comfort food

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

From the smell of fresh baked goods always circulating the house to the comfort of a warm bed, the idea of home sparks warmth and happiness, and I have been so lucky to consider my home in that way.

The white door that creeks and the roof that leaks is where I find home currently, but I have a vision of where I want to be or see myself once I have finished growing up.  

Being a mix of all cultures, the Philippines in itself represents me. Living in a higaonon hut on one of the several islands, I would devour salty chicken adobo and lumpia.

Settling into my home, I would write in my journal about the culture that I experienced that day while looking out from my hut into the orange sunset reflecting off the ocean. 

With beams of warm colors bouncing off the water, I would feel my late grandmother and her mother, wrapping their arms around me with their soft, delicate arms. Eventually, I will feel a sense of comfort and understanding of my surrounding culture.

Living the simple life and knowing my roots, I would sense closure and be able to flee to my new home in San Fransisco, California. 

Even though I was not born there, my roots are in California and more specifically, San Francisco. Like my little Filipino grandmother, I would come from the Philippines and go to the Golden City.

My fate would bring me to the perfect two bedrooms and bathroom apartment on the seventh floor having an auburn red door. Decorated with poems written by my father, my apartment would have the smell of essential oils embedded into the walls, specifically lavender representing my mother’s spirituality.

This would be my sanctuary where tears would be shed, laughs would explode, and love would be felt. 

The Mission district, where my brother was born, would give light to the art forward theme that I created in all the rooms but made sure that every area had its own distinctive flair.

Wanting to explore more about my culture and ancestors, I would travel to the plains of Africa. Settling down in Nairobi, Kenya, where the lifestyle is filled with the history of the Bantu people and the Swahili language, my home would be in a Kikuyu house with no rooms.

Compared to my other homes, I would be connected with the earth where elephants and antelopes have carried their children on their migratory voyage.

This home would give me insight to my African heritage before Europeans came into their territory, before slavery, and before segregation. Instead of learning about the hardships of my culture, I will learn about the rich tradition that the country brings. 

I have always been a homebody. I find extreme comfort with the idea of my home and enjoy its atmosphere. I am excited to see where my future home may be.

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Can’t Forget About Jew

I have always considered myself a person of faith. I was lucky enough to be born a Sephardic Jew in one of the most welcoming periods in world history. Because of this, I never had to hide my beliefs, I had the opportunity to inform countless masses of friends what the laws of Kosher are, sharing stories about my main man Moses, and having a global network of strangers and friends alike that I could rely on, that I could confide in. But that’s not what I wanted to highlight today. Recently, I went to Yom Kippur services for the “Jewish New Year” where I fasted the whole day and prayed in repentance of the misdeeds committed by me and fellow Jews this last year. At the end of the second night, after nearly 30 hours without food, water, or bathing, as night falls, your fate for the next year is sealed, your past year is wiped clean and are given a chance to start anew. As I left services with my father, I felt invigorated, I felt fresh, I felt strong despite my thirst and hunger, and it was all due to this faith of mine. I realized I possessed a luxury that many of my friends grew up without and still live lacking. 
 
My faith has always been something I could rely on. From a young age, when I questioned something, I found my faith would always give me a confident answer, giving me a sense of closure, a peace-of-mind not afforded to my peers. When my friends grew to understand the finality of their mortality, when they struggled to find meaning in their lives, when they tossed and turned trying to comprehend our loneliness in our vast expanse of the universe, I had Judaism to fill the gaps in my young mind, sheltering me from the despair. Now I’m not saying it by any means encourages ignorance, some of the best Jewish scholars throughout history have integrated the scientific understand of our universe and Judaism because “[Both] were understood to be two different manifestations of the same divine truth.” (MJL, 2007) I was always encouraged by numerous Rabbi and teachers from my Jewish primary school to find my own truths, but if I couldn’t find a why for any of these, an explanation for my truths, Judaism would always be there to support my conclusions, to give me confidence about my role in our universe, no matter how small. I can go to sleep every night knowing if I were to not wake up in the morning, it would be because I have served my purpose and my job is completed, for this I am incredibly grateful.  
Photo Credit: Kenzie Bruce, The Denver Post
Mjl. “Judaism & Science in History.” My Jewish Learning, My Jewish Learning, 4 Feb. 2007, www.myjewishlearning.com/article/judaism-science-in-history/.

for her.

As I have grown older, I have danced around with my faith in God. My extended family is very Catholic. Like, so Catholic that my great grandparents had fifteen children. 

Both my mother and father grew up in the church. With families that wholeheartedly believe in God and Catholic values, there was little room to be different and your own person with different values and morals. My parents saw flaws in this system and didn’t raise my brother and me in the church. 

Now, as my relationship with God is pretty non-existent, I wonder about the strength in religion and the power of spirituality. Around the world, there are all these varying forms of praying to a higher power(s) in order to feel something like happiness, clarity, or reassurance. 

My aunt is currently sick.  And I am waiting for a miracle. 

My family has urged people to pray to keep her alive and healthy. But, is that legit and enough?

We have been praying for months. 

We have been watching the sickness take over her. 

We have watched the weight drop off her like the tears that run off our faces when thinking about her future.

We are putting our hopes and prayers on one person and what is He doing to save her? 

But, I pull myself back from this cycle of negativity and think about her, just her. I think about her needs, what she wants right now. 

She lived and lives a beautiful life. 

She is surrounded by people who love her and will be for eternity. 

She has made hundreds of people smile. 

My sentiments on prayer and putting all your hopes on one figure can be pushed out the window. For now, I will pray because I know that is what she believes in.

photo credit: pinterest.com

You gain some you lose some

It’s a philosophical paradox. Am I gaining or losing? People often say that you get abs from training. But without losing the fat, you can’t see them. So is it really gaining or losing? I don’t know. Just like life, when you gain something, you’re automatically losing something. 

From ancient epics to nowadays trivia, the paradox applies. Achilles’ mother dipped her son into the styx, which made him powerful—except that Achilles got the fatal weakness in his heels. He gained strength but also weakness… you gain some you lose some. But was he really losing when he got the weakness in his heels? Although it was bad for him, he was gaining something. Or is it really a bad thing to have weaknesses? Immortality is considered miserable by some—gaining everlasting life while losing your humanity? Or should we stay animals, return back to the caves? Our existence does stop the evolutionary path, like Ishmael said. If we are animals, our IQs lower and we keep evolving. Is losing intelligence really bad? “Ignorance is strength,” George Orwell said in his novel… This is a paradox indeed.

Am I gaining or losing by being here right now? Not having an existential crisis, but what really am I? A person born to die, I would say. So, is my birth a gain (because I’m added to the world) or a loss (because I’m destined to die)? I fancy the idea of an afterlife and envy the people who believe in it. Everything turns out to be paradoxical when you look at the perspectives. Brutus loved Rome just like Caesar did, and he killed Caesar for it. Caesar was his friend and he murdered his friend for politics. Did he gain from his participation in the conspiracy or lose honor from killing his friend? Would I make the same choice if I were Brutus?

You gain some you lose some, so is there anything to be gained in life when you’re losing while gaining? I guess thinking too much about something can only make a simple subject complex. We should make choices that are good for us, and sometimes they come at a cost… Are you willing to make sacrifices for your desires?

Photo credit: urbanlife.org.za

Over-rated

I do not know why I am so obsessed with burgers, but I just love eating and trying out burgers that I’ve never tried around the world. It is really interesting to taste different burgers around the world. From Shake Shack to IN N OUT it was truly fascinating to have an opportunity to taste delicious burgers in the US. After moving out to California, I had the opportunity to try out a place called Habit Burger after the flag football game, and I heard Habit Burger was basically a renowned place in California, so I decided to give a shot. Since me and my friends were starving to death, we were expecting something really good. However, the result was truly disappointing. The burger was mediocre, and I did not find anything special. Maybe my selection was poor, but I am not willing to try it again.

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Canvas Man

I once saw myself to be a bystander in no one else’s story. I was there, obsolete, silent, watching the world unfold around me, witnessing what my peers were experiencing, but not having any of that for myself. I was tired of being a supporting role in my own life, adding to other people’s conversations, assisting people when they might need it, but never bringing anything to the table myself.

I didn’t feel like I had any identity as an individual, I relied on the people around me to define who I was and I hated it, I couldn’t stand the fact that when I was alone, I knew nothing about myself that was uniquely mine, that I had created a version of my self that was only a convoluted mosaic of the people I associated myself with.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t entirely a unique individual. That although I had a mixture of physical traits that made me intriguing, I didn’t have the personality that supported that. I realized it was fine to inherit these traits from those around you but to keep an eye on what those are.

I found myself adopting unhealthy mentalities that I drew from those I looked up to, these forced me to reflect heavily upon what I had become, I was no longer true to myself, I became a canvas upon which my peers could splash their negativity, and I would mindlessly carry it around, displaying it for everyone to see.

It took me a long time to rid myself of the bad habits I had accumulated. I was alright with adopting traits from other people that I respected, I realized that that process is fundamental to our growth as individuals and not detrimental to it as I had originally thought. I realized instead that the issue I had was that I was adopting traits that I didn’t like in an attempt to somehow further my personal development without considering the fallout of these actions.

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from yours truly

Lately, I find myself complaining quite frequently. Whether it is about people or the clothes I am wearing, I find something to dislike about the situations I put myself in. But really, I am thankful for everything that this world has given me.

I am grateful for water. The water that cleans my soul of the dirt from my day. The water that keeps my skin glowing and my body fueled.

I am blessed for the music that you have gifted me. The music that brings my spirits up and gives me new ideas. The music that bonds my family together as we sit in the living room and discuss.

I am thankful to have travelled across the nation.

I am grateful for the friends that support me through thick and thin. Who fill me with laughter and joy.

I am thankful for my teachers who are guiding me through my adolescence, making sure I don’t screw up.

I am blessed to have been raised in California with the sandy beaches and the warm weather.

I am thankful for the food that represents my culture like the salty Filipino food that my grandmother would make me.

I am blessed for my rights in this nation as I am able to speak my mind and express my feelings whenever.

I express my gratitude to the land, the elements, and the people that surround me.

Thank you world.

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