They sent me to Binghamton

I've always wanted to be on the east coast, and the universe responded…by sending me to Binghamton, NY. Oh you've never heard of it? Neither had I, but I do so love adventures and that's how I choose to view this. Let the adventures begin!

Start each day with a grateful heart

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Start each day with a grateful heart

Today I am grateful for:

1. My drive to work – It is so beautiful and ever since spring came it never fails to astound me.
2. Having a job I really like – I don’t love it, it’s not my passion, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It fulfills my intellectual need and exercises my mind on a daily basis.
3. Being blessed with my family – You don’t get to choose your family but if I could I would choose them anyway.
4. Being blessed with my friends – I have a handful of friends who truly inspire me to be the best version of myself and I am grateful they have chosen me to be in their inner circle as well.
5. Being alive – Because life is beautiful.

Nicki Minaj had it right. “No, I’m not lucky, I’m blessed. Yes.” ­čÖé

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The moment I started defending Binghamton…

“Well, you know, it’s really about the people.”

“It’s not so much the middle of NOwhere; it’s more like the middle of EVERYwhere!”

(after blank stare) “…I mean, really though, it’s like, 3 hours away from everything! The city, Rochester, shoot, Boston’s only 5 hours away and so is DC!”

(after blank stare continues) “…The people here are REALLY nice. Did I mention it was about the people?”

Shortly after I moved to Binghamton, around a month or so, my friend who lived in the city came up to see me. She took the Greyhound from the city and I went to pick her up in downtown Binghamton. Her first reaction?

“So…where are the buildings?”

What, you mean these aren’t buildings? They’re┬átotally buildings!

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Oh, you meant buildings like these…

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Yeah…we don’t have those. And then I found myself defending Binghamton like a true native! One month or so in and I guess it started to feel like home to me, despite the biting cold during that time.

I will say though, the city does not compare to the beauty that is the surrounding area. We drove up to Ithaca, which is about 45 minutes away, then we┬áwalked around the Commons.┬áThen we went to one of the many wineries along Cayuga Lake called the Thirsty Owl. It was still cold during that time so there was still snow on the ground but even so it was such a gorgeous drive. I can’t imagine what spring and summer would be like, but I hear it gets even better. Apparently, we barely even scratched the beauty that is Ithaca and along Cayuga Lake because during spring and summer the waterfalls and hikes are supposed to be amazing. I cannot wait to go back!

Even so, it was pretty freakin’ gorgeous.

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I didn’t know this, but NY is apparently known for its white wine. I prefer red wine but you know what, change is good for the soul! Another cool thing I found out about wine-tasting around here, other than the fact that it is the thing to do, is that each wine tasting is only typically $4!! AND you get that amount off any bottle of wine you purchase. Say┬áwhat!?!? A typical tasting in wine county in Northern California (Sonoma, Napa, etc.) is like $12!! Oh man! No wonder it is the thing to do around here!!

I didn’t go crazy though since we got there pretty late and I was driving. Only went to one winery and I only got one bottle.

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I don’t normally like dessert wine but this had a mix of brandy in it so it wasn’t too sweet.

My friend had a great time and we promised to visit each other more often now that I’m out here. She said it was fun to just relax and chill for the weekend. Then after I (admittedly sorta defensively) described all the good things about living in Binghamton so far, she goes,

“You know, I’m really happy that you seem happy here.”

Yeah, me too. And people were worried about me. Pssssh! ­čÖé

 


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Why I chose to drink the Crossfit kool-aid

My visit home this time around was specifically to support my crossfit box back home as they competed in the CrossFit Southern California Regionals.

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I’m not going to go into the details of how they did and what went down or what not and instead focus on why I love this so much. See the girl in that last photo performing what looks like a 125 lb snatch with an intense expression on her face? That’s Coach Laura and she has been nothing but encouraging whether it comes to the workouts or answering my food-related questions. That intensity shown in the photo captures her passion for the crossfit lifestyle accurately and I absolutely love it!

Now here is Coach Noe, also doing a snatch (can’t tell the weight) and look at just how happy she looks making that weight.

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Not only does Noe embrace the crossfit lifestyle, but she is also a surgeon and a masters competitor* at that!

Now here is Tonia, my absolute hero and role model. She is a masters competitor also, a mother to two adorable little girls, a senior project manager, and from the get has been very encouraging towards me and continues to be even though I’ve moved away.

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Not only do they inspire me as individuals, but even seeing them work as a team continues to inspire me.

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The camaraderie is so obvious and I know it’s real because that’s how I felt every time I’ve stepped in that gym, and how I’ve felt prior to that gym, and how I currently feel at my gym out here. No matter what your goals are, whether you want to be competitive, you’re just there to get in shape, or you don’t know yet what your goals are, crossfitters, in general, are supportive and will help you achieve your goals. Of course not all boxes** are created equal and all that but from my experience (and I started in 2010 – yikes!) I have always felt the same.

You know what else is pretty cool? How small and tight-knit the crossfit community is. Crossfit isn’t that big around Binghamton (yet) so there aren’t that many local events and such, and that being the case I had totally forgotten about how small the crossfit world is. So when I went to the SoCal regionals I was pleasantly surprised to bump into so many people that I knew, including 2 of my old co-workers! Keep in mind that I do not work in Reebok, who is the crossfit sponsor, or anything crossfit related so that was quite a surprise! I came specifically to see my crossfit box back home compete and hang out with that crew but it ended up being more like a reunion. I loved it!

Crossfit is a huge part of my life and likely will continue to be. I just love how it makes me feel and how it has helped tremendously with my life/work balance (I was a bit of a workaholic). I’ve also noticed that with the confidence I’ve gained in the gym also came confidence in other facets in my life and many people have told me they’ve experienced the same as well. Now don’t worry, I’m not trying to convince anyone to do it because it’s the best thing since sliced bread. All I’m saying is that for me, it kinda is. ­čÖé

On a serious note though, I think it’s really about finding┬ásomething that speaks to you in that way and making it into a lifestyle rather than a hobby you do on the side. That something, for me, is crossfit.

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*Masters competitors are those over 40. Seeing masters compete is pretty unbelievable. Crossfit has definitely changed the way I viewed getting old. I no longer fear getting older because now I know I don’t have to be weak and unable to do things for myself. I’m not talking about the ones who are around 40, by the way. There are some pretty bad-ass 60-year olds out there that I’ve personally met.

**Crossfit tends to call their gyms “boxes” because back in the day, crossfit started in a garage with just the basic gym equipment. So the idea is all you need is some basic gym equipment and a box and you’re good to go. You’ll notice that I tend to call them gyms and that is because…I still see them as gyms. Oh calm down, crossfit nazis! Whatevs!


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Visits to LA

I’ve gone back home three times since I’ve moved to New York at the end of January, and each visit has been very different. The first visit was like a relief, like, whew! Good to be home again, but I am ready to go back to NY and have adventures!

The second visit was specifically to hang out with family and I spent one of those days at Laguna beach the whole day.

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I hadn’t hung out with my cousin and my mom like that in a long time, and that second visit really made me miss my family. It was the first time since I had moved that I realized just how far away I am now. It still didn’t change my mindset that if I had it my way, I’d be here on the east coast to stay but still, that visit made me miss home.

The third visit was the most interesting because I felt the most confused. It felt like coming home and visiting at the same time. I must be going through some transitional stage or something. I also noticed that I began to notice things as a visitor might. Like how different the drives are between upstate NY and southern California.

Upstate NY is freakin’ green, and I really can’t seem to get over it.

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And they have REAL open space!

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Southern California also has green…but just barely.

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It’s like it’s a desert or something! ­čśŤ

I moved from Culver City, to Harbor City (close to Long Beach), then down to Lake Forest (Orange County) before moving to Binghamton and prior to seeing what real open space looked like, I really thought Orange County was super open. Now I see why my co-worker here laughed when I described Orange County as being “open.” With a lot of buildings still around, no, no it’s not really open. Strangely enough though as I was driving down the street, I realized that I actually missed seeing buildings everywhere. Huh. Imagine that.

You know what I really miss about back home though? Whether it’s Culver City, Harbor City, Lake Forest, or even all the way down to San Diego and all the way back up to San Francisco? THE FOOD.

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I have only found one place in Binghamton that compares to this…ok, maybe two, but the foodie in me is slowly dying! If anyone from Binghamton is reading this and is thinking, “Girl, you just don’t know,” then please, please educate me on where I can find good food like this because clearly I don’t know. People aren’t big on Yelp here so I have no idea where to go. I did meet a fellow foodie here┬áso I think it’s time I hit her up and get my foodie on so I can know for sure if there truly aren’t good places to eat around here. I. Can’t. Wait. And yes, food really is that important to me even though on a regular day-to-day┬ábasis I’m a health nut.

My next visit to LA will be in about a month and there is definitely nothing fun about that visit since I will have to put my stuff in storage and figure out how to get my kitties (yay!) out here. Regardless of the purpose of the visit, I wonder how it’s going to feel that next visit? Will LA still feel like home to me? Or would it feel like a place I’m visiting?

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First night out!

After my venture to Montrose, PA for the Chocolate and Wine Festival, I decided to go out with some friends (yes, I’ve made friends!) for some more wine.

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No, I didn’t really go out for the wine. What I really wanted was to get my dance on.

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So we met up at Lost Dog Cafe (my favorite restaurant so far – I highly recommend it) then headed over to Merlin’s, a very rainbow supportive place that had drag shows, good music, and much fun.

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I absolutely had a blast! I met some friends of my friends, and friends of theirs, and we all just had a good time! There happened to be a drag show the night that we were there, the proceeds of which went to charity. I love drag shows and gay guys, I really do. I love how open they are and how clear it is that they are just out there to have fun. No trouble making, no bar fights, just dancing, drinking, and having a grand old time!

You know what else made my night? One of my friends’ friend (who is gay) kept telling me how beautiful he thought I was. To me, there really is no higher compliment than when a gay guy or a child tells you that because you know there is no hidden agenda.

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Being told I looked beautiful, getting my dance on, having actual space to get my dance on (what a great concept!), and having seemingly deep drunken conversations with various people equated to me having the time of my life! It has been a long, long time since I’ve gone out and done this! Plus, I actually made it to 3 in the morning without secretly wishing to go home!

And then…the next day happened, and I remembered why I don’t do this kind of thing anymore.

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My internal clock woke me up at 6:30 am and I’m pretty sure I was still drunk at that time. I managed to sleep until about 8 am, but then everyone else woke up and around 2 hours later we managed to drag ourselves out of bed/sofa/floor and get some breakfast. After what tasted like the most amazing breakfast ever, I pretty much slept the day away.

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Although I won’t be drinking for a long, long time, I don’t regret that night at all and I wouldn’t have changed a thing (except maybe for┬ádrinking those shots someone kept buying)! I’m so glad I came out that night and I hope there are more fun times to come, albeit hopefully not in the near future. I’m no longer in my college years and need much more recovery time than I used to. ­čśŤ

 


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Spring is in the air!

Now that it’s getting warmer and school is done for summer break* I’m super excited about exploring New York and the other surrounding states. At the same time, I heard spring/summer is when the fun activities happen around here. One such event that I heard about was the Chocolate and Wine Festival in Montrose, Pennsylvania. I looked up how far it was from me and it was only a 35 minute drive! How crazy that I can be in another state in just 35 minutes! Ok, so that’s not really crazy, it’s more that being from southern California it’s a little strange to me┬áthat I can be in different states in a relatively short amount of time. In any case, I was excited to do my first event around here and just generally excited because..well…it’s wine and chocolate (lol).

The festival started off with a complimentary wine glass and some chocolate.

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Aside from the many wineries offering wine tasting, there was food, dessert, and various other vendors selling some pretty cool stuff.

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(This one makes me sad because I am unfortunately horribly lactose-intolerant and gluten-sensitive)

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They also had a live band performing, which was pretty cool.

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The best part for me though was the drive to and from the event. I was just absolutely astounded with how beautiful it was.

Why, hello there, open space!

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I couldn’t get over how green everything was!

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I took so many more photos than this because it was just so absolutely beautiful to me. It’s funny because when I looked back at my photos, (1) they did not do what I saw justice, and (2) they all looked the same. I just wanted to capture it, I was so surprised at the beauty all around me. Most people think of New York City when they hear “New York,” which naturally brings to mind tall buildings, busy streets, and loud noises, and I’m not going to lie, I was one of those people. What I’m starting to realize though with spring finally coming is that the other part of New York that is not the city is beautiful. Like, nature beautiful, not just concrete jungle where dreams are made of beautiful.

I’ve only seen winter and the beginning of spring so far but I can already begin to understand why people like living in a place that has seasons. Yeah, winter and summer can be brutal but wow how the land changes! Winter was beautiful too but spring…wow. I hope my work assignment keeps me here until fall because I heard that’s the most beautiful season of all. Truthfully, I don’t want to leave at all but…I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

Just need to remember:

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And also:

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*Yup, I work full-time and am a part-time student trying to get my master’s. At the same time, I am drinking the crossfit kool aid heavily (although I’ve gotten over talking about it excessively) and I’m determined to visit my friends and family on the east coast while also doing my own exploration. I iz crazy, I know. Wouldn’t have it any other way. ­čÖé


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The snow’s last hurrah (I hope)

It was officially spring when this happened and at the time there were some rare days I didn’t need to wear my winter coat. I never thought I’d look forward to things like not having to wear my winter coat but experiencing a true winter has┬áturned┬áthis into a small pleasure of mine. Oh the things you learn to appreciate when you’ve actually got weather to consider. ­čÖé

So there I was, off to my first trip to the concrete jungle armed with nothing but two California jackets* and my jelly bean car.

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Like I mentioned in a previous post, I had a great time in the city and I certainly intend to make many more trips down there. The drive there was fine, only took about 3 hours plus another hour on the metro from Tarrytown to Grand Central. The drive back, on the other hand…let’s just say it was an experience and quite the adventure.

It was raining down in the city pretty much the whole weekend and on my drive back up. No biggie. I may be from California but I’ve dealt with rain before. But then it got colder as I drove back up and wet pavement plus colder weather equaled this thing called black ice I’ve heard about but never experienced.

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I was going down the highway at about 65 mph when I noticed the road looked extremely shiny. Before I finished my thought of, “Huh. I’ve never seen the road look shiny like that before,” my car started going in a direction I wasn’t directing it to and the next thing I know I’m swerving in an S-like pattern until the car finally stopped…about 4 feet from the rail.

The following thoughts went through my mind in quick succession:

1. Holy shit.

2. Ok…time to go way slow on the highway.

3. Thank God I didn’t pee myself┬á(right before this happened I felt like I needed to make a pit stop soon).

I slowed to 35-40 mph and eventually the black ice road turned into snow-covered road. This continued until I hit a straight-up completely stopped traffic, which lasted a little over an hour. I knew getting frustrated and angry wouldn’t help my situation, so I was determined to make the best of my situation.

I called my friends…who didn’t pick up (since these days it seems you have to text someone asking if they’re available to talk on the phone ­čśŽ ).

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Alright, well, I packed some snacks so might as well get my munch on while I wait.

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Damn, I finished it all…Ok, no worries, I’ve got a smart phone so I can entertain myself.

 

Oh I have an idea! I should knock on someone’s car door and ask if they want to build a snowman!

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Eventually, we start moving again and all is well until the car in front of me gets stuck in the snow. Unfortunately, this meant I also had to brake in order not to hit the car, which resulted in my car also getting stuck in the snow. Unlike the car in front of me, I didn’t have any passengers to help push the car so I got out of the car, closed the door to keep the precious warmth in the car, and attempted to clear the snow from in front and behind the front tires.

And then, no joke, when I tried to get back in my jelly bean car, I found that it had locked itself…Keep in mind that because it was not my intent to do this, all I had was my two California jackets and no cell phone.

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At that point, my thought process went like this:

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Fortunately, there was a truck driver behind me who was also stuck in snow so I asked to borrow his cellphone. It was at this point I realized how completely dependent I had become on my phone book because I did not have anyone’s number memorized who could have come to my aid that night. The only phone numbers I have memorized are my mom’s, my cousin’s, and a friend who moved to Japan. Yeah…

Lesson 1: Always have your phone on you.

Lesson 2: Create a Google doc with emergency contact numbers and send to your mother in the event that lesson 1 is not followed and you have no access to your phone book.

I called AAA first but they told me to call the state police instead because the roads were so bad, only the state police could get to me. Once I did that, the only thing left to do was wait…in the snow, with only my two California jackets on and the snow slowly seeping into my boots. I’m not even gonna try to front, it was straight up miserable.

By the time the state police came about an hour later, I had started involuntarily shaking and my jaw seemed frozen shut. It’s no wonder then that when the police officer asked me a question I couldn’t immediately respond. Since I didn’t immediately respond, he goes:

“Do you speak English?”

If my jaw muscles worked at the time I’m pretty sure I would’ve laughed. Why? Why would he ask that?

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No really though, why?

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It didn’t help that once he got me in the car with the heat blasting and started asking me questions, my jaw was still pretty frozen so I really did sound like I have an accent!

The state police called in a tow truck and eventually we were able to get my jelly bean to unlock itself via window crow bar. I had left NYC at 7:30 pm and didn’t get home until 3:30 am. I know I said I wanted an adventure, but man, this was SO not what I had in mind!

Silver lining though – I traded in my jelly bean car and ended up with a large pick-up truck that I affectionately┬ácall, “Monstrosity.”

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The lady at the rental place apologized for the long wait due to cleaning because the truck was apparently covered in mud. “They must’ve gone through a construction site,” she said. Right. “Construction site.”

Now, where can I find a “construction site”…

 

*There isn’t really a thing called “California jacket” (that I know of), what I mean by this is basically all of my other jackets that is not my winter coat.