Portland Girls Trip!

To be honest, I didn’t plan a blog post to write this weekend, hence why I’m a day late.

My best friends and I decided months ago that we would celebrate our graduations by taking a girls trip. 3/5 of us on the trip graduated this year, so it was time to celebrate! We ended up choosing Portland. The running inside joke was the fact that we – I especially – would mistake all these Seattle landmarks and spots as Portland’s. It got to the point where we all just sat there thinking, “…wait why didn’t we just go to Seattle 😂😂😂.”

But we had so much fun! It was one of those small chill vacations that we all needed. We all weren’t trippin’ off time. We would take mid-day naps, a sign that all of us are getting old 😂. I think that’s why Portland was a great spot for us to pick. It’s pretty low-key, and all we wanted to do was eat, shop here and there, and eat some more. I’m so glad all my girls are foodies because I travel for the food. To me, the food is the main event and sight seeing are things to do until the next meal 💁🏻‍♀️.

I don’t know if Portland is known for their biscuits and gravy, but it seemed like that was on every menu. It did not disappoint! The food was so goooood! All the restaurants we went to were pretty low-key, small, and very cute.

People were really nice, to the point where we were sussed out sometimes. It really made us think, “damn, were we just raised to be not friendly” 😂. It also didn’t seem too diverse, so that’s probably why we were easily spotted as “tourists.” It really seemed like a whole new way of living. I know that sounds dramatic as hell, but it’s so different from San Francisco living.

We went out to a bar on Saturday, and I was having slow but steady anxiety attacks in my head. The whole time I just kept looking all around me, people watching and being aware of my surroundings. I kept a mental note of all the possible exits, hiding spots that I could possibly cram into, etc, if something wrong were to happen. I mean shit, with all that’s going on, it was hard not to think like that. It made me pretty sad that that’s our reality.

But what had us all fucked up was when we were at the mall. And all of a sudden an alarm went off, it sounded like a fire alarm but not totally sure. Everyone started evacuating, and the person on the speaker was telling everyone to exit. I was trying to hear what the reason was over the intercom, but I couldn’t. But we dipped out of there so fast fearing the worst. Turns out everything was find (I’m assuming) but it was still a “yooo wtf hell nooooo” moment.

Other than that, this is seriously what my heart needed. A vacation to chop it up with my girls and make stupid jokes and act a (singing) fool in a city where no one knows who the fuck you are. It’s what we all needed. Especially with those mid-day naps everyday we were there. To not have responsibilities, deadlines, worries to trip about, even for a couple of days, was a great feeling.

I love those moments where it’s night time, or we’re getting ready, and we’re just opening up and catching each other up on each others lives, future moves, career updates, troubles, etc. I be sentimental like that 🤗. I’m also really trying to milk the time I got with my girls because I know it won’t always be like this. In a couple of years, we’ll all be set in our careers, making moves, maybe even actually moving, maybe having families, and everything else that comes with adulting. So here’s to our girls trip – a success! We touched down in San Francisco and didn’t want to leave each other just yet. We had to get one last meal together before parting. Dramatic as hell, I’ll probably see them again by next week, but it really is hard for all of us to get together. Haha.

So yeah, that’s why I didn’t have a blog post up. Was too busy being in the moment with my girls and enjoying some bomb food!

I have a 2 week break from work, so I plan to be writing more so I have a few posts lined up. Since I got the time, I plan to write a post I’ve been meaning to write for years. Stay tuned! Until then, here’s some of the food we ate at Portland!

Chicken and a vegan waffle from Black Heart:

Reggie Deluxe from Pine Street Biscuits:

Apple Fritter donut from Blue Star Donuts:

Carne Asada tacos from Tight Tacos:

Screen Door – praline bacon, chicken and sweet potato waffles, cheddar grits:

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The Execution

I shared my story about my post-grad depression journey, and to be honest, its all I can talk about.

If I’m hanging out with friends, it seems like the topic of the future always gets brought up, and one by one we go around and vent about what’s bothering us. That’s what I like about the people I surround myself with, we’re super open and can talk about hopes and dreams, those real life shitty moments, to Spongebob references, and all the above.

Sometimes I think about writing a series like “Sex and the City,” about me and my friends. But instead of documenting our sex lives and love interests, I’d name it, “Stress in the City,” because adulting… dis tew much 😭. It seems like we’re all just trying to chase a dream and make something of ourselves. Which is motivational and depressing all at the same time.

What a time to be alive. With all my friends, it seems like the one thing we can all agree on is the fact that this age is such a crucial point in our lives. We feel the outside pressures of the world telling us we need to have a job in our field, we need to make X amount of money a year, we need to have this this and that by this age… and it’s like….. well, fuck. You just don’t know where to start!

Just for the record, you shouldn’t compare your journey to someone else’s. You can compare if its healthy motivation, but if you’re using it to make yourself feel worse about the position you’re in, it’s just not going to help. There’s no need. We are constantly bombarded with a realm of all the “good” in our peers’ lives. You scroll through social media and you see your friend who just got engaged, who just graduated, who just landed that 6 figure job, who just bought a new car or house, who started that business…. but honestly, did you know what they had to go through to get to that point? You see the accomplishment, but not all the hardwork that had to be put in. There is so much more to what you see on the ‘gram.

I truly believe that what’s yours is yours, and that there’s a time for everything. With that said, I still stress about every little detail about my future. But, deep down, I know that my time will come for everything I plan to do. Or atleast I hope.

“YOU CAN DREAM BUT DON’T NEGLECT THE EXECUTION…” (J.Cole, “Change.”) That quote right there. You can dream all you want, but if you stand there idle, it’ll just remain a dream. The execution is where so many people give up before even trying. Me included! I struggle with that every day! Some days, I’m motivated and so pumped to make moves towards my dreams of becoming a successful writer. And other days, I’m lazy. I get overwhelmed. So I give up for the day. And sometimes, it turns into days. Until I overthink myself to death again and get a burst of motivation to start all over again. It’s a torturous cycle, honestly, when you want to do great things and have so many ideas and plans, all the while trying to juggle the things you’re dealing with now, like a fulltime job and trying to stack your money. The realization that there are not enough hours in the day, and even when you set aside time at the end of the day for passion projects you sit there and you’re like…. yo… I just want to sleep. But also realizing if you don’t do anything for a prolonged period of time, you’re going to make no progress with your dreams and goals…

Especially living in the fuckin’ Bay Area. We dream big because we have no choice, everything is so damn expensive. What drives me to make it and be successful is the thought that I have to keep up with San Francisco and the Bay Area pace, or the rich people who aren’t even from here will run me out of my city. That’s a whole blog post on it’s own though.

I recently went to a baby shower that seemed like a high school reunion. I caught up with a good friend who I was pretty close to in high school, but we lost touch throughout the years. He told me about how he struggled to find a job after graduation a year ago, and how it really tested his confidence in himself. But now he’s here, working for Google and doing his side passion projects, focused on trying to retire by age 35-40. We talked dreams. We talked passions. We talked realistically about the future, and what steps we each have to take to get to the right path. I revealed to him my book idea, something I rarely share with others. And if you know about my book idea, consider yourself special, and I know ya ass better keep that shit a secret so no one steals that book topic 💅🏽

“YOOOOOOOOO, I feel that shittttt, ughhh,” he told me.

“Right! It’s something that needs to be talked about in our community,” I said, relieved that he didn’t think my book idea was lame.

“You know what though, I know you’re gonna make it cuz you know your WHY. You got the passion and the why, start that shit now, bruh. Don’t worry about the process of publishing, worry about that when the book is done. But start writing that shit nowwwww. And you know what, if there’s any way I can help, if I myself will be in the book, or if you need me to ask around for people you can interview, just let me know.”

It was such a nice push of encouragement, when your peers are down with your vision. After that talk at the baby shower, I was mad motivated. What I’ve learned since I started writing is that some people will pretend to support you, but when it comes down to it, its really just all talk. But then there’s others that are so supportive, and will root for you and vouch for you and your work.

I’m an Aquarius, so I’m always in deep thought… one day I tweeted: “Whatever moves I choose to do NOW with my career will really determine what kind of life I live. That’s the most motivational/ terrifying thing honestlyyyyy.” I don’t use Twitter often, so I screenshot it and posted the tweet on my Instagram story. To my surprise, a few people reached out saying they feel it, but a friend’s reaction made my night.

He told me that seeing my tweet motivated him to start his music projects. He always wanted pursue his music career, but you know the drill, too shy to start, not consistently posting, holding it off because fear… He started writing his songs that night, and is actively writing and planning so he can bless us with his vocals.

You just never know who you’ll touch with your work. So here’s a public service announcement: SUPPORT YA FRIENDS. DON’T BE A FAKE SUPPORTER. MOTIVATE YOUR FRIENDS. BOUNCE IDEAS BACK AND FORTH OFF EACH OTHER. IF YOUR FRIEND HAS A BUSINESS, PROMOTE IT. BUY FROM IT. RECOMMEND IT WHENEVER YOU GET THE CHANCE. SUPPORT YOUR CREATIVE FRIENDS. IF THEY’RE WRITING, SINGING, DESIGNING, DRAWING, PAINTING, WRITING POEMS, MAKING THEIR OWN CLOTHES, ETC, SHARE THEIR CONTENT, LIKE IT, SEND IT TO YOUR OTHER FRIENDS.

AND ALSO: IF YOU’RE WAITING FOR SOME TYPE OF SIGN TO START YOUR PASSION PROJECT, HERE’S YOUR SIGN! START IT!

REMEMBER: “You can dream but don’t neglect the execution…” We’re all really just trying to make it here…

Of Course I Got The Post-Grad Blues…

Me as a fuckin’ bus…

Over a year ago when I was still writing for Xpress Magazine, I wrote an article entitled, “I Got the Post-Grad Blues.”It was focused on individuals who graduated college and went through the motions of post-grad life. All of them felt lost and felt the pressures of finding a job in their field. All of them were depressed, had unrealistic expectations of what post-grad life would be like, and described post-grad as a very low-point in their life after a very high high, that being graduation.

I wanted to write this back then because it was close to graduation season. I knew a lot of people were excited about graduating and finally “starting” their life. But I knew that people must go through a rough transition period after graduation, and decided to interview people who went through it. It seemed like everyone was so hyped and focused about graduation DAY, but I wanted to know the stories after the long awaited graduation day. My goal as a writer is to always to be as transparent and real as possible, and I figured a lot of people struggle with post-grad depression, and wondered why it’s not really talked about. I wanted to make it a topic of conversation, to let graduates know that what they’re going through is normal, and the sadness and confusion will eventually pass. I shared the post-grad blues stories of a few graduates, so now, it’s time to share mine.

At the time, I had 1 semester left of school. I was pretty salty that I wasn’t going to be graduating with most of my friends, and that I’d be done in December, having to wait 5 more months after that until I walk the stage. But really, I was writing this for myself, to mentally prepare myself for post-grad depression because I know how I am. I have a hard time transitioning into new situations. I tend to dwell and overthink everything, so I wanted to get these interviews to help others prepare for potential post-grad depression, but also prepare myself.

Annnnnd, like I suspected, it didn’t work. And to be completely honest, I knew it wasn’t going to work, just because I know how I am.

When I wrote “I Got the Post-Grad Blues,” for Xpress Magazine, I was already mentally preparing myself for the major changes I was about to face in the next 8-ish months. After I wrote the story, I felt more content about graduating, knowing that I’d be facing some ups and downs, but nothing I didn’t already expect. Writing this story also made me feel a little better that I had more time to milk as a student. The interviews I had with graduates varied, one felt so depressed about post-grad life that she felt suicidal, while another had a job lined up right after graduation day, but felt unfulfilled. That’s when I realized that people go through their post-grad blues differently. What one person may see as something minor could be major to the next.

I was done with my undergrad in December 2018. I was so relieved after sending in my last finals online. Finally after 5.5 years of college, I was done! And just in time for Christmas. I also got 2 weeks off of work for the preschool’s winter break, so I was out of school AND out of work (temporarily). Those 2 weeks were all I looked forward to the last couple weeks of school. I was dragging myself to the finish line, and it really felt like the longest last few weeks of my life. Everything was slow and dragged out. I was in the library forcing myself to focus on papers and articles for hours. Once I edited my last final and turned it in, I went straight to the bookstore at around 10 pm and bought a “SFSU Alumni” crewneck. This was the moment I was waiting for, the sigh of relief of finally being done with my undergrad!

For the first couple of weeks, especially since I was getting a paid 2 week vacation from work, I was living the life. My cousins and I took our very first “cousins trip” to SoCal to celebrate my nephews birthday. We were 22 1/2 (my cousin was pregnant lol) cousins deep at Great Wolf Lodge, and that wasn’t even all of us. This was the break I was waiting for.

Post-grad really didn’t hit me until January, when everyone started going back to school. At first, I thought it was so cool how I no longer had to worry about anything related to school – assignments, registration, waking up for classes, making deadlines. I decided early on about my plan.

Since I graduated at a weird time and not the usual Spring semester, I decided that I was going to make 2019 my rest year. And in 2019 I planned to work full-time at the preschool I work at to save money, write consistently every week starting January (oops…), buy the camera off my friend (since I used it all semester for a Photo Journalism class and knew how to work it already) so I could start making content for my blog, possibly buy a new laptop with my tax return money, and try to start doing freelance writing.

In my mind, when would I ever get the free time to write about what I want before writing for someone else? When else will I have the time to work on passion projects and do little documentaries while still living at home saving money? And it all made sense in my head. The preschool I work at has a lot of paid holidays, and I really felt like I didn’t get to enjoy my last spring break, summer break, Thanksgiving break, and all the holidays in between because I was too stressed off of school. My favorite time of the year is Christmas time, and I didn’t get to do shit because I was stuck in the library finishing finals. That played a big factor into why I decided to take this year off as my “passion projects” year, because I would get paid holiday and still have that “school-ish” holiday routine. I wanted a break before I start adulting and never get a paid 2 week holiday again. I was supposed to be chillin’. I had this all planned out months prior to December. Just stick with the plan, right?

WRONG. How foolish am I to think that MARINELLE CABILLO would go with the “set plan” that I had mentally prepared myself for. The foolery!

By February the post-grad blues crept up on me oh so slowly. I would say it hit the hardest the beginning of April until the end of June, where I was at my peak losing my mind. But anyways, it came on slowly. At first, I could tell that I was getting a little antsy. I blamed it on the fact that I increased my hours at work and wasn’t used to not being at school anymore.

I lagged on being consistent with my blog because I was too scared to start. I kept putting it off. I started doubting my 1 year plan. In my head I was trying to convince myself, “…what about a 2 year break so you really save money?…” As the weeks passed, fear of the future got the best of me.

“… what if I just work for the preschool full-time, work my way up, and just do writing on the side?”

And I considered this longer than I should’ve.

I was scared to start my life. It was almost an identity crisis… who was I without school? Out of the 24 years of my life, I considered myself a student for almost 20 of them. Not being a student also meant I had no excuse. My excuse for not having my shit together financially, career wise, etc., would always be “well because I’m still in school.”

Without school, it meant I was an adult. Reality hit hard. I was panicking over the thought that I somehow have to get my life together. I saw graduation as the finish line, but didn’t plan for the full on marathon that awaited.

For weeks I debated if I even wanted to make writing and journalism my fulltime career, or if I was going to stick to my last minute idea of staying a preschool teacher and freelancing on the side. For the record, no shade to preschool teachers at all. Early Childhood Education was actually my major before I switched to journalism. I switched out because I worked at a gym daycare and realized, damn, I don’t have the patience for this… in the long term atleast. I always knew my passion was writing, but was too scared to pursue it.

After that little set back, I realized the longer I wait to start my journalism career, the longer it’ll take me to get to where I want to be. I had to stick to my original plan. 1 year off to work on passion projects, and start looking for writing jobs around October/November 2019. I was cutting myself short, not even trying to apply for jobs yet. I’m so terrified of where a job will take me, location wise, career wise, etc. But it trips me out that I really considered not using the degree I just spent years trying to complete, because I was too scared. I would’ve taken the easy way out.

That’s honestly one of my fears in life – to not chase after my dreams and settle, and 35 years from now, have a midlife crisis over the fact that I didn’t take chances in my prime.

In April I spoke at a Women Gender Studies Conference in Fresno. I applied because a teacher suggested we all enter for extra credit in the class. During our 1 on 1 meeting she told me she strongly suggests that I should apply. So I did. And a month or so later I got an email saying that so many people applied that they had to get back to us if we were selected or not. A few weeks after that, I got an email saying I was chosen. I was so happy. I felt like this was my moment of truth as a writer, especially since it was about the Body Positive Movement and Feminism, topics that I am very passionate about. I prepared for the event to the point where I stressed myself out so much that I was thinking of bailing. Literally the only thing stopping me was the fact that I had already paid for the Airbnb. I was so focused on this event because I really needed it. I was in such a frenzy in my mind, doubting myself and my abilities, I needed this W.

I anticipated the conference and graduation day. But it made me depressed and anxious thinking of what would happen after these 2 events were over. I hit another “and then what?” These were the 2 days I spent all year looking forward to. I worried that I would hit post-grad blues even harder after the events passed.

The conference went by and I really stressed for nothing, because it went perfectly fine. I was so glad I went through with it, because I would definately beat myself up about it if I didn’t. I started dreading graduation day because I knew that was the only other thing I was looking forward to.

Graduation day came, and it was honestly one of the best days in my life. Not even tryna be hella dramatic either. But it was a really good day, surrounded by friends and family who knew the struggles I had to go through, and just seeing how proud it made my parents made me ecstatic. I somehow managed to put my a million thoughts aside and just enjoy the day.

But after that high wore off, I was left in the same position of dwelling on what to do with my life. I was frustrated that I mentally prepared myself for this, telling myself that I know how hard its gonna be, but what I have as leverage is the fact that I interviewed a lot of people and kind of knew what to expect. But even though I knew what to expect, I still fell into the post-grad depression trap. I was annoyed with myself. How did I put so much thought into my “plan” to have me doubt it? What was supposed to be a chill relaxing year off working on growth and passion turned out to be such a stressful year. I went into 2019 saying I’m gonna make 2019 my bitch and get it together.

Instead, my life was in shambles. Who are you? What do you want in life? It seemed like I was transforming into a new person since I couldn’t identify as a student anymore. It took a toll on how I acted because it was always in the back of my mind.

I can’t count how many times Christian asked me if I was okay, and I’d just break down crying, falling apart into his arms. Sometimes I would vent about my troubles, but sometimes I would just silent cry, knowing that only I could really find the solution for all of this. Stress cries are the worse, especially when you don’t know the cause or solution to all your troubles. Other times, I would find myself picking fights over small things. Either I was crying, angry, or distant. I’m an overthinker for sure.

I wouldn’t compare myself to my peers, because if the interviews taught me anything, it was to not compare my successes with anyone else’s. But I would see people who graduated, who were posting their next big job, big move, big life update, and I would be genuinely happy for them. I thought about all the things we post about, and how nobody would guess by my posts that I’m going through it. I got quieter on social media, trying to get my head out of the gutter.

For the record, I’m still sticking to my 1 year off, search for jobs at the end of the year plan. I decided that even though this year wasn’t how I planned it, it wasn’t too late to start some of the things I had anticipated. I started posting consistently in July. 6 months later than I expected, but I never go with the plan, even if I, myself, planned it.

I’m more content with post-grad life, but from February – end of June, it really messed with my head. I also wouldn’t say that I’m over my post-grad depression either. My future and my next move is always in the back of my head, but not as intense as before. I found a little peace when I made up my mind to stick to my 1 year plan and stay on the path to making writing my career. I’m too young to settle. And I’ll be damned if 30-ish years from now I’m beating myself up over what could’ve been. Post-grad blues comes in waves. And I already know I’m gonna go through it again when I start job searching.

This definitely needs to be talked about more. Post-grad depression is real, and it’s really hard and confusing. I’m using my anxiety about the future as motivation. But some days it’s really hard to feel motivated when you don’t exactly know what direction you’re going with your life. Especially with my 26th birthday coming in less than 2 years, LAAWDDDD, I FEEL THE FIRE AS I THINK ABOUT HOW I’M GONNA GET THE BOOT OFF OF MY PARENTS’ INSURANCE 😩😱

TO BE CONTINUED FOR SURE 😂…..

This Is America

With all that’s currently going on in America, I think back on the 2 worst Uber rides I’ve ever had.

I’m from the Bay Area. In San Francisco, you don’t need a car. Our public transportation is so convenient. (I said convenient, not clean. Mind ya business haha). With that said, my commute always starts with me at the Bart Station. Catch me riding Muni, Bart, SamTrans, all the above.

If I’m not getting somewhere with public transportation, best believe I’m taking an Uber. I recently complained to Uber about something and they replied saying, “…we appreciate your loyalty with your 980-something rides with Uber.” That was probably more than 20 Ubers ago, so I basically have taken more than 1 thousand Uber rides, just on my account alone. Never mind the fact that I could’ve probably bought my own car with that Uber money…

From those 1 thousand Uber rides, 2 stand out the most.

It was in the beginning of 2019 and I was in an Uber ride on the way to get my eyelash extensions done. I had my earphones on and was blasting my music. My Uber driver was a middle aged Latino man, he couldn’t really speak English but was very polite. I called an UberPool, which matches me with other passengers going my way. He pulled over and we picked up an elderly Caucasian lady, maybe in her 60’s, with dyed red hair. She got in the passengers seat.

I was listening to my music, so I have no idea what was being said before hand. We were in the car maybe 5-ish minutes before I finally looked up from my phone and realized that they were trying to get my attention. For how long, I have no idea. I took my earphones out.

“Do you speak English?” She asked me.

“Yeah.”

“Can you explain to him that he’s going the wrong way?! I’m going to a place called Tennessee Grill, but instead he’s taking me to Tennessee Street! He doesn’t speak English.”

The Uber driver told me in Spanish that he’s just following the directions that it told him on the app. I relayed the message that the app is telling him to go to Tennessee Street. The driver said that he would take her to her right destination anyway, and opened up another app to take her to the correct address. She was pleased. But that also meant that we’d be going the complete opposite way and that I’d probably be late for my appointment.

Her mood completely changed after he kindly offered to take her to her “correct” destination. Her bitch mode went down a few octaves, and she tried to make small talk.

“So where are you headed?” She asked me trying to change the subject.

“To an eyelash appointment, I think I might be late.” I laughed a little, even though I was rolling my eyes internally.

“Haha, first world problems right.”

“Ha…. yeah.” As I Arthur fisted.

“I just can’t believe they let people do Uber and not speak English! It should be a requirement!” She looked at the driver, “Oh, but atleast you’re working right? That’s all that matters!”

I think I gave another, “….ha….yeeeeaah…” just so she could stop talking. Even though I could feel my blood boiling.

“You know, my day has been crazy! I’ve called TWO Ubers already that tried to bring me to the wrong address!” When she said this it clicked in my head that she’s most likely the problem, entering in the wrong address / clicking the wrong address that comes up.

“Wait, can I see your phone,” I asked. She gave me her phone and what I suspected was true. She had entered her destination as “Tennessee Street.”

“On the app you are the one that clicked Tennessee Street as your destination. His GPS is just going where you requested.”

“Shit,” she said moded. “Well, what do I do now?”

The Uber driver shrugged, unsure of what his next suggestion would be.

So I cut in, “You have to cancel this Uber and call another one, he’s not going to take you to another destination.”

She started mumbling, angry at the fact that she, for the 2nd time that day, entered in the wrong address and expected to be dropped off somewhere other than the destination point she approved of. The Uber driver pulled to the corner for her to exit.

“I’m not getting off here in this shitty neighborhood,” at this point me and the driver are just like …..welllllll….. hinting that we don’t care and she should really just get out of the car.

“Fine, whatever. Annnnnnd you don’t even speak fuckin’ English!” She said as she swung the door open and motioned to take off her seat belt.

At this point I had enough of her. “Oh shut the fuck up with that shit!” I yelled.

I could tell she low key regretted the remarks, but made no apology as she slammed the door. My driver started talking to me in Spanish, and miraculously, I understood everything. Thank you Spanish 1-2 and Spanish 3-4 classes!

He explained how he wanted to help but theres really nothing he could do if the GPS is telling him to go somewhere else.

In my broken ass Spanish I told him, “Don’t listen to that stupid woman. No English, no problem. You’re good.” He thanked me and we went about our ride.

Me, being my father’s child, took out a $20 bill and insisted he take it at the end of my ride. He refused, but I kept insisting. He thanked me over and over and I repeated the same message in broken Spanish. He smiled ear to ear.

I’m sure people that don’t speak much English get treated like this more times than not, like second class, less than worthy of respect.

But the Uber ride that takes the cake as the worst Uber I’ve ever taken is this one right here….

At the end of 2018, I was leaving my boyfriend’s apartment around 1 am, the wee hours on a Sunday morning. Of course, I called an UberPool to get back home. From the outside of the car I could tell that 2 people were already seated in the back, so I opened the front door of the passengers seat and said hello to my driver.

He was an Asian old man, probably in his 60’s, maybe 65. My dad, when I later told him the story of what happened, believed that my driver was Malaysian based off of his name and profile picture, because the head shot showed the top half of his cultural attire. Anyways, he was very friendly and greeted me.

The 2 guys in the back seat were 2 Caucasian men. One about early to mid 30’s, and the other, late 30’s to early 40’s. As soon as I entered the car I smelled alcohol on their breath.

Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” played on the radio, and the younger guy started laughing and singing along to the song, trying to coax the other to sing along with him. I later discovered that they were brothers.

“Just beeeeaaaatttt itttttt, beaaaattttt ittttt,” he sang leaning towards his older brother, begging for a duet.

“Shut the fuck up, dude. I’m fuckin’ pissed. I’m so fuckin’ pissed right now,” that sentence traveled to my nostrils, because he reeked of alcohol.

The younger brother laughed it off and tried to lighten the mood. But it just aggravated him more.

“Oh my fucking God I can’t believe this shit. This fucking guy really just picked up his wife or sister or whatever she is,” he had me so dead. What? This guy’s wife though….

His younger brother said nothing to put him in his place. I don’t know if he felt awkward or didn’t care to say anything. This ride usually is a 10 minute ride, but it felt like the longest ride of my life. The older brother kept grunting under his breath how angry he was that my Uber driver fucked them over by using the Uber service to pick up his family. Obviously, of course, it was because the Uber driver and I are both Asian.

I gritted my teeth and wanted to tell him off so bad. I took out my pepper spray, ready to use it if I had to, my finger already on the button. He kept talking his shit, continuing with the racist thought that we HAD to be related some how. I wanted to tell him off so bad, I felt my blood boiling. What made me angrier was the fact that I knew that it could take a turn for the worse if I were to verbally defend myself. I didn’t know what they had on them. And I didn’t know how far they would take things. So I kept my mouth shut as he went on and on.

“Dude, no one is playing us. This is a pool,” the younger brother said, seeing that his brother was fuming.

“No! They’re fuckin’ playin’ you! I just wish that this guy could be fuckin’ honest and say ‘yeah, I picked up my wife – or daughter – or niece’ or whatever, but no, he’s acting like he doesn’t understand English!”

His brother tried to calm him down, but really, what can you tell a belligerent drunk? The older brother grabbed the Uber driver’s seat and pulled himself closer to him.

“I know you fucking speak English!!! Stop acting like you don’t understand!” He yelled in his ear. That’s where I drew the line. Passive aggressive comments, okay, but disrespecting an elderly person who is just doing their job, I couldn’t bite my tongue any longer.

“You’re being so racist.” I said, my voice shaking from anger and frustration.

“How?! How am I being racist?! Obviously you know each other. You’re really gonna call me racist?!”

“Yes! You’re racist! This is an UberPool, he picks up other people on the way! I don’t know him!”

“Yes, this is pool,” the driver said finally breaking his silence. “I pick up other people!”

“Duuude, ok stop. This is a pool. Now you’re just harassing these people,” his brother cut in.

“STOP LYING! Like just admit to it, you know him. Its okay! Just admit you’re wrong and we’ll accept it and just give you a poor rating.” He continued.

Finally, after what seemed like an hour of hostility, we were at their destination. It was less than 4 blocks from my house. I was relieved, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. But of course, he refused to get out of the car, demanding that our driver reveal that we really do know each other and that we royally fucked over him and his brother. We ignored him, in hopes he would just exit the car. But of course, he had the time and energy.

At this point, his younger brother is cussing him out, telling him to get out of the car so he could beat his ass for disrespecting us. With my finger flicking the pepper spray latch back and forth, I debated whether I should just spray him right then and there. But again, I thought of what he had on him, and what he would do, how he could turn this on me to authorities. So instead, I started secretly recording.

“Can you just get out…” I said exhausted.

“JUST ADMIT YOU KNOW HIM! AND ON TOP OF THAT YOU CALLED ME RACIST! I’M NOT RACIST!”

“Dude! You are fuckin’ being racist! These are good people that you are blatantly disrespecting! Get the fuck out!!!” His younger brother yelled, “You guys I’m so sorry– Get the fuck out so I can beat your ass myself!”

They fought back and forth for a while. Later looking on my video, I recorded over 5 minutes.

Like a broken record, he demanded we admit to being related, give HIM an apology, all the while trying to fight his brother in the back seat.

“Should I just call the police?” I said, knowing it would either escalate or diffuse the situation.

“Why would you call the police?! I’m not doing anything wrong!”

“Dude! This is San Francisco!!!” His brother yelled desperately, “These are good people! You’re being so racist towards innocent people! I called a pool! I’m never bringing you back here again! Now get the fuck out of the car so I can beat your ass myself, you Oklahoma piece of shit!”

Finally he motioned to get out of the car. Again he grabbed my Uber driver’s seat and leaned in, “Look, I just wanted an apology for you guys disrespecting us and using this service to pick up your family. That’s all I wanted,” and finally opened the door. At this point his brother is physically trying to pull him out. He slams the door and his brother throws him against the car. My driver let out a huge sigh, irritated that not only did they delay this whole ride, but that they were close to damaging his property as well.

They finally took it to the street and we drove off. Through the side mirrors could see them getting physical.

“I’m sorry,” the Uber driver told me. And that made me so sad. The fact that he basically was a victim and still kept his professional hat on.

“You don’t need to be sorry!” I told him. He really could’ve been someone’s grandpa. And that made me even more sad! I started crying, “That was so racist…. like he thought we were related just because we’re Asian.”

“Yes… It’s a pool. I pick up other people,” he probably felt really awkward that I was crying but I couldn’t contain it.

We were finally at my house. Before I got out of the car I let him know that I had my pepper spray and was ready to use it if he put his hands on him or threatened him in any way. I also begged and urged him to get pepper spray for protection.

I got to my room and just cried. Out of frustration, fear, and the reality of it. This happened in my hood?! In the Bay Area this racist shit happened?! The reality set in that even in the diverse bubble of San Francisco / Daly City, stuff like this really does happen.

I cried over the fact that I held in all my come backs because I was afraid of what they would do to me as a woman. I cried because even in the situation of possible self-defense I believed it would be turned on me. I cried because even if I were to call police, and I was the victim, I’m still a person of color going against a Caucasian male who truly believed he was right. I cried because this is probably very minor in the spectrum of racist situations other people go through.

I of course contacted Uber. They just refunded my money and apologized. I was debating on posting the video, or making a blog post on it. But at the time just rewatching it made me upset. So after a lot of thought, I deleted it.

It’s a hard pill to swallow to realize that some people in this society really don’t care if you’re from here or not, born in America or elsewhere, if you can speak English fluently or not, as long as you are a minority/ person of color you are seen and treated as “less than.” Sad truth.

This is America.

Do You Want To Be On Top?

**Plays “I’ve Got a Dream,” from Tangled, as opener to this post…**

In May 2013, my older sister was a Junior at SF State, majoring in Apparel Design and Merchandising. For one of her projects, she had to design two outfits that would be presented at a fashion showcase. A lot of her classmates worked with strangers that classified themselves as, “models.” In her mind, why would she need a random model she didn’t know when she had me? A younger sister who basically had no choice but to be said “model?” She guilt tripped me about how it would be easier for her if I were the model so I could try it on and get fitted anytime she needed to make adjustments or measurements. Of course I wanted to support her with her passion projects and school work, but damn this bitch had me fucked up. I remember thinking… “Wtf, I really need to stand infront of a couple hundred people and walk on a fuckin’ runway? …bye.” The only plus side that I could see in this situation was the fact that I got to miss a day of class when the fashion showcase day were to come. I was a senior in high school who had a bad case of senioritis, but never had the balls to skip. Nevertheless, I was so embarrassed just thinking about it… ME?! WALKING DOWN A RUNWAY?!

I pull up these pictures now and I almost laugh out loud, as I’m at least 35 pounds heavier. But at the time, I was stressing and under pressure about my appearance. Although I knew months in advance that I’d be walking down a runway, no amount of time could prepare me for this almost embarrassing moment. I felt like I was going to make myself look like Boo Boo Tha Damn Foo walking down that runway. And for those reasons, I seesawed with my diet. One day I’d be watching what I ate, and then another day I would fall into a pit of self pity and eat my frustrations, in the form of hot cheetos. Long story short, I was never consistent with my attempts at trying to “lose weight,” “improve my figure,” “get runway ready,” or whatever the hell I was trying to do. This was also a very crucial point in my life in regards to my body dysmorphia and my struggle with my weight, however, that’s another blog post that I do plan on sharing soon 😉. Let’s just say I was truly struggling with how I viewed my body and went about it in a very unhealthy way.

I practiced day after day in those cheap uncomfortable heels that I got for like $20 in the Mission. I walked up and down the hallway in my house, trying to sell the outfit, but at the same time making sure I don’t fall and eat shit. When it comes to heels I literally can’t. All aboard the mess express, because that’s me in heels. I even put resistant patches on the bottom of my heels to make me feel more secure. I played in my mind all the things that could possibly go wrong, from falling, to passing out, even thinking if under the runway lights my underwear would be visible through the dress material. The thing that bothered me the most was the fact that I could see my belly button through the dress. And for that reason, I practiced walking in heels while sucking in my gut. So, I had to practice walking without falling, walking fiercely, but also achieve that by not breathing.

As the days loomed closer I think I had the mentality of “let’s just get this over with already.” At this point I already exhausted myself with anxiety and insecurities. I was just ready for it to be done with.

When we got to the practice run at the fashion showcase, I was starting to get excited that I would be the body to show off my sister’s designs. But I did notice something. I was one of the verrrrryyyy few “models” of color, probably the shortest, and definately the biggest. It seemed like all these women were atleast 5’10 without heels. I felt so out of place. Insecurities came back, though they never left. For a high schooler struggling with body image and weight, this seemed like the worst place to be.

All these tall, thin, “professional” models changing clothes openly infront of everyone is what got me cringing. The “changing room” was basically the back of the venue, outdoors and gated. They put up a tent where some could change more privately, but there were atleast 200 models. It was so crowded in that little open area that models would come right to the back after just walking off the runway and quickly disrobe to put on the next outfit to get back out there. When I put on my first outfit, I shyly went in the tent and made sure that I put it on as discreet as possible. You know, like when you’re in high school and you’re trying to change in the women’s locker room after swimming class? Like that.

When it was the real deal and the fashion showcase started, I could feel my heart pounding, my breathing picked up, and I felt like passing out. When it was finally my turn to walk down that runway, I faked it till I made it. Faked the confidence, faked the smile, faked my stomach and sucked that shit in. I didn’t fall. All eyes were on me, but at the moment I didn’t care. I walked off the stage exhilarated. I quickly met my sister for my dress change. I immediately started taking off my dress, left in my underwear and bra, scrambling to get into the next outfit.

“Marinelle what the hell,” my sister laughed but was also confused as to why I was doing it out in the open. At that point I was there all day, probably more than 9 hours. My feet hurt, I was tired, I was hungry, and most of all, I didn’t care anymore. I saw stares from the other “models” as I changed into my other dress with no shame. Some probably thinking “yo0o0o0o0, the nerve.” But I embraced it. I liked the fact that I was serving looks, but most importantly, that I was different.

A year later, my sister had her senior final project where she had to come up with multiple looks. My little sister, my 2 friends, my older sister’s co-worker, and I were my sister’s models. My little sister refused to be in it. In a way I saw myself in her. She was complaining about the same things I was just a year before. But I was telling her how cool it was, how it’s all in her head, and guilt tripped her on how we should be supporting our sister.

What I was insecure about a year prior turned out to be what I was most proud of. Being a “model” with my sister and friends made me prideful. I took pride in knowing that I was the thick Filipino chick who totally wasn’t a model. I took pride in the fact that we were a group of women of color who stood out from the rest. I took pride in the fact that I was in a space some would believe I don’t belong.

After the 2nd fashion showcase (where I wasn’t trippin as hard), my parents were smiling ear to ear. They were proud of my older sister for making all those clothes, and proud of all of us for coming through for her.

“Bigay ng bigay,” my mom and dad told me laughing. In bay area translation: I was givin it/ giving it my all/ doing the most. As I should’ve. The 2nd year was a totally different experience than the 1st. The 2nd year I embraced what made me different. I got more political and defensive with my insecurities and turned them into positives.

But I bet you’re thinking, “But why is ‘I’ve Got a Dream,’ from Tangled playing in the backgroud?”

I think it was this experience (and my later self-discovering moments in college) that made me have the far fetched dream of being a plus sized writing model. You know, like I get discovered for my body positive writing pieces and my radical views of realness, that I’m featured in a magazine or something 🤣. Sidenote, I’ve thought about posting “real” photos like a lot of body positive influencers I follow, but I personally feel weird posting half nude photos of myself. Power to the females that do though ✊🏽 I respect and appreciate models and influencers who put their real unedited photos up for people to see that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. But most importantly, highlighting parts of their bodies that society has labeled as “unattractive.”

I realized that I was so insecure of my size because I never seen someone that looks like me on TV or anything model related. I told my cousin, “What if one day I get discovered for modeling, think of it, plus-sized Filipino model, we’re underrepresented!” Unedited, gut out, stretch marks, blemishes, all the above. Even pulling up these old photos from 2013 made me feel some type of way. Like I said, I’m probably AT LEAST 35 pounds heavier. But I got to remind myself that weight does not define me. In fact, I was in a pretty dark place at the time when I was at my smallest. The backstory will be a future blog post.

That “modeling” experience helped me take the first steps to self-acceptance and self-love. Even though the journey is still continuing to this day. 💖 Embrace what makes you different!!!

Soar High Like An Eagle

Dedicated to Paul Taylor

Days before Thanksgiving 2018, I learned through Facebook that a teacher I had as a kid passed away. I attended the same school from Kindergarten to 8th grade, and a lot of the teachers I had at Epiphany literally watched me grow for 9 years. One of those teachers was Mr.Taylor.

My older cousins and older sister also went to Epiphany, so I knew of their current and past teachers even before I had them myself. They would tell me stories about different teachers they had and what to expect if I were to be in their class. So with all that said, I knew of Mr. Taylor way before I ever had him as a substitute teacher. Once upon a time he was the 7th grade teacher (I think) for a long time. My cousins had him as a permanent homeroom teacher, but by the time I had him, a number of years had passed and he was Epiphany’s go to substitute teacher, so he was still at the school very often.

The very first time I had Mr.Taylor as a substitute teacher was in the 1st grade I think. He had the cool dude vibes with his leather jacket, could play the guitar, and had this distinct deep voice that could command a room when needed, but was pretty laid back most of the time. As a little kid I thought he was the coolest dude, and got excited when he would be substituting. I remember my 1st grade class went wild when he tried to explain how double negatives in English makes a positive statement. Probably too advanced for our little minds at the time, and I totally didn’t get it at all, but I thought it was the funniest thing because I thought he was truly messing with us. Like whatchu mean it makes it a positive statement?! I said what I said! Hahaha

When I say these teachers watched me grow, I mean that in every sense. From 5 year old lil chunky ass Marinelle who loved to participate and got the honor roll every quarter, to the 13-14 year old Marinelle who was as difficult as one could be in class, going through that moody teenager stage where my peers’ approval was way more important than school …. still getting that honor roll doeee 💁🏻‍♀️. Some of my friends from Epiphany I’ve known since I was as young as 4. I literally grew up with these people, so the friendship bonds were so tight and strong at the time that once someone in the class went hyphy, it could trigger a whole chain reaction of hell for a teacher. In fact, that’s supposedly what the class of 2009 was known for.

Anyways, I was no stranger to giving my teachers a hard time. I could literally talk to anyone. I think my teachers realized that moving my seat wasn’t gonna really do anything because I would just befriend the person next to me anyways. I was always that talkative kid. It was crazy because by the time I hit middle school, all the teachers I had had a love hate relationship with me. They hated my ass when I talked up a storm in class and refused to take their orders, but at the same time on a 1 on 1 level, I had a real connection with all of them and vented about whatever teenage things I was going through.

So when I got the news about Mr.Taylor passing away, of course I was mad sad. But also, very remorseful. Not saying I was a nuisance to him majority of the time, but me and my friends were definately a hand full. I felt deep regret for my childish ways when I was…well, a child. And I know for a fact if I were to see him within the last couple of years, he’d hold no hard feelings at all, because he really did enjoy my presence.

I thought back to that time where he was about to give me a conduct referral (supposedly something really bad that goes on your record, and it’s basically a note home that your parents have to sign to acknowledge that you were being a little shit in school.) I don’t even remember what it was for, but he said he was going to “write me up.” I was pissed. Livid. Embarrassed infront of the whole class. Luckily, I had to alter serve for a funeral, and had to leave the class anyways. I got up. He asked where I thought I was going. In a sassy tone I said that I had to alter serve and if he could write my conduct referral so I could leave. He told me to come back during recess so he could write it.

When I came during recess I still had that same stank attitude. I had too much pride to apologize for my actions. I was expecting a conduct referral, but instead, he told me he was going back on his word and decided not to give me one, and just gave me a pep talk instead. Instant mood changer. I was so thankful because on the outside I was trying to act all hard with the “yeah whatever who cares, write me up” attitude, but in reality, I was scared shitless to bring that home to my parents to sign hahaha. I thanked him, and always remembered how he did me that solid.

I bottled the sadness and remorse I felt inside. 5 days after he passed away, I had a dream.In my dream, I was talking to April, Lucas, and John, some of my best friends from Epiphany. We were all talking about how we were going to meet up for Mr. Taylor’s funeral, and what a shock it was that he had passed away.

I departed from the group and found Mr. Talor working on a car. For some reason in the dream, I was talking to him as if he wasn’t him.

I told him,”I can’t believe Mr.Taylor died…”

He replied saying that yeah, it was crazy to believe.

I went on and burst into tears, “I just wish I could tell him how sorry I am for being such a difficult kid back then,” by this time it was one of those moments when you’re crying in your dream but also in real life. I was sobbing in my sleep but didn’t realize until after the dream.

He reassured me that Mr.Taylor (Yes, talking in 3rd person) doesn’t even care about or think about all that and that it was fine. He kinda down played it like I was feeling remorse for nothing. He went on to change the subject and we talked about something different.

I woke up. My pillow wet, my face tear stained. I didn’t end up going to his service like I had planned to because it was during one of my classes. But I bet it was a great one, cuz he was a really great guy.

I would like to believe that that dream was more than just my conscience manifesting, but that it was Mr.Taylor’s “goodbye” message to me. Whatever it was, it brought me peace of mind.

“I’m a Writer”

I think back to an exercise I had to do in my Women and Gender GWAR class my last semester of college. The “GWAR” class is one of the core classes you have to take for your major/ minor that is heavily writing-based. It was maybe the first or second day of class, can’t be exact it seemed so long ago… Anyways, it was one of the very first class meetings. My Professor, Nan, stood in front of the class and said, “Ok, I want you to introduce yourself to the person next to you by saying, ‘Hello, my name is ….. , and I’m a writer.”

What a simple exercise to do. My classmates went about introducing themselves as writers with a smile, probably thinking, “Ok, whatever.” However, I hesitated. Saying “I’m a writer,” hits different and has a completely different meaning when that’s actually what you want to be identified as. But I turned to a classmate and gave my quick, “Hi, I’m Marinelle, and I’m a writer.” I could feel myself getting hot and turning red. I felt embarrassed that I was taking this exercise way too personally, but it really made me reflect on why.

I always get self-conscious about calling myself a “writer” for a lot of reasons. For one, I feel weird calling myself a writer if I’m not getting paid to write. When I tell people I have a blog, I feel a little shy and awkward, knowing that my online presence is nowhere close to where I want it to be. A lot of the time, I’m writing about things I’m passionate about, or experiences and stories that I think can help someone in some kind of way. At the very least, I want people to relate to what I write. From the get I’ve told people that my blog entries and the stories I share would probably never make it on your local TV News station. This ain’t breaking news. These are your everyday life stories.

My Professor went on to say that the point of the exercise was for us to be comfortable with calling ourselves “writers.” She explained that no matter how good or bad we are at writing, no matter how many eyes we have on our work, whether it’s for the public or for ourselves, that at the end of it all, we write, so therefore we are writers. It was a boost for the class to be confident in our writing, since the class was basically a writing class. Nan stressed that we’re all writers at different stages, and we all have more to learn.

Later on in the semester during our 1 on 1 meeting, I brought up how that exercise really hit home for me. I told her that it made me realize that if I can’t even confidently say that I’m a writer out loud, how do I expect others to see me in that light? We went on to talk about my research paper, and all the little goals I had with it. She assured me that I was doing great in the class, and that she was impressed with my writing abilities. She went on to tell me that I’m such a pleasure to talk to 1 on 1, but in class I’m so disconnected and almost not present, in a sense that I don’t want to contribute to the conversation when I know the answer. I laughed because that’s typical me, full of personality when you get me talking, but totally unbothered and minding my business if not. Nan encouraged me to apply for the Women Gender Studies Conference that was going to take place at Fresno State. I took her advice and applied – mostly because it was extra credit if I showed proof of just applying. A few months later, I was selected to speak at the conference about my paper focusing on the Body Positive Movement.

I get so in my head about writing, that it is beyond writer’s block. I have so many ideas and topics that I want to cover. It gets to the point where I go over a possible blog post in my head over and over again – how I would start it off, what topics to cover, what my point would be, what correlations to make, etc, that I exhaust myself. It seems like I write it a thousand times in my head already, that when it gets time to actually writing it out, I’m over it. And that’s partly because I’m high key a perfectionist, but at the same time a scared lazy ass bitch. I want my content to be worth the read, and sometimes I think, “Maybe this idea isn’t as good as you think,” and I talk myself out of writing it. Butttttttttttt, I gotta stop that. I am a writer. If not now, then when? If I’m writing into outer space and nobody actually cares what I say except my best friends and those closest to me, then so be it. Enough of trying to perfect everything. I always say I’m going to be consistent but end up fallin’ off. A lot of changes have been happening in my life and I feel like I should write about them because I know there’s people out there struggling with the same things. So stay tuned for my rants and quarter-life-crisis’s. You know that feeling where you feel like you’re turning to the next chapter in your book of life? Well that’s me. My brain’s in shambles thinking about life decisions.

With that said, I’m Marinelle Cabillo, and I’m a writer.