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.

photo credit: pinterest.com
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The Smoking Reaper

Photo credit: pond5.com

Worried about the potential health damages cigarettes might do to him, my father quit smoking a couple years ago. Before his abstinence, he had been smoking for over a decade. Cigarettes were a major category of his life for all those years, but he still abandoned it steadfastly. Why? Because smoking kills. 

Many are unaware of the damages that come with smoking, whereas the others are unable to stop smoking. As a hobby, people don’t see the harm; as an addiction, people find it hard to abstain from. How is cigarette-smoking such a bad thing? To begin with, smoking jeopardizes your health, the health of the people around you, and the health of the planet. 

If you were a smoker, smoking cigarettes can induce lung diseases by damaging the airways and the alveoli located in your lungs. The regeneration in your lungs is slow and according to the studies of stem cells in the past few years, there is little to no effective way to regenerate lost bronchioles or alveoli in humans. Smoking damages your lungs while you have little chance to regrow.

Nicotine is a major part in the making of cigarettes. The nicotine-intake from cigarettes decreases the amount of oxygen your heart gets and elevates your heart rate. More stress is put on your heart because of smoking. That’s how smoking induces heart diseases. However, that’s not all cigarettes bring you, they also bring death.

The statistics speak volume. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), more than 1 in 10 deaths worldwide from Cardiovascular Diseases in 2000 were attributed to smoking. “Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States,” the CDC stated. 

Photo credit: wikipedia.org

In total, diseases that can be caused by cigarette-smoking are: lung cancer, heart diseases, strokes, aortic aneurysm, oropharyngeal cancer, esophageal cancer, diabetes… There are many other symptoms triggered by smoking. However, it’s not just the smoker that’s affected by smoking, secondhand smoke kills as well.

According to the CDC, More than 41,000 people die in a year because of secondhand smoke exposure. All these people are going to be gone because there is a smoker in the office, in the hallway, or in the family. You are slowly killing your family if you smoke next to them!

Cigarette smoking also leads to environmental pollution as it releases pollutants into the atmosphere. The cigarette butts are littered everywhere—you would often see them on the ground. The leftover chemicals in cigarettes would also seep into the ground or waterways, inducing further pollutions. By the way, cigarettes can also be an environmental hazard as smokers often fail to put out cigarette thoroughly. When they dump the still lit cigarette butts on the ground, it’s a dangerous fire hazard. In a report from the Los Angles Times, on Nov. 8, 2018, a wild fire in California killed 85 people when it ripped the Butte County apart. 

Photo credit: laist.com

In my eyes, smokers are reapers. They come not with a sickle, but with the smoke that chokes, with a fire that burns. If you are one of them, listen to me: the one that’s eventually get reaped is yourself.

Photo credit: DeviantArt.com

An Editorial on Milk

There are many unanswered questions pertaining to human history. What was the first language? Why do we feel emotions? Exactly where did the first human come from? Yet one question rules over the rest, hovering over the heads of puzzled scientists. Why do we drink milk? Or, more specifically, who in the hell thought to pull on a pink dangling thing underneath a cow, see white stuff come out, and then DRINK IT? Sure, whoever this individual was, their logic wasn’t completely flawed, as humans spend the first year of their life drinking milk. But it could have gone very poorly.

Most likely the first Milkman was in fact a male, as men tend to have more dumb ideas than women. So this person happened to luck out by choosing a cow. It’s possible that he could have stumbled upon a cat and decided to milk it, which would likely have yielded fruitless yet harmless results. But say he had decided to milk a horse, or even worse, an alligator. The future of humans would have been drastically different. No milk means no Marie Antoinette saying “let them eat cake.” No milk means a race of people who don’t exceed 4 feet.  No milk means no mid-class gastrointestinal issues from Aaron.

Thankfully, the Milkman chose a cow. Now, imagine if you lived in a small community of 30 or so people, who may or may not have had language, and largely depended upon each other for resources. You have been living tranquilly in a temperate valley for the past 20 years, and in two years you will be old and die. Suddenly, Thag, the town fool rushes into your village holding a handful of white liquid, some of which appears to be dripping down his beard, a wild and crazed look in his eyes. Of course, you might assume the worst. But he tells you to drink it too, for it tastes good; and lo, it is, and rejoice! for Milk has been discovered. Soon, there will be cookies, ice cream, Got Milk? posters, and of course, yogurt. A revolutionary discovery has been made, and the world may never be the same again. So thank you, Milkperson, for not trying to milk an Emu. We appreciate it.

Credit: ThoughtCo

living in deep mountain

The meaning of life is to try everything that you have not tried yet.

Maybe this is the reason why I am here right now.

I grew up in a big, big city that has numerous tall, tall buildings with lots and lots of people.

Somehow, I decided to come here, the Ojai Valley, a year ago. And I got into a school where there are no buildings that have a second floor with less than two hundred people in total.

photo credit: kcet.org

After living here for days, I am starting to feel that I am part of nature. What a weird thought this is, and I have never had such an idea before. 

Especially on the camping trip, we just slept in sleeping bags, and considered the sky as the quilt with the ground as the bed. 

And with fewer people, there are fewer distractions. I have plenty of quiet time to sit outside in nature, to be deep or lost or sunk in reverie.

Also, I have had the chance to watch the sunset since we have some free time after dinner. This is a really incredible experience to enjoy the sight of clouds and sky change their color and shapes slowly and fast. 

A Man and his Mule

This one will be a lot shorter than the last one I promise.
Nearly two years ago, I was camping with OVS, 15 of us out in the sandstone canyons of Utah, unspeakably peaceful. In fact, I enjoyed the tranquility of that small, isolated river valley so much, I decided to spend the night in my hammock so that I could swing as the whirling breeze carried me to sleep. However, that night was a wild one for me and you’ll soon understand why.
Around 10 o’clock I get into my hammock, laying down as I watch the moon rise over the other side of the valley, a few stranglers dragging themselves into their tents, and I decided to retire as well. Maybe three hours later if I remember it correctly, I awaken to the sound of voices coming from the kitchen area, they all seem to be laughing, having a great time, then I look at my watch and it reads one o’clock. INSTANTLY I freeze- this isn’t right, I say to myself as I peak towards the opening in my sleeping bag, the absence of light confirming my suspicions.
I try to play it off as a dream, my dream continued even after I awoke, I tell myself unconvincingly, the voices are incredibly vivid, I can hear their laughter bouncing against my eardrums, it has to be real. A few minutes pass and they begin to call my name, like the sirens that taunted Odysseus on his travels, I too was being deceived, their welcoming calls making me all the wearier. I am fully awake now.
The minutes crawl by as these voices continue, situations changing constantly, from their beckons for me to get breakfast, to claims of me missing out on a glance at a nearby fox, they become eerier. These voices, maintaining their soothing tones, vary in their distances from me, somethings being five feet away, sometimes their voices traveling for seeming leagues before reaching me. But don’t doubt my account yet, because it only gets worse. After maybe 20 minutes of the voices, I begin to feel something brushing up against my swaying hammock intermittently. This feeling of helplessness consumes me as I can only fumble for the pocket knife buried somewhere in my sleeping bag (I sleep with one while camping now after that first encounter).
My senses take over and my imagination runs wild, the voices grow stronger, and with only the light of my watch reading 2:15 to convince me of my awakened state, I can’t help but feel as if a man is standing over me, watching my hammock sway, letting it brush against him in the periodic gusts. I can’t believe what is happening to me, the winds continue, but they don’t blend with the voices, they still call me to reveal myself, to emerge from my safe place, my empty tent four feet away, but impossibly out of reach. I feel a large round object protruding from the darkness against the left side of my back, maybe a foot away from where the man must be standing, the object stabilizes me, I cannot move now.
Maybe the winds pushed me into a branch, jutting from the sickly tree holding up the feet side of my hammock, further inspection the next morning revealed that there were none near me. I am trapped in my own sleeping bag, unable to find my knife, unable to escape the voices, the man, the fear that’s overtaken me. I lay still in this sweaty hell until 3 am as I remember it, then I must drift off at some point, exhausted by the sheer terror I felt that night.
The next morning I approach my classmates, bemused as to what transcribed the previous night, upon recounting my tale, I am met with blank stares, concerned faculty, and one bright face. One teacher, my advisor, recounts a story of a man and his donkey, this man traveled into this river valley in Utah some 80 years before and was never seen from again. He suggests that this man tried to beckon me out of my hammock for a companion to wander the endless nights of these canyonlands, the voices were his attempts, the brushing was the man standing beside me, and the object jutting into my back was the donkey, standing loyal at the man’s side.
I don’t know what I believe, I don’t believe that I could ever believe that story my advisor told me, but if you ever find yourself in the desert, and you hear the voices of your compatriots, calling you into the night, take heed of my warning, but make your own choice, for if I were to return and hear them again, I may just see what the endless nights have to offer.
Also, I slept in a tent the next night, wasn’t about to lose another nights sleep to a ghost donkey.

The Smell of Rain

Every inhalation of Petrichor,

Every breath I take sitting and watching the teardrop water fall to the ground.

I am calm, grounded, grey.

I can’t describe the smell of rain in scents, only in feelings;

calm: an encompassing blanket wrapped around my shoulders and a companion sitting by my side. We are together, we are in love, we are safe, or at least we think we are in the moment.

brave: walking alone on an empty road. Only thoughts to accompany me. I am strong, I am powerful, I am one with the nature that surrounds me. Fuck the world, society, my responsibilities; I will walk until my legs give out. And when I collapse, my time has come. Like a wild rabbit in the jaws of a wolf.

sad: the sky is crying, so am I. But the sky’s tears feed the earth, maybe mine will too.

solitude: lonely, but lonely is not always bad. Today it’s peaceful, but yesterday it was harrowing . But today it’s peaceful

The smell of rain

One second it drizzles, the next it pours.

Ever changing.

Thunder follows lighting.

A bolt hits a tree, a fire starts

It is only natural.

Some days the rain makes me feel gloomy, somedays it makes me feel safe.

Today I feel thankful.

Thankful for the sun, thankful for the rain, thankful for the world, thankful to feel something.

Thankful for the memories.

The scent of Soaftsoap Milk and Golden Honey reminds me of kindergarten. The scent of petrichor reminds me of a time when things were different.

I can’t go back to kindergarten, but I’m starting to believe that I can go back to being happy.

Here I sit, watching the rain, breathing in the scent;

I feel gloomy like the sky, but I am grounded like the earth. my emotions are ever-changing just like the rain.

I am one day closer to jubilation.

I am breathing in the Petrichor

Image via Pinterest.com

Colorblind Autumn

California will always be the greatest state to me, don’t get me wrong. We have everything here. Some of the best skiing in the world, iconic beaches, wine country, incredible and unique cities. But despite all of these, the golden state lacks one thing- seasons. For me, and probably many of us who were raised here, Fall is warm breezes and dry air. The landscape maintains a tan and green hue, and the blue skies yield temperatures in the 80s. Here, it isn’t harvest season. The skies are not gray. Sweaters are not the garment of choice. Yes, we do have an abundance of pumpkin spice themed foods at the local Trader Jose. But it doesn’t quite make up for an abundance of colored leaves and ominous sky. In some ways it feels like fall. The lighting is different than summer, and the nights colder. There’s a general sense of giddy unease, and everything is a shade darker. But it isn’t the same. Visiting colleges display fold outs of orange yellow and gold tinted campuses, scarves and beanies, coffee and scarecrows resembling the flourishing crops. I know I’m not the only one that yearns for this, but sometimes it feels that way. California I love you, but there’s a few things you lack. Don’t even get me started about winter. 

Credit: TripSavvy