Day 5 of Vlogtober// A Sunday Afternoon with Friends

In my twenties, my social life vaguely resembles what it is today. Back then we went to lunch, to the movies, to the clubs without hesitation or a moment’s notice. Working the next day was irrelevant– somehow, it was easier to make spontaneous, irrational, impulsive decisions when we were younger because there was very little at stake. Now-a-days- it’s rare for an impromptu get together to take place. It seems lately we have to wait for a birthday, baby shower, wedding or a month to see each other. Which is why, this past Sunday was unusual because I was able to connect with not just one of my friends but five. And the fact that there was no special event behind the invitation and that it was relatively spur of the moment made the afternoon a much more significant one.

And what impresses me most about this particular group of friends is that everyone is uniquely differently.Yet we embrace our idiosyncrasies and our differences are probably what we look forward to seeing the most.

Take this picture for example



Maria (left) is a true Gemini with such a multifaceted personality that I don’t know where to begin. One minute she’s telling you a joke, the other minute she’s training her two pitbulls, all the while doing burpees and snatches in her garage. Don’t let the small frame fool you, she’s a beast in and outside the box and she’s got the arms and abs to prove it. Half Dominican and Filipino, it’s in her blood to be daring and complex.

Then there’s Don (right on Maria) another Gemini who is equally multifaceted. What he brings to the table is his affection for music. For years he played guitar and bass in his self-made band “My Parade” and even released a CD and went on a promotional tour. Though he no longer plays in the group, he’s still the rock star of group–by day he provides IT for a website and by night he provides training for a cross fit box. His under assuming personality would have you think otherwise.

To the right of Don is John– When you think you’ve figured him out, you’re subtly reminded you don’t. I’ll use his car as an example. He recently bought a Volkswagen– one of the safest European cars in the market. It’s tested exceptionally well in recent crash surveys and is favored high with car enthusiasts and the like. These practicalities don’t surprise me–John’s observant and safe. Yet his car is a drop top. Like drop top- wind in your hair, wild and crazy–drop top. In a weird yet reasonable juxtaposition, he’ll pick you up, tell you to enjoy the view, let your hair down, yet moments later he’ll offer you sunscreen or remind you to put on your seat belt. He’s afraid that you’ll get burnt or hurt. Practical and safe, yet loyal and sincere, this is the John I wouldn’t want any other way.

Then there’s Cuong whose recent acceptance into a competitive nuclear medicine program at Kaiser is just as impressive as his immigration story. He literally was thrown in the ocean in Vietnam and wasn’t meant to survive, but tenaciously he did. Under five years old, he’s survived more than all of our friends combined, and this is probably the motivational force behind his academic success. In two years he’ll complete a rigorous medical program and will probably defy another set of odds. That’s just like him though–pushing the boundaries and taking risks. But somehow, regardless of what’s at stake, he’ll surpass all expectations. I guess though, When you fight for your life at such a young age, somehow everything else doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Including studying nuclear medicine.

Lastly, there’s Mel my fiance and best friend–who has transformed in front of my eyes in the last four years of our relationship. He has been more than just a partner but also someone who motivates and inspires me day in and day out with his affinity for health and wellness. He went from Jameson and late club nights to coconut water and early bar bell class. Even more, he’s embraced my goofy circle of friends and even adopted some of them as his own. I’m lucky to have someone in my life who not only accepts my friends but also embraces them as well. It’s comforting to know we share the same sentiment and that it goes both ways. Later that night I received several texts from my friends telling me how much they enjoyed Mel’s company. Nice to know they love him as much as I do.

As time goes by, it’s getting more and more difficult to reconnect with friends. We’re having babies, getting married, and eventually the challenges of life ensue making it harder to set aside time for one another. Then pretty soon you go for months and suddenly you wonder why things just don’t seem the same. You’re health goes down, your computer crashes–the stars aren’t aligned, you’ve had a bad day; you’re in need of a smile, advice or even a ride. And then suddenly, spontaneously, in an instant there they are-an odd group of perfectionists, academics, visionaries, and health enthusiasts -waiting for you in a drop top with the wind in their hair. They tell you to come in and they immediately welcome you, sometimes with a can of coconut water, and you’ll have a friend who tells you he can fix your a computer, another friend who’ll tell you a dirty joke, another friend who’ll remind you to put on a seat belt and another friend who’ll remind you there’s worst things that can happen in the world. And finally you’ll have a fiance who’ll remind you that he loves you and your friends too. Then you’ll wonder why you went for so long to call them in the first place because at that particular time, with the coconut water, wind and dirty joke you can’t imagine, even for an instant, what life would be like without them there.


Day 4 of Vlogtober//October 4, 2014// A Day in San Francisco and GO GIANTS!!!

It’s day 4 of Vlogtober and we celebrated the Giant’s win at Hops and Homily–which used to be a bar called Azul– one place I frequented many times back in the day. As I watched the game, it occurred to me that even though the Giants have won 2 world championships in the last three years and have one the strongest pitching teams in the league, they’re still considered underdogs and aren’t favored to win the series against the Nationals. This is ironic because it’s game two and the Giants have won both games, even though the Nationals have had the home field advantage.

I think about this and see how I can easily apply this to my life,especially in my journey as a writer. When I first started taking classes, I was very intimidated. I was surrounded by students who have been writing a much longer time than me and they were also much younger. They knew more about the craft and named writers and books I had never heard of. When they contributed in class discussion I often felt like my comments would pale in comparison so I stayed quiet–keeping my thoughts to myself and then moments later, a student would say the very same thing I was thinking! I didn’t have the confidence to feel that I belonged in that class.

In terms of the Giants– analysts, sport casters, and baseball enthusiasts look at the statistics and numbers and evaluate the better team. According to who you talk to, the Giants are almost always the least favored team with the odds against them. Many people refer to this as underdogs, and with this title there are certain disadvantages like being underestimated, being overlooked and being proven correct. Yet, the Giants seem to enjoy this label and have used it for motivation.

I may not have the talent of writing like others and I have certain disadvantages like I started my career much later than others and I haven’t read as many books and authors as I could have. Yet, like the Giants I need to learn to look beyond those odds and still be in favor of myself. If I don’t have the confidence in me it’s unlikely that others will see it too. Maybe it’s time that I stop comparing myself to others and do what I think is helpful–embrace the title of the underdog–because without it I’ll have nothing to prove.

Day 3 of Vlogtober// October 3. 2014– What does having a strong work ethic get you in life?

In just 2 days of Vlogotber, I realized how much of a work-a-holic I am. And they say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, so naturally I’m blaming my parents. Growing up, they never took the day off even if it meant going to work sick, which probably wasn’t the best idea. I don’t recall either parent laying in bed or resting on their laurels fighting off a cold. They never said “I’m taking the day off–let’s go to the beach”– even later when they both made enough money that taking a personal day wouldn’t have mattered. That’s the kind of people they are–loyal and hard working.

I’d like to think that I have inherited these traits through them. And by looking through my vlogs, I can say that with confidence. Yet, I don’t know if this should be embraced or rejected. I can appreciate a strong work ethic, but at what price? I applaud my parents for demonstrating this over the years, while raising three kids, keeping a home, cooking dinner, and in here lies the difference. Yes they were working hard but they didn’t allow it to revolve around their lives.

The difference I see is yes, I have inherited their work ethic but the difference is I’m not going home spending time with family, cooking dinner, finding time to enjoy why I’m working so hard. I’m working but am I also putting in the work that defines who I am outside of work? I shouldn’t have to wait until the weekends or vacation to do that. My parents never did and yet they are the hardest working people I know.

In today’s blog, I made a huge step. I left work exactly at 3:00 and went shopping. I got home and made dinner but then fell asleep on the couch by 8:00 pm. Not an eventful night but it’s a step in the right direction.

Day #2 of Vlogtober– No life but a teacher’s life

I left my charger at home today, and my phone was dead by 3:00 PM, so I didn’t get to vlog much today. I realized that I did the same thing as yesterday– work and then more work. I even declined two invitations after work just so I can go home and work. I said no to my co-worker who had an extra ticket to the Kings Of Leon concert and I said no to Mel when he invited me to go to the city for happy hour at Chambers. Instead, I stayed home.

What did I accomplish at home?

1) called all the parents in my 3rd period class and gave them an update about each student and told them about the field trip

2) wrote a lesson plan for how to write a lead for an article

3) researched and called pumpkin patches, haunted houses and candy factories

4) wrote an itinerary and letter home for field trip

5) wrote a blog entry and edited my first vlog

What I didn’t get to do, though I wish I had:

1) continue writing my short story
2) exercise
3) cook dinner
4) go to concert and happy hour
5) relax
6) read a book
7) schedule doctor’s appointment

From evaluating both lists, it’s clear to me that I need to prioritize. It seems when I get home, I continue to work and neglect the other things that are equally important. Thanks vlogotber for putting things in perspective! Tomorrow I will leave work at 3:00 PM and do something for myself. I owe it to me.

Day #2 of Vlogtober 10/02/2014


Vlogtober October 1, 2014

It’s the first day of October, and for some people this means we’re about 30 days away from Halloween. But today also marks the countdown of another event, albeit, a lesser known one. Today I officially started Vlogtober, which means everyday for the month of October I’ll be vlogging about my life. Traditionally you’re supposed to use a camera and then upload it on Youtube. But since I don’t have a camera, I can’t execute Vlogtober with fidelity. Instead I’ll be using the camera on my phone and I’ll be uploading on this blog.

The point of Vlogtober is to document your life in a unique way. While most people take pictures or write journals about their life, no one ever uses a video camera these days. And if they do it’s limited to a 30 second teaser on Facebook or Instagram. Rarely do we see families and friends gathered around the TV to watch home movies, which I had fond memories of growing up. My dad would video tape us opening our Christmas gifts or eating Thanksgiving dinner and the camera would stay stationed on the tripod as we ripped apart wrapping paper or ate a plate of mashed potatoes. It was really uneventful. Not much was happening on screen, but off screen is where we had lasting memories. My family and I would sit in the living room, and my mom would sometimes make popcorn and we’d watch the entire video–sometimes two hours long. We’d tease each other about our hair, outfits, or words and phrases we inadvertently said backwards. Watching our lives on the screen and looking back at what had changed and what had stayed the same was something we equally found entertaining and compelling. We giggled and laughed at our idiosyncrasies and were taken aback at how different the camera reflected our unique personalities. When we watched the video weeks, some times years later, it was amazing to see the subtle transformations–a high pitch in a voice, a deep wave in a hair, a light step in a stride. Nothing but a camera could capture that all so accurately.

So, I’ll be recording my life for 31 days, and I know it won’t all be perfect. I’ll have to live with the idea that some people, even strangers, will be watching and making quick judgements and discernment. Some days will be more challenging than others. Conundrums like bad hair, harsh make up and unflattering outfits will be magnified. But ironically, I’m prepared for that. What comforts me as I proceed with Vlogtober is knowing that when I view the videos days, weeks, months or even years later I’ll probably laugh at all those embarrassing moments. In the end, those trite things won’t matter. What’s significant is that I’ll be thankful for the experience and relish in the idea that I have completed something most people wouldn’t dare to do. And when my friends and family gather in my living room to watch my home videos, they’ll probably laugh at the my peculiar mannerisms, and I’ll probably join in with them. But the satisfaction of making more memories or influencing someone to do the same, will make all the bad hair, make up and outfits all worth it. Happy Vlogtober!!!

Here’s me explaining vlogtober

Here’s my 1st vlog for Vlogtober 10/01/2014