Art project

Update on the new place:

We signed our lease yesterday, and our move in date is next Saturday, which means I have roughly 14 days to pack up an entire two bedroom condo, in which we’ve lived in for three years. Of course we’ll have a lot of things to pack; three years is ironically a long time for two people to accumulate “stuff”. Just thinking about my bookshelf with hundreds of books gives me anxiety.

To get things started, my husband and I started packing up the living room tonight. I wasn’t expecting to get emotional because I have moved about a dozen times in my life, so I’m very familiar with the emotional toll it takes to move. I purposely don’t harbor attachment to any particular place; I know that I will probably leave in a few years. However, when I started taking down decorations and art installations, I couldn’t help but feel a bit nostalgic. I started untwisting the hooks from the ceiling and thought about how it took me several weeks to find the exact rope and clay for my moon phase art installation. I toiled over the black and white clay to the exact proportion to replicate marble and baked it over a low setting that still set off the fire alarm. For hours the entire house smelled like burned rubber. I opened up all the windows and doors which led to a swarm of flies coming in. It took me a hour to kill all of them. All the while, I had to do this at least three times because each clay batch came out cracked before they finally came out perfect. Then I had to find the perfect string to tie around my bamboo pole and figure out how to space out and balance each moon.  Now, in my new place, I’m not sure if I’ll have the space to display it.

I’m not necessarily sad about the art installation. I’ve created art installations – small and modest– for almost all the homes I lived in, and I actually never bring it to my next place of residence– like the book page wreath I made and left for my home in El Sobrante, or the New Yorker Magazine art wall I created for only Concord, or the magnet poetry display I made for my time in Pittsburg.  I consider my space, the vibe, my overall feelings in the house and let these feelings guide my new project. Sometimes, like the time I lived in a house with three other girls in Hercules, I didn’t have the desire or inspiration to make anything. I’ve made art projects, not necessarily to beautify my place, but they were more of an opportunity to express myself through art, and to create a peace offering or welcome gift to my new abode.  

I don’t know what I will make for my new place. My process is usually living in the space for a few months and waiting for a call or an urge that speaks to me.  I’m sure, after a while, when the boxes are unpacked, the rugs are rolled out, the books are on shelves, when things feel more settled, I’ll get an impulse or a calling.  It’s not necessarily the art project, like a wreath or a moon, that I look forward to creating, but it’s creating memories- like a room filled with smoke, flies and a blaring alarm–  that, for now, will help me turn the impersonal house into my special home. 



full moon made out of black and white clay


Half moon


Chadwick Boseman 

I didn’t follow your career closely, but I remember seeing you light up the screen watching Black Panther and thinking then how fortunate the world was to witness your talent and the long standing career we were going to be lucky to witness. Then I saw videos of you during interviews, commencement speeches and award shows and heard your message about living with purpose and how it was not tied to a career but rather sharing the gift that God has bestowed on you.The wisdom and talent you displayed on and off the screen cannot be measured. How can they? You were immeasurable, as an actor and as a man, through and through.

My heart is heavy today mourning your loss. You gave so much in such a short period of time– more than many people accomplish in a lifetime. You influenced us with your art, your words, your glorious soul, even when you were suffering in pain. How fortunate to be in such resilient company. I pray that you are resting peacefully and powerfully, and may your reverent spirit and Wakanda live forever. 


20 Things About Me

I was inspired from Mr. A’s blog about his “100 Things About Me.”  I couldn’t think of 100, but here’s 20…

  1. My favorite pizza is jalapeno, faux pepperoni (because I’m plant based) with extra pineapples.
  2. I grew up speaking Tagalog but forgot how to speak it growing up in the United States.
  3. I am a huge Janet Jackson fan (see #4).
  4. I have been to nine Janet Jackson concerts (see #3).
  5. I used to have my right nipple pierced. 
  6. Besides water, I like to drink unsweetened ice tea.
  7. I used to be able to recite the alphabet backwards.
  8. I can drive a stick shift.
  9. I always sleep on the right side of my body.
  10. I’m obsessed with teeth (read this blog).
  11. My favorite colors are black, white and purple.
  12. I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in 2008 but have been in remission since 2017.
  13. I am a middle child.
  14. One day I would love to own my own bookstore and sell stationary and local art. 
  15. I like nails that are shaped like almonds.
  16. My favorite scents are Ellington and Langston from the Harlem Candle Company.
  17. I hold a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing
  18. I’m a Napa Valley Writer Conference and Squaw Valley Community of Writers Fellow.
  19. The oddest job I had was when I was a house mom for a gentleman’s club in SF
  20.  I have a youtube video with over 6,000 views. 

 What are 20 things about you? 


I’m the One!

Today I had to write a letter explaining to the owner of a potential home why me and my husband are the perfect candidates from the plethora of applicants. Full disclosure: this is probably the most awkward letter I’ve ever had to write. Mainly because I had to write about myself in a boastful yet meaningful way. It was the oddest balance. In one paragraph I had to explain how I was responsible as a human being and then the next paragraph I had to justify how I would care for the home. I understand why these explanations would be beneficial for the owner, but for the applicant, like me, it felt unnatural to sell my characteristics to a complete stranger via email. It felt so impersonal. But I did it anyway. Like I said in yesterday’s blog: the process of finding a new home is an exhausting one. Then finding the “one” and then having to persuade, via email, a complete stranger to pick you as the best potential applicant feels desperate but normal all in the same vein. Who would have thought having a high credit score, being gainfully employed and preparing a large deposit wouldn’t be the deciding factors to securing a potential house…all it takes are words, and lucky for me, despite feeling awkward about the circumstances, there’s pleasure in knowing that my letter, my words  will be the most significant factor of convincing a stranger that I’m the one. 

Finding a new home

Today my husband and I went on a search for a new home. It’s been a few years since we’ve had to do this, and now I remember why so many people complain about house hunting. It’s a very emotional process. The pictures online are very enticing but are often filtered, so when you actually see the place in real life, it’s very disappointing. The carpets are stained, the square footage is small, the yard is unkept, and the most glaringly common feature is that it just didn’t feel like home. Despite what the homes looked like, as soon as I entered,  I couldn’t picture my husband and I living there. They say that you have to see at least a dozen places before you find the one, and if that’s the case then we are halfway there. 

I know that this is not the time, nor is there ever an appropriate time to complain about a house. One should be grateful to have a roof and bed, regardless of how the roof looks or how the bed feels. There are many people who are houseless and will probably have no opportunity to own, rent or live in a home, permanently. The idea of complaining about the size of a closet or having laminate not granite counter tops pales in comparison to the real houseless issues people are facing all over the world. Just a city over, in San Francisco, I can tell you two streets that have become tent communities, meaning displaced people have congregated in public land and pitched tents to form a community.  This is common, not just in San Francisco, but as more and more people lose jobs and become unemployed and as the cost of living in the bay area continues to rise and as more and more resources become scarce, tent communities will be continue to increase. 

I need to put this into perspective the next time I visit a potential home. Sure, many of them will require me to use my imagination, which actually could be a fun experience, but if I think about the opposite– imagining the option of not having any home– then a quaint, humble, simple place to rest my head is nothing to complain about.

Let’s hug it out!

I can’t remember the last time I hugged someone besides my husband, and even then the hugs he and I exchange are more obligatory than they are passionate. Don’t get me wrong; I adore and love my husband, but when I was looking through old pictures of me in my early 20s, I noticed a stark difference. In almost every picture, I was hugging someone. Some were one arm over the shoulder hugs, but many of them were full embraces. I can’t remember a time, even before COVID-19, where I displayed such a genuine full body hug.

I don’t know if hugging is inappropriate for any situation over a certain age or if I was just living in a different time where one had to be conscientious of personal space, but it was clear during the early 2000s, hugging was the norm. I don’t know what happened as I entered my 30s and now 40s. Almost every picture I have of me, I’m off to the side, my hands on my hips,  or waving a hello or peace sign. I rarely see any pictures of me hugging someone, not even a dog! 

Now with the era of COVID, hugging is deemed unsafe. When I recently saw my mother in law, my first instinct was to hug her, give her a kiss on the cheek, but I knew better. I haven’t been tested recently , and she is susceptible to getting sick, so I had to refrain to what, at the time, felt natural. It was the first instance, in a long time,  I instinctively wanted to hug someone, and then I realized how much I genuinely missed it. For years, I had the opportunity, now with today’s climate, I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance again. 

Sure, the world will eventually return to a new norm, and I’m optimistic that how we greet each other in the future will mean more than what we previously knew it to be. When that day comes, I’ll be ready. My arms will reach over shoulders, backs and arms,  and I’ll take my time to hold and embrace the moment. I don’t know why I refrained so much in the past, but it’s clear to me now how the single act of embracing someone with both feet planted firmly on the ground, bodies supporting each other, wrapping all your love in such a safe public display of emotion shouldn’t be taken for granted. I now know better. Hugs and all! 


I miss these hugs!



Your top 3 in an emergency?

For the past few days, my hometown Fairfield, CA has been burning, literally. The LNU Lightning Complex Fire was caused by the thunder and lightning storm that occurred over the weekend. Many structures and homes were burned; I even heard a National Park in Santa Cruz was severely damaged. My parents’ neighborhood was evacuated and schools were closed for the rest of the week. My in-laws, although their neighborhood was not evacuated, but for safety precautions, stayed with me and my hubby for the last two nights. As I was helping my mother-in-law unload her car, I noticed the personal items and essentials she packed in a hurry. In one bag, she had her heirloom jewelry, another bag held a small statue of Mother Mary and another bag held medication and food. It dawned on me, if I were put in a similar situation, what would I bring? Here are my top three:

  1. My computer or journal because I need to write. Since I’ve revived this blog, I’ve had the urge to write more than I have ever felt compelled to. It doesn’t matter to me if people read, like or respond to my post. I like the idea that I can read my thoughts at any particular time in my life. It’s been great to share this public journal with y’all! 
  2. A book because besides writing, I enjoy reading. It’s my escape. Especially when I’m feeling a mood, and I need to be lifted by words, there’s nothing like sinking into a good book and circumventing reality. 
  3. Running shoes because no matter where I’m at, I need to physically escape. Sometimes we take for granted what a brisk walk or jog can do for the mind, body and soul. This is  something I’ve learned while sheltering in place. When I’m feeling overwhelmed and writing and reading won’t suffice, I’ll put on my shoes and hop on the treadmill or head outside. Getting the body to move, even for a little bit restores and revives the dormant energy in our bodies. 

I imagine that I’d pack more in my emergency bag. But if I had to choose three items, these would be my priority. Unlike my mother in law who packed crucial things like food and Mother Mary, my bag probably wouldn’t be as practical. I don’t know how long I’d last in an emergency situation with shoes, my blog and hella books in my backpack, but at least I’ll have all the things I love around me. 

What about you? What are your three essentials?


National Couple’s Day

Today, August 18, 2020, is National Couple’s Day. According to, National Couple day is a day when “you celebrate the one you adore.” Besides that quick blurb, there wasn’t an explanation about the difference between Valentine’s Day and National Couple Day. The website basically gave advice on how to celebrate. The suggestions were:

  • Light candles, turn down the lights and slow dancing
  • Cook dinner together
  • Plan a special date night

Besides posting a collage of pictures of us on Instagram, my hubby and I didn’t do much celebrating. Instead I helped him with a job interview by pretending to be a person on the panel, he folded and hung my clothes to make sure I was ready for the work week, I prepared lunch for us and we both ate in silence. Then he left in the afternoon to go to his parents’ house for a couple days to help around the house. I made dinner and ate alone.
It was just another normal day, nothing out of the ordinary. Even the weather went back to being foggy and cold.
When my husband finished the interview, he was visibly upset. It hadn’t ended how he had planned it, and he confessed that although he had prepared for the last 10 days, he didn’t feel confident. They asked him very difficult questions, and he wasn’t able to articulate an eloquent response. He felt defeated. I watched him throw himself face down on our ottoman. He covered the sides of his face with his arms. He kicked his feet as if he were struggling to swim.
The best I could do is tell him that I was proud of him and remind him that I love him. I also said that he didn’t need a job to tell me he loved me too.
Although we didn’t do anything special for National Couple’s Day, in our own way, we “celebrated the ones we adore.”

Screen Shot 2020-08-18 at 11.07.24 PM

My post on Instagram

Parents in the Philippines and COVID

In about a month, my parents will make the long 13 hour flight from Manila, Philippines to San Francisco, CA. They have been in the Philippines since December. They were supposed to return in May, but due to COVID they had to extend their stay. Because of the health precautions, Philippine airlines suspended all their flights to and from San Francisco. The health risks of flying in a plane is still high, and because both my parents and seniors and are health compromised, I know that the flight home has several risks. 

Even if the airline enforces masks and physical distance, these precautions don’t guarantee that it will be safe. Passengers will still be breathing recycled air, and people will need to take off their masks to eat. 

It was a difficult decision for my parents, one that they didn’t make lightly. My parents asked me if it was a good idea, and as much as I wanted to say “no” , I knew it was ultimately their decision. My parents want to come home. They miss their children and their only grandchild, Aiza. They want to be close to us after living far apart, halfway across the world, for eight months, the longest we’ve been apart. 

I used to have very judgmental opinions about people who traveled in the time of COVID. I wondered what was so important that people needed to fly. Yes there are folks who travel for recreational reasons, which is fine for some and unacceptable for others. In the case of my parents, who have been inside for 8 months with no sign of COVID, they simply want to come back home to see me and my siblings. How could I say no?

Thunder, lightning and rain in August


Lightning in South San Francisco. Photo taken by Mel Ellison

Just yesterday it was a dry and hot day; it almost reached 90 degrees in South San Francisco (see yesterday’s blog).  Twenty four hours later, it was the complete opposite: we woke up to thunder, lightning and heavy rain…all in the middle of August! For the bay area, going from one extreme to another in a matter of a day, is unheard of. Unlike the tropical islands or even the east coast, California rarely experiences such drastic, peculiar weather. 

People on social media jokingly said “it’s earthquake weather”or that “we are in the next level of Jumanji” or more seriously “it’s an effect of climate change.” No matter the cause, the extreme climate left many people perplexed.

Maybe that’s the beauty of mother nature. Things unfold in no particular pattern.  One moment you’re in one situation and then suddenly you’re in an environment completely different. I like this diversity. Ironically, it reminds me of California.


Sunsets in San Francisco

It was the hottest day in the summer in the City. For a city usually engulfed in fog, it was rare to see the clear sky, bright sun and experience the heat. At 2:00 PM it reached a rare 89 degrees, which is golden for South City. The temperature  here is normally cool so anything above 65 degrees is considered summer. Reaching 89 is considered uncomfortable, especially since we don’t have AC. I waited till the evening to take a walk. As I reached the Hillside Road and had a clear view of my neighborhood, I noticed the pastel colors in the sky. The glorious sun was setting and as the city was tucking in for the evening, I couldn’t help but capture this unique moment. I don’t know when we’ll get a clear and warm day like this again, but special balmy days are definitely embraced.  

Good night South San Francisco! 



There’s a new routine on Fridays: Twitch and the chat room.My husband, who is a dj, introduced me to twitch, a streaming app/ website where creators, like DJs, can host streams while participants engage by following, subscribing, and using the chat room and emotes. I’ve been watching Twitch on Friday nights and it’s a full VIBE. My screen is literally lit with green screen overlays, Djs talking on the microphone giving love to all the people in the chat and emotes such as janet jackson, clinking shot glasses and dancing silhouettes. Who would have thought that a simple streaming app could be so much fun? I jump to different streams and i”m immediately greeted in the chat room with friendly texts and emotes, some from people I don’t even know but have built a familiarity based on their twitch handle.
What I appreciate the most about twitch is that each DJ has their own unique style and format. If I want to listen to 90s music, I’ll check out Dj Verz, If I want a quick mix, I’ll check out DJ Mel, If I want a chill vibe I’ll tune into DJ Umami. What ever I’m feeling, I can easily find a DJ that will match my mood and a chat filled with folks who are in the same spirit.
It’s a culture that has its language: emote, raid, twitch, affiliate, bit, moderator, lurker, overlay, cheer, train. Believe it or not, as odd as these terms are, they have been part of my daily colloquial. It’s strange to go even for a day without saying the phrase “what emote should I use for the raid”? A few weeks ago I would have never uttered the words, let alone know what they meant. But here I am speaking twitch adages as if I’ve spoken them my entire life.
It’s great to see DJs evolve and move their passion to twitch. With bars and clubs closed, twitch has become a new home for music lovers and while I haven’t been to a club in years, even way before sheltering in place, I definitely have found a new home where I don’t mind twitching.

Distance Learning

Tonight I poured myself a glass of red wine. It was deep, robust and bold. Kinda how I’ve been feeling all week. I trained over 100 teachers for distance learning this week and introduced four different curriculums, each one having its own nuanced resources and learning platforms. I had to learn it myself and then introduce them to teachers. Like students, teachers have their own way of learning so instructing teachers online, via zoom, was met with challenges. Some couldn’t get online, some had tech glitches, some said I talked too fast, some said I talked too slow. Over all the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Teachers thanked me for sharing and pointing them to resources that they never knew existed. They expressed that they felt more prepared to teach. Some went out of their way and thanked me via email rather than the feedback form. Another teacher was almost in tears. Being able to help teachers has been weighing heavily on my mind; I feared that I didn’t have the knowledge and the experience to assist during distance learning. To my surprise, not only did I realize that I have the capacity to ease some tension and frustration, but teachers realized it too. Cheers!

Three gifts to give a teacher

Next Monday is the first day of school, and like many districts in California, South San Francisco is starting the school year in distance learning. While there are many ways to support teachers during this time, I thought it could be helpful to give gift recommendations that surpass the usual — kleenex, paper, hand sanitizer, pencils. Since teachers will be conducting their classrooms via Zoom or Google Meets, why not gift the teacher with tools to make the distance learning more comfortable and beautiful. Here are my three gifts ideas for teachers who are using zoom.

1) Chair cushion:  teachers will be sitting down on their chairs, why not make it more comfortable by giving them a cushy chair cushion? 

chair cushions

2) Headphones with a microphone –  to keep things more private, teachers can wear headphones and with a microphone; students will also be able to hear the teacher better. 


3) Lamp or ring light – it’s a known fact that lighting makes all the difference for video conferencing. Teachers needs to look their best, especially in the morning when the sun isn’t at its highest. Providing a lamp or ring light can be nice gestures to bring the spotlight back on the teacher. 

computer ring light

I would have never imagined that in 2020 these gift suggestions would make sense. But here we are at the start of a new decade, 6 months in COVID/ sheltering in place, and approaching the first school year with distance learning. Perhaps teachers won’t be able to return to their classroom, but in our own ways, we can help make things easier at home by providing some comfort, sound and light.

Good luck to all the teachers!


Teaching in 2019

ring light


We broke up

Today, I wrote one of the most difficult emails to write: I had to tell my writing group I was leaving our group.

For some, this may not seem like a daunting task. But for me, breaking up with a writing group is akin to breaking up with a very serious partner. I was with my writing group for almost a year: we weathered difficult seasons, rain or shine we met once a month at the SF Public Library, we wrote through tears and tough conversations; we wrote during the onset of sheltering in place, a global pandemic and social unrest. In a short time, we went through a lot. 

Just recently, my writing has taken a different direction. I’m not sure how to even describe it, and when i’m ready, i will share it on this blog. I just know that as I continue to write my way through new terrain, I’m at peace knowing that no one will read this raw, imperfect, unedited material but me. There’s so much freedom in that. Not to suggest that my writing group wasn’t a positive experience. It was! I learned so much from my partners and they pushed me to be a better writer. They offered their support with a gentle, kind hand, even when I knew they could be much harsher. Instead, they encouraged me through good, but even more important, through “bad” writing. But as I find my new voice in my new writing, I know I want to experience this undisturbed and really immerse myself in the process. I’m scared, but I think it will be good for me because I have never written “alone”. There was always a writing group I could count on to offer feedback. 

In time, I hope I will be ready to share and accept feedback. I hope it’ll be with the same group. I didn’t express this in my email because I have to accept the possibility that they might not be willing to work with me again. I hope that is not the case. But I understand if it is. 

I will miss reading my group’s stories and chatting about our life updates.  I’m saddened that it is my fault that we won’t be able to continue as a trio and have years, decades of meeting together once a month as I had originally envisioned. But I know this decision, although very difficult, is the best for me at this time.

My new work needs my full attention, and I am committed in providing that, however difficult and different.


This seems a little over the top, but based on my mood, i thought i’d accompany today’s post with some of my favorite break up songs:

Boys to Men “End of the Road”


Boys to Men “How do I Say Goodbye To Yesterday?”


Amy Winehouse “Back to Black”






Top 5 literary landmarks in SF

It was day ____ (I’ve lost count) of sheltering in place in San Francisco, but today was also my birthday. To take advantage of the empty streets and zero traffic, my hubby took me to five literary landmarks in SF. Some were revisits, but it was great to visit a few new places. 

Here they are in the order we visited them: 

  1. John Steinbeck’s apartment  ( 1901 Vallejo Street)



2) Robert Frost Plaza (1 California Street



3) Jack Kerouac Alley and City Lights Book Store (Grant and Columbus avenue)




4)  Waverly place (China town in SF)



5) Maya Angelou’s high school  (George Washington High School 600 32nd Ave)



41 years old

I have a confession to make: I turn 41 in two days, and it’s the first time in a long time I’m not motivated to celebrate. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or if there are more important events in the world to draw attention to. The thought of celebrating while others are fighting for their lives seems insensitive. I do understand that I have the privilege of breathing. That in itself seems like something to celebrate or at least acknowledge. Last year on my 40th birthday, I went to Las Vegas with a group of friends to watch a Janet Jackson concert. A year later, I will be at home with my husband, our 5th month sheltering in place. If I’m lucky, I can blow out candles and exhale.

Here are some pictures from last year…

Beach, please.

Along the foamy shore, I sink my bare feet in the moist land. Clumps of grainy sand stick between my toes. I avoid the earthy broken shells and black and white feathers sprinkled throughout the path. A red plastic bucket with a yellow handle floats in the white and grey water. Seagulls flap their loose wings but dip with wings as straight as the cross in the choppy ocean. My ear is pressed against the opening of a conch shell, a thunderstorm brewing inside.