Gentrification Guilt


The tall trees lining each side of the street cast a cool shadow on everything as we drive down the busiest street in our clean suburban town. Each time we make this drive, my mom makes the same comment as she looks out the window.

“Me encanta los arboles.”

She loves the trees, the well-kept streets, and the paved walkways.

I can imagine these well-lit streets they now drive every day are a stark contrast to the streets my parents grew up in. My parents grew up in a small town in a small country. They’ve called Los Angeles home for the last thirty years, but a large part of their identity is still rooted in that small town miles away in El Salvador.

Over thirty years ago, my parents were new to this country and landed in neighborhoods full of faces and stories much like their own. Neighborhoods that were, and for the most part are, mostly Latino.

As my parents tell it, moving out of that neighborhood became a prime focus for them. Saving enough money to raise their family, my brother and me, somewhere else. Their version of the American dream was one day buying a home outside of these neighborhoods they first called home.

For the last fifteen years, they’ve lived in a quiet suburban town. The type of place where people walk their dog late at night and jog early in the morning with no fear of who’s around the corner.

The pride that washes over my parents face when they talk about their suburban home is palpable. Moving out of those neighborhoods was an accomplishment. These are the same neighborhoods that so many people are trying to keep Latino by fighting the looming effects of gentrification.

There’s a part of me that feels a tinge of shame when they talk about moving out like it was their greatest escape and highest accomplishment.

But my parents’ identity as Latinos doesn’t rely on their zip code. It’s something they wear regardless of what they say or what they wear.

The perception of my identity relies on the narrative that surrounds Latinos. The way we dress, the way we talk, the neighborhoods we call home.

Somehow calling the suburbs home stains your Latino cred. As if, we can only exist as the truest version of ourselves when surrounded by other brown faces.

It’s the neverending push and pull of being a hyphenate-American. Having to defend and wear our pride with intent to remind people here and there that we’re aware we’re American plus a little something more.

general, wise words

Alone in a Crowd


The phrase “alone in a crowd” has some pretty sad connotations. The idea that even in a room full of people, you can still feel isolated and lonely…it’s a tragic feeling. However, recently I feel like I’ve discovered that there’s something kind of beautiful about it. Recently I had a full day of just me. A day adventure by myself in a crowded city.

I went to a lookout point with a breakfast burrito and some iced coffee (from Cofax) and was met with a few tourists. I went to The Broad museum and stood in line for about an hour with another 50 people then walked around a crowded museum with endless chatter. Then went to grab some food and went to a nearby beach where there were groups of friends, couples, and a few too many models having their photograph taken against the scenic backdrop. I was surrounded by people all day but had no one next to me.

There’s something beautiful about having no one but yourself to please. Taking the wrong turn or being stuck in traffic don’t seem so bad when you have no one there to turn to and complain to or apologize to. Having nothing but your own thoughts as you walk through a crowd is sort of liberating. It’s the realization that happiness and feeling fulfilled and grateful and content is possible amidst a busy and crowded life. There’s always going to be noise, and crowds, and opinions, and work and stress. But as long as you can come back to that place, that quiet place in your head…then you’ll always feel grounded. Realizing that the most important person to make happy is yourself feels like an obvious sentiment but it’s so easily overlooked. We can’t be good partners, good friends or good employees if we’re constantly concerned with other people’s reactions and happiness.

That’s a tough one for me, I’m constantly worried about how other people are perceiving my actions. If people think I’m being nice enough, understanding enough, “good” enough. I know I shouldn’t but it’s my anxiety ridden default. These moments when I’m by myself with my thoughts in a busy room, remind me that there is no one else’s standards that I should be trying to meet. If I love hanging with myself all day then it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks because no one knows me as well as I know me. The people that do like me, love me or tolerate me…well that’s just icing on the cake.

That sense of independence of operating alone and being to make yourself happy in the midst of traffic, and smog and noise is unbelievably liberating. The next time I’m feeling insecure, or unheard, or overwhelmed I’ll have to remember that I am in charge of what makes me happy. I have a place in my mind that I can come back to, where it’s quiet and peaceful. And that place is accessible in a crowded room or by myself.



For the Love of L.A.


I grew up with L.A. as a constant, not something I repped or something I felt that needed defending. It was the backdrop for all my experiences and a supporting character in the grander story of how my parents entered this country as refugees to eventual American citizens. All of this was something I never thought about growing up. It was my home and nothing more. I took it for granted.

It wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco to go to college that I started developing a longing and love for my hometown. San Franciscans are zealous and boisterous about their love for their city. That love is palpable in the energy that keeps the city moving. San Francisco is easy to love though. It’s beautiful, filled with rolling hills and clean air and gorgeous bay views. Los Angeles is big and hard to locate, it’s dirty and often the true view is blocked by the facade of a lewd industry. There’s traffic, dirty air and lots of people who have no interest in really getting to know anyone.

San Francisco is full of people in love with San Francisco, albeit complaining about rent but that’s always followed by, “but it’s worth it to live here.” Los Angeles is full of people complaining first and then mentioning the weather second as a small silver lining. I constantly hear people that are not from the Greater L.A. area complaining and talking about my hometown like they have it figured out. I usually say nothing though, because I’ve come to realize that a love and appreciating for this town has to come from your own perspective. It’s something you have to come to on your own, and that a lot of people never do. I’ll let people have their own relationship and hope that they get to a place where they can find their love for it. I just know that my love has grown from something I took for granted to something I appreciate and am grateful for.

A city no worse than others, a city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness. It all depends on where you sit and what your own private score is. – Raymond Chandler

Los Angeles is the place where my parents became who they are. The time I feel most connected is when I’m driving around with them and they tell me all the important, happy and sad moments that happened on L.A. streets. They can point to the first restaurant in mid-City where they had their first American meal. They can point to our tiny Hollywood apartment near a freeway where I came home to after I was born. My dad can point to the street where he had to run home because he had gotten off late and downtown was still dangerous, not yet trendy. It’s a love that can be appreciated in L.A.’s constant companion – your car.

L.A. will never be this pristine thing, it’s big and it’s dirty and it’s tough to find your place in it but I’ll always be proud. There’s lots of great pictures of L.A., bright sunny and shiny…but this is how I want to always remember L.A., nondescript and a little hazy letting you make it what you want it to be.


weekend warriors

Weekend Warriors: Donuts and Sunshine

Weekend Recap: October 25-26

This weekend my fiance was off to San Francisco to gather with his fellow Giants fans, so I took the time to soak in the quality time with my parents. We’ll be moving out in the next coming months and as great as that is, truth is I’ll miss the time spent with my parents. So Saturday my mom and I ventured to the valley, shopped and ate. The whole day was spent chatting and gossiping.

On Sunday, with my dad off we all ventured to Santa Monica.We went to Dunkin Donuts, which I’ve been trying to visit since it opened a little over a month ago. This Santa Monica location is one of the first DD’s on the west coast and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I can’t say if it compares to the DD’s back east, but I can tell you this much…coffee was on point, donuts were good and the line wasn’t too bad.


From there we drove down to the 3rd street promenade and my dad showed me where he worked when I was born (at a hotel near the beach), we walked around, went down to the pier and got to play tourists for the day.


Got a pretty pic of some colorful cacti (love!) near the promenade.


On the way back we scooped up some pupusas from El Molcajeta (best pupusas in L.A.!), drove back home and chilled until Frank came home. Felt good to have him back, I really missed him. With Monday already over, here’s hoping the rest of the week goes just as fast!



grub and drinks

Fall Checklist



Fall is great and there are so many things to love about it. But as much as I love it the small teenage angsty part of me wants to go against popular opinion and deny it. But you know what? I’m an adult, and being an adult is admitting that something popular things are popular for a reason. Pumpkin patches, leggings and boots are great, there’s a reason we (k, mostly girls) love fall.

Here’s a few things I got on my list:

1. Go to a pumpkin patch, take some pics (you know for social media…don’t act like you wouldn’t instagram your pumpkin patch pic!) ✓

2. Drink my weight* in spiced rum and apple cider (*or you know two or three or four glasses; there’s something about any cider drink that will fool you into thinking that it’s not 85 degrees outside)

3. Catch the Andy Warhol Exhibit at the MOCA (not fall-related, but still a must do, I think)


4. Learn to bake a pie (I’ve made an apple pie before but I half cheated by using pre-made dough. This shall be the year I make my own pie!)

5. Prepare a turkey ala Martha Stewart (by which I mean make something remotely tasty and somewhat edible)


6. Drink by a fireplace at one of these locations

7. Step up my style game (is this lame? yes probably. But I think chances of me dressing like an adult go up if layers are involved. Will this be the year i wear heels recreationally instead of a forced formal situation?! no, probably not….but a girl can dream)

Wish me luck!




weekend warriors

Weekend Warriors: Cupcakes and Palm Trees

Weekend Recap: October 18-19 2014

This weekend felt very adult-y. On Saturday we went to go see a wedding venue (yeeks!), which I will post pics of if we decide to go with it. It was in downtown L.A. It was beautiful, but I’m pretty superstitious so I don’t want to get my hopes up in case that’s not the place. The motto of this whole pre-wedding planning business is ….”We shall see.”


Before that we were in Hollywood were I went to one of my favorite independent shops, Johnny Cupcakes. It’s an addiction but it’s in control. I have about….7 of their t-shirts, two of their phone cases, a keychain and lots of pins. Like I said, it’s under control. I went to go pick up some more goodies. To follow the bakery theme, their “bags” are pastry boxes. It’s all in the details.



I caught a pretty shot of Fairfax Ave and all it’s palm trees. I’m a sucker for palm trees.

Sunday was spent napping, watching Parks and Recs and running some errands.


Here’s to another week!