Kobe & Gigi Bryant : A Loss We Are All Grieving

This weekend I went to Massachusetts for one of my best friend’s wedding. I got to be a part of the wedding I heard about for months. It was such a high highlight of my 2020 so far. I left Massachusetts with feelings of love, appreciation for the friendships I have and made, and feeling thankful for the people in my life. Seeing my best friend take on a new milestone in life made me excited and hopeful for my own future – not only in love, but career wise and life in general.

Christian and I got to the airport ready to head back to San Francisco at the crack of dawn east coast time. I was on cloud nine, you know, that feeling that lingers when you come back from a vacation / great hangout. I kept telling him how much fun I had and how sad I was that it was over. It was truly a fun and exciting little get away to the east coast. It was my first time in Massachusetts, and our Airbnb was a huge house in Salem. There was snow, we explored the area, and I got to travel across the country with my best friend.

We touched down in San Francisco around 11:30 am. Everytime I go to the east coast and return back home, I always make the comment that I’m/ we are time traveling because of the time difference. We got our bags from baggage claim and took the journey to the app ride share area in SFO. Our Uber finally arrived.

A couple minutes into the ride Christian turns around, “Kobe died…” he said in shock.

“What?” A mixture of disbelief and thinking I’m hearing the information wrong. He had to repeat it about 3 more times for it to process in my head.

“Kobe Bryant. He died in a helicopter crash,” he told me.

“What the fuckkkk, damn…” I was incredibly sad and shocked, this can’t be real. The legend I rooted against every single time growing up because he was just too good. I was definitely the definition of a “hater,” because of the Golden State Warriors & Los Angeles Lakers rivalry. At a time where the Warriors were dubbed the worst team in the NBA, I cringed everytime I watched a Warriors game versus the Lakers, because I knew Kobe would do his thing. But my loyalty was/is strong, and I was Golden State faithful all the way, resulting in an adolescent obsession with rivalries and despising the opposing teams. Anyways, despite my past views, I was truly saddened. The news literally made my heart sink. What a tragedy. He was way too young.

My phone was on airplane mode the whole flight. And once Christian told me the tragic news, my phone started to blow up. Group chat after group chat, text messages, notifications left and right coming full force onto my phone. It was the topic of conversation in my personal life, and on social media. My family group chat on Instagram was going off, cousins sending screenshots, and news articles. By the minute, new information was trickling in. This didn’t seem like real life. I could only imagine how his family felt.

I first wondered how Vanessa must be feeling, how in just an instant her world would never be the same. It made me sick. And then I thought about his daughters. I stumbled across his Instagram a while back and stalked. It made me happy to see that he finally got to be more present in his family’s lives after retiring. I remember being shocked that he actually had 4 daughters, because the last time I stalked, B was still the youngest. It was beautiful to see that he and his wife were having a round 2 of the parent life now that he was retired. It made me genuinely happy for them. I thought of how thrilled his wife must’ve been to know that all the traveling and time apart would finally be over, to finally have her husband’s time to herself and to his girls.

Update after update. This time saying that his 2nd eldest daughter, Gigi, was in the helicopter with him. They had reported earlier that nobody survived the crash. My heart was broken. No way. This can’t be real. Please be a mistake.

I was unaware of Kobe and Gigi’s relationship and bond prior to their passing. But let me tell you, when all that media started circling the internet, and I saw their relationship just through photographs, I couldn’t take it. My heart is so heavy. And then I thought back to Vanessa Bryant. The pain to know that your partner and lover is gone is devastating. But to also lose a child at the same time? Look, that’s a new level of pain and sorrow, and my heart truly breaks for her. I pray that her and her girls find strength through this nightmare.

It pains me to know that his daughters have to some how carry on with their lives. That the younger 2 girls will only have photographs. Their pain is all I could think about since I learned of the news. It pains me to know they’re going through such a tragic event in the public’s eye.

My stomach gets sick when I imagine what the final moments on that helicopter was like. A parent’s worst nightmare. Just thinking about it makes my heart race and my stomach turn. Did they realize what was happening? What was being said? Those final moment scenarios are torturing me. I picture him embracing his baby girl, knowing in that moment that “this was it.” How helpless he must’ve felt, how scared and heartbroken he was knowing that he could do nothing.

Everyone I know – fan or not – is so shaken up by this tragedy. Nobody deserves to go out like that. Baby girl was so young and had her whole life to live. Not to forget the other passengers on the plane. I’m seeing photos of all who were on board, and my heart hurts. So many families in pain. So many people around the world grieving.

That just shows the impact that Kobe Bryant had. Strangers who didn’t even know him, but looked up to him, are grieving. Fan or not, you can’t help but be completely torn when you heard the news.

This tragedy is making a lot of people realize that tomorrow is never guaranteed. Unfortunately, we put ourselves in his family’s shoes, and realize that we need to be more grateful for our loved ones. Tragedies like this remind us that we need to leave nothing unsaid, though sometimes that’s a lot easier said than done. There is a veil of grief right now over the world. The passing of all those on board of that helicopter is too much to process. Everyone is feeling immense sadness and really reevaluating what’s important in life.

I was wondering what to write for this week’s blog post. But I couldn’t think of anything because all I was thinking about was this tragedy. I took out my deck of cards that I got for Christmas. I started flipping through prompts. Nothing felt worth while. I didn’t want to write. I wanted to wallow in my sorrows and feel these emotions. I came across a card prompt that read:

“What isn’t fair right now?”

This. This situation that’s unfolding right now. This isn’t fair.

My heart and prayers go out to his wife, kids, family, friends, & the family and friends of those on board. Rest in peace Kobe & Gigi Bryant. Your legacy will live on and be fulfilled through your family.

Self-Sabotage

Describe what your life will be like in 3 years if you continue to allow your bad habits to stand in the way.

For Christmas my little sister got me a writer’s deck of cards. I was so hyped because sometimes I struggle with finding new topics to write about that is out of my ususal – you know, post-grad life, personal anxieties, body positive posts, sad relatable content.

On Christmas day my sisters and I went through each card in the deck. They’re all mad personal and really make you think. Every single card in the deck is heart felt and makes you think of your past, present, and future. I feel like these prompts make you feel the feelings you need to feel to heal and brainstorm on how to do better.

“First of all, deck of cards, you don’t even know me,” I jokingly ranted to my sisters. “I don’t know who you think you are asking me these very personal questions, but I ain’t with it!”

“But why’re you getting defensive?” Merl said with her 4.5 Gimme Brow eyebrow raised, “It’s just a question.”

True. They are just questions. But they really make you look within yourself and reflect on your life. While I have other interviews to conduct, I decided to draw a card for Monday’s post. The quote above is the prompt I got. Woah. I could feel it… *Defensive walls starting to emerge*

But why? After all, these are just questions 🤷🏻‍♀️ On the packaging it reads something like, “path to better self” or something along those lines. And I believe it.

This one hit me. Damn, draws first card of the deck and has to admit all bad habits and look towards the future 😫. But okay. 3 years from now I’ll be 28. Yo, T W E N T Y E I G H T. When I was little I had my whole life planned out. I wanted to be engaged by 22-24, married by 25-27, baby by 27-28. And the age gap was me giving myself some wiggle room. The foolery.

It’s pretty comical to think back to my “plans” back then, and then actually see my life now. If someone was to ask me right now, 24 year old Marinelle who turns 25 next month, what is on my mind currently, it is definitely not marriage or children. It’s 100% my career and being successful – how to brand myself, what jobs to apply for, figuring out what kind of legacy I want to leave behind. Yeah, intense stuff. I’m at the crossroads in my destiny where I need to act now, or marriage and a family will be harder to obtain. If I can’t provide for myself, how much more for another life?

So in 3 years, the goal is to be successful, atleast have a foot in the journalism world, and make a difference with my writing. But most importantly be happy and content with where I am in life. My worst fear is living an unfulfilled life. That’s why I promised myself I need to at least try to make a living off of my passions, or I’ll forever be wondering “what if.” Because I really feel like my personality type is basically the perfect person to have a mid-life crisis.

But what will happen if I let my bad habits to stand in the way? A bad habit I have is definitely procrastinating. I’ve explained this in a past post. I have so many ideas and goals, but I go through periods of motivation and laziness. In the back of my head I know I need to act on things if I want change. For example, looking for journalism jobs. The logical thing is to apply to a few jobs everyday. Except I love to make my life harder for myself, so I’ll be too lazy to do anything. Until the anxiety in me builds up and I go on an absolute motivational rampage. Days, sometimes weeks, of not applying to anything, and then all of a sudden I force myself up and apply online for hours. This pattern and mentality will definitely hinder my future in 3 years if I’m too laid back about job hunting.

It’s like I want it all, but I don’t know where to start. So I delay that process until it’s all I can think about, and the only way to not absolutely resent myself is to force myself to do it. It’s actually a sick mind game that I keep playing with myself. Even though I know I’m just sabotaging myself.

Another bad habit I have that’ll effect me in 3 years is this belief that there is a perfect timing for everything. Not only that, but that I will “see the sign,” when the time is right. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer of signs. I’d be lying if I said I don’t ask the universe / God / my dead ancestors for signs on certain things. And I do believe in them. However, sometimes you just got to do what you got to do. And sometimes there is no sign, you just do it. I mean that in terms of possible relocation, decisions, etc. Because if I’m forever waiting for a sign or some type of validation from the universe, I’ll be stuck in the same position I’m in. I’ve been waiting for signs, and not much has changed. But maybe that is the sign – nothing is happening, time for you to act. If I don’t act now, 3 years from now I’ll be on the same boat doing the same shit.

A lot of my bad habits point to one thing: I’m scared. But being scared isn’t going to help me. Not even a little. No benefit at all. I’m scared to make the wrong choice / decision/ step / move, that I end up staying in the same spot. And there’s no growth in that. I’ll be damned if 3 years from now I’m in the exact same position because I’m too scared to live my life.

I could also find myself alone in my life journey, if I continue to let my emotions run my mouth. I’m (too) good with the comebacks. I sometimes hurt the people closest to me because I say mean things in the heat of the moment. It’s a 2 way street of course, but sometimes I’m so out of pocket with the ruthlessness that I even shock myself. I need to learn to communicate my frustrations and annoyances the right way, and not just blow up with the people I’m comfortable with.

For over a year now (way late to the game honestly), I’ve been more serious about saving my money. If I want to be an independent adult, I need money. I’m not going to make an uncalculated move just to prove something. One thing that I stand firmly on is that I’m not moving out until I feel financially stable. And if I’m being completely honest, no amount is “enough” for the Bay Area. So until things make sense, I lay low and save. Which is way easier said than done. Sometimes I think of my parents and how what they had to go through at my age, and how they grew up and started adulting.

It’s also crazy to think of my life 3 years from now. That’s not even a drastic number of years into the future either. We’re not talking 5, 10, 15 years down the road, we’re talking three. But I guess it hits home for me because I feel like that’s a big gap. 25 for me is like “okay get it together but it’s okay to be confused, you’re still young. Find yourself, giiirl,” 28 year old Marinelle… yo, I hope that bitch gets it together because her biological clock is ticking at that point. 28 is just an age where it’s like, you should have an idea of what you want by now, and if you aren’t working towards it, what’re you doing?

Writing this all out just made me realize that seriously the only person getting in the way of what I want is myself. Yeah there are outside forces, but if I can distinguish what I personally can change to make my future more bright and go that much more smoother, why not change it? In 3 years I definitely don’t want to be in the exact same position. If I stick to my bad habits, I’m only playing myself. I’m self-sabotaging my own success. And then the joke is on me. I know everyone says this, but I really feel like 2020 is the year for change. Its the year to plant the seeds of what I want, and water them regularly, to one day see them flourish, so 3 years from now I’m not stuck thinking what I could’ve done to be in a better spot.

Anthony’s Decision to Pursue Music

Aspiring singer and songwriter, Anthony Regala, is determined to make it in the music industry. Though, it took him a while to make the solid decision to pursue singing, Anthony is sure this is the path he was meant to take.

Anthony is no stranger to performing. In fact, he grew up dancing infront of his family. Dance was his first love. And dancing was actually the gateway to him discovering the singing world. Anthony was inspired by the music videos he would watch of Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, and Destiny’s Child. His family always encouraged him to perform and hyped him up everytime he put on a show at parties.

Anthony was introduced to singing in the 2nd grade. His 2nd grade teacher started a choir group, and he was all for it. They sang karaoke, practiced after school, and got to see their practice pay off when they would perform at AT&T park and The Symphony. Anthony’s mom saw how enthusiastic he was about singing, so she enrolled him in voice lessons.

The first 2 years of high school, Anthony put singing and dancing to the side. That little break from his passions made his comeback that much stronger. His last two years of high school, Anthony signed up for theater and choir. The auditions he went through were exhilarating, and he found his way back to his passions once again. He sang his first solo performance, The Christmas Song, during Westmoor high school’s winter concert.

Anthony recalls one weekend where all his friends were busy, and he was looking for something to do. He decided to go to this mountain near his neighborhood, Bayshore. He took with him a pen and notebook, and it was there on a mountaintop that he wrote his first song. It was a random song about clouds, but Anthony knew that at that moment he had sparked an interest in song writing.

High school ended, and ususally most have college in mind. Anthony knew from the beginning that he wanted to pursue music, so he didn’t really care to take general education classes – or any classes for that matter – that didn’t have to do with music. Friends encouraged him to take at least general education classes, but Anthony felt like there was no need. He was content with his music classes, and still believes it was the right choice for him at the time.

Anthony admits that the first year of college was the most discouraging. He started seeing musicians and artists he knew pursue different career paths. When he would meet other musicians and singers, they would share that they’ve been told that music is not a “realistic” job. He started to see fellow musicians and peers having “back up plans.” He admits that this was very discouraging, to see talented musicians and artists put their dreams to the side for more “realistic” plans. It made him doubt himself because he saw people he looked up to take on different career paths.

“The first years of community college were crucial because I knew every choice would affect my future,” he said. “I went into it knowing what I wanted. If I didn’t make a decision, I knew that later down the line I would have to.”

This made Anthony doubt his career choices, and he declared “Sociology” his major in school. All the pressure and stress started to stack up, and he found himself overwhelmed and confused. He admits that he didn’t take high school too seriously, so college is where he had to push himself. He felt like he had to make a decision, and fast. The time was ticking, what was he going to make of himself?

“During this time I broke down, it was my cry out to God,” Anthony explained. ” ‘What am I gonna with this life?’ I went to the back room in my house, went on my knees, put my head on our little couch and just cried. Was I just in my head? During this, visions came to me of my previous performances all throughout my life. It was encouraging because right then is when I knew God was going use this gift He blessed me with. I didn’t know full picture of what would be, but that was when I decided I am going to do music. Even though I had no clue how I would do it.”

His mom was in full support. He jokes that it’s because she didn’t want the voice lessons she paid for to go to waste. Anthony’s dad supported his decision to go forward with music as a career and let him be. His family in general was very supportive and encouraged him to put himself out there as an artist. They’ve always pushed him to perform whether that be for the family or an audience.

However, Anthony did sense that his mom was a little worried about his career choice. The questions she would ask him regarding his plans pursuing music gave him a hunch that she was uneasy over the fact that it’s not a traditional career path. Her support was definitely there, but so was her mother instinct to worry.

“To be honest, I think this is where representation comes in,” Anthony says. “If parents saw more Filipinos in music, then they would not worry so much.”

Right now, Anthony is focused on building his following. He released his first song, “I’m Mine,” on Soundcloud, quickly released it on Spotify, then other streaming services. His goal was to gain traction, to get listeners to be invested in him as an artist, but also as him as a person. He used to post his covers on Instagram, and that would be that. Now Anthony is conscious to what he puts out there as an artist, and is starting to post things that show his personality. For example, he’s starting to share more on a stories, just so his followers and listeners get a feel of what kind of person he is.

“It could be easy for some artists to just tell people there song is coming out, release it, and a lot of people listen to it,” Anthony explained when I asked how does he try to promote his content. “Yes I have those people and I appreciate all of them, but getting my music to more ears has been an interesting challenge. There’s getting my song on playlists, which I’ve been able to do. However, getting on popular playlists has not happened yet and its a challenge for a lot of us artists. I’ve also learned there are so many ways to promote yourself, you just have to find what works.”

Anthony is trying to get out there, and has had a couple performances. He has had 2 showcases at Neck of the Woods, and occassionally performs there on Wednesdays for their open mics. He has definitely pushed himself out of his comfort zone. He recently started going to an open mic at San Francisco State. Anthony adds that he is always down to connect, so if you see him around campus or at an open mic, say whatsup.

He receives some money from streaming, but for now, catch him at the Museum of Ice Cream SF, and ask for Honey LavAnthony to serenade you via song! He knows one day that he will be able to provide for himself off his music alone. LA has been on his mind for a hot minute. But for now Anthony is trying to get the most out of San Francisco / the Bay Area (and save that money, honeyyyy).

Music is so important to Anthony because he feels like he can reach people. He wants his listeners to know that they are loved, and made like nobody else. To all the people that feel like they are unloved / don’t have a purpose, Anthony is trying reach you through song. He wants people to believe that “anything is truly possible.”

What’s Anthony’s word of advice to anyone out there chasing an “unrealistic” dream?

“Be a go getter, but with patience. There’s a purpose to it all.”

Rafa’s 2019 Reflection

There was just a couple more days of 2019, and I got a message in my Instagram DM’s. It was from an old high school friend, Rafa. She told me that she wrote a reflection of her 2019 that really hit home for her, and wondered if I would be interested in reading it.

Rafa explained that this was her first time writing a reflection, and it was a therapeutic experience that brought her to tears at the end.

“I thought of you when I finished,” she said. “I was like ‘I know somebody that will like this.'”

It made me really happy. I’m always encouraging people to dig deep within themselves for some type of self-discovery moment – probably because I aspire to be Iroh from Avatar the Last Airbender one day… still currently Zuko with my angry ass 🤷🏻‍♀️. I always try to leave the door open for anyone who wants to share their story with me, and I thank you, Rafa, for not only sharing with me, but agreeing to have it be posted on here.

I feel like Rafa and I are very alike. We make our stories of our struggles and insecurities public in hopes that it reaches someone who can relate. I admire her ability to open up about her struggles and reveal raw emotions.

Here is Rafa’ 2019 Reflection:

The year of 2019… What a year for me…

This year I embraced my art of seduction and it felt so good to feel wanted and desired as a woman. I was able to experience and feel what its like to feel wanted… As a woman I felt the need to have that experience. I was searching for other’s validation in me. I was desperate to be seen by others that made me feel like I was “the next Kim Kardashian” yet not satisfied by all the attention I was getting. On this journey I learned and gained a lot of experiences. I gave my time to the wrong people. I met amazing people. I struggled financially. I cried. I screamed. I gained weight. I lost weight. I had hair extensions. I took them out. I decided to live make up free. I decided to embrace and love my natural hair. I prayed. I danced. I got drunk….. A L O T!!!!!! I smoked weed for the first time. I went out partying A L O T. Partying was part of me “seeking other’s validation”. I traveled A L O T. I experienced the rich lifestyle. I met celebrities. My phone would blow up with so many messages, calls, voicemails, DM’s from guys I was never interested in. I became toxic to myself at some point. I felt like the shit. I went downhill again. I realized that money doesn’t make anyone happy. I decided to take a step forward into my future career. I took big steps backwards because I had bigger bills. I worked out. I was able to reunite with my auntie after 16 years. I fought depression and I won throughout the whole year. I was selfish. I learned how to say “NO!” I learned how to walk away without looking back! I learned how to not give people second chances to come back into my life. I trained my head to be stronger than my heart! I was emotionally unstable and unavailable for love! I lead people on. I hurt the ones I cared for. I hurt myself. I built boundaries. I irritated a lot of people. I was at some point heartless, cold, & careless. I was stubborn. I unfollowed a lot of people I didn’t feel like I needed on my social media account. Others I blocked. Best feeling in the world!!!!!! I would constantly ask myself why can’t I have what they have? I confess to God. I was always very transparent to God. I was very transparent to myself and others. I loved & lost the person I was madly in love with.. I learned how to value my inner self, my beauty, my body & mind. With everything that happened this year the most important task that I did not fail was being a mother to my little girl… Yes I left her with family to go out but I always and forever will come back to her. 6 years later and I still haven’t found ways to explain what it feels like to love a child. It’s crazy because she’s my weakness and my strength. She drives me crazy. She gets me big time mad but I can easily forgive her and move on with my day…. She doesn’t judge me regardless of what I say or do. She loves my imperfections and she still sees me as her role model. And that’s crazy to me because I have so many flaws… I love being her mother. It’s like she’s my best friend.. She is so incredible and it’s so real… I tell her weekly “I don’t know how to measure my love for you but I love you as big as the sky” she always has this big ass smile, it’s so priceless and I’m so blessed to be growing together. I lived a life I always wanted to experience.. so when I’m ready to settle down I know that I will not look back or have the urge to live this wild life…. and after all I am so grateful for all that’s happened, the good and bad.. Maybe I’ll be ready for love in 2020. Maybe not! But hey, look at me now: still standing, laughing, smiling, loving, forgiving, & living.. Still a few days to enjoy the rest of this beautiful year of 2019…..

Love, Rafa 💕