Chicago: Where You Are Your Most Authentic Self

They say that there are feelings you can never find words for, and you will learn to name them after the ones who gave them to you. I’m doing just that, except for me it’s with all the places I’ve been to.

My best friend and I have a few traditions, and traveling every summer is among the most consistent of all. Why are we best friends? I honestly don’t have an answer for that.

We are inherently different in many ways – we have completely opposite personalities, and our logic reasoning contradicts. She, is crazier than I am. I think we can safely say that. Where I am timid or hesitant to make my presence known, she stands right beside me. She makes no apologies and gives zero fvkc. She is a lesson in taking up space – and as a woman – that’s a vital revelation.

Yet we are not so different. We see things from almost identical perspectives. We both come from a long line of fighters, a honest place. There is one doctrine we always hold dear to our heart – on the face of any matter, we act with raw instinct and absolute candor.

Chicago is the sixth city we’ve been to together, and embarrassing stories happened all the time to say the least. They are messy, crazed, and amusing. To mention but a few, in Seattle, we attempted to put in a song request at a club, and of course, no one cared. We then missed our flight back to San Francisco because of a detour to get boba. And during this trip in Chicago, we went out with our Airbnb host and her friends only to get charged extra for the same consequential reason. Just typing these already makes me chuckle a little.

Below I have curated a list of highlights of my time there. Do read on and bookmark these spots if you are planning on a trip to Chicago one of these days.

To do:

  • Willis Tower
    • As an iconic landmark of Chicago, Willis Tower is the tallest observation deck in the city. It offers sensational panoramas of the entire downtown and the extended coastal line. A recent addition – the Ledge – all-glass balconies extending four feet out allows you to look down to the street from the 103rd floor. (Tips: if you plan to take some good photos at the balcony, have your poses ready ahead of time as every person only gets about 30 seconds due to the long line of people waiting.)
  • Navy Pier
    • If you’re a kid at heart, Navy Pier would no doubt be your favorite adventure. This corner city is sort of like a carnival. It contains some rides, a Ferris Wheel, a Shakespeare Theatre, a Children’s Museum, an oddly large number of beer gardens, and even miniature golf.
  • Lake Front Trail
    • A nearly 20 mile recreational area that runs along the Lake Michigan. The waterfront promenade boasts sweeping views of the entire harbor. You’ll find many locals running, walking their dogs , or chilling on the bench.
  • Millienium Park
    • Located right downtown, Millennium Park is one the most stunning bits of urban planning in the city. While there, don’t miss the Cloud Gate sculpture, locally known as “The Bean.”
  • Oak Street Beach
    • We didn’t make it this time due to a time constraint, but Oak Street Beach has always been on my bucket list as it consists of two of my favorites – beach and skyscrapers. If you’re traveling to Chicago in the summer, a beach visit is a must!

To eat/drink:

  • The Hampton Social
    • If you’re anything like us, you’ll probably fall in love with this place as soon as you see the the stylish, nautical interior. Serving up seafood and beach-themed cocktails, The Hampton Social hosts live music events, and offers a breezy hangout space just as the Hampton getaway.
  • Bridge House Tavern
    • Brunch by the river walk. This is the place to go if you like to accompany your meals with a nice view.
  • Lao Sze Chuan (on Michigan Ave)
    • Lao Sze Chuan is known for its modern interpretation of classic dishes. The atmosphere of this place is more upscale than your usual good Chinese restaurants. Not many people can handle the Szechuan hot spicy, but this restaurant is definitely worth a stop.
  • I|O Godfrey Rooftop Bar
    • For an undeniably beautiful view of Chicago, head to the Rooftop Bar, perched on the top floor of the hotel Godfrey. Just keep in mind it can get very crowded on weekends.
  • The Allies at Soho House
    • Very rarely will you find a place that can serve up morning pastries and latte as well as it does evening cocktails, but Allies is one of the few. My recommendation is head over for a cocktail or two after a long day of exploring. A beautiful interior, and a prime location inside the exclusive Soho House are just the icing on the cake.

Chicago is the place where I get to be my most authentic self as I am taking the most steps I’ve taken for myself in a long while.

Plan a trip and hop on a plane, with or without a companion. Go stare at the vast universe. Acknowledge your trivial existence as well as your absolute importance.

I’m doing just that for myself, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

‘Tis all.

Thanks for reading.


Love always,





What It’s Like To “Adult” on Short Notice

Two things that happened last month has fast-forwarded my life at an exponential rate.

In a blink of an eye, here I am, a 20-something adult who just witnessed my first friend get married, and started my first full-time internship in SF Financial District.

Real shit in life slapped me in the face – marriage is now a thing in my age range and right beside me, the urgent need to follow a grandma schedule so that I can wake up for my 9 am, the thought of how I want my future to look like and whether my abilities match up.

All of which, if I’m honest, has caught me off guard. I’m still unready (and yes, too lazy) to ACTUALLY “grow up”.



As I fumbled through my first two weeks of internship, I’ve found that adulting was not just what I’d always envisioned it to be – exempting from homework and exams, or holding responsibilities that more experienced adults cling onto.

Essentially, it is about the process of becoming.

You do the “adulty” things to feel, pull through, and eventually pass into the state where what you have to do is what you do.


And in the process of adulting…

I: Bonding With the Right People Is Key. 

Interning at a non-profit has definitely taught me the hard way.

What we do? We host events to raise awareness for partnered charities. We bring those who can help to those who need help. To be more specific, it involves high levels of face-to-face communication, creative brainstorm, and team spirits on the daily basis.

In a setting where I have to constantly meet clients and make them believe what I believe, I’ve come to recognize similar characteristics that dwelled in those who reciprocated in the conversations, and expressed concerns in the matter.

Regardless of their final decisions, they showed respect, demonstrated proper demeanors, and responded with a dose of compassion.

They behaved this way NOT because this was all they knew. But they saw their own full spectrum of capabilities, and decide on it.


It’s vital to differentiate the right people.

FullSizeRender 18


“The best kind of people are the ones that come into your life, and make you see the sun where you once saw clouds. The people that believe in you so much, you start to believe in you too. The people that love you, simply for being you. The once in a lifetime kind of people.”

“I’m so lucky to have you two (´༎ຶོρ༎ຶོ`)


I’m not naturally a people person. I’d go out of my way to ignore someone I know in the street when I’m not in the mood for a conversation. Sometimes I’m extremely socially conscious but also fiercely individualistic – wanting to fit in a group but never compromising my personality to do so. And ALWAYS having the tug-of-war between “YES, I WANT TO GO OUT” and “nah, grandma needs to rest.”

But when it comes to the right people, I’d want to, and feel the need to invest in them.

I still do things on my own terms. But I’ve come to minimize excruciating small talks. Divert the effort to people who I know would appreciate and reciprocate. Listen to and learn about their stories. And be vulnerable enough to share some of mine.

It is then I learn that as soon as I begin to pay ACTUAL attention to the right people, foster meaningful and consistently loving relationships with them,

They will respond in the exact same way and take matters into their own hands. It’s Law of Attraction 101… Duh.


II: There Will Be A Lot of Rejections.

To be frank, out of the countless pitches we delivered, the percentage of funders we converted was not too high (but close to average, though).

And as an intern, I am the first point of contact for potential clients, and inevitably, receive rejections firsthand.

“I’m on the clock.”

“I’m in a big hurry.”

“No thanks.”

By taking in all the rejections littering almost every conversation, I was reminded of the convenient elements in formulating an excuse – time, incompatibility, etc.

They exist in different forms in a relationship.

“I’m not ready.”

“Let’s take it slow.”

*No response*

Human beings, especially myself, have developed a high capability to deaden feelings, and a tendency to lose one another.

We owe this skill to our mastery of empirical rejections – the power that comes from numerous trails of deciphering messages (three-letter responses, disappearing for hours, for example) and acting on that knowledge to normalize and absorb the same behaviors (keep it short, make him wait).

We reject the rejections anticipating a comeback. We play the same rules the other person set. Basically, we let other people dictate our actions.


I’m an avid believer in magnetism, the power of human aura, and its ability in influencing the things and the people around.

When facing negative energy, a skilled empath would acknowledge it, know how to discharge and deflect it, but MOST people would unknowingly absorb it.

And I was one of them.


My friend was right. I was like a robot. I was programmed to embrace the concept of give and take, only willing to put in as much effort as I received. All the toxic energy so caught up with me that even when something good happened, I questioned if they’d be better off without me.

I expected the worst, so I refused to be forward.

I hated feeling void, so I’d rather not have it at all.


But alas,

All the rejections thrown at me at work brought me face to face with the lost pieces of me – my ability to crush objections. Instead of feeling defeated, I could be an initiator myself, a source of positivity and vitality for others.

I’ve come to be wiser and more patient. I stopped letting the negativity. Or the “texting rules.” Or the fear of getting rejections deter me from trying.

Try, anyway.

Continue to love and long and lust for the pleasures of life. In every single way there is to express to and experience the people around.


Be sweet. Be caring.


“But what if it doesn’t work? how do I get better?”

Annalee set down her crossword. “You should say good-bye.”

“It’s too late. He’s gone.”

“Sometimes it helps to say it anyway.”

“Can you tell me … Did he ever feel the way I did?”

“Ah, baby.” Annalee tapped her pen gently on Gracie’s hand. “Some of us wear our hearts. Some of us carry them.


– Stephanie Perkins, “Head, Scales, Tongue, Tai”


III: What You Do Makes YOU Who You Are.

As you might have guessed, working for a non-profit wasn’t my first choice.

Right, my internship decision has gotten me some slightly shocked looks at social gatherings, “that must be, umm, rewarding?” folks would say, sneaking a glance at my scuffed shoes.

It’s strange how oftentimes there is a negative connotation associated with the name “non-profit.” The public perception would link it with lower pay, fewer resources.

As real as it gets, my two weeks of experience told me the otherwise.

In this short amount of time, I met some of the most inspiring team leaders in my life. They had high stamina, tactical communication skills, and were willing to teach. And also a group of charismatic interns who came from varied accredited universities and owned big hearts.

Despite of the name “non-profit,” I was surrounded by individuals who motivated me, challenged me to be better, and I aspired to become one day.


I was at war with myself: do we choose our jobs based on what we expect to gain or who we hope to become?

I think the truth is that life is going to place you into many, many uncomfortable positions. And sometimes we don’t really get to choose. But if it matters to you, cultivate it.

Here’s the rub: it has to matter to you.

Dig it. Work on it. It’ll all add to your characters writ large.

Be kind. Be good.

My internship decision might not sound as cool as other corporations,

But I see myself in it.

Because at the end of the day, this is the type of person I hope to become.


IV: Be Patient, It DOESN’T Happen Over Night.

Conventional wisdom is that it takes 21 days to form a new habit,

And anywhere from 18 to 254 for a lifestyle change to feel automatic.

Since what we’re talking about here can mean making a fundamental change to the coding of our operation system,

Depending on your levels of commitment I’d go right ahead and triple that.

 Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 22.43.37 

I think that’s like it all about.

Learn something you always wanted to, learn something you hate so much,

But you’re never too good at anything.


With all love,

A gloomy optimist




Toronto: Home Is Where The Family Is

Toronto is the city that always holds a special place in my heart, because of the people, and the memories that followed. This weekend getaway consisted of: family reunion, speaking home dialect, celebration of middle-school friendships, and rose-tinted memories filled with nothing but love. To top it off, my brother and I got a picture together in as long as I could remember, and we didn’t even look alike (。-_-。).

This trip was made possible in large part thanks to my cousin, who was studying abroad in Canada, and to celebrate her completion of the program was conveniently taken as an excuse for the two families to gather in Toronto, where my brother and his wife now reside in.

Just as re-reading a book at a different stage of life would allude to new visions, re-visiting a place for a different purpose would give you an experience unlike something else. My last visit to Toronto was part of my high school graduation trip, in which I got to fully explore the city in the span of two weeks. Three years later, I was back to this city. It felt familiar, like visiting an old friend, yet intriguing, as this time I was with my family.


Family trips don’t happen often as I grow up, and my last memory of the four of us – my parents, my brother, and I – being together was already two years ago. My parents are not naturally expressive people when it comes to parenting. Many times they attempted to be caring, loving, things came off as ugly – gentle reminders became nagging grumbles, occasional chitchats became hypersensitive fights.

The teenage me was especially rebellious, impulsive, and careless. There were times when my mom and I needed to communicate in letters – it was writing that allowed us to take all the space and time that we needed to sort out the emotions and put together the thoughts. I still remember her handwriting was so firm, so angular. There were strikethroughs scattered here and there, but nothing big enough to affect readability. During my most paradoxical stage of life highly dominated by adolescent hormones, my mom sought out a written form of communication that turned out to be the most effective buffer in the relationship between us. We resorted to a common ground through working to understand the misunderstandings. After all, “I love you” and “I’m sorry” and even “I don’t really give a shit about you” are communicated more through actions than through words.

Something I never said too much – I love you. My parents never said it much, either. And I thought I’d be different, but I guess I’m not. Don’t be mistaken if I appear to have received an unhealthy upbringing (although that is kind of the direction this took, my bad). I truly feel more than grateful for the independent and soft spoken role model my mom has embodied. A sentence like “I love you” is never extra, is never too much of a sweet note to end a phone call with the family, with the loved ones.


Okay, before I digress into more childhood story, below are the spots I personally love to stop by in Toronto:

To Do

  • High Park
    • Best time to go: late April for the cherry blossoms or September for some fall colors.
  • Toronto Islands
    • A short 15-minute ferry ride will take you to another world of idyllic picnic spots, car-free streets, and beachfront attractions. I spent a day here biking around and enjoying the nature. I have to say the Toronto’s growing skyline from across the harbor is the reason alone to visit.
  • Niagara Falls
    • It is about two hours from Toronto, easily accessible by casino buses. There are also ice wine breweries around the area for those who are interested.
  • Kensington Market
    • Located right next to Chinatown, Kensington Market hosts a number of diverse restaurants, specialized groceries, and self-employed vendors, from vintage jewelries to ethnic fashions. Tip: remember to haggle to get the best deal!
  • Ireland Park
    • A green, quiet corner nestled inside the Metropolitan area. At here, you can appreciate the Toronto skyline in peace, and a handful of bronze sculptures, of course.
  • Cloud Gardens
    • An indoor garden located in downtown Toronto, open only in the mornings on weekdays.
  • Chestnut Hill Lookout
    • Known as the perfect makeout spot in Toronto, it is hidden in a residential neighborhood. At here, you can overlook the entire Don Valley Parkway.
  • Montreal
    • As a historic hub of the nation, Montreal exudes a slice of old Europe in a pie of magnificent architectures. It is an overlooked town that you don’t want to bypass if you’re not on a time constraint. It takes about six hours of drive or an hour by plane from Toronto, but spending a day or two here is plentiful.

To Eat

  • Jarbistro (Japanese fine dining, set off by a chic interior design of light wood and exposed brick)
  • Sake bar Kushi (Sushi & grilled Japanese eats, with striking dark wood interior traditionally decorated)
  • Fishman Lobster Clubhouse Restaurant (Hong Kong style seafood creation, ft. king crab, gigantic lobster, and mean-muggin’ fish)
  • Lavelle (rooftop bars / French eatery / brunch)
  • The Porch Toronto (rooftop venue for cocktails & brunch)


(Additional photos of Toronto Islands and Montreal from my last trip in case you wonder how they look like:)


This trip was so short, yet so sweet. I miss this place already.

As always, thank you for reading.


With love, warmth, and all other good things





Yosemite Valley: The Spring Playground

If you haven’t noticed, I have a thing for national parks. Specifically, I’m most comfortable in workout gear and the only slightest idea as to my exact location at any given point in time. I find comfort in falling off the grid and abiding a different clock than the outside world. And Yosemite gave me an exact experience where the charm hasn’t been overshadowed by the deluge of modernity. It is something that I’ve always longed for.

We didn’t leave Irvine until 9:30 p.m. on Friday due to the little detour to Summer Land (aka the school music festival that for once with a decent lineup). After a four and a half hour drive singing our heart out to Eason Chan (the ultimate roadtrip song obvi), We arrived in Oakhurst, the small town where our Airbnb was located. Hidden in a valley, it was an exquisite gabled cabin with a triangular roof. Standing on the balcony, you could hear the silvery sound of the running creek and the water splashing the rocks. Outside the cabin, you would find a million stars shining bright in the sky. It’s like the wish would really come true if you made one… ya feel:)

Yosemite was such a resilient playground where we were welcomed with idyllic views and vigorous energy. The scenic drive into the park was only a small taste as to what you’ll witness once in the valley. The trails varied from staircases to flat fields dipping below the waterfalls. The streams were in full force raging with water from melting snow. We maneuvered across the creeks with the least amount of water-to-pants contact.. but only to get drenched in the mist flowing off the falls. Here I included a list of the spots that my friends and I went to during our time at the park:

  • Glacier Point
  • Lower Yosemite Falls
  • Bridalveil Fall
  • Mirror Lake

Although we were only able to visit a few spots due to the heavy traffic and the limited amount of time, we had zero issues filling our day. When you hate something there are millions of words to describe it, but when you’re happy, that’s it – you’re just happy.


Stay adventurous,




12 Lessons I Learned as a 21

There’s something therapeutic about train rides.

The constantly onward progression offers restless panorama moving backward. With the passing of view, I’m able to reminisce about the elapsing of time, on its own steady pace.

I once was a girl filled with wanderlust. This girl, this past me, would boldly trek through valleys of euphoria and trudge up mountains of sorrow, is but an old acquaintance.

Four years ago, I arrived on the American soil, with no expectation of what reality would throw my life into.

I took in, and took in so much, to the extent where the spectrum of color was muddled, and the delicate boundary between toxicity and substantiality was blurred.

Four years later, I found myself on the island of the Great Britain, washed by the Atlantic Ocean in the North, yet differently, with concise values of education, lifestyle, and sociality.

I recognized things in colors. I was able to evaluate what I encountered from the perspective of what I had experienced.

Today, I sit in a room filled with emptiness, exhaustion, and eeriness. Yet I’m tired of once again attempting to build a rapport with a whole new world, expending emotional labor, luxuriously and incessantly.


2016 was such a year of trying. 

Trying to search, connect, and accept.   

And more specially, it was the year of me as a 21, being a 21.

To me, 21 is a noble number, as it takes away the excuse of baby-ing and grants the title of adult-ing. Though the society seems to assume a 21 with ever-widened knowledge of knowing how to adult, I, at heart, did not come to realization of certain things until I let myself.

Yes, 1. the most worthwhile moments are the ones that I let myself.

Yet, I’ve been too down to keep letting myself.

And you can’t really un-feel a sensation, or un-know something like heartbreak.

I had been loved, and I had loved.

I craved for intimacy.

I expected bilateral conversations day in, day out.

I verbalized my loving feelings.

I took initiative to make things happen.


Basically, I had zero chill.

But now, I have way too much chill.


The same innocence and vulnerability that allowed me to love so hard have also doubled in intensity as lie, rejection, and loss entered my life.

I don’t want those feelings.

So I’ve built walls.

I’ve become suspicious of possibilities, and turned down opportunities.

My inability to feel let me down a rabbit hole. I’ve dug into the artifacts of my past relationships with families and friends.

As naïve as it seems, teenage impulse and young love’s purity is a fucking force of nature. The same way they generate conflicts and clashes, an unbroken heart is able to rebound and recover from the custom lessons of growing up, and is able to live and love without the burdensome knowledge of the darker side.


I’ve come to a realization that 2. friendships and relationships are built on needs. The relations are maintained because two parties feel valued. Imagine if you never have a reason to need them. It is when we humble ourselves to the fact that interdependency is essential that we uncover a true relationship. It’s okay to reach out.

3. If you believe that tears are the vibrant signs of vulnerability, think again. Being vulnerable means being honest with yourself, expressive of feelings, and open to who you trust. Tears are not vocal.

4. There’s no games of better and worse. It’s simply a matter of is or is no longer. If you don’t matter to certain people. It’s not about you. It’s simply the fact of irrelevancy. There are just some people you don’t click.

5. Take pride in your passion. It’s your identity. It’s what gives you comfort, and makes you you.

6. Spend time with fam. While your social circles expand as you grow older, you are still the world to your parents, who go through life with your best interests in mind. Learn to care about them the same way they do for you.

7. A period of sobriety helps you realize things. It is a period of rediscovering self-worth and balancing life options. You might realize people who you usually drunk call don’t hit you up with a sober reason either. As cliché as it sounds, to build a meaningful relationship, start with the one with yourself.

8. Traveling is fun, but there ain’t no place like home. The place you can be ugly in peace.

9. Little things ain’t little. The texts you send. The one more question you answer. The people you speak to. The kindness you spread to people. It all counts. And it all stacks up.

10. Yet, little things don’t always matter. “Don’t worry about the little things. Don’t spend energy on drama that you won’t care about in a year or two. Letting it bother you is already half the battle lost.”

11. Never underestimate a good education. Likewise, don’t take diversity and gender equality for granted. We live in a California bubble. And it is what we’ve done to get us where we are. Educate yourself. Stop saying things like “that’s so gay,” elevate your diction, question things.

12. One day you will look back, and know why it all had to happen. Not the best 12 lessons, but they are the ones I learned from the moments I let myself. Open to new possibilities, you might learn a thing or two.



A work in progress



How I learned to Embrace Feelings

I have a natural habit of rounding up reflections. Just because of something that I’ve experienced, reluctantly compromised to, and eventually embraced.

Feelings are luxuries. Human emotions are given at the cost of others and consumed by the pain of ourselves, or happiness, with luck.

As much as it sounds like I’m an extreme pessimist, I’m a firm believer in feelings, in soul mates, and in wearing heart on sleeves and following where it leads.

While I collect my past from romantic overindulgence, barren apathy, to destructive resentment, my sensitivity to feel and my capacity to reflect tend to go up as my emotions go down.

This has made me believe that feelings are organic, unstable, and impermanent. They are luxuries because they are fleeting.

Yet through the humility of holding onto something tighter than holding onto myself, I’ve become aware that there’s no better way to catch and relive my feelings than by writing down in words.

Out of my collection of feelings, I’ve experienced an abundance of new ones these past months. To be exact, they weren’t the ones that I could pleasantly take in and store them into the memory story. They were enigmatic, and sometimes helpless. They often compelled me to confront, and deal with them.

This enigma was seasoned with spice and sugar, the two that produced completely opposite flavors, yet gave me two of the most meaningful lessons in life.



At the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I let myself possess by someone who saw me as a possession.

He had an athletic body and the most genuine smile. But what he gave me was more than just eye candy.

With witty humor, intuitive insight, and exceptional social skills, he surpassed me not only by years in maturity, but also in sophistication.

I guess that was also what got him so much attention, and made him a player who was careless, nonchalant, and had commitment issues when it came down to relationship.

When I came to identify the ways that he treated me as varied forms of disrespect and out of apathy, I still held on. I made the minimal good outweigh the vast amount of bad.

From a mutual connection morphed into a unilateral attachment, he showed me where the demons live. He brought out all the negativity in my body that I’m capable of.

But we were never together. In the competition between us, he won for caring less. But soon I realize there was no such thing as competition. The trophies-for-everyone rule doesn’t work for adulthood. There is no “if we want something, we get it.”

I’ve learned that sometimes, feelings are unreliable. They don’t guarantee a payback. Yet too often in life I bank too much on feelings, and expect the rest to come easy. It’s not enough.

Just as a tree grows from a seed, it must be supplemented with affection, dedication, transparency, trust, day in and day out dynamics of communication. They’re practices bringing out of feelings.



This year, I became closer to someone who embodied the ideas of caring, selflessness and persistence, which was a combination of a blessing and a curse.

It was a blessing because it was the kind of love I needed the most in the midst of the college fun and games. It was also a curse because I was blindfolded with my peter pan syndromes.

Women who came of age during Y2K were spoon-fed a solid version of what it means to be in love. Part of me still hung up to the value of ideal impression, common ground, and maybe the zsa zsa zsu -or butterflies.

For the first time in a very long time, I attempted to design a relationship top-down: “I don’t like this jacket in the photo.” “Why don’t you smile with teeth?”

That was such a fallacy. I was digging for love in a person, instead of a person I could love. So when something was perceived less than ideal, I dismissed the possibility as the “right” fit.

To him, I was never ready. To me, I came to realize that I also had commitment issues, which later identified as a go-to excuse for incompatibility. It was lack of chemistry, and the feeling of completeness.

He brought me back to the realistic basis of a relationship: pet peeves, imperfection, and dissatisfaction. When the flaws started to outshine the personality, and the criticism gradually dominated my psychological self, all I had left for him was appreciation, instead of affection.

I never said yes, and I have no regret in my decision. It’s not completely a loss, because I’ve learned that feelings cannot be forced to reciprocate, from a receiver perspective, which gives me a bigger picture in understanding it as a giver, for that matter.


The Luxury to Feel

Three is always the largest number in literature, as it encompasses the world, the one in store of all you need to understand all you have.

After all, this seasoned enigma is never tangible.

It’s a puzzle with bare bones and broken pieces that I put together with time and reflection. It’s a riddle with busted emotions and bad decision that I try to get something out of. And I did.

I’ve come to realize, to truly embrace feelings, you have to let yourself feel, while practicing your ability to choose, not blindly, impulsively, or emotionally.

And there’ll be a time, you’ll feel it, for what it really is.

On Chrever

It is 4:30 a.m. –Daniel Chrever arrives at his usual spot nestled in a corner at The University Town Center. Garbed in his all-time straw western hat and washed-out leather jacket, he gets off from the van and drops off all his boothing supplies. Chrever sets up the table, puts the scratched donation box on top, and hangs down a sign. The sign reads, “Help homeless men and women with all types of donations God bless. 2 cor 9:7 God loves a cheerful giver.” He tapes a photo of his grandson, Charlie, and himself on the donation box, cautiously wrapped with a clear cover. From a red nylon bag, he takes out an album of wolf photography, an umbrella, and a pair of glasses. He places all the items from the bag next to the donation box.

The sign–”Help homeless men and women with all types of donations God bless.”– is Chrever’s way of raising public awareness and funds for a beautiful cause known as the  “Homeless Shelter” program based in Compton, California, which provides the homeless with a variety of resources including transitional housing, food pantries, free medical and dental clinics. All collected funds help with payments of rent, gas, water and utility for transitional housing.

Homelessness is pervasive and entrenched in our society; it exists among adolescents and adults alike. The “Homeless Shelter” program is a national organization that exists to alleviate the issue and provide a stable shelter for the needy. Homelessness is relevant to the downtowns of nearly every city; this is due in part to the fact that most homeless folk are not willing to relocate to new areas.

The program recruits volunteers all year long, most of whom are originally homeless, to set up booths for fundraising. The program applies street collection permits and places the volunteers throughout Southern California. A handful of these booths are located in Irvine: Wholesome Choice Market on Culver Drive, Trader Joe’s at Walnut Village Center, CVS pharmacy on Alton parkway, etc. Chrever, featured at the beginning, who is garbed in his straw hat and leather ensemble, has been with the program for nearly thirty-five years. He spends the majority of his time sitting adjacent to the Trader Joe’s located in the University Town Center in Irvine (UTC).


Chrever meets many folks as he disseminates public awareness of the cause. He makes eye contact with the clusters of college students who get their daily dose of caffeine from Peet’s Coffee. Tender Greens and Veggie Grill are packed nearly everyday during the lunch time hour; he smiles and waves them down. At any time of the day, locals walk out from the Trader’s Joe after grocery shopping. Locals spot the booth within seconds and stare at the sign. As the locals pass by, Chrever says,  “Donation for the homeless.” They look at him smiling and continue walking. Seconds later, Chrever takes down his straw hat and says, “Thanks, have a good day.” People are still walking back and forth. Chrever continues,  “Donation for the homeless.” Soon a young lady walks over, draws out a handful of coins, and inserts them into the donation box.

“How are you doing?” Chrever asks.

“I’m doing well. How about yourself?” The young lady responds.

“I can’t complain another beautiful day,” Chrever smiles.

“Yeah,” the young lady says. “It’s gorgeous out.”

“I thought it’s gonna rain, but hey…”

“Nah, it wouldn’t do that to you.”

“Have a blessed day,” Chrever says.

Chrever is a devout Christian who firmly believes that “God has plans” for everything. His belief in a higher power was the original impetus for his affiliation with the program and always has been. In the red nylon bag that he carries to booth everyday, he slides in a notepad with a few copies of the poem he wrote, a bible, and an album of wolf photography. It is the little things that keep Chrever going. “Hope” is the only poem that he didn’t lose during countless times of relocating:

“He is always near to lend an ear, so we have no need to fear.

Open the door of your heart and Christ will enter your heart and set you free as he did on the cross of Calvaryo.

Put your trust in him and you will always win. You must remember to give him all of the praise and glory.

Every time you pray a prayer, Christ will prepare to give you a blessing. So now he can show you how to forgive others so your heart can become tough as leather.”

Coming from a fragmented family, where his father passed away in 1987 and mother in 1997, Chrever does not have the opportunity to see his sister and children often. His sister is homeless; she resides in a park. She has witnessed two of her homeless friends get killed because of the lack of a settled shelter. Stories like this, that happened around Chrever’s daily life, always strike him hard. In addition, his youngest daughter, Danielle, disappeared leaving him Charlie. Life has thrown him countless curveballs that caused challenge and fear. Chrever has confronted all obstacles with optimism and resilience. Even at the worst times, he remains on top of life, heartfelt, relentlessly believing in God, and dedicated to “Homeless Shelter” program to help the needy.

Chrever has a genuine enthusiasm for living animals, especially wolves. His daughter bought him an album of wolf photography for Christmas present and he carries it to booth everyday. During down times, he likes to take out the album and flip it over in his lap. As Chrever stares at the photography, he remarks, “Wolves are part of the circle of life.” He continues. “Like the lion king, everything has a purpose to be here.” Animal Planet is the television show and reality programming that he often relates to. He says, “Wolves have parental instincts like human.” Chrever raises his voice. “All animals I’ve seen are fascinating.” In living animals like wolves, lion king, and American eagles, he finds the most vigorous energy, vivacity and power, something that is difficult and rare for him to attain due to his living environment and disadvantaged conditions.


On the first Friday of May, the gloomy sky shed beams of dim lights across the meadow and ashen clouds were filled with rain. It is the week when Chrever has scheduled to visit his two-year-old grandson, Charlie, at the Serenity Infant Care Homes in Covina. Chrever hears a tapping on the window and it becomes a pitter-patter. With the tik tok of the rain striking on the window, Chrever is getting more impatient about seeing his grandson.

In the afternoon, Chrever gets a ride from his friend and arrives at the homecare center. The Serenity Infant Care Homes is a non-profit foster care and adoption agency established to provide specialized homes and comprehensive programming to abused, abandoned and neglected children. It also serves as an office for adopted children and their biological family to meet up. In general, children who are separated from their biological family because of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional mistreatment or neglect are in need of a safe nurturing home. Charlie was sent to an adopted family when his mother, Chrever’s youngest daughter, ran away. The adopted family drops off Charlie at the home care center every other Friday for family to visit. Chrever is the only family member ever present.

Inside the home care center, there are two separate rooms intended for different appointments. Chrever is scheduled for a one-hour appointment with a social worker to visit Charlie. After checking in with Chrever, the social worker carries Charlie and leads him to a room. The rainfall is much heavier now than before. The murmuring of the rain can be heard through the window. Dusky light passes through the glass window and is cast over the floor where toys and wooden building blocks lie. Charlie keeps jumping up and down, running around the room, and tries to climb the stairs.

Chrever stares at Charlie and yells in his raspy voice, “Get to watch out where you’re going.”

Charlie continues to be immersed in his little world, throwing the building blocks all over the place and rolling his eyes to the directions. Suddenly, the rain outside the window catches his beautiful blue eyes. He stares at the puddle where raindrops hit the ground and have created bubbles. He raises his right hands and starts to draw circles in the air.

“Bubble, bubble…” Charlie mumbled. He then runs over to the windowsill and rolls his eyes on the bubbles.

“No, no, you can’t. You’re gonna get sick.” Daniel bursts out at Charlie and holds on to him.

Chrever tries to lead Charlie by the hand and walk him back to the toy area. Charlie pulls his hands back, attempting to walk back to the windowsill. “No, no, you can’t. You’re gonna get sick,” Chrever repeats. He slightly tugs Charlie over with one hand and picks up two balls with another hand. Chrever tries to juggle balls to distract Charlie from the rain. He puts a ball in each hand and throws the first one to the right at head height in an arc. Before the ball reaches his right hand, he releases the second one towards the left. Chrever moves his arms in a gentle circular movement, as the balls go. This trick does draw Charlie’s attention and he starts to follow the balls and draw circles in the air again. Looking at Charlie’s enthusiasm and curiosity, Chrever is fueled with his energy, beaming with smiles of joy.


Chrever lives in a shared room with a member of the homeless shelter. They share the kitchen, living room, a garage, and two bathrooms with other people. Because of the hectic schedule with the program, Chrever arises at 2:30 a.m. for pickup, and comes back around dinnertime. During his spare time at the apartment, he usually rests in bed. In a few hours, he gets up, walks to a corner store and buys a pack of cigarette. Everyday, it just repeats: wake up, booth, come home, sleep, and cigarettes.

Chrever intends to read bible and write poems, but it is extremely difficult for him to concentrate at this bustled environment. Neighbors a block away always play music at a maximum volume. He can hear roaring engines at any hour of the night. People talk at all hours in the apartment complex. His roommate plays Candyman on the television in the room. Regardless, Chrever has written a few poems that are mostly represent in deep religious convictions.

Chrever finds solace in spending time alone. However, as a witticism he says he does not have preference for being alone in all aspects, especially when it comes to relationships. Chrever enjoys talking to his girlfriend from San Luis Obispo; he really loves her. The two of them met on an online dating site. They have not met in person yet, but Chrever is hoping to meet up with her as soon as she gets her paperwork done for her family business. The entire process requires about two hundred dollars, which Chrever is not able to afford. He has thought about selling his old camera to trade for cash to help his girl out. He has also tried to earn money from some odd jobs: lawn work, landscaping work, construction; but has had no luck. Chrever hopes that he will meet his girlfriend soon. He would like to move to Montana or Colorado with her. He could go anywhere in the world, but he makes it quite clear that he wants to relocate to one of these states for one purpose; he mumbles, “Not Florida with the alligators, Montana or Colorado with the wolf.”