Category Archives: life

Pure Imagination

After a long week, my boyfriend and I thought about cooking dinner for all of a minute before heading to the corner ramen place. While waiting for our order, the topic of conversation eventually landed on family. “He’s just so smart, so intelligent,” I gushed about my nephew in particular, “obsessed with science and facts; he’s just so knowledgeable about it all—“.

“Geez, when will people learn that all of that just comes down to curiosity,” my boyfriend countered.

“But…” I started, then paused, careful to choose my words, letting my brain chew on the idea instead. “I’m sorry, what?”

“Oh, I don’t mean it personally,” he stressed, “it’s just that nearly everyone says that about their kid. Don’t you remember being that age? How easy it was to be obsessed with something? I swear I knew the name of every dinosaur at that age,” he laughed.

He made an interesting point. I did remember being that age. Childhood was an actual thing growing up, not just something on TV. It was a time of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, and playing in the rain with galoshes and oversized umbrellas. From the crossing-guard to the principal, our school community was one of the best there was, contributing to a warmth carried in my heart to this day.  Bicycle rodeos and festivals were held during the fall, holiday pageants during the winter, reading achievement awards each month and student-vs.-teacher kickball games each summer. It was the ideal if not perfect environment for imagination and creativity.

Our waitress set two mugs of Sapporo on the table. My shoulders dropped. I did remember being that age. “But that doesn’t mean he’s not intelligent,” I said, my gaze meeting his, a suppression of mild annoyance.  “You’re totally right. Time will tell,” he remarked, and I perked up a bit. “But look,” he continued, “unless a kid is an actual prodigy — like, dabbling in quantam physics, speaking several languages, or writing symphonies — by hand — chances are they are just like any other kid.”

His brain had digested the notion long ago. After about twenty good chews, my brain was ready to absorb it.

Sinking back into the booth, I could almost hear my mom, “You attended Spanish classes after lunch, completely fluent; even sang in the Spanish-language pageant in first grade. What happened?” I was considered gifted in school, earned money towards a scholarship in second grade, and and worked on the school newspaper after school. What did happen?

My boyfriend checked his email, disappearing from peripheral view. I should be happy, in particular that my nephew exists within an environment that allows for willful pre-pubescent fixations to run wild, especially before pesky hormone-related distractions creep in. I have a niece as well, and wonder if she’ll stare up at the birds in the middle of the playground at recess, aching to be on the other side of the chain link fence. I wondered if there’s anything to be done to keep such fancy afloat through the years. Having been on this side of the fence for longer than I’d care to admit, the wonderment hasn’t vanished, but it’s been more difficult to come by — until recently, this whimsy revival of sorts. I should be happy for the memories. But it makes sense that now, later in life, there’s no different in feeling concerning my ability.

So was I about to admit that my boyfriend was right? Everyone knows that there are only so many opportunities to do so while saving face. But this wasn’t one of those typical Mars-and-Venus situations.

“Yo, knock, knock. You alive in there?” he asked, smirking slightly.

Our food arrived, and I nodded. My brain was full, and my boyfriend was right. I didn’t fully admit it, but he got a punch in the card anyway. The thirteenth one’s for free.

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Knowing Where Home Is

I visited my parents the other day, having found myself in the neighborhood following an early morning appointment in Reseda. Instead of making my way back to my little corner of La La Land as I normally do, I thought, why not?

Well, the typical answer to that question, at least on my end, has been, “We work different schedules”, “Traffic is terrible”, “They’re/I’m out of town, indisposed, too tired, etc. “, or “I don’t want to be a bother”, with the latter being an obstacle of the heart than an actuality.

Traffic is a pretty big reason, however, due to time as much as safety. A patchwork quilt of minefield terrain and monstrous vehicular congestion, the LA sprawl is similar to the burroughs of New York sans its most marvellous subway system. Land-lock is kind of a thing here. It is both shocking and liberating when you realize that you can cover double your commute in half the time at midday as opposed to sundown. And so most people just put together a playlist and suck it up.

I pictured it in my head, hoping they’d be home, thinking that I’d stop by a store on the way to grab some flowers for my mom. She’d like that, I thought. My dad would like that I brought my mom flowers. There weren’t many stores on the way so I just headed over. 

Looking at it on a map, the San Fernando Valley’s residential infrastructure is an extensive grid. My parents live at the most west point of said grid, right before the mountains leading to Bell Canyon and Calabasas. The neighborhoods tend to blend into each other, with each strip mall, apartment complex, and cluster of homes looking the same as the next. Anyone else, even myself for a time, would have difficulty telling the difference between street corners, but any street heading west will get you there eventually. I still knew how to get there after not living there for 13 years.

Pulling up, I saw both of their cars were in the driveway and was relieved that I’d not only get to see my mom, but my dad before he left for work. Walking up the drive, I knocked our secret knock on the door, one reserved for family. My dad answered the door, smiling brightly, wearing comfy clothes reserved for weekends. “I thought that was you through the peephole! How are you, baby girl?” My mom followed in to the front room, meeting both of us in embrace.

And we had a great time — catching up, looking at photos of their recent cruise through the Panama Canal, talking about plans for the near future and hopeful trips planned a little further on.  The more time I spend, with anyone,  doing anything, the more I appreciate such low-key times. I promised I wouldn’t stay long, but my folks wouldn’t have that. Two hours went by so quickly, and we found ourselves saying third and fourth goodbyes, as my family is known to do. 

While driving away, I couldn’t help but think how important it is to go home, wherever that is. Somewhere that you know how to get to without referring to a map. A place where you want to be, where someone is happy to see you and you them. A place with or without physical, geographical space. Somewhere where things make sense, and where the heart is safe. 

It’s important to know where home is, to make it possible for others, and to keep it close. Otherwise we’re all just drifting.

It’s Been a While…

… but I’m here now. Actually, I’ve been here on and off for the past month, writing behind the scenes, mostly hoarding drafts with a social relevance that passes long before I’ve the nerve to publish them. 

It all got me thinking, though, about how the hot topic, buzz-worthy style of writing or ingesting information really isn’t my bag. I mean, there’s a reason why not everyone loves every new film, television show, or single that drops — a fair amount of it is garbage (and you know it’s true).

That said, there are topics that I and others find to be socially relevant as respects the times in which we currently live, including the reactions, interactions, and overall absorption of ideas and information experienced on a daily basis. An account of life experienced nearly 18 years in to a new century is pretty freaking socially relevant, and will likely be considered as much as it eventually becomes a historical point of reference. 

So what exactly have I been up to? I’ve been figuring out my story, checking off a laundry list of weighty personal concerns — friendship, family, mortality, anxiety, financial security, life potential, the future — ever-revolving topics that don’t really fly well in polite conversation. Honestly, I haven’t been too fun to hang out with.

But I have been learning a lot in taking a good look at my life and where exactly I want to take it — which has involved reminders to think outside of myself. It hasn’t been easy; it’s in our biological make up to be selfish, if merely out of the need for self-preservation. Yet, for the sake of friendships and relationships of all kinds, it’s kind of a hard requirement to find that delicate  balance between being a self-respecting, free-thinking agent and doing whatever it takes to not die alone.

Is it brave to do so? I don’t know — perhaps. Shifting perspective, addressing emotions and not squelching them, showing up; that’s just living life, isn’t it? Brave, I don’t know. It just is what it is.

What else is going on? I’ve taken some time to make more room to read, listen, and reference a word’s etymology about 10 times a day. I’ve also been spinning Tove Lo’s latest album Blue Lips non-stop since its November 17th release, which may or may not be healthy. Been having some bizarre, ultraviolent dreams that take at least 10 minutes at a time to transfer to paper. And currently, I’m a few steps across the bridge between Thanksgiving and Christmas where it’s a little too early to be holly jolly and a little too late to still be eating leftovers.

So yes, it has been quite a while. I’m here now, though.

Photo via opensourceway.com

Short Horror Stories About Adulting (Happy Halloween)

If you want to be scarred for life, read on. Imagine this if you dare:

  • Leaving the house without the following: (a) driver’s license, (b) shoes, (c) eyebrow pencil, (d) enough gas in the tank, or (e) all the above.
  • Waking up happy it’s Friday but it’s only Tuesday.
  • Relieved that it’s payday but nope, that’s next week.
  • Neglecting to clean out the coffeemaker from three weeks ago and discovering a scene not unlike a science project.
  • Having to make three Target runs in a week.
  • Losing a contact lens in your eye socket while driving.
  • Having your only ponytail holder snap in the middle of the work day.
  • Chucking your cell phone and building access badge in the mail chute instead of the mail.
  • Forgetting to take your birth control pills for three days, thereby throwing your figure, complexion, mood and digestive system into the pits of hormonal hell.
  • Falling into the toilet at Gold Coast Bar.
  • Getting into an elevator when you’re late for work to have someone jam their arm between the closing doors and let 10 people on who — naturally — select a minimum of five stops between the lobby and your floor.
  • When the server at Sunday brunch takes 15 minutes to get your check, and another 15 minutes to process your payment, when all you want to do is go home and nap off a hangover.

      I think that’s it. Happy Halloween, everyone!

      The Problem with Needing to Be the First to Report the News

      “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet” — the new and now longstanding credo du époque. 

      What happened to actually reporting the news?  Pressure from conglomerates happened. Ratings, sensationalism, virality happened. The internet and social media happened, and I’d argue that we’re all to blame in some way, simply by demand and consumption. 

      With the internet being the world’s main and largest source of information, and social media making it available and accessible by the literal second, it is a bit tough to escape the matrix — but tough doesn’t have to be impossible. 

      On Monday, October 2nd, reports flooded in early in the day that legendary singer, songwriter, and musician Tom Petty was taken to the hospital in a state of unconsciousness following cardiac arrest. His condition was updated to having been taken off of life support, to dying. This was reported by hundreds of verified online publications, until it was acknowledged that confirmation had, in fact, not been obtained. 

      Following a statement from the LAPD denying their prior confirmation, reports were quickly retracted to Petty clinging to life until his spokesperson released a statement hours later that he had passed away at 8:40 pm PST.

      This need to be the first to report breaking news is now regularly causing once-reputable news outlets to shoot themselves in the foot while it’s still their mouth, while other websites — essentially RSS or reblog feeds — pick up the story and further spread the contamination. 

      Was this the LAPD’s fault, or was it the fault of the new school of journalism? Was it our fault as the public for how easily we’ve adapted to wildfire? 

      I would answer: all of the above.

      As a result, Petty’s final hours were tinged by the unfair and unwarranted stress of infringed upon privacy, personally experienced by his family, friends, and bandmates. Fans around the world were either propped up by false hope, or thrust into a position of waiting for him to die. There was no good publicity to be garnered from it — just a media circus. Just vultures circling around, waiting to strike. 

      It begs reminding that it is the job of journalism to report and document the news through an unbiased lens, with integrity to the profession. It a position worthy of dignity and respect, one with huge responsibility. It is far more than cents-per-word or exposure-only employment. And, it is not at all about the journalist. Journalism is our history in motion.

      In forgetting this, devastating events surrounding the first two days of October 2017 have fallen under the pay-per-click umbrella, where “everyone is a journalist”, at an ultimate cost to the subject. 

      We should all be ashamed.

      More Writing Tips From Someone Who Doesn’t Know What They’re Doing

      writing2

      (An unintended continuation of this post.)

      The Emmys are tonight, which is super exciting and everything. This is an obvious opportunity to celebrate another year of brilliant television. There have been some amazing productions this year on both network, cable, and streaming services. The game is being changed, and it has been amazing to observe, to the point where reception has been, at times, delightfully overwhelming. This must be praised, as quality programming, like other forms of artistic expression, needs to be recognized, talked about, and experienced — because when it is, even more stories get told (especially those that probably wouldn’t have otherwise).

      However, yet another year has gone by where I don’t feel like I even have an idea to flesh out. (Yes, I’m making this about me.)

      One day I’d love to write something worthy of recognition on such a level. But to do that, I’m going to have to keep writing.

      I’ve lived in Los Angeles my whole life, so the star-studded aspect isn’t novel to me. What is novel, however, is seeing people you know do things that you could only dream of doing. In knowing these people, I know first hand that they have the same 24 hours in one day as anyone else. They’ve periods of discouragement and laziness, like everyone else. But they keep moving.

      This weekend I was able to go through some old stories and poems from college. Not to toot my own horn, but I wrote pretty damn well. But I was a bit stubborn and, due to writing more for the grade rather than the passion, present-day me could really sense the loss of drive and focus within each piece. It’s no wonder why I refused to read or write during the year following graduation.

      The drive has definitely come back, though, almost to the point when I first started writing as a young teenager. I remember writing so much then, even performed at open mics and submitted my work to publications. I wasn’t afraid of saying or doing something. I wanted to contribute, and truly felt my work to hold as much weight as others’.

      I’m not sure if that’s exactly the case for me now. If anything, I’m much more conscious about what I put out there, probably due to the saturation of ideas on social media, and how quickly information can be dispensed, digested, and transferred. The pressure to make an impact is very much there, as is the desire.

      Like anything else, the view just needs to be scaled back a bit.  I need to go back in my personal history and touch on what’s been pushed out of memory. I need to ask myself difficult questions, especially in relation with others, and experience the breeze every once in a while. I need to write what I know, and be endlessly curious about what I don’t.

      And, I need to keep writing.

      How Do I…? Mental Feng Shui 

      Whenever I hear about feng shui, it’s referenced as being an arrangement of objects to where the placement holds the possibility to either foster or hinder energy. It’s this energy that we need to attain a desired outlook, perception, and foundation for oneself.  (This article via Real Simple explains it really well.)

      Now, I’m not an expert, but if there is one thing I know it’s that it is about far more than furniture. If, at its core, it is about what keeps things in the direction in which we are going, then I’d like to apply the concept to the space where we spend all of our time — our minds.

      Below are five potential ideas on how to do so:

      1. Daydream for a minute. Literally, for 60 seconds (or 30, if you’re really pressed for time). The brief shift in focus may be all that’s needed to get to the next moment with a little less stress at the helm.

      2. Change your smartphone’s wallpaper or theme. It’s a little like getting a new sheet set, to be honest. As a Samsung user, I’ve found plenty of free themes in the Samsung Themes section of Settings (and I’m fairly certain the iPhone has plenty of options available as well). My two favorites are Ece and Aurora_curiosoo, shown below:

      Ece Samsung theme

      Aurora_curiosoo Samsung theme

      3. Update your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn has quickly become the social media equivalent of one’s resume, without the formal pressure of a cover letter and stiffly-worded salutation. Even if you aren’t looking for a new employment opportunity, it’s a good way to remind yourself of your strengths and abilities especially if you happen to feel stagnant for one reason or another. Plus, the news feed and following capabilities make it a great space to build and maintain a professional network. Not everyone can make it to meetups or mixers,  but you can definitely log in to LinkedIn.

      4. Do something different. Anything. Use a different pen to note tasks. Walk a different route during your afternoon break. Eat your salad with a different salad dressing. Listen to a band, artist, or podcaster that sounds like or covers similar topics to whoever you currently listen to. It is the quickest way to do something out of the box yet remain close to any previously designated boundaries of comfort. And on that note…

      5. Keep your ear to the ground entertainment-wise. There are numerous options to stay in the now with TV, films, music, and books. I’ve had Netflix and HBO Go for ages and recently subscribed to Amazon Music. Personally, I enjoy the relative non-commitment of listening to numerous albums before buying them, But also, there’s something about commercial-free streaming that keeps the vibes at a cool, even keel.

      This is merely my personal take at present — please feel free to leave any tips in the comments on how you funnel energy and iron out the kinks.

      ttfn~

      Lead photo via Benicia Herald