A Dream Fulfilled: I’m Going to London

One of my favorite poems is Dreams by Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes. As a child, my siblings and I memorized his words and never forgot them. (My mom is a direct product of the black power movement in the Bay Area, and she instilled a source of cultural pride in us early). Now, as I prepare to spend a glorious week across the pond, Langston’s words come to mind:

Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams,
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

I never forgot these words, though I faltered and stumbled (and still do) along the way. Dreams are for keeping, harvesting and fulfilling. Though traveling is often viewed as an expected privilege by many, for me, it’s a dream come true. I’ve always seen myself as a free spirit, bound by responsibilities, but unchained by my dreams. Now, as I inch closer to completing just one of these dreams, I’m filled with an optimism and determination to believe in ALL of my dreams coming true. God said it, and HE can do it! So it’s done.

Wish me luck!

 

Where to Watch Fireworks in the Bay Area

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Here we are,approaching another 4th of July. For me, fireworks never get old. I remember forcing my best friend (already a jaded New Yorker) to trek all the way to Manhattan (from Queens) just to catch a teeny glimpse of fireworks over the Hudson. Yes, there were throes of people and it was insane and annoying, but in a beautiful, hot summer city night type of way.  I like sparkly things, what can I say? For all my fellow fireworks enthusiasts, I’ve compiled an extensive list of where to watch fireworks in the Bay Area. Before I gift you this prize, however, you must follow these rules:

1. Stay out of overtly urban areas after dark. Gun shots and fireworks sound identical.

2. Fireworks are not a DIY project. Leave it to the professionals. It’s not that serious.

3. Get there early, or prepare yourself to see the show from your car.

4. If you can, avoid driving. Public transpo is convenient and usually more affordable.

5. Have fun! But not too much, and keep it legal.

Where to Watch Fireworks in the Bay Area

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Berkeley Celebration

What I love about Berkeley is their carefree and bohemian approach to all holidays. This celebration lasts 12 hours! From 10 am to 10 pm, enjoy crafts, food, fun and end with fireworks at 9 pm.

Concord 5K Kids Run & Festival

The run starts at 8 am early, but the festival at Mt. Diablo High School is from 4-10pm, concluding with fireworks at 9 pm.

Suisun City Festival & Fireworks

Yea, I know, this isn’t always considered the Bay. But since I spend lots of time here, thought I’d share their festivities for all those in the far far northeast Bay Area. Festival lasts all day at the Waterfront, while fireworks commence around 9pm. This is my pick.

San Francisco Pier 39 Celebration

Of course, San Francisco’s fireworks take the cake. Though they share them with Oakland, Berkeley, and any other city adjacent to the bay, these are grand in every sense. Get out there early and make a day of it, starting at 12pm.

Santa Clara All-City Picnic Celebration

South Bay likes to keep it chill. I don’t blame you! Drag the family down to Santa Clara’s Central Park for a day of fun. Face painting, enough said. Fireworks kick off at 9:30 pm.

Calistoga Fireworks Spectacular

Did you know Calistoga had more to offer than wine? They had me at massage and merlot, but fireworks too? Rejoice! Had I known this ahead of time, I would’ve grabbed my wine glass and gone. Oh well, maybe next year. Parade at 11am, and fireworks at the Napa Fairgrounds at 9:30 pm.

For a more comprehensive list of places to watch fireworks in the Bay Area, click here.

 

My First True Love Was a City

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Since humanity began, we have tried effortlessly to define just what love is. We’ve idolized it, compartmentalized it, analyzed it, trampled all over it with our pointless  perspectives. What we do know is this: love is something everyone wants. Whether you desire it from a man, woman, mother, father or friend, the bottom line is that you want it. We write movies about it, develop complex theories around it, we even have laws that try to govern it. All to no avail. The truest thing about love is its inability to be controlled, no matter how you try.

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So what’s all my rambling about? Its about true love. True love: pure, unselfish, and genuine. True in its rawest form. A love that isn’t decided upon or calculated, no, it’s all encompassing and invigorating. Sure, this type of love is scary, but it’s the type of love that inspires you and challenges you. True love.

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My FIRST true love was a city. Some might say my first true love was a boyfriend, but that’s not the case. At all. For me, at least, it cannot be pure once it’s aimed towards someone. It just can’t. Nah, my first true love was San Francisco. Not because it’s a city without flaws (for it has many), but despite them all my romance with fog city has remained. As I sit here at 900 ft elevation and stare down on the city that captured my heart, I’m happy. I’m truly at peace. So much has happened here. I became ME here. The ME I always was, but didn’t embrace. I stumbled, tripped, picked myself back up, fell in and out of love, and discovered life here.

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It took my a year to learn how to style my hair to withstand the relentless fog that rolled in at 4pm daily. I accepted that a half tank of gas equals 8 hills–maybe less if it’s a windy AND steep one. I understood that REAL San Franciscans don’t shop in Union Square or hang out in Pier 39. I also learned that this city is very segregated, and that the best soul food is on Third St. The best bars are hard to find. The Marina is not my scene. That tightrope walking, drinking beer or wine, sunbathing, playing frisbee, smoking, having a picnic, making out and tumbling down hills are ALL acceptable activities in Dolores Park; in fact they’re encouraged. Buses are dangerous, trains are safer, Market St. transforms after 10pm, Ocean Beach is never warm, Giants games are overpriced…the list goes on. Ultimately, the truth is, Frisco offers so much that I never wanted to leave the city. Until I did. And then, life is never the same.

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But love remains. You know what they say about your first, you never forget. I love this place and always will.

I Can Finally Say I Was Wrong

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This is me, about five years ago, looking pensive as ever at age 24. As much as I miss those fun times, I can’t help but look at this picture and realize how deceitfully calm and serene I appear.

At the time, I was stuck in this Bermuda Triangle: I found myself in situations I could not easily escape. Without delving too deeply into the details, let’s just say I was indulging in my “free spirited” side back then and truly believed I was justified in all I did. Five years and countless lessons later, I can say I was dead wrong.

This past weekend, I spent some quality time with a friend I rarely get to hang with. We’ve traveled in separate circles since I met her, but I’ve always related to her spirit, as if we talked every day. This conversation, which resulted in me missing my first train and running to catch the last one, was about relationships.

For the first time, I candidly spoke with her about a time in my life that awarded me a reputation as a man-eater and heart-breaker. A reputation I used to be proud of. A rep that came back to bite me. Severely. Truth is, I deserved the rep I incurred. I made so many mistakes and carelessly handled hearts I claimed to cherish. I took stupid risks and asked questions later. I set myself up for disappointments and mistreated people who didn’t deserve it. My heart was half healed in full blown relationships.

For a long time afterwards, I justified my actions. Though my reasons were legitimate, they weren’t RIGHT. As I matured, my relationship with God increased, and my selfishness decreased (still working on it y’all). But it was only after speaking so brutally honest about my past that I realized I can truly say, “I Was Wrong,” and mean it. No “but” at the end, no persuasive argument, no justification. Just a moral admittance. I Was Wrong. In saying this out loud, releasing the words into the atmosphere, I was also releasing myself. And it was powerful. I’m free.

 

How about you? Can you genuinely say “I was wrong” out loud and mean it?

Recipe Wednesday: Very Berry Cheescake Parfaits

Ever since I tried my hand at dessert recipes (key lime, anyone?), I’ve been getting pretty adventurous in branching out to more delectably sweet things. Case in point, this past weekend, I successfully prepared cheesecake parfaits as part of a homemade fancy schmancy Mother’s Day Brunch. They appeared as elegant as the flowers, and tasted as good as they looked. However, they were not as easy to make as they seemed. Sure, I could’ve opted for a prepared parfait filling, but where’s the fun in that? I’d much rather brag talk about how I made the filling from scratch. I’m just saying!

The thing was, getting the mixture to soften and smooth proved much too difficult for my usual mixing spoon, and too complex for a simple fork. What was a girl to do? Blending was a disaster and I don’t own a food processor (want & need). Continue reading