Hello friends, and welcome to another summer blog post. In years past, memories of the Fourth of July have been nothing short of fond, filled with the excitement of being on summer vacation, being able to stay up way past my bedtime to enjoy a captivating firework show (and oftentimes taking part in those shows), and eating all the traditional American-slash-Filipino food to my heart’s content. We were in a vastly different political climate at the time. It was a far simpler time. This year, my social media feeds were overflowing with posts that fell into two categories: those in protest of celebrating the holiday, and those who fully embraced it. Where did I fall in the Venn diagram of “should I or should I not participate in the festivities?” It was a battle trying to figure out which end of the spectrum I wanted to fall into that ultimately forced me to confront the internal exchange that I’ve been having. And I’m here to share that with you all.
I was born and raised in Elk Grove, California, a suburb located on the southern tip of Sacramento County. My parents immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in the mid-to-late 1980’s, and ultimately settled in Sacramento County with the rest of our relatives. Being raised by the immigrant generation, I have always had a strong connection and appreciation for my culture. Given the heavy ethnic diversity in Elk Grove – people of color make up over half of Elk Grove’s population – cultural shock was hardly ever something I experienced between interacting with my family and my classmates at school. I have also been fortunate enough to have not experienced any amount of overt racial prejudice, nor did interactions with my peers at school have a profound negative impact on me – at least at the time.
My first semester of grad school ended a week ago, and I’ve had some time to reflect on the past fifteen weeks. To be honest, I couldn’t wait until the semester was over, not just because of the long-awaited break I’d need, but I was also itching to write up a cheesy and flowery-worded blog post about all the things I’ve learned and how much the one semester has changed me and my life. With all of that being said, once I finally sat down to write up that blog post, I was hit by a freight train of writer’s block. Finally concluding that one semester of experiences was probably a little premature for a “OMG grad school is awesome and my life is forever changed and look at me and my awesome education” blog post, so I figured I’d try and do something a little more grounded, putting that retrospective blog post on the back burner for now. On my Instagram story, I asked what topics and questions would want to be answered about my experiences so far, and got a handful of good questions to answer.
By now, it’s hard to deny the existence of the recent surge of nostalgic television, from the monsoon of classic 90’s sitcom reboots to the plethora of true crime reenactments. The current season of American Crime Story takes part in this nostalgia, and transports American television viewers back to the late 90’s with the reenactment of the events leading up to the assassination of Gianni Versace. Having been a fan of the highly successful first season revolving around the OJ Simpson trial, I expected nothing short of amazing with the proceeding season. As expected, I found myself clutching my sides in anxiety, gasping (and sometimes scream-yelping) at alarming pitches, and shielding my eyes from the intensity of the show. I watched in horror, bewilderment, and anger as the scenes played before me. Being that American Crime Story is another bullet point in Ryan Murphy’s long list of high-intensity, boundary-pushing television shows, I was ready for the sleepless nights I spent pondering the latest episodes and eagerly awaiting the ones to follow. What I didn’t expect was the sudden rush of empathy towards Andrew Cunanan as his life story unfolded before my eyes.
If you had told me as a child that as an adult I would become a vegetarian, I would have thought you had hit several branches on your way down the crazy tree. Growing up, no matter how much my parents tried to force them on me, I had an extreme aversion to vegetables. If they were present in my food, I would eat around them. If they were anywhere on the dinner table, I would avoid them like the plague. When my parents would announce dish with so much as a hint of vegetables in them, I would purposefully fill myself up with snacks before dinner so I would be too full to eat any of it. As of today, it has officially been 6 months since I made the switch to become fully vegetarian, and don’t see myself going back to meat in the foreseeable future. In this blog post, I’ll go over what led me to make the switch, what the journey has been like since then, and any advice I have for anyone wanting to go vegetarian.
Little known fact about me: I’m a huge fan of conspiracy theories. I don’t necessarily buy into them, especially the ones pertaining to things like the lizard colony and the illuminati, but it’s interesting to hear how some people try to explain the universe and why certain things happen. We’re all familiar with the more mild and well-known theories that have to do with Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster (both of which I buy into), but there are deeper corners that some people venture into, myself included, and I am here to share some of my favorite conspiracy theories. For this blog post, I encourage you all to delve into this with an open mind and suspend logic. I will admit, a couple of these are incredibly far reaching, so whether or not you want to believe them is up to you. Also, keep in mind that I am trying to keep these as concise as possible, so I may not be able to include some other key facts, but I will certainly try to maintain their underlying ideas.
Last night, I went and saw John Mulaney’s live stand-up comedy act. In his show, he tells a story that those of us who have graduated with a bachelor’s degree are all too familiar with – receiving letters from our alma mater to donate back to the university. While he told the story humorously, it did resonate with me, someone who currently works within university philanthropy, and struck a conversation among my group of friends on the car ride home. I understand the sour taste that comes with the conversation of donating to the university, and I’ve found that it mostly stems from being unaware of the reasons why philanthropy is so important. Having worked in this field for a little over two years now, I am here to explain the importance of it and highlight the facts that I’ve learned over the past couple of years.
Since I started this blog, I’ve found that people have become more and more interested in what I thought about certain topics, what my opinions are with current events, and/or my take on certain celebrities and their goings-on. On almost all occasions, I’ve found myself responding with something along the lines of “Oh, I don’t know,” or “I don’t have an opinion about that,” or “I shouldn’t have an opinion on that.” But I was thinking about this the other day, and I realized that I do have opinions (*gasp*), but I tend to just push them to the back of my mind. Why? Because as I find myself eavesdropping on conversations, I formulate my opinion on the topic at hand, but nine times out of ten, my opinion is the unpopular one, and so I just keep everything in my back pocket. Well now my back pocket is getting full, and it’s time to empty out some space and brain dump my unpopular opinions on you fine folk. (I apologize if any of these things offend anyone. But then again, #sorrynotsorry).
Let me preface this post by clarifying a few things. I’m not seeking validation. I’m not seeking attention. I don’t want sympathy. I don’t claim to know the answer to everyone’s struggles. These are my experiences, and the reason why I’ve never done more than briefly reference my struggles is that, until recently, I didn’t think it was anyone else’s business but mine. But given recent events and the growing conversations, I figured now is the time to be a part of the conversation.