Favorites Friday: Words to Live by

I’ve been contemplating a lot of life decisions lately, spanning from Grad school to homebuying and wedding saving. I know that for a lot of people, 22 (soon to be 23, eek!) is early to be thinking of these things but planning is an inherent part of who I am. And there’s nothing more disappointing that feeling unprepared. As my old ASB adviser Grivel would say, “Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance!” Thinking of how this quote has surprisingly following me from homecoming planning to life planning, I thought this Friday would be a great time to share other quotes I’ve felt inspired by lately.

Favorites Friday : Words to Live By

1. The Road – I love reading this quote when I’m confused about what I want to do in life or who I want to be.2. The Work You Do – This quote always makes wonder what it’d be like to give up the job search and take a leap of faith.3.¬† Not easy – I can feel this being applied to life, love, work, anything!

4. Love – Too many people in mediocre relationships need to know that this love is possible.

5. Thankful – This quote always puts life into perspective.

 

Happy Friday everyone! Have an awesome weekend.

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Simply Traveling: Lessons in Travel Planning

One of my favorite places in Florida ūüôā

* I wrote this entry before the creation of SimplyEvani but since it’s travel related, I decided to keep it!

I’m finally back and I’m back for good! I know I’ve been so inconsistent with blogging these days but I’ll be better about it now that all vacations are said and done. Find a way to forgive me while I entangle you in a post about our crazy vacation.

So for those of you who follow my blog,  you remember my post about planning this vacation to Florida. It was clearly already an ordeal planning for it but it became apparent that planning was only half the beast. Here are some of the lessons I learned on our vacation gone wild:

Despite our problems with Delta, the touch screens were wonderful on our flights!

After all the anticipating building to Florida, 2 weeks before we leave¬† I’m calling Delta airlines to see what their change policy is. Lesson #1: ALWAYS check airlines change policy prior to purchasing. After checking the weather report at least 5 times a day for a week, it was obvious that thunderstorms were eminent. Suddenly all appeal of Florida was gone. Much to my dismay, the change fee for Delta was $200 per ticket, not including the difference in flight price. After my days of panic trying to decide what to do, Rob made the executive decision that we would go anyways. I moped about the weather endlessly but I resigned to make the best of it and we kept our reservation. Lesson aside, Florida could not have been any more sunny and beautiful than it was when we went.¬† (We just barely missed Hurricane Irene, which came in 2 days after we left. Imagine if we had booked for that weekend instead!)

Lol

The night prior, I had checked us into our Delta Airlines flight and learned of the checked baggage fee (Lesson #2: Always check for hidden fees on airlines and hotels). For those of you who know how proud I was of us paying so little for our Florida trip, you can imagine the look of horror on my face. At 6:00 am the next morning on our way to the airport, Rob and I were consolidating our luggage into 1 (which was totally do-able!). I had already printed out our boarding passes when I checked us in the night before and as we excitedly go through security check points (yea, we’re new to the travel thing), I notice our tickets have seats printed on them. And the seats are in different rows.

Lesson #3: Don’t be afraid to ask for what you paid for. As I realized either bookit.com or Delta had screwed us over, I was determined to make this change. Approaching the Delta airlines counter several times, I made sure Delta knew I was not to be denied.¬† When the employee asked if we were willing to sit in the emergency exit, I willingly jumped on that. Moments later, they gave us new boarding passes to the emergency exit, which was a godsend to Rob’s unbelievably long legs. We had the best seats on the flight. Much to my dismay, we were assigned separate seats on 3 out of 4 of our flights. After our first victory, sternly requesting the emergency exits on the rest of the flights gave us seats together.¬† Although I credit our tenacity at demanding what we paid for, I have to give props to Delta for always accommodating us.

So true

Upon arrival in Florida, the weather was phenomenal. I won’t bore you with all the details of how beautiful and sunny Florida was. We ate, drank and enjoyed ourselves to our heart’s content (I will probably do a separate blog on travel tips and recommendations on Florida later). The funny part of vacationing was that the more we tried to plan, the more plans fell apart. On Monday, one of our few full days in Florida, we woke up at noon (EST). The planner in me was furious that we slept half the day away but we just went about our day and it ended up being our favorite day at Typhoon Lagoon. Lesson #4: Don’t feel guilty about doing what feels right on vacation (aka sleep). The day we slept in, ended up being out best day and we didn’t crash mid-afternoon.

After allowing things to go with the flow, we had a fantastic time. Although everything seemed to fall into place this time, travel planning is best learned by trial and error. While some of these seem like common knowledge to travel veterans, it was our first time and we learned lots. Hopefully someone out there can learn from our experiences! When we plan our next¬† trip, I know there are a few more things I’ll be watching for.

I’ve missed blogging and all my readers dearly, I hope you missed me too! ūüôā

Happy Tuesday!

Simply Traveling: Adventures in vacation planning

* I wrote this entry before the creation of SimplyEvani but since it’s travel related, I decided to keep it!

Rob and I have taken all of our major vacations (and most of the minor ones) with other people. So as we embarked on the rollercoaster that was planning our own vacation, I was painfully unaware of how crazy it would make me. Luckily, Rob is always prepared for my insanity.

Daytona here we come!

First off, we had less than a month to plan a vacation in August. For me, that was like trying to fit an elephant in a suitcase, it’s just impossible. I was nearly content with spending my week of vacation sitting at home watching How I Met Your Mother reruns when I found a deal to Orlando, Florida through Bookit.com. Flight and Hotel for 4 days as low at $309! Now it isn’t my first rodeo on a travel website and I knew that taxes would take it to around $380. But under $400 seemed viable and suddenly the race for a vacation began.

I started by mentioning it to Rob and gauging his response to this deal. In clearly an act of insanity, once Rob is in, I suddenly drop out. I start rationalizing all the ways that it isn’t fiscally responsible and how unnecessary a trip would be. Cue Rob for his next step, convincing me back into the vacation. For a few days, we dance back and forth mostly with me being gung-ho one minute and completely against it, all within the same short breath. One of my biggest flaws is my incessant need to research so I look up every viable hotel that fits with the deal and as soon as I’m enamored with a hotel, I start looking into reviews on tripadvisor.com. Then within an hour, I completely hate the hotel and move on to the next. You can see how this drew out for a good 4 days as I wiped out a majority of the hotels available in Orlando, FL.

Since we’re walking distance, we’ll definitely be in Downtown Disney!

Much to my dismay, this cheap deal through bookit.com was poised to end by midnight on Friday July 8. Come Thursday night, I singlehandedly researched my way into every hotel and scenario and was defeated. Rob comes over around 8 pm on Friday and takes the laptop. With me feeling dejected and overall beat from the experience of vacation planning, he finds a deal for a “Mystery Hotel located in Downtown Disney”. What this meant is that bookit.com would not publish the hotel’s name and guaranteed a list of amenities with a fabulous price. This seemed like the perfect solution. I began to panic about what if the hotel was bad, or had tacky furniture or even worse had no pool. Much to Rob’s dismay, I managed to google search until I had a pretty good idea what this “Mystery” hotel was. More to save his sanity than my own,¬† I decided not to look into it’s reviews. I told him I was ready to book and we decided we were in.

DisneyWorld, here we come!

My voice rather shaky as I confirmed the details of our flight and hotel, I worked through my panic and gave into the madness. Yes, we were paying $468 dollars (flight, hotel and the cost of shuttles to and from the airport directly to our hotel). Yes, we were going on vacation alone. And Yes, it was basically non-refundable. Those points made me panic. But imagining the 5 days and 4 nights we’ll stay in our beautiful hotel in Florida, I could not be more excited! Our hotel has constant shuttles to all the DisneyWorld parks and we’re within walking distance to Pleasure Island and Downtown Disney. We’re planning definitely to stop by DisneyWorld, possibly the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Daytona beach. Moments after booking and getting the confirmation, I had brief moments of panic, followed by Rob squeezing my hand saying we did good. It makes me feel good that making decisions in life will be so much easier and more enjoyable with him by my side.

Besides my car, I’ve never bought anything as expensive as this trip. My panic and anxiety comes from the fact spending $400 doesn’t come easily to me. Planning this vacation was a lesson in learning to let go for the sake of enjoyment and trusting that I won’t make poor financial decisions. I mean, the best part of living at home is being able to save for life AND save for vacations to enjoy it all along the way. All I know is that in the coming months, I think I’ll need a vacation from vacation planning!

Lesson learned: Appreciation

This week, I found this article on my facebook newsfeed and I knew I had to blog about it: My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant

Jose Vargas

In summary, the article is about Jose Vargas, who gets sent to the US as a child with false documentation (basically as an illegal immigrant). He lives his whole life in fear of being deported back to the Philippines, whether it involves getting a drivers license to proving citizenship for jobs as an adult. He attempts to legally find ways to convince America that he is an American but the article ends with his admission of his illegal status to the New York Times in a very “come what may” expose. I got to the end of that article and felt so deeply for how hard he fought for something that comes as a birthright to American born Filipinos like me. And I won’t ignore the fact he’s Filipino and his talk about his “Lolo and Lola” pulled at my heartstrings.

Everyday, I take for granted that I can live in a country, legally work a job and own a drivers license knowing that America is my country. Growing up as a Filipino American wasn’t always easy. Financially, my parents always found a way to take care of me and we didn’t struggle in the typical immigrant sense. But culturally, I struggled finding who I was as a Filipino . In elementary school I used to tell people I was ethnically American, which of course sounds ridiculous. My grandparents who can speak English but prefer Tagalog, always tried to teach me vocab and I fought them tooth and nail. I pretty much completely denied the cultural existence of being Filipino for the better part of my childhood

Then high school comes along and I stumble upon the Pacific Islanders Club (PIC), which 4 years later I become President of. I finally found a balance between a Filipino identity and my American background. But Jose’s story touches me because he worked so hard doing the opposite of me, trying to convince a country that he was one of them. The liberties I have being both culturally Filipino but an American born citizen, I take for granted everyday. Even worse, I tended to be slightly judgmental of the other cultures that immigrate illegally, assuming that because my family did it legally, they can too. I realized in reading the article, I know so little about immigration and the struggles people endure to become legal in the U.S. The terrible discovery that I misjudged the situation of many illegal immigrants hit me hard, and I’m happy to have greater insight into my own prejudice on this topic.

What do you think?

That being said, I won’t ignore the fact he was an illegal immigrant. I do believe laws are in place for a reason but I also believe there are reasons for change. Jose paid taxes, has no criminal record and is culturally as American as anyone can be. He’s a Pulitzer Prize winner and had contributed to society in a meaningful way. His inability to obtain American legal status is unsettling. I don’t want to get political because I’m not as informed as I should be, but there should be incentives for not coming to the country illegally and doing it through the correct channels. Those channels should also be more accessible to immigrants and I think the Dream Act is something I can stand behind.

What do you think?

Laws and all that aside, Jose’s story touched me because I realized I have so much to be thankful for. Whether it’s the colored paper that is my birth certificate or my ability to call this country my home, I realize citizenship is a gift. Will this mean I won’t ever complain about the government or taxes again? Probably not. But I will be sure to appreciate all the things that make America, the home it is.

When life gives you…sushi

Due to¬†further examination, I’ve decided to do away with Mentionable Mondays. I want to shy away from being overly gimmicky and posting things just because I have to. So, adios Mentionable Mondays, it was fun while it lasted one whole entry.

Umami Burger

In LA during spring break 2 years ago, we ate at the most amazing burger joint called Umami Burger. We heard a rumor that an Umami Burger opened in San Francisco and after a google search confirmed an address, Rob and I were off to SF for date night on Friday.

When we spotted the building with Umami splayed out front and¬†spent 20 minutes driving up and down the same 5 blocks within range of the restaurant, I wasn’t sure if this adventure was made to be. As we finally strolled up to the resturant, Rob jokingly mentioned¬†it would be funny if the restaurant ended up being Umami Thai food instead of our beloved Burger spot. With one peek at the menu, that joke became a reality when Umami’s menu was made up of Japanese cuisine and¬†not angus beef.

Umami

As my stomach mourned the unbelievable mistake we had made, I wondered if a guilt-provoking sad dinner at McDonalds would dull the sadness in my heart. But Rob¬†suggested we go to dinner there anyways. It ended up being a great restaurant, a “trendy” dim-lit¬†place to go for plentiful drinks with friends and¬†a¬†gourmet¬†sushi menu.¬†The rolls had exotic ingredients like goat cheese, wasabi aioli, mango and¬†Rob’s fav pico de gallo.¬†We ended up ordering 3 sushi rolls, 2 drinks and a trio of kobe beef sliders. It was the first time I had ever seen Rob’s face light up after a sushi roll, which unto itself¬† made my heart sing. I don’t even want to imagine how high our bill was (Rob insisted we celebrate our hard earned money with a few expensive date nights) but I’m happy to say the cuisine at Umami in SF did not disappoint.

Just a mere 2 hours before we were paying the bill, we were mourning a wasted trip to SF and at the end of the night, we were rejoicing our blessed mistake. I guess when life gives you lemons, you eat gourmet sushi?

P.S. There is no Umami Burger in Northern California. We will most definitely be having it when we venture down south in August. ūüôā

EDIT June 2012: There is now an Umami Burger in San Francisco! Literally down the street from Umami Sushi… No joke!