the end

After eight years, I have decided to bring my online blog to a close.

Things are much different than they were eight years ago. When I started blogging, it was to try and fit in with all the cool kids who had their own online blogs. I wanted to say I did the things they did, knew the things they did, started trends the way they did. Back then, I only wrote about the good stuff. A few years down the line, I only wrote about the bad stuff. Nowadays, I write about the inspiring stuff.

But none of that comprises the entire story. Because of the nature of blogging, my words become public domain, and there are some things I'd rather not have the public know about. Over the years, blogging has transformed from a kind of personal exhibition to my own personal reflection, so I'd prefer to keep it like that. Personal.

I will continue writing on my own. I'm toying with a couple of subject blog ideas, but who knows if those will actually come to fruition. For now, I'll keep my words to myself and see where the future takes me.

Thanks to those who have followed along all these years. It really was nice to be heard.

Goodbye, blogosphere. It's been awesome.


the beginning

I have three weeks left on board the Carnival Sensation, and I can't help but sit in awe, thinking about the things I have accomplished in the last five and a half months. In at time, I've learned and performed close to 200 songs, some of which were of genres that I previously wouldn't have touched with a ten-foot pole; I've lost a total of 25 pounds and increased my strength by leaps and bounds; I've gotten out of debt and began saving money for the first time in three years; I've seen tropical fish, ran across pristine Bahamian beaches, toured the navigational bridge of our ship, eaten dinner with the ship's captain, learned archaic words and read books by some of the greatest modern authors, dominated in trivia, witnessed the final launch of the Discovery Space Shuttle, partied like a rockstar, shook my hips to foreign music, conversed with a pirate, shot a fire hose out of a moving vessel, flipped a capsized life raft, and did flips off a flying trapeze; I've broken up with a boy and said goodbye to another; and I've made what are sure to be life-long friendships.

Best of all, this is just the beginning.

Every day, I send my eternal gratitude for my blessings and good fortune. While it might just be enough to say that I am thankful for a job that lets me do what I love, the true experience comes from the opportunity to travel and learn about cultures other than my own, making me a wiser, more compassionate, and effective member of our society. Also, the exposure to a new locale made me aware of how important it is to preserve our environment and the beauty it holds.

From here on out, it only gets better. I will definitely be sad when this all comes to a close, but there are so many more great adventures that await. If all goes as planned, I will be traveling to 18 countries in the next ten months (not including the U.S.). It has been a lifelong dream of mine to travel the world, and this is the moment it all begins for me. Incredible.

I plan on embracing the next three weeks and all that it brings. It's going to be one hell of a sign off.


pencil it in

For the first time in about three years, I have found stability. The next ten months of my life are tentatively, if not already concretely, planned, and now all that is left to do is sit back and wait for time to pass. Nice, right? In a time of insecurity, I have found a little bit of peace. I know where my money is coming from, I know where it's going, and I know what it's doing for me. And all the while, I'll be doing what I love.

Why, then, aren't I more excited?

This is the strange thing about being transient. You rely on instability to give you the drive and motivation to keep going. You crave it, even though you'd never admit it, because it means that you're constantly seeking something more. More than what's in front of you and more than what you're capable of, thus transforming you into a stronger, smarter, and more worldly person. There's a cruel kind of superiority in our thinking. We can handle the worst of the worst because we've been there, done that. Stability is for people who won't risk following their hearts and chasing after their dreams.

Most of all, when life is not certain, you become aware of your blessings. Like the fact that I can say, with complete honesty, that once in my life, I had a job I loved with the whole of my heart and my being. Time didn't matter, money didn't matter. I did what I felt like I was born to do.

Rewind to about five years ago, shortly after I graduated college. I will admit, I was a control freak. Back then, and even sometimes now, I wanted a clear delineation of what was to come, complete with the answers to every possible "what if." Life had to be mapped out years in advance because it was all a part of the greater plan: progress to management, start a hefty savings, meet a guy, fall in love, start a family. But that didn't seem to be the plan for me. None of it, from the very beginning, made me feel happy. I felt out of place, and I wanted more than that kind of life had to offer. So I left it behind in search of excitement and purpose, and along with that came instability.

Today, I am filled with gratitude and awe at the gifts my life has offered me. It's peculiar then that now, when given the chance to breathe and truly appreciate everything that has come my way, I feel unfulfilled. Maybe because the stability reminds me of a life I didn't want. Or perhaps I fear that I may neglect a better opportunity that might come along. I don't know. It's stupid, meaningless, and most likely, fleeting.

I will embrace the blessing and pencil it all into my calendar. I really am incredibly fortunate to be living the dream.



I blew out my voice last week, and I was medically signed off for about four days. This meant I was unable to talk, work, or leave the ship until I was fully recuperated. I spent that time sitting in my room, completely mute, drinking ginger tea with lemon and honey, wrapped up in my bed, watching DVDs of How I Met Your Mother, seasons two, three, and four. I didn't wear make up, I didn't do my hair, I didn't get out of my pajamas - except for when I worked out - and the only reason I bothered to shower was because I worked out. I wasn't technically sick, but I was behaving like I was sick so I started to feel that way too. Honestly, it was the worst four days I have spent on the ship, and that's counting those days I spent crying after good friends had signed off and headed home.

I suppose the deterioration began a while ago. I perform a total of 10.75 hours each week, rehearse 4 hours each week, and spend about 4 more hours each week practicing on my own. That totals 18.75 hours of singing each week. Granted, only the performance part of it is balls-to-the-wall kind of singing, as I have the option to vocally mark the rehearsal part. Overall, I don't have much to complain about, especially when compared to Broadway musical performers who can easily hit up to 24 hours a week of balls-to-the-wall singing. But you see, I'm not a Broadway musical performer. Nor am I the world's greatest vocal technician. Plus, I'll admit that I can be a bit irresponsible when it comes to my voice. I drink, I hang out with my smoking friends in the smoking section, I talk over loud music, or I talk to much. I also sing to myself while doing menial tasks to help memorize lyrics or try out new vocal licks. Recently, I've learned that I now sing in my sleep; I've woken up and found myself humming a tune. It's weird. So over the course of 20 weeks, the culmination of imprecise technique, excessive gabbing, and the negative effects of my environment finally caught up to me. Last Friday, in the middle of a set, my voice just stopped working.

It was painful. Physically, not so much, but my pride took a huge hit. I started the hour-long set in less-than-perfect condition, having yelled a lot the night before, and as the set wore on, my voice faded exponentially. In the last fifteen minutes, the top part of my range became inaccessible, my breathing was labored, and I couldn't sustain anything. I held back tears as I altered melody lines on the fly, and I breathed as deeply as I could, hoping that time would miraculously find a way to speed up and get me out of there. It was utterly embarrassing, to be representing myself and the entertainment department as anything less than stellar. I saw the ship doctor the next day, who knows absolutely nothing about vocal health, and he put me on antibiotics for a sickness I did not have and sent me away with strict orders to drink hot liquids and refrain from speaking. I checked in day after day to fill him in on my progress, and on Tuesday, I proclaimed myself well enough to return to work. However, I wasn't completely at 100%, so my first set back on the job was definitely wimpy. But my music director-slash-boss was begging me to come back as soon as I could because he could only hold down the fort with instrumental jazz music sans singer for so much longer.

It's a strange experience to not be speaking. This has certainly happened to me before, but because I had not previously been employed as a professional singer, I never really took the "no talking" advice very seriously. Not even while I was at AMDA. This time, though, I saw how my absence adversely affected the members of my team, and I wanted to get better and back to work as soon as possible. So I stayed zipped for four days straight. Also, while on vocal rest, I refrained from any socialization because of the temptation to vocalize. I could have stopped talking around other people, but there are so many other ways to use our voices as a form of communication: humming in agreement, up-voicing in question, or simply laughing. I only spoke when absolutely necessary. I found that other people stopped talking when they were around me too, preferring to mouth or use some chopped up version of sign language. Maybe it's because they didn't want to put me in a position of having to use my voice. Or maybe it was some sort of mutual communication standard to match the volume level and intensity of your partner. Either way, it was interesting to observe. The last four days have definitely improved my listening skills. I hope to maintain that because it's been nice getting to hear others talk more.

I only have six and a half more weeks on the ship, and in order to prevent this from happening again, I'm vowing to be more careful with my voice. I feel lost without it. And it's no fun not being able to work when you do what you love.


love games

I'm reaching the end of the fourth month of my contract, a momentous occasion. Not because I've reached a career milestone or because I went on some memorable excursion or because I received a great accolade. Here, in the fourth month of my contract, the secret is out: I have a sort-of boyfriend.

Here's the story.

For the last four months, I have been secretly dating (for lack of a better word... I'll get to that in a minute) one of my co-workers on the ship. The reason we kept it secret is two-fold. First, we were warned by another co-worker that relationships of our nature were discouraged because in the case that a severance needed to be made due to poor performance by an employee-slash-one of the participating parties, feelings would be hurt and grudges would be held. (This, we were told, came from witnessing such a scenario unfold on a previous ship.) This warning contradicts our company policy, which supports romantic relationships among co-workers. The warning was more like a safety net. Alright, and second, neither of us wanted a relationship. Hence the loose use of the term "dating." We were by no means exclusive.

At first, that's all it was. A casual thing. Oh man, it was so much fun. Trying to be sneaky and thinking we were actually succeeding at it. Of course, things like this are never black and white, no matter how explicit you are about the rules. Sooner or later, the walls break down and you start to feel something against all sorts of good judgement. I started to fall for this guy, which surprised me, mostly because if we were in a different environment - well, to be honest, any environment other than the one we were in - I probably wouldn't have given him a second thought. He's not really my type. But the heart wants what it wants, and eventually, things got complicated.

It wasn't a one-sided thing either. Jealousy fought its way into our "relationship," and there were a handful awkward conversations over the course of the last four months. But that's the trouble about having a quote-unquote-relationship; while you get the benefits of being with someone, you don't really have the right to question their motives. At least that's how I saw it. Sometimes, it felt like we were in a battle, trying to come out on top in a series of love games.

Over time, things fell into place. We were significant to one another without being significant others. And that was enough.

He's gone now. Having finished his contract, he left for home this morning. It's a strange thing to know that your relationship with a person has a concrete expiration date. There was never any intention to pursue what we had beyond the confines of our predetermined timeline, and as the date of his departure approached, an overwhelming sense of bittersweet nostalgia came over me. In the last few days, I've replayed moments of sheer perfection spent on sandy Bahamian beaches, on the open decks of our floating home, or in the comfort of my private cabin. Despite the fact that what we had wasn't real by any normal standard, I gained a lot from my relationship with this man. I learned to let go of judgement, expectation, and worry. My self-esteem skyrocketed, not only from his attraction to me but also in his belief in the strength of my character. He piqued my curiosity with his intellect and life experiences. Above all, he showed me that I could have a meaningful and positive relationship with a guy, something I have questioned after countless years of being a single girl.

While I'm definitely sad to see him go, I'm so happy to have met him and had him as a part of my life. He'll always hold a special place in my heart.


thirty before thirty

I'm pretty bad at making and keeping resolutions. I tend to make the same resolutions every year - lose weight, go to church, call home more often - and I never really stick to them. Maybe because they're cliched, or maybe because I believe that I'll always have more time next year. So this year, I've decided not to make any resolutions at all. In 2010, I did pretty well without having much of a game plan; life sorted itself out and sent me on a grand adventure. I'm hoping this year will do the same.

Instead of making a list of things I hope to achieve by the end of 2011, I've decided to get started on my "30 Before 30" list. This list is composed of ambitions and desires I've had for a long time but never really set out to accomplish. Furthermore, they are not specifically things I should do, but rather, things I want to do. Each item on the list has a measurable outcome and can easily be completed by my thirtieth birthday in 2014. They are adventures and experiences that I hope to learn from, thereby making me a more well-rounded person.

Ultimately, this list is about letting go of regret. I believe the reason why I found so much happiness last year was because I cast off the expectations and pursued the things that really mattered to me. And it lead me to incredible places and people that I had never previously dreamed of visiting and meeting. That's what I want my life to be like. Full of joy.

So here we go! Oh, and companions are certainly welcome for these wondrous adventures. :)

30 BEFORE 30

1. Drive cross-country. I've dreamed of doing this since the day I got my driver's license. So why haven't I done it already? I really don't know.
2. Visit Chicago. Chicago is one of those places that countless people have told me I would love. I want to find out if it's true.
3. Visit New Orleans. It seems like the cool thing to do.
4. Visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I LOVE HARRY POTTER. Enough said.
5. Travel to Mexico. How is it possible that I grew up in California and yet never crossed the southern border?
6. Travel to Asia (ideally Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines). I think it's about time to make the pilgrimage.

7. Skydiving. Honestly, this terrifies me. That's why it's on the list.
8. Participate in an urban race/scavenger hunt. This is my kind of fun.
9. Go to the crown of the Statue of Liberty. Now that it's reopened, I want to see the view from the top.
10. Spend a night in the Grand Californian Hotel. That would be the ultimate Disneyland experience.
11. Take a surfing class. I'm a California girl. It feels right.
12. Ride on a jet ski. Some folks and I are contemplating a jet ski ride on a Bahamaian beach. This could quite possibly be the first thing I cross off the list.
13. Go white water rafting. I'm a thrill seeker. Clearly.
14. Watch a concert from the front row. I've watched a handful of Broadway shows from the front row. I suppose seeing a concert from the front row would be just as cool.

15. Learn how to play the guitar. I've got a few chords and songs under my belt, but I want to get to the point that I wouldn't be totally embarrassed jamming at a party.
16. Study vocal pedagogy. I know how to use my voice, but I don't know how it works. If that makes any sense.
17. Drive a stick shift. I tried this once in high school. Epic fail. But if at first you don't succeed, try try again.

18. Audition for Wicked. I was once the first in line for an Equity Principal Audition in New York City, but I was turned away because I was non-Equity. Listen, Telsey + Company. You WILL see me for this show one day. And it WILL be before my thirtieth birthday. So there.
19. Perform in a straight play, classical or contemporary. I'll admit that I'm a musical theatre nut, but after doing a scene from The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow for my drama showcase at AMDA, I'm curious to see how I'd fare in a straight play.
20. Watch every film that won the Academy Award for Best Picture (through 2013). The best way to learn your craft is to observe those that do it best.

21. Participate in Bay to Breakers. I'm probably the only Bay Area native who hasn't participated in this rite of passage. I'll be joining the crowds at the 100th annual Bay to Breakers this May. See you there?
22. Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Home is where the heart is. And everyone deserves that.
23. Donate to Locks of Love. I don't plan on auditioning for the next year (as I hope to be cruising for the next several months), which makes this a good time to grow out my hair for the first time in three years. I do prefer it short, but I thought I'd give long hair another try while I can. At the end of it all, I plan on chopping off 10+ inches to donate to Locks of Love, returning me to the look that's on my current headshot.
24. Become CPR/First Aid certified. Safety first, right?

25. Reach my personal weight goal. This one feels like it's taken me a lifetime to achieve. But I'm closer than I've ever been, and I'm not going to give up for anything.
26. Do the splits on both sides, a yoga headstand, and crane. I'm currently a few inches from the splits on both sides, I've done a yoga headstand once, and I can balance in crane for about five seconds. I'm gonna get there, I swear.
27. Attend a bikram yoga class. Everyone says it's amazing. I want to find out what the fuss is all about.
23. Buy a DSLR. The used model I bought last summer was such a tease. I want more. MORE.
29. Build up a proper savings account. I obliterated my savings account after I left New York and went home unemployed last year. I need to start saving up again, for those just-in-case moments.
30. Learn Tagalog. Growing up, I didn't mind that my parents opted not to teach me Tagalog because I didn't see much of a need for it. But now that I'm an adult, I'm beginning to realize that language isn't so much about utility as it is about identity. And though I am American, I am also Filipino, and I want to learn more about that part of me. I don't expect to ever be fluent in the language; I suppose it's too late for that. But if, by the time I'm 30, I can hold a 15-minute conversation in Tagalog with my Lola - or Taglish, even - I'd consider that success.