Hi, It’s Been A While…

The funny thing is that I literally have 10 drafts of posts that I just never finished in the last two months. I figure it’s time to come back and update myself on where I’m at.

It’s the middle of August, and the last time I wrote was in June. The past two months I’ve been hanging out with high school friends here for the summer, doing extra hours on my interim job (enough to pay my share of the bills AND put money into savings, hooray! Doesn’t beat a real career though…), and planning the rest of the year.

We moved into a new apartment yesterday after our current place decided to hike the rent up $200. Renting sucks. I can’t wait for the day C and I are financially stable, at a good point in our lives, and ready to buy a house. We’re still debating on where, though.

San Diego is everything — one six-hour flight to Hawaii, Las Vegas only a five-hour drive away for holidays, mild winters, easy summers, and DISNEYLAND ANNUAL PASSES. What more could I ask for? Well, affordable housing. That’s what I’d ask for. The market isn’t as unrealistic as Hawaii is, but it’s still not a trade-off.

Las Vegas is our second choice. Beautiful mini mansions for the price of a studio apartment, enough family to fill up a backyard for a birthday party, cheap cheap CHEAP, and only a three-hour drive to Disneyland. The downside? Weather. Dry heat. Hot wind that hurts your face in 110 degrees. I don’t know if i could live with that.

Hawaii is always in the back of my mind, but unless we win the lottery and somehow they evict half of the population, I don’t think we’ll ever move back. Yearly trips, of course, but not to settle down.

Anyway, aside from that, we planned a trip to Colorado for the end of the month and I’m so pumped. I’m almost certain we’re going to fall in love with the state and we’re going to want to move there as soon as possible. We’re spending three days in Colorado Springs (C’s brother is stationed around there) and then three days in Denver. Rocky Mountain National Park? OF COURSE!

After Colorado, some friends are coming to visit in October, and then in November we’re back in Hawaii for my cousin’s wedding. We’re trying to squeeze in a trip to Lake Tahoe before the year starts, and that’s when things are going to get interesting.

But, I’ll save that for when I’m ready to talk about it.

Hopefully it won’t be another two months before I write again.

Allbirds Wool Runner Review

IMG_4522Check out these crazy comfy shoes at Allbirds.com!

C and I have been wanting new shoes for a long time. My interim job is work from home, so since I almost never leave our apartment, I only have a pair of Nikes that I use for the gym and a pair of Converse II’s for everything else. C’s just a sneakerhead.

Allbirds, a New Zealand brand priding on their shoes made of wool, kept showing up on my Facebook ads. “Turns out, the world’s most comfortable shoe is made of wool,” they boast on their homepage. I clicked around, and what caught my interest was the minimalist look the runners had. No flash brand logos, no crazy bold designs or colors, just a simple shoe. I wasn’t sold on them yet, though. At $95 a pair, I wanted to be sure they’d be worth it.

I found out a friend of mine had a pair (albeit for less than a year) and he had nothing but great things to say about Allbirds; They were so comfortable, he used them for hiking, you can wear them without socks, and you can throw them in the laundry. I did think he was a little biased, though, because director Taika Waititi wears them and… my friend is an obsessive fan. So I took it with a grain of salt. It was everything repeated from the website, anyway.

I did a little more research and saw people complained about it smelling after a few weeks wearing them — with no socks. Others complained that because of the wool material, it made their bare feet sweat. Others said the wool was too thin and they could feel their toes about to burst a hole where it rubs. Now, there were a lot of people who bought the shoes because of the testament that you could wear them without socks. If I was one of those people, I probably wouldn’t have bought the shoes. BUT, I intended to wear socks all the time with these, so I gave them a shot. C just trusted my judgement and told me to order him a pair too. I got the gray ones and C got the black ones.

The shoes got to us in San Diego within a week, which was perfect timing for Disneyland Resort the next day. What better place to try out the most comfortable shoes in the world?

First impressions: a very neutral shoe style and color that goes with anything, which I liked. I usually prefer plain black and white colors over all black styles, so I chose the gray. Putting them on, I noticed how soft and comfortable they were. I wore some cheap H&M thin-ish socks so that it didn’t feel too hot on the inside and I could still get that extra layer of protection that I wanted. I did notice that you could see the outline of the edges of my feet jutting out a bit (pinky toe area), but my feet are weirdly shaped. C’s feet are more “normal” and narrower than mine, so he was fine.

It took an hour of walking around California Adventure Park for the shoes to break in for me. And when they did, they BROKE. IN. All of a sudden, it felt like I was walking on pillows! I have relatively flat feet, but the insoles were plush and kept my feet comforted and supported from 10:00 am to 1:00 am the next day. I was obsessed. My feet did start to hurt towards the end of the night, but that was just because it’s been awhile since I had walked so much. I did notice, however, it only hurt when I was standing or sitting. When it came time to walk again, the pain went away. I am obsessed with these insoles.

I kept singing praises but C has no real opinion on them. He doesn’t love them, but he doesn’t hate it either. He said it’s probably because he got them wet and, because of the wool, they soaked through to his socks and it was wet for a few hours. So that’s the one con about them — don’t wear these shoes on wet days.

I will be continuing to use these on any days where I expect to be walking a lot. I know enough not to use these as running/gym shoes. I’ve seen reviews that state the shoes wear out pretty quickly, so I’m hoping to see how long these will last with the amount of work I do in them.

But, at this point, I absolute love the Allbirds wool runners and would definitely recommend anyone to try them if they’re thinking about it!

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park (Photos!)

With a three day weekend available to us, we decided to spend it at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.

C and I were both born and raised in Hawaii. I used to think that nothing could beat the views Hawaii had to offer, but I was wrong. The ocean is everything to me but these forests and canyons are something we could get used to.

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It still amazes us that we can literally drive four hours and end up in a completely different environment. Five hours from sunny San Diego landed us in forests, canyons, and rivers. Six hours from San Diego and we could end up in Arizona or Nevada, exploring new cities. It’s not a struggle to fly anymore, we just hop in the car and go. No need to save for expensive flights, just money for gas and food along the way.

We love our new lives here outside of Hawaii. Can’t wait for more adventures.

The Ones We’ve Lost

Today is Memorial Day. I know it’s supposed to remember those we’ve lost in war, but my family has taken it to remember all the ones we’ve lost in general. No disrespect or anything. We’ve just…lost a lot of people.

I think the first person in my family to pass away was my maternal grandpa in 1996, when I was four years old. I don’t remember much of him, just that he gave me a necklace that I wore daily until I lost it when I was six. My mom brought me to Philippines for his funeral, and in Filipino tradition, they threw me over his coffin before they buried him. I had no idea what was going on.

A year or two later, my dad’s eldest sister passed away from cancer. She was living in Chicago and left behind my four cousins who were around my age range. We all flew to Chicago for the funeral and I didn’t really know how to feel since I didn’t remember meeting her.

Later, two of my cousins passed away on a visit to Philippines just days apart from each other. One was two years older than me, the other my age. I barely remember my interactions with them (they were just six years old and eight years old when it happened), but to this day I can’t help but wonder what life would’ve been like if they made it. We would’ve been so close. One of them would’ve gone to high school with me and graduated with me, then there would’ve been four Garcia’s in Campbell High School’s Class of 2010. It would’ve been amazing. Their lives were over before it ever really began.

When I was in the sixth grade, my cousin got into a fatal car accident. He was 21. Today’s his birthday, actually — he would’ve been 35 years old today. That might’ve been my first fully comprehensible experience with death. I remember waking up at some ungodly hour of the morning — 3 am? 4 am? — and my mom rushing us out of the house and to the hospital, saying that my Manong Arthur had died. I thought she was overreacting. We got to the hospital and when I saw my cousin, the one who took me to my dentist appointments when my parents couldn’t, babysat us, let me come over to play with his new puppy, let me come over just to play Legend of Mana or Paper Mario on his N64 because we weren’t allowed to have video games…I panicked. We lived down the street from each other and I couldn’t understand that I wouldn’t be seeing him anymore. Life changed a lot after his death.

Years later, my mom’s brother in the Philippines passed away. I didn’t know him very well. She didn’t bring us to the funeral. Another year later, my dad’s brother in the Philippines passed away in a motorcycle accident. He didn’t bring us to the funeral either. Already, loss had started to become regular in their lives. My paternal grandfather passed away before I was born.

Several years later when I was 16, my mom’s other brother (she is the second youngest of 12, with a mere four of them being brothers) passed away from cancer (can’t remember what kind it was, but I know it was cancer). He was loud when he was drunk (which was often) and loved to sing karaoke. I didn’t see him at the hospital. His two eldest kids who had moved to Las Vegas on their own years before came back to Hawai’i for it. It was then that I realized that death was what brought my close family even closer.

One by one, we would be gone, and because there was so many of us, we had to grow thicker skin each time.

In 2013, my mom’s sister passed away. I was visiting home on one of my summer breaks from college. She and my mom were extremely close; when she was still a child, my mom took a 10 hour bus ride from Isabela to Ilocos and my aunty raised her herself, paying for her school all the way through college until my mom decided to move to Hawai’i with her other siblings. Because of that, my aunty was a big part of my life. I had so many photos with her, admired her love for traveling, and always marveled at the way she kept a calm and reposed personality amongst the craziness of my mother and other aunties. “Your aunty was my best friend,” my mom told me in tears, and I knew this was the worst loss she had so far (and probably to this day). I dreamt about her often after her death, and even now her absence feels foreign.

Then, in 2015, the unthinkable happened. My maternal grandma, at 93, passed away in Philippines. My grandma was everything to me, and it was naive of any of us to see her as immortal. She was the strongest woman that any of us ever saw. She lived through the death of her husband, three children, and three grandchildren…why couldn’t she live forever? This mother of 12, grandmother of 42, great grandmother of 38, great-great grandmother of five, loved to tell stories, laugh at jokes, and enjoy the world around her. We were very close, which means a lot from being one of 42 grandchildren. Her passing hit all of us hard. I was lucky enough to fly to Philippines for her funeral with my mom and aunties and see her laid to rest next to my grandpa after more than 20 years. I miss her everyday, to this day.

And now, just recently, my paternal grandmother passed away, making me grandparent-less. I have so much I can say about it. She actually lived with us since I was kid. When my dad’s sister was the only sibling he had in Hawai’i, grandma would go there on the weekends and stay with us throughout the week. She loved to sew and crochet, always sewing up our blankets and pillows when we ripped them, knitting us doilies and anything she felt like we needed. She was harder on me than my other cousins or my brothers, which I still don’t understand. She and my mom had a weird relationship, but after 20+ years of living together, her death left my mom in so many tears. We all flew to Philippines for her funeral, where I cried harder than at my other grandma’s funeral, despite me being closer to my other grandma. She was just always there and I couldn’t believe it finally happened. I still can’t believe she’s gone.

My husband never really lost anyone he was close to. When we started dating, he attended my aunty’s funeral with me and it was the first one he’d been to as an adult. I’ve already been to quite a few in my life and I know eventually it’ll be endless. My parents started having the “If I die, this is what you need to do…” talks with us a long time ago. Death is still a scary concept to me but all I can do is try to understand as I get older.

If I was back in Hawai’i, I’d be spending my Memorial Day at the cemetery with my family, celebrating the lives we’ve loved and lost. Today, I’m remembering all my family members who’ve gone, because to be forgotten is worse than death. Miss you all.

Hawai’i Graduations

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My husband and my brother posing for a photo.

I just recently got back from a very short trip back home to Hawai’i in honor of my younger brother’s graduation from University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Big hopes for my future architect brother!

love graduation season in Hawai’i. It’s nothing you’ve ever seen. People are weighed down by their weight in leis, struggling to breathe, sweating from the heat, and yet the only feeling they have is being overwhelmed with love and excitement for their accomplishment.

Granted, high school graduations are the ones people get serious for, and it gets a lot of heat for doing so. “Why should you be so happy that they graduated high school? Doesn’t everyone graduate high school?!” For one thing, it’s a pretty big accomplishment in Hawai’i to graduate high school (sad, but true), and for another thing, can’t we just have any excuse to celebrate and give someone a lei? Any reason to party, right?

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Throwback to my high school graduation, and this wasn’t even the end of the night yet.

Another thing I love about graduation leis is that in Hawai’i, it doesn’t have to be flowers. As you can see in the photos, some other popular items of decoration are money leis, candy leis, floaties, hakus (flower crowns, essentially), and then the most creative things you can think of. Trust me, you can turn anything into “leis” (for the most part). I’ve seen mini alcohol bottles wrapped in netting, tied together, and draped around people. I’ve been given diaper hats. I’ve even seen cans of spam tied to some strong rope, with the poor recipients lugging around their gift. In Hawai’i, this is so normal. It’s expected. The goal at the end of the night is to not be able to breathe.

When it does come time to take everything off, it feels amazing. Literally 10-20 pounds lifted off your shoulders.

When I graduated college in New York, I had several family members fly up to see me graduate. They came with gifts from my other family members who couldn’t make it. I wasn’t expecting it, and when the ceremony was over, I stuck out like the sorest thumb in the world.

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My then-boyfriend/now husband and I at my college graduation. 

It’s not as much as I had in high school, but it was more than enough to bring attention to me. People stared. People took photos. People stopped me on my way back to my dorm to ask me if they could take a picture of me and send it to their friends because they’ve never seen it before. They asked me what “all this” was. I was actually pretty thrown off by their curiosity, but I should have expected it.

I love being from Hawai’i. I loved that what we do is so different from the mainland. I love this tradition full of love, support, happiness, and fun that’s so specific to us. Being from Hawai’i is definitely being from a different culture, and I only wish more people could experience it!

25 And I’m Still Afraid Of My Parents

Dev: His dad doesn’t know that we eat pork.
Navid: It’s against our religion.
Denise: Wait, aren’t y’all two grown ass men?!
Dev: Yeah! But we’re scared of our parents.

Master of None is a great show. Even though Aziz is Indian-American, as a fellow Asian-American I can relate so much. That’s something very uncommon.

I started Season 2 and this scene made me laugh like crazy. Aziz’s character, Dev, is 33-years-old. The episode touched on religion and how Dev is not a very religious person but had to put up a front for some relatives. It was all just too familiar.

The part that made me laugh, though, was that Dev was still afraid of his parents at 33. I’m 25, living across the ocean from my parents, seeing them at least once a year, and I’m still afraid of them!

I firmly believe this is an Asian thing, and a first generation thing. I don’t really know why that is, but if anyone could explain it to me, I’d love to hear it.

My husband is also a first generation FilAm, but his relationship with his parents is rare for our kind (lol). He can’t relate to my terrors, but I know a lot of others who could.

One example of being afraid of my parents involves tattoos. I’ve had them since 2012. My mom has told me over and over again that I better not get one, but of course, I got two. They’re both on my hip area, so they’re hidden under my clothes 90% of the time. I make sure not to wear anything that may show it around my parents. I can’t even imagine what I would do if they found out. I do want more tattoos but I spend a lot of time thinking of size and placement so that it fits somewhere hidden by my clothes. I daydream about having something on the back of my neck, on my ankle, somewhere on my forearm…but I know it’ll never happen. It’s been five years and I’m pretty sure they don’t know about my tattoos yet.

“Who cares?! Do what you want! You’re an adult!”
Nope. The guilt will eat at me and also my parents terrify me.

Another example? My relationship with my husband started off…well, it wasn’t supposed to start in the first place. It has a weird history that I may write about here someday. I avoided telling my parents about us for almost a year because I was terrified of their reaction. When they finally confronted me about it, I was right to be scared. So much yelling. So much CRYING. SO. MUCH. GUILT TRIPPING. It took them several months to accept us, and now he is the son they’ve always wanted (sorry to my two brothers, lol!). Trust me though, I will avoid that initial confrontation for as long as possible.

Disappointing my parents is just something I never want to do. I believe that most of my anxiety and depression stems from this. The reason why I can’t accept myself as I am currently is because it would disappoint them if they found out. Yup, they have no idea what I’m actually doing or where I am in my life because I am keeping it hidden from them as best as I can. This stresses me out. Every day that my life doesn’t change is another day of disappointment, and I can’t live with it.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to get over how my parents react to my life, but until further notice, the way they see me will always make or break my day.

“Let’s Get Married.”

C and I started talking about marriage a few months into our relationship. We were 18.

It isn’t uncommon for military couples to get married as soon as possible — even if it means at 18 to your high school sweetheart who just got out of basic training.
It happens very, very often.

He asked me to marry him over the phone, when he was in Florida for his MOS school and I was in Hawaii on summer break. I froze and felt my face flush. Was he really asking me this?

“Are you crazy?! It hasn’t even been a year!!!!!!”
“I know, but I already know I want to marry you and I know you want to marry me too. Why not now? It’d make it easier for us to be together physically. I’d get extra pay and we could save up for a big wedding later when you graduate college. Why not? We could do it the next time we’re home together, just sign a paper, I’d be your husband, you’d be my wife…”

It made so much sense. I understood why MilSos did it, I could feel the temptation too.
I said no, though. I felt too young. I wasn’t ready to be a wife, I could barely take care of myself alone in college. I talked to my mom about it and in all her Filipino rage, she told me I better not. She wasn’t on board with me even being with C yet. I would try to talk to her again about it a year later, when she and my dad started to see how well C treated me.

Ever since he asked the question, my mind would flutter back and forth to marrying him the next time I saw him, marrying him after college, or marrying him years and years later. Either way, I knew it was going to happen. I knew he was the one.

Over the next four years together, we talked about getting married all the time. The agreement was that we’d wait until I was done with college to even think about it. We talked about where we’d live, and what we’d name our kids, if he’d help me pay my student loans or support me if I couldn’t find a job after college…we started to set up our future and figure out if things were really meant to be.

Then, I graduated college. I went back to Hawai’i. A month later we were lying in my room at my parent’s house and he said, “What do you think about getting married?”

“When?”
“Soon.”
“Uh….”
“You’re home now. We could move out, I’d get money for rent. If I reenlist you would be able to come with me to my next duty station without any issues. We could save up money and have the wedding we always talked about in a few years. What do you think?”
“Oh…oh wow. We could do all that, huh?”

Two weeks later, we got our marriage license. The next day he surprised me with an engagement ring, even though it was unescessary at that point. Two days later, we were married on a beach on base in Kaneohe by an online-ordained Sailor who worked in the shop with him. I bought my dress that morning from Macy’s, he wore his dress blues. We were 22.

We’ve been married for three years now, and it’s been an adventure. He didn’t reenlist, but we chose to move to San Diego to start something new together. We’ve had our ups and downs but I’ve never regretted marrying him at a time where most people our age would still be finding themselves (and trust me, I’ve yet to do that).

People say not to get married young. People even say not to be dating when you’re in college. The only thing that matters in your decision is your own situation. Do your research. Take some time to think about it. 

Always remember that marriage is work, but if you’re with someone you truly love, the work won’t be so bad.