A Trip to Paris ~ Marathon Edition

First my heart goes out to Paris.  What a terrible thing to happen, especially in one of the most public places in the city.  I can only be entirely thankful that we were no longer in Paris when the shooting occurred.  Yes, Paris.  A trip that had been in the making since May ’16 when about 50+ people from November Project NYC signed up for the Paris Marathon.  This was truly a sign of our culture – say yes to practically anything combined with a fear of FOMO.  In the end only about half of those who signed up actually made the trek.

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There’s No Place Like Home

Home.  What in the world does that even mean?  Where you grew up? Where you live now? Does it have to be a full-on brick and mortar house with a yard?  Are you a roaming nomad?  For those of you who have graduated from high school and entered into the college or adult world, I’m sure you understand what I’m talking about.  We all reach a point (usually that big 1-8 birthday where you are legally considered an adult) where it’s time to live our own life.  You probably have left the nest and created a world of your own – you call the shots on when to go out, when to go to bed, what to eat, and how often you change your sheets.  Ok, that last one might be a little gross but it’s all about learning to live on your own.

When I went to college, I left a little piece of me back in Southern California.  I thought it was a given that I would move back to LA.  It’s where I grew up, where my family is, etc.  It was home.  I didn’t really give Santa Clara a chance and instead spent too much time worrying about classes and if I was involved enough or ready for the outside world.  I would just dip my toes in the Silicon Valley, never letting myself admit that I could adapt to Northern California ways.  I spent too much time looking back rather than in the moment.  But then something happened.  When I went home for the holidays, it no longer felt normal.  People had moved away, stores had changed and I didn’t know where I was supposed to fit into all of that. For some reason I thought that nothing would change, no one would grow older, and it would all stay the same.

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When senior year started, I decided I needed to change things up.  I wanted another shot at what my dad called “reinventing myself” or really just letting my true personality shine – no holding back and no worries if some people couldn’t relate. I decided to move to New York and there is where things fell into place.  I stopped worrying what people thought about me, I started focusing on the things I like to do – like exploring and working out – and started to make some really good friends.  I let people get to know the real me and stopped presenting a version of who I thought I should be.  It started to feel like home.  Every time I left to visit my family or explore another part of the east coast, I would get excited to see the NYC skyline or the tall skyscrapers from a distance.

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Living in New York has been one of the best decisions I have made.  I love the fast paced life style, the diversity of people, and the wide range of opportunities available.

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^^ It took me almost a year to find out about November Project but I am 100% certain it has contributed to my happiness here.

11221751_948895365133721_90525601569340533_o ^^ Then there are these people.  My np_nyc tribe.  I’m sorry but the np_lax just didn’t feel like home.  I’m sure I would fit right in after a few weeks of workouts and hardcore dedication – that’s after all how I started to make NYC feel like home – but I just missed my friends and the other familiar faces

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^^ So maybe my life is built up by working out and November Project.  That’s not too much a problem though since we are the work hard & play hard types of people.  I think life can be about finding people with common interests and making the most out of those relationships.  If it means you see them once or twice a week or maybe daily, then so be it.  But we shouldn’t force ourselves into situations that constantly make us unhappy or uncomfortable.  Even though I’m only 24, I feel as though I’ve experienced enough of that.  I’m done with feeling insecure and the odd man out.

Then I flew back to Southern California for the 4th of July.  I saw family, I went to the mountains, I went to the beach, and I saw friends who had just moved out to the west side of Los Angeles.

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Sure there was traffic, but there were views like this ^^.  We went running on trails and then had breakfast in a popular coffee spot (Urth Cafe – Spanish latte or Spanish granita – get it and you will not be sorry) by the beach.   Life was somehow easier in a way but more difficult in other ways.  My brain started to become muddled with what to do.

IMG_1025^^  Yes, this happens but then so does this:

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^^ For goodness sake I’m only 24 but I feel like the weight of the future is resting heavily on my shoulders right now.  There are people going to med school and getting engaged and even married with kids!  I know this feeling of confusion is going to be a long one – that’s why there are articles out there like Though Catalog’s “The Hardest Things People Had To Learn in Their 20’s“.  Yes, I admit, a lot of this is #firstworldproblems so I apologize if this seems trivial.  Let’s just say being back in California for an extended period of time was odd and I felt like I was in limbo.  No doubt I would like to move back there some day, but when?  The answer is I don’t know right now.  Maybe it’s a year or maybe it’s longer.

IMG_1022^^ Maybe the real decision should be based upon the wide variety of acai bowls offered?  I may have selected Santa Clara as my college of choice because they offered a “make-your-own-parfait” on the weekends. True story.

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I know that I like being close to my family – being able to golf or go for a hike or go out to dinner.  I know that I like having my own schedule and having a constant list of places to explore here in Manhattan.  I wish that Los Angeles didn’t rely so much on driving and the west side was closer together (wishful thinking).  I wish that New York was cleaner and that it was easier to escape the island and explore the coast (problem – I need a car/place to stay that’s relatively cheap…recent graduate problems).

I write for fun and to connect with people.  I read blogs to feel a commonality and have made some excellent friends through it.  I read blogs like Ali’s to feel validated in showing my quirky personality and that things work out, and I read posts like Sarah’s to know that we are all thriving and struggling at the same time.  We have become friends outside of the blogging world and are usually two peas in a pod.  (or insert dancing emoji) 😉

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^^ View from my run over the Manhattan bridge (accidentally on the biking-designated side) to NP in Brooklyn last Friday.

I’m fully aware that I don’t have to have my 5-10-15 year plan figured out right now.  I know that things change and the next year(s) will be life lessons in themselves.  I could learn to love the city and east coast even more or another winter could do me in.  Who knows?  For now, I’m happy in this crazy place I call home, at least for now.  I know my mom has heard this discussion too many times to count, so sorry mom.  Now that it has been written and published for the world wide web, I will let it drop and just go out there and carpe diem.  Let’s live it up for the moment, sound good?

Does anyone else feel the pull between comfort (often w/ family) and adventure (and growth)?  Does there have to be such a divide?  

Eating Beyond the Doors of Judgement

Don’t tell me you have avoided a restaurant just by the was the outside appears? Because I sure have.

Growing up I had the immense privilege of dining at nice restaurants. This was because one grandfather had been in the restaurant business and the rest of my family was relatively interested in exploring new places.
We had our fair share of cafes and delis but not without significant research. The one thing I admit we didn’t do was move off the known track of dining options and explore the more hole-in-the-wall joints. (*Granted, there is a lot of research that goes into the selection of restaurants and my dad did an awesome job.)

The other day of was coming home from an impromptu gala with one of my friends. She’s living the NY dream by exploring something new each day or at least each week; thriving off the nightly dance scene, living off coffee, and never (rarely) visiting the same place twice. it was nearing 9 o’clock and we were both ravenous. The Quest bar I had eaten around 6 was decent but not really satisfactory for dinner.

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She recommended a Filipino restaurant that she had walked past before and read solid reviews about. Always up for a challenge and adventure, I agreed and we set off. As we walked up, I was a little skeptical. I admit that I have a problem judging some things by appearance and wasn’t sure what a relatively plain looking and somewhat underwhelming sign would lead to. Oh boy was I mistaken. The moment you walked though the door it was like you a were transported to a restaurant in the tropics or Costa Rica (my only point of reference) with the smell of something rich and flavorful filling your nostrils. The premise was upscaled and revamped Philippine street food.

IMG_4710There’s a sister restaurant (Maharlika) that focuses on more authentic Filipino cuisine as well. We were seated with menus and then one of the hosts (although “host” sounds a bit uppity for this place – we’ll go with locals) dressed in an Aloha shirt came over to sell us on the menu. The way he spoke about each item was as if it was his own precious creation.

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We even had the option to have a whole fish – head and all (that one turned me off a bit…still recovering from rabbit and octopus paella two years ago in Barcelona) The minute I read ribs, there was no turning back.

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I listened enthusiastically to the rest of the menu but knew I had decided. I also selected their take on sweet potato fries and salivate as I saw other customers orders waft in front of us.

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We asked for extra sides of the famous banana ketchup – their take on the American classic, which is truly just banana died red with a bit of seasoning. The way one local explained it was that ketchup is such an American item that Filipinos looked to replicate it at home. I guess banana was the way to go. Sorry Mr Heinz. Everything was cooked to perfection. The ribs melted off the bone and I practically licked my plate clean.

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Carmen’s burger looked divine and we bother savored our sweet potato fries, which had also been crisp and flavorful. By the time we had cleared our plates, I was ready for bed. But the question of dessert arose and after hearing their verbal menu, I knew I could make room for a few more bites. Now the epic sundae of fresh fruit and ube ice cream had to be left for another date – maybe after a long run when we could pair it with bottomless mimosas. No, no sundae or flan for us, but rather a single scoop of ube ice cream, as recommended by the house and my friend back home. No regrets here.

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So there are two types of travelers – those who research and those who fly by the seat of their pants. Honestly I’m surprised I’m not more of the latter.  But, like everything else in life, a little dabble in everything and moderation does the soul wonders.

Live a Little

Well folks, it was quite the weekend and I’m not really sure where to begin.  It was one of those weekends full of surprises, good talks, walks, and no set schedule.  That whole go-with-the-flow idea?  It can be pretty fun and rewarding 🙂

As many of you bloggers have found, it’s pretty easy to strike up a friendship with one another, especially if you have been reading each other’s blogs.  So what about visiting one another and actually hanging out?  To some non-bloggers, this sounds creepy, but hey what would you call online dating then?  I was trying to explain to a couple coworkers what I was doing over the weekend and they just didn’t understand that I had met a couple friends online and was actually going to hang out with them.  Really people, this is the 21st century, but I guess you don’t really understand until you start blogging.

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Ok, besides the point.  Anyways, I mentioned last week I was going to hang out with Sarah and Carrie and we did and IT.WAS.A.BLAST!  The three of us have been talking about getting together at some point and well, tickets were booked last Wednesday and we actually made it happen.  Now that is what I call spur of the moment fun or spontaneity.

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Carrie arrived later on Friday night and we immediately went for sushi and frozen yogurt.  We planned to have more of the adventurous foods as Sarah isn’t the biggest fan of that stuff and she will tell you so.  Anyways, after we practically inhaled our sushi, which was divine, we decided that a round of frozen yogurt was only necessary.  We didn’t plan on raging at any of the bars, so obviously spending an equivalent amount of money on 16 Handles was the best choice.  May I mention that I’ve never had better frozen yogurt?  Trust me, I’ve had my fair share and even last week’s batch left me feeling a little jittery from the sugar content.  This time – no such feeling!  Glorious flavors and toppings and a relatively good price.

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On Saturday I took Carrie up to Central Park where we proceeded to walk/jog/explore for three glorious miles.  They were quite chilly miles though because it had started to rain and snow, neither of which I was quite prepared for.  Carrie is used to sub-freezing temperatures in Wisconsin but I keep pulling the “oh it was sunny at one point, it must only be 45F”.  Once a California girl, always a California girl.

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Once we were satisfied with the sights, we made our way to Gene’s – the diner I discovered last week – for some good ‘ol diner brunch.  Carrie was successful with her pancakes but I didn’t fair so well.  For some reason the waiter decided over easy eggs were better than poached and white toast was a good equivalent for wheat.  Not so much but the diner coffee exceeded expectations, so two thumbs up.  Quite the attractive photo, I know.  😉

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Later, after showering and warming up a bit, I took her through Eataly and Times Square, aka tourist central.  I mean, when in New York, see all the touristy sites, right?  We made sure to wander through the M&M store, pick up free samples from the Hershey store, and lots of pictures.  Fast-forward a few hours and it was time to pick up Sarah from the Penn Station and were soon on our way.

For what fun happened next come back tomorrow 🙂 Until then, check out some more marvelous bloggers here!

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Perfect Fall Adventure

How about apple picking?  Some of my friends in San Luis Obispo have done this and what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than exploring a local apple orchard?  It took me awhile to find one since the Silicon Valley isn’t necessarily known for its farming.  I bet Yahoo and Facebook have more important issues to worry about than harvesting the best fuji and gala apples.
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