Thursday, January 31, 2008


Lake Atitlan is surrounded by volcanos:

And these are considered "The Waters of Mormon." It felt more like an ocean than a lake...
Horseback riding is one of my favourite treats EVER. So I went. A lot.

Thankfully, Love and Leo like horseback riding, too, so I got to go AGAIN!
And then somehow we ended up in Hondouras together...4 hours NORTH of where our bus was supposed to take us.
Snorkeling was the hilight of The Bay Islands. It was great, but she wouldn't let me touch the barracuda!

My painting lessons with San Pedro artisan, Gasper. He is a delight. Come over and see my representation of Lake Atitlan sometime!

So, I love Canadians, and I love Australians- what a deal that we were ALL on the plane together! We were BFF by the time we finished dinner and dancing.

These are some of our best little friends- Mercedes, Cecilia, and their little family. Their mom made a dress especially for me!

Where much is given...
Alyson's "Nail Polish Project"- empowering women by providing women with the tools they need to start their own business. In this case, foot massage and pedicures by the side of the road!

I love Graffiti Art. And I love it when it rings true.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I always appreciate the jumpstart I get upon returning home jetlagged. It's a shining morning of possibility that yes- this time- THIS TIME!- I will finally become a morning person.
This morning I woke at 6am and immediately became productive, joyful with my new morning and the early rise on the day full of things to do. While I got ready, I put in "Steel Magnolias" to prep for my February audition. (I don't know how they'll take an Asian southern woman, but I figure who plays "mysterious nerdy outsider with potential for glamour" better than an Asian girl?)

Needless to say, I was in tears by 8am. Darn you, Sally Fields. Darn you.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Fill Me In. I've been gone a few weeks, all this true? What's going on here?
First I hear that Heath Ledger overdosed and now I hear something about President Hinkley passing away? The Kennedys are endorsing Barack Obama? Landslide over Clinton in Southern California? Can someone please get me up to speed? What's going on here, America?

Friday, January 25, 2008


22 January. 2008
It's the stuff movies are made of. Real adventures are rarely planned that way, so much as they simply materialize. This morning we were ready for Henry's shuttle service to take us to Guatemala City to Copan where we would tour Livingston and the Rio Dulce. Instead, we are on a detour rout and 2 chicken buses later into Omoa. OMOA! Somehow we connected with Leo and Love, the two best-looking Americans in San Pedro- and I daresay in General. 6'4" and built like linebackers with the faces of models, these two were literal head-turners. LITERALLY. And now we're all sharing a room in Omoa. Every time I see Leo roll over, shirtless in his bed, I keep thinking I must have stumbled into someone else's fantasy. But no. It's my life. And it's for real. My mom would be so proud.

San Pedro, Lake Atitlan.

January 17. 2008
10.40 am

There's a clicking inside our internet cafe where Alyson has settled into her book and latte and I am savouring my banana yogurt drink in the fancy glass. In calculating our expenses, we've spent approximately $30 a day (including in country travel costs). Alyson thinks it's steep and I'm ready to drop another $10 to go horseback riding for a few hours.

January 18. 2008

Mes amigos esta bien y yo espando estoy. ugh. Mi espanol es horrific. Truly horrible. My instructor is a sweet, patient slip of a woman named Rosario, who must need painkillers to endure my attempts at Espanol. My memory is for crap. Honestly. You'd think I'd done drugs or something, my short-term is so fried! It's hard and undoubtedly painful to even construct a sentence, but the rhythm of the language itself, the pronunciation and the rolling of the syllables has it's moments of clarity and beauty. Even when it comes from me.

January 19. 2008.
It's the middle of the afternoon and I am laying in a hammock in a treehouse. That is all.
Gracias, Vicente. Gracias.

January 20. 2008
When you travel, somehow time seems to speed up. One day becomes the equivalent of a week. Someone you wouldn't have spoken to or even acknowledged in the states is suddenly your best friend when you recognize them in a foreign city 3 days later. After one night of dinner and dancing, it's like a romance that's lasted a month. At least, that's what this trip has felt like.

Alyson immediately liked Mike and Tim, the cute Canadians we didn't dare look at when we were in the LAX, eating beside each other at Malibu Al's in the middle of the night. And while she felt comfortable chatting to Mike when we picked up our luggage in Guatemala City, I still wasn't much prepared to talk to strangers. But three days later when Tim bumped into me at the Internet Cafe in San Pedro, you would've thought we were best friends from college! By the time we were done with dinner, Alyson was ready to bring at least one of the boys home to Arizona!

Yesterday I went to school early. An impossibility, I know. No one was around, so I figured I could kayak for a 1/2 hour until class started. When I arrived at the bottom of the hill, there were two guys playing Frisbee. The old crazy dude I consistently avoided in town, and a young, friendly looking Southern boy. Wouldn't you know he actually got me to play Frisbee? Again- another improbable event! In any case, I learned the Atlanta, Georgia Chris was a musician learning Spanish through a host family and the local school. Even though he asked me to cut class so we could continue to talk, I somehow held my ground on meeting Rosario, but agreed to meet up afterwards so he could teach me some guitar.

I don't know what it is about meeting someone you connect with where the chemistry is right and the humor and sweetness is there and the attraction is mutual, but somehow it seems to occour more frequently when you're out of your element. Perhaps because you don't have anyone else around or perhaps it's because you're so grateful to be able to speak in your native tongue or maybe it's because you've finally slowed down enough to notice there are other people around, but whatever the cause, it's undeniable that it occours.

Chris came back to the hotel that night with Alyson and I, and we talked like high-schoolers who had been passing notes all day. Listening to music and talking about our favourite artists and integrity of lyrics and performance and singing along to his latest song about Guatemala... Alyson even abandoned me at one point, filling me with the nervousness that (had it not been for the placement of the guitar and mini-speakers between us) we might have kissed. My only regret was not hitting "record" when he softly played a song about the cave diving in Shamook Champage. We parted ways later, agreeing to meet up at another restaurant, but when we took too long and didn't see him later, I felt crushed with the same disappointment as if my high school neighbour boyfriend moved away in the middle of the night. Tragic. Imagining all the fun we COULD have had, if only he were at dinner that night! We would have gone horseback riding (he loves to gallop) and kayaking (he had never been far out enough to go to the black sands beach). He would have finished helping me learn at least one song on my "to learn" playlist, and in the end, I wouldn't have felt guilty or strange about kissing him all night long.

But when Nicholas and I ran into him on the way home in a dark ally tonight, I almost didn't recognize him and we had not much left to say, since he knew I'd be leaving in the morning and he needed to get back to his host family's home before too late.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Of Dreams.

16 January 2008

6.30 am

We slept, miraculously, from about 6pm to 6am.
This morning everything is still and warm.
As the surrounding inhabitants begin to stir, I am greeted through the thin walls by voices and conversations of French and Hebrew.

The Isreali's besde me laugh as I introduce myself as "United States." They nod, smiling, "of course," the say. My wide smile and loud laughter has given me away before I used any words. The Beatles play in the background as I settle into my hammock, enjoying the clean air and gentle guttural coos of the local birds and watch them twittering in the palms before the lake.

“We shouldn’t have come here first,” Alyson states. “We should’ve plowed straight to Tikal.”
I know what she means. It would be easy to stay here forever.

As Alyson and I enjoy our morning air and the distant “cucooking” of roosters, the ambiatic twanging of our breakfast flat’s sutra music glows behind me. I can smell her warm coffee and watch the way her “pequino leche” stirs into the dark mug.

We lean back and reminisce our respective travels in Thailand or China or buses, and the play of journaling while we’re away. What does someone notice and what’s interesting enough for them to feel compelled to write it all down? And what was their experience of the same event like? I read her my take of the “banditos” from yesterday, and she reads hers. I explain that writing in the moment- even if it’s only about that one moment- recalls everything for that place in time. The smells (not always such a good one, but very often a funny thing to remember), the sounds (again, not always so good, but the unpleasant ones tend to resonate even funnier AFTER the fact), and the atmosphere. This way the memories are often as clear and pungent as the bad smells were.

I tell Alyson about my train ride from San Jose to Provo, where “I was above the smoking car- of all cars!” and where “the water was more expensive than the wine. And they were out of water.”
Ah, travel.

Remember that dream I had where I met the Irish guy and got pregnant and the only thought in my mind was not of regret or repentance or remorse, but simply, “ONCE?!?! All this and only ONCE!?!”…Well…I just met my dark-haired Irishman. And as much as I let the conversation on our boat die off, he just kept coming up with more to talk about. He loves horseback riding and can get us a deal on paragliding with his friends while we’re here. After he convinces us on visiting the hostel he works at in Livingson and we part ways, I tell Alyson that the man from my dream was just beside me on the boat. And I have his phone number…

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Buenos Dias, Guatemala!

15 January 2008

12.30 am
I sit down in seat 27E and immediately bring out my book and journal; as if I would actually get anything done. Why is it I always think I’m going to accomplish something constructive on a plane? Especially one that is taking off from LAX at midnight?

6.45 am
A new day. A new seat.
This one smells of stale air and old apholstry, and it's crawling with little fuzzy haired children. We smile and try communicating in our broken Spanish, but are not met with so much as a smile. Still, their little-voice chatter and gentle hum of sleep is warming the foggy morning. Alyson is convinced this is the best way to travel- by public transit- and by “best” we mean “cheapest.” And I have no objections to any vehicle that will take me to Lake Atitlan for only $5. Alyson looks up the phrase, “too expensive” (caro) and “cheaper” (mas barato). She observes, “everyone here has six kids, and they're all under the age of three!”

We've been robbed.
Alyson already decided she was ready for a protein bar. She stands up. “My laptop is gone.”
“My laptop is gone!”
“No…No…It can't be. Did it maybe just slide?”
“No.” She said, patting all along the carpeted shelf above our heads. “No. It’s gone.”
I jumped out to look as she took down her small red satchel. Then I realize, “O my gosh! My backpack is gone!!!”

We have finally found a hotel- $8 per person with hammocks and a lakeview! I'm so hungry I don't know what to do with myself and Alyson and I keep falling asleep on the bumpy boatride to San Pedro.
We go to eat at the Budda Bar, where I have the best meal of my life- some kind of pork tenderloin Chinese noodle dish and it. is. OUTSTANDING. Alyson gets up to challenge the locals and hot Swiss boys to a game of pool. Just when I'm ready to leave because the natives are getting a bit friendly for my taste, a young man walks in, smiling, introducing himself to everyone.
"HENRY!!!" I cry, before I even realize who he is.
"O! YOU!!!" he smiles back, reaching out to shake my hand. I explain to our audience that Henry was my boat guide last November and that he lived in the states for a while- hence why his English is so good. I recount to him how our bags were stolen and how we were ripped off on the boatrides and charged twice. He nods in sympathy and we chat a while longer. But when he pulls out his grass, explaining, "California weed!" I excuse myself and we pay our tab.

I can guess it's a little after 5pm and Alyson's already passed out on her bed. I'm exhausted and bleary eyed, but so excited for a new day tomorrow! I also had a glimpse inot what might be, should I decide to simply "travel" this year. A lot of nights of NOT drinking, excusing myself from the smoke, and annoyance at the stoner mentality of existing with no direction or purpose.

This still leaves open for a professional career in Austraila or nannying in Italy or France...

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Here's the boat you have to take to get to the villages surrounding Lake Atitlan...By the way, that's a live chicken inside her bag. That's why she's laughing so hard...I picked up my Spanish tapes to practice on the plane ride over. I have also registered for Spanish classes in Lake Atitlan; should I choose to live with a host family or in an apartment, or in a room of my own? Suggestions?

Don'tcha Wanna Ride?

I just said, quite possibly, one of the most embarrassing things to ever say.
And I am never embarrassed.
Once it was said out loud, I wanted to crawl under my bed and hide.
We were talking about all the possibilities of my life right now; the jobs I was applying for and the things I want to accomplish. And along with that came the reality that I may need to move in order to fulfill these goals. And along with that came this comment:
"And it's not like I'm dating anyone here. And I've been here for 3 years! And the last person I even dated seriously was a YEAR ago! ...If this isn't the place for me, maybe I need to be somewhere where people are more serious."
And then my stomach dropped.
I really said that.
It came from my mind.
From my lips.
From my voice.
This is how I really feel? This is what I really think? That I should abandon an entire city, simply because I'm not dating someone?!?
I didn't think I was that sort of girl.
O wait.
I'm exactly that sort of girl.
The kind of girl who will move if someones not actively making a move. It's why I left Provo like a bat out of hell. It's why I was okay with leaving Denver (land that I love!). It's partially why I fled the Bay Area. Is it me? Or is it LDS men? Lazy daters? Slow movers? I'm all for taking my time, steeping slowly into commitment (shudder)...but why all the hesitation in even getting to know one another? I simply do not get it.

And just when I think I am getting my just desserts for being too opinionated, independent and intimidating for the LDS world, my neighbour who is the complete opposite of me in nearly every way- adorable with big blue eyes, innocent and blonde as the morning sun (and nearly just as young) exclaimed, "I am thinking of moving because I'm just SICK of the Huntington Beach scene!" ...Okay. I must admit. Of all people, I did NOT expect the following to come from a mini-Barbie that's only lived here for 6 months:
"The problem is that there are a limited number of attractive LDS guys around here. And an innumerable amount of extremely attractive, intelligent women (she gestured toward me; thank you, my mini-Swiss Miss.), and they can't decide who to date! And they don't want to spend money or time to find out WHO they should date because they're too cheap and too scared, so they just do NOTHING! It's cowardly and it's stupid and it's pathetic!"
Well, sweetheart, I must say, I agree. There IS something rather pathetic about a man who is frozen by fear and indecision. But we're not even asking for a decision to have a relationship. And therein lies the miscommunication.

I'm willing to bet (back me up on your opinions, ladies) that 89% of all women would be happy with a casual date with someone who is interested in knowing her better, with no expectations of a committed relationship. Period. But I'm figuring, statistically, judging by our experiences, that men are actually the ones putting the cart before the horse when it comes to dating. They are the ones putting the pressure on themselves to get too serious too fast. So you're pressed for time. I hear that, brother. So am I. So let's run our errands together. Let's wash the car. Let's go grocery shopping. We have to eat, right? We may as well multi-task! So you're cheap. I know it's Orange County and they'd have you believe that everything is about the almighty dollar, but there's not much cost in reading on the beach. Or going on a bike ride. Or surfing. Together.

We don't want a man to stalk us until he decides he wants a relationship with us and THEN starts asking us out. You're right. That setup IS intimidating. It IS a lot of pressure and it's bound to create disappointing situations. But what's so wrong with playing the field? Here's a secret: Girls don't mind if you're dating several of us. There are really only three things I can imagine a girl would have cause to hate you if you were truly playing the field:
1) If you're trying to play it with her BEST FRIEND. ie: the girl she shares a room with.
2) If you're telling each of them that you want to have babies with her (THAT is leading someone on...NOT a second or third date).
3) If you're making out with all of them but don't actually LIKE any of them.
Ladies, take note- if a guy is not doing the above, he is playing FAIR and SQUARE. Let's have none of this "I'm 19-at-BYU-and-think-a-guy's-a-dog-if-he-went-out-with-two-different-girls-in-the-same-weekend." Please. Grow up. Gentlemen, take heart; I don't personally KNOW any women who think that way, and considering I know A LOT of women, I think you're in the clear. So. No excuses.
Get out there and play.

And someone, for pete's sake, come on out and play with me. Because this train is a rockin' on forward...
In the meanwhile, I send out my thanks to all the men I haven't dated. I guess it's thanks to you that I able to be so independent. It is your indecisive immovability which makes me so utterly mobile. Your lack of experience lends me the ultimate freedom to experience everything this world has to offer (except for you, of course, my darling). And yes, truly, not dating you has given me the time to make my life absolutely incredible. So. Sincerely. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I am very happy to say, I just sent the following email to my friend. On a bus. On her way to LA. I love my life.

Aly- Just a suggestion:
Delta. The dates are flex, and it's only $300.
Things you should check out:
If I take Spanish for two weeks, you may also be able to share housing with me for about $5 a night in a hostel, OR we could live with other visitors in Spanish speaking housing (it's only $65 a week for housing, including 3 meals a day with host families). This is the deal and pricing for Lake Atitlan. It's only 20 hours a week, so I'd be done around noon every day.
Here's another site that is in Antigua where there are service opportunities and Spanish classes (also only for 20 hrs a week) where we could stay and I can study in the morning while you plan and we could play by the afternoon. I am still all for going to San Jose (the beach 5 hours away) and between the two, Atitlan is by far my favourite place- it's mini-ports are all different and it will be like an adventure every time we cross the lake!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Crazy Asians

So, it's not that I'm a traitor to my race or anything, but why do people think that I would be "perfect" with (insert Asian man here)? It's never, "he's so funny," or, "you'd really get along well," or, "he's super into music," or, "he's really into musicals"...Sooo many qualities to choose from, people. Pick a personality trait. But what do I get?

"I know who'd be good for you!"

Awesome! What's he like?

"Well, I think he's Korean. Or maybe Chinese. Or from Hawaii or something..."

Um....Hawaii...That's cool. What's he like?

"Well, I think he's, like, some kind of Asian or something."

I've had this conversation, nearly verbatim, for the last 12 years. I realize the physical may be something difficult to see beyond, but can someone please set me up with somebody who'd be good with my personality instead of operating purely off my genetics?

Here's a word of advice: While matching up your friends is a really nice gesture, and I really do wish people would do it more, I somehow don't buy into the fact that physical similarities are the best route for forming a relationship. Or, more specifically, based on race alone. Trust me. Imagine the random associate from work saying, "Oh. You're Mormon? I know a Mormon. You should go out with him," and magnify your emotional response by 17. Here is how it ends up:

"You Philippina?"


"You LOOK Philippina."

I'm not.

"Are you sure? I know Philippinos and you LOOK exactly like them!"

Well, I'm Chinese and Korean.

"You're not Chinese."

Yes. I am.

"You don't look like it."

Okay. Fine. I'm black.

Not only does this conversation happen more often than I'd like (anytime I meet a returned-missionary from -insert Asian country here-) and I know it's just people trying to be culturally sensitive and "aware," but let me tell you right now, folks. Don't. Please. Just don't argue with someone about their race. It's so tacky. And really embarrassing. For YOU. The likelyhood that you are a racist is slim, but I say this on behalf of all my brothers and sisters of colour who may also be tired of living in a world that professes to be colour-blind, but makes things worse by asserting they are culturally astute when they're not.

I Had A Dream.

Last night I had a dream. I was in the marketing department for Mattel, and they needed a new image. I came up with Career BarbieTM. Someone capeable and intelligent, who we can respect and admire. "Giving girls an image they can work toward!" The launch of Career BarbieTM included a presentation and a fashion show (Fireman BarbieTM was my favourite), followed by the biggest lawn picnic you ever did see. Complete with pink lemonade in champagne flutes. It was a delight. Everyone was there. I saw Lucy Liu and Lisa Ling, waved to Martin Scorcese, YOU were there, a ton of people from Huntington Beach, old neighbours, old friends- it was great. I ran through the grassy knolls in my puffy fushia sparkly ballgown and tennies with my pink lemonade champagne and I had a splendid time.
When my alarm clock when off, I leapt straight from the grass to my desk and plink! turned it off to start a BRAND NEW DAY!

Does anyone else wake up this excited? And does this mean I need to work for Mattel?

Judge me all you want. I genuinely love this song.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Class It UP: '007

So every year I devise a theme. Resolutions seem so corporate. And I don't believe in taking away from my life ("I'm going to lose 15 lbs, I will stop this and never do that, etc...") Rather, I like to ADD to my life; one year I decided to drink 100 ounces of water daily (it's SO great for you!), another time I said I would always make any meeting outside my house into an occasion- no hats, no grubbies- you deserve me to dress for the event of being in your presence. Even if it's at McDonald's.* Last year, the theme was "Class it UP: '007." And let's face it: It was high time for the upgrade. How did I do on my goals? Well, let's see:

First off, I went from my 1984 walkman that eats batteries like it's going out of style for a sleek, gorgeous, dynamic-looking iPod. It was love at first listen. What a way to kick off '007. But I still have old faithful. She's a relic and I love her. And those mix-tapes are GOLD.

For the first time ever, I bought products. Usually I just survive off of whatever my friends are throwing out to determine what goes in my hair, on my face, or in my mouth. (That last one still stands, but you know, "Waste Not, Want Not." It's a classic phrase.) Thank you,

Instead of hoofing it for free out in the great wide open gorgeous, temperate beaches of Orange County, the obligatory Southern California gym pass is a part of my daily routine. Which is good, because I don't like to run in conditions (ie: -60 degree weather, rain, drizzle, fog, or sunsets before 5pm). $24 for a 24 Hour Gym that will accompany my insomnia? Excellent. It has also helped me to overcome my fear of public sweating (I don't mind sweating in public- it's OTHER people collectively sweating that makes me rather nervous). So that's a step away from massive germaphobia. Progress. Granted, my trainer determined I should lose 10 lbs in 8 weeks, to which I seriously questioned if it were necessary for a size 4 woman to lose 10 lbs, and isn't that totally unhealthy and unreasonable as an expectation for someone with boobs she didn't have to purchase? Questionable.

Blackberry and Magellan have changed my life by improving my efficiency level exponentially. You have no idea how much time I lost before by driving around in circles (if you've ever been in the passenger seat, you know what I mean) and now I can actually keep track of birthdays, addresses, anniversaries...You know. In case I ever decide to actually send a card or something crazy like that.

While journaling has never been a strong suit of mine, friends were rather persistent about beginning a blog. Since Blogg was born, I have found your responses fascinating, and the opportunity to write frequently about relevant issues in our lives has been terribly interesting. Mostly I just like telling strangers what to do. I've continued my policy to leave the country at least once a year and celebrated thirty-fun and Thanksgiving in Guatemala, which was pretty excellent.

Thanks to year-end-sales, I even hit my mark of finally finding suits that don't make me feel totally stuffy and lame and boring. Congratulations, United Colours of Benetton; add me to your list of suckers. I swear; you go in for ONE brown pencil skirt and walk out with three 3-piece suits and a sweater dress that could quite possibly get me to travel somewhere where gigantic sweater dresses are required. Possibly.

So yeah, basically '007 changed my life. Thanks for the memories.
* For more complete listings of prior annual themes, please note the journal pages. I hope you find inspiration and rejuvenation in living your best life.