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!


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When The Timing Isn’t Right, Neither Is The Man

Just stumbled upon this wonderful piece of writing and the title alone spoke to me. Indeed,

“When the timing isn’t right, neither is the man.”

I used to say it all the time, albeit with a lot of anger. I was angry because of the guys in my past I fell for or was on my way to falling for who chose something or someone else over me but inevitably reached out to me later on, saying something along the lines of “I was thinking of you the other day and…” And, what, bro? Where was this when I opened up about my feelings and actually wanted to move forward with you?

The first time this happened, I was sympathetic. Oh, I told myself, we all take our own time to process things and I may have moved on but if he needs closure, I’ll be there for him. It’s the decent thing to do.

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Then, the next guy apologized for what happened between us…one year later. Um. Ok…

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It was so out of the blue, but still, I was gracious and told him not to worry about it, I was over it and I don’t tend to hold grudges. Oh but then the same guy decided to contact me again, this time two years later, just to say that he thought I was great. My response? “I know, right?”

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I still saw the humor in it though. Like, really? I knew I was great, but clearly he didn’t. But hey, thanks for the boost in ego!

And then the third guy does this to me, even after I told him about the other two guys and how weird I thought that was. My humor and understanding at that point was gone. I was angry. I was tired of putting myself out there, trying to move forward with guys I thought would be good for me and not have it work out. That in itself I could’ve dealt with. But why, oh why, did they all have to reach out to me afterwards, basically trying to feel out if we could pick up where we left off?? WHY? I would have much preferred they left me alone because having them contact me afterwards kinda made me feel like a failure. Like, hey look, you almost had something with these guys but shucks, the timing wasn’t right! Keep trying, almost there, buddy!

It just made me so angry that all of them seemed to decide they wanted me after I was already gone. Seriously? You didn’t realize my worth until after I left? ALL OF YOU??

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Naturally, my logical side told me it wasn’t my fault or theirs; it’s just what it is. Friends comforted me by saying, hey, maybe it’s just the timing and maybe, just maybe, you’ll meet again later. Alas my emotions were not having it! TIMING, MY ASS! If the “timing” isn’t right for the guy, then he isn’t the guy for me!

In retrospect, the timing wasn’t right for me either – I was not ready at that time. I had (have) a lot of growing up I still needed to do, it wasn’t just them. Since then, I have calmed down and stopped trying to analyze and categorize what purpose in my life these guys have served. I have also stopped trying to make a lifelong decision as to whether I would give them another chance if we ran into each other again. That decision should be made if that ever happened, not now when it’s just in theory.

As it turns out, I actually have come across two of the three guys many years after the fact and I see now that it likely wouldn’t have worked out anyway. And this in particular stood out to me from the piece I stumbled upon:

“if timing had my back she would have told me to fall for myself before I fell for a chapter disguised as a man”

I did not recognize it at the time because I was extremely hurt and upset when things didn’t work out, but timing actually did have my back. If it weren’t for timing, I might have actually been in a relationship with men who were not right for me. So, thank you, timing, for having my back and letting me fall for myself the past few years.

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Facing the Naked Truth in Santa Barbara

I recently met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in years who was unaware of my short-term relocation to Binghamton last year. Once again I got the whole,

“Wait, wait, wait…you were assigned to upstate New York, pretty much the middle of nowhere…and you LIKED it?!?”

Ya, bruh, I tots did. What can I say? Being used to this question by now, I gave my usual responses,

“The people are so amazing. Living in a small community type of place really made me feel at home.”

“I just really felt like Binghamton was a great hub for all the places I want to explore on the east coast. Only a few hours drive from many different cities I haven’t been to yet.”

“Yes, I know, 5 hours is a long drive…but STILL!”

“Dammit! FINE. IT’S ABOUT THE PEOPLE.”

Needless to say, I was unable to convince him. No matter, I don’t really need to convince anyone why I loved it, nor do I need other people to understand. What’s important is that I understand and that I now know what that type of happiness feels like.

But you know, that conversation did make me think about it. Why did I like it so much? Yes, the people are amazing but I am blessed with amazing people out here too and I’m pretty sure there are actually a lot of amazing people everywhere, so it can’t possibly be that. The weather? Yeah, sure, seasons are wonderful but I’m loving the sunshine out here too. The location relative to other cities? Hmmm yes but being in LA allows me to go to the desert, beach, and mountains all in one day if I wanted to.

Then it hit me. Living in Binghamton where things are not as convenient, from the weather, to being able to use Yelp, to being able to have a variety of options to eat breakfast on a Sunday morning, made me really slow down and think about what really made me happy. Being able to go to a juice bar doesn’t really make me happy, it’s just damn convenient. Using Yelp to look up places to go doesn’t make me happy either, but going to a really good restaurant or good massage place does. And hey, I guess I could do this thing they do over there called talking to people for recommendations to figure out where I should go. 😛

With my typical activities taken away from me, I was kinda forced to think about what else I could do. So then I started going out on mini-trips on the weekends by myself, since I didn’t have friends at first. I started going for walks because it was just so beautiful. When I did make friends, I started hanging out at their house, having dinner and a glass of wine. And just like that, I realized it’s really the simple things that make me happy. How could I have forgotten how much I love going for walks? Or how much I enjoy long solo drives? Or even solo trips? I just felt so free, my thoughts were no longer as jumbled as before, and I finally felt at peace with myself, which made me just so SO happy.

Being back in California, I realized I could still do these things. I may still feel like I belong in the east coast and I will eventually end up back there but for now, why not do the things that made me so happy while I was in Binghamton? So solo local adventure it is, this time to Santa Barbara! I’ve been there before but not by myself, so in a way, it seemed new again.

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Naturally, being a foodie, I sought out some great places to eat. Did I mention how excited I am to be able to use Yelp again?

I started off with a wonderful dinner at Scarlett Begonia in downtown Santa Barbara.

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Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Roasted Duck, and Caramel Toffee served with wine that I did not get carded for

The following morning I had my favorite of all time breakfast, Eggs Benedict, over at Jeannine’s American Bakery Restaurant. It was pretty crowded, but since I was alone I had no problem getting seated at once. The benefits of a solo trip!

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Eggs Norwegian but with a Quinoa Patty, because I’m LA like that lol

Then after that I went to get some macarons at Renaud’s Patisserie because why not? So what if I’ve gained weight since moving back here?

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I didn’t want to just sit at the cafe and eat it though. No, not I! I wanted to eat them at the beach! So after driving in circles for about half an hour, I finally found the closest beach, which was More Mesa Beach and sat down to enjoy my macarons.

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Coconut, Pistachio, and Raspberry Macarons

The sun was being a little finicky, playing hide-and-seek behind the clouds, but it was still a warm and beautiful day.

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So there I was, enjoying my macarons whilst listening to the waves and looking out at the ocean when I see this man walking along the shore, picking up shells. “Oh how nice. Another person who enjoys the simple things in life. Wait a minute…is he..? Is that his…?”

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I should mention that More Mesa Beach is a nude beach. Now, I DID know this but it still managed to surprise me. I’ve mentioned before that pretty much every time I go on a solo trip, I end up meeting someone. Well, on this trip, I happened to meet The Naked Man. He came up to me and casually asked if I wanted to join him. He seemed like a nice guy so I said, sure, why not. We ended up chatting for about half an hour, me in my jeans and tank top, him in his birthday suit, and it was just fine. He turned out to be a pretty cool guy. So although nothing extraordinary was said or done, I’m pretty sure I will remember this for a long time. After all, it’s not everyday you meet a stranger in all his birthday suit glory but end up talking about the weather. True story. 😀


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Reading Spree

I’ve been a bookworm for as long as I can remember. Sometimes life gets in the way and I go for months without picking up a book (or my Kindle) but other times I go on a reading spree, sometimes at the cost of sleep, social activities, and even school work…

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I get it from my mom. One of the reoccurring memories I have of when I still lived at home is my mom and I both sitting down at the kitchen table, about to eat breakfast on a Sunday morning. We exchange pleasantries for a few minutes, the usual “How was your week?” and such, then almost in a choreographed movement, we both pick up our books and read while eating breakfast. I love it. Some might say, “Oh, but that’s rude! What kind of quality time is that??” And to that I say, well, THIS:

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is still much, much better than this:

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Just sayin’.

In any case, just wanted to share a few of the sleep-depriving, all-encompassing books I’ve read recently.

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir was a book recommended by one of the Chief Engineers at my job. A few days after he recommended it, my co-worker had apparently downloaded it and told me he had finished it in a weekend. It’s written in a form of a logbook by the main character, Mark Watney, who is an astronaut that got inadvertently left in Mars after his team thought he had died during a bad sand storm. The book follows Mark’s life on Mars as he struggles to find ways to survive until either the next Mars mission brings another set of astronauts or he is able to somehow contact earth.

I am not a scientist, nor am I a space engineer (although I used to work on a military GPS program) but I can tell that the author did a really good job in researching the technical details. Now, that does not mean that the book is heavily technical to the point that your eyes start to droop from terminology that is not commonly used. On the contrary, the author manages to explain it in such a way that it is both relatable and humorous. I love the main character! Especially because I have a co-worker whose name is very similar to his!

Burned by Karen Marie Moning

I’ve been obsessed with Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series for a number of years now so when I received an email notification that my pre-purchased book of the latest in the series was now available, I stayed up until 1 in the morning reading it. I felt dead the next day. I don’t care, it was worth it! I thought the series was over after book 5 but apparently not! The latest is called Burned and it is the 7th book. Don’t be fooled by the rock-hard abs on the cover, it is not a romance novel! Well. I’d say it’s fantasy bordering on romance novel. Ain’t nothing wrong with a little romance anyway!

The story follows a young woman named Mac who starts off by trying to find the ones responsible for her sister’s death. She’s this bubbly, blond, rainbow girl from the south who does her nails and always coordinates her outfit. Then she gets thrown into a hot mess of a situation in Ireland and is faced with the realization that there is such a thing as fae, who are these non-human beings who do not necessarily have good will towards humans. The story goes beyond the murder of her sister into a world she had not even known existed. SO GOOD.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Prior to my trip back to the Motherland, I had been talking to my aunt and uncle about my situation. I have 3 options: (1) Stay at my current job; (2) Take the government job in LA; or (3) Take the job in NY. At the time, I was oscillating heavily between options 2 and 3, which meant that at some point, I would have to go through negotiations. I am terrible at negotiations. How terrible? This is my second job out of college and I had not negotiated, like, AT ALL. I see myself as a strong, independent woman yet here I am, a statistic! I, like so many other women, do not feel empowered enough to say, “Hey, I am worth much more than what you are offering me and as such, I decline your offer.”

One thing that my uncle has told me is not to be so down on myself. I see where I’ve made my mistakes, now it’s time to move on. Best believe I will be negotiating this time around though! In any case, he let me borrow Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, which was extremely helpful to me. It helps knowing I’m not the only one who feels this way and more importantly, it helps knowing that it’s ok to feel this way. For any woman out there who has ever felt like a fraud whenever she gets praised at the office, feels intimidated at the prospect of negotiating a salary, or feels like she doesn’t deserve to sit at the table, I highly recommend this book. Ladies, it is time we lean in and sit at the damn table!

I’m pretty sure there were other books that I devoured, but those are the ones that stand out the most. I also have at least three books recommended by my friends and I cannot wait to get to those! This weekend I plan on going up to Santa Barbara for some quality alone time and I see myself walking to the beach and getting my read on. I can’t wait!


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Wonder

Last weekend, I went up to San Francisco for my friend’s birthday.

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It was an extremely beautiful weekend in San Francisco! Warm weather, clear blue skies, both of which are very un-SF like. I felt like I was still in LA!

I had a really great time especially since I had not seen this particular friend in quite some time. It was great to catch up, reminisce, and just get away for the weekend. One of the things we ended up talking about is our love of books! We literally spent about an hour just talking about the books we just finished, which books we would recommend to each other, and books we were currently reading. One of the books they both recommended to me is called “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. I just finished it tonight, and I…well…I’ve got a serious case of the feels.

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It is such a well-written book! The story is told from different perspectives, including one from the antagonist, and it is really just so, SO good. It is a serious tug in the heartstrings. The story is about a middle-school kid, Auggie, who was born with severe facial abnormalities and who will be attending school for the first time in his life (previously he was home-schooled). It follows his journey through his first year at a regular school and does a great job of showcasing each character’s strength, courage, and humanity. He is not painted as this angel who just takes it all, head held high and neither is the antagonist painted as the devil, completely devoid of any empathy. The author does a great job of developing each character, flaws and all, and by the end of it I really just had to stop for a moment and gather my composure. The author provided the perspective from the antagonist after the book was first published and that just tug my heartstrings even more.

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I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good fiction book, especially the younger crowd. Its main theme is to be kinder than is necessary, and the author manages to portray this through the characters’ actions in a really touching way.

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