Thursday, August 20, 2015


I've spent the majority of my life with long hair. There are a handful of times that I have cut my above/around my shoulders and because of this, I know short hair doesn't suit me. I look better with long hair, I know this, so why mess with a good thing? Because it's time to get out of my comfort zone. So, yesterday I chopped it off.

A lot of this San Francisco journey is about getting out of my comfort zone. Like, physically, getting out. I left LA and the friends I was comfortable being myself with and now, I left my hair...on the floor of Steel + Lacquer. My cousin Lena and her business partner Jarrod opened their very own salon earlier this year in SoMa. It's a beautiful, modern space with really talented stylists. 

I knew cutting my hair would be a great way to have a fresh start in a new city. It felt more like something I needed to do rather than wanted. I craved a newness. This seemed like a symbolic way to leave any doubts, insecurities and split ends (obvi). Lena cut my hair, but she let me make the first cut. The first, awkward, long chop. And like a good cousin would, she took video. I'm not able to post it here but here are screen shots of the beginning and end:

I left the rest up to the professional. 

Coco Chanel said it best, “a woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Impromptu Road Trip

On Thursday I decided to go on an impromptu road trip to visit my grandma about an hour and 45 minutes away from San Francisco. There was a ton of traffic driving out of the city at about 5:30pm so it took a bit longer than it should have, but that's what happens when I make last minute plans. My drive was accompanied by a beautiful sunset and I alternated between listening to Wil Wheaton reading Armada and music. 

It was great to spend time with my 할모니 (Korean grandma); I haven't seen her in about a year. Something really great about Modesto is the super fresh, locally grown produce. We went to a fruit stand Saturday morning and got some delicious white nectarines, peaches, plums, almonds and corn. 

With the fruits and veggies in tow, I headed out on part two of the last minute road trip to my parents' house in Southern California. It has been a bit of a burden having my car in SF. I felt like I couldn't really explore and enjoy the benefits of the second most walkable city when I had to keep moving my car and worry about parking. I wanted to walk, ride my bike and take the BART! So I wanted to leave my car with my parents for now. I haven't even been in San Francisco for two whole weeks yet and I'm already fleeing. But I wanted to get the car situation taken care of. In retrospect, I feel like it was what I needed to do to let go of LA (for now). When my parents still lived in Modesto, I would do this drive pretty often and it became therapeutic for me. Just me, the road, good music and my thoughts. I haven't really had that feeling in the last few drives back and forth but I definitely felt that way on this drive. I felt a much needed sense of clarity and closure on LA for the time being. I feel like I am finally ready to embrace SF. Also, I'm about halfway through Armada and it's getting really exciting!

I arrived at my parents house and my mom had Korean food ready as I walked in, of course. I caught up with my folks and showed them pictures of my new life and hung out with my dog. I was exhausted from all the driving so I slept like a rock that night. 

The last minute flight back to San Francisco wasn't as cheap as it usually is and it was even more expensive from the airport closest to my parents. So I booked a flight out of LAX instead (for half the price!) and had Marcela come pick me up on Saturday afternoon. My mom has a need to feed people so she already prepared the meat to cook for lunch the second I told her Marcela is going to come get me. She made galbi (Korean ribs), veggie tempura and some other side dishes so Marcela had no choice but to stay for lunch! I made the plans for Marcela to come get me on Saturday without really knowing what she already had planned that day so we headed back to LA so she (we) could babysit her adorable niece. I didn't have much time in LA so I thought it best not to tell people I was in town. How am I supposed to enjoy SF when I keep holding on to LA? I am forever grateful to Marcela for picking me up from my parents', hanging out with me so last minute, taking me to the airport and just being there for me in general. xoxo

Now I'm headed back to SF, for real. I won't be back for a month, at least. Really.

(I actually already have my next flight booked).

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Golden Gate Park

Yesterday was my first day at Golden Gate Park. I've visited San Francisco plenty of times but never made it to this glorious park. I was surprised to learn it is 20% bigger than Central Park! My friend, Will, came down from the East Bay and we explored the eastern half of the park. We started with the hot dog stand by the amphitheater, because priorities. We ate on the benches in front of the theater as some high school looking kids rehearsed their rendition of Twelfth Night. It was kind of adorable and brought back good memories of performing in plays years ago. 

After food was taken care of, we started off at the Botanical Garden. I was most amused by the squirrels and geese but the flowers were really beautiful. There were different sections for flowers and plants from all over the world. 

Next we got coffee from the de Young museum cafe and saw some of the sculptures just outside. For my first trip to the park, I just wanted to do some of the smaller things and come back to spend a full day at the museums. Then we went over to the Conservatory of Flowers. Since its opening in 1879, the beautiful greenhouse has suffered damage from several fires and a winter storm. Surprisingly it was unaffected by the 1906 earthquake. I don't have a green thumb in the slightest but I can appreciate the beauty of plants and flowers and this is a great place to see them at their finest. There are different rooms within the greenhouse with separate climates to accommodate the variety of tropical, aquatic and potted plants. The lawn in front of the conservatory is beautifully landscaped with colorful flowers abound. 

We walked around the park and stopped by the carousel and heard some live music under a bridge. The park was lovely and I can't wait to come back and explore other areas of it.

Later that day, I had dinner plans with my cousin, Lena, but she had some surprises up her sleeve. We met her two girlfriends for dinner and she was super vague but we were also supposed to go to a birthday party of a friend of a friend's afterwards. It turned out that we met a group of her good friends at a karaoke joint as a surprise welcome for me to San Francisco. I continue to be amazed by the love and kindness from those closest to me and their help with this move. I don't know what exactly I plan on doing in this city, but the support I've had along the way makes it feel like the right decision. 

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” 

- William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Superpod 4

Day 1

Today I drove my car to the airport, took a plane to Seattle, took a Lyft to tour the city (thanks Robert!), met up with my dad back at the airport (flying in from somewhere else), we took a bus to another bus and then a ferry to San Juan Island. 

Just to summarize: ��✈️��������

Texts with my dad: 

Upon our arrival to the island we had dinner at a cute restaurant and then headed to the hotel. Everything shut down pretty early so all the shops I would have gone to were closed. Friday Harbor reminded me of Catalina a bit. We turned in early because all that traveling was exhausting. 

Day 2

Early to bed, soooo early to rise! I woke up unnecessarily early. My dad and I had coffee and breakfast as we waited for those darn shops to open. I especially wanted to check out this bookstore we passed by the night before. When I did the math for the travel time going back to the airport, whilst looking at all the ferry/shuttle schedules, I knew I was going to miss my flight. Even though I had my audio book with me, I wanted another for the extra time I'd have to spend at the airport waiting for the next flight. So, I picked up Go Set A Watchman. Because literary phenomenon, am I right? We went to a couple other shops and talked to a few orca enthusiasts before going out on our whale tour. 

My dad wrote a song about Lolita earlier this year. She has been in captivity for 45 years after brutally being taken from her mother. Her pod and mother are still out there, perhaps awaiting her return. Seven orcas were captured with Lolita from Puget Sound (a bit South of where I am today) and she is the only one still alive today. If you can call being in a pool "living," that is. She is being held captive at Miami Seaquarium. Lolita has been listed under the Endangered Species Act earlier this year and hopefully this will help get her returned to the ocean where she belongs. 

We boarded the water taxi with four other folks and Captain Hobbs. He told us from the beginning that the orca pods have been spotted farther out that we can go in our three hour tour, but he seemed hopeful. It wasn't looking good, we were an hour out and still nothing but birds. 

The view was beautiful and it was a great day to be out on a boat. But let's face it, I didn't ride in a car, plane, two buses and a ferry to look at birds. And then the K Pod showed up! I saw three breaches but didn't manage to get a good picture of any of them. There were about five orcas and they were just amazing. Seeing them was completely worth missing my flight for (and the next flight). The pictures came out a little blurry as it was hard to take them quick enough when they popped to the surface. 

Orcas are beautiful and intelligent animals that do not belong at Sea World, Seaquarium and the like. They live much longer in the wild with their families. I hope Lolita and all other captive killer whales can return to the sea and reunite with their pods. And sea parks can suck it. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

The New Adventures of Old Vina

I've had an amazing last two weeks. Just before this spectacular time, I quit my job. Even months before this stupendous 14 days, I decided to move to San Francisco. I love L.A. I love the weather, the sunsets, the beach, the abundance of Korean food that L.A. has to offer and I love my friends. This was a terribly difficult decision to make. The thought of merely being open to the idea of moving gave me a migraine. 

Let's scooch back a bit. I grew up in the Central Valley, my parents would take me to San Francisco often. We'd do the touristy things: Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard Street, Chinatown, whatever. It was great to visit. I would go every once in a while with friends and it was always fun, but I have never wanted to live there. Not. Ever. Around the time that I peaced out of NorCal, my closest cousin, Lena, moved to San Francisco. We'd visit each other and I got to enjoy S.F. more with her than ever. In the last year or so, she'd jokingly tell me to move there. I was very adamantly against it. Every time. She always made sure I'd have a good time there and tell me how great it would be for me to live there. I adore my cousin, she's an amazing person and I am so proud of the woman she's become. We grew up together and used to wear matching outfits. She is the sister I never had. Earlier this year, she had given up on convincing me to move there, so obviously, that's the visit that it hit me. That's the one that made me think, "hmm, I could move here..." Lena and her fiancé recently moved into an amazing new place and offered me a place to live, a part time job and the emotional support to make this move. How could I refuse? So, I didn't. 

I planed out the months to follow to take advantage of what I love about L.A. I did road trips to Arizona, Joshua Tree, Big Bear, Vegas (twice) and San Diego. I ate a lot of Korean food. I went to Disneyland and Universal Studios with some amazing people. I went out, danced and socialized more than ever. And I had the best birthday party of my life. I went HAM and wondered why I didn't YOLO this hard ever before. Sure, it was exhausting and I don't remember the last night I went to bed before midnight or had 8 hours of sleep. But it was all so worth it. I never wanted to make a big deal out of my move because who knows what could happen? I could have very well changed my mind, packed all my shit for nothing and turned that car around. I could also be here for three months and realize this isn't for me and can't find a job and realize I made a huge mistake. Despite the huge potential of failure, I knew I had to go. At least for a little bit. 

My last day of work was July 2nd, timed perfectly to enjoy the holiday weekend and I gave myself two weeks to pack/toss everything I own and see the people I cared about most in SoCal. It was a lot of work but I made sure to have a lot of fun amidst the packing and trips to storage and Goodwill. I had most of my lunches and dinners planned with friends during this time (I had to pack up my kitchen after all, there's no way I could cook). I had an amazing Fourth watching the whole city turn up. I went to the beach, went paddle boarding and hiking. I didn't make excuses and I said yes to almost everything. This is the most fun I've had as an adult. I thought all of this would make it more difficult to move, and it did. But it also made it easier because I felt closer to ready. I did almost everything I wanted and saw everyone I wanted and now I'm ready. 

My friends Mafe and Marcela helped me load up my car on Saturday morning after an unexpected thunderstorm in Culver City. I like to think the skies were upset about me leaving. But I left with the beautiful petrichor in the air and I can't think of a better way to go. After stuffing my car like a sausage, Marcela and I did the scenic drive North. The 405 to the 101 to the 1. It was a few hours longer than it would have been going straight, but I've never done the coast drive and it was the perfect opportunity to do it. I made a Spotify playlist for the drive and my sweet friend, Diego, burned a few CDs for us to listen to. I also had a new audio book (Armada) for the few times Marcela dozed off. We stopped by San Luis Obisbo, San Simeon and Big Sur. The roads were beautiful and we held our breath and made wishes on almost every bridge we passed. 

We arrived at my cousin's house late Saturday night and Marcela and I did a little sightseeing on Sunday before she flew back home. I unpacked a few things but this still feels like I'm only visiting. Especially because I will be in Washington Monday and Tuesday. BRB!

As much as I've done the last two weeks, really the last few months leading up to this, it would have meant nothing if I didn't do it with these amazing friends. That is what I will truly miss. (And the Korean food, obvs).

Here's to new adventures in San Francisco and figuring out my life. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Thursday a.k.a. Surprise Farewell Party

I have been packing on and off between trying to see all of my friends before I flee the city. My good friend Pookie helped me get rid of some stuff and take my last batch of boxes to storage. Sometimes I just need someone to yell at me and say I don't need to keep certain things. After all the work, we went to brunch in Marina del Rey and did a little makeup shopping. I've been sweaty and gross the last couple days of packing so I was excited to use my new products and look decent for my dinner plans Thursday evening. 

Marcela, Mafe and I were having dinner in Downtown LA and we've had this on the books for at least a month. Originally I was planning on driving to SF the next day (instead of Saturday) so this was going to be our last supper. I made so much progress with packing that day that I was able to take my time getting ready and I even curled my hair, which I haven't had time for in a while. I'm glad I put the extra effort into getting ready because little did I know, I would be seeing a lot more people than just Marcela and Mafe! Mafe said she was meeting up with a friend beforehand and would me us at the restaurant for our 8:30pm reservation. I waited at Marcela's house as she was running around doing random things, turns out she was stalling to wait for everyone to arrive at the bar for the surprise. I think she said about three times that she was calling the Uber (lies) as her sister distracted me with an interrogation about the kind of guys I like, deal breakers and acceptable age gaps. It was a pretty entertaining conversation and it effectively distracted me from how late we were to dinner at this point. Once we finally got in a car, I realized how hungry (soon to be hangry) I was. I let Mafe know we were about 10 minutes away and she said she was still waiting for a table at a bar across from the restaurant. I was wondering why we were waiting for a table when we made a reservation that we were twenty minutes late to. We got out of the car at the restaurant and walked down the street to the bar she was at. I picked up a cupcake along the way and scarfed it down, because priorities. We get to the bar and it wasn't "across from the restaurant" like she said. There were a few things that didn't add up at this point, but I wasn't expecting what I was about to walk into. We were carded at The Down and Out bar and I walked in as I was putting my wallet away while about ten of my friends were lined up right there at the entrance. It was a great surprise and all night I was so touched that my friends put this together. I can't believe I didn't start crying right then and there with everyone staring at me. Kathleen handed me a shirt the girls made and were already wearing for our little "Hammettes" group which includes Marcela, Mafe, Kathleen, Karlena and myself. Karlena handed me a plate of waffle fries because Marcela tipped her off her that I was hungry. That's what friends are for! Then I proceeded to hug my way down the line of people. We played ping pong and beer pong and had an amazing time. It felt like my birthday all over again. There were a handful of people there that I thought I already saw for the last time (for now) and some that I didn't think I would see again before I left. It was a perfect night and I couldn't ask for better friends. I'm so grateful for everyone planning, showing up and being part of this surprise send off. It's amazing nights like these that also make it that much harder to leave.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Death Cab for Cutie @ The Hollywood Bowl

February 4th at 10am was the moment Death Cab for Cutie tickets when on sale for the show at the Hollywood Bowl (a mere five months later). This is probably the first time in my life I actually bought concert tickets the minute they went on sale. Death Cab is one of my favorite bands. Transatlanticism is one of my favorite albums. And there are a handful of DCFC songs that are amongst my favorite songs of all time. There is usually one specific song from each CD that just pulls at my heartstrings somehow and makes me cry. 
I don't know how he does it, but Ben Gibbard certainly has a way with words.

This was a pretty significant concert. Not only was I in love with this band but I was going with some of my closest girl friends who all loved them as well. And this show was basically how I planned my move to San Francisco. It was the last thing I had planned in LA when I started getting serious about the move so I decided the week of the concert would be my last week in LA. 

The three songs I absolutely wanted them to play were "Transatlanticism," "I'll Follow You Into the Dark" and "Passenger Seat." The first two were played earlier on and after a long cheer fest for an encore, they came back with "Passenger Seat" and melted my heart. The girls and I had our arms around each other and swayed as we sang along. It was a really special moment. 

"Passenger Seat" is the song on  the Transatlanticism album that gets me. It's so eerily sweet. My earliest memory of the song was listening to it in the car with my friend, Mark. We were in a couple plays together a lifetime ago and would often drive to Starbucks or wherever after rehearsal listening to Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service, Modest Mouse and Weezer in particular. He was very talented and made me laugh. We had lost touch when I moved to LA, which was completely my fault. 

It had been a couple years since I last talked to him one of my visits home and I saw his picture in the newspaper. His face stood out amongst a few other photos, it looked like 15 or so driver's license photos with a headline that said something about all the homicides in the county within that year. I immediately had to Google what happened and discovered he was stabbed to death after escaping his car that was set on fire. I will forever keep our memories of the plays we did, the fun we had and our drives with him in the passenger seat. 
RIP Mark Anthony Hensen II.

The concert was amazing and I am thankful that I got to spend it with girls I love.