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Category: travel


there’s something eerie about how calm and at home i feel at the airport while my flight is delayed.  though i’ve traveled more than the average American, it only brings me to the tree falling in the forest philosophy…

if i travel and no one saw the video and photos, did i really go?

hey, it’s 2016, right?

i’ve been tinkering with the prospect of chronicling my adventures around the world for a few years now, but haven’t quite decided what medium i’d go with.  i’ve attempted to go the traditional blogging route with photographs, but it seems that my perfectionism paired with procrastination has turned into my largest hinderance, haha.

i’ve consulted with a few friends that are avid YouTube creators and they were supportive of the idea of me joining the community.  i don’t know why it feels so unnatural given that i pretty much vlog my way through my trips via SnapChat, but i’ve been quite hesitant to jump into it full force (regardless of all the resources i have available to get it going).  i gather it’s due to a fear that i will lose who i am by attempting a new medium…a risk that i’m not too sure i’m willing to take.

in addition, i was a lot more into it when i had gotten my twoyearroommate/LAbestie/brotherfromanothermother OJ to agree to do a joint venture for our shared love of travel…but when that took forever to get started, the enthusiasm slowly faded away.

the push to try again comes from an unlikely, yet refreshing source — my maternal cousin, Mary.  she and her twin sister are attending universities at two different cities in Europe, and with no question, she decided to post videos of her daily life.  this comes as a surprise because she has always been the introvert between the two, yet in just a few videos, she’s made my supposed “risk” the smallest of issues.

i think the best way to get myself to go through with the plan is to make sure i am accountable via announcement on this beloved platform.  so here i go, an announcement.

my relaunch…kinda.

stay tuned for blogs and vlogs
found in the section above entitled “life of i”
but in warning, there is no timeline at the moment 🙂


QRST Party: The Roadtrip (R, Part 2.25)

so Global Grind published a blogpost last week about Olivia Wilde‘s cover story for the September issue of Glamour magazine.  although i’m not necessarily an Olivia Wilde fan, nor do i really care to know the ins and outs of her daily life, the feature included a quote from her that caught my eye…

“I think turning 30 allowed me to feel that I could have whatever career I wanted, regardless of what I’d done so far.  I could have an intimate relationship, regardless of relationships I’ve had.  There was really no reason that I shouldn’t achieve everything that I had dreamed…” – O.W.

as if that wasn’t enough of a reminder…when i was at The Day Job last week, i was paired in the pod with another traveler who was pulled from PICU.  yes friends, i have affectionately started calling my nursing career “The Day Job”, but my explanation for that will have to wait another time.

my podmate’s name is Sam, and she opened up about how nervous she was about turning 30 this coming January.  i shared how i was nervous too and was actually pleasantly surprised at the clarity and feeling of peace that turning 30 brought me when the day finally came this past April.

my response peaked her interest.

 as expected, she asked me how i chose to celebrate.

i was eager for the opportunity to share with her my memorable name day.  yet in the middle of telling her about my roadtrip, my shortcoming came to light regarding my failure in the last 3 months to post another installment of my QRST Party series.  though the experience is forever embedded in my heart, the words in my brain haven’t flowed as freely as i would like so i’ve left quite a cliffhanger that has yet to be resolved.

the Summertime has always had a terrible effect on my creativity.

i need to stop letting all this sunshine get in the way!

redundant excuses i go, friends.

i started Year Number 30 before my daily 0530 alarm clock.
i opened my eyes and the first thing i noticed was how freezing it was.  i decided to get up and turn on the fireplace as opposed to turning up the air conditioning.  it was my birthday…

and if i wanted fire, i was gonna get fire.

i grabbed my laptop immediately to upload the photos and videos i had saved from the day prior so i would have maximum memory available for selfies and such.

who really knows how many photos/videos i’d be taking…

i can rack up to 60 on a regular day…
what more on my birthday?!!

i grabbed my phone and smiled at the texts i had received throughout the night.  i can always count on certain people to send the midnight birthday texts.  if i could only mention one common denominator in all my closest friends, it would be their ability to be dependable.  i thanked them all and got into loosely planning my day.

i wrote down touristy spots and hiking trails from Monterrey to Cambria that i could hit up:

  • Monterey during the daytime (Cannery Row, Coast Guard Pier, Old Fisherman’s Wharf, Robert Louis Stevenson House)
  • Pacific Grove (Steinbeck’s cottage and writer’s studio)
  • 17-Mile Drive (Pebble Beach & Del Monte Forest)
  • National Steinbeck Center
  • Steinbeck’s childhood home in Salinas
  • Bixby Creek Bridge
  • Pfeiffer State Beach & Pfeiffer Falls
  • Partington Cove
  • Ewoldsen Trail
  • McWay Falls
  • Limekiln State Park
  • Hearst Castle
  • San Simeon Seals

i determined that i wasn’t going to emotionally attach myself to a place or a schedule.  following a schedule has always ruined all the fun for me and that was the last thing i wanted for myself — especially on my birthday.  so the extent of my research was limited to operation hours and exact locations so i didn’t have to drive back and forth.

it was hard to believe that it was already 0830 by the time i stopped my internet surfing.
i packed my things and jumped in the shower so i could wash the sleep from my body.  thank goodness that getting ready for me has always been a fairly quick process compared to other females that i know — this time was of no exception.  if anything, it was even quicker than the other times.  not needing to look good for anything or anyone was a wonderful convenience so i was able to keep my beauty products at the bare minimum.

facial sunscreen, eyebrow pencil, concealer, and lipbalm..

i snapped an “I’m 30!” selfie and was out the door.

it was 0930ish by the time i got downstairs.
i decided to check out Cannery Row by day before getting in the car to go to the next location.  i left the majority of my things at the front desk so i didn’t have to carry much then grabbed my small backpack and Penny.

first stop?  the Starbucks up the street to satiate my caffeine dependency.

a little FYI if you’re ready to judge me…Starbucks rewards your faithful visits with a free drink/food item on your birthday.  it’s tracked by the regular use of a registered Starbucks card and the subsequent achievement of Gold Status.  i suppose i still sound pretentious as all hell…

but hey, i at least i gave y’all a perk i enjoy by being such.

besides, your judgement doesn’t change the fact that i still got my life with every sip of my complimentary Caramel Flan Latte with soy milk and 2 extra pumps of syrup.  the heat from the steam is always just right at 140°F.  😉

it was the perfect start to my morning to balance out the cold breeze coming from the Pacific Ocean.  i decided to sit as close to the water as i could to feel the same splendor that inspired Steinbeck’s stories.

i closed my eyes to take in the different sounds of the coast…

…waves crashing, seagulls flying and conversing with each other overhead, and seals barking and clapping at the Coast Guard Pier a few yards down…those sounds have been local residents long before there were ever any civilization that invaded their space.  there was no wonder that one of the greats had drawn inspiration from such a humbling atmosphere.

i nearly cried as i thought about what lives have graced that same coast in history.  the Spanish when they first set foot there, merchants that put up shop, immigrants trying to build a new life, kids playing under the docks…hell..even Steinbeck’s friend Ed Ricketts.  i stayed a good while before i headed towards the sounds of the seals.

i skated down the Row passed a sign that said No Skateboarding………..needless to say, it wasn’t long before an elderly couple sweetly shook their index fingers at me and i stopped abruptly at the entrance to the Coast Guard Pier.

i walked in no problem.

it was amazing to see seals in their natural element and not on faux living situations on a stage or behind glass as i’ve seen at Sea World San Antonio as a child.  i saw some people were scuba diving off the pier and taking photos of the seals close up.  i also observed a few people with fishing poles who waited for a good catch.  i don’t know how they could’ve possibly hoped to get a few fish in while they have seals to compete with, but their coolers still looked decently filled.  i saw someone even throw a fish or two at the lazy seals sunbathing by the boats.  i took a few Snap Chat videos and walked back to follow the guided trail of Cannery Row.

the walking trail starts at Wave Street and Drake Avenue; it runs parallel to Cannery Row itself.  there are posted signs with background stories about places and characters mentioned in the novel.  typical local happenings were also mentioned as well as historical information.  i cried when i came across some small houses that were similar to the homes lived in by Filipino, Japanese, and Spanish immigrants who worked at the canneries.


it was a humbling moment for me — the thought that people who could’ve possibly been my distant relatives somewhere down the line were there.  they worked in dire circumstances, yet so willingly and diligently just to build a life for themselves in America.

i really have no room to complain…

…about anything.

i proceeded down the trail, read the signs, and took photos.  i took a few on TimerCam and set my phone against my backpack and/or my unused Penny…even though a few people offered to take the photo for me, i refused because i didn’t see the fun in that.

nailed it.

TimerCam slays.

the trail curved around to Cannery Row itself and the signs were sporadically placed between buildings with photos of the street when it used to be called Ocean View Avenue.  although the places that were mentioned in the novel have been replaced by new establishments, the exteriors were preserved in their original form.

i appreciated that very much.

i ended up leaving the Row around 1230ish.
i planned on leaving much sooner, but i didn’t realize how fast time flew as i immersed myself in my surroundings.  i also had to walk back to the hotel to grab the rest of my things and ask the valet to pull my car around.  they told me it would take about 20 minutes so i used the waiting time to explore the back patio of my hotel.  the view when i looked down left me with no words.

Steinbeck’s descriptions have been so accurate.

i imagined Doc and Hazel hunting for starfish.

i decided to grab a copy of the novel on the way out so i can re-read it again.  as much as i loved it at first read, i know the sights and sounds first hand now…and i was excited to see how deeply i’d fall in love again with my newfound discovery.

i didn’t even care that the small paperback cost me 10 dollars.

once i sat behind my driver’s seat, i decided that i had to sacrifice and limit myself to one museum/historical site that i could visit and take a tour of.  in doing so, it would give me a chance to still hit up most of the places off PCH and make up for the delay.  it was slightly disappointing, but it only convinced me that i would have to make this trip again…

with company, perhaps?

i drove past Old Fisherman’s Wharf and through Pacific Grove without stopping.  in doing so, i omitted Robert Louis Stevenson House as well as Steinbeck’s writer’s studio from my list.  I had actually debated on staying at the studio overnight instead of the hotel since it’s actually posted on AirBnB, but it wasn’t available for the night i needed it.  this only resolved that for the next trip, i can plan the stay much further in advance, stay at the studio, visit the House, and absorb as much as i could of the city that great novelists found refuge in.

i made a stop at a Chase Bank to replenish some cash and a vintage shop next door to see if i could find a trinket of some sort, then headed towards the 17-Mile Drive.

i hit the Drive around 1300.
there were 2 options…drive alone, or ride in a tour bus; i chose the former.  in doing so, i was able to stop at whatever vista points that i found compelling and skip through the ones i thought were forgettable.  i wasn’t at all surprised that RLS frequently walked along that part of the coast because i found myself speechless at its beauty.

the Ghost Tree.

below are my favorites from all the pictures i took:


it took me about 40 minutes to get through the whole 17 miles and ended up at the Carmel exit.  by then, all i wanted to do was see more of the coast and write.  if it wasn’t for the bank teller at Chase telling me that the National Steinbeck Center was a “must-see”, i would’ve omitted it from my list as well — but alas, on her prompt, i found myself exiting the Drive and hopped back on CA-1 towards Salinas.

i pulled up to the Center around 1500.
though the lady up front was very accommodating, i came to the conclusion that it was the last time that i would listen to anyone about must-see places.  no offense to the bank teller, but the Center would have been a perfect place to visit if i was still in grade school.  it was very interactive and informative and i would have loved to visit it if i was writing a research paper about Steinbeck’s life.

but it was my birthday…
and it was already over halfway finished.

i don’t know what i was expecting to see there, but i felt very out of place in that i lacked the required worship capabilities to fully dedicate myself to the shrine inside.  maybe it was the allure of the open road, the beauty of the drive itself, or the fact that i was listening to loud rap music on the way in…but i was just way too turnt to abruptly mellow out for the environment i walked into.  but nevertheless, i can at least say that i’ve been to Salinas and i don’t ever have to come back another time.

on the upside, Steinbeck’s childhood home was only a few blocks down…

it’s a restaurant now.

it was closed, thankfully.

i don’t think i would’ve had the time to have a proper sit-down meal.  it would’ve gutted me to have to walk away from it if i had the chance to come inside.

i turned on my engine and reflected on the quote from Steinbeck to his editor that i read at the Center’s exit…

…nearly always.

life goal.

it was already 1600, so i put my car into drive.
i thought about all the words i could breathe from Salinas to Cambria and smiled.  though my day has been an up and down off loosely planned events it was a perfect representation of everything that happened throughout my 30 year life.  some things surprised me and some things disappointed me…but in the end, everything always had a lesson.

i pressed my foot against the gas and pulled into the freeway…

happy birthday to me.


QRST Party: The Roadtrip (R, Part 2)

i know i said this would be a 2-part update…but i honestly felt like there are just way too many things to discuss to squeeze into strictly two posts.

so i warn you now…

this will be an indefinite amount of entries…
i hope y’all don’t mind 😉

i left the house around 1230 on April 8th.
prior to getting out of the city limits, i thought a full stomach would be a complete necessity since i wasn’t trying to make any stops other than the occasional fill up of the car’s gas tank.  thereby, i decided to meet up with my playbrother Sean and his girlfriend in Brentwood for lunch before i started THE ROADTRIP for some good company and nutritious food.  i  was psyched to find out that there was a Lemonade location in the area.  I knew of no better place to fill up my human gas tank —

it’s been my favorite lunch spot since i moved out here.

i usually go to the one in Venice or the one on Larchmont — they are both equally wonderful.  it’s probably the most delicious and healthy cafeteria-style food chain i’ve ever tried in my life; i knew it would be some good fuel for me to keep me going for 5+ hours on the Interstate 5.

i usually get the same thing every time:

  • 3 Portions
  • Cucumber Mint Lemonade

and occasionally (on days i feel like i can afford a few extra pounds, lol) i add on:

  • Land + Sea
  • Hot Portions

(photo credit: LA Times)

Shoutout to the buddy Zach for telling me about it 🙂

i had packed very few things compared to my usual tendency to stuff an XL suitcase with plenty of outfits and shoes to match.

  1. i took a big backpack that held my laptop, 2 pairs of leggings, a pair of pajama pants, 2 tanks, 2 shirts, a sweater, 2 button-ups, a few pairs of underwear and socks, and toiletries.   i know it sounds like a lot, but being that i am all of 5 feet and 2 inches, the clothing honestly took only half the space in the backpack and left enough room for my trusty pair of sneakers just in case i got tired of my combat boots.
  2. i also brought my favorite small canvas backpack to hold my wallet, sunscreen, lip balm, journal, snacks, water bottle, and pen.  i knew i needed something that i could carry everywhere to hold the things i couldn’t leave in the car.
  3. and last, but not least, my Penny board found it’s way into the trunk of my car for good measure.  i was thisclose to taking my bike as well, but my roommate Ashton advised against it.  he said i would need a mountain bike because the roads were just too uneven for my thin tires. 

i was pretty damn proud of myself for packing lightly.
it gave me ample room in the car for new things i could purchase 🙂

after plenty of laughs, a full stomach, and a good time with friends, i finally got in my car to start my driving marathon.  at this point, anyone else would’ve just stalled until the next day, but i was adamant about getting the hell out of the city before the traffic got really bad.  i promptly decided against filling up before leaving town because logistically, it would probably be cheaper once i hit the random little cities (per GasBuddy).  so I quickly got on the Interstate 405 heading North, hooked my iPhone up to the car, and selected Drake on my iTunes.  it was just gonna be me, the road, and conversations with Aubrey Drake Graham and featured guests for the next 4 hours and 51 minutes (give or take, per “Sally” my GPS system).

claiming that i was pretty psyched is an understatement.

the possibilities were endless.

i was able to make my way out of the Los Angeles city limits around 1520.
the first thing i noticed was the substantial drop in temperature.  i left LA with the top up, windows up, and A/C on because it was a scorching 95°F.  once i was able to get off I-405 and onto I-5, the temperature dropped to 84°F and a cool breeze was coming through the hills.  i rolled the windows down and cranked up the volume…just in time for my favorite — “Little Bit” featuring Lykke Li.

that song will forever remind me of the whole trip…and my lifetime.

i took I-5 N to US-101.  within this drive, i watched my car’s thermostat drop down to 75°F and eventually to a cool 64°F.  i watched the scenery change drastically from city to plains, to farmlands, to forest, to middle of nowhere, and to finally, the coast.  i eventually had to roll the windows up and leave a tiny crack just to combat the fog and the cold.

during the last gas stop, i ended up having to take probably the scariest detour known to man.  i exited the freeway and pulled into a Shell in Gonzales, CA.  what i didn’t know was that there were no entrances back into the 101 so i had to cut through the hills, passing the creepiest houses, on the darkest unpaved road in the world.  i called up my friend Mica to laugh with me since she had called earlier in the drive.

surprisingly, i only made 2 gas stops and arrived in Monterey almost halfway into “Own It”.  yes, my friends, i was still jamming the entire Drake discography…in chronological order.  to give y’all an idea of the length of the trip: no song was repeated from “So Far Gone” to “Nothing Was The Same”.  i pulled up to Cannery Row and coincidentally Drake Avenue singing —

“guess whose it is? guess whose it is??
it’s yooooouuurrrsssss…”

i felt a sense of accomplishment.

i parked the car right in front of the Intercontinental around 2015.
i stopped singing abruptly because i saw that the person manning the valet was headed my direction to open my door for me.  i was too shy to sing the next line…not due to my inability to carry a tune after hours of singing along, but for the sole reason that the next couple of lines were just too inappropriate for an almost-30 year-old woman to sing out loud…

hell, who am i kidding?

we all know i don’t give a shit about anything that comes out of my mouth!

it was because i thought Valet Man was totally adorable and i didn’t feel like embarrassing myself at the moment!  i don’t know if i was seeing things because my eyes were just too tired from the drive or if it was just the hunger i had been fighting off in the last two hours, but i had to keep myself from looking directly at his face.  i made sure to shove my portable GPS and cellphone into my backpack and tried not to make eye contact.

him:  “good evening ma’am.  welcome to Intercontinental.”
me:  “thank you.  good evening.”
him:  “are you driving in for a work-related visit?”
me:  “is that what people usually come to Monterey for?”
him:  “oh, not really.  it’s just something we have to ask just in case guests need help with bags, briefcases, and such.”
**he offered his hand to help me out of the car.  he had a gentle but firm grip.**
me:  “no. i’m here for one night.  i’m on vacation.  and no thank you on carrying my bags.”
him:  “well alright then ma’am.  are you sure?  it’s my job to help.”
**i headed to the back of my car to open the trunk as he followed.  he was probably around 5’11”, slimly built, but definitely fit.**
me:  “i’m a big girl.  i can carry them myself just fine, thank you.”
**i swung my backpack around my left shoulder and pulled my Penny out.  i didn’t remember the backpack being that heavy when i packed it in the trunk earlier that morning…i saw him smiling from the corner of my eye.**
him:  “ok then, ma’am.  is there anything else i can do for you before i take your car to the garage?”
**i finally looked up from my blatant display of independent womanhood and smiled back.  he had some pretty teeth.**
me:  “you can tell me happy birthday and tell me about where a 30-year old woman can get some good clam chowder around here.  i wanna walk so somewhere nearby.”
him:  “oh Happy Birthday!  well it’s getting pretty late and there’s still a few spots still open up the street.  you’re gonna need to hurry though because most places close at 9 or 10.  but C bar..the hotel bar?  it’s open ’til 2 and you won’t have to walk in the dark for that.”
**my bags were starting to weigh down on me.  i played it off and switched my weight from one leg to the other.  he was still smiling.**
me:  it’s fine.  i like walking in the dark.  i have a knife on me just in case someone runs up on me and tries anything crazy.  i’m from Houston.  i don’t play that.”
him:  “haha ok then ma’am.  the Valet Services are open 24 hours.  just call us down here 20 minutes ahead of time if you want us to get your vehicle for you.  here’s your ticket.  Happy Birthday again!”
**he handed me the ticket. i started to think that the smile is permanently plastered to his face.  i was getting weirded out.**

i walked away, took a deep breath, and sighed in relief.  i escaped that situation almost scotch free.  i get really weird when it comes to people helping me out.  i didn’t want to engage in anything remotely flirtatious because it was gonna be completely fruitless anyway, so other than helping me out of the car, i refused any help he offered.  plus, i took this trip by myself, for myself.

no help from anyone.  

i struggled with my bag to the check-in counter.

i walked into my hotel room around 2040.
it was on the 4th floor and i had to get to it by taking an elevator, walking over a crosswalk, and taking another elevator up.   i don’t know why i chose a room with a view and easy access to the spa when i was only gonna be there for one night, but after lugging all my shit all that way, i was starting to regret not letting Valet Man help me.

i unpacked a couple of things and added layers to my outfit.  it was around 58°F in Monterey and i was dressed like i was headed to Venice Beach to skate.  i remembered Valet Man telling me that most places close soon so i grabbled my small backpack and phone, took a quick “last hours of my twenties” selfie, and headed back out.

29 years and 364 days old.

i walked a few blocks in the vicinity to check out the scenery.  i still didn’t know where to grab my dinner but i thought that exploring Cannery Row at night would wind me up somewhere decent regardless.


butterflies in my stomach were starting to creep up.
i don’t know if it was excitement, nervousness, or just hunger…lol.
but i needed to get something in my belly STAT.

after checking out Yelp for a couple of places, i decided that The Whaling Station Steakhouse a block up from the hotel was probably my best bet since it was open until 10.  i thought it should at least have a vegetarian/pescetarian option on the menu.  it’s California, after all, people would call it discrimination otherwise. 😉

i walked into the restaurant around 2120.
the walk to the restaurant was kind of creepy because i came in through a dark alleyway.  it goes without saying that i had my hand in my pocket clutching my knife almost the entire power walk towards the lit up restaurant sign.  once again, i thought i should’ve probably listened to Valet Man.  i started to laugh at myself by that point.

i decided to sit at the bar so i could watch the 4th quarter of the Rockets/Lakers game.  i ordered the Blood Orange Mint Julep and a cup of clam chowder immediately.  after i mulled over the menu for a few minutes, i decided on ordering the Fresh Catch:  baked cod and clams with wild rice and vegetables.  i put the menu away and went back to watching the Rockets beat the Lakers while i ate my complimentary bread and butter.

unsurprisingly, the bartender and all the patrons by the bar were quite amused at how i watched the game.  what can i say?  i take RedNation quite seriously and i really have no filter nor shame while my boys are playing.  it caught the attention of the middle-aged man sitting a couple of bar stools down to the right.

him:  “you sure do love the game, huh?  you’re quite enthusiastic.”
me:  “yup.  i love my boys.  i ride with them, win or lose.”
**i kept my eyes glued to the screen.  4 minutes and 35 seconds left in the game.  Marshon Brooks was at the free throw line.**
him:  “the Lakers?”
me:  “oh hell no.  the Rockets.  fuck the Lakers, even though i live in LA.  if i had to support an LA team, it would be the Clippers.  i loved them since San Diego.  but never the Lakers.  i’m from Houston.”
him:  “Houston, huh?  why did you move to LA?”
**Donatas Montiejunas just dunked the ball.  i had room to look away from the television and look at him.  he had a full head of dark hair with strips of gray most often seen in men in their early sixties.**
me:  “the same reason why everyone who’s not from LA move to LA.  Hollywood dreams…i’m a writer.”
him:  “ah.  what brings you here then?”
me:  “it’s my birthday in a couple of hours.  i’m doing the PCH roadtrip by myself to celebrate.”
**i smiled at him and proudly handed him my ID to show him.  Jordan Hamilton just missed his 3-point attempt.**
him:  “30?!?!?!  i wouldn’t have guessed.  i would’ve thought you were underaged if you weren’t sitting at the bar.  but since you were, i would’ve bet my last dollar you were 21.”
me:  “thank you!  it’s the genes, the race, and my skincare regimen, haha.  but i’m pretty proud i’m turning 30.  it’s the reset button!”
him:  “reset button, huh?  wait til you turn 40!”
me:  “40??  i thought 30 was the life-changing age!”
**i turned myself on my chair to give him my full attention. Nick Young just dunked the ball, but we were still winning by 17 points.**
him:  “oh no, 40 was awesome.  i finally felt comfortable with myself enough to be comfortable being alone.  i didn’t have to be on my phone all the time or constantly be interacting with people.  i was fine.  it was a coming of age…”
me:  “but that’s exactly where i feel i’m at right now…at 30…”
him:  “well maybe because you’re a woman.  men mature much later in life.  i still didn’t have it together at 30.”
me:  “well then.  doesn’t that just explain everything about my ex-boyfriends!  hahaha.  just kidding.”
**Omri Casspi makes a fade away jumper and puts us at 21 points ahead.  the win was inevitable at that point so i felt fine dividing my attention with the conversation.**
him:  “no you’re not.  haha.  i was definitely still lost at 30.  my wife at the time and i were definitely going through a divorce.”
me:  “oh i’m sorry about that.  did you have kids?  are you remarried?”
him:  “yeah we had two kids.  they were already in high school so it wasn’t too bad.  i never remarried.  i like being single.  i don’t have to live for anyone and my days are completely my own…”
**the bartender came by and asked if i needed a refill of my julep.  it was way too strong for me so i refused and ordered a local beer instead.  the Rockets called a full time out.**
me:  “oh yeah?  that’s what i hope to feel like.  i don’t plan on getting married….ever.”
him:  “it’s not for everybody.  that’s for sure.”
me:  “i believe the same.”
him:  “i’m happy though.  nothing can take that away from me.  it’s just me, my dog, and the brand new BMW i just bought with my retirement money.”
**he pulled his phone out to shower me a picture of his Yorkshire Terrier.  i thought about Missy back home and how i miss her and Biggie.   Ryan Kelly was at the free throw line.**
me:  “you, a dog, and a BMW, huh?  yup, i think i got life pretty figured out.”
him:  “well it was nice meeting you.  what was your name, dear?”
me:  “it was nice speaking with you, sir.  my name is Iren.”
him:  “well Happy Birthday, Iren.  don’t drink too much tonight.  they’re kinda tough around here with drinking and driving.  DWI’s are no fun.”
**a 3-point shot by Wesley Johnson just as the buzzer sounded, ending the game.  145-130.  Rockets.**
me:  “yup.  figured that out too.”

that man’s name was Butch.
and his words were the second gift i received for my birthday.

the Rockets gave me my first.  the W.

i’m a firm believer in that people are placed in our lives for a reason.  whether they be like the sun or the rain, everyone’s reason always leads to growth.  i think in the words that came out of Butch’s mouth were exactly what i needed to hear to set me up for my thirties.  i felt a sense of validation in that there was someone else in the world that achieved what i wanted to achieve for myself and he was legitimately happy with his life.  granted, i think there’s more to life than just me, dogs, and Beamers…but i think he had the right idea with being comfortable with who he was.

i know who i am.

and i am pretty damn comfortable.

i downed the last sip of my Big Sur Golden Beer and paid my bill.

i said my goodbyes to the bartender and barback and thanked them for their services.  i remembered always loving it when my customers were appreciative back when i used to bartend in my early twenties, so i always try to do the same when i’m happy with the services rendered to me.

gotta love that restaurant training.

when i walked out, i decided to turn right and take the scenic walk home — i wanted to see the sign saying Cannery Row Company again.  that and because i had no desires whatsoever to go back down the dark alleyway…no matter how tipsy i was getting.

the last few moments of my twenties were fading fast.

i got back to my hotel around 2240.
i pulled my phone out to take another photo of myself.  i know it looks like i’m sitting provocatively, but i assure you, i am propped up on a pillow doing the Lotus Pose.

nailed it.

i hadn’t really checked my text messages since i got to the restaurant so i checked to find that i was starting to get the Happy Birthday texts from some people because it’s two hours ahead back home. i replied my thanks and turned on the “Do Not Disturb” and “Silent” settings for the rest of the night.

it was my yearly custom to turn my phone off but this last year came the Do Not Disturb update on the iOS that made it so i could still receive texts, but not any of the calls.  i thought avoiding phone calls would suffice.  i’m pretty good about ignoring texts when convenient anyway, but phone calls always get me.

i decided to turn in early because i was starting to feel the exhaustion from the drive compounded with the julep from dinner.  so i took a bubble bath to soak the mess away and got in my Boogie On t-shirt and pajama pants.  i then remembered how just a year ago, Roy had thrown me and Druski a BBQ at Trent‘s house and cooked fish and vegetables for all of our friends.  it’s still a weird feeling not having him around anymore…

i miss him everyday.

per my cellphone, it was already 2305.
i plugged it in the charger after i checked out my SnapChat videos i took during the day.  i laughed at myself for a few seconds before i turned down the A/C to 65°F and shut all the lights out.  i thought to myself —

“when i wake up, i will be 30.”

and it actually felt great to say it.

i closed my eyes and smiled.

my birthday was finna be even bigger…


p.s. —

p.p.s. —

products mentioned:
backpack:  Herschel Supply Co., “Little America” in Dark Yellow
sneakers:  Vans, Canvas Authentic Lo Pro in Black
combat boots:  UNIF, no longer available.  dupe:  Steve Madden, Tarnney in Black
small canvas backpack:  unknown, homemade by some dude on Haight St.
water bottle:  Tervis, Customized by my friend Nancy
board:  Penny Skateboards, Penny Pastels 22″ in Lemon
GPS system:  Garmin, nuvi 40LM
apps:  GasBuddy, iTunes, Yelp, SnapChat

QRST Party: The Quest (Q, Part 1)

i know i promised in the last blogpost that i would have my 2-part QRST Party update posted that week, but it’s been such a whirlwind of a two weeks!

other than starting my new contract at a new hospital, i’ve had random visits from family, semi-family, friends, and semi-friends.  i haven’t really had the time to  sit down and clear my head, much less, write.  so i decided to postpone the posts until i knew i could actually formulate the proper descriptions to give the week the justice it deserves.

i would like to think it’s never too late to address anything that was transforming for me.

after all, it is still my birthday month 😉

the week started with THE QUEST for what i wanted to to do for my actual birthday to celebrate.

there wasn’t a shortage of comments from family, friends, and coworkers who urged me to do it big this year, but i was honestly at a point where i felt like i was getting way too old for celebrations.  a few of my friends have already jumped the 30 milestone and they all said it was way too big to ignore.  my dear friend and co-podcaster Kayla even expressed her regrets for not doing anything for her 30th and she didn’t want me to feel the same. thus, the pressure was on to make this the best birthday i’ve ever had. y’all know how i am —

if i’m gonna do something, it can’t be remotely half-assed.

I’m just not wired for mediocrity.

my roommate Ashton was suggesting that i plan for everyone to go to Catalina Island with me.  he said that i would be able to ride the ferry for free on my birthday and everyone who’s already been there told me it’s really a nice place to spend my day.  it was a tempting idea because i kept envisioning the scene at the end of “Step Brothers” where Will Ferrell performs “Por Ti Volare” while John C. Reilly plays the drums during the Catalina Wine Mixer.


i think i giggled a couple of times out loud just thinking about it.  unfortunately, i would have to go on my actual birthday in order for the free ferry ride to apply, and that would just be the complete opposite of my desire to be alone.

i also toyed with the idea of renting a beach house in Newport all week.  i wanted to spend a few days to write in peace then having a good old-fashioned BBQ come the weekend for my friends to join me.  i hadn’t barbecued by the beach in a long time…as a matter of fact, i think the last time i had done that, i was still a carnivore!  and furthermore, Newport Beach is a complete 180 in comparison to the toilet bowl that is Galveston Island.

i checked it out a few weeks ago when i went to Orange County with my friend Kristal to visit my friend Linda. i kind of fell in love.  if you were ever a fan of “The O.C.”, “Laguna Beach”, or “Newport Harbor” — the water was so much better in person.

i remembered on the way home that Kristal mentioned how beautiful it would have been if we just rode scenic Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) earlier that day instead of the faster inland route.  it was already dark when we made our way back home so we didn’t really reap the benefits of the view so we had planned on the latter idea for the next time.  i thought about my birthday being that next time.

another option was to spend a few days camping at The Redwoods in Yosemite.  i had thought about making that trip for a few months now since my homie Elliot suggested it last September.  he and i had considered it on our way to San Francisco from Sacramento so we could reflect in peace after losing Roy. unfortunately, there were just too many stories online about dangerous wild animals that i quickly deleted it from my possibilities.

needless to say, i was starting to feel quite dejected.  to my dismay, the fear of aging was drastically compounded by my fruitless search for “doing it big”.  as exaggerated as it was, i felt like i was running out of time…literally and figuratively.

i thought to myself —
“it really is downhill from 30…..”

thankfully, the universe wouldn’t allow my depression to last very long.

during downtime at one of my shifts at work, i randomly decided to google all the stops i could make on the PCH just to find out what else i could discover in my new home state.  also known as California State Route 1 (SR 1), i had absolutely no idea that what the locals affectionately refer to as PCH is one of the best roads to travel solo in America!

the lighbulb turned all the way on 🙂

i read some great articles on notable sites like National Geographic and Travel Channel, and found plenty of rave reviews everywhere else on the interweb.  i asked my coworkers and other locals if anyone has ever made that trip before just in case they had any recommendations for pitstops.  i was surprised to hear that not very many people have made that trip alone!  i suppose it’s more of a tourist attraction and locals tend to veer away, but i still couldn’t fathom how such a beautiful drive could ever be as overlooked as NASA back home.

by then, the mystery added more to the allure.

i was doing it.  point blank.

it was only a matter of which combination of stops i would decide to make in my personal PCH trip before i went on my way.  i spent Sunday the 6th and Monday the 7th planning where i would start.  since it was a straight shot up and and down the coast, i decided that all i really needed to plan was where i would lay my head for two nights.  after all, there were just too many options to choose from and if anything —

it wasn’t necessarily about my destination,
but more-so about my journey.

moreover, the coast is just too beautiful.
i couldn’t possibly screw it up if i tried.

as if it was fate, i came across many blogposts that mentioned Monterey, CA.  
i flashbacked to 8th grade when i first came across John Steinbeck‘s literary works.  a distinct memory was when i first read The Pearl” and participated in a verbal literary critique round-table…it was only a first of many in the English Honors/PAP/AP curriculum.  I remembered loving Of Mice and Men” and “Grapes of Wrath”…he became kind of my obsession because although “Cannery Row” was only on the summer reading list, i was so fascinated by his writing style that I read the book anyway.

it’s pretty safe to say that he’s one of my greatest influences when it comes to my own writing style:  melodramatic yet honest, sometimes preachy, and definitely controversial.  my papers became so intense that my sophomore English PAP teacher, Ms. Comer pulled me aside and told me i was truly a gifted writer.  that was when i realized that maybe writing wasn’t just for fun or for school anymore…i could actually do it for a living.

it became quite a dream.

fast-foward to 0800 on April 8, 2014.  i booked my hotel on Cannery Row and packed my things. after all, i came out to California to chase that dream…

why not pay homage to what started it all?

my birthday’s finna be big.

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