My Guardian Angelina

I get the question "How do you do it?" all the time. I never have a clear answer because you've been asking me the wrong thing. You've never asked me "Why do you do it?"

A huge driving force for most of my adult decisions in life have been slightly informed by this tiny guardian angel named Angelina. Angelina was a real person, in fact, she was a force that I met in college. We never had classes together but we were recruited to the same student government group, the first ever UC Davis legislative Gender & Sexuality Commission (GASC). Like many of my life experiences, I had no idea what I was doing, but I was there to learn how to be an ally for a family member who had not yet come out of the closet in 2002. We were responsible for reviewing relevant legislation,  creating awareness campaigns and events with focus on LGBT education, sexual assault and public health on campus.

I was jealous of Angelina at first. While was just starting volunteer jobs at the radio station and at the library, Ang was already drumming in the marching band, driving the school busses, interning at the LGBT center and being an all around ball of joy.  In addition to all of that, she was not competitive but exclusively welcoming--it drove me insane.

Here are few moments and lessons that brought us closer together:

  • While organizing an event, she complained to me that no one acknowledged her emails. It was the very first lesson in "productivity" that I learned. Acknowledge action items in emails, even if they aren't done yet.
  • Learn when to step up for what you believe in and when to step down to let others speak. Even if we were outnumbered in a room full of fervent Davis College Republicans, she'd encourage us to step down after we've said our piece. I've grown much respect for many of the leaders I met at that time because we were able to have mature conversations.
  • Accept the responsibility AND the possibility to create change, even if you are one person. I used to feel powerless when it came to impacting things at the national level. But when one of our resolutions was read by the state capitol and I got a letter back from Barbara Boxer, I was elated and felt unstoppable.
  • I remember being nominated for an award with a few confused friends. We found out that Angelina had nominated all of us for our teamwork on a campus project.  It's super important to recognize great people and great work. Lift them up and let others know why.

I have such a vivid memory of graduation week. A few of use chuckled at the senior awards ceremony because Angelina was probably the one that nominated us again. No one noticed her empty chair until they shined a spotlight to recognize her as an assistant to the Chancellor.  I texted her and thought to myself, "Oh, she's probably running around the chancellor's office...running a little late."

It was a time of passing torches, responsibilities onto the next set of enthusiastic classmen. We were beginning a radio station meeting when my friend Steven took me aside, "Do you want to have a cigarette?" I looked at him funny because I wasn't a smoker.  We stepped out discreetly to his front porch and he told me that Angelina had passed away that morning in a car accident. The feelings were very real and guttural. I crumpled to the ground, "How unfair! Why her! Why not me? Why not me?" I put it together in my head. She wasn't at the ceremony and she wasn't answering my texts.  She was gone. 

I didn't feel worthy. For all the good she was to do in the world, I felt a huge responsibility to try. To try and give a fraction of what she would have given. She was one very powerful individual and she made national impact when it came to moving and motivating people. During the memorial services, a piece of her writing was shared with all of us:

I went on an adventure this summer, to Washington, D.C., where the grown-ups and politicians play. I was chosen as an organizing fellow for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and I was going to make the most of my experience. I remembered to pack my positive attitude, my smile, my camera, and my bottom line to facilitate growth and change in myself and others."

"Within the first week on the job, I was sent to New York City to take part in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Celebrations. As I marched down the historic streets, hundreds of thousands of strangers smiled back at me as I offered them hope for equality. I handed out stickers to willing strangers, urging them to “Create Change.” Then, in the middle of my jaunt down 5th Avenue, my co-workers started shouting for me. “Hey Angelina, somebody in the crowd is asking for you.” Me? I don’t know anybody in New York City! I have never even left California! Excitedly, I raced around to the opposite side of the parade, and sure enough I found a familiar face in the sea of my beautiful community. I saw my mentor, the student leader who embraced me and showed me how to rise up on campus three years ago. The student who taught me how important it is to fight for gender, sexual, racial, ethnic, class, religious, and any and all other forms of freedom and equality. In that moment, I realized that his guidance is what eventually led me to the New York City Pride Parade on this random day in June. He had influenced me to take risks like going to Washington, D.C., or even to become the Student Assistant to the Chancellor. And here we were, together, experiencing the progress of the community, our lives, and our connection."

"Experiences like these are genuine and reaffirming. They remind me that we are all connected. I believe we all have the capacity to impact each other. Just like the stickers I distributed at the parade, as individuals we must accept the responsibility and the POSSIBILITY to create change. Then, as a community, as UC Davis, as students, the impact is far-reaching and tangible. Join me in believing in the power of your impact as a mentor and a teacher and an individual in this world."

And so, now you know why I give generously, act selflessly and believe genuinely. It never matters how I get something done. It gets done. I miss Angelina but my tribute to her is in my work, my faith in humanity and belief that I, too, can change the world.


    The 3rd Generation of Flipboard

    Since Flipboard's acquisition of Ultravisual just a few months ago, I was worried about being the only NYer on a communications team based in Palo Alto. Transitions are always tough, especially when you are trying to jump on a moving train. However, thanks to my penchant for GIFS (and bothering, I was able to dive in and help with the newest version of Flipboard!

     "IT'S PER3-ONAL" Gif by the awesome Ashleigh and Byron.

    "IT'S PER3-ONAL" Gif by the awesome Ashleigh and Byron.

    Internet Garage Sale

    I have a few things that I want to get rid of! Fill out my contact form with the item you want to buy and we can coordinate payment via Paypal or Venmo. All items are brand new, never worn except for me trying them on.

    Chiffon dress (M) - $15 + shipping

    This cutie dress ran way too small for medium. It is very fitted around the waist area. Click the image for the original listing on Jollychic. 

    Silver Glitter Tee (M) - $14.00 + Shipping

    The color really didn't suit my skin tone. Should have gotten the black one!

    Sleeveless Paint Dress (M) - $8.00 + shipping

    Super form fitting and again, runs smaller than a medium. Really didn't like the way this hugged my tummy. Cool pattern though!

    BBQ At Bernie's

    I start at BBQ Films as a behind the scenes social media manager and who knew they'd rope me into acting? In their latest adventure, we're whisked away to the Playland Motel at Rockaway Beach to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Weekend at Bernies. The motel was transformed into the lavish home of BJ Lomax, Bernie's son, who launched a cryptocurrency startup called Bernbux. My job was to wear a bikini (eek!) and threw Bernbux at anyone who came into the Bikini room.


    We went all out as Tawney, Bambi and Trixie, screaming at people to "GET ON THE BED, GET ON THE BED!" as we showered them in cold hard (fake) cash.  As the evening wound on, we broke out the glow sticks and turned our room into an 80's dance party.  Later on, Sam and Alex from Shootbooth took photos of us with this red Chevy.

    It was also surreal to meet the real Bernie, Terry Kiser!

    My 2013

    I used to do this thing with my LJ friends where we’d take the first sentence of the first day of every month of the past year to summarize. A look back is due! Since I didn't write blocks of entries like I used to (which might be something I get back to), let's try it this way:



    Referrals and Rewards

    I think it's pretty annoying to spam friends about services to gain perks but in case you are interested in what services and products I actually use, this is a list you can check out:

    Everlane, simple and sleek basics.

    Farm to People, small batch food goods delivered to you!

    Food52, recipe guides and cute-ass provisions.

    Mailchimp, easy to use email client for business, hobbies or your family newsletter.

    Square, mobile and web credit card processing.

    Venmo, payment system alternative to Paypal.

    Let's talk about preening


    Originally drafted January 2012

    Let’s talk about preening for a second. Look so, I’m a tom boy and really don’t like sitting around with attendants filing away at my phlanges or anything. In fact, my mom made me get a “mani-pedi” when I was 12 and I hated it so much that I learned how to do it on my own so I would never have another manicurist touching me ever again. 

    I’m pretty much over that tween disgust of it all, but I don’t indulge because it costs money to do it in NYC and it never crosses my mind to say, “Hey guys, something is missing from my life. I need a pedicure.”

    During my "culinary walk-about" in the Philippines I was minding my own business when my cousin said the nail lady was here to do everyone’s nails. Huh, what? Home service in the Philippines? Door to door? How…uh, I dunno. I thought it rude to refuse. I prefaced it with, “Does she even…want to touch my feet? I mean…I’m gross!”

    And she did. I watched her file and clip away until it was time to pick colors. Oh boy oh boy! I refused to paint my fingernails because I would be cooking this week but for my feet I asked for two different colors. The confusion on her face was priceless, worth the sitting time until that point. So here I am, with Katy Perry toe nails.

    It's been almost 2 years since I wrote the above and I've sort of shifted in my feelings about beauty products and grooming. I'm still in the process of finding the right routine for me, but I keep it fairly minimal.

    My hair is thick and bountiful, so it can pretty foofy with its razored edges and high maintenance, curt bangs. I blow dry my bangs downward first before anything else or I will be cursed with a cow lick for all eternity. Once those are dry, I use a spritz of Living Proof Weightless Styling Spray to keep it in place. I blow dry the rest lightly, careful not to get caught in the dryer itself (because long hair, how does it work?). When there isn't any obvious water dropping from the ends, I use a little Living Proof Nourishing Styling Cream to keep things under control. I keep my hair down for the most part or out of the way with a DIY Topsy Tail. When it's really in the way, I'll braid it to the back or to the side or tie it in a messy knot on top. Maybe braided pigtails. Uppy-dos for fancy nights, but otherwise....down.

    I'm pretty fierce in the kitchen so it should be no surprise that I have burns on my face.  I caught an errant ember in the cheek last summer and a pop of hot bacon grease about a year later. They're really subtle but I'm very self conscious about them. I don't even like make up but I took the plunge just for concealment. Tiny dab of BareMinerals concealer on both scars with a small brush and then blended in with a bigger brush, Medium Tan all over color. Tiny touch of rosy blush on both cheeks. Short swipe of Hard Candy shimmer under each eyebrow. Done, that's it. I really dislike mascara and eye liner but if I need to be fancy that night, then FINE, I'll do it.

    When it comes to smell, I've been very careful. My mom would put on really fragrant Bath & Bodyworks stuff in the car and I'd feel nauseated. I've never been a fan of bold perfumes or colognes. In high school, I got Pleasures as a gift and felt obligated to use it. I discovered that I really like Marc Jacobs' Daisy. I travel a good bit (or rather, think I stink after a day of work and before I'm about to go out), so I buy the rollerball version.

    For moisture, Aveeno all the way. I'm not allergic to it, I don't itch with it. It's been working for me since high school so I've never tried anything else. My mom used Keri when I was a kid and I thought it was too thin, I kept having to reapply it. In desperate Winter months, I may use Eucerin on patches and stuff.

    Nails! This is the most frivolous and most changed thing about me since 2 years ago. I suddenly care about my nails. I won't get manicures but I'll do them myself. I guess its because my hands are in photos and videos so much, it's just really distracting if the paint's peeling. I'll take a break and not wear any polish for two weeks just to regrow anything that's chipped or split. I joined Julep's monthly Maven program. Two new colors every month, if I want them. There are sometimes that I don't want them and that's ok.

    Dance dance dance


    My first tap recital at 6 years old. Clad in black leotard, there were photos of me looking at my fellow dancers. Checking to see if I was doing it right.  At prom, my date kept trying to keep up with me and I'd go bounding off on the other side of the floor. On my college hip hop team, I was the one getting called for not hitting a mark or being uniform. like dancing around with other people. But we should have realized it from the beginning: I don't dance well with others.

    I'm very much moving to my own rhythm. 

    Dancing down the street in Red Hook. 

    This compendium of precocious young dancers is more inspiration for me than for you.  

    The Unholy Trinity

    My body wasn't ready. On 9/6, I was co-working in San Francisco. During my morning blog rounds, this short post on Grub Street made me get my wallet out. No hesitation. Will Goldfarb was back after 5 years in Bali. I had met Will through the Experimental Cuisine Collective when I was transitioning to a career in food.

    A red eye flight from California, a full work day and the most epic 7 course dinner and cocktails.


    JIMMY ROOSEVELT | frozen chartreuse bubbles, cognac, sparkling wine

    Our opening libation was refreshing for such a hot day. According to the Gentleman's companion, the Jimmie Roosevelt is made as follows:

    Fill a big 16 oz thin  crystal goblet with finely cracked ice. In the diametrical center of this frosty mass went a lump of sugar well saturated with Angostura, then 2 jiggers of good French cognac, then fill the glass with chilled champagne, finally floating on very carefully 2 tbsp of genuine green chartreuse--no pineapple, no mind sprig, no cherry garnish. 

    FOIE GRAS PUDDING | Pickled blueberries, sorrel, Balinese cacao nib spiced oats

    I was woeful that this dish was at the beginning because it was my hands down favorite of the night. I noted the disappointed looks on everyone's faces as they stared down at their empty plates, "All gone? Already?" These fleeting bites were the right kind of smooth, crunchy, sweet and fresh. I wondered, "Why aren't these readily available in lunchbox pudding cups?"

    Last week, I had the opportunity to crack open a cacao bean and eat the nibs. It was bitter and akin to coffee, nothing like the sugary confection I had known before. Here, it added an almost fruity dimension with the flakey texture of spiced oats. 

    VESPUCCI | Madeira, Cocchi Americano, honey vinegar

    UNI TEMPURA | shiso, apple, bacon marmalade
    [NOT PICTURED] NAO TRATO | Cachaca, Pedro Ximenez, Lime, Velvet Falernum

    Falernum!  What is that? We glanced around the table for answers and no one knew. We took turns joking that it sounded like a bone you broke, "I can't go out tonight, I fractured my falernum" or a plant akin to ficus, "I think I'll pick up a falernum for the office" or car seat material, "Yup! That is quality falernum." 

    The Nao Trato cocktail was very tiki with pearl ice and spicy-fruity constitution. I refer to this class of drinks as the "danger zone" because they are so easy to drink. With cachaca, I always think of capirinhas. And with the addition of falernum, a Caribbean spice syrup, the traditional Brazilian libation has skewed to the tropics. It was definitely my favorite, I drank it so fast that I didn't take a photo! 

    TRUFFLE TORTELLINI | ricotta, truffle puree, cured duck egg

    What a comforting dish. The pasta was like a warm hug. Enough bite with not too much yield, a sauce not fragrant with truffles but with only a kiss. At first, I thought the yellow grated material on top was aged cheese like Grana Padano, but the entire table had a simultaneous "Aha!" moment when we realized it was the cured duck egg shaved onto the pasta. 

    KILLING TIME | tequila, Lillet, meyer lemon, cane, salt
    SCALLOPS | House cured Iberico Lardo, corn, black-eyed peas, Peach BBQ sauce

    MILK FED SUCKLING PIG | purple rice, chili paste, turmeric pudding, lime leaf lemongrass jus

    Upon grazing my fork, ever so slightly, against the side of the pork--it fell. It was soft and appeared in slow cooked block. How did they make such uniform, clean cuts for 40 people from suckling pig? They didn't! The blocks were shredded, pressed and formed. We didn't have the crispy pork skin that I usually look forward to, but all of the elements together was pretty satisfying. I was willing to forgive.

    SKOOKUL PUNCH | bonded apple brandy, navy rum, lime, orgeat, peach lambic

    I knew orgeat tasted familiar!  And it doesn't sound anything like what it actually is. How funny to mix lambic with mai tai type elements to make a punch, it makes sense.

    Orgeat syrup is a sweet syrup made from almondssugar and rose water or orange flower water. It was, however, originally made with a barley-almond blend. It has a pronounced almond taste and is used to flavor many cocktails, perhaps the most famous of which is the Mai Tai.

    The word "orgeat" (/ɔrˈʒɑː/ or /ˈɔrət/) is derived from the Latin hordeata "made with barley" through the French, where barley is called orge.The Spanish word horchata has the same origin, though today the two drinks have little else in common.

    PEARLY GATES | gin, lime, mint, Pernod, lime foam 

    RASPBERRY MERINGUE | peach compote, steamed milk cake, light pine cream, tarragon, whey

    I really loved this dessert. I usually only take a bite or insist on sharing the final few sweet courses but I huddled around this plate-- almost licking it. I liked the steamed milk cake the best because it reminded me of dense Filipino desserts growing up. 

    JERSEY QUARTER | rye whiskey, bonded apple brandy, benedictine, yellow chartreuse, punt e mes
    END OF SUMMER FRUITS | warm chocolate, cinnamon bubbles, savory sablee, red wine jus

    The menu at the table says "savory sablee" but the online menu said it contained blood? I'm not sure if it made it into the final dish but I wouldn't have been bothered by it either way. 

    All in all, a great adventure and worth the ticket price. Do not fear dining alone during these types of meals. I met some really cool people and geeked out about Settlers of Catan. Next time, I need to be a little more prepared for 7 courses and 7 cocktails. My advice is to pace yourself and don't feel pressured to finish every drink before the next course. It led to my downfall.