Monday, May 31, 2004

Getting to know...

Vitals: Met our junior year at UCI at a Kababayan peer mentor retreat in 1998. There were 30 of us in a small cabin-like hotel room mapping out plans for the school year. Very soon after that, he swept Cile off her feet and next thing you know, we’re friends – 6 years and counting
Role In My Life: History/Science Fiction/Weapons/Cecile Lover – I don’t know anyone else like Tommy. I don’t know anyone who can watch the History Channel all day, post weaponry on his blog, read science fiction books and then have a heated argument with his girlfriend about what it would be like if wizards and such ruled the world. One night Cile came home from Tommy’s apartment laughing because apparently they had had an argument over…Kosovo! My first impression of Tommy was that A) He’s a smart guy, competitive (characteristic of an only child I think) B) Oh my God, he’s here to take Cile away from me!!!! Ha ha ha…
Good Times: On our last school dinner in Cambridge, Tommy overdid it on the port (this really sweet red wine) and, sadly, could not join the rest of us for the after-dinner festivities BECAUSE he was sitting by the toilet throwing up (Cile has proof of this)…And then, last year in Hawaii, we went to Sunset Beach to watch the sun set and Tommy was digging in the sand. I thought he was looking for something. Moments later I saw that he had strategically dug himself a recliner in the sand. Oh Tommy! You freakin’ crack me up!
In his own words: “Peklats…sounds like something you could buy at a store. Like, ‘Dad, we’re out of peklats!’”

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


I know this is like my 4th entry in the last 2 days, but I've just had so much to say. Anyhow, it may well be my last for awhile because it just hit me today how much crap is on my plate.

I'm so tired...of everything. This day felt like it was never gonna end. Again I had to spend 8 hours listening to people complain over the phone, faxing this and that, helping everyone in the office with more of this while trying to finish all of that and aaaaaaaahhhhh! I was so ready to pound my head into the wall today!

And then I had accounting class tonight. Talk about expired icing on my already lopsided cake! We spent 3 1/2 hours on the Statement of Cash Flows...numbers all over the place that I couldn't even begin to think about. She gave us all this reading homework in addition to the project we have due next week. And in 2 weeks we have our final. I'm trying not to stress out cuz I know it won't do me any good but I'm just...worn out that's all. I hope all of you guys are doing well...better than THIS!

Anyhow, thank you Lord for getting me through this day. Please help me get through these next 2 weeks! I guess a session with RETURN OF THE KING will have to wait...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Actually, Edwin suggested we wait for the extended version of Return of the King before we have our marathon...OK FINE! But I went to Best Buy during my lunch anyhow and bought it. And at Best Buy, if you buy the dvd, you get this special issue of Entertainment Weekly with cast interviews, dvd guide, etc. I love free stuff! I have a project due next Tuesday and a final in 2 weeks. Buying the dvd will surely tempt me away from such obligations but I'll try and be strong.

Again, everyone and their dog was at Best Buy today, all clutching their ROTK dvd. I love when people are so excited, they open up the dvd package even before they get home. When I was at a stoplight, this guy next to me practically ravaged through the plastic and then just kinda stared at the dvd. HA HA HA...EXCITED I THINK! I would've done the same thing if my lunch was longer but I didn't have time.

So, RETURN OF THE KING dvd...GET YOUR COPY TODAY!!! Let's have a hobbit party shall we? They don't call me Frodo for nothing.

Monday, May 24, 2004


I just read Rex's entry about his grandmother and it just so happens that it was my grandmother's birthday yesterday (my mom's mom). Unfortunately she's all the way in the Philippines so I greeted her the way any redblooded Filipino would...I texted my aunts and my cousins to tell her HAPPY BIRTHDAY for me.

I left the Philippines when I was only 4 years old and didn't go back for a visit until I was 23. In the 19 years that I was gone, Mamang went from the bubbly able-bodied lady that I left in 1982 to a woman overcoming a stroke some years before. She was a lot skinnier than I remembered her and the stroke left her speech somewhat compromised so she hardly talks. Trying to talk to her on the phone sometimes makes me want to cry cuz I just feel bad, like as the eldest granddaughter, I should be home in the Philippines walking with her to the market, or taking her to mass or watching TV with her like Papang, God rest his soul, used to. Instead I'm here, living a life that I'm so grateful for, but wishing she could experience the same.
I hope she knows how much I think of her.

And then there's my Nanay, my dad's mom, who lives a door away from me. Nanay's hilarious! She swears we starve if she's not the one feeding us! My sister and I used to hate it when we were on vacation and Nanay would ring the doorbell like crazy at 7:00 am to tell us to eat breakfast. After some coaxing, we're sitting at the counter eating the spam, eggs and fried rice she brought over cuz we can't sleep anymore. But that's Nanay. She lives for her children and grandchildren...and her TFC. She has seriously babysat all the children in our family (and some other people's families) because she's so excellent at taking care of everyone.

Simple lives, our grandmothers lead. Quiet and often subdued, they don't always appear to be doing or thinking much. But what would our lives be without them, the matriarchs of our society? Life would surely be in disarray.
Getting to know...

ANDREW ALCALA BOQUIREN aka DREW/ANDY (Actually I don’t call him ANY of those names, but others do. He’s just Andrew to me)
Vitals: Met our sophomore year at UCI. We did a dance for PCN called pasigin, where the chicks were fish and guys were fishermen = 7 years and counting
Role In My Life: Name Brand Whore…ha ha ha…I’m just kidding (Even though he admits to it!). To me, Andrew is a Model of Focus and Dedication – He is an all-around great guy who everyone loves. He's not only fun to be around, but he’s also goal-oriented as hell. He took classes while working full-time to satisfy requirements for architecture school. And then during this past year, his first year at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (aka SCIARC), he got up at the crack of dawn (literally) so he could go to campus early and work on his projects. All that hard work AND he still makes time to hang out with his family and friends (by appointment of course. Gotta pencil all of us into his planner, that’s how busy he is!)!
Good Times: Oh gosh, Andrew and I have a million and one inside jokes cuz of everything we’ve done together! Like when he offered to help me cook dinner at the apartment and said I could stir the soup (Who the heck are you, my mom? And what am I, 6 years old?!)…Or our late study nights with Leia and Jean at the Main Library in Irvine when we hardly did any studying…how about when we were walking through the “Chinatown” in London and this Kosovan little beggar girl was all hanging on Andrew’s bag asking for money (I think. She and her mom didn’t speak any English) and he (along with Cile, Fantone, Tommy and I) were all freaked out after…or the time we were hiking through the dark tunnels at Diamond Head in Hawaii and Andrew refused to take off his Gucci shades cuz he was scared he would drop them! Andrew's too much!
In his own words: “The Queen Mum’s 99 today…we all know what’s gonna happen to her.” (We were at Buckingham Palace, well, in front of it, on the Queen Mum’s 99th birthday in August 1999)

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


I love going to the airport...I love it when I'm standing by the gate looking out for the familiar face I'm supposed to be taking home with me. I love it when I'm packed and ready to add another entry into my travel journal of life. I love the anticipation I feel right before I get to sit and fasten my seatbelt. The only thing I hate about the airport is often having to say good-bye when I'm there.

We had to bid Jhoette farewell tonight. If you don't know who Jhoette is, he's one of my best friends and he's in the Philippines attending medical school. I swear it seems just like yesterday when we were all singing karaoke back in March upon Jhoette's arrival, looking forward to our plans during his stay. And today I had to hug him, say I LOVE YOU, and then say good-bye.

None of us got choked up when he stood up from the table, grabbed his backpack and motioned for us to walk with him. Not one of us shed any tears as he showed his ticket and passport to the guard by the terminal entrance. No one uttered a disparaging remark as we walked away, knowing it would be 2 years before we'd see Jhoette's face again.

We didn't show much disdain this evening; instead choosing to joke around like we usually do to keep the mood light. Maybe it's because we were trying to deal with it all as best we could, hoping to stay, or even just become optimistic. But if you observed closely enough, you could see the heaviness that fill our hearts. It's not the greatest feeling you could feel. In fact it can be a little painful. It's a real mystery how a heart can tell when you're feeling sad, alone or angry.

I pray for the safety and success of my friend. I pray that with these great sacrifices will come greater rewards. I just wish this sacrifice didn't take Jhoette so far away. 1 year and 10 months...the countdown to his return begins now...

Monday, May 17, 2004

Getting to know...

Vitals: Met in freshman year religion w/ Mrs.-I-have-a-ring-in-every-finger-and-my-blonde-hair’s-all-crazy Rizzo at Immaculate Heart High School. Cheryl thought I was Japanese = 12 years and counting.
Role In My Life: Re-appearing Never Disappearing Friend – Keeping old friends when you start college is a true testament of exactly how strong those bonds that were formed in high school really are. When us IH pandas (Yeah Pandas, so what?!) started college in 1996, many of us thought not much would change, regardless of how scarce our meetings would be. But everyone knows what happens when high school’s done and college begins…things change. Suddenly the phone calls, lunches and parties happen less often and you feel a certain feeling of loss and regret. What happened to the eternal sisterhood we learned to rely on? THEN you see that old friend again, maybe after months or even years, and it’s as if no time had passed. Sisterhood has prevailed! That’s how Cheryl and I are.
Good Times: I used to have a crush on this one guy when we were in high school and he came to one of our school dances during our junior year. It was either the Welcome Dance (which is our first dance of the school year) or the Valentine’s Dance. Anyhow, we were all dancing the whole night and I kept telling myself, if this guy isn’t dancing during the last song, I’LL ASK HIM. I’m really bad at stuff like this so here comes the last song, “Somebody” by Depeche Mode, and I’m squirming, still trying to decide if I’ve got the guts to go through with it. He’s standing like 5 feet away from me, and so is Cheryl. I just heard Cheryl say, “Man I love this song!” and next thing I know, my crush is leading her to the dance floor. WAY TO GO ANNA! Cheryl spent the entire ride home apologizing to me. Ha ha ha…It’s okay Cheryl. I’m slow.
In her own words: “I don’t know what the big deal is with Lord of the Rings. Ok, so there’s a wizard named Randolf.” Ha ha ha…GANDALF SILLY!!

***This girl just turned 26 on May 16th! BELATED HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHERYL!!!!***

Friday, May 14, 2004


So I know it’s been over 12 hours since the Derek Fisher’s shot, but since I got home last night up until the 45 minutes I had to get ready this morning, I’ve watched that replay over and over again. And then last night when I went downstairs to the kitchen to get some water before bed, I still had this desire to see that game-winning shot just one more time. It turned out ESPN was replaying the whole game and as sleepy as I was, I sat there and watched practically the whole first quarter…again, excited because I knew how that game was gonna end.

There’s nothing like being a fan – of anything and anybody. Last night there was some tiffin’ goin’ on cuz Joe was rooting for the Spurs in a room full of Laker fans. As good-natured as his taunting was, it still got to the very gut of us Laker fans and when Tim Duncan’s shot went in, and Joe stood up (PREMATURELY of course) in victory, all of us just wanted to pounce him with a vengeance (Joe are you laughing cuz I am). Funny I know, but what’s fanaticism without passion and pride right? Especially SPORTS fanaticism! There’s no fan like the sports fan. And in this city, there’s no fan like a Laker fan!

I found the following article by a writer named Eric Neelon on ESPN.COM. It’s a model article for what everyone was feeling last night:


By Eric Neel
Page 2

The second -- the four-tenths-of-a-second -- it was over, I called my buddy Wes. His little girl Ella was screaming in the background, apparently dancing around their Pasadena living room like a lottery winner.

"I gotta call you back," he said. "Ella's kind of losing it right now."
We hung up and I waited for the call back, staring at the phone, bouncing my knees like a meth addict hungry for a fix. Fisher's shot, the whole last 12 seconds of Game 5, wouldn't be real to me until I relived them with him.

My cell rang and I flipped it open to hear him laughing on the other end. The kind of laugh that comes with knee slaps and head shakes. The kind of laugh you laugh when the girl, against all odds, says yes.

"Four-tenths isn't even technically possible, is it?," I asked. "I thought it had to be at least six-tenths."

"I almost feel bad for the Spurs fans," he said. "I mean I don't, but it's as close as I'll ever come."

"Yeah ... the poor bastards," I said.

And he laughed again.

And then we just sat on the phone for a while, watching the replays on TVs a couple hundred miles apart, not saying anything, worried that somehow we'd kill the feeling, or that the gods would swoop down and take the shot away from us.

We weren't 36-year-old dads with mortgages. We were geeked-out kids itching to find a ball and a court.

I swear, if you don't love the NBA playoffs, I don't want to know you. If you don't love the way the Spurs and Lakers went at it like Ali and Frazier for 47-plus minutes, trading roundhouses and body-blows, I got no use for you.

Yeah, it was an ugly game, sometimes almost too ugly to watch; but you couldn't turn away from it because there was so much bleeding, beating heart out there.

Shaq and Duncan gave up their offensive games to give each other forearm shivers and drive each other to the baseline. Fisher took charges and Bowen took 'em right back. Kobe, Ginobili, George, and Parker squeezed off shots in traffic. Nothing was cheap. Points came like bits of rock John Henry busted off the mountainside, one exhausting swing at a time.

Then came the Spurs comeback and the Lakers' two-for-forever drought.

I felt like I was Sherilyn Fenn in "Boxing Helena" just watching it, one body part after another cut away. Freaking torture. The world started collapsing during that stretch. First I'm in the fetal position, then I'm in the womb, then I'm a dividing cell, and finally I'm a speck of gene on some double-helix ride to the fiery pits of hell. If you don't think a stretch like that is the stuff of epic poetry and tragic novels, I pity you.

Then came Kobe's shot with about 11 ticks to go. He and Malone had worked effective double- and triple-pick sequences all night, but the others were tight fits. This one opened up like a swinging door. My first thought was that Kobe was too open, that he'd come into the shot with too much spring and push. But he dialed it back mid-flight and hit it.

The elation came in waves. It came up and out of the hole I was in for most of the rest of the quarter. It carried with it all the clanging rims that came before it.

More than that, it carried with it the whole weird Laker saga. Phil's future was in it. The way he and Kobe have never clicked was in it. And the lifetime of hunger GP and Malone bring every time they lace up was in it in spades.

The Spurs are a great team and Duncan is a helluva player. But they've got nothing like the drama the Lakes do.
That's part of why Duncan's fadeaway was such a killer. Brilliant as it was, it felt cheap and lucky. It felt unfair. Frivolous. Like it was just there to spite me, to mock my Laker heart. I couldn't respect it. I could only hate it.

And hating it made me sick to my stomach. I wanted to cry. I wanted to break something. And if you don't see that, and if you've never felt that, and if the NBA playoffs don't do that kind of thing to you, I just don't get you.

Because even on a night when there was more slugging than flowing, even on a night when the game was miles away from its smooth creativity and lyrical genius, in the end, the game hung there, swinging wildly from sorrow to joy and back to sorrow again in fractions of a second. It turned me to mush. It made me feel invincible. And it leveled me like Wile E. Coyote under an anvil.

And that's where I thought it would end. That's the call I thought I'd be making to Wes. The commiseration call. The bitter kids, cursing the fates and smack-talking Duncan in the feeble hope it'd take away the sting.

But then there was Derek, and a ball I can't believe he caught, let alone shot, let alone put in.

And then there was that blissed-out call to Wes and a feeling that mainlined from tonight through Horry in '02 to Magic in '87 to Jerry West from half-court in '70.

I swear, if you think the NBA playoffs are too long, or too slow, or too ugly, you're dead to me.

But if you're with me on that phone tonight, or even if you're sitting somewhere in San Antone, doing the commiseration thing, smack-talking Fisher's lucky ass, and cursing mine ...
You're my friend for life.

(Eric Neel is a regular columnist for Page 2. His "On Baseball" column will appear weekly during the baseball season.)

** ALL this AND I get to watch TROY tonight? SWEEET!

Thursday, May 13, 2004

D-FISH IN THE HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OH MAN!!!!!!!!!!! I CAN'T FREAKIN' BELIEVE IT!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Most of us were at Ocean Seafood Restaurant in downtown to celebrate Rochelle's graduation from pharmacy school (YOU GO DR. GALACE!!). She was so worried that the Lakers would lose and everyone would suffer from indigestion. But oh was she wrong! I can't say I'm not ticked that they lost a 16-point lead. That's how they play so I'm not even surprised that happened. I'm glad things turned out the way they did.

So...let's pray for Saturday night. Will the Lakers do for the Spurs what the Spurs did to them LAST post season, left Kobe Bryant in tears? Or will the Lakers prevail and get closer to yet another championship? We shall find out in due time I suppose, but a little prayer never hurt anyone right?

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


On a rainy Saturday last month, Ate Tin-Tin and I attended the wedding of one of our elementary school friends, formerly known as Michelle Anne Chiongson (I know I know, wedding 568,000 for me it seems like!). Anyhow, Michelle is 3 years older than me and I’ve known her since she was president of our student council at good ol’ St. Francis of Assisi and I was lucky enough to have her as a “schoolmate” when we got to Irvine. I’ve looked up to this girl for as long as I can remember. She’s just always been so mature for her age. I’ve never seen her overreact, become emotionally distraught or get worked up about anything. On her wedding day, rainy and windy as it was, Michelle was as calm as I’ve ever seen her. She carried on with the composure and confidence of the lawyer that she is, while her new husband, Wakonda, nicknamed Rook (got it when he was a marine) was as content as a man could be on his wedding day.

I’ve been to more than my share of weddings in the last 2 years, and I’d have to say that this was one of the most stress-free wedding days I’ve witnessed (next to my Ate Cheryl’s Boston wedding last May). Despite the fact that 2 maids of honor (one of which was Anne, who’s been Michelle’s best friend and a good friend of mine since St. Francis as well) and 2 bridesmaids had to help Michelle carry her dress across the parking lot to the church, despite the rain and clouds that covered the skies during the ceremony, and despite the unruly wind that forced the photographer to anchor Michelle’s veil to a bed of flowers during the pictorials, the day was nothing short of wondrous for our new Mr. & Mrs. Robertson.

I can’t tell you how happy I am for my good friend and her new hubby. Rook is one of the nicest guys you could meet. He’s always smiling and I can tell how happy he and Michelle are going to be. I’m so excited for them, especially Michelle, whose solo of O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM at our Christmas program way back in 1988 is something I still haven’t forgotten. She’s the first close friend I’ve had who’s gotten married and it’s been a real pleasure to have witnessed everything she’s experienced since our school days together. Pictures soon to come!

So kids…who’s next? Any takers?

Monday, May 10, 2004

Getting to know...

Vitals: Met our freshman year at UCIrvine. Pat started out as just our friend’s dormmate, but ultimately turned into OUR good friend and Cile’s art major guardian angel in Irvine (“C’mon Cile, we can’t ditch class today.” Ha ha ha…). Cile and Pat, with their art classes, projects and field trips, were literally each other’s shadow for 5 years and lucky me, being Cile’s roommate, got to spend as much time with Pat as she did = 8 years and counting
Role In My Life: The Talented Mr. Ballesteros – I can’t even begin to tell you how talented this boy is at his craft. Whether it’s painting on a canvas, drawing in his sketchbook (which he NEVER EVER goes anywhere without), or getting creative with his I-Book sketchpad, Pat’s the real deal. It really makes me wish I had such a gift.
Good Times: On Valentine’s Day in 2000, we opened the door to our apartment (WE meaning me, Cile, Leia, Fantone, Isa, and probably some of the other girls) and there on a chair before us were a dozen roses. It was from Pat for all of us chicks. Those of us who didn’t have boyfriends suddenly forgot for a few minutes how cursed that day usually is for us. Thanks Pat! What a sweetie!
In his own words: “Sorry Anna, I don’t know how this coffee maker works and I don’t know where ANYTHING is in this kitchen. I never come in here!” (Pat and his mom just moved into a new house a few months ago and I was gonna make some coffee and I asked him where the cream, sugar, measuring spoons, etc were and he just gave me this blank look the whole time! Spoiled!

Sunday, May 09, 2004


Today is Mother's Day, the day of the year dedicated to the honor and appreciation of the women who tucked us into bed, made our lunches, took care of us when we were ill and probably the one of the most, if not THE MOST important female role model in our lives.

I love my mom, as I'm sure you all love yours. From the day I was born 26 years ago, and when Tin was born almost 14 years ago, I know that, along with my dad, my mom has done nothing but assure the safety and well-being, not to mention happiness of their daughters. My sister and I are always #1 with mom. Tin and I roll our eyes when my mom makes comments about how pretty we are in a certain outfit or how nice our new haircut looks cuz we think getting compliments from mom is corny. But we realize quickly thereafter that her opinion means more to us than we make it seem.

Yes my mom and I have had our share of spats (who hasn't?) and there are times when I think she'll never understand what I'm feeling or she'll never stop nagging me about everything. But the honest truth is, moms know more than we often give them credit for and as much as we try to argue or fight the fact that our moms are this or that, we all know inside that we're destined to become exactly like them someday. I know that a big part us wishes that growing up to be half the loving caregiver and friend that mom is, or was, would be a privilege.

I hope that everyone has had a chance to remember their mom today, whether she's in heaven or right in the next room. We don't have to wait for the 2nd Sunday in May to let mom know we love her.

Friday, May 07, 2004


A bunch of the peeps and I are here in lovely San Marcos at the home of our buddy, Patrick Ballesteros. Since we were unable to go camping this year, we decided a day or 2 out of town, anywhere, would be a cool consolation. I could've waited until I got home to blog about this but I thought I'd start right now and continue when I get home. The drive was quite nice, hardly any traffic. Iya offered to take her car so I rode in the back with Jhoette behind the steering wheel and Iya sitting shotgun. We followed Edwin's car, who had Cahlo and Matt as passengers. Listening to slow jams as we discussed our lives (what ELSE do we ever do?), the trip seemed much shorter than it was.

Pat's new house is beautiful! His mom even cooked dinner for us...mmmm...we headed to the pool after dinner to watch Edwin, Matt and Cahlo mess around with all the swimming pool equipment. GEEZ THESE BOYS! CAN'T FREAKIN' TAKE THEM ANYWHERE!!!
Tomorrow we're headed to the outlets and then the beach. Until Sunday...

Thursday, May 06, 2004


boo hoo hoo...I can't believe the show that started when I started my junior year in high school is over and done with. I'm speechless, I can't say a thing. All I've been doing for the last 3 hours is crying! I'm not the best at letting go.

AND THEN!...freakin' ER! Dr. Carter's girlfriend was pregnant and, long story short, the baby died in her womb and they had to induce her labor so the baby could be born and...crap! I cried practically the whole dang episode! I'm so emotional tonight! Aaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!....Well, at least it's friday tomorrow!


Monday, May 03, 2004


What is this bond issue, effective interest rate, market interest rate crap?!!! AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH AYAW!!!
Getting to know...

Vitals: Met our junior or senior year in high school. Terry (and her twin sis Chary) were friends with one of my classmates and then we were roommates for 3 years at UCI ~ 9 years and counting
Role In My Life: Model of Independence and Devotion – I’ve always been amazed at Terry’s will when it comes to her family, her career and her friends. I used to worry about her when something in her life wasn’t the way she wanted it to be. But I learned quickly that I had nothing to be concerned about because Terry knew how to deal with issues, learn from them and move on from there. She hardly has to depend on anyone’s help and she doesn’t complain about it either. And in the midst of her busy life, she still finds time to call me when she’s driving to catch up. Everyone should know someone like Ter.
Good Times: When Terry was pledging for her sorority, Kappa Zeta Phi, she was occupied practically everyday and every night with meetings and events. On Thursdays, she was usually at an event that involved some serious partying and she came home giggly and faded. It just so happened that during the quarter she pledged, I only had classes and work from Monday through Thursday. This was a blessing in disguise. One Friday morning, Terry had a really bad hangover and I woke up cuz she needed me to call in sick for her. After I called her work, I helped walk her to the bathroom to pay homage to the porcelain god. After a few minutes of not hearing anything, I knocked, “Terry are you okay?” She practically crawled out of the bathroom and just sat there on the floor (our sink is separate from the toilet and shower). She was like, “Anna can you just get my pillow so I can lie down here?” I was like, “No Ter, you have to get to bed. Here I’ll help you.” But she insisted so I grabbed her pillow, gave it to her and she fell asleep there on the floor by the bathroom. Oh Ter, I miss nursing your hangovers!
In her own words: “It’s because they think we have boyfriends already and that’s why guys don’t approach us.” Terry’s philosophy of why we didn’t have boyfriends (This was during our junior year at UCI)