observations

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…)

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…)

Visiting Japan: Hearts Filled With An Open Calmness

It’s been a week since I spent 10 days in Japan. Memories of sushi, temples, and cartoon cats still dance around in my mind during my waking hours, and sometimes, even invading my dreams. Thanks to my obsession with anime during high school (I’m not afraid to admit my love of DBZ and Sailor Moon — I may even be guilty of shipping characters from both series ^_^;), visiting Japan had been on my travel wish list for more than twenty years. However, I didn’t begin to seriously consider making the trek until last year, when I discussed the possibility with one of my cousins who has called Japan “home” for the past three years. (more…)

Last Year’s Words

The end of 2016 is just a few days away. I think many people will be happy to have this year over and done with. For me, 2016 has been like skipping through a wooded meadow, bending over to pick some wild blueberries, then being cracked across the skull by an angry Sasquatch who happened to be doing his business behind those bushes. We’ve lost some incredible people whose contributions to society will always be remembered: Prince, Carrie Fisher, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, John Glenn, and Harper Lee, just to name a few. We’ve also witnessed some of the most shocking votes throughout the world: the passing of Brexit in the United Kingdom; the voter rejection of a peace deal between FARC and the Colombian government; and Duterte and Trump’s election victories in the Philippines and the U.S., respectively. There are problems at home (gun violence; Standing Rock; Flint, MI; hate crimes) and all around the globe, such as terrorist attacks and the refugee crisis, which will carry into the new year and beyond. (more…)