an exchange of creations.

This Christmas, I got what I asked for: an awesome photograph of The City. I’ve grown more and more fond of The City by the Bay and I wanted a personal picture of it. I grew up in Daly City, a stone’s throw away, and I do miss The Bay when I am away. The culture and style of the hustle and bustle of life there is very unique to the area and I am proud to be a native. Ally was able to travel to Treasure Island, take a picture of it and print it out on canvas for me. I love it.

In return, I thought I would make something for her and so I wrote a short note/story and painted it onto a canvas. A bit sloppy (I misspelled a word! Argh!) and I was nervous with the expectation of giving it to her. I was relieved when I finally gave it to her and watching her reaction was priceless. Anyways, here is the story, I thought I would share it:

“Barefoot in the sand we walk down the length of the shore, the midday sun shining bright as you run your fingers smoothly through your hair. I quickly squeeze your hand then look at you, hoping that I won’t wake up so this dream will last a lifetime. Curious, you meet my gaze and I pause, the sea tugging at my ankles. Laughing that little nervous laugh of yours, you ask, “Is something wrong?” but in this moment everything is right, so I don’t even answer. Instead, I twirl a silky lock of your dark hair and hug you close. You separate within the next second, just in case anyone saw that on this beach full of strangers, but I keep you within reach.

Then, you smile, stunning me speechless.

And there’s something behind those deep, brown eyes that perpetually intrigues me so I look into them trying to peer through those wonderful windows into the well of your soul, hoping to find the answer to your beautiful mystery. I gaze intently trying to see; until you look at me funny and query me yet again—but this time, you know the answer. Now, I smile as you bury your face into my arm, wholly content because You and Me are We.”

Now, what to get for her birthday…




finish your food.

Since the days of my childhood, eating all the food off of my plate was never a question. I spent more than a couple of hours at my seat after dinner, not excused from the table yet because my plate was still riddled with clumps of rice.

Sometimes it was not that I had a full stomach, unable to eat more. No, I just did not feel like spending more time at the table, as there was a pressing matter of building a city with LEGOs or defeating M. Bison finally. During these times, finishing my food seemed a chore and I was bored of sitting at the dinner table while fun was to be had elsewhere. I think my parents knew this at the time so they kept me at there in my seat—actually I am sure they knew.

But there were other times when I had served myself too much food and unable to eat anymore, I would try to escape. Still, their adamant commands held firm and my hands were chained to my spoon and fork until the food in my stomach had digested enough to hold the remaining scraps on my plate.

I thought it cruel at the time but my dad would tell me horror stories of his attempts to leave the table with food still on his plate. Once, he had somehow managed to scrape the food he did not feel like eating onto the floor. At first, I was impressed but then he went on to tell me how my grandma, my sweet old abuelita, had made my young father scrape the food back on his plate and eat it. “I always finished my food after that,” he told me “so don’t think about doing pulling that kind of a stunt.” And I never did.

My mom had a different outlook on eating food, but to the same effect. Her stories were of how back in her country “all we ate were vegetables and soup” and how “having meat and rice is a privilege.” Guiltily, I would chew the remaining morsels of food I had left alone. Growing weary of her tales, I once asked her if she walked to school uphill both ways in the snow; that night, finishing dinner was not a question because I had none.

In my young mind, I did not understand why they were as stiff-necked about eating my food at the time. What made me eat my food when I was young was the fear of discipline. So there I would sit and despite my perpetual efforts to spread the food thinly over the expanse of my dish, it was eventually scooped together and I was told, “See? There’s one or two spoonfuls left there. Finish your food.”

Finish your food.

It is a statement that still sticks with me today. My parents did more than just get me to eat my food, they taught me not to waste. At buffets or in the cafeteria now, I take small portions instead of piling heaps of food so that although I may take multiple trips to where the soups and salads are, I always eat what is on my plate. In my home still, there are always leftovers from nights before. Even at a restaurant with my friends, I gladly eat their unwanted food to save them from the trash can. Sometimes I force the food down, overfilling my stomach or other times I take their food home, to eat later as leftovers.

I admit, this may seem to be a little bit overindulgent but it is more than that; I cannot and will not let myself waste food—it has become a question of personal integrity now.

Today, I cringe at the sight of wasted food, thrown away by the pound. I do not know the statistics on the amount of food wasted in the world and I do not really want to know because the number must be immense. I am blessed—we are blessed—to have more than three meals a day. And when men, women and children are suffering and dying every day from starvation and malnutrition, I take finishing my food very seriously.


not the same.

What do I do when things are not the same?

Like when my favorite little sushi bar no longer serves sushi.

When taking my favorite street home is now out of the way and I can no longer drive down the Boulevard, I have to take the Road.

Like when the grocery store down the street moves the bread to where the milk used to be and the cereal is now in aisle twelve, not aisle three.

Or even when I come home, the furniture is rearranged and the T.V has switched corners.

And when television cartoons these days have the most random story lines that are supposed to be funny and all I want to see is that football head and a blue hat roaming the streets again.

—Or when the voice of an old cartoon change, even worse when the animation changes.

And as I get closer and closer to catching all two hundred and fifty of the elusive creatures, I find out that there are now a whopping four hundred ninety three Pokémon I have to catch.

These examples are insignificant in the grand scheme of things and maybe I am overly fond of the familiar ways of the past. Either way, it is a disappointment, a “let down” in a way, if I am going to be honest, when things are not the same. I admit, I am a sentimental guy and taking a stroll down memory lane is a regular exercise for me. But some things are not so insignificant.

In particular, I have a wonderful group of friends that all graduated from high school with me. We spent a better half of our junior year and all of senior year together, forming a tightly-knit crew. Jokingly and lovingly we labeled ourselves with a name that an outsider would not understand, but to us, that table was the hub of our last year in high school. Even now my smile shines, recalling the memories we made together—as one of my good friends once said, “I will never forget those long nights that turned into all-nighters.” Vows were spoken and promises were made that all would stay the same, despite the looming threat of distance and lack of communication. Then the year turned the corner and we bumped into college—half of us stayed home, and the other half left.

I confess, I cannot adequately describe what happened during the following months and it will take further hindsight to make a satisfactory conclusion—but what I will say is that we changed during those months. Each one of us in our own way changed and did not stay the same: style, attitude, actions, beliefs and more. Our first reunion together was full of surprised exclamations at these changes we saw in each other, not to mention gossiping about the differences.

At the time, I accepted the changes for what they were but I denied the effect that it would eventually have on the group as a whole. Sure they are different, I said, but everything will be back to normal soon. It never did get back to normal, back to the old, youthful days of our friendship. No, I do not think it ever will be like the “old days” and that is not a bad thing.

I am okay with that reality now— truthfully. I have realized that the change I saw in my friends and the change that occurred in me was more than just “change,” it was and is growth. Growth that has pushed us—and is pushing us— higher and deeper into the men and women we will become. No longer do we swing on the childish ways of youth and immaturity, but onward we climb on gripping life’s lessons as branches to heave ourselves to a new height. And it would be impossible to forget our roots—the youth of our past—because they steady us as we grow.

I have realized that in the coming years we will not stay the same individually or collectively but now I embrace this growth, embrace the men and women my friends and I are becoming and even more and I embrace the little family we are all fast developing into.

So, I treasure the present and the past because things will not always be the same; and now, I accept the future, inevitable growth because soon, that will become a treasure too.




I started this blog for a class of mine and I have decided to keep it and update it continually now. Although it was not this way at first, I am comfortable with blogging and on a more important note, I am more comfortable now with allowing people to see what I write or think about, despite its insignificance. This was, I guess, the point of the exercise and I am glad that I was sort of forced to do this.

Well, world out there, you will be hearing more from me—or at least I will be here, if you would like to take a moment to listen from time to time. I am still developing my voice and my writing, so please offer me some slack in the line as I climb higher. That said, I am going to enjoy this thing called blogging.


the teaching profession.

This is a clip from a Def Jam Poetry session during the first season, episode two.

Although I do not want to teach directly following my graduation, I will definitely be teaching by the time my hairs turn silver for exactly the reasons that Mali gives in his stand-up and more reasons than that too.

Shout out to all my teachers, past, present and future.

a writing epiphany.

I had an epiphany about writing today.

I would like to write a novel one day and have it published in stores to be read by the public. I want that novel to be engaging, interesting and thought-provoking, something that benefits society and also brings some sort of a living to me—in short, a “good” book. As to actually penning the words of the book on paper, that step in the process has yet to come.

But I realized something that has changed my writing philosophy.

Writing a “good” book like that takes more than just a plot that I or anyone for that matter thinks is original or interesting. That is because only I and the people that agree with me, like that plot. For instance, if there was a story just about a group of guys who bond together and try to destroy a ring in the center of a volcano, that in itself would only appeal to some people that enjoyed the plot. But Lord of the Rings is more than that because it discusses and highlights ideas like friendship, evil versus good, religion, death and free will. The plot of the story is the medium to which the ideas are presented to the reader. And ideas can apply to anyone at any stage of life with any sort of view. So in effect, the ideas appeal to the reader, not necessarily the story—although the storyline does play a huge part in colorfully and vividly showing the ideas.

It is also why there can be more discussion about any book of high literary quality after the book is read because it is not merely a conversation about the quality of the plot and characters but about the illustration the text provides of a certain idea.

In this way, I realized that it does not matter how much I think I have written an incredible plot with relatable characters, the book will not matter if it does achieve that sort of discussion. Because if it does not, it is just a book where I try to demonstrate what I think is great when in reality it is not. But if I focus on an idea and use the plot and characters as a medium for discussion, then, maybe then, I will be able to write a “good” book.

Look out world; I may be late to the party, but I still have something to prove.


the worst part about Christmas.

The worst thing about Christmas is the presents.

Now, wait just a moment, before you label me a Scrooge or a Grinch, hear me out.

I’m serious: the worst part of Christmas, the aspect of the wonderful holiday that I despise the most—or even the aspect I just despise, because I love every other aspect of Christmas—are the presents.

Buying presents brings on unnecessary amounts of stress. Walking in the crowded stores and waiting in lines that go out the doors, other stressed out angry shoppers, driving in traffic, choosing a gift, going from store to store, exhaustion from the holiday shopping… there are more to be sure.

The worst part about presents though, I think, is the worry about if I can buy “good” presents this year—which usually means expensive presents—followed by the realization that I will not be able to buy these “good” presents. And then to hear about other kids getting everything they wanted for Christmas and then some, that is the worst part. I know there is that famous mantra, “it’s not about the presents, it’s about giving” and I am all for giving and that sort of Christmas spirit (though that is not the true Christmas spirit definition, but that is a different conversation). I actually love giving presents and I would much rather give than receive this Christmas, except if what I were to receive were to be money and then I would use that money to buy more presents for people, especially my family.

I want to make every Christmas the best Christmas for my siblings and my little brothers and sisters like to have presents; it is tradition. Furthermore, I want to give them everything they want for Christmas. I know that it is not really about the presents at the end of the day but still, I break inside when my little sister or brother wonder innocently why they did not get this present or that present—and then especially when the answer is: “I couldn’t afford it.”

I love giving, I detest presents.