Friday, November 30, 2007

process [pros-es]
a systematic series of actions directed to some end; a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner
Synonyms include: action, course, measure, procedure

Last night I spent an hour or so helping Tin fill out her CalState college applications - ONLINE! Remember when WE had to do our college aps? We went to the post office and MAILED them - CERTIFIED! Now there's barely any paper exchange. It's insane!

So she's gotten her public university applications out of the way, next comes the slew of private university applications that ask for so much more! She has to ask for recommendations from her teachers, she has to write an essay and then she's got to complete her portfolio (she wants to major in graphic design). I remember this process oh so well.

For our CalTech applications (I know, what the hell was I thinking?!), Iya, Rochelle and I were literally scrambling to finish our essays on New Year's Day because our applications had to be postmarked January 2nd! As if trying to get into that school wasn't heartache enough, seeing as to how my chemistry teacher absolutely refused to write me a recommendation because he didn't want me to go there. I cried out of frustration to my college counselor, but I can only thank Mr. Maben now for helping me dodge that bullet!

What would have happened if, by some divine intervention, I actually got accepted?! My admission into a mental institution probably would've been imminent! The thought of me attending the 2nd best engineering school in the nation (next to M.I.T. of course) is so absolutely ludicrous! I'd have a better chance of turning into a dinosaur than getting into that school!

Anyhow, I ended up where I was supposed to (U! U-C! U-C-I!!!) and my only hope is that, public or private, Tin's college experience will be as memorable and meaningful as mine was.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

comic [kom-ik]
of, pertaining to, or characterized by comedy; provoking laughter; humorous
Synonyms: amusing, absurd

My lunch buddies, Jovi and Eddie aren’t in the office today and I’m not hungry enough to eat my real lunch yet so I thought I’d just spend lunch at my desk, have a bagel and blog. Oh how I love simple joys…

Simple joys like coupons for free products; Bath & Body Works, Shutterfly, Victoria’s Secret, etc. They mean so much more to me than discount coupons because they have the 3 magic words on each voucher: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Fr. Maurice always used to say, “If it’s free, it’s for me!” Anyhow, I got a bunch of coupons in the mail right before Thanksgiving so I paid a visit to the mall on Sunday. I HATE my neighborhood during the holidays. It’s such a pain to get in and out of my street because everyone and their dog is shopping and the Glendale Galleria is seemingly the only shopping center in the area? So I walked across the street to the mall, fearing for my life because drivers in Glendale are jackasses enough, but during the holidays they have that extra spirited motivation to run pedestrians over.

I had a $50 giftcard to Macy’s so I bought some cute flats, and then after circling the mall a little bit, Tita Cecile and I stopped at Victoria’s Secret because I had a coupon for a free “holiday panty.” Sweet, I thought, fun undies with Christmas trees or holly or santa hats or presents, etc. Every free pair of underwear I’ve gotten from VS’s has been cotton and the style has always been the buyer’s choice. There’s like 7 different styles! I always get the one that covers the most surface area (too much info for my guy friends and cousins who are reading? Sorry! There’s a punchline, I promise!). I don’t see any signs about the free promotion coupon so after asking one of the salesladies about it, she pointed me to the registers.

When I got to the front of the line, I handed the cashier my coupon and she asked me for my size. “Medium’s good,” I said. So with that cute signature hot pink striped VS shopping bag in her hand, she goes into a cabinet behind the registers and pulls out what I can only describe as a really big, white hair tie. She wraps it in tissue paper, sticks it in the bag, scans my coupon, gives me a receipt and then says, “Thanks, have a great day!” I’m still puzzled because the transaction happened so quickly so as I was walking away I reached in and pulled out…drum roll…a white, satin V-string with rhinestones shaped into a snowflake. If you don’t know what a V-string is, please go on the website and check. Kind of threw my whole buying underwear that covers the most surface area out the window. Hahaha!

That was the comic highlight of my Thanksgiving weekend; well, that and seeing how amused my dad is by that movie, Elf. I swear it’s his favorite holiday movie ever! He was watching it in the dining room, cracking up by himself. Oh my, holiday cheer is indeed here!
This made me laugh:

"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much."
~ Mother Theresa

Friday, November 23, 2007

blest [blest]
highly favored or fortunate as by divine grace; bringing happiness, pleasure, or contentment
Synonyms include: exultant, joyous, content, gratified

Fr. Joe (who should be getting a large chunk of credit from me because I seem to quote him a lot these days) spoke about former morning show correspondent Deborah Norville's book, Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work For You. I leafed through a few pages on and this quote just said it all to me:

Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many - not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
~ Charles Dickens

We've become a thankless society it seems, because we're surrounded by so many things and people reminding us everyday of what we've lost or just never had. I felt like a dunce at mass on Thanksgiving morning. I give thanks to God all the time for my family, my friends, my job, my home, etc. But with that I've also bitched and moaned for having such a hard time keeping up with my finances or feeling helpless and defeated when something doesn't go the way I planned or hoped it would. I am more blessed than I deserve to be and it's a shame how often I have to be reminded of it. I'm so so thankful for so many things...

I'm thankful that I have parents who have never made me feel guilty, despite how often they've had to rescue me from a difficult situation. I'm thankful that my sister doesn't need to be reminded about the difference between right and wrong. I'm thankful that I have a family who depends on me and trusts that I will come through when I say I'm going to. I'm thankful for my friends, those I've known for 20+ years and those who I've been fortunate to meet later in life, who are around when the world is perfect, and moreso when it's not. I'm thankful that I have a job, a home, that I have the means to do more than I think I can.

I'm thankful that there are still people who do random acts of kindness, for strangers, like the car behind me on the 101 who turned on their hazzards and guided me safely to the next exit when my car stopped in the middle of the freeway at 4:55 on a Tuesday afternoon. When I think of all the disastrous scenarios that I could've encounterd that day I want to do nothing but thank that man for being thoughtful and then thanking heaven for sparing me.

I'm thankful for truths that hurt and even more for truths that comfort. I'm thankful for every moment that made me feel powerless, and for every opportunity after that made me stronger.

Here's to our daily blessings...

Thursday, November 22, 2007



Tuesday, November 20, 2007

fix [fiks]
something craved
Synonyms include: remedy, craving

Last Sunday, we threw Iya a surprise 30th birthday party. If you were there, however, you'd probably mistake it for 1st birthday celebration considering the number of children who were there. Not only is marriage rearing its head into all of our lives, but the imminence of family as well.
I've been thinking of my nephew a lot lately. When Kelsoe was born, we fussed over him as much as anyone could fuss over another person. Eversince he moved, not a day goes by when I don't think of him; remember holding him when he was newly born, putting him to sleep with my *NSYNC slow jams, having him grip my hand as he was learning to walk - we just really miss having him around. It's weird and sad not seeing him every weekend, but Iya's birthday provided a temporary baby fix. What perfect timing. In addition to Iya's nephew, Matthew and nieces, Bea and silly Samantha, we had a slew of other kids who do what they do best. Look at Hadith's 6-month old, Sophie (see how cute she is!) hanging out with us. She looks just like her mommy!
Watching Rochelle trying to hold her was just pure entertainment. If you EVER want to see Rochelle look uncomfortable, hand her a baby. It's the most endearing yet most hilarious sight in the world!
Even the boys enjoy having babies around. We all took turns helping new mommy and daddy, Joellee and Zandro with baby Jaelyn. Look at Matt, such a natural! Don't let the joking jackass exterior fool you. He's a softy when it comes to babies.
Here's Tito Joe taking his turn watching Jaelyn. Grrrr what a cute and well-behaved baby she is!
Chris' niece, Arianna was there too. She is the chillest baby you could ever meet. We passed her around because you absolutely cannot help but want to hold her. She coos back when you talk to her and makes this pouting face that just cracks everyone up.
Chris put her on the ground and tried to get her to walk. She's still learning so for about 6-7 minutes she just kind of stood there looking at Tito Chris like, "Are you kidding me? I'm not ready to walk yet." haha! Benjo gave her a little nudge on the bottom and when she almost fell forward, her lip quivered a little. Chris saw it and said, "uh-oh" and as soon as he scooped her back up, she started crying. Aaaaw poor thing...
And here's Iya. She was a baby...once. Hee hee! Hope you had a great birthday, friend!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

acclimate [ak-luh-meyt]
to accustom or become accustomed to a new climate or environment; adapt
Synonyms include: adjust, conform, adapt

Mission #11 - Reach our final destination
Point of Origin - Florence, Italy
Destination - Rome, Italy

A year ago today, Cile, Kay, Pat, Randy, Seong and I were on our way to Italy by way of Zurich, Switzerland. And roughly 1 ½ weeks after that day, we got off the train at the Trastavere railway station in the most famous and busiest cities in Italy: Rome. After having inhabited the country for the last 10 days, we became keen on the Italian way of life. After all, when in Rome... well, you know how the saying goes.

Rome, aside from its many, many, many recognizable historic landmarks, is the closest to what we have grown used to in L.A. and NYC. It's filled with people who have somewhere to be and have much to do; drivers each have their own plans on the road; the streets are lined with restaurants, shops and bakeries with eaters and shoppers to match; and there's always something interesting to take pictures of. Like my scene-stealing travel mates...

Serious pose...

Funny pose...

We were just walking around our first morning there, headed towards the Colloseum, I believe. We came across some ruins and walked down a path that led to more ruins and we realized we were at the Palatino. To imagine the function of these fallen and decaying structures is something none of us could put words to.
Every tunnel bears a ghost of a Roman man, woman or child who probably walked through it thousands of years ago, bearing baskets of fruit. What fathoms me the most about Rome, or Italy in general, is the vast history; every stone on the street, every gilded statue is sitting in the same place in practically the same shape as it was when it was first created. WOW!
Oh, I miss having the best of so many things! The best of gelato...mmmmmmmm!!!!!!
The best two dozen or so churches we came across during our walks through each city provided not only visual inspiration, but a spiritual uplift as well. We entered each one, staying for mass on a couple of instances, quietly reflecting other times.
We were walking through the city one day, on our way to St. Peter's Basilica I think, and Cile said to me, "I wasn't gonna let you not go, you know," she said. Thank goodness.
Seong snuck a picture of the nothing short of amazing Sistine Chapel ceiling, even after the 50 or so signs that forbid it, and even after the security guards warned everyone who entered the room that taking pictures was strictly prohibited. We stood in that room with the famous ceiling for a long while. You can't help but stare at it.
Our dependance on maps and directions? It's why we consider this trip an adventure more than a vacation. Each day had a plan, but everything that would ever matter didn't occur because it was on the itinerary, and that was the best part!
I will forever and always remember these fools! Hahaha! A happy group we certainly were...even when flights got cancelled or climbing hills got tiring or we couldn't understand what people were saying to us.
I headed for home a few days earlier than everyone else. It was weird and somewhat lonely to say the least. And unlike stressed out American travelers at LAX, the airline desks at the airport don't open until precisely 2 hours before the flight time. I was first in line because I got picked up at 4:00 am for my 8:00 am flight and I got to the airport with 30 minutes to spare. I was the only one on the airbus (a train which took me to my gate).
And when I got to the gate area, it was completely desserted. I honestly began to wonder if I was the only passenger they'd be flying to Zurich that morning. Anyhow, I got home safely and, just as I had suspected, a changed lady.

There was a quote by Leonard da vinci written on one of the exhibit walls at the Uffizi museum in Florence. It said:

"Per che vede piu certa cosa l'ochio ne sogni che colla imaginatione stando desto?"

Translation: Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than with the imagination awake?

This visit to Italy felt like a dream sometimes. Fortunately for me, eyes were wide open.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Happy Birthday, Ate Cyn!!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

matriculate [muh-trik-yuh-leyt]
to enroll in a college or university as a candidate for a degree
Synonyms include: begin, enter, join, register

Everything is happening so fast. First it’s her first day of kindergarten, then it’s her first day of high school, and now she’s taking the SAT’s, worrying about college applications and we’re attending open houses?! Oh my, where has the time gone?

On Saturday, my parents, Tin and I attended an Open House at the Otis College of Art & Design. I’ve been wondering for months when a fire would light up under my sister’s ass and she’d finally start taking her future more seriously. I’ve been hounding her since the beginning of this year about getting her application requirements and deadlines, etc together, but I might as well have been talking to this tape dispenser on my desk because at the time, the opportunities and possibilities just weren’t an urgent matter for her and she got as far as googling schools but then…that was it. I guess all she needed was a peek into a life that she could have after the days of Spanish class and basketball practices were done with. This past weekend certainly did that.

As often as Tin and I harrass each other (her harrassing me waaay more than I harrass her, fyi), merely satisfying our sisterly obligation, everything hurtful that she experiences makes me feel as badly as it does her (sometimes more) and everything that she succeeds in couldn’t make me any prouder than I always am. She was so overwhelmed and excited on Saturday, seeing all the different projects that she could be working on and seeing the type of environment in which she will be learning even more of what she already loves to do; it made me really happy. I saw the amazement in her face, inspiration turning the wheels in her head, a bit of uncertainty in her eyes at what she thinks she is capable of doing to get to where she wants to go. It all told me that my baby sister was gone, replaced by this intuitive, perfectly capable young woman who didn’t need Ate, Mom or Dad’s help as much as she used to and we are just going to have to get used to it.

It’s so funny to compare this college search experience with what it was for my parents 12 years ago. In 1995 we were attending open houses at CalTech, visiting USC and UCI for “Engineering Days.” Now we’re looking at art schools where ONE YEAR of tuition could use up my entire year’s salary. I think my parents want to pass out every time they hear the cost of attending college these days. We’ll just have to cross the bridge of payment options for tuition when we get to it. For now, my sister’s only responsibility is to get in. Like they always do, I know my parents will figure it out. Maybe I’ll sell a vital organ or something. We’ll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I pray for Tin. No matter where she decides to attend, I know it will be right for her. And if it’s not, then I’ll tell her what I wish someone had told me before I got to college: that it’s okay to change your mind as long as you are changing it for yourself and no one else. I’m just thankful that my sister has found out very early on what she is good at, what she loves to do, her gold in life.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Thursday, November 08, 2007

sabbatical [suh-bat-i-kuhl]
any extended period of leave from one's customary work, esp. for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc.
Synonyms include: holiday, time off, leave

Work sent me to another conference this week. I had to man our booth at the Society For Neuroscience convention in San Diego. My drive down on Sunday was as pleasant as it could ever be. Traffic flowed and I cruised at 60-65 mph, only taken aback by the after-effects of the massive fires that took place a few weeks ago. Thank goodness it was finally extinguished!
I got to Mission Valley (this town about 5 miles from Gaslamp/Downtown) in literally 2 hours. I checked in at a newly-renovated Hilton and, despite having waited almost an hour and a half for my room, I was quite impressed with the place nonetheless. It's so weird staying in a hotel room all by myself, with just one big bed instead of the 2-room suite that I'm so used to sharing with, oh I don't know, 10 other friends sometimes. It was nice though. Sometimes we forget to enjoy a little something called "silence," which I truly appreciated in the four days I was removed from my little box of reality.
When I finally got my keycard, I unpacked all my toiletries in the bathroom (with OCD perfection) and hung all my clothes for the week in the closet. I swear, the maid must've been superbored with my room because all she had to do was fix my bed (which I actually managed to leave unmade) and replace one towel in the bathroom everyday.

On my first night of "Quality Time With Anna," I spent an hour or so at the Borders across the overpass from my hotel, and then ordered some fish 'n chips from Gordon Biersch to-go so I could watch the game in my room. I had FoxSportsWest! How awesome is that?! That's such a random channel to have in a hotel room. I expected MTV and a movie channel but not FoxSports freakin' West!

So anyhow, what's more random than me attending a Society for Neuroscience conference? How about seeing my cousin, Melissa from Ohio at the Society for Neuroscience conference?! Mel's getting her PhD in neuroscience and she attends this conference every year! Of the 31,000 people that were at that conference, I happened to notice HER walking by our booth! This girl is such a character! So smart and so witty! I was kind of relieved to have her there. We see each other every other year for family reunions but this time - what a pleasant surprise! After my first full day of passing out free journals, telling people about neuroscience and the publications we offer (talk about pulling information out of your ass!), gawking at all the hottie neuroscientists (seriously I can't believe how many goodlookers there were at this conference!), I had dinner with Ate Lisa and her daughters, my nieces April and Alyssa, remember them? It's never a dull moment with these two. After dinner we walked through an outdoor mall, hung out at Build-A-Bear for like 45 minutes, then headed to Gepetto's Workshop (a toy store, of course) for another half hour and then Bath & Body works for another hour or two. HILARIOUS...
Time in the booth got progressively easier as the conference went on. I found other sources of relief for the mind-numbing boredum in between Mel's random visits (like observing and writing ideas down for stuff).
Overall, it was a great trip! They're sending me to Palm Springs in January. Who's free for 4 days?!! Hmmm, we'll see how that one goes...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

went to a conference for 4 days and wasn't able to check email...

101 emails I have in my inbox...oy! dude, when we were in Italy for 2 weeks I only came back to like 75. as my sister would say, "what the eff?!"

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Happy Birthday,

Saturday, November 03, 2007

purpose [pur-puhs]
the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used; an intended or desired result
Synonyms include: ambition, aspiration, intent

Being a product of a Catholic education, the first 2 days of November have always been, and may always be, commemorated for the same reasons. On November 1st we celebrate All Saints Day, remembering the regular folk who lived extraordinary lives for the love of the Lord. On November 2nd we celebrate All Souls Day (El Dia de los Muertos...I can never forget this specifically because of Spanish class), remembering our loved ones who have passed from this world into the next divine one. On both days we are reminded of people who are absent from the present, but whose lives in the past have come to affect us in many ways.

During my freshman year at UCI, one of my dorm mates asked me to explain to someone who wasn't Catholic why we pay homage to saints. I barely got through the first sentence before he started ranting, "you Catholics talk about your one God, yet here you are building shrines for these idols, these saints of yours...and Mary. You should only be worshiping ONE God." I think I stood speechless for about 5 seconds, in shock from the very first verbal attack I had ever received for my faith. And then I, very calmly but sternly, let him have it.

I don't expect people who don't share my faith to approve of how and what we practice; but it is MY faith to have and practice - not his or anyone's. I think saints were ordinary people, like most of us are, who chose to live their lives with 110% of their faith that they managed to do extraordinary things. Every saint acted on their "moment of grace," Fr. Joe said today. Everyone gets that moment when they're given a choice, a chance, to make their lives right and to give their lives purpose.

The souls who once belonged to earthly hosts, they each had a purpose; to be mother or father, grandmother or grandfather, aunt or uncle, brother or sister, friend or enemy. Sometimes this isn't obvious until they're gone, just when their purpose has been fulfilled. If everyone were capable of identifying their purpose in this world, can you imagine order of all things?...

"Power, properly understood, is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose."
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.