This Christmas Eve post demanded to be written…

12/24/21

Merry Christmas Eve, to those who celebrate. It’s 10:01pm this Friday night. I’m a little bit wine-tipsy as I begin this post, so we’ll see how coherent my writing will be.

As per the title, this post demanded to be written. I didn’t plan on writing tonight. But sometimes, writing is the only way out. Sometimes, my emotions scream to be released, and for me, writing is the most straightforward/effective means of catharsis. So, here goes.

Okay. First question is, why the heck am I wine drunk on Christmas Eve? Well, today was tough, so wine (and writing) seemed the only solution to my woes. Both my brothers are home for the holidays, as is my grandmother, and that is cause for celebration. While it is nice to have a full house again, the more people there are confined in close quarters, the greater the opportunity for clash and collision. And that is exactly what happened tonight.

I won’t get into the details of it, but essentially, I feel like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Everyone else is downstairs in the living room, and I’ve been up in my room by myself since 8pm, moping and drinking and wondering what the f*** I am doing with my life, at age 23 (almost 24, in three months): living with my parents, dropping out of grad school, figuring out my next steps as a dancer/writer. Actually, my mental health has been mostly amazing, lately. Save for the occasional loneliness (I am single as ever, this holiday season) I’ve been doing great, especially since renouncing school to chase after my destiny as a creative. Tonight was a bump in the road, though. The events that transgressed have left me feeling disempowered and longing to move out of my parents’ house, because honestly, it’s about time to. I hate that I’m grouchy on Christmas Eve, but sometimes timing’s a bitch.

I recently got into yoga and I gotta say… the practice has changed my life. Never in my life have I been given express permission to love and embrace the present moment in all its messiness; to love myself wholeheartedly; to love freely and fully; to lean into the uncertainty of the world and trust the preordained design of the universe that will lead me to exactly where I’m meant to be. Phew. I know, I might sound insane to some of y’all. Maybe, it’s the wine talking. To be honest, I’ve completely forgotten why I decided to bring up yoga in the first place. Maybe I wanted to mention a positive in my life to balance out all the negative energy that has defined my night, thus far. I’ll definitely write more about yoga / meditation / mindfulness in the future. But it’s 10:18pm now and nearing my 11pm bedtime. Gonna watch some Emily in Paris on Netflix and call it a night. Crossing my fingers that tomorrow– CHRISTMAS 2021– will be better.

-Bel the Grinch

An Ode to Goat Cheese

It was a Monday night in August when, at the age of 23, I tried my first ever taste of goat cheese. 

Cheese was not something I grew up eating much of. With the exception of melted mozzarella cheese on pizza, I rarely touched cheese, as the foil odor sufficiently deterred me from this European-born delicacy. 

My distaste towards cheese mitigated ever so slightly as my tastebuds evolved. By high school, I had expanded my horizons to nacho cheese, grilled cheese, and Mac n’ cheese. Still, unless the cheese was melted and the pungent odor masked behind other foods, I avoided it. Eating stand-alone cheese was out of the question. I would also stick to the more mild cheese options— mozzarella and cheddar— and was not daring enough to try cheese of the goat variation.

That remained the case until one fateful night this past August, when, convinced by a student’s poignantly persuasive essay, I decided to be brave and give goat cheese a shot.

There I was, seated at the dining room table with my friend, Amir, sitting across from me. I recruited him as a witness to this historic moment. Earlier that day, I had gone shopping at the local grocery store and was dumbfounded when I saw that goat cheese came in various flavors! There were fruity flavors, like blueberry and cranberry, and savory ones as well, like garlic and olive. I settled on the olive flavor and bought a pack of saltine crackers to go with it, just as my student had done. 

Back to the moment. I opened the pack of goat cheese, sealed tightly in plastic film. I was surprised by its smooth, buttery consistency. Perhaps I had conflated goat cheese with cottage cheese, which is much bumpier in texture. After lathering a thin layer atop a single cracker, I told Amir to film my first bite of the cheese. It was a turning point in my life that demanded to be documented. Also, I find it easier to be brave, when I’m being recorded on video. 

What emotions did I feel in the moments before? Anticipation? Curiosity? Thrill? Perhaps a mixture of all three. I closed my eyes, counted to 3 (for dramatic effect), and bit into the cheese-covered cracker. I was expecting the taste to match the foul, pungent odor I had long associated with cheese. But it was nothing of the sort. The rich milkiness of the white paste stroked my tastebuds, and the familiarity of the saltine cracker perfectly complemented this foreign taste in my mouth. My instinct when eating new foods is to hold my breath and swallow quickly… but I forced myself to relax. I inhaled deeply and let the cheese-cracker globule wash over my palate. Like all novel experiences, this one took some getting used to. I didn’t love it, but I surprisingly didn’t hate it. I was proud of myself for overcoming my fear of goat cheese, and was reminded that most fears exist only in the mind, and the reality is not nearly as bad. After I swallowed, I gave silent thanks to my student for propelling me out of my gustatory comfort zone. 

My goat cheese experience is a metaphor for life— you never know what something is like, unless you try. Whether the experience is pleasant or unpleasant, it will always teach you something new about yourself. While goat cheese did not make my top 10, or even top 15 list of favorite foods, I am all the more food-cultured, after trying it. Thank you, Mark, for gifting me this experience! 

New York Trip 2021

Hi friends! It is 4:52pm ET as I begin this post. I arrived at Newark airport in New Jersey about 5 hours ahead of my 8pm flight. Judge me if you will, but in leaving the house at 1:45pm, I was able to evade crazy New York City traffic, and did not miss my flight like I did during my last NYC trip, in 2017.

In an effort to pass time at the airport, I figured I’d tell you all about my New York trip this past week!

First, the TLDR version. From December 1-6, I did the following:

  1. reunited with my college friend, Tami
  2. reunited with my cousins on my dad’s side (Anita, Alvin, Aaron)
  3. met my cousins’ children for the first time
  4. watched 3 Broadway shows (Chicago, Moulin Rouge, Aladdin)
  5. ate an insane amount of food, and have a re-born paunch to prove it!
  6. got lost in NYC
  7. went clubbing with my friend, Karthik
  8. tried to get over my recent “breakup” by fraternizing with NYC guys… (spoiler: it was unsuccessful)

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Okay, so let’s get down to business. I arrived at Newark airport on Wednesday, December 1. I woke up at the ungodly hour of 2am to catch my 6:30am flight from SFO-EWR. The flight was uneventful, save for the physically attractive guy I was sitting next to on the plane, but his personality seemed less-than desirable– he was struggling to find the link to buy in-flight wifi, and I helped him find the link, and he didn’t even thank me! Anyway. I landed in Newark at around 2:30pm ET. My college friend, Tami, lives in New Jersey and was kind enough to let me stay the night with her and her family. I took a 20-minute Uber to her house (this was the first of MANY Ubers I took, this trip) and arrived at her place around 3:45pm. I hadn’t seen Tami since graduation in 2019, so the reunion was much-awaited. Fun fact: Tami and I were freshman year floor-mates, took the same year-long freshman GE class, and both graduated a year early. We also both enjoy fitness and gymnastics!

My night with Tami was super fun! Her parents were extremely hospitable and made sure we were well-fed and taken care of. Tami’s family is Jewish, so I got to witness my first ever Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony that evening! As Tami and I are both super into fitness, Tami took me to a local gym called Retro Fitness that shares the same red-and-yellow color scheme as McDonald’s. We hit an intense workout spanning cardio, abs, and back exercises. After coming home, we had a secret wine-night in her room and ate falafel, Israeli salad and toasted pita bread for dinner. We caught up and reminisced on old times, and also chatted about boys. As mentioned in my previous post, I got out of a situationship last Monday (7 days ago, exactly!) and was feeling pretty down about it, since it was so fresh. As a distraction from my feelings, I decided to hop back on Tinder. Tami did the same, and we had a swipe session over Netflix and giant pretzels from Philly Pretzel Factory. We ended up matching with the same guy. As a joke, Tami and I both messaged this guy, informing him that we were sitting right next to each other. The guy, whose name is Sean, replied that we should start a three-way group chat, and gave both of us his number. Tami and I found that quite amusing, and ended our night with a good laugh.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

The following morning, Tami gave me a ride from New Jersey to Brooklyn, where she was working that day. The traffic was atrocious and made SF traffic look like child’s play. I distinctly remember looking at Tami’s phone GPS and seeing that we had merely 7 miles to go, but 54 minutes left until arrival. It was insane. But eventually, we reached the destination and parted ways. I then took an Uber to Manhattan (didn’t feel like doing subway, since I had all my luggage and belongings with me). I met up with my cousin, Anita, whom I stayed with for the remainder of my trip. She had a bunch of work errands to run, and after dropping my luggage off at a designated location, I tagged along with her and experienced my first taste of hustle-bustle New York City life. It felt like home.

Around 1pm, Anita and I walked to Central Park, where we met up with her brother (and my cousin) Alvin, and his girlfriend/soon-to-be fiancé, Lily! Serendipitously, Alvin and Lily happened to be visiting NYC from Toronto the same week I arrived. The last time I saw Alvin was during our grandmother’s (my dad’s mom’s) funeral in 2011. So, it has literally been a decade since I’ve seen Alvin, which is insane to fathom. Needles to say, it was wonderful seeing Alvin and meeting Lily for the first time. The first hour of the reunion, we chatted up a storm and breathlessly caught up on the past decade. When Anita had to go back to work, Alvin, Lily and I headed to Hudson Yards, a new real-estate development overlooking the Hudson River, featuring beautiful viewpoints and a shopping mall. We took plenty of pictures and grabbed lunch at an overpriced Asian-fusion restaurant inside the mall. Lily helped me shop for a going-out/clubbing outfit, seeing as the contents of my luggage did not meet the haute couture standards of NYC fashion.

It was dark by 4:30pm. We walked 20 minutes from Hudson Yard back to Anita’s work office building. As I am still in grad school, I had my final class of the semester at 5:15pm ET. It was conveniently an online class, so I was able to take it in one of the office rooms.

My class ended at 6:30pm. Alvin, Lily, Anita and I took a taxi to Grand Central Station, and from Grand Central we took the 45-minute Metro ride to Rye, New York, where Anita lives with her husband, Alessandro, and 5-year-old daughter, Isabella.

At the house, I reunited with Anita’s mom (my Auntie Wendy), who lives with Anita. I also reunited with Alessandro, who I haven’t seen since 2014, when he visited SF with Anita. I was so excited to meet my niece, Isabella. Last time I saw her was in 2017, when she was 1 year-old. My parents and brothers and I actually visited her the day she was born, in 2016! To see her now, at age 5, with a blooming personality and budding vocabulary, was pretty trippy. And, she is absolutely adorable with a heart-melting smile!

Alessandro owns a restaurant and is thus an amazing chef. He displayed his culinary talents Thursday night, making us a delicious home-cooked meal.

Appetizer: margherita pizza

Main Courses: chicken, potato slices, pasta

The food was ten-million times more delicious than my sparse culinary vocabulary can ever describe. It was the first of many incredible meals to come.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Today was a Manhattan Day! After a long couple days of travel, I slept soundly and woke up Friday morning at the comfortable hour of 10am. Alvin drove me to Rye Station, where I took the Metro to the city. Upon arrival, I walked around a bit and stumbled upon a quick-eats restaurant that served various types of chicken meals. I ordered chicken breast with sides of mac-n-cheese and caramelized carrots. I asked the restaurant if I could dine-in, and they said I could, if I showed proof of vaccination. I found it remarkable that a local restaurant would check vaccination status, but neither SFO nor EWR did.

After a quick brunch, I met up with my friend, Nell, in Times Square. Nell is a Bay Area native and NYU grad. She moved back to the Bay during COVID, and moved back to New York a couple months ago. We met underneath the iconic Red Stairs, where discounted Broadway tickets were being sold. We decided to watch the 8pm showing of Chicago, and after standing in line for a solid 30 minutes, we landed 2 tickets at half-price ($58!). After buying Broadway tickets, Nell took me to a local bar called Mr. Biggs. It sells extremely cheap “well drinks” (definition of a well drink: basic mixed drink that incorporates lower-tier liquors; i.e. vodka soda, rum and coke, gin and tonic) at $4 per drink. We ordered a $10 cheese pizza to accompany the drinks, and chatted the afternoon away.

We headed to the Ambassador Theater at 7:30pm for the show. Presented our tickets, ID, and proof of vaccination at the door, passed through a security metal detector, got our bags checked, and finally, we were in! Our seats were located on the second level in the center section of the theater, which was not a half bad location, considering we got our tickets for half price.

I’ll save the in-depth musical reviews for another post. The long-short: Chicago was amazing. The two leading actresses were phenomenal, and I later found out that Bianca Marroquín, the actress who played Velma Kelly, is 46 years old. She absolutely killed her role as co-star alongside Ana Villafañe, who portrayed Roxie Hart (Ana also originated the role of Gloria Estefan in On Your Feet!). Both women had enviable back muscles and insane singing/dancing skills (how they’re able to hold a tune while dancing such demanding choreography, is beyond me).

The show ended at 10:30pm. Nell gave me verbal directions to Grand Central Station, but I still managed to get lost on the way there! After 30 minutes of roaming the city streets in a mad fury, confused like a headless chicken and cursing the living hell out of my unreliable Google Maps app, I finally threw in the towel and called an Uber from my location to the train station. I was a 10-minute drive away from where I was supposed to be, and would not have made the 11:39pm train, if I didn’t resort to Uber.

By the end of the 45-minute train ride, my cortisol levels had returned to baseline, and I felt safe again. Alvin picked me up from Rye station and drove me home. It was nights out shortly afterwards.

Saturday, December 4, 2022

Originally, I had intended to visit another college friend in New Haven, Connecticut, on Saturday. He’s in his second year of med school at Yale. The plans fell through, however, so instead I spent the first half of Saturday with family, and the second half clubbing in Brooklyn with my friend Karthik and two of his college buddies. After sleeping in a ton, the fam and I headed to Chinatown around 3pm for a late dim sum lunch, where I splurged on carbs and fried Chinese food! Yum! I also got to meet Norma, who is Anita and Alessandro’s friend. She is also the person who introduced them to each other! Without Norma, there would be do Anita + Alessandro. So I was mighty grateful for her, and also enjoyed her lively and fun personality.

At 4:30pm, I Ubered to Midtown where I checked out Stepping Out Studios, home to the best competitive ballroom dancers and teachers in the country. I had intended to take the 5pm group class taught by former World Latin dance champion, Vibeke Toft. Sadly, the class was canceled that day, as there was a dance competition in New Jersey (Kings Ball) that I assume Vibeke was judging. I chilled out at Stepping Out for a bit, taking a sneak peak at some of the semi-pro and professional dancers on the floor. The whole time, I found myself thinking, this could be me. By this, I mean the NYC dancing dream. What, really, is stopping me from going for it? Not age– 23 is not young but it is not old. If there ever was a time in my life to be bold with my choices, it is now.

After I had my fill of Stepping Out, I exited the studio and walked a mile to Times Square. That’s one of the beauties of New York City— everything is so close together and within walking distance. Sometimes, walking is even faster than driving! Earlier in the day, I spontaneously bought a ticket to the Saturday evening show of Moulin Rouge: The Musical. I wanted to see it on Friday with Nell, but tickets had sold out for that day. I was lucky to land a single ticket for Saturday’s 8pm show. It was $180… oof. But no, not oof. One of my guiding principles is to spend frugally on most things, but exorbitantly on the things I love. And if you knew me, you’d know how much I love Moulin Rouge: the 2001 film starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman; the movie soundtrack; Olympic champion ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s Moulin Rouge-themed free program; and now the Broadway musical, which I’ve been wanting to watch since it debuted in 2018. So, Saturday night marked Broadway show #2 of the trip, and boy was I excited for it.

I had some time to kill between 6 and 8pm. This, my friends, is where I will get a little sentimental. I told you guys I recently got out of a thing with a wonderful guy, and the trip thus far had been a welcomed distraction from the heartache. But traversing the streets of Manhattan alone on Saturday night, I felt the sadness creep up again. It always happens when I’m alone, or during downtime. Breakups are hard. I found catharsis in pushing and shoving my way through the crowded NYC streets, channeling all that pent-up sadness into acceptable aggression. Also helpful was listening to the Fearless Motivation podcast on Spotify (recommended to me by Tami), as the compilation of motivational speech snippets set to intense, inspirational background music is cheesy, to be sure, yet effective in striking an emotional chord. Listening to one of those compilations was enough to catapult me out of victim mode, and into action mode. When I arrived at the Al Hirschfeld Theater at 7:30pm, I had ridden the wave of difficult emotions, processed and discarded them, and felt a lot better. Hell, I was feeling more than just better. I was freaking pumped!! I WAS ABOUT TO SEE MOULIN ROUGE, DAMMIT!!!

Like I said earlier, I’ll save the musical review for another post. But, just a primer:

  • Moulin Rouge met and exceeded my very high expectations
  • Choreography was sensational; great work, Sonya Tayeh!
  • Fun fact: I took Sonya’s masterclass online during COVID, where she taught a section of the “Bad Romance” number… seeing it performed in the musical and recognizing the steps and dancing along with the hand motions was… trippy.
  • Leading male Aaron Tveit originated the role of Christian… oh, be still my ever-beating heart. Aaron is my Broadway man-crush. And I got to see him… IN THE FLESH! The girls seated next to and behind me were just as enamored with him.
  • The beautiful Natalia Mendoza replaced Karen Olivio as the new Satine on Broadway. Loved her! Though her singing wasn’t quite as strong as Aaron’s (but let’s be real… Aaron is pretty hard to beat), she still killed it.
  • The venue! It was glorious! I don’t have the words to describe its majesty and extravagance, so I’ll just drop the picture below and let you soak it in.
  • 20/10 would recommend to musical theater lovers, and even musical theater cynics. Moulin Rouge will impress, stun, and convert the unconverted.

By the end of the musical, my head was buzzing with excitement and inspiration and fresh ideas. How I wished I could have recorded the show and dissected the dance steps, complex formation changes, and infinite nuances of each musical number. After watching Moulin Rouge, I had all but forgotten the heartache I’d experienced a couple hours earlier.

But my Saturday night did not end with the Broadway show! Oh no.. oh no.. oh no-no-no-no. The night was still young by the time I exited the theater at 10:45pm. Next item on the agenda was CLUBBING!!! I met up with my friend, Karthik, at his apartment in Union Square. He is a founding member of the SF gang (my friend group in the Bay) and moved to New York a few months ago to expand his horizons. Also at his apartment were his two friends from college, Andrew and Andrew, who are a married couple. We pregamed at his place, sang some karaoke to Taylor Swift songs, and took the subway to Brooklyn for a clubbing event at this place called House of Yes. I drank a lot beforehand, and the rest of the night was a blur. I was hungry, as I hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so while the others were waiting in line to enter the club, I scurried across the street to a taco truck and bought an $11 quesadilla. We got into the club at 2:20am (clubs would be closed at that time in SF… but New Yorkers know how to party long and hard). I snuck my quesadilla inside, and the first thing I did after dropping off my coat at the coat check was sit down on the floor, whip out my quesadilla, and devour it with a fork and knife. I suppose it was a bit of a spectacle. One girl, a complete stranger, came up to me and said the words, “You are literally my idol right now. Can I please add you on Instagram?” I suppose she thought I was bold, because what kind of person spends their time at a club eating a quesadilla? ME, THAT’S WHO! As flattered as I was, it wasn’t boldness that drove my quesadilla-eating-antics, but rather, a combination of hunger, inebriation, and a philia for all things cheesy and carb-y that is magnified ten-fold when I’m drunk. Not a minute after receiving the compliment from my new friend, I dropped the remaining half of my quesadilla on my pants, and was very sad about it. That was my cue to stop eating, and start dancing the night (*ahem, I mean, morning) away.

While movin’ and groovin’ on the stage, I bumped into a guy and we hit it off. New York native, 25 y/o, has gorgeous blue-gray ocean eyes. We danced together and had a good time. I found relief and distraction in this guy, but a part of me felt guilty, even though I had no reason to. I am single once again, and thus, free to fraternize with other men. Except I didn’t want other men. I wanted him. The wonderful guy from home, the one I am presently trying to get over. Dancing with a stranger in NYC was fun. Unfortunately, it did not cure my heartache. We headed back to Karthik’s apartment at 5am, where I spent the night. I went to bed feeling a little bit sad, but also grateful for my fun-filled, eventful night in NYC with great company.

Sunday, December 5, 2022

My final full day in New York! Sunday was family day. I got to reunite with another one of my cousins, Aaron (Alvin and Anita’s brother), his wife Serafina, and their three little daughters. I got 5 hours of sleep before waking up at 11am. After zipping through my morning routine and saying goodbye to Karthik and the Andrews, I sped-walked to the nearest subway station, as I was scheduled to meet my family in Times Square for the 1pm showing of Aladdin! I was proud of myself for making it on time for the 12:18pm Q-train to Times Square. My celebration was short-lived, however, as there was an unexpected subway delay. Eventually I just left the station and took an Uber to the theater. I arrived just in time, at 12:48pm. Lily met me at the theater lobby and handed me my ticket. We made it to the theater just as the show was starting! (Can’t say the same for the family that got denied entry at the door because their little girl was under age 5… honestly felt really bad for them). The tickets were expensive… like, $200 each, expensive… but that’s because we had 12 people in our group, and we wanted to sit all together. But man, they were some pretty great seats. Front and center, we got a clear view of the actors, which I did not get, in the previous two Broadway shows. 

For the third time, I will refrain from embarking on an involved tangent about the show itself, as that would prolong this already lengthy post. But, if you’ll oblige me, here are some highlights from Aladdin the musical: 

  • Genie was my favorite character. His energy was through the roof. I don’t know how one person can contain so much vivacity… it’s superhuman.
  • The actress who played Jasmine was G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S! Like, she could pass for Miss Universe, with her looks and talents. After an extensive Google search, I discovered that the actress, Shoba Narayan, is 32 years old and has two children. On top of being a working mom and Broadway star, she is trained professionally in classical Indian dance. Talk about a powerhouse, multi-hyphenated artist!
  • The actor who played Jafar, Jonathan Freeman, is the same guy who voiced Jafar in Disney’s original animated Aladdin. So we got the OG Jafar in the house, which was such a gift!

After the show, we made our way to Alessandro’s restaurant, Serafina’s, for a late lunch / early dinner. The restaurant specializes in Italian cuisine— my favorite. What’s remarkable about being related to the restaurant owner is how food seems to magically and endlessly appear on the table. Literally, we had food waiting for us the minute we sat down (I think Alessandro told the kitchen staff to prepare for our arrival). Between all of us (12 Tangs + Norma, who met us at the restaurant), we shared 5 pizzas and a variety of pastas, salads, appetizers, and wine. It was a feast fit for kings, queens, and princesses. I forgave myself for splurging, as this was my trip to New York, and I was determined to soak in every experience, which includes indulging in great food with people I love. It was a marvelous dinner, and I enjoyed catching up with Aaron and Serafina, whom I haven’t seen since 2015, I think. Fun fact: theirs is still the only wedding I have ever attended in my 23 years! Their three daughters are beyond adorable. I had only met the oldest, Adrianna, one time when she was really young, so she didn’t remember me. The other two girls were not born yet when I last saw them in New York. One of the highlights of my trip was playing with the girls. We played various hand games, I got to pick them up and bounce them around, and it was so cool to see the differences in their budding personalities! I absolutely adore being their Auntie Bel, and I cannot wait to watch them grow up.

We got back to Anita’s around 7pm. There was a cry-fest in the driveway, as all of the girls (except for Mila) were heartbroken over goodbyes, in the same way I was shedding tears during my breakup last Monday… (lol, Bel, you need to stop ruminating about that). I also was reluctant to say goodbye to the girls, as I wasn’t sure when the next time I’d see all of them was. The good thing is, Aaron and Anita and their children are all in New York, so it won’t be difficult to coordinate a get-together, next time I find myself on the East Coast. 

Sadly, I wasn’t able to completely escape work during this trip. I had to teach the weekly SAT English group class from 9-11:30pm ET. Once that was over, I chatted a bit with Anita and Lily in the living room, then did some journaling before going to bed. 


WHEW!!! WE MADE IT TO THE END OF THIS VACATION REVIEW! It is now 11:39pm ET. I am currently on the plane, and we are 3 hours and 42 minutes away from SFO. There was a 1.5 hour flight delay, which was mildly irritating, but there’s nothing you can do, other than accept and adapt to the situation. Thankfully I don’t have to be up early tomorrow, so I feel blessed. 

If you made it this far— thanks for reading! It was a doozy, but more for my own processing/reflecting than for entertainment purposes. I hope you enjoyed this post, regardless. I know I enjoyed writing it.

When I get home (probably gonna be 1am PT), I’m going straight to the shower, then straight to sleep. I have a two-day layover at home before resuming my travels on Thursday for a ski trip to Mammoth! Going with my brothers Austin and Chris, and some of Austin’s friends. Oh, and I have a final exam on Friday that I have yet to study for. Oops, I did it again… procrastinated, that is. Guess I know what I’ll be doing for the next 3 days. 

Much love,

Bel

The November Diaries: Final Day (and coping with a “breakup”)

Hello friends,

It’s Wednesday, December 1, 2021, as I begin this post. Had an emotionally tough and jam-packed past couple days, which is why I wasn’t able to properly conclude The November Diaries!

Beginning this post, I’m seated in United Airlines Gate G6 at SFO. I’m headed to New York for a 5-day trip! Gonna visit family and friends and have a nice little reprieve from everything that’s happening in the Bay. I’m happy to say that I was able to finish my final paper for grad school, so I don’t have to worry about it on my NY trip. I scrambled to create all the study guides I need for my final exam, which is on December 10. Told myself I wouldn’t study (too much) while on vacation, so the only times I’ll pop out those study guides are on the plane rides to and from New York. And maybe when I’m bored on the New York subway.

Okay, so I’ll cut to the heart of why I’ve been having a rough time at home. Two days ago on Monday, I had a “breakup” with a wonderful guy I had been seeing for nearly 4 months. I use quotation marks because we were never officially a couple. Label or no label, I still cared deeply for him and was disappointed it didn’t work out. We were simply on different pages in terms of what we both were seeking out of the relationship. I wanted something more serious, and he didn’t, at this moment. Timing was off, and that stings. But such is life. We parted ways amicably, and I honestly have no ill-will towards him in the slightest. He’s just an amazing guy, through-and-through, with the kindest heart. Truly the salt of the earth. We shared so many laughs and adventures, and he pushed me out of my comfort zone by introducing me to many new hobbies and interests. I will forever treasure the memories we made together. *cue watery eyes

We still want to be friends and hope to meet up sometime at the end of the month, after we both return from our respective holiday travels. I’ve been doing a lot of journaling and reflecting surrounding the relationship/breakup, and it’s been helping a lot. I think getting away from the Bay will be a chance for me to reset, stay occupied, and meet new people. I have a rule of no dating for at least 3 months post-breakup to prevent the possibility of a rebound relationship. 3 months is the minimum time for me to honor my past relationship and partner, reflect and draw lessons/takeaways, and breathe in a big dose of personal growth, so that I’ll be more ready for the next relationship.

As this is only my second breakup ever, I don’t have much experience to draw from in terms of coping. But like I mentioned, journaling has been helping a lot. Staying busy— and busy I have been, past couple days– is a welcomed distraction. Meditation grounds me in the present when my emotions get too intense; coming back to my breath and noticing my thoughts/emotions without getting too deeply attached to them, is calming. Self-compassion is also key during rough patches, and it is comforting to know that the pain will subside and wounds will heal, with time. Time truly is the best medicine there is. I tell myself to take it one day at a time and congratulate myself for coping healthily (meaning, not turning to drugs/alcohol/rebounds as a means of escape).

I’ll conclude this topic with the words of two: a dance student, and David Bowie.

My dance student: “The most beautiful thing in life, is love. For me, every second of love is worth it, even if it doesn’t work out in the end.”

David Bowie: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” ~lyrics to “Nature Boy”


This takes me to 5:32am, and I board the plane in 10 minutes, so gonna conclude this blog here. November was a busy month that met a bittersweet end. No regrets, and only gonna move forward.

Will keep a daily account of my New York trip! Excited to write to you from aesthetic coffee shops in the city.

Talk soon,

Bel

The November Diaries: Day 10

9:10pm on this Wednesday evening. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! I know I’ve said it before, but truly, there is so much to be grateful for this year. Both my brothers are home, as is my grandmother. The Tang (nuclear) family is all reunited for the holidays and I can’t be happier about it.

Tomorrow is an exciting day, as it marks the first Thanksgiving that my brothers and I are completely taking over the reigns with cooking. I expressly told my parents, this year, that they could sit back and chillax while we kids cook the Thanksgiving meal. I’m in charge of mashed potatoes and cornbread. Austin will do the veggies. And Chris is Turkey Boi! We got it covered!

Another thing I’m looking forward to tomorrow is my reunion with my besties, Callista and Cassandra, who are driving up from Santa Barbara for Thanksgiving holiday. Gonna catch up with them at 3pm tomorrow!


But… why so future-oriented with this blog post? I’m completely skipping over the events and happenings of today! Today… boy oh boy, it was a doozy. I had a study session in the morning, worked on my final paper, and exercised for nearly 4 hours at the gym. I’m trying to get in shape rapidly, as I recently was invited to choreograph and participate in a contortion show, directed by my former contortion teacher, Serchmaa. I must look my tip-top shape before taking the stage. So, it’s time to diet, and it’s time to exercise the shit out of this old 23 y/o bod. The timing is a little unfortunate, as I am kickstarting my training right around the holidays, which is usually a time of heavy feasting and treats. Must exercise restraint and moderation.

I’m also having a mini “crisis of desire”, as I described it to my friend, Mikey. I’m not gonna get into the details of it. But basically, I’m feeling things that I hate myself for feeling, and I don’t know why I feel them, which leaves me confused and self-critical beyond imagine. I’m gonna turn to my private journal to hopefully unpack what’s going on in my brain, at the moment. Usually, cathartic writing and honest introspection does the trick, and I’ve gotten pretty good at examining the truths of my own mind, and recognizing denial patterns and distorted thinking when they pop up. Everything will be a-okay!

Aaaaand, it’s officially 9:20pm. I’m literally a grandma, these days. I’m in bed by 10pm, which is amazing. One thing I discovered about myself today is that if I eat too heavy a breakfast (i.e. heavy carbs), I am highly susceptible to a morning food coma. Unless I can offset the drowsiness with caffeine, I am almost certainly going creep my way back into my bed and go to sleep. To fix this little fault of mine, I will make sure to keep my breakfast light and protein-rich, drink hot caffeinated green tea, and bolt out of the house before my brain goes back into hibernation mode.

Of course, I can also get back into my cold shower habit as a surefire wake-up method, but honestly, cold showers in the winter are BRUTAL. If I were half as masochistic as I once was, I would totally subject myself to such physical misery in the name of character-building. But therapy has softened me up a bit, and I’m now recognizing that balance and moderation is the way to go, at least for mental stability and long-term, sustainable happiness. It’s a new concept, not going 200% with goals and taking things to the extreme… but the practice of holding back and approaching my goals slowly and steadily has done wonders for my mental health, and I don’t care that I’ve lost a little bit of my competitive edge, in the process. To make peace with my new way of being, I try to look at it this way: I can’t be competitive and achieve my goals if I’m bedridden with depression and burnout. So, I choose to pace myself. And I try also to remind myself that life and meaning derived from it is not just a sum total of the goals you achieve; there is more to life than achievement and endless striving… striving, trying, fighting… there can be honor in the struggle, but you have to know why you are struggling. Don’t blindly struggle because it gives you self-worth, or that you hate yourself so much that masochism is the only reality that can bring you a semblance of peace. If your self-worth is contingent on you throwing yourself, your health, and your happiness, under the bus, then that is a sign of toxic thought patterns that may stem from emotional abuse and brainwashing (hello, gymnastics).

Anyway, enough of this rambling. I’m gonna head to bed soon (after reading some of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson– amazing book, by the way). Oh, and also do some journaling so I can get past my crisis of desire. Sending much love and gratitude your way!

Love,

Bel

The November Diaries: Day 9

12:44pm on this Tuesday afternoon. Decided to pop on here during my study break and give you those life updates, as promised!

1. Life Update #1: Grad School, No More (for now)

Okay, so I’ll cut to the chase. I will not be returning to San Jose State’s Sport Studies Master’s program following this semester. In short, I realized the program is not a great fit in terms of what I wish to do, after graduation. The program is Sport Studies, which encapsulates sport psychology, but is not specifically focused on athlete mental health / mental performance enhancement. There are not many opportunities for students to engage in applied work in the program, and most of the two-year program is classroom learning, which is not totally what I’m looking for. Lastly, the program is designed to get students into PhD programs, and is not a terminal degree in itself. Meaning, I won’t be able to get certified as a sport psych consultant upon graduation. So, I discovered all these things a couple weeks back after speaking to the professor of the one class I am taking. I took a silent/meditation retreat to Santa Barbara shortly thereafter, and the answers to my career/education dilemma were elucidated. Quitting SJSU’s program was one conclusion I came to.

I am presently in the process of applying to different sport psychology Master’s programs that are a better fit for my career and education goals. There’s a program Massachusetts– Springfield College’s Athletic Counseling program– that is intriguing. This morning, I actually had a Zoom call with a professor from the department, who is a good friend of my current professor at SJSU (it pays to know people!). Dr. Van Dyke, who insisted I call her Erika, explained in detail what the program entailed, what the outcomes upon graduation were, and what kinds of doors the program would open professionally. My meeting with her further confirmed my interest in the program, and I look forward to applying for Fall 2022. If I get in, there is a chance I will be moving to the East Coast next year! Exciting!! Astounding!! Earth-shattering (in Bel’s world)! And not a decision I will come to lightly. But I won’t worry about that until I reach that juncture. For now, it’s just about applying, so I have options. And, of course, finishing off the school semester strong. I know I won’t be returning to SJSU next year, but with everything in life, I strive to try my hardest and give maximum effort, to the best of my ability.

2. Life Update #2: Upcoming Travels

I will be doing a lot of traveling this holiday season! The big one is my New York trip from December 1-7. Last time I went to New York by myself was 2017. I can’t wait to finally meet my young nieces (daughters of two of my cousins, both of whom live in NY with their families)! I also plan to meet up with friends on the East Coast, take dance lessons from the best Latin ballroom dance instructors, watch Broadway shows, and take a campus tour of Springfield College. I have a one-day layover back home on December 8, before heading to destination #2: Mammoth Lakes for a ski trip w/ my brothers and their friends! That trip is from December 9-14. My final exam is December 10, which I will be taking remotely. So basically I need to be ready for the final by November 30, as I don’t want to be cramming for my final exam while on vacation.

3. Life Update #3: I Have a Boyfriend!!!

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Kidding! Hah! Did I fool you guys again?? Sorry to disappoint. Your girl is still officially uncuffed this cuffing season. Even though I’m seeing a guy I met back in August, our relationship is unofficial, and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. I suppose we are what you call, “exclusively dating”. He’s a wonderful guy and I am enjoying the time I spend with him, without pressure or expectation for the future.

I’ll leave you all with that! It’s 1:19pm– time to return to studying! Have a great rest of your Tuesday, and I can’t believe Thanksgiving is in a couple days!

-Bel

The November Diaries: Day 8

3 minutes to 10pm on this Monday night in November. We are 3 days shy of Thanksgiving 2021. And boy, is there much to be grateful for, this year. Approaching year 2 of pandemic, and I am blessed to have stayed healthy throughout. Family and friends are also all healthy.

I apologize for falling off the momentum of TND. I had started this series with the goal of writing one blog a day for the month of November. Clearly that didn’t happen (it’s November 22nd, and I’m only on Day 8 of the series). But, no matter. The good thing is, I’m making an effort to write something… anything. Which, given all the dark and twisty and chaos in my life of late, is good enough.

I don’t even know where I left off with this series, so I will just start with the happenings of today: Monday, November 22, 2021. Today was a study day. I am frantically preparing for my December 10th final for the one grad school class I am taking this semester. The reason I am preparing this early (frantically, no less), is because I will be taking a trip to New York on December 1-7. I’ll be home for a grand total of one day on December 8, before taking off again to Mammoth Lakes for a ski trip, Dec 9-14. I’ll be taking the final exam remotely on the 10th. So, you can see now how little time I have to study before my upcoming travels (no, I do not plan on studying much while on vacation). My goal is to have all the study guides made and concepts internalized by November 30, before I leave for New York. Still gotta finish planning my New York trip itinerary. Excited to see family and friends on the East Coast, take dance lessons from the world’s best instructors, watch a couple Broadway shows, and work/write in aesthetic New York coffee shops. So much to do, and so little time!

Back to my day. I took a study break from 12-1pm, when I headed to the studio and helped my friend choreograph a yoga routine. I’m actually thinking of getting certified in yoga teaching, sometime in the future!

After yoga, I headed back home, where I had lunch (kung pao chicken and noodles from Safeway’s Panda Express knock-off) and did some more studying. I tutored a student from 3:30-4:30pm. Then headed to Bay Club for a dance/workout session. Excited to teach my dance fitness class there tomorrow, as my brothers, both of whom returned home for Thanksgiving, will be making an appearance in my class!! (or so they say. not sure if they were serious or not. i would pay big money to see them dance, especially in my class. hopefully they follow through with their word.) From 7-9pm, I had a nice dinner with a very nice guy I’ve been seeing for a few months. We went to an authentic Mexican restaurant, where I ordered 2 tacos (chicken and BBQ pork), and he had a “wet” burrito (basically a burrito with a bunch of saucy soup poured all over). It was a short but sweet time together, and I came home happy.

And now I’m here, blogging before bed, so I can go to sleep with a lighter conscience (I always feel a little unaccomplished if I don’t write something in the day). Speaking of which, I actually wrote a new feature article for Athlete Voices, which went live earlier today! So, really proud of that.

Okay, that’s all for tonight, folks. Have some major updates regarding grad school and future plans that I will inform you of sometime this week. Take care, and good night!

Also, SPOILER ALERT:

Congrats to Daniella and Iman on winning Season 30 of Dancing With the Stars!

-Belichka (my Russian nickname, which also means “squirrel”)

The November Diaries: Day 7

Though this post is labeled as Day 7 of TND, today is actually Thursday, November 18, 2021. I completely fell off the momentum of TND and skipped nearly two weeks of blogging! For shame, Bel! Lots to catch you up on, so I won’t even try, for this post. But there have been many recent developments in my life that I’m excited to share at a later date.

Anyway, it’s 10:16pm right now and approaching my bedtime. Aiming for before 11pm, these days… I know, you can call me Grandma Bel. So gonna keep this post short, sweet, and real.

Today and yesterday were both meh, mood-wise. I think this recent dip in mental state might be attributed to winter weather, shorter days, less sunlight. Seasonal depression is the technical term, and I’m beginning to think I have it (like many others). Another potential cause of my low moods is that I was triggered after watching the sports documentary, Over the Limit, yesterday. The film follows Russian rhythmic gymnast, Margarita Mamun, in the months leading up to the 2016 Olympic Games, which she ended up winning. It’s a film about Rita’s journey, and what stands out is the abuse she faces– verbal, emotional, psychological– at the hands of her coaches. Watching what she was subjected to brought me back to my own gymnastics days; my 10 years in the sport left me emotionally and psychologically traumatized. Nearly a decade after retirement, I’m still dealing with the fallout of my gymnastics days, battling what I call my “gymnastics demons”, and working through these demons with extensive therapy and journaling and meditation. Some days are better than others, and the past couple days were mere low points in the never-ending up-down cycle of my mental states.

So the past couple days were tough. My tendency when headed towards depression is to isolate myself from others. Past two days, I didn’t want to answer any phone calls or see anyone at the dance studio or gym. My social anxiety came was turned on blast. I had planned on visiting my grandma at her apartment, but bailed on that as well, as all I wanted after a long day was to retreat to my room, crawl into bed, and watch Netflix. What is sometimes tough for me is the highly public and performative nature of my job as a dance fitness instructor. If I’m feeling depressed, I can’t show it in my class, because people don’t pay to watch Depressed Bel dance. That’s, well, depressing. And not to mention, unprofessional. So I suppress whatever personal shit I have going on at the moment, and put on a brave face for the duration of my 50-minute class. The remarkable thing is, I always end up feeling better after teaching! I’m teaching another class tomorrow morning at 9:15am, so I’d better get to sleep soon.

I guess I’ll conclude with a thought I had today. Lately, I’ve been receiving a lot of positive remarks and compliments from my students, which has boosted my self-confidence. I hear the words “special”, “gifted”, and “talented” used often to describe me. For the first time in my life, I believe it. What I also believe is that unless I get my mental health under control, none of that talent will materialize into success. It just won’t. This is evidenced by my last depressive episode that forced me to drop two of my three grad school classes at San Jose State. And now, as I hit yet another low point in my sinusoidal mood cycle, I’m doubting whether I should bother dreaming big at all. Why bother with ambition, if it will just leave you disappointed and embittered when your goals are inevitably left unaccomplished? **victim mentality much?

I told my mom tonight, “Maybe I should just live with you guys and work as a dance teacher/tutor until I get married and only then will I move out of the house.” Lol. Definitely the depression talking. But my thoughts, erroneous and misguided as they are during this time, feel so real. Hopelessness shrouds my soul, causing me to retreat into the shadows and recesses of my dark-and-twisty mind. That is depression in a nutshell. (Don’t mind my terrible poetic lingo– I am not a poet, though I aspire to be).

Well, what comes around goes around, and depression for me is no different. It shall pass, and an upswing is just around the bend. A highlight of my day is that I was invited by my former contortion teacher, Serchmaa, to help choreograph and participate in her annual contortion show in January 2022! I’ve really been getting my feet wet with choreography, and I can see this as a potential money-making avenue to monetize my talents. Now is all about building experience, and I’m super excited Serchmaa gave me this amazing opportunity to not only choreograph, but perform in her show!

10:39pm– time for my night routine! Brush teeth, skin routine, journal/meditate (I’ll consider this blog to be today’s journal), light reading if there’s time (but most likely not, tonight), and finally, lights out by 11pm. Hopefully tomorrow will be a little bit better.

Toodles,

Bel

The November Diaries 2021: Day 6

Dear friends,

It’s 9:47pm on this Saturday night (I need to find a more original way to open my blog posts, haha). So, I’m gonna keep this post short and direct, with very little sugar-coating. Today was hard. It was yucky, it was dark, it was twisty. I was exhausted after my night out in SF last night, and when I got home at 1am last night (or early this morning, rather), I wrote the following in my private diary:

Feeling yucky yucky yucky. Got back from SF partying and I didn’t even go that hard but honestly I’m so sick and tired of living this kind of life. Balance is one thing, but going out every weekend instead of doing things that are actually meaningful and shirking my other responsibilities and diet and training is just… not okay with me. I draw the line here. Going out to SF, spending so much money on transportation and expending all that energy that leaves me physically and mentally exhausted the following day just isn’t it. I’m not living my best life right now, and I recognize that. I’m not living in accordance with my values, and it feels gross. No. It’s a new leaf from here on out.

Anyway, I woke up this morning, exhausted (understandably). I had acupuncture treatment in SF at 10:30am, so I woke up at 9:30am, and my dad was such a dear for giving me a ride. I slept on the car ride there and back. I tried taking a nap upon coming home, as I needed energy for my busy day ahead. But anxiety kept me awake, and after an hour of tossing and turning in my sheets, I decided to plunge into action mode. Got dressed, did my makeup to look less death-like, and headed to the dance studio. I taught one private lesson at 1:30pm (subbing for another teacher), then taught 2 Latin dance group classes from 2:30-4pm. I then headed to Bay Club, where I taught another Latin dance group class from 5-6pm. After finishing my day of dance teaching, I drove home, took a shower, and then tutored a kid remotely from 6:30-8:10pm.

Okay, now filling in the blanks. Cry session #1 happened on the drive to the dance studio, around 1pm. Was feeling exhausted and hated myself for going out Friday night which left me drained and completely not in the mood to stand up in front of people and put on an enthusiastic and happy face for teaching. Thank god for my best friend, Mikey, who has been my rock throughout this mess. I gave him a call, and I told him to transmit some good vibes through the phone to help me get through the day. And transmit, he did.

Cry session #2 happened on the drive from the dance studio to Bay Club. I was wiped out– physically, mentally, emotionally– after teaching those group classes. I’ve been teaching dance and dance fitness since May of this year. I’m definitely feeling a lot more confident standing in front of my people and teaching. But the insecurity never fades. I feel it in the moments during my class when I face my students and ask if anyone has any questions, and am left with blank stares and dead silence. They hate me. I’m doing a terrible job at teaching, because everyone looks confused. I’m a terrible teacher. I feel it when someone comes up to me after class and makes an offhand remark: “[The former teacher] used to teach like this. Will you be doing the same?” They hate my style of teaching. Why doesn’t someone more qualified teach this class?

I arrived at Bay Club a bit early, got to the studio, pulled out a yoga mat and laid down, hoping to get some shut-eye before my last hour of dance teaching. To my dismay (and I feel like a terrible person for saying this), an enthusiastic student walked into the class early and struck up conversation with me. Bless her soul, she was so sweet. But I really just wanted to rest before teaching, and after so much teaching and talking, I was socially exhausted and running on fumes. From 5-6pm, I taught a samba dance class. After holding it together for my last class of the day, I felt better after receiving some positive remarks from my students. I exited the gym and sped-walk to my car, as I needed to hurry home for my 6:30pm tutoring session. Got home around 6:10pm, then took a shower. I sat on the bathtub floor, where cry session #3 commenced. When I finally pulled it together, I hopped out of the shower, dried off, wiped away my remaining mascara, and got ready for my tutoring session. Tutoring went from 6:30-8pm– helped a student with his Romeo and Juliet essay, which was due tonight at 10pm.

After concluding tutoring, I headed downstairs for dinner, where I very candidly told my parents that I wasn’t doing alright mentally. My efforts at honesty were reciprocated with stern lectures from my parents: “Belicia, you’re feeling this way because you’re not getting enough sleep. You keep going out to San Francisco and you are tiring yourself out. If you didn’t go out, you would be more well-rested and wouldn’t feel like this.” Back and forth my parents volleyed, taking hits at me. What they were saying may have all been true, but sitting at the dinner table, picking at my cold food head resting dejectedly in hand, everything my parents said was noise. Noise, noise, noise. I didn’t want to be lectured. I wanted emotional support. I wanted them to listen without judgment. I wanted a hug. Maybe that’s too much to ask. But after my failed attempt at seeking help from my parents, I left the dinner table and had cry session #4 while trudging up the stairs back to my room.

I sat down at my desk and opened my computer, prepared to write this post. I looked up at my wall, where I had taped various notes, affirmations and sources of validation from over the years to remind myself of my worth. I re-read teacher “shout-outs” from high school: one from my calculus teacher, Mr. Ramroth, who was instrumental in helping me through my social anxiety, and commended me for my efforts to raise my hand in class. There was the guest judge’s positive comments from a dance showcase I had performed in, back in 2016. There was my Regents’ Scholarship recipient letter from UCLA, which I had worked hard to obtain. There was the National Merit Scholarship finalist letter. There was a letter written to me by a former high school friend, Shirley, who expressed deep appreciation for our friendship (how I wish we had kept in touch, after high school).

As I read these various acknowledgements of my past accomplishments, I started crying (cry session #5), as I saw what I was then, and the person I had become since. Bipolar happened at the start of college, and that diagnosis shook up my world, my self-concept, and my confidence. College was also a time when I was introduced to a world of “degeneracy”, and I regretted my regression from model (stencil) child to hedonistic, vagabond sinner. At age 23, I am as confused as ever regarding my life path– do I continue grad school next semester? If I do, should I do it part time so I can continue working and pursuing my passions, or should I plunge back into a full-time track, and speed through my graduate program like I did undergrad?

And now, here I am, recounting the events of this yucky day. The magic of writing, particularly expressive writing, is that even in the worst of times, I can always count on the healing power of writing. I began this post feeling a 3/10 in terms of mood. Now, I’m about a 4.5/10. A modest increase, but uplifting, nonetheless.

I am grateful for a lot of things in my life, and I find counting my blessings to be a healing practice during rough patches. Following are 3 gratitudes:

  1. My students. Especially those who express their appreciation for me and remind me that I’m not a terrible teacher.
  2. Social support. Friends, parents, brothers, mentors. It’s the people you love who get you through.
  3. Dance. I can’t imagine life without it. Even if it doesn’t become my profession or primary source of income, I know I will dance until I die.
  4. Tacking on a fourth gratitude because this one is too important not to acknowledge: writing. As stated above, writing makes me feel better. In my toolbox of coping skills, writing sits on the top shelf (alongside physical exercise, deep breathing, and social support).

It’s 10:30pm now. Gonna sleep soon, as I have an early-ish morning at the studio. Thank you for reading, to anyone out there who has cared enough to stick around until the end of this post. Sending much love to you all, and I wish you all nothing but health and happiness and peace of mind.

Love,

Bel

The November 2021 Diaries: Days 3 and 4 (and 5)

Dear friends,

Today’s a double whammy post because I fell off track and skipped yesterday’s blog! It is 7:24pm on this Thursday evening and I’m about to head out to watch the new movie, Dune. Gonna start this blog now, and hopefully I’ll have energy later tonight to finish it!

Yesterday (Wednesday) and today (Thursday) are what I describe as “passion and personal development days”. In the past 48 hours, I went figure skating twice, had two dance practice sessions, attended my first aerial silks class, and took a Latin ballroom private dance lesson. The more I live, the more I realize how inextricably linked my identity and soul is to movement, and more specifically, movement as a vehicle for self-expression. Gymnastics was a solid base from which this passion for movement germinated. My ten years in the sport gave me the foundation– strength, flexibility, coordination, body awareness, discipline– to pursue all that my heart desires. And what a journey it has been. I’ve pursued many hobbies, explored different avenues, and hopped on many an adventure: dance, figure skating, circus arts, choreography, and more. I love challenging my body in various dimensions, and never have I felt more connected with my inner desire to move, express, and create, than I do at age 23.


Following day, 2:08pm

Okay guys, this is getting to be a bit much. I’m seriously falling behind on TNDs, so in a major effort to catch up, let’s tack on Day 5 of the series to this post, as well.

Okay, so where was I? Ah, yes. Passion for movement, galore! So Wednesday and Thursday were magical and my body was challenged in ways I didn’t know it craved. Thursday was what I call a “traverse the Bay” kind of day, because I did SO much driving from morning to evening. Started off the day with a morning figure skating session at a rink in Palo Alto. It’s called Winter Lodge, and it has easily become my new favorite skating rink in the bay. Just the cozy winter cabin vibe of the rink gives you the warm and fuzzies as you skate… I remember the very first time I went there, a few weeks back, there was literally no one else in the morning session! I had the entire rink to myself, and since I was the first skater of the day, the ice was pristine and smooth like glass, giving it the appearance of a frozen lake. Yesterday’s morning session had more people, but it still was a great time!

Having fun at Winter Lodge ⛸

Okay, back to Thursday. So after skating was over, I drove from Palo Alto to San Mateo where I had therapy. After therapy, I drove to Belmont, where I picked up my dance shoes I had left at the studio. Afterwards, I drove from Belmont to San Jose, where I had a private dance lesson. Right after the lesson, I had an online grad school class from 2:15-3:30pm, which I did right at the studio. After that, I drove back to the studio in Belmont and did about an hour of dance practice (really trying to get back into my training). And I finished my night off with a movie date! We watched Dune, the new sci-fi action movie that everyone’s been raving about. It’s based on a book series, and I had aimed on finishing the book before watching the movie, but was ultimately unsuccessful (the book is over 600 pages). I got back from my date around 1am, and slept shortly afterwards.

That brings us to the present– Friday, November 5, 2021. TGIF!!!! Today got off to an early start, as I taught dance fitness from 9:15-10:05am. I’m so happy I was able to wake up on time for it (last week I nearly overslept my class and was 10 minutes late!). After teaching dance fitness, I took a shower at Bay Club and headed home. The first thing I did upon arriving home was take a much-needed nap to make up for lost sleep. I woke up not too long ago, and here I am, wrapping up today’s triple-whammy post! Rest of the day is chill: catch up on schoolwork and help a student with her college applications. Might be going out to SF later tonight for a house party hosted by a friend in the “SF Gang” (nickname for my friend group in SF). Talk to you all tomorrow!!

-Bel