Tag Archives: Life

Petal Power

Dress – Aritzia / Cardigan – Mom’s / Shoes – Vince Camuto / Bag – Madewell

When I was commuting up to the city for work from South Bay, one of the things that I enjoyed the most was catching all of the morning light and sometimes the middle of a sunrise to start the day. Maybe it was because I was arriving to work early or maybe it was just because it was summer and there was more light in general. These days, I can definitely feel winter coming on and I’m looking forward to the days when I can pull out my open-toed heels to wear again to work. For now, I’ll just take the wool socks.

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Currently Craving: Thanksgiving Stuffing Tots

I spent all afternoon down at Crissy Field today and while it was a beautiful day with an even more gorgeous sunset than I could have ever imagined, I was really looking forward to winding down this evening. I love my friends and doing things socially throughout the weekend, but I’m also the biggest homebody you’ve ever met. My nights consist of snuggling underneath my king size blanket draped over my couch, watching a movie, lighting some candles, and vegging out on comfort food. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s no surprise that I’ve got a craving for all of my favorite dishes from the holiday. I came across this recipe this weekend that combines my two loves – stuffing and tots! How does this get any better? Gravy dipping sauce. You’re welcome.

I haven’t done a whole lot of cooking in a few years, but I took a glance over the recipe and it definitely seems doable. Readers, any of you up to give this a try before me?

Check it out here!

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The Puzzle Place

Isn’t it funny how something in your day-to-day can instantly remind you of something from your childhood? I was at work today when Crystal had mentioned to me a sushi restaurant in the city called “Zushi Puzzle.” I hadn’t thought about my favorite childhood show since I was probably a kid, but immediately was reminded of The Puzzle Place! I was in love with this show like I loved Sesame Street and something that was really important to me even back then, was seeing another character that looked like me. I didn’t know it then, but I certainly know it now and understand why Julie Wu was my favorite character of them all. Our favorites are always the ones that can identify with us in some way or another. Anyways, I’m not sure if anyone watched this growing up, but looking back I’m impressed with how diverse their characters were. Well done, PBS!

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Exercise for Dummies

You guys, I have a confession to make. I have no idea what I am doing! Since February when I first left my job, I made a promise to myself that I would start getting in shape again, but the problem was, I had no idea where to start. Let’s rewind back a little bit. Growing up, I never felt the need to exercise unless it was for a grade (hello, physical education as a class.) I went through the rest of my life… high school, college, post-college relying on my metabolism. For whatever reason, I couldn’t put on weight and stayed relatively the same. Last summer, I decided to pursue exercising again and noticed the impact of it almost immediately especially in my abs. I shrugged it off and thought, “What’s the big deal? This seems easy!”

Wrong! Fast forward five months later – I’m on a treadmill and done after 30 minutes. I do my normal exercises and find myself completely distracted from them and moving onto another activity like checking emails or making breakfast, anything that will stop me from finishing my workout. I also have been looking at myself in the mirror and wondering where these hips seemed to come in and why they’re coming in now. Have they always been there? I don’t know if I like them so I think I’d like for them to go away?

Laying it all out there, I will admit that I’m insecure with my body right now and a little embarrassed that I’m not able to make it through a full workout. Does anyone have any advice? Are there baby steps to ease me into it? Do you have a personal trainer or videos from a trainer that you think motivate you best? What foods and drinks do you avoid? How much water are you consuming? Do you eat before you work out? Are you better working out in the morning before you start your day or at the end of your day? I have so many questions.

Here’s my current situation that I know is not helping. I’m having a pumpkin spice latte every day! Crystal tells me that it’s probably not good for my arteries; it’s also not good for my bank account, but I can’t help it! To counter act this, I’m doing these things for the most part, but I’m not always consistent every day:

  • 60 sit-ups
  • 20 push-ups
  • Forearm Plank (30 seconds)
  • High Plank (30 seconds)
  • Side Plank (15 seconds on both sides)
  • Single Arm/Leg Plank (15 seconds for each arm/leg)
  • Plank to Push Up
  • 25 wide sumo squats
  • 25 Lunges/legs
  • 25 Lateral Leg Lifts

I try to keep this at a minimum and then throw in other exercises that I find and save through blogs/Instagram and use my adidas all day app. I don’t expect that I’ll ever become a pro or a fitness influencer, but I’d like to be better and live a healthier lifestyle. If y’all have any tips, please share!

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What I Wish I Would Have Known About Moving

Can you believe that I’ve been living in my current place now for over two months?! Just in case you’re wondering, the above photo is not my home. My home isn’t quite Pinterest ready just yet, but we’ll get there in maybe six months or so. Recently, Manan expressed that he’d like to find a new place in the city and since I did the whole apartment hunting thing just a couple of months ago, I volunteered to accompany him on some visits. We have a different set of criteria, but my role is basically just throwing the questions out that we both may have never thought of before going into this and preparing for the actual move. When I look back on my recent experience, Kevin and I – who was with me for BOTH moves by the way, decided that moving from Seattle to the Bay Area was MUCH easier than moving from South Bay to San Francisco. You would think it would be the other way around, but honestly, after living here for a few years now, I’ve acquired way too many things that made the move more challenging.

Looking back on it, here’s a) what I wish I would’ve done differently or b) what I wish I had known:

Plan where everything goes

When I looked at my current apartment, it didn’t cross my mind whether or not I would have enough cabinet space for all of my dishes. I may not be using all of them on a regular basis, but I also didn’t want to part ways with them so we definitely got a little bit more creative, It’s important to consider when moving where everything is going to go and not just your furniture. Additionally, equip yourself with some measuring tape for those tricky questions of whether or not your bed will fit exactly in the bedroom and how much space you’ll have afterwards or where everything is places in the living room so that you’re not figuring it out as the move is in process.

Start packing early

Even a couple of weeks leading up to my move, I was in denial. There was a part of me that thought I wouldn’t do it and because of that I prolonged packing. I convinced myself in my last week that I didn’t need to pack all of my winter coats and sweaters right away because somehow there was going to be a use for them. I made plans for almost every day that week and when I came home, the thought of packing was so daunting that I just wouldn’t. Finally, I had to suck it up and that meant staying up very late the night before my move to get most of it done and waking up early to do more packing before the movers got there. If you know you’re not going to use it in your last week, just pack it. There’s also no reason to leave decorations and wall hangings up in the last week. You’ll be glad you did it all sooner instead of waiting until the last minute.

More boxes are better

There are plenty of places where you can purchase boxes for your move, but with moving already being so expensive, this is one of those costs that you don’t need. The first place I looked was at work. We were always receiving packages so anytime I saw boxes going straight to the recycling, I would just transport them to my car instead. Secondly, ask your co-workers if they have any spare boxes. The week that I was packing, two people in my office had just moved and still had their boxes that they could pass to me. Another popular box that people like to purchase is that fancy one with the bars inside that acts like a clothing rack. Save yourself the trip and ask if your moving company provides these as part of the move and use their instead!

Donate Donate Donate

The more you can get rid of, the less you’ll need to bring with you. Also it’s such a relief to let go of your belongings. If you need another reason, the third is that when you donate the old, you can upgrade to something newer and better! On that note, make sure that when you’re getting ready to move that you give your movers clear instructions because they will wrap anything and everything in sight. They ended up packing a frame I had in a corner that I had been meaning to throw out and now it’s still on the side of my couch and I haven’t done anything with it.

Care For Your Fragile Items

You can write “Fragile” on all of your boxes, but it won’t actually mean that much if you aren’t taking extra care of the items inside. When I first started packing my dishware, I had no idea what I was doing. Elisa came over and saw the job I had done and basically re-did it for me because she said all of my plates were going to break. Buy the extra wrapping paper, the bubble wrap, and anything else you think you’ll need. Strategically put them into your boxes – you can’t just put those things anywhere.

When considering movers…

Not only is moving a crazy time suck and a hassle in general, but it’s incredibly expensive. In California, we have something called Double Drive Time, which means that they charge you per hour in the transporting and then double it just because! On top of that, there’s always gratuity. It’s tough to find the best moving company because there are so many so don’t make the same mistake I did which is continue researching and then make a decision too late that they already booked up for the time and date that you need it. When this happened to me, I was completely stressed and scrambling for an alternative moving company. Luckily, I was able to snag one, but was now paying more than what I had intended. Make sure you ask your movers what everything entails in the price and then do your part to see where you can cut on costs and time. ie) the easiest part is DOING that packing yourself and letting them box it up.

Is your home move-in ready?

When I moved in, I was disappointed to find that my place wasn’t what I considered “move-in” ready. The counter tops and the drawers were not the cleanest and my shower wasn’t working and needed to be seen by someone. I didn’t even think to ask about these things when I was first moving, but if I could go back, I would’ve asked my landlord or property manager to make sure that the place was fully cleaned out professionally before I moved in and would have tested every thing in the home.

A lot of these things may or may not be within your control, but it never hurts to ask! If I’m missing any other things that you thought might be key – let me know!

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Daytime Glam

Top – Urban Outfitters / Skirt – Nordstrom / Heels – Vince Camuto

With any kind of formal wear, you always run the risk of never being quite sure if you’re going to have another occasion to wear it again. That’s what this skirt was for me. Last December, I purchased it as part of my holiday party ensemble and as much as I loved it, I knew I was buying it with the chance of it being a one-time wear. One day this past spring, I decided that I was just going to go for it. I perused through all my tops and blouses trying to find a fit when I landed on this faux-lace Urban Outfitters tee that I had bought early on in college. Since the band on the skirt is elastic, tucking the entire top in pulled the outfit together and emphasized my waist. I paired this all with my favorite Vince Camuto heels. I will admit, I was pretty nervous to be wearing this to work for the fear of people asking me “what I was dressed up for?” but it never came. It’s scary when you think you’ve overdressed for an event or an occasion, but if you can have fun with it and own it, it honestly doesn’t matter.

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Review: Jen Kirkman in SF

Since I moved up to the city, I decided that I don’t have a lot of excuses to avoid social outings on weeknights anymore. I’ve said “Yes!” to a lot of things and it has made me pretty busy, but more importantly – balanced. I’ve been a workaholic for the majority of my life and when I’m not working, I’m blogging, but sometimes to blog – I need to be doing other things as well. Would you believe that I’ve never been to a comedy show before? So I have been to an improv show in New York City on my trip with Mandi, but that’s a little different. Recently, I was invited to see Jen Kirkman at Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco and after checking my social calendar and seeing I was free, I decided to bring along a couple of friends with me for the ride. San Francisco was the first stop on her tour so that combined with this being my first show made me very excited.

The experience was very educational. First off, I didn’t know there was going to be a two drink minimum. At my age, I would say that’s a little aggressive especially on a week night, but whatever. I knew that you couldn’t record, but learned that you also couldn’t take photos. Jen, however, gave us all permission to do so!

Since I don’t know too much about the comedy world, I’m sad to admit that I didn’t know a lot about Jen Kirkman beforehand. I did some research though. Jen previously worked with Chelsea Handler on her show, has several Netflix specials and is getting ready for her next one, and is a liberal that hates getting dumped. My GIRL! I’m not sure if this is the standard, but she ran through her agenda with us at the start of all the topics she would cover and I kind of liked that. I found myself looking forward to some topics and kind of building up that anticipation for it. 2017 has been a hard year y’all. The stuff going on in our country right now is very uncool. It’s stressful, irritating, and frustrating, but that doesn’t even begin to describe it. What I appreciated out of Jen’s show last night was her touching on these things. She was very direct on how she felt and even though the real life situation is very unfunny, she made it a lot better with one evening.

Jen will be on her “All New Material Girl” tour the rest of the season so if you’re interested, check out her upcoming cities and buy yourself a ticket.

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Layered Velvet

Turtleneck + Dress – Aritzia / Choker – Urban Outfitters

I wish I could confidently say that I’ve mastered the art of layering, but I haven’t. Not one bit. I am, however, trying my hardest! As many of you know, summer didn’t technically hit San Francisco until about this weekend, but before that the temperatures have been temperate and layering in the fall is just the same as layering in San Francisco’s “summer.” I decided to pair two of my favorite Aritzia pieces together – the turtleneck that all of you have seen a dozen times and a purple and black velvet babydoll dress. Until this point, I had never tried to layer it over anything. It was a great evening dress to wear out – I remember wearing it on New Year’s Eve once and since then I’ve always worn it with other items like a cardigan over it. In photos, this outfit is a winner. In reality, it’s a little bit tight, y’all! If the dress were just one more size up, we’d probably be in good shape.

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Wedding Mondays

Happy Monday everyone! I hope many of you are enjoying your day off if you have one and for those that are working today – thank you. It’s been a busy month over here with moving and a week-long vacation back home that we’ve actually neglected Wedding Mondays a bit. I decided to spend yesterday getting caught up on what I may have missed from all of my favorite blogs, but the one that we’re sharing today is actually a personal one. This past Memorial Day Weekend, I flew to Raleigh, North Carolina (my first time in the south, really!) to watch one of my first friends from college walk down the aisle.

Jodie and I met during our summer orientation before freshman year of college and she was the first friend I saw once I moved into my dorm. Over the years, the two of us have shared so many memories together both inside of school and outside. Shortly, after I left Seattle for California, she relocated to North Carolina and while I never did get to visit her before her wedding day, it was nice to spend a few days there getting to know the space that she lived in. Manan and I made a little trip out of it and ventured to a number of neighborhoods and sampling all of the must-have meals.

She was the most beautiful bride and this wedding video captures her and Greg’s special day perfectly. Thank you so much for letting us be a part of it!

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What I Learned: Finding a Place to Rent in SF

There are many reasons to not live in San Francisco. Let me tell you about the ones that have been told to me:

  • rent is too high / generally everything is too expensive
  • you can’t live there without roommates
  • there’s no need for a car there
  • it’s dirty / it smells

Up until this year, I was perfectly content with living in South Bay. For the most part, I was near my workplace, my friends, my errands and my routine. I had made a life for myself there that I was comfortable with. When I changed jobs earlier this year though with my new office being in the city, it was a huge adjustment for me. I went from having a 30 minute round trip commute to a two-hour one. I tried to rationalize. Well, I really like driving! I may not like road trips, but I’m a morning person anyways and I don’t mind driving on I-280. It’s SO pretty!

I rationalized until I couldn’t anymore. 2017 was a big year of changes for me so why not add one more to the mix – new city / new home? I was ready for a complete fresh start. Having lived in the Bay Area for nearly four years at this point, I felt like I had a good starting point. I knew exactly what I wanted in a new home and I wasn’t going to settle. I’d also spent a lot of time doing research too so while others told me to brace myself for 1-2 months of searching, I was out to prove people wrong. So yes, it is possible to find a place in one week!

Just like a job description, I broke things out into my Must Haves and Nice-t0-Haves.

Must have: 

  • washer/dryer in-unit
  • not a ground floor unit
  • safe neighborhood
  • short commute to work
  • lot of natural sunlight – no basement units allowed

Nice-to-have:

  • dishwasher
  • wood floors
  • top floor unit
  • parking spot
  • rent-controlled
  • some utilities paid

When I shared with some friends these requirements, I got a lot of smirky “good lucks!” And I get it, people have lived here for some amount of time and they’ve gone through their fair share of apartment hunting so it hasn’t always been easy. In total, I looked at five different places and the neighborhoods that I considered were: Dogpatch, Potrero Hill, Cole Valley, Bernal Heights, Hayes Valley, Noe Valley, Alamo Square, Pacific Heights, and Laurel Heights. I’m also willing to acknowledge that while I’m writing this and making this “look easy,” I came across a few places that were a bit of a disaster.

The first apartment I checked out, I found through Apartment List. I spent one of my weekend days prior to checking out places making an account with the site listing all of these requirements (and more!) and a few results came up for me. It paired me with someone who was a rep from RentSFNow, which I hadn’t heard too much about it. I’ll also note that for all of my visits, I always brought a friend. The apartment that I was shown was beautiful. It had more than enough room for me, was on a higher floor, had its own walk-in-closet and since it was my first one, I almost let that sway me too much. I got so excited that I was willing to settle because I had heard how difficult it could be to find a place so why not end my search at number 1? However, after I spent some more time on it, I realized I didn’t exactly trust my rep when she told me she didn’t have the key to the laundry room especially when I had seen the apartment on other listings saying it had no laundry. I realized that while the apartment was spacious, it had too much space that I didn’t need. It also didn’t help that it was on the busiest and loudest street.

What this process was beginning to teach me was that there are things that I could think that I really need initially, but also a handful of things that I can definitely live without. I’ll spare you the details of every other place that I visited, but I will say that I visited a place in Hayes Valley that had zero closet space at all (that was an immediate no) an in-law-unit of a beautiful house with an entrance that started from the garage and had no sunlight coming in at all. I even ran into a Craigslist scam. It wouldn’t be apartment hunting in SF without one of those! Rent in SF is expensive and we all have to make sacrifices, but at the end of the day, you have to make the best choice for you and your lifestyle. The things I gave up? Just one – the washer/dryer in unit, but what I was able to get in return? Living a block away from my best friend, a parking spot free-of-charge, top floor unit, walking distance to my favorite neighborhoods, and a few more.

In 2017, Craigslist is still the preferred method of choice for finding a place. It isn’t easy and there’s a lot of noise, but you have to remain persistent. Every night after work, I spent about a week and a half looking at the most recent posts for all of the neighborhoods I listed. It was exhausting and at times I didn’t feel like it was the best use of my time, but it ultimately led me to where I landed.

People also will tell you that you need to bring folders with you that include ALL of your information. I did this and I’m glad I learned how to prepare one, but I didn’t end up having to use it! I’m more than a month into living at my new spot, but it feels like I’ve been living here for much longer. If I had to pick between searching and moving in this process, the actual moving was probably the worst with the searching being the most fun and adventurous. Friends love to help you find a place, but ain’t nobody trying to sign up to help you move.

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The Cream Event

Whenever the topic of conversation lands on weddings, my friends always say the same thing, “I love weddings. They are SO much fun, but so incredibly expensive especially if you are a part of them.” Now, this isn’t new to any of you. Weddings are expensive. This industry is sometimes madness to me and while I have shelled out quite a bit of $$$ for my friends, I can’t help, but do it out of love and knowing the fact that if it were me in their shoes, they would do the same for me.

This year, Bash Please brought their wedding expo to San Francisco for the first time and there was no way I was going to miss it. I’d been following them for years and have loved all of their ideas from previous weddings so I knew that their vendors at the event would be top notch and that it would feel like attending another wedding myself! I think a lot of my girlfriends would have loved to come to something like this, but the one girlfriend of mine that I wanted to take more than ever was Elisa. She got married just a couple of months after we went to the expo and was having a very small wedding in Mendocino, which meant that a lot of these vendors wouldn’t actually be a need for her. Regardless, I wanted her to still go through this experience and have fun with it! We sampled some of the best hors d’oeuvres and desserts, drank from four different kinds of cocktails, spent some time in the photo booth (a favorite of ours!) and got down on the dance floor. Side note, I entered the dance contest with my friend Kim and we got out in the first round. It wasn’t our finest moment, but like – were we even really given a fair chance?!

We were greeted with these refreshing Agua Fresca’s the minute we stepped foot into the venue. How cute are these little mini milk containers?

at the Bentley Reserve in San Francisco

Savory sorbets for an appetizer!

The prettiest dining table set up we ever did see

Overall, Elisa and I had a blast. We hope that The Cream event returns to San Francisco in 2018 because we will definitely be there. For those of you wondering if you can still attend an expo without being engaged, the answer is yes! No one is asking your status so go just for the fun.

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Me and My Record Player

During my recent move up to the city, I really had to take a long hard look at all of my belongings and assess if I’d be bringing it along with me. The record player is such a prized possession in that it’s been really cool to have, but it hasn’t gotten that much use. It also was a gift from a previous ex-boyfriend so I started to wonder “did I really want to keep it?” The devil on my shoulder, however, said “don’t be petty. Keep the damn record player!” I wrestled with this for days because I thought that if I didn’t keep it, it would be one last item to pack, but then I could purchase the record player I had always wanted. Even during my moment of packing, I had convinced myself that I had broken it forever. I later learned that was not the case at all.

So it made the cut. Instead of staying hidden on my shelf though, I actually gave it its own spot in my home where it gets quite a bit of attention. The record player is now getting it’s second life with me and I’d like to begin collecting records for it, but I’m not always sure where to start. I have three so far in my collection – one Bon Iver that came with it as part of the gift, a second one of a mix wedding record from a swag bag, and the third being “Give Up” by The Postal Service. Readers, if you are an owner as well, what kind of cadence have you set for yourself? How do you decide which records to purchase and how often?

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Outside the City / Inside Oakland

Top – Forever 21 / Leggings – Aritzia / Boots – J. Crew

I say this all the time, but I’m so fortunate to live in a city where it’s so easy to get to and from other places. Come September, I’ll have lived in the Bay Area for four years now! One area that I haven’t spent too much in is actually Oakland, which is very very close to me. While Ashley was visiting back in April, she happened to me over there for a conference and we took full advantage of being in the city. It started with a hotel date. It ended with 4 meals in less than a full day and an exploration of every part of the neighborhood. We felt like we had seen a lot of it, but I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen it all so I’m looking forward to the next time I can return and with a list of the restaurants we still have to hit up.

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The Moment I Found Out I Wasn’t White

I was advised a long time ago to keep not only my personal stories to myself, but also my views on politics to myself and away from social media. It doesn’t feel right anymore to stay silent. For months, I retweeted and quoted tweets never taking that firm of a stance on Yow Yow, but the news of the weekend has taken a toll on me. I’m distracted at work. I’m losing sleep because I am consumed by what is happening in our country. You can ignore all of this for a long time and focus just on what directly affects you, but the truth is – this affects all of us.

*****

I was 5 years old and in Kindergarten when it was pointed out to me just how different I was. My hair wasn’t brown or blonde, but black. My classmates had similar clothes to me and we were the same size. I imagined that everyone could speak two languages at home. I just didn’t know if it was the same as mine. No one had ever treated me as if I were different up to this point. You were considered the “bully” of our class. My parents told me to not engage and back then, I hadn’t discovered how confrontational I could be yet. I boarded the bus like I did every day and took a front seat because the sooner I could get off the bus, the faster I could get to my seaweed wrapped rice crackers that Grandma always put out for me as my afternoon snack.

You singled me out. Pointed to me. “Go sit in the back of the bus.” An order.

“Why?”

“You don’t belong up here.”

*****

Every day I climbed on top of the chair to talk to my mom as she prepared dinner for our family and she would ask me about my day. “Today, he told me to sit in the back of the bus. Why did he say this to me?”

What I remember is the glass shattering moment that I discovered how white I wasn’t. The part I don’t remember is the look on my mother’s face.

What I didn’t realize until I was much older was how much I tried to self-correct myself after this happened to me. For years in my childhood, I pushed myself to be athletic because I thought it was who I was supposed to be. I never liked participating in sports, but all of my caucasian friends were in cross country and track. I didn’t want to bring rice for lunch; I wanted a Lunchables. I stopped speaking Vietnamese until I forgot how to completely. Instead of embracing the culture that I grew up with, I did all that I could to be anything, but different so as to never feel as isolated as I was during that moment when I was five.

*****

I think about this story all the time, but I never thought to ask my mother about how she felt when I came to her until Sunday. I wish I had a recording of this phone call, not to share it widely, but because it was so honest and meant a lot to me to hear her own point of view. What she told me was that she never forgot that moment. Like me, she too, thinks about it. Back then, she couldn’t go too into depth about race or Rosa Parks or the kind of hatred that could live within a child without them truly understanding. I wouldn’t have understood it fully and I sure as hell could not have taken that discussion with me back to school. She admitted to me that she knew my life could be challenging and that I would have to always work harder and be smarter just to be considered equal to my peers. The expectations for me would be much higher and that I might endure more instances like this in my life in different forms. And I did.

*****

So I watched what reminded me of a witch hunt this weekend play out on Twitter. I read the articles about the young man named “Peter” who decided to March at UVA on Friday with a torch and then claim that he’s not the angry racist we see in that photo. And I wondered how a man this young could be taught to be this way – to have this kind of hatred in his heart. Who taught my 5-year-old bully to also have this same way of thinking? I’ve tried to be patient. I tried to understand and read the point of views from both sides to have this awareness, but I’m disappointed and frankly, heartbroken. I never want to have to explain this to my future son or daughter the way my own mother had to with me.

So your vote wasn’t the same as mine. It’s not about our egos and our pride, but let’s move forward. Let’s just agree that we need a better future than what is our current state right now.

And because this is an important recap from the weekend…

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