Spelling and math quizzes

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When I first came to the U.S. my mom would quiz me on spelling and math. Come to think of it, I think I was also held back a grade, staying 2nd when I should’ve started in 3rd.

I’ve been learning about how English language acquisition was important for assimilation and that many Filipino immigrant parents like my mom allowed if not encouraged their kids to perfect its use even at the expense of unlearning Tagalog/Filipino or their native language. Of course, this felt like a given growing up, but I didn’t know what it meant in the larger context of colonization. My mom did what she was taught would be the best, and so did other parents.

I was always so pleased with myself whenever someone would tell me how good my English was when I told them that I wasn’t born here. There’s a lot to unpack.

Africa Aid Art Auction

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Right after I finished college and moved back to San Diego, I wanted to stay involved in art stuff and community service stuff, partly to delay the life of office work that I was destined for given my non-lucrative major (Art History). I was really interested in African art and culture  because of all the classes about it that I took, and found a UCSD-student-run, non-profit organization called Africa Aid who were trying to organize an art auction to raise money for a group of craftswomen in South Africa. I signed up to volunteer and my task was to find local artists and ask them to donate their work for the auction. Somehow, I found a list online (the internet ca. 2006 was not exactly the information smorgasbord that it is now) of nearly a hundred artists who worked in San Diego and contacted all of them, one by one, either via phone or email, hitting them up for art. I’m bummed that I don’t have pictures of the actual auction because a surprising number of artists came through and donated some really beautiful pieces, most of which sold for hundreds of dollars each.

While I was and still am proud of the work I did with that group, the experience left me with a negative opinion about non-profit charity groups for a long time. I felt like a ghost at the meetings and most of the contact that I did have with the organizers was over the phone where I simply reported the quantity of donations being committed and by whom. I knew very little about how the event was coming together (they didn’t even tell me where it was going to be until a week before the event) and what was expected. I even had to buy my own shirt. After the auction, I never heard from the organizers again– not a recap of how it went, how much was raised, or a thank you message or anything. It all just seemed like a bunch of kids who were wrapped up in their “cause”, schmoozing it up at the auction. The experience put me off on doing community service for a while.

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Bike ride to set things right

On Labor Day weekend, I went on an overnight bike ride from Santa Barbara, CA to Santa Monica, CA. I’d been wanting to do it since my attempt at a mini bike tour last year was foiled by, you know, my stuff getting stolen.

Having finally re-bought all of the essential equipment (see packing list below), I adjusted my trip to ride a shorter distance and further north, avoiding the dangers of the LBC this time around. Good call, because riding down the coast on Hwy 1 was one of the best, most beautiful things I’ve ever done.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Riding solo, the trip sparked intensely lonely moments that shook me up and left me emotionally bare and a crying mess for a couple of weeks afterwards. It was weird. I thought a lot about important relationships and what it really means to be a loving, compassionate person, and why I was so far way from being that. All the open space I had to myself gave me an opportunity to finally confront and also grieve the loss of one of my oldest friendships and close the chapter of my life in which it played such an important part. On this journey, I also finished reading Wild, which resonated with me through every inch I pedaled.

This was once a mountain that stood 12,000 feet tall and then had its heart removed…But hard as I tried, I couldn’t see them in my mind’s eye. Not the mountain or the wasteland or the empty bowl. They simply were not there anymore. There was only the stillness and silence of that water: what a mountain and a wasteland and an empty bowl turned into after the healing began. -Cheryl Strayed

I was gone and back home within 36 hours, but it felt like I had been away for at least a week. It gave me a good idea of my capabilities and how to plan a longer, more legit ride for next time. Some notes:

  • I cycle, on average, about 7mph, which is a lot slower than I thought.
  • Hills with a 15% grade and above, I gotta hoof it.
  • I really wasn’t that hungry! Water was more important than food.
  • Riding down Hwy 1 while the sun set was worth every mile of cycling through California’s inglorious butthole (Thanks, Oxnard).

Packing List

(2) Panniers-front(2) UnderwearHelmet
Handlebar bagSports braSunglasses
Tool/smartphone case(2) Short sleeve shirtsDebit card and ID
Mini-bike pumpLight hoodieSleeping bag
Spare tubePair of shortsOne-person tent
Tube patching kitPair of sweatsBicycle lights-front and back
Switch bladePair of socks200ml of water
SmartphoneStick of deodorantLog of salami
External battery, for charging phoneToothbrush4 deckled pluots
Printed bike mapToothpasteBag of sweet and spicy pecans
Sunblock(2) Towels(4) Pieces of sourdough bread

Trip Overview

Saturday, 08/30

  1. 5:45a – Arrive at the Santa Fe Depot
  2. 6:05a – Train departs for SBA
  3. 11:40a – Arrive in SBA
  4. 12:00p – Start riding!
  5. 7:15p – Arrive at Sycamore Beach; camp; watch sunset
  6. 9:00p – Fall asleep

Sunday, 08/31

  1. 6:00a – Wake up; watch sunrise; do yoga
  2. 7:00a – Start packing up
  3. 8:00a – Start riding again!
  4. 12:15p – Lunch at Subway in Malibu
  5. 1:00p – Start riding! (Final stretch of 14mi)
  6. 2:30p – Arrive at Sta. Monica Pier
  7. 3:00p – Catch Big Blue #10 to Union Station
  8. 3:50p – Arrive at Union Station
  9. 4:15p – Train departs for SAN
  10. 6:45p – Train arrives in SAN


Luckily, there is enough information on the internet to be able to figure this ride out without too much hassle. I used Google Maps for most of the trip, using the printed map as a backup. The route below includes the detour I took (thanks to a lady cyclist that helped me, near Rincon Beach) that is not yet part of the cycling directions, since the new bike lanes along the coast in Carpinteria are fairly new.

Adjustments for next time

  • If possible, next time, bring a pal.
  • Absolutely, next time, bring a sleeping pad.
  • Re-think single gear touring OR change to a lower gear ratio.
  • Bring singles for bus fare.

Southbound on the 7

Last stop on the ride to adolescence.

Last stop on the ride to adulthood.

Continuing down my path of crime.. This bus transfer pass is from the afternoon I got caught trying to steal a bottle of CK1 from Bullock’s (now Macy’s) in Horton Plaza. I thought I’d gotten away with it. Me and my friend Jeanette even went to a souvenir store next door to window shop. Maybe that’s where I messed up? As we were walking out of the shop, a security guard came up to me and took me aside. The jig was up.

I remember feeling out of breath. It sucks being caught. I carried that guilt unnecessarily throughout my teens. Even though my mom got my record expunged, for the next five years, I would always write about this little incident on employee applications, the section where it asks “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” I thought these businesses needed to know what they would be risking, having a hardened but reformed 15-year-old high school girl bagging groceries. Think of all my missed opportunities at employment! What would my life have been like had I worked at Whole Foods?



So, TMI, I have post-nasal drip. Always had it, and when I was a kid it was pretty bad. Snot would just constantly leak from my nose and I always had to blow my nose like I was sick. Except for a near-brush with death from a still-inexplicable illness when I was 6 or 7, I was generally in good health, so my leaky nose was just my lot in life. We didn’t know about Neti Pots back then, which I think would’ve helped.

Anyway, because of the all the snot, I had to carry around a handkerchief. I had a few of them in circulation at any given time. I remember once, my aunt gave me one for Christmas that was really nice, I didn’t want to use it. These were the two that I took with me when we moved to the U.S., but they became defunct when I realized that here, we use disposable Kleenex, to keep things sanitary.