experience

New Strength, New Thoughts

For the first time since I began this blog, I failed to make a monthly post. December was such a busy month for me — the holidays, preparing for a trip to Europe, wrapping things up at work — that my usual blog post fell close to the bottom of priorities. I actually stressed out about it. Writing is always on my mind, and the thought that I’d miss a monthly blog post gnawed at my conscience. But if 2018 taught me anything, it’s that self-care is important and that failures, both large and small, shouldn’t be a source of stress. Rather, they should be sources of determination, and I’m determined to make 2019 a more fruitful year than the last one. (more…)

The Raisin At The End of the Hot Dog (Iceland 2018)

Iceland has been on my dream list of countries to visit for the past 8 or so years, when the country started receiving a lot of buzz on travel blogs and websites. I remember searching for images and being enchanted by the rugged yet beautiful landscape shaped by mother nature’s whim in the form of volcanoes, glaciers, and strong winds. But the natural wonders weren’t the only reasons for my desire to visit. Iceland has been ranked the safest nation in the world 11 years running by the Global Peace Index; has been consistently ranked in the top 5 happiest countries by the World Happiness Report; and is one of the most literary countries, publishing more books per capita than any other nation in the world (along with a perfect 100% literacy rate). Those are some pretty impressive achievements. So when the opportunity presented itself this year, I decided to answer the alluring call to visit “The Land of Ice and Fire.” (more…)

Strange Things Are Afoot

For the last 12 years, I’ve been relying on public transportation to navigate the sprawling metropolis that is Los Angeles. Parking is at a premium, and maintaining a car is just something I can’t afford nor want to deal with. While the transportation system in LA isn’t up to snuff as some of its sister cities (i.e. New York, London, Paris), more buses and light rails have been added in the last decade to help ease the traffic jams. But as any Angelino can tell you, that doesn’t really address the other major problems, like why are parts of the 405 Freeway always slower than the line for Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland? It doesn’t matter what day it is or what time it is. There is always traffic on the 405 with no bawdy pirates to entertain you along the way. (more…)

Tranquilize the Mind with a Steady Purpose (ICFA 2018)

I attended ICFA (the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, operated by the IAFA) for the first time last month. This academic conference is pretty special; I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Eclectic is a good way to describe the vibe, as the attendees come from varying fields of study. There were undergrads and postgrads, professors and independent scholars, writers and editors, all specializing in topics like Indian science fiction, the portrayal of robots in Japanese pop culture, or monsters in Victorian literature (the theme for this year’s conference was the 200-year anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, after all). I’ll admit that it was overwhelming at times, and yes, exhausting too. I would have never survived without those revitalizing coffee breaks! The overall experience was so exhilarating and intellectually stimulating, however, that losing a few hours of sleep was well worth it. I walked away (or rather, flew away) from Orlando equipped with new approaches to literature and some inspiration for future projects. (more…)

Visiting the Western Caribbean: Water, Water, Everywhere

Last December, I went on a cruise to the western Caribbean with a couple of family members — my cousin and her son. We sailed out of Miami via Norwegian Cruise Line and visited several countries: Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico. Sadly, we didn’t encounter any swashbucklers or mermaids, but we still managed to enjoy ourselves. As a writer, I’m always looking for opportunities to learn more about the world by experiencing other places and cultures. I usually accomplish this by living vicariously through books. On the occasions that I can do that in person, however, I try to keep my eyes open for moments that may result in a creative spark or a change in perspective. The following is a travel journal, documenting some of what I experienced. (more…)