Notes from Lake Tahoe

About last Saturday night: I was sitting cross-legged on the second-floor landing of an elegant rental house in the mountains of South Lake Tahoe, nursing a plastic cup that I hadn’t bothered to fill with anything and wondering if I was doing my youth wrong. Below me, in the kitchen, people with whom I had been affable all weekend were already several shots into the evening. They danced to Top 40 songs and occasionally erupted into peals of laughter.

I was persuaded to come on this trip months ago, when the long late-summer days exacerbated my loneliness. I was new to the Bay Area, newly far away from everyone I had loved. A snow-mantled weekend in the mountains, sharing a house with the other 20-somethings in my company, seemed like a good idea at the time.

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In 2018, I’m Choosing Purpose Over Perfection

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

I’m skeptical of New Year’s resolutions. There, I said it! If I were being completely honest, I think that New Year’s resolutions are inherently tenuous. At worst, they are destined to flounder by March. I usually make resolutions in September because the structural transformation of the new school year always seemed to make more sense to me.

January, though? Every December, we see a crop of articles giving people quantifiable(!), actionable(!) tools for keeping resolutions. And yet the reality is that gym memberships spike for the New Year, only for attendance to peter out as the year progresses. Yeah, take it in.

So this year, I’ve decided to move away from formula. I’m starting my year with a mindset, which I think is far more productive than a self-improvement-y “resolution.” And, more importantly, it’s easier to keep than a gym membership. And most importantly, it’s free.

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Just as I was ready to cast off the awfulness of 2017, my dad was hospitalized (and more thoughts on health and the new year)

Heads up: This is a longer, somber post about the end of my 2017, and a powerful experience that informed how I resolved to take on 2018. Some content concerns hospitalization and physical trauma.

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All told, 2017 has been famously terrible. Flamboyantly, laughing-while-weeping terrible. Basic human rights and Internet freedom were imperiled, and disasters—natural and man-made—seemed to succeed each other before we could catch our breaths again.

In February (was it really last February?), the president announced his first attempt to ban entry from seven majority-Muslim countries. The next morning, my habitually prompt English professor stormed into our classroom a minute late. Her eyes were blazing.

“I’m fine,” she said to us, a small tempest of shuffling papers. “Personally fine, nationally frustrated.”

In the coming months, personally fine, nationally frustrated became the epigraph of 2017. I graduated from college; the families of undocumented people are at risk. I started a job that I enjoy; female survivors of sexual assault are faced with condemnation for speaking out.

But when, a few weeks ago, my mom called and told me that my dad fallen off a ladder while cleaning the garage, that he landed squarely on the right side of his skull, that anything could happen as long as his brain kept bleeding, the accumulated exasperation that was 2017 dissipated. In an instant, my thoughts narrowed to my most immediate concerns: get home, be with family, hope furiously that everything would be okay again.

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5 things that NaNoWriMo taught me about being a writer

Did you do National November Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) last month? It’s a month-long sprint that challenges writers to produce 50,000 words between November 1st and 30th.

Despite being involved with creative writing for my whole life, I’ve only participated in NaNo for the first time this year. (I know!!) Though I should note: Because Novembers are uncharacteristically busy for me—I prioritize a lot of family celebrations, which entailed traveling for almost half of the month—I set my personal word count far lower than 50,000.

So while I can’t speak to meeting that lofty goal, I learned a lot about myself as a writer, the creative process, and writing at airports.

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What’s in store for December on La Pia en Rose?

Every year, I’m dumbfounded by the pace of Novembers. The rapidity was most distinct when I was living in New England: At the start of the month, the gold-crimson leaves crown the tops of trees and litter the sidewalks. By December, the leaves are gone, and the tree branches cut emaciated silhouettes against a gray swath of sky.

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La Pia en Rose is Going Dark for November

Happy November, everyone! Just chiming in with this image of a black abyss to say that the blog will be dark while I pursue more writing projects. Specifically, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, lovingly known as NaNoWriMo. This means that all of my free time will be devoted to the rigorous pursuit of my creative writing projects outside of this blog.

I’ll try to check in a handful of times this month. Until then, read that novel you’ve always been meaning to read (or write it yourself!). Go to a museum. Hug a puppy. I’ll see you on the other side.

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Celebrating Filipino Art & FilAm Identity

Ceremonial deity (bulul), Ifugao people of Luzon, approx. 1930.

Earlier this month, I took my mom to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco to see their Filipino American History Month celebrations. (By the way, happy FAHM, fam!) I’m abashed to say that it was the first time that I had ever seen Filipino art on display. On top of that, I was visiting with my mom, which deepened another, far more personal and meaningful dimension to the exhibit.

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My First Hackathon

Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash

Every day last week, I came home from work and crammed online HTML/CSS and JavaScript tutorials late into the night. I took neat, color-coded notes in a spiral notebook. Hunched over my laptop tapping out simple lines of code, I imagined myself painting black streaks below my eyes, like an athlete in preparation for the Superbowl of intellect.

That’s right. My company hosted a 24-hour hackathon. I don’t have a computer science background, but I do have drive and a lust for victory. And all of these pretty colored pens.

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Magic in the City

I think cities are the most beautiful places in the world. As a kid, I used to walk through airports with my parents and just marvel at the churn of lives in motion. In my short years, I had the privilege of living in a handful of major cities around the world, a fact that I find astounding and deeply humbling.

Here, I thought my first time living on my own in a big city, is where so many stories converge. Where each path I could take is less predictable than the last. Everyone and Joan Didion tell me that I’ll outgrow the fascination. New York, Didion writes, is “a city for only the very young.” But at dusk, when the sun hasn’t quite set and the urban light-scape flickers to life, all I see is promise.

Last week, I explored Golden Gate park with my mom and discovered even more reasons to be enchanted – figuratively and literally.

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In Brief: Dealing with the world right now

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash

If you live anywhere a source of news media, you will know that this has not been the best week for the world. You don’t even me to link to the events that have cast long shadows over the past few days. While bright things are happening every day – much of which I want to share with you – it feels disingenuous of me to share them without first addressing things that for all I know could be affecting you directly.

So this is me checking up on you. You ok? What’s helping you reorient?

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