Resolutions.

Sam, the older sibling, a little girl with long, dark hair, and a shy smile said that she wasn’t making any resolutions.

“Nobody ever keeps their resolutions, anyways,” she said.  She laughed.

“My New Year’s resolution is to help people come up with their resolution,” said JP, younger with the same dark hair and big eyes.

The two are no more than 10 years old.  When I was that age, I think I was coming up with resolutions to do better in school or maybe to eat less candy that year.  I don’t think I ever thought that I’d fail in my resolutions and I never thought of not making one because others failed in keeping their resolutions.

“What is your New Year’s resolution, Ate?” they asked, using the Filipino term of respect meaning “older sister.”

I laughed, spitting out some egg yolk.  They had just told me that they weren’t making any resolutions, but they expected me to make some and to keep them.

The last few years, I have made similar resolutions: to work harder in school, to spend more time with family friends, to exercise more, and to read more or do more things other than spend time on the computer.  I’ve never really kept track of them because I’ve been too busy with school and now that I’m out of school, these are things that I am constantly trying to get better at.

So what’s my resolution?  I told my little cousins that I wanted to apply to grad school.  I don’t know if that’s a real resolution.  But I think the last New Year’s Resolution I need to make is to try and be the best version of myself everyday.  To me, this means exercising as much as I can, being good person to my family and friends, eating yummy food, etc.

And, if I’m trying to be my best everyday, it means that every morning is a new chance to be better.  Life doesn’t renew itself once a year – it happens day by day.

Checklist for 2013

2014 is just around the corner! I feel as though September through November just came and went.  It is hard to believe that just a few months ago, I had just moved back home and had started my job hunt.

For the past few years at around this time of year, I have always had a clear objective for the next year: do well in school and maintain a balanced college life.  Right now, after the first “semester” of no school and no extracurricular activities for me, I have time to reflect on the past year and on certain goals that I haven’t achieved yet or want to achieve in 2014 (outside of crazy Christmas shopping and celebrations).

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The typical weekly schedule and checklist during my school days. Balanced? Ehh… Crazy? Of course.

As I think about everything that I’ve done this year, naturally, what comes up is what I haven’t done.  Specifically, I think about different items on my various reminder lists on my phone and different things I have been thinking of doing all year round but never got a chance to.

1. Open up an IRA (Individual Retirement Account)

For the past few months, I’ve been living on a new budget.  I’ve been saving half of my earning and then allocating the rest into different things I want to save up for – either spending money, food money, money for a trip I’m planning on taking… etc.  It’s been going well so far and I’ve been able to save up and stay within my budget.  Of course, the holidays are taking a toll on my savings, but I’ll just have to start saving hardcore when 2014 rolls around.  Along with saving up spending money and such, I’ve also been saving money to put into an IRA.  I’ve been debating which kind of IRA to do, even though I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with a Roth IRA and I have people who can help me decide.  But it’s something I’ve been procrastinating on and want to get done this week.

2. Schedule a doctor’s appointment

I had always had a doctor around (my dad) and I never got in the habit of getting a regular check-up because I never really needed one.  Being on my own in a sense in college made me realize that there are some things that I can’t really ask my dad about or want to (i.e. vaginal health, etc.) and that I should start getting regular check-ups.  I think in September I asked my dad who is a good doctor to go to and he gave me a name but I never called the office.  I probably won’t be able to go until January, but just getting it scheduled is all I want to do.

3. Finish my book

When I was in school, one of the things that I really wanted to do was read for pleasure.  Now that I’m done with it, I have read 2 books so far, The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont and Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I remember reading at a faster pace than 2 months per book when I was younger and of course, there were much less distractions like Netflix and Facebook to keep me from reading.  I am currently reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards and am making it a goal to finish it with these next 2 weeks left in 2013.

So there’s the list of goals I have for the rest of 2013! While these goals aren’t really life-changing, I feel like they’ll propel me into a healthier, more financially conscious, and well-read new year.

Asides from that, it always feels nice to check something off of your list.

Let me know if there’s anything you want to get done before 2013 is over and thanks for reading!