Heading Into the Holidays With Good Intentions

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Photo by Jed Villejo on Unsplash

Without Friday classes today, this is the official start of my Thanksgiving break. Working here on campus means a lot of things, including having to work one of our breaks; looks like Nick and I are sticking around here until Wednesday. As much as I love being able to go home and get out of this place for a little while, there might still be a bright side to being here.

Because without the distractions, the friends, or the classes, I’ve made myself a goal— by Wednesday, all my final papers, projects, and homework due by the end of break will be done. At least that’s the goal.

As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions right?

Speaking of good intentions, remember when I said I’m doing NanNoWriMo?

Well the goal is to get to 50,000 by the end of this month, and well… I am about 15,000 words behind as of today. Sure, I plan to catch up over this break and put in a lot of hours at my computer, but that is a really high deficit right there. With the month already halfway over, it’s a pretty daunting task to try and catch up at this point.

So what do you do when you’re crunched for time and there’s almost no way to make it?

You start from where you’re at.

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Photo by Mikito Tateisi on Unsplash

It’s like trying to get over a cold or the flu, recovery won’t happen in a day. It takes a lot of sleep, medicine, hydration, and time for your body to catch up. Getting through all my work this break will take about the same, plus some real motivation to get back to where I need to be. Cause let’s be honest, there’s a lot to do and only about 5 days to do it all.

The older I get, the more I seem to remind myself that a break from school isn’t really just a break anymore—it’s extra time to fill with all the things you’ve been meaning to do on top of all the things you should have been doing in the first place. It’s the time for fun and the time for productivity, mix in a little bit of family and travelling and well… That sounds like break to me.

There’s this balance I’ve been trying to find, between working hard and fun/self-care. I definitely haven’t found it yet, but I’d like to think I’m getting closer. At a certain point, self-care truly just means using your time wisely and setting yourself up to succeed with whatever you’ve got on your plate. Even if that means sleeping at a more reasonable bedtime than I ever do and actually managing my time properly.

Moving into Thanksgiving break here, I’m hoping to find a better way to move forward with my work and responsibilities. As of this week, I just committed to something huge for the rest of the school year involving Orientation Team; on top of my own personal goals along with the homework and my grades, I sometimes question whether or not I can handle what’s coming next.

I guess the only way to find out is to take it on head first and go from there. For now, I plan to settle into this next week of no classes and try to set myself up for success. Hopefully these good intentions lead me to something good.

So happy Friday, and I will see you all next week. For those of you travelling, be safe and I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. I know I’m thankful for everyone who keeps up with me every week. So thank you and happy holidays.

Setting Fire– Poetry Place

Happy Poetry Place day!!

So this one is a little different today, it’s actually a short story made up of haikus. I wanted to return to haikus for a little bit since they are surprisingly versatile and I also wanted to try to tell a story… Plus, California is on fire so that’s partially what I started off writing about before spinning it into a metaphor for something else. SO without further ado, here’s what I’ve got for you and I hope that you like it. Please do let me know what you think.


Setting Fire

Your meandering
smiles haunted me for a while,
and then you were gone.

But a fire lit
with a match to my mind and
now it won’t go out.

With all my eggs in
one basket…so what happens
if that basket breaks?

If the seams pull tight
and the hope breaks right down the
center, it must mend

with time we don’t have
and care we cannot give you.
There’s only one way

through, from something that
burns you from the inside out,
everything’s on fire.

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Photo by Dave Michuda on Unsplash

And one day you hope
to wake up and find out that
somehow the fire’s been

put out. So when the
morning comes and the sun sings
to you, just maybe

you can breathe in the
air, among the ash and the
past, you find a hope

that maybe this time
that basket finally held
and that fire burned

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Photo by Paul Wong on Unsplash

itself out. Welcome
to today: the first day of the rest
the rest of your life.


I know it needs work but that’s what writing is all about after all, the editing process. So if you have any suggestions or a quick comment, let me know! And I will see you on Friday.

Living on the Border– What Happens When That Line is Crossed

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Photo by Phước Lộc on Unsplash

I woke up yesterday morning, walking to my 7am class, the way most of us “millennials” do— trying to use coffee and twitter to drown out the noise of the snoring I could be doing, were I still in bed. But instead, I was walking through a cold building, dragging my feel to class, only to finally look down at the lit screen of my iPhone to find the news of Thousand Oaks staring back at me.

I wish I was surprised.

Because these things seem to happen, far too often, something I’m sure the few unlucky enough to go through this shooting and the Las Vegas shooting know only too well. So I sat through my first class of the day wondering about the trauma, the people, the lives…

How would the news twist this one?

Was the shooter white, would it become another not-so-subtle attack on race?

Would it be blamed solely on mental health, on the system?

What’s wrong with our system?

So I sat through class, nodding along and taking notes with hands only sort of conscious of what I was writing down. Then I left that class to go to another one, only this time, I was waiting for a text back.

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Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash

We talked through the readings and went over what a writing center looks like, my leg bouncing and fingers constantly tugging at my pen for the next hour and a half; I was only halfway paying attention. Because it took me a minute to think about where Thousand Oaks is, to realize how close Borderline was to Pepperdine, to Cal Lutheran, to the college student friends I had who just might have been at that bar on college night.

Just like everyone else, I had to wait.

I didn’t want to find out through Facebook that another person died, not again. I didn’t want to sit in class and think about the 10, the 11, the 12 people who lost their lives.

I didn’t want to think about the fact that one of those people could have been one of my people.

I was lucky enough not to have to think that for too long— ironically Facebook was the bearer of good news this time when my friends checked themselves in safely.

Even while I was relieved, immensely so, I also worry about how it feels to be a parent in this day and age. You’re supposed to be able to send your child to a daycare at a preschool and not worry about the big what ifs: what if they they don’t come home, what if someone breaks into the school, what if they have a gun? What if I never see my child again?

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

People send their children to work, to worship, to college, into the real world, so they can understand how to live. This is what sets them up for the rest of their lives after all, this is when the living really starts. At least it’s supposed to.

I will never understand why or how things like this happen, let alone what we’re supposed to do after it does.

Because life goes on, even when it feels like it shouldn’t. Some people woke up this morning not missing loved ones lost, not wishing this reality was just a nightmare. People are going to work or to class or to school today, just like any other day. Some loved ones are accounted for, some aren’t, yet plans are still made for Thanksgiving, planes arranged for break, and people go on with their lives.

Tonight my PCE (Pilipino Cultural Exchange) family gets to welcome in over a dozen new members to our ranks, and tomorrow we all get to eat good food and celebrate our togetherness as one big club. Our lives go on, not thinking about how easily this could have happened in our town, at The Grad, or even to one of us visiting Borderline last night.

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Photo by Angelo Pantazis on Unsplash

That’s the thing about what happened, about what keeps happening: nothing changes. Not really. Sure, we get a little more scared and a little more worried, or maybe we hold people tighter for a little while. And we keep that up, until we don’t.

Personally, it’s a little exhausting and I sometimes wonder what it’ll be like to raise my own kids— would this have gotten better, worse?

I don’t know where we’re going from here, but something has to change. And I guess our lives will go on whether or not something does. For most of us.


I’ll see you on Tuesday for Poetry Place.

Challenge Accepted– NaNoWriMo

Another week has come and gone and a very busy one at that— just in case you were wondering, about last week, I did decide to take the high road after all. Sometimes that’s the only way to do it, and maybe it wasn’t even worth putting the emotional effort to be hurt or angry. This year I’m at least learning that it’s our choice who we keep close, am I right?

Beyond finally learning more big things, there are three others that get me truly excited these days: free food, cancelled class, and more sleep. Lucky for me, we turn our clocks back this Sunday so I get a little bit of that last one to start off the next week.

Which is perfect, because it’s finally November… Do you know what that means?

Various kinds of pies will be eaten, a few more exams will be taken, hopefully more sleep will be gotten over break…

And maybe if I hit my word count, a new novel will be written (started). Because it’s National Novel Writing month (NaNoWriMo).

Officially, the month started yesterday and every single day, the word count needed to hit that incredible goal is 1,667. If you miss a day, that word count doubles. Because one way or another, if you want to win nanowrimo, you’ve got to hit 50,000 by the end of this month. And well…

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Photo by Photos by Lanty on Unsplash

I just missed day one.

That’s the thing about having a goal; if you miss a day of it whether it’s working out, reading a few pages every night, or remembering to sit down and relax every morning before work, it sets you back. And you are the only person who can make up for it.

Right now, 50,000 for me is quite the lofty goal. If you remember from last year, I was able to hit that word count but it was a real scramble down to the last few hours. Well, the last hour. But I threw myself into it because I needed something to focus on, some other place to put my mind for a little while, and I could get that much closer to finishing my book in the meantime.

Don’t you have things like that too?

I think there are a lot of times in our lives, things we get ourselves into, not just because we want to but truly because it’s what we need. Think of it like exercising— just because you should doesn’t mean you will, but we (should) do it anyway, for our own good.

Considering what’s going on in my life, the things I’m already doing along with maybe remembering that I should actually take care of myself, adding a 1,667 word goal to my days isn’t the kind of stress I need. But as weird as it sounds, it’s the kind of stress I want right now. I miss the creativity, the process of writing something other than academic papers.

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Photo by Jack Anstey on Unsplash

Maybe it’s not the kind of thing I should be taking on right now, but I could use the distraction, the goal to set. Even though it’s work, it’s also a break— the best kind really. Because I’ve been so caught up in all the papers and readings and work and interviews that I haven’t had time for anything else. One thing this month does is literally force me to take the time if I’m going to hit 50,000. So I guess that’s what we’re going to do— commit and hope for the best in whatever comes next.


Wish me luck everyone, I know that I’ll need it if I’m already behind. So have a great weekend, find your own challenge this week, and I will see you Friday.

Why Sometimes, It’s Not About the High Road

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Photo by Björn Grochla on Unsplash

“When people go for the low blow…”

You have two options here: you either take the high road OR you decide to go just a little bit lower.

So which way do you go?

The thing about taking the high road is that you get to have the full knowledge of what happened and still follow through on being a good person– maybe a little more cautions, but good nonetheless. It lets you be the bigger person, right?

But what about the other option, being petty and deciding to maybe go for the low blow back sometimes? Because if I’m being honest, taking the high road can make a person feel pretty small and maybe, maybe some days you deserve to fight back for yourself a little bit.

This week has been an absolute whirlwind and not necessarily a good one. Among everything else, I got an email on Monday telling me that I am almost at my graduation date… I wanted to delete that email. Because that means that I’m headed out into the real world soon or I at least need to know where I’m going.

I have no clue. Not really.

I mean, how do we figure that out when there are midterms and classes and auditions and articles and homework and work…

And then the drama, there’s always more drama isn’t there? Whether it’s drama in your work environment or even within your relationships, there’s always a little something to top it all off. My mom keeps telling me to take the high road– she’s right, as always, but maybe I want to be a young and slightly petty, reckless twenty-year old sometimes.

Because, well, college is hard.

Most of us are barely sleeping, let alone balancing that with the amount of work there is to do and things to keep track of. Of course, you can’t forget the fun in there somewhere too– with a day of 88 degrees in SLO today, you can bet half of the campus was at the beach.

There’s got to be some kind of balance in it all. And yes, I’m sure you know how I feel about finding that at this point; I talk about it a lot. But remember this: just because you find it, doesnt’ mean it’ll always hold.

Sometimes that balance breaks, into all these teeny tiny pieces that you get to clean up and rearrange all over again. Then it’s got a new weight and a new type of equilibrium to it, a new kind of balance.

Maybe you find that through taking the high road and being the bigger person.

Maybe you go for the low blow instead…

But is there some inbetween?

Like that in-between of being too nice versus being a narcissist. I’m more on the early end of that spectrum, therefore I get stepped on and taken advantage of a lot.

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Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Maybe my inbetween means changing that.

Among the rest of it, this week has reminded me that some things truly are not always what they seem– authenticity is hard to find in everything we do, especially the people we surround ourselves with. Who knows, maybe I’ll take the low blow or maybe I’ll take the high road. Either way, the status quo here is changing.

So we will see whatever happens next.

Once in a Promised Land– A Book Review

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Photo by wu yi on Unsplash

Back at it again with the Bookworms for you today, here we go.

This has been our first full month back at school, which unfortunately has me in all English classes— so while I’m doing a whole lot of reading, most of it is not for fun. That being said, my diversity in English Literature class is one of the better ones, plus I get to read the Kite Runner again next week. Lucky for you, that also means I have a book that’s a little different but still very a good one to share with you.

So without further ado— here’s my book for the month.


Once in a Promised Land— Laila Halaby

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Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

This is one of those books that takes you out of your own life, your own identity, and puts you into the shoes of someone else to walk around in for a little while. It explores the concept of marriage, faith, the intersectionality of home and race, as well as so much else; something in this novel will apply to you.

The main characters of Jassim and Salwa both go through incredible hardships just within the short contents of this book, yet each seem to handle them so differently. As regular human beings, they face the betrayals of their own minds, bodies, and in many ways, their countries as well.

My class is focused on post 9/11 Muslim American Literature, but this book doesn’t necessarily focus on that. The event is almost a side-effect in the novel of everything going on in the characters’ lives, something weaved so seamlessly in by Halaby that the story comes naturally.

Without spoiling anything, I have to say that the metaphors and running motifs in this book are necessary to pay attention to. These metaphors are almost literally threaded between the lines and give a little insight to the lives or backgrounds of our main characters.

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Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

As someone who was raised in American culture, Once in a Promised Land not only gives me a look into a culture beyond my own, but also helps me understand what it can be like to live that culture. Incidents of micro-aggressions, racism, and even blatant tokenism are both obvious and dangerous within this book, as we see how easy it can be to overlook something that seems so wrong from another point of view.

One reason I would urge you to read this book is for the way Halaby writes the lives of her characters: in a way that makes it hard to figure out who to root for. Every character does something wrong— some more than others— and in turn it leaves us to question both our own morals as readers and as a country. This book is not anti-American, absolutely not, but some actions of America’s post-9/11 are questionable and for this reason, it is something we should recognize. 

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Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

The only criticism I have of this book is the speed– at some times, it definitely could have moved faster or some concepts could have been left out. Many character’s lives overlapped, as you will see throughout the book, and while some connections were hidden until later for suspense, I am not so sure it was always necessary. Nevertheless, the underlying lessons in this book were good to understand and I enjoyed many aspects of this novel.

This book will make you think— to question your relationships, what it means to love and to be honest, even what it means to belong to a country. But by the end of it, I hope you think you can see a little bit more about the world around you too.

I know I do.


See you Friday. And for everyone struggling to make it there, know that you will. Just take it day by day. I will see you then.

Finding a Way Back To Balance

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Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

It’s my junior year at a school that for the past two years, I kept trying to leave every chance I got; every day I stick around, I find myself running into more reasons to stay— my people.

College has been rough, I think I’m allowed to say that, but it hasn’t been for nothing. You see, I spent just about my entire freshman year studying and while my grades didn’t always reflect it, my head was constantly stuck in a textbook. I had NO idea what I was doing. I still don’t.

But there is one thing I did last year that I think will completely change how this year goes for me: I put myself out there. I got involved with PCW and Her Campus, along with WOW and several other clubs which I’ll admit, most of the time I didn’t really want to go. But I went, I found some commitments and I held them. Because the biggest thing I got out of each was a home in just a few people along the way.

Give me five minutes on our campus and I guarantee I’ll run into a least one person I’m friends with, a concept which is still so wild to me. Even just yesterday, I ran into another friend from my freshman dorm and it took at least 10 minutes for us to catch up, just a little bit.

I dove into this year in a way that I couldn’t even prepare for: head first. There was truly no time for hesitation, and evidently sleep because I’m still trying to catch up. Even so, I’m realizing that there are some things you have to go into like that: without hesitation and no expectations as to what comes next. At this point, I can attest that absolutely nothing we do goes as planned anyway.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

As much as I’d love to say that I’ve finally figured college out and I’m as fulfilled as I want to be, I’m not. There’s something missing. Though this is my first year as an official English major, I’m not going to lie and say that it’s been everything I’m looking for— that’s what minors and clubs are for too. I’m sure all of us quarter system students realize how quickly everything moves at this point; my midterms started week 2 and we’re just finishing week 4, but people are burnt out already. It’s intense. With the heinous amount of reading and assignments we have as students, it can be hard to find a balance.

I think the dangerous thing about college, about any time in our lives, is focusing too much on the wrong kind of balance.

Develop a safe balance between fun and work— maybe mix the two, but not too much.

Create a balance in your people— professional peers or other friends— find some support and love, but also find some wild ones to push your own comfort zone just a tad too. Remember, I said a tad.

And most importantly, find a middle ground between spontaneity and consistency. Don’t dwell too much in one or the other.

It’s great if you usually get your work done early. But if you always stay in on Friday nights or get all your homework done by Saturday morning, maybe try something else this week— hit the movies, go for a midnight doughnut run, try out that new restaurant and get all dressed up for no reason, even just do a potluck night with friends. Anything goes, just remember to do something different every once in a while.

We’re all too young to keep to the same routines or always fall asleep in the sofa by 9:30pm— yes Dad, I’m talking to you. Switch it up every once in a while, live your lives.

I’ve got a lot on my plate this year… After what year two turned into, quite possibly too much. But right now, I’m going for it— all of it. If I need to pull back, I can; there is always room to pull back. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of feeling like I’m standing still, even at a school and in a system where everything is constantly moving. I need to find a way to feel like I’m moving again. At this point, it’s now or never, make or break for me.

We all just have to find a balance— I hope you find yours.


Here’s to whatever comes next. Happy Friday everyone and I’ll see you Tuesday for a new Bookworms.