Crushing Writer Fears

I didn’t always want to be a teacher. Like every other youth in my family I thought I’d go pre-med or go to dentistry school like my cousin who is also a USF alum. After turning eighteen and partying it up in the city, my grades suffered. But not all of my grades.

My savior in the form of Professor Marty (erm, I can’t remember his last name right now) took a chance on me and spoke to the Dean on my behalf. He explained that I was, in short, a good kid and deserved a second chance because I was getting an A in his class. The Dean agreed on the condition that I changed my major from science to ANYTHING ELSE.

It was a big blow to my ego that I was no longer a science major; after all, I (started to) kick butt in difficult science courses. I mean, who takes another science as an elective for the hell of it?

I do. It was marine biology and my teacher, Mr. Guardino, was awesome even if he turned in the letter of recommendation to USF late. I still got in. I still graduated. I still got a master’s from there.

But I was grateful for the chance to prove to myself that I could finish. It was by chance that a friend of mine suggested I teach a summer program for kids at the elementary school near campus.

What? Kids? Gross.

Ah, famous last words. 

I enjoyed picking these kids’ brains while making it seem like they were the ones guiding the direction of the class. Teaching and working with children just came easily to me. 

Writing also came easily to me when I was younger. I loved reading everything from magazines to Sweet Valley High so I thought the only thing better than consuming these literary works of art was creating them.

Like most parents, my father did not think I should become a writer because I wouldn’t be able to get a job after college. You know how on The Cosby Show, Theo got busted for bad grades and gave a touching monologue about how he wasn’t going to college to get a job but rather an education and his father totally called bullshit on him? Yep, same concept with my dad. 

I started writing again when I became a stay at home mom. I wrote A LOT. Like, a lot a lot.

I was hired to be a columnist for a now defunct children’s magazine. I reviewed CDs and DVDs, including Tenatious D before anyone had ever heard of Jack Black and won best article of true year for that site. I attended writing conferences, met the illustrators Diane and Leo Dillon, had a bagel with Jane Yolen, and introduced my son to the author and illustrator of Hugo Cabret! One of the authors even told me twice to get in touch with her agent after I pitched a YA story I was working on. I published a poem through Cricket Media, and even had the chance to interview Travis from Blink 182 and Steve from Blue’s Clues!

But I got scared. Everything moved so fast. 

Too fast.

There isn’t a moment that I don’t regret not taking my shot. (Yes, that’s a Hamilton reference.)

So now, I feel like it’s time. Little signs to go for it are everywhere in the form of encouragement from friends and my husband. Reminders of what I could have been doing RIGHT NOW. I’m finding all of my personal rejection forms, my old manuscripts, everything. 

If I really didn’t want to do this, I would have gotten rid of it years ago.

But I didn’t.

In one notebook and a file folder, I found two separate collections of poems, three outlines for YA/MG novels, four picture book manuscripts, and two unfinished YA manuscripts! I found three poems to revise and polished them with fresh yet wiser eyes. 

Here we go…

The Funk Formula

I’m not shy about sharing my discontent of youths with other youths. When I was a high school sub, I joked around with tattooed kids about how back in my day we had to WORK to pay for body modifications. (Mind you, I knew the kids pretty well.) We had to earn every dollar working a thankless job at the front desk of our dormitories and not use the cash our grandmas gave us for our birthday. 

(I am aware now of how old I sound, thanks.)

With my own children, I tell them how songs today don’t come close to the classics. At this point I would put in one of my Dr. Dre CDs. 

There is a constant trend to throw back to the oldies, or at least what the current generation deems “old”. I appreciated hearing Blackstreet in the movie Pitch Perfect just as I appreciated hearing them live. 

In person.

Like right in front of me.


Yeah, he’s holding my hand.

Five friends and I went to the V101 Holiday Jam at the new Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento. We had a blast!

My friend T and I even got to meet JJ Fad! It was quick but still a fun story to tell. 

Zapp was there…

Ginuine was there; he came out during Zapp’s performance as an audience member.


En Vogue was there. They sounded and looked as if they never aged. Yes, I’m a little jealous.


More Blackstreet. Juvenile was also there but I didn’t care much for his lyrics so a couple of friends and I weren’t as excited to be there. I don’t like being called a bitch or ho in case you are an aspiring songwriter. Pretty sure most women feel the same way.

Bone Thugs & Harmony were there and they sounded great! My friend T and I saw them two decades ago in San Jose and they haven’t changed one bit.

Nor have some of their audience members who were partaking in herbal refreshments hence the reason I don’t have close shots of the group. Even now, just thinking about it makes my stomach hurt.


Oh, before the concert we met this fella…


Happy holidays!

The Gray Growth

Like my father before me, I went gray in my thirties. It wasn’t noticeable until recently when I took the plunge to cover the gray and in doing so, I committed myself to maintenance schedule. 

In another time another beauty requirement to my routine would not have been a problem. I had the time, money, and most of all, the vanity to lead the way in quest for outer beauty. 

Decades later while I still struggle to find a new and more evolved fashion identity I am not driven as I once was. The occasional mani-pedi and the monthly box of Target hair dye was and is enough. 

But is it?

I get a lot of compliments on my hair color. The color ranges from a dark auburn to a light brown depending on what hair color I buy in a box. The color stays for a few weeks until it starts to fade… in a good way. This dark burgundy is fading which means I have a cool Deadpool red amongst my black and gray roots.

Gray.

I looked up different shades of black and gray and found that some women are wearing a black gray ombré. Others have even mixed in silver.

Then a light bulb went off in my head. Could I pull it off? Do I dare? Even if I don’t like it, I could go to Target and get another box, right?

There is a yearning for me to return to what’s natural even if it’s been so long that I’m not quite sure what natural is anymore. Maybe this change will help transition my hair for what’s to come. Now if only I can bring myself to pay more than ten bucks for this change, I’ll be set. 

Gah, even now I look at this picture and I cringe. Oh well. It’s not like you’re seeing this in person and even if you did I’d trust you not to stare. Thanks, kind reader of inconsistent blog. Aren’t you an optimist?

The Middle Age Mandate: Part 2

I’ve decided to cut out meat to feel better and hopefully shed some weight. Despite a couple of setbacks this week in the form of my mom’s delicious Filipino food and a graduation party for my nephews, I’ve been doing pretty well. 


Clothes that were too tight a month ago now fit and I don’t feel as self conscious in most of my clothes. I still have a way to go and I hope I can continue to have mostly vegetarian or vegan meals. I feel good. Healthier. Less deprived more often. 


Spinach blueberry and banana smoothie with soy milk. (I’m not trying to be fancy; I’m lactose intolerant!)

I’ve been trying to drink these dense smoothies every morning before milk and with a bit of local honey to fight allergies, they’re pretty delicious! I get hungry after a couple of hours so I have to make sure I have a snack on hand or I lose my mind. 

I recently took a frozen pad Thai meal from Trader Joe’s to work for lunch and while it was delicious, I realize I felt famished after eating. There wasn’t enough protein in my meal to feed my hunger and I probably ate too much for dinner to overcompensate. I felt terrible for a brief moment and realised I now know that I need to have enough protein at every meal. 

My husband R has also changed his diet in a very different way. While I have tried to adopt as close to a vegan lifestyle as possible (my silly rules help me avoid sugar), he has chosen to cut out processed food and white flour/sugar/rice. Hes been really supportive of me and I of him. Our meals even overlap when I make quinoa salad or beans and rice. He’s even cut out tobacco! Of course, he is losing weight faster than me! 

I’ll keep you updated! 

The Arcade Ambiguity

Most of the time my husband and I are a good match. He listens to my incessant talking and I listen to his thoughts on history and the Bible. I like the orange Starburst candies and hate the pink ones. He is the opposite so we trade.

Most of the time we are a good match.

Most of the time.

Now, hear this, I’m not here to air my dirty laundry. I’m not.

I just noticed that lately we’ve been letting stuff slide. Things that make him angry, things that make me stew, things that we have been avoiding just so we can sweep issues under the rug.

But we can’t do that.

Because in the end it only makes things worse.

It’s easier to ignore comments, pretend you don’t feel the way you do. It’s way easier than actually confronting the person. 

No one likes confrontation. No one wants it. 

But we need it.

I’d rather we talk about stuff and not let it sit. I’d rather have the difficult conversation now before we forget why we’re arguing, before we forget why we love each other.

I’m not going to go into specifics but the only way I could verbalize what was happening between us was to picture that old arcade game Dig Dug. It’s a game where you are digging your way to destroy monsters before they destroy you but the funny thing about that game is that no matter how weak your tunnels are, the tunnel never collapses. 

Marriage is NOT like Dig Dug. We have to fight the same monsters, not each other. Despite all the digging we do, it will come crashing down if we are not careful. I’ve never said I was perfect and if you think about it, my husband and I have not been married under the same roof for very long. It’s still new to the both of us. It’s up to us to make sure we don’t make monsters of each other. 

The Creativity Factor

With the girls on a short break from school, the middle A and I joined my husband R for a day in San Francisco. 
Until recently, A would talk about how much she loved San Francisco, how it was the best city in the entire world, and how she was going to be a marine biologist when she grew up.

Now she doesn’t believe any of that.

What happened?

I’m not sure myself and if you’ve got a reasonable explanation, please send it my way.

Now she wants to move to L.A. and be famous!

   
   
I suspect this is normal for her age. I wanted to become a writer and work at BOP magazine. Remember that magazine? Remember Sassy? Ah, the memories. 

The only difference between my upbringing and hers is that I’ll encourage her to be whatever she wants… Within reason. 

Her godparents are part-time actors and models but they’re also graduates of UC Davis and highly successful in their careers. One of my best friends said it best when she believed our parents were right in pushing us towards practical majors that led to actual careers (even though at the time, my soul was crushed). R even said the other day that we are in a place in our lives where we can freely pursue our dreams with his retirement and my career. I’m still trying to figure out if writing is still my dream. Sometimes I look around and feel so grateful for my husband, 

  
(Pssst! It’s an old pic!)

my family, 

  

(Some of) my friends, 

   
 
and my job 

  
that I already feel like I’m living in a dream.

In the meantime, I want A to do both. She can go to college and prepare herself for a great career AND she can go for her dreams.

She can and she will. 

We had a wonderful time at the Chuldren’s Creativity Museum at Yerba Buena Gardens. I was afraid that the museum would be too young for her. Upon entry there are so many activities for toddlers and preschoolers but we quickly found other amazing exhibits for her age!

We made our own clay figurines and created a stop motion movie!

   
   
I’m a little obsessed with Doctor Who…

   
 
A even made her own video game. She created her character and levels.

   
   
If these are the kinds of experiences she needs to do both, I’m so happy I’m along for the ride.

   
 

Happy New Year! 

Hope you had a wonderful holiday season! We have been fortunate to spend time with family and friends, near and far. 

Right before Christmas, we drove to Los Angeles for a much-needed vacation to the happiest place on earth… Disneyland! Because of the new movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there was so much excitement in the air. I tried to cosplay as a StormTrooper but was quickly shot down by security, no pun intended. Evidently their rules had changed in the last 48 hours to a ban on cosplay for adults. 

   
 
I was able to quickly get these pics before I got kicked out! No, I didn’t get kicked out though I wonder if the kids will say to each other, decades later, “Remember the time we went to Disneyland and Mom almost got removed from the park?” 

Noticeably absent from the pics is my husband R, partly to save money but mostly because he just can’t handle the crowds anymore. He expressed his dismay and believes that he is getting worse but really… Everyone hates crowds! Even I have to take a break from it all and return to our hotel room to take a breather. My happiness and adrenaline level probably outweigh my disdain for crowds. Maybe one day he’ll join us but it’s not something I push or make a big deal over.

While I love seeing my family on Christmas, I hate traveling so we opted to stay home. We went to church on Christmas Eve so I could assist with the CFF classes when they performed during mass. 

  
At the Grand Californian Resort in Anaheim, CA

The spirit of giving is very much alive in our home. L, at only 8 years old, gave all of us handmade Christmas cards. A, who’s 10, used her own money to buy all of us chocolate bars even though they still had plenty left over from Halloween. She even bought cat toys for our old tabby and a chew toy for our dogs to share. And while the boy didn’t give us anything to open, his kind manner sets the tone for his younger sisters. For that we are grateful. 

Our New Year’s celebrations have always been low key as we’ve found the older we get, the less alcohol we consume. We actually stayed up until midnight with family and friends, a first for the two younger kids.  

   
On Monday the girls go back to school. They’ve been off since Thanksgiving break so I can imagine how difficult it will be to wake up… Even more so for R and I though! We’re going to have to be more awake than them to wake them up!

The boy and I go back on Tuesday. I’ll make sure I have my coffee machine ready then.

In the meantime, happy new year from all of us, wherever you may be. Here’s to a prosperous and blessed 2016!