Coffee shop blues

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Here I sit with my laptop, coffee and macarons. I wish I could stay here and write all day long.

Outside, People pass by with their earphones, backpacks and sunglasses: students; professionals; the elderly; and tourists. A soccer player, or an overly crazed fan, carries a soccer ball and wears a jersey, I don’t know which team because I don’t follow futball aka le football aka soccer, in an animated conversation with his friend or girlfriend or sister. A girl is walking her bike with sunglasses, her hair in a side braid. She looked right at me through the café’s floor-to-ceiling windows, I think we made eye contact, but I’m not sure as she did have shades on after all. Sidewalk vendors sell their wares and the careless youth bathe in the summer sun. Here in this café, jazz is sprinkling down on us from the ceiling speakers and the patrons are diverse in age, ethnicity and fashion sense. Cities are amazing places with all sorts of people.

The time will come when I am full of coffee and a little bit jittery with all but one macaron left. I’ll try to resist temptation but my rebel hand will stuff them into my mouth before I can will it to stop. Soon, it’ll be time to pack up my belongings and pry myself from this café. I will have sat here for over two hours drinking in the symphony of sounds: chatter, nibbling, feet shuffling, baking paper crinkling, coffee sipping, doors vibrating shut and espresso machines whizzing.

In the words of Shakespeare, so it shall be, parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good [day] till it be morrow.

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Regret

I’ve done and said things I regret. We all have. It’s difficult to be our best all the time, especially in the heat of the moment. What can I say about regret?

Regret is an aching sadness that begs for a chance to turn back time. Mistakes are humbling. Take responsibility and make amends. Right your wrongs. Say sorry. Every second going forward is an opportunity to make the present, and possibly the future, better.

You can find the cover to The Fray’s How to Save a Life made by Costantino Carrara here.

 

Splitting the check

Dinner for two

My sweetheart and I dated for 5 months and have been “going steady” for three months now. We’ve painted the town red and now paying for dinner has become almost a sore subject. It’s not a big argument, it’s more of a discussion we have after we’ve made the decision to eat out and picked the venue.

Whether it’s Thai or hamburgers, our conversations usually go something like this:

“You got this babe?” he says, “or I got this?”

“I paid last time. It’s your turn.”

“But I got groceries… ”

“Hmmm, you’re right. I got you babe!”

Sometimes, if the bill is sky high, we’ll split it. People, he’s no cheapskate. He buys me gifts and takes me out on dates (i.e. places other than dining, like the movies) without a debate. I don’t mind paying my fair share of our dinner adventures as we often seek out new restaurants. Deep down inside, it sort of bothers me a little bit… but it shouldn’t. I’ve been wined and dined by other men, men who didn’t make the cut. This one did. He’s fair and he’s also a gentleman. Chivalry isn’t dead nor was it murdered by feminism. Is it fair for men to foot the bill all the time? No. It’s not fair.

On the first date, it’s customary to do the “check dance” where you fight over who gets to pay. I will say, the man should pay on the first date. How does it work for same sex dating? I have no idea. Please comment below if you know and would like to share. After the first date I think it’s okay to go dutch or trade off who pays.

So there you have it, it doesn’t bother me enough to be a deal breaker. He’s smart with money, he’s fair, he treats me well and we take turns paying for dinner. He’s a keeper!

Tupac

Tupac

Tupac Shakur would have been 40 this week on Monday, June 16. Tupac rapped about social issues as well as violence, sex and alcohol. He changed the rap game. He was an idol, an influence, a role model and his works are an inspiration to many.

My older brothers were fans and blasted his music defiantly loud on their boombox with the detachable speakers, those were the illest back then. I was a young lady who was coming into my own. I rejected chauvinism and hated sexism. I opened my own doors, burped loudly without saying, “excuse me” but still wore skirts with floral print and lipstick. I didn’t let being a girl stop me from loving rap and cars. But I hated rap’s depiction of women, then I heard Tupac’s Keep Ya Head Up, the first lines blew me away:

Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice
I say the darker the flesh, then the deeper the roots
I give a holler to my sisters on welfare
Tupac cares, if don’t nobody else care

 
My interpretation of his lyrics is that here he challenges the media’s portrayal of beauty and the stigma of having dark skin. I am a darker skinned Asian American and here Tupac made me feel beautiful. He follows it up with how he cares about sisters on welfare, another stigma. Poverty is not something to glorify or look down on. It is our society’s way of providing a safety net when times get worse than bad. And if you hit rock bottom and have to succumb to public assistance, feeling all sorts of emotions, Tupac cares. Although I was too young to understand some of the struggles Tupac rapped about in this song, the rest of his lyrics made me fall, hard, for him as an artist. Events in my life that soon followed my discovery of Tupac would make his lyrics real to me.

I was a teenager during the late 90’s and saw a lot of violence in my small, sleepy town in Calfornia’s Central Valley. My mother and I had a rocky relationship and I was quite rebellious in my own ways but kept trouble at bay. I saw the error in others’ actions and learned from their mistakes. Then, my father suddenly passed away when I was 15 and that same year a friend was murdered in a drive by shooting. Things were changing and I was devastated. I didn’t understand why gangs hated each other so much and fought and killed each other over basically nothing. Young girls where having babies and dropping out of school. I dreamt of more for my life. I wanted to escape the terror and problems and live a big and fun life in the city. Tupac’s music was escapism for me. I’d listen to Life Goes On, Me Against the World, Ambitionz Az a Ridah and Starin’ Through my Rearview. His lyrics expressed my own frustrations and exposed me to social ideals I’d study later in college.

I was a straight-A student and fortunate to have great friends, good teachers and school counselors who guided me. I attended the University of California at Berkeley after high school. UC Berkeley was where the first university course was taught on Tupac in 1997, titled “The Poetry and History of Tupac Shakur” taught by Arvand Elihu.

I can’t analyze every song lyric in this blog post so I invite you to take a listen for yourself, if you aren’t already a fan. Tupac’s achievements in his short 25 years remind me to strive everyday. His songs unite us and remind us that everyone’s struggle is different. There will never be another rapper like Tupac Shakur. Tupac Shakur is the best rapper of all time. May he rest in peace.

Fatherless day

IMG_0486Dear Father

 

Happy day, father

It’s been 16 years since you’ve left

Nobody’s bothered

With all the things you used to do

It’s just us and Mother

Nobody could fill your shoes

Or protect us from brothers or Mother

We all miss you

I’ll never have another

Father

We’ll always miss you

Our dear father

I cherish the memories of you

Our poor father

You left too soon

My heart hurts

Baby sister doesn’t remember you

I’ll smile thinking of you father

I’ll try not to be blue

Smile than cry, I’d rather

Imagine a present and future with you

You’re gray and fatter

This I image I have of you

When you’re older

The only love I knew was true

Father

Was the love I received from you

Happy father’s day

 

Love, Daughter