Santa Barbara

I’ve been thinking about traveling lately and it came to my surprise I never divulged about my weekend in Santa Barbara.

For some reason those few days I spent in the central coast have been so vivid to me that California has been on my mind for days. Albeit I am already predisposed to yearn for my native west coast.

If it’s not for its rolling hills of green grass and sparkling beachfront views, then it’s definitely the laid back organic vibes that makes Santa Barbara, a paradise.

In the middle of February a storm was passing through Southern California, but we managed to dodge the raining bullets. Away from the traffic of the city, away from the commotion at home, away from work and everybody we know. We spent a weekend to ourselves, a staycation for our first anniversary.

In its fine detail of what is old and what is new, a Spanish town once thrived in the missions and avenidas that make up Santa Barbara’s etymology. The American Riviera of scenic landscapes that is too rich to describe but alluring in its night and day aura in an area that overlooks the Pacific ocean.

In comparison to it’s beautiful seaside housing, its downtown is just as refreshing as the crispy ocean air that glides through its corridors. Our simple night began with a bottle of wine bought from the Santa Barbara Winery, a Cabernet or Pinot Noir as our weapon of choice. For me, nothing is more intimate than sharing a moment with someone over a glass of wine; in any quiet space, in any outdoor setting, over a plate of food, whatever it is- wine is always a must. Of course however, one must transition to from red to white when seafood is involved, and seafood for me, is also always a must.

For quality and reasonably priced seafood, The Santa Barbara Fish House was our destination for dinner. We couldn’t resist the calamari nor the clam chowder, I mean come on, on beachfront cities you know you have to indulge in the ‘catch of the day.’ Cioppino for me, and spicy seafood pasta for him, a glass of wine each, all for under $100. I would definitely come here again. As I get older and become more bougie, $100 starts to seem like the adult $1. But I digress.

To retreat back to our 20-something crowd, we entered the Funk Zone, literally. It’s an area mixed with college students of nearby universities and locals who’ve never left after graduation but have managed to plant roots either through craft business or some other kind of work. This is where you come to bar hop on the weekends and eat greasy truffle fries when you’ve had one too many. We went to Figueroa Mountain Brewery, hopefully (or not) I didn’t drop too many hints there of taking that last name.

The next day we went to Solvang, the Danish Town. Ah, I was so pleased to come here on a cloudy weekend morning. To start my day off at a cute cafe drinking a vanilla latte, I was already in love with the little european town just outside of SB. Solvang is just so charming. It’s as if you were Denmark but in Central California. It’s the perfect place to spend a few hours taking pictures of its giant windmills or buying little trinkets of nordic mythology and mosaic tiles of it’s quaint cottages. One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Santa Barbara was just to see the American Danish Town in person.

The only way to send off our weekend was to have bottomless mimosas at a Mexican restaurant, which are plentiful in this city. And if you’re every in the next door town of Montecito, be sure to go to Lucky’s- a steakhouse of fine dining that makes you feel as if you were in a 1920’s Hollywood lounge.

Until next time!

 

 

Weekend With Ricky

brooklynIn between four walls, a memory laid sleeping in my bed. He was long and statuesque, he made my small room look even smaller. He was curled up in between my bed sheets and what I was hoping for for months had finally manifested; my other half joined me across the country.

Albeit it only for a weekend, it was a weekend worth telling.

Perfectly imperfect, is a good way to describe us. A duo that lusts for each other physically as much as we do mentally. A duo that fights the hardships of long distance. In a moment of weakness what was ‘We’ almost became ‘Me’ and our story would have ended on two different coasts. But alas, we did not choose the easy way out.

Together we stand, divided we fall.

On a humid August day in New York my L.A. boyfriend brought his Mexican ass to Brooklyn. Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass we sat alongside the river at an Italian restaurant. “Wine with my Wino,” he said. And I smirked at his remark. It was the first time we had seen each other in two months, the first time being able to feel something tangible; the taste of lips, the smell of cologne, the softness of hair. He accompanied me in all the bars I wanted to visit and we made our way through Downtown.

A pair of lovers found themselves in the heart of Queens at a ballpark of America. His Quest for 30 became my new baseball adventure. A roaring crowd in Citi Field faced what could be a playoff berth and Ricky and I were there to witness the Mets defeat the Nationals. But our love for sports didn’t match our love for food that night so we twirled through the city and ended up in the East Village looking for a burger. Eight out of 10 he gave his professional cheeseburger connoisseur opinion on this “In’n’Out-Shake Shack” mash up. I ordered the Mac n’ Cheese balls.

In the middle of the night, I was overcome with emotions. My sobbing had awaken Ricky and he was holding me in his arms trying to sooth my anxiety. I didn’t want him to let go. In my moment of humility he held onto me until I was asleep again and just like that my protector made me feel like I was home.

He was scheduled to leave me on Saturday, but I coaxed him to stay with me for one more night. On top of my apartment rooftop was the skyline of Manhattan. Where we spent his last night sitting and drinking wine out of two plastic cups, listening to Jay-Z smoking Maryjane. There he was, my Dodgers-loving, Lakers-loving, In-n-Out-loving, Crossfit-loving better half, sitting next to me as if I never left. Under the night sky in Brooklyn a pair of lovers found themselves in, what else? In love.

I said goodbye to him at the airport, and my heart was completely shattered. I felt that I would never see him again even though I knew it wasn’t true. In a moment’s notice he was gone from me, and again he became just another memory.

Brooklyn

BrooklynMeasured by blocks, but counted by the multitude of cultures, Brooklyn is what the city left to be untainted by gentrification.

How do I describe Brooklyn? It’s a host of prewar buildings with smaller neighbors in the borough itself. Some residential, some corporate, all connected by the A, D, F, Q, or R trains. I don’t know whether to call the homes houses or brownstones or apartments? A basement is an apartment but also the the private podiatric practice of an NYU alum. The other floors are duplex’s to be done with whatever the landlord pleases. It’s unique in every part, and probably just how you imagined it to be from the movies. Sometimes, when I’m crossing the bridge to Manhattan by train, I really think Spiderman is going to pop out of nowhere and rescue us from a bomb the Green Goblin placed underneath its tracks. But I digress.

In the middle of the Bed-Stuy neighborhood are three young professionals sharing an apartment together; a barista, a sportswear apparel agent and a broadcast associate. Between the Jewish, Chinese, African/Caribbean, Russian, Italian, Muslim, Irish, and Greek communities, a Korean, a Taiwanese and a Mexican live in apartment 3F. I’m told I got lucky moving into a rent controlled building with its own washer and dryer; I guess that’s the deal I made for having the smallest room without a window.

Geographically I don’t understand New York. My roommate explained it to me as “a floating island of trash and the homeless man’s toilet,” but I’m still speculating her observation. She was also the one who told me that I wasn’t a New Yorker until I get robbed.

New York is changing me and I don’t know what it is yet. Everything is moving so fast for me here that I don’t know what to anticipate next. Today is the Fourth of July and it’s hard for me to want to go outside and try to do something. Moving to a city where you don’t know anyone, or having the things that were easily accessible to you before makes even the smallest of tasks daunting. Mentally, I’m back at home but physically I’m on the other side of the United States. It gets lonely to be honest, but I’m trying day by day.

Brooklyn is home now and I’m here to make the best of it. I was so lucky to come to New York when I did, to work for a company that in many ways is a ‘legacy’ in my family. To be promoted within two weeks of starting work and to achieve what I came here to do; it’s unreal. In many ways, I’ve only known journalism; from writing a career report about Editor-in-Chiefs in eighth grade, to writing for my school newspaper in high school and college, to interning at a broadcast station in Los Angeles, to working alongside a senior producer in the number one market for journalism- it has been a journey. A lifetime in the making.

I never wanted to do anything on a smaller scale, I always knew it was either Los Angeles or New York, no in between. And now, these dreams are manifesting to be true. Sometimes I feel like I sacrificed everything to be here, but some steps are meant to be taken just to prove your worth.

New York, what are you doing to me!

Week 1, New York

ManhattanNew York. I sit in a slightly packed train cart, next to someone I’ll probably never see again, wondering which borough of this incredibly huge city they’re from. I sit and I look. I stare at the different forms of life; a business person, a teenager with his skateboard, a pair of friends, myself- from the reflection of the window as each stop zooms by. I think: New York. I finally did it.

I’ve decided to document my experience moving across the country and hopefully give some life back to this little blog. In many ways, the New York state of mind has always been near to me. I fantasized about an education at NYU and a summer at Columbia studying the impact of journalism when I was a teenager. I imagined myself a Carrie Bradshaw in my early twenties and constructed my own relationship with the city before I even met it. I looked, but never touched the big apple albeit the temptation was juicy. At 26, I finally decided to take a bite of the city and put matters into my own hands.

Now one week in New York, I still don’t know what to think of it. It’s rainy and I hate it. But I love it because the clouds clear and the sun shines through the buildings of Manhattan and the sky for a moment reflects a beautiful magenta hue, again I am enamored. The city is overwhelming. Grandiose in its facades and at times overcrowded, but the people of New York know where to go and where to be. They walk faster than I can run and are more focused than I can ever be.

Something about New Yorkers intrigue me. The east coast accent is almost music to my ears, like the hard beat of a hi-hat mixed with the slang of a rap song. The thick accents of a tongue inherited from generations prior fascinates me as much as the Puerto Rican or Dominican Spanish I can barely understand. Words are elongated, syllables are dropped and comes out a tune that I can’t stop listening to.

Someone once told me “There is nothing like New York,” and it stuck with me. Although I don’t quite have my bearings down (or a place to live yet), I’m not worried. I figure I’ll make the best of the city in my time here and eventually I can call one of these closet sized rooms home.

One week in New York and I’m afraid to start missing my friends and family. It is hard not to when your whole life is 2000 miles away but writing and the occasional FaceTime from my boyfriend always helps. Each hour feels long but the days are going by quick. Fortunately work helps the time pass and each day I’m looking for a second job. I try to remind myself that I’m here for the experience and here for the long term goal which is to receive the training I need to become a successful news producer. When the time is right, home is where I’ll go!

 

 

#MeToo

metoomadrid
Mujeres En Lucha, Madrid

People ask me “since when were you a feminist” and it’s hard for me to give a definite answer. To be honest, I always defied feminism and never really cared for it. It was an ideology for others, but not for me- someone who had her shit under control. It just wasn’t for me; until is was.

Looking back into what seemed as an exceptionally ordinarily 25 years of life, I have always forgot that I’ve been a victim of abuse- not physical, but verbal. For someone who had her shit under control, this was one of it; compartmentalizing abuse in order to put on a facade as the perfect sibling or best friend.

I would first like to state that I can no way in shape or form relate to what victims of sexual abuse feel; I can only carry their burdens upon mine in a sense of solidarity. Victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, hate discrimination are the real survivors and I can only try to understand a fraction of what they went through or are continuing to go through.

My story is masked in the fantasy of ‘the Latino boyfriend’.

In what I see now, I see that my type is ‘the prodigal son,’ ‘the baby of the family,’ the one who is protected at all costs; the youngest Mexican male in the household. He is the son to my maternal instincts, but the one who takes advantage of it all.

If you are Latinx, you might understand this complex. But that’s a different story to be told.

My abusers, have verbally told me I wasn’t good enough; That “I’ve been with prettier girls than you” or that “you and your friends are whores” and have been perpetually cheated on with the same girl or lied to me and dropped me off at home early because his parents said so when he really was seeing other people.

I would purposely leave facts out to defend my exes and never give my friends the full stories. Every time my mom would ask how we were doing I would always say “O.K.” but never mention how my ex drank himself into an oblivion and use me as his verbal punching bag. I never told my family or friends that my next ex would introduce me to drugs and have me enabling his addiction while giving him money for other expenses.

I have never experienced an adult, long-term relationship where I was not abused. In my twenty-fifth year of life I have had an awakening, and the truth of the matter is that my two previous relationships have fucked me up so bad that I don’t how to have a normal, healthy relationship. 

My ego, my confidence, has been beaten to the core that I myself am the most insecure when it comes to relationships. I don’t know what it feels to truly trust a man because I am convinced he has other intentions; I don’t know how to fully accept love because I’m afraid I’ll be swindled by instant gratification; I don’t know if I can be emotionally stable through the smallest of things to the largest of things.

I caught myself looking into signs of an abusive relationship when I was stuck in something I thought I couldn’t escape. I’ve ingested those signs but I’ve digested them in the worst way; I became the abuser. I adopted those habits of fragility. I latched onto their traits because it was the only thing that was ever close to me and the only thing closest to ever feeling love. I was young and absorbent, unbeknown to the world.

One day I discovered a small black magnet smaller than the size of a dollar bill. In it, in thin but bold pink writing were small bullet points that showed signs of an aggressive partner. I looked to it and said to myself, “I am in an abusive relationship.” And in that moment, I moved forward with my life. Those bullet points became literary, and somewhat, a set of ten commandments.

Someone needed to see that magnet- someone like me. I sit here and think: What were the chances of me seeing that magnet? Sitting at that specific person’s desk where it was placed? Interning at that place 40 miles from home? Applying to that internship I thought I would never get into?

It was the smallest of things that I put my whole life into.


I have since saved a picture of that magnet and below are the bullet points that helped guide me towards ending a very detrimental relationship. It didn’t happen fast and it definitely wasn’t easy, but these were the facts were worth fighting for.

10 Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship

  1. Checking your cell phone or email without permission
  2. Constantly putting you down
  3. Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  4. Explosive temper
  5. Isolating you from family or friends
  6. Making false accusations
  7. Mood swings
  8. Physically hurting you in any way
  9. Possessivness
  10. Telling you what to do

*These warning signs are provided by loveisrespect.org

Best of Times, Worst of Times

librascale
(Source: @charmaineolivia)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It was a blessing in disguise, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It was a sign from God that it’s time for me to move on with my life!

The sign, you ask? I’ve been fired from my part time serving job.

It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity!

As only William Shakespeare can best describe my melodramatic life, I continue to act in this play of treachery.

Okay, lets get real.

It’s been two and a half weeks since I wrote the above statement and revisiting the theme of ‘best of times, worst of times’ seems much more easier now.

In the time I was fired as being a waitress, I’ve been flourishing in other aspects of life. To best describe it, I would embodied it as the inanimate object of the balancing scales; not those of the Scales of Justice but more so as the astrological Libra Scale.

Where one side is heavy with grief and uncertainty, the other is loaded with prosperity and happiness. Under this righteous sign everything is balanced, where both negative and positive become equal parts.

It really was a blessing in disguise being fired. At the time of my employment I was harboring negative energy working as a server. I sacrificed sanity for money in a restaurant that only cares about making sales and customers that only care about happy hour. Weekends became a drag and it was affecting my day to day life. I was done with serving and it showed.

In the inception of this piece, reality hit hard and the symbolic door was slammed shut in my face. But to negate and underestimate life and its quirks is my own foolish fault; another door was begging to be opened.

At anytime I choose, I can be a waitress anywhere. But working for one of the nation’s top broadcasting networks has given me so much more, even though it is only part time and even though I’m used as a human traffic cone at times.

But life truly has a funny way of sending you messages and it’s incredible how it works. Just by removing the negative influencers in it you can see the positive impact on everything else.

For me it changed an outlook and it was the push I needed to commit to finding full time employment. Although my search for a career that provides benefits with a living wage is still in the unknown, I can sense it is nearing. But for the time being, I can focus on myself and my relationship and that’s all I really need to be happy.

So as it is I’m here to say that anyone in a position like me should cut out the bad and let the good flow in. Don’t force yourself to be compliant and do what you’ve been meaning to do before it’s too late. And if it’s one thing that everyone tells me, it is to be PATIENT. Oh, how I have much to learn on patience.

VERY LA: Inside the Melrose Trading Post

fairfax
Courtesy of @MTPfairfax

On the corner of Melrose and Fairfax an eclectic group of Los Angelinos set up shop in the parking lot of the local high school. To them, it’s just a regular Sunday of selling handmade graphics of Star Wars’ C-3PO meshed with Barack Obama and bartering for The Plays of Shakespeare, book-turned-clock.   

The pop up flea market that has inhabited the blacktop of Fairfax High School is the urban Melrose Trading Post. The post, which is a center for vintage fashion, handcrafted goods, and other unique items, has been making its name on the list of things to-do while in the city.  At the Melrose Trading post, a keen eye could find the missing piece to a collection of crystalline rocks or the decorative picture frame for a studio.

The Melrose Trading Post can be recognized for its lively yet mellow crowd. A colorful audience of different cultures reflects the unique, special valuables of the vendors. Around the corner a trio of women have a conversation in Japanese and within just a few steps a British pair contemplates buying leather shoes. The attendees were young enough to walk through the market on their own and old enough to reminisce on fashion styles of the 70’s.  The absence of police officers showed the tranquility of the post.

Established in 1997, the Melrose Trading Post has grown into a financial support system for Fairfax High School. The post has awarded the home of the Lions with funds for new sporting equipment and other projects benefiting the schools programs.

“We are a non-profit organization,” said Pierson Blaetz, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Melrose Trading Post.

Blaetz is part of the Greenway Arts Alliance program that unites communities through art, education, and enterprise. This specific role aids the theater program at the high school and supports their future productions.

A $5 admission fee is the backbone to the financial aid the school receives but still offers free parking. Along with the grants, the market provides student employment opportunities.

Albert Zarzau, 16, is a part of the student staff and was working with graduates to direct the staff what tasks needed to be done that day. He said that student staffers are required to clean tables, assist in parking, and help move items from one place to another. Their red crew work shirts distinguished these students from guests.

“I like it here because it takes effort in this job to get things accomplished,” said Zarzau. “[Everything] looks great today.”

Alongside the staffers are vendors who contribute to the bohemian ambiance of the post. At the Los Angeles Tea Company booth, where organic tea and fresh herbs are blended, Erin Wieczorek, 22 and co-owner, sold $5 bottles of green tea.

“It’s awesome meeting new people here but the best thing about [the Melrose Trading Post] is to people watch,” said Wieczorek. “It’s interesting to see what people are wearing in L.A.”

In between a tent featuring baby blue table furniture and another tent with prints of Milhouse Van Houten was Matt Warren’s booth. Warren, 33, owner of The Exiled Elite, a custom design and illustration company, took his passion for art from the United Kingdom to California. His products include hand drawn alternative-movie posters that were sold as prints or t-shirts.

He said about the trading post, “when no one turns up on hot days like these or there is an event, that’s kind of frustrating. But even if you don’t get many sales, it’s still good for exposure.”

Warren uses the slow days to his advantage.

“I still get to see what kind of people buy my stuff and age group- which kind of designs are the most popular, so they are the ones I can get.”

So far his top sellers have been prints of the films Amelie, Point Break, and Pulp Fiction. Tees of these prints cost $25 while copies of the print $18.

“We do not have a lot of competition, ” said Blaetz. “[But] we are an outdoor market so weather does affect us.”

Hot or rainy days attract fewer customers but when it’s overcast, more customers visit the post, according to Blaetz. His only solution would be setting up a tent that stretches over the market but because of space and monetary restrictions the staff opted out.

Just up a set of stairs across from Warren’s booth and past a flock of food trucks was the main stage for musical performances. Laid out carpets and small lunch tables invited attendees to watch punk band, Girl Fry’s first performance at the post.   

Alex Si, 25-year-old bass player, and band mate Jessy Espino, 25-year-old vocalist of Girl Fry, shared similar opinions of their first experience at the trading post.

“I wish they hadn’t kept telling us to turn certain things up and put certain things down. It made it difficult to play consistently,” said Espino. “But I kinda like the outdoor thing.”

“Yeah, it was the first time we played outside,” said Si.  

The female fronted band simultaneously agreed on returning again to perform- except this time with a sound guy.

Milli Dawson, 29, born and raised in Los Angeles, has been attending the Melrose Trading Post for the past 10 years. His style manifests the modernity of the city and showcases his sense of individualism.

“It’s a place to inspire, a place to find things you won’t find normally,” said Dawson. “It’s part of L.A.”

**This article was written in the past for a previous assignment, some start up organizations or brands may no longer be up to date