Friday, April 29, 2011

Travels: San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers In Your Green Hair)

Friday, April 22nd
There's something true about the idea that real friends can go a while without talking and just pick things up where they left off the next time they see each other.

My Friday was filled with these get-together's.  I was lucky enough to make several of those types of friends in my early 20's.  We'd gone through so many changes in life; moving across the country, getting married, coming to terms with our losses, growing into our identities.  But we still laughed as though were were still in the Porter College dorms.

I first went to visit my sister in the Union Square where she was working at the new Disney Store.  This was definitely an area where you could "accidentally" spend way too much money.
Monument for Admiral George Dewey's victory
 at the Battle of Manila Bay during
 the Spanish American War
The Disney Store is pretty awesome, really.  Tons of fun activities for kids, like a Magic Mirror and looking for Hidden Mickey's.  Since it was Earth Day, my sister had the lovely role of dealing with people hungry for free stuff:  She was charged with giving out Disney reusable bags for anyone who brought 5 or more plastic bags to the store.  People are crazy, and even more so when there's free things involved.  They would try to get more free reusable bags by bringing 10 or more (though it's 1 bag per person), or would come back later, or would make up something about their friend not being able to come.  It's a free bag, people...calm down.

After spending way too much time at the Disney Store, probably freaking out the staff over my excitement of completing a scavenger hunt/word search about Earth-friendly ideas, I met up with one of my undergrad roommates.

We went around the corner to the Burger Bar, where you're able to personalize your burger with some amazing ingredients.  The burgers were a bit decadent, some costing over $60 when black truffles were added, but delicious.  The milkshakes were also quite tasty.

Since we had a bit more time together, she then walked me over to the Sir Frances Drake Hotel for a special birthday champagne cheer.  It's a gorgeous hotel, and it was a wonderful place to kick off my birthday celebrations.
Ceiling detail
After a glass of champagne, my friend helped me find my way back to the Muni and I rushed to get home to shower and prepare for dinner and a show I was invited to dance in.

I met up with two people who I considered my best friends in undergrad.  We had some amazing adventures together and a bit of a falling out.  But it was mainly my own doing, and I'm glad that we're still friends to this day.

We laughed all the way to the restaurant where I would be dancing. Peña Pachamama, in the North Beach area, has organic South American cuisine and live entertainment.  The food was all delicious.  When we first arrived, there was a flamenco dancer.  The belly dancers would finish off the night.  Most of my friends from undergrad have never seen me dance, though they've seen me do other things like dye my hair green.

Saturday, April 23rd (The Day)
Because it had been so long since I'd seen these friends, I met up with them and another undergrad friend again for brunch.  We did some catching up before brunch, learning about all the happenings since we'd last seen each other maybe 3 years ago.

At Nopa, we celebrated not only my birthday but another friend's completion of his dissertation.  We joked about how this year would be the last year that I could do stupid things and blame it on my 20's.  Haha!  Genius!

Sidebar:  Nopa does not have soy or any other alternative milks available.  Quite unfortunate, really, considering that we were in flippin' San Francisco.  But the food and drinks were delicious.
The Blur cocktail and Custard French Toast with a side of Bacon
Obviously, with it being my birthday and a beautiful warm California day, I had to put on some sparkles and my favorite green dress.
As I looked around the table at my friends, there was definitely a moment when I though, "Hmm...I could live here, especially if it meant I would get to see these people more than every couple of years."

Nerds, when are you going to release that teleportation machine, huh???? C'mon!!!

When late morning turned into early afternoon, I knew it was time to part.  I wasn't sure when my parents and brother would arrive and we'd have to head to my sister's show.  So, we hugged each other ta-ta-for-now.  But it was really hard for me to watch them walk away as I crossed the street to catch a bus.

Bonus Birthday Toesies
I realized I had a bit more time before the rest of my family arrived, so I stopped off at the Castro to get my nails did.

I ended up right on Market St and Castro at Queenbee Nail Salon.  They had a small staff that day, so I got to spend an extra amount of time in the massage chair, which was so amazing that it discovered some serious knots in my shoulders.
Designed by Tee at Queenbee Nail Salon, San Francisco, CA
Color: Zoya - Gemma
Occasion: Birthday Sparkliness
April 2011
By the time the pedicure was over, my parents and brother had already arrived and settled down in their hotel.  Family time would be starting soon, and I had to shift gears a bit.

To Be Continued...
Next Up:  (Flying Away From) The Dock of The Bay

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Travels: I Left My Appetite In San Francisco

My birthday fell on a Saturday this year.  It also turns out that my family was heading to San Francisco since my sister was going to be part of a show on the day of my birthday.  Seeing that I haven't seen them since July 2010, and being that I'm still unemployed, I figured it was high time that I made it back to the West Coast.
View of the Pacific Ocean from the Sunset/Parkside area.
The last time I was in San Francisco was for a quick stop-over on our way to Napa Valley.  Before that, it was a quick trip for my sister's graduation from culinary school, which was back in 2008.

Truth be told, I hesitated on whether I should have gone on the trip.  I just don't feel comfortable making plans too far ahead, especially not knowing whether I would need to rearrange my entire schedule based on a new job or not.  But at some point, I realized that I had to make this trip regardless.

Wednesday, April 20th
This day snuck up on me!  While I was extremely excited, I found myself really anxious about traveling.  I think a lot about what I might have forgotten or about all the things I still needed to do.

In the morning, I had 2 interviews (which I'm pretty sure I ROCKED!), then I had to finish up packing and spend some quality time with the boyfriend and the kittehs before heading out.

At this point, I had already reintroduced meat into my diet, and I knew that my body was a lot less angry at me than I anticipated.  So, naturally, as soon as I was picked up by my sister, I had one destination in mind.
Cheeseburger and Fries - both Animal Style
 with a Vanilla Shake
It was truly heavenly.  I have yet to find something that is similar to In N Out, though I'm sure they exist.

I laughed a bit at the idea that there are always In N Out's near the airports in California.  Obviously, they were strategic and thought about all the folks who have been deprived of a delicious and simple burger joint.  Pure genius is what it is.

Thursday, April 21st
My sister let me stay at her apartment during this trip.  I'd have to say that it was extremely convenient to be near public transportation, and I found it quite easy to travel throughout the city by Muni and Bart.
San Francisco's Muni Map
I can see why so many people have compared Boston and San Francisco, considering that it can be so easy to live in the city without a car.  Though, I'd have to say that San Francisco's system is much nicer compared to Boston's.  Many of the stops, for both the trolley and the buses, have notifications for when the next one will be on its way.  They even have the Owl service for some of the Muni lines, which runs between 1am and 5am!

But, I digress.

I had brunch with my sister at the Squat & Gobble on West Portal.  Aside from dim sum, this was my first official brunch after my pescatarian/vegan diet.  I had a really hard time choosing what to feast on.
My sister and I at the Squat & Gobble
I then made my way to meet up with a classmate from grad school who I haven't seen since graduation.  I, for one, am quite glad that Facebook allows us to keep in "contact," even if it means just knowing what a person has been up to in the past month.

We had lunch at Sushi Kinta in the Embarcadero Center, caught up on what the other had been doing in the past 4 and a half years.  We talked about the weird trap that being labeled a "social worker" has us in, especially when it comes to employment.

Though it was a brief lunch with her, it was awesome to hang with her.  Truth be told, it's folks like her that make me feel happy about going into social work.  Not because we're necessarily where we want to be in our professional life, but because I had the pleasure of making some amazing friends.

As she went back to work, she encouraged me to walk around a bit and explore the Ferry Plaza.  As I started walking, I suddenly realized that I had been in that area before - years and years ago at a war protest rally!  A flood of memories came rushing through my head, and it made me more excited to see more of my friends.
The Ferry Plaza on The Embarcadero
It was really a gorgeous day.  I soaked in that California sun and remembered why I still call that state home.
San Francisco Bay with the Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, and a Ferry
Later that night, I had signed up to drop in on a belly dance class, and that took me to the Noe Valley area where the hills and view were both steep and breath-taking.
 At the top of 24th St.
Though the class I attended ended way later than I anticipated, I was still able to see a friend from undergrad who I hadn't seen in about 4 years.  It was great to see that she was loving her job and doing so much after having just finished grad school.  We reminisced on all the crazy times we had together, and talked about all the changes that have gone on in our lives.

She and I met up at the Beretta Restaurant, where I really had no choice but to get the pizza with clams.

I don't know what your particular tastes are...but clam and garlic pizza is the frakkin' bomb, yo.  It's so bomb, I was compelled to say that it was bomb...yo.

I first had this amazing slice of pizza in my young days as a Banana Slug at UC Santa Cruz.  Specifically, this was a treat at Pizza My Heart.  I kid you not, people.  It's worth a trip to find clam and garlic pizza. I'm starving.

To Be Continued...
Next Up:  San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers In Your Green Hair)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Passover 2011

No, I'm not Jewish.  "But some of my really good friends are Jewish."

I'm sure I've talked about how I'm not particularly religious.  My extended family is Catholic, but my parents never raised us to be extremely hard core about going to church.  I would accompany my grandmothers to church, and my mom's mother had us praying the rosary every night until I was in high school.

My parents never forced me to get my First Communion, though I ended up finally getting that done when I was already in high school.  But I have never been Confirmed.

That being said, I'm not anti-religion unless someone starts to force it down my throat.  But I'm all about being exposed to and learning about my friend's beliefs.

So, on Passover, two dear friends invited folks over to celebrate and take part in the Passover Seder.
The Seder Plate
 Each item represents the journey out of Egypt,
from the bitterness of the horseradish to the lambs blood.
 I recommend attending a Passover dinner to learn all about it!

Random Fact:  Some grocery stores will hand out FREE lamb shanks for Passover!  I happened to be near a grocery store when my friend called and asked me to get a lamb shank.  At first, the deli person looked at me like I was crazy, but then he realized what I was asking for.

I'm sure that it was strange for some random Filipino girl to be asking about a lamb shank, when everyone else who asked must have actually been Jewish.

Now, if you've never been invited to partake in a Passover Seder, it's really quite an experience.  You should definitely not arrive starving!  There are prayers, songs, and the retelling of how the Jews escaped from Egypt.
The dinner table, complete with a huge pamphlet of instructions.
Also, the 2 large candlesticks were passed down from my friend's
 grandmother...from like a hundred years ago!
Oh, and there's wine.  Lots of wine.  Technically, you're supposed to drink 4 glasses of wine by the end of the evening!  Those were HUGE glasses, and I'm sure that the actual glasses are much smaller.  The most of us only really made it to 2 glasses.

My friends took from different guides to make a really condensed version of the usually 2+ hour long reading before any actual meal is had.

Since the Passover Seder is actually for children to hear and learn about the journey out of Egypt, there's an element of fun near the end.  The host is supposed to hide a piece of matzo somewhere in the house for one of the kids to find.  Then the kid gets some money for returning the hidden matzo.

I was determined to find that matzo this year!! I had attended Passover with this friend before, and I didn't find it the first time.  So I made it my goal to find the matzo.
That's right!!!
 I found it!
AND I won the bottle of Riesling you see on the left!
Perhaps I was too excited about finding the matzo.  But it felt good to find it!  I don't get to participate in Easter Egg Hunts anymore, so why not relish the finding of the matzo?

Though it was a bit of a rainy evening, it was great to be able to celebrate and partake in the Passover Seder with my friends.  It's quite educational, spirited, and quite enjoyable.  Perhaps my goal for next year's Passover is to get through that 4 glasses of wine!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Marathon Monday 2011

In Boston, the day of the Boston Marathon coincides with Patriot's Day, a day that celebrates the ride of Paul Revere.  The city of Boston and some other neighboring towns will usually take this day as a holiday, mainly because the marathon really hinders any sort of traveling across the city.  This year, Marathon Monday landed on April 18th.
Runners and Spectators take over Beacon St. in Brookline
It's actually quite a great day, especially if it's a warmer spring day.  For the most part, everyone on the street is cheering on their friends, family members, and complete strangers.  And all the adults have their red plastic cups out without any fear that the cops will harass them. 
No fear of being hit by a train!
 When Bostonians cheer, they cheer HARD!
There are tons of volunteers who sign up to staff water stations throughout the marathon route.  As we were standing there on St. Paul St and Beacon (a little bit after Mile 24), we noticed that the volunteers started getting in the way of the runners!  They literally were trying so hard to make sure that the runners would grab the tiny cup of water from their hand that they started standing closer to the middle of the road instead of sticking to the sidewalk.

It was honestly quite frustrating!  I get that they were trying to be "helpful."  But if you're literally IN THE WAY of the runners, you're definitely NOT HELPING!  I kept saying to these idiots to keep moving back to the sidewalk, but they would look at me like I was the crazy person.  My friends and I couldn't believe the audacity.
This man, on the other hand, stayed on the side handing out
 Red Bulls.  Definitely not a helpful drink..but he meant well.
While it's truly inspiring to see so many people run through the city with the goal of getting to the finish line, it really did ingrain in me the fact that I could never be a runner.  I definitely don't aspire to finish a marathon.

Instead, I'll gladly spectate and cheer and applaud and hand out water from the side.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

City Sights - How Much Is That Thing In the Window?

I was walking down the street, and I literally had to stop and take a step back to realize what was going on in these window displays.  This happened two different areas of the city.

This new store in the neighborhood is a weird
combination of kitchy home decoration items and
used furniture.

A bunny cart, though? It's not even big enough to ride on.

A great addition to any Easter display..or something.
Allston, MA
March 2011

Sorry for the crap quality. But really, it was whatever
graffiti on the window that made it difficult to see.
In the window display of a Tibetian restaurant,
these are yaks!
Yakity Yak..don't talk back!
Cambridge, MA
March 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

15 x 4 = 60

As the second week of intense job searching is here, there's been some ups and downs.

If you remember, a friend of mine is making sure that I apply to 15 jobs a week, which means 60 jobs in a month.

Well, we're on Week 2 of this.

Week 1 was awesome.  Super productive and somewhat fruitful.  I applied to 3 jobs a day, starting on Friday, April 8th.

I have 1 phone interview scheduled on April 20th, and I'm waiting to hear back about the availability for another interview at a different company.

But now, I've applied to 21 jobs.  Truth be told, I've applied to more jobs than I actually think I'm qualified for - whether that be that I'm reaching to be qualified or that I'm over-qualified. 
Uh...except I disagree about Steve Jobs...
If it's a numbers game, then I should just apply and apply and apply until something actually pulls through.  Right?

When my friend and I were discussing the terms of this Job Search Challenge, she stressed that I should stop looking for jobs in the nonprofit field.  That if I want to be able to own a house or if I actually want to make a difference, I need to go for less grassroots jobs.  That working for a large corporation would then give me the means to make a difference.

Honestly, I feel like that goes against every fiber of my being.  I was raised with a very specific set of beliefs.  When I first started graduate school, I knew that I stood for grassroots all the way.  I strongly believe that making a difference doesn't necessarily take money, and I know that there are many nonprofits who prove me right.

Now, I know that doesn't make me rich, nor do I really strive to be wealthy.  In today's economic environment, I know that I might not get my dream job, especially considering that I believe I'll have to actually create my dream job.  But I know that I've already made a difference on someone's life.

I also know that I can still work in the nonprofit world and buy a house one day.  It might not happen in the blink of an eye, but it's still possible.

So, that being said, I've applied to various sizes of organizations.  Some of the organizations probably won't be able to offer me a salary that's worth my while.  Some of the organizations probably won't hire me because they know they can't pay me what I'm worth.

But, honestly, I struggled in finding 3 jobs to apply to today.  I know I'm going to have more and more trouble finding jobs to apply to that I'm qualified for, will pay me what I'm worth, and are mentally and emotionally engaging for me.
for serious...
I'm nervous that I have to compromise on something huge just to get a consistent job.  I'm not sure yet what I'm really willing to compromise on when the time comes to make a decision.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Simple Pleasures Sundays - Temperature On Either Side

If you live in an area that has seasons, you will understand the pleasure of 50-60 degree weather.  Preferably, it's the higher 50's side of things.

Let's say it's been a hot and humid summer.  A fun summer, but hot and humid nonetheless.  You've basically worn out your favorite shorts or skirt, or even your skort.  But when the temperature starts to dip, the coolness of 50-something degree weather just feels refreshing.

Now, on the other side, it's been a long and very snowy winter.  So much snow that you want to take a blowtorch to any snow mounds that might still exists.  But when the temperature starts to rise and the sun is out reminding us of better times ahead, the 50-something degree weather is a warm blessing.

Interesting that the same temperature can feel so different depending on the time of the year.  Either way, it's lovely even if it sounds crazy to those who aren't in the know.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Weaning Off the Lent Challenge 2011

Remember when the boyfriend accidentally got vegetarian burgers with cheese in them?  Well, when I ate the rest of the package (there were 4 patties in the box), I would always notice that my tummy would be grumbly immediately after.

Honestly, it made me really nervous.  Did I suddenly build up a sensitivity to cheese???

I mean, I know that the overly-processed milk and dairy products don't usually sit well in my stomach.  But the times I've had raw milk (mmmmm....raw milk...), I've never had any problems. 

I do remember having some stomach pains after feasting on cheese during my friend's party, and then while I was in New York.  But I don't know if it was because of the cheese or if it was the fact that we had eaten so much that day.

I love cheese.
Well..not creepily, like this...
But I do love cheese.
My sister has some weird allergic reaction to cheese, though dairy doesn't cause her any issues as far as I know.  I always thought it would be the saddest thing (well, okay, ONE of the saddest things) to not be able to have cheese.

So, in an effort to make my upcoming birthday more pleasurable (in a week!), and knowing that I'll be flying to California, I've decided I need to wean myself off this pescatarian/vegan diet.

I leave for California on the 20th, and I'm planning to hit up In N Out to celebrate the end of my diet.  I know that's completely counter-intuitive, and will probably be detrimental to my actual weight loss.  But I promise I won't go overboard on any other day except for my birthday.  All bets are off on my birthday.

So, in the next couple of days, I'm going to start reintroducing small bits of cheese, yogurt, and eggs into my diet.

If I'm out and about, and there are no vegan options, then I will go for something vegetarian or even something that might have the smallest amount of meat.  If I eat meat, I will start with chicken, but I will still have more veggies on my plate.

I refuse to have any sensitivity to cheese.  I absolutely refuse.

I know that it hasn't been the whole 40 days (though really, Lent is longer than 40 days).  In fact, today is the 36th day.  By the time the 40th day arrives (the 19th), my stomach will be prepared to have meat in my body once again. 

But if I had to choose weaning myself off this or suddenly reintroducing foods and making my body go into some weird angry shock, I think I'll choose the former.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Boot Camp - Week 5

I did it, y'all.

I completed 5 sessions of bootcamp.

Granted, I totally cheated the system.  I guess I was supposed to do 5 sessions back to back on the regular schedule (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays).  But, they didn't really specify that.  So I ended up going on every Wednesday instead.  I didn't actually realize it until they started asking me if I was going to show up on Friday.

Oh, well.

In the 4th session of bootcamp, it was a pretty windy but sunny day.  Being that I was already having a bit of a cold, the windiness just kind of aggravated my coughing.  I ended up taking it a bit easy the rest of the week, considering that I had the BARCC Walk that weekend (more on that later).

No surprise, however, that I didn't see any changes on the scale.

But, this week was my final paid session.

It was a rainy Wednesday, but that doesn't stop the trainers from taking it outside.  For the most part, we were underneath a shaded area.

I prepared a playlist of songs that would help to motivate me in the morning, and it really seemed to help.  As I ran around the raised lawn area, I found that The Jacksons' "Blame It On the Boogie" was really motivating me to keep going at a good pace.  Maybe it was the beat, but it was pretty helpful to have it playing in my head.  For the first time, I didn't feel like dying immediately after starting to run.

Near the end, we were instructed to run up and down stairs, run to the other side of the raised lawn area, and then up and down another set of stairs.  As I reached the top of the second set of stairs, I was slowed as I saw the sign for the Division of Unemployment.
Click on the image to see my little directions.
Knowing that the unemployment office was right where we had been working out gave me a second wind.  I feel like I really pushed myself harder during the circuits.

Afterward, I knew I wanted to continue doing bootcamp.  I burn so many calories in an hour, and I feel so powerful after working out. 

The worst part, really, is having to wake up so early.  And yet, it's great to know that I'm done with my workouts and have so much more of the day to accomplish things.

Here's the thing.  If I want my body to change, I have to really push myself and work out really hard.  I really think that bootcamp will help me get to where I want to be.  So, perhaps at the end of the month or starting in May, I will be attempting to get my butt up at 4:30 in the morning on more than just Wednesdays.

Bear With Me...

Hi Blog and Blog Readers!

I have so many things to write about!!!  I've spent a lot of time focusing on....well....I'll tell you about it later!

But I don't want to just lump them all into one big post.

So I'm going to do a bunch of normal-sized posts in the next couple of days!

Thanks all!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Toesies of the Month - April 2011

I am once again left with very little options.  I just found out that the one job that seemed like a complete shoe-in, considering that we had even mentioned salary, materialized into nothingness.

I found this out just as I was feeling extremely happy to hang out with a dear friend and get a pedicure.  I tried to hold it together at least until I was in her vicinity, but a couple of tears escaped as I sat on the bus.

But my friend helped me to feel a little bit better, though sometimes it's just so hard to get out of the depression spiral.

I needed a pedicure more than anything at that point. 
Designed by Nina, Dana's Nail Salon, Brighton, MA
Color: OPI - Not Like the Movies
Occasion: Self-care and Birthday
April 2011
The nail polish itself looks kind of like an oil slick, with pretty greens and purples and silvers.  But in the picture, it looks more silver-purplish.  I was also a bit disappointed to realize as I was Googling the nail polish that it's part of some Katy Perry collection.  Meh, is how I feel about Katy Perry.  But at least the color is nice.
OPI - Not Like the Movies
It was nice to get that bit of pampering in the massage chair. It's the little bit of self care that I allow myself.

But my friend challenged me to think of work in a different way.  I'm trying to look for something that feels like a good fit, but I should probably look for something that will help me save up instead.

She, who is also the one who challenged me to this pescatarian/vegan diet, is now challenging me to apply to 15 jobs every week.  That means 60 jobs in 4 weeks.  Because at the end of the day, it's an numbers game.

So, like the oil slick color on my toes, I'm going to try to let the disappointments slide off me and keep moving on until I have a job that will help me pay the bills...for now.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Simple Pleasures Sundays - Knowing I'm Where I'm Meant To Be At This Time

On Friday, April 1st, I woke up and thought, "Darn, I didn't think of a clever enough April Fool's joke."

I love April Fool's.  I think that many people take it way too far, either taking a joke too far or taking a joke too personally.  But, in it's perfectly childish way, it's a great reminder of your own humanity, humility, and humbleness.

At some point during the day, I came up with the perfect April Fool's Facebook post:
After some consideration, [the boyfriend] and I will be moving to Portland, OR. Yoni and Mencken need new homes :*(
Now, as with every joke, there is some truth in it.  The boyfriend and I have talked about what cities we would be willing to move to.  Portland, ME, while a beautiful coastal town is far too north (which means much colder then Boston) for me.  Portland, OR, while not California, is at least on the West Coast.

So, a couple of people definitely fell for it, while others were absolutely certain that it was a prank.  Obviously, the timing of the statement was all wrong, though not completely unfathomable.  The boyfriend had just started school, and there's no possible way that we would ever consider abandoning our two crazy kitties.

But, this doesn't mean that moving elsewhere hasn't been a real honest-to-goodness consideration.  Being that my unemployment situation has been less than pleasant, there have been many times when I've had to really consider whether it was worth it to stay in Boston.

I figure, however, that this is part of my growing up experience - the lowest of lows, the most depressing cry-my-eyes-out moments, the most desperate of situations, all of it and then some.

I made a pact with myself when I was a mere teenager - I will never regret my actions and my choices.

Each action, each choice has a consequence and a lesson.  While I might not be happy with the consequences, the lessons are what I have to take with me.

And as the first blossoms are peaking out of the ground, I'm reminded that the lows have a bottom, and better times are ahead.
Pretty Purple
And then I'm reminded that I'm where I'm meant to be at this time in my life.  Nothing has yet called me to relocate, and I'm not planning to budge too much. 

But when the time comes for me to leave and try out a new stomping ground, then it will be what I'm meant to be doing at that point.

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