Friday, August 1, 2014

Boston Adventures Part 1

As I am writing this, it is currently 4:09 am of June 29, 2014. It is my sister's birthday. Only a few hours ago my family and I return from a day in New York to celebrate her 15th birthday. I've been bombarded all day with experiences of taking the train and traveling and being in a completely different space from home. All of a sudden I've been uncomfortably aware of all this, which I don't understand since I've taken the train to the city plenty of times and walked the streets of this concrete jungle way too many times to count. It seems that the impending trip to Boston in a few days is what got my head a little jumbled. I guess what makes this trip so much more different from the first is that I would be traveling for the very first time without my parents. 
I would be traveling with my cousin who is very well-versed in these types of things. I would have to point my anxiety towards my discomfort with the unknown of this entire journey. Now, I'm not one to shy away from new things. In fact, anyone who knows me at all would say that I would face the prospect of something new with an overly zealous enthusiasm. However, what does seem to get under my skin about this trip is that I would have to be away from my parents and my sister for quite a time in a sort-of unfamiliar city. My cousins are there to look after me of course, but a large part of this is for me to actually be a functioning human being in society without the constant presence of my parents. Is this what going away to college will feel like: a wave of uncontrollable excitement accompanied by a looming cloud of uncertainty and maybe even perhaps, fear? 

It is now 11:41 pm and I've just about finished packing. Despite my attempts of packing light for the week and my religious desire to stay close as possible to the Packing guide I found on Pinterest (http://seventeenthandirving.blogspot.com/2012/07/tip-series-traveling.html), my dream of only carrying a backpack to Boston was not meant to be. To be fair, I do have a laptop fitted in there somewhere and please allow me to tell you that it is a monstrous beast and not one of those beautiful, slim goddesses of technology. It seems that I will have to rely on a small suitcase as well as a backpack for this journey. 

I think I've made progress with myself about my anxiety about this trip. For the most part, I'm now super excited and absolutely can't wait to go on this big adventure! There will always be that little sliver of worry in my mind but I'm not letting that get in the way of my positive state (cue enthusiastic heel-click). I guess I'll see you next time on the day of the trip.



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12:48, July 1. My cousin, Mara, and I took an 8:30 train from our town to New York City, but the excitement really began when she picked me up and my mom and dad would not stop badgering me with last minute things to remember. I quietly listened as I pulled myself together to kiss them goodbye and to wave a "see you in 3 days" since they, along with my sister, would be making the journey up on Friday. The train ride was fine, the walk to the Jarvits center was fine, and even the cheeky little Dunkin' pit stop was fine. When we got to the bus stop, we were the first in line, which made me so giddy despite the sweat trickling down our foreheads after a 15 minute trek under the beating sun. 

There were plenty of occasions where Mara had to passive-aggressively point out to fellow travelers that the end of the line was "that-a-way". It made me chuckle and the heat a bit more bearable. After a long wait, we finally boarded and settled ourselves in and let the rest of the journey take it's course. Our bus driver was a sassy and witty fellow who had no qualms when shamelessly admitting that we had to stop by the side of the road just so he could have a quick potty break. Although our hilarious driver kept us well entertained, we made small talk with a bold and eccentric group in front of us, and then quickly moved on to attempt to take instagram-worthy photos of the New York skyline. Keyword being "attempt". My poorly iPhone 4 was unfortunately not up to par for the job so I left the picture-taking to Mara. We've made approximately 1/4 of the journey and are now being lulled to a somewhat decent nap by the rocking of the bus. This is where I stand, well more like sit, trying to withstand some minor motion sickness and gazing at the queer and mildly interesting drivers that passed by us.



I managed to snap a decent pic of some type of Boston architecture as we were entering the city.


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1:32 pm, July 4th. It's been a couple of days since I've sat down and had any free time. The past days have been a whirlwind of emotions and experiences packed with good fun and unforgettable moments. I've mostly been doing college tours, but I've had the most fun just wandering the city with Mara and discovering cool places to dine and shop. My feet hurt like crazy but the sights and sounds of Boston are worth the throbbing in my heels. 


My experience with the "T" has surprisingly gone off without a hitch! So far, I haven't tripped, lost my card, or gotten on the wrong line. I think that's quite an achievement considering I barely go on the subway in New York. Mara is the one to thank for my superfluous beginners knowledge of the red and green line. I'm also happy to say that I've already amassed quite the collection of Instagram photos to share of the entire trip. 
The first day, Tuesday, we arrived in all of our glorious disheveled "just traveled" selves and marched out of South Station to catch a train to Kendall Square where my other cousin, John, and whose apartment we were staying at, worked. Tired, sweaty, and slightly grumpy, we were not fit to fully enjoy the splendor of Cambridge and Boston in our current states. In the end we just sneaked around a bit in the Coop, had a cheeky dinner at Chipotle while streaming the World Cup, and were on our way to the apartment. Before hitting the hay, we took a lovely stroll at Chestnut Hill, which I like to call in a very regal voice "The Hill of Chestnuts!". The sun was setting and it was a sight to behold! I felt like I was the only one truly relishing the view as the rest of my company were runners and barely glanced at the sky. I thought they were all crazy when none of them took their phones out to document the reds and purples that painted the sky. The rest of the night was passed with settling in and making ourselves comfortable on the air mattress of dreams.






 Here is my cousin shamelessly instagramming probably her millionth sunset pic!










I awoke Wednesday morning with a crick in my neck and a craving for Indian food. We tried to get to MIT for the 10:00 info session and of course, knowing us, we arrived a little more than the fashionable 5 minutes late window, but thankfully only suffered through a small handful of disdainful side glances from frumpy parents. The tour was a solid 2 hours long and we were ready to drop about halfway through. Mara and I turned to yelp! to sort us out with our dining options and, to be honest, we were up for anything by then. However, our determination for Indian food did not waver as we pin-pointed our destination on the map and set off for the trek along Mass Ave. towards India Castle. 

After a sweltering 30 minute walk combined with strategic pit stops in air-conditioned shops, we finally saw the little sign that screamed "BUFFET FOR $8.75" in bold red lettering, and I swear we became like our mothers on the closing hour of a Macy's one day sale as we ran inside the restaurant and practically salivated all over the sidewalk. After stuffing ourselves with delicious Indian food and savoring the A/C, we decided to just leg the rest of the way to Harvard, seeing as we were so close by. We weren't as hurried then since we had our own respective food babies to nurse so we strolled and loitered about in different shops, properly soaking up the sights. It seemed that our subconscious craving for something sweet led us to a quaint little frozen yogurt shop called "Berryline". When I say little, I mean minuscule as this cuboid of a shop could at most fit only 15 people; however, the yogurt and treats that we found inside were anything but little on the flavor scale. We chose to sample their banana oreo flavor and I can say from first hand experience that it was love at first bite. We happily finished our cup in about 2 minutes as soon as we stepped outside. Of course, the second we entered Harvard Square, we just so happened to pass by an Urban Outfitters that just so happened to have a 50% of sale on all of their sale items. Being our mothers' daughters, we could not resist the magnetic pull of the ticketed items that were practically begging to be bought and taken home to be a part of my fourth of July ensemble. After our splurge at Urban, we steadied on to make our way to Downtown Boston. 








As we skirted the edge of Chinatown and the Boston Common, we arrived on the doorstep of Newbury Street. I ogled at the sight of expensive stores and was perfectly content with window shopping. On the occasion that we would step foot inside said expensive stores, we made the most of it and touched everything. We were like little kids in a candy shop and could not get enough of it. I even spotted a Warby Parker store and made a beeline for it, forcing the crowd to part and make a path for me. I've been in love with Warby Parker for a while now, ever since I caught wind of them over on Instagram and soon after stalked their website and drooled over their stylish, hipster glasses. Their designs were right up my alley and I fell in love. I burst into their store with a wide grin as I was faced with a wall of beautifully rimmed glasses. We spent 15 minutes in the store trying on everything and making faces in the mirrors as we discussed and argued over the perfect set of frames. We even enlisted the help of one of the associates to decide which color and shape suited our faces. It was so much fun! I dreaded leaving and returning to the mugginess of the outdoors so much that Mara had to drag me out of there. We made it to the end of Newbury Street (my new favorite street ever!) and took the T back home. We at least made it into John's air-conditioned room before collapsing on top of his bed. I don't know how long we laid there, breathing in the cool air. I don't know which one of us suggested it first, but after we woke up from our mini-naps we ordered Chinese from Chang's and chowed down on Lo Mein and Chicken with Broccoli. I was told that this was the only Chinese food that didn't make you feel guilty about eating Chinese food. I didn't want to believe it until I found myself shamelessly gorging down a plate of Lo Mein. It was the best feeling ever.


Thursday was a bit more hectic in terms of scheduling and trying to be punctual. We were already late for our first college visit to MIT so we made it a point to get up extra early and get everywhere extra early so we wouldn't have to suffer through more casting glances from other prospective families. Harvard was the first stop, but we weren't too worried about finding the building as we were just there yesterday. I do have to say that this particular visit was my favorite. The whole entire trip, from the info session to the tour, made me fall in love with the ivy-covered institution. I admitted to my cousins that I was madly in love with the school. It made me want to work even harder than I do now and do more and just be more. I could go on and on about my love for "Hah-vad", but for my and your sake, I won't. Maybe for another post. We had lunch at Au Bon Pain and took the T to Boston University, my next college visit. We were so serious about being early that we were actually too early. We overestimated the time and we ended up being and hour and half early. To kill time, we lazily walked along the Charles River. By the time we finished with both the info session and the tour, I was so tired from the day's activities that I had absolutely no energy to do anything else. But of course, we found out earlier that the fourth of July fireworks on the river were postponed to Thursday as opposed to Friday due to the impending storm. John rang us and told us to rendezvous at Harvard Square before fireworks. Both Mara and I were so drained that we couldn't help but sneak in a nap at the apartment before meeting John. We conferred at the Starbucks (of course) on Harvard Square and got ourselves some drinks before looking for a place to eat. We decided on Flat Patties and sat around recounting family stories. It was nice to just not do anything but catch up with them since I rarely see them and do this kind of cousin-bonding. I cherished each moment. After remembering the good old days, the three of us took off towards the river and made ourselves comfortable by a tree while we waited for the fireworks.

Now I haven't seen fireworks so close up in a while so when the first few shot through the air and exploded in a myriad of colors, I found myself speechless. I loved hearing the boom from behind me two seconds after the first boom. I giggled a little because what I saw didn't match what I was hearing and it was all like a really badly edited video. The fireworks weren't the only thing that stunned me. All around me, people were holding their breath, save for the occasional gasp and murmurs. It was like we all had the collective thought process to be quiet during these moments. None of us wanted to break the comfortable silence that allowed us to totally become enamored by the lights in the sky. I felt one with these people: locals, foreigners, everyone. I can't really describe the atmosphere of those moments, but one thing I was sure of was that we all felt very Boston... whatever that means.




After the fireworks ended, John told us to keep up with him as things were about to get a little hectic. Due to the impending storm, the police ordered an evacuation. Train entrances were literally clogged with people trying to get under before the sky broke. It's funny, because I didn't feel in danger being in very close proximity with so many people. It was like organized chaos. Nobody pushed hard; we just moved as one. Someone would ease the tension by making the occasional quip of the situation and we would all laugh. We were lucky to get on the train when we did because at the next stop, new passengers were soaked to the bone and making puddles on the floor. The whole scene was bizarre: a British family trying to calm a crying babe was bumping elbows with a trio of drunk girls who were trying not to fall over John who was preventing getting a soaking front by placing as much space as possible between him and this poor lady who was shivering from her wet clothes. It was strange yet comical at the same time. Nobody was in a foul mood at all and everyone seemed to be having a good laugh about all of it.

Stay tuned for part 2! I promise there'll be more pictures as the rest of my family's come up and we got to do more tourist-y things and roamed more of the city. This is not to say that I didn't have the absolute best time of my life with my two cousins during the first half of my trip. I would do it all over again in a heart beat!

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

My Superhero


Growing up, I saw my dad as the rock in my life and I still do. His quiet strength held me up as I journeyed through different phases. He exuded a sense of peace and calm wherever he went and made people happy just by being in their presence. I can always think clearly when I'm talking or listening to him: it's as if I am one with the whole universe. Even though he is this zen-like figure, he can also be an outright clown. He can make light of any situation and make everyone forget why they were sad or angry at all. He is truly a gift from God and I am so fortunate to have him in my life. My dad is nothing short of extraordinary and I wish to find inner peace within myself just as he has.



Happy Father's Day, Dad. Today, and every day.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Summer Gallery

Hi guys, it's been awhile since I've posted on here, but that's because I've been super busy getting ready for my little gallery at my local library. Weey! My photos will be up on the wall for the entire month of June so if you're in the area of Bridgewater, NJ please feel free to stop by the library and check them out. Here's a little photo visual of the gallery and the pictures.







This is too cool!



Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mother Nature's Rewards

About a week ago, my parents' (mostly my mom) went on this landscaping/planting grind. Knowing my family, whenever we think up a big project like this, it almost always either a) gets pushed back a year or b) never actually happens. So you could imagine how surprised I was I woke up one Saturday morning to the sound of my parents bickering outside over how much mulch they needed. My never-ending curiosity led me to get dressed and investigate the source of my parents' dilemma. I soon came to realize that they were actually in the middle of the project that they were talking about last week. I laughed at the sight of them: my petite mother wearing purple kitchen latex gloves and my father in his science-y DNA shirt. Even though they didn't look the part of expert landscapers and gardeners. They got the job done in 2 hours. My mother even found time to harvest her scallions from her little garden bed next to our broken A/C generator thing. That was a morning full of pleasant surprises.













Sunday, April 27, 2014

Home is where the food is

Hi guys! I'm just getting over my spring break and I'm dreading the early wake up call tomorrow :(
In the mean time, my family and I spent a lot of time cooking and baking for Easter and things like that. I did notice that I mostly take pictures of food, but that's okay right?
Here's a little gallery of our creations!








I hope everyone is having a lovely springtime :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

#YAGSWAG

Hi everybody! So this past weekend I went to my first NJ Youth and Government Conference! It was such a surreal and eye-opening experience. I can't even begin to explain how everything about the program exceeded my expectations and really inspired me as a person. I have to give my thanks to my primary chamber, the Cleveland Assembly who actually consider as my family. The officers of the program have really made this experience enjoyable and rewarding for all involved, including the alumni who came back.

I've met so many new people who have such interesting and ingenious ideas. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many intelligent and well-versed people. They have supported me, along with other first year delegates, to speak our minds and to relinquish the fear of public speaking. It was indeed a learning process for me to be open and comfortable with myself to express my own opinions. I've not only made new friends, but I've also solidified my relationships with the people in my own delegation. They are really an amazing group of people and have made my weekend the best! I hope that I can let my enthusiasm speak for itself and encourage other people to join the program and let them experience it for themselves.

Of course, I can't forget all the hash-tagging and social media involved!
#yagswag #noYAGrets #yelfie #njyag2014

Love my roomies <3




Our own little private pizza party :)







The most good-looking delegation out there ;) *photo credit to Nicole Bathan, the best Youth Secretariat ever!