playing fetch

Nikki is out in California for the weekend, so I'm dogsitting Bosco while she's away. Our daily routine consists of a game of fetch in Central Park in the mornings, a walk around Harlem Meer in the afternoons, and a bathroom break before bedtime. As much as Bosco needs his daily dose of fresh air, I'm finding that I'm benefiting from our time spent together too.

I've been feeling really burnt out lately with all the time I spend at school and work. And with that have come a whole lot of negative thoughts. Things like, "I'm not improving fast enough," or "I'm not talented enough." I knew I would have moments like this, but I told myself I would push through it because in reality, time will fly faster than I want it to, and I owe it to myself to stick this thing out. This morning, as I was playing fetch with Bosco, I imagined that every time I threw the ball away, I was casting out a negative thought. And every time he brought the ball back, he was bringing me a positive thought in its place. Amazingly enough, this little mind game worked. And as we headed back home, my heart felt a thousand times lighter.

Sometimes, all you've gotta do is throw it all away.


I pulled a Ratha today. I was shopping at Target for my essentials, and I saw a box of hair dye for a reasonable price and in a bold color. I tossed it in my basket, and three hours later, my hair is burgundy.


I turn 24 in about a week and a half. Seriously, where does time go?



The last couple of days have been hella crappy, with the stress from both school and work really weighing me down. In fact, today on the subway, I had to fight back ridiculous tears that sprung from nothing. Well, almost nothing, if you count stress as something.

When I arrived home at the end of a very long school day, I paused for a moment to check the mail. I found the usual junk: a J. Crew catalog and a postcard ad for a local car dealer. As soon as I got into the apartment, I headed into the kitchen to throw it all out. But before I let go of the postcard, the back of it caught my eye. It turned out to be one of those "scratch and win" cards, and since I had my keys in my other hand, I thought I'd use them to scratch and reveal the number on the card to see if I had any chance of winning a prize. As the residue eroded away, my stunned eyes grew wider and wider, and I came to see that my numbers matched the ones required to win the grand prize: $5,000.

Dumbfounded, I double, triple, and quadruple checked the numbers to confirm that they did, indeed, match. Then, I scanned the card for the game rules, to find the details about what must surely have been a gimmick. "No purchase necessary," the three magic words I was hoping for. To be safe, I called the dealership to find out about the official rules and whether or not I really, really had to submit to some kind of loophole. Nope, nada, no strings attached. I just won $5,000 in cash, friends.

And here's my winning number to prove it!

So now the big question is, what am I going to buy first?

EDIT (8.26.2008): I went to claim my prize today at the car dealership, and it turns out there were more rules to the game that weren't posted on my postcard. Apparently, there were three different winning numbers distributed to consumers, and the one I got did not win me $5,000 as indicated on the card, but I did win a 3-day/2-night hotel stay at certain participating hotels across the country. I was a little disappointed by the false advertising, but hey, free vacation! Anyone down for a weekend trip to Vegas? Yeah!


california dreamin'

I'm approaching the end of my fourth month in New York. That's a third of a year spent away from home. And it's starting to feel weird.

When I dream, I tend to dream in cycles. Meaning that I'll have several vivid dreams in a row, usually all pertaining to one major theme, then the dreams will stop suddenly and disappear for a few weeks until a new topic comes to mind and I start subconsciously musing about that one. The last two nights I've dreamt about home. But not in the way that I would have expected, with warm and fuzzy feelings brought about by fond memories. I actually felt extremely agitated in both dreams. The first had be living back in Oakland, and strangely enough, my hair was long, as it was before I decided to move to New York. Throughout the dream, I kept insisting that the hair wasn't mine and that I didn't live in the apartment because I was now living in New York City. No one seemed to be listening. My second dream had me trapped at home because my flight back to New York after Christmas had been delayed a week. Though my family was happy to have me stay, I wanted to go back east and get back to where my life really was.

To remedy my restlessness and irritation, I decided to take a look at some old pictures from my last couple of years spent in the Bay Area. I felt detached for the most part, but there were a few exceptions. First, I got teary eyed when I found the picture of me and Lucy, my beloved Rav4, on the day I got her. And second, I felt a pang in my heart anytime I came across pictures of me and my last two roommates. Everything else left me feeling empty.

A classmate told me today, "You miss California, don't you? I can tell." And I responded, "No. Well, yes. I mean, I miss the place - the trees, the sun, the warmth, the smell of the ocean in the morning air. But I don't miss the life I had there." And I guess that's what this is all about. Figuring out where, exactly, I belong.

I think what is missing is the sense of familiarity and comfort. Everything here has been incredible so far: new environment, new challenges, new friends. But the constant flow of new things has left me feeling really exhausted at times, and what I want is just a moment to sit down and understand what is happening around me, rather than having to analyze and dissect and make sense of it all. Seeking this kind of support from home is not the answer, as indicated by my dreams. I have to find my answers here.

I don't know when that will happen, when I start feeling like this place is really my own. I don't know how I'll find it. But I suppose that it will happen sometime. It does for most people.


my summer romance

I've been missing in action for a little while now, and I attribute it to the fact that every day that I decide to blog, something noteworthy happens to distract my attention from the task at hand. So the things I have to blog about just add up, and now, here I am, two weeks and - get ready for it - one haircut, one play, two celebrity almost-sightings, three new family members, one museum visit, four visitors from California, countless kisses, and one original musical since my last post. Life in New York City can move very fast sometimes.

The humidity in this city can be unbearable at times. With what little money I have to spare, I decided to save up and visit a place in the East Village, Astor Place Hairstylists, which I found on yelp.com, and spent a whole $20 on a nice, short haircut. I got about two and a half inches cut off, and made my former subtle a-line cut more angled and defined. It's all very Sassy New York and, more importantly, keeps me cool in the summer heat. Right around the corner was Beard Papa's, best known for it's handmade cream puffs. I decided to try one out, and biting into that delicious work of art was like chewing on a piece of Heaven. It wasn't too sweet or too flaky or too whipped creamy. It was perfect.

Two weeks ago, I volunteered as an usher for the production of Richard Nelson's Some Americans Abroad at 2econd Stage Theater in the Theater District. I had no idea what the play was really about or who was in it, so when I arrived and opened up the Playbill before for house opened to familiarize myself with the cast, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Anthony Rapp was in the cast. Okay, not pleasantly surprised. Ecstatic. He originated the role of Mark in Jonathan Larson's greatest achievement, Rent, and I have always wanted to have the opportunity to see him perform. Associations aside, he is a superb actor, and I learned a lot from watching him in the play. I tried to meet him after the show, but I wasn't able to stay at the theater because it was closing. My heart broke a little, not gonna lie. The following day, I heard that Jodi Foster and her children were at the restaurant I worked at, but I missed seeing her because I was in such a rush to get started at work and walked straight through the floor without seeing anything. Bummer times two.

Last weekend, I was contacted by my grandma's first cousin who lives in New Jersey. She, her husband, and her son, came out to Manhattan to meet me and take me out to dinner. We had never met, and the last time she saw my dad was when he was 14 years old in the Philippines. We had a great time, ate a lot, and chatted it up as well.

Meeting the family: Lolo Ben, Allan, me, and Lola Delia

Also during the weekend, I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the first time. Unfortunately, I only had an hour and a half to spend in the museum because of my packed schedule, which is hardly enough to explore even one section, if you consider the size and scope of the Met. It was beautiful, and I'm going to try and set aside one day of my fall break to just go and wander throughout the museum. In the little time I had, I viewed the impressionist paintings, a homework assignment for acting (to help stimulate our sense of sight), and the superhero costume exhibit. So cool! Oh, and I introduced my friends to Beard Papa's that evening, on our walk to the museum, and everyone agreed: they were too good to be allowed to eat. But we ate them anyway. Of course.

Couture costumes

Cream puffs in Central Park with your friends = best thing ever

In the last week, I've had four Californians come to visit New York. I had dinner Wednesday night with John and April at their hotel in midtown, which was decadent and a lot of fun. Al and Jacob came much later that night, due to a 5-hour flight delay, and spent the next two days at my apartment. Sadly, again due to my packed schedule, I have yet to hang out with them. But we're planning on dinner Monday night for Al's birthday, so I'm looking forward to that.

Dinner with John and April

After six weeks of straight work, between school and my job, I needed to take a break. No work, no homework, no talk of anything requiring any sort of responsibility. Friday night, I went out with some friends from school for dinner and drinks. And though nothing particularly spectacular happened, I had so much fun. It was probably the most fun night I've had since moving here. I felt, for the first time, that my relationships with people, these former strangers who fell into my life a mere six weeks ago, finally progressed past the stages of superficiality. I had a lot of meaningful conversations with my friends, and though they were certainly aided by a non-stop flow of alcohol, they were honest and genuine. I know I say it all the time, but I really am so happy to be here.

Bright lights and big smiles in our lovely city

Finally, I met up with Miguel for the first time in a while, and we had what is quickly becoming a typical Gina-Miguel Saturday night: dinner and a show, thanks to the TKTS booth. We scored tickets to [title of show], which I've been wanting to see since I got the cast album last year. It was hilarious, as expected, but heartfelt as well. We met the cast after the show and took some pictures. Jeff, Susan, and Hunter flipped out over Miguel's shirt because Susan had bought the exact same shirt as a gift for Hunter from the exact same craft fair in Brooklyn that Miguel had gotten his shirt at. Small world. And I've got the pictures to prove it. What up?!

Miguel with Jeff Bowen

Me and Heidi Blickenstaff

Miguel, Hunter Bell, and the shirt they have in common (which says, "make me a sandwich")

And thus concludes this chapter my continuing love affair with the Big Apple. New York, New York, I can't get enough of you, baby.