• May Music Pick: Marlon Williams

    I love discovering new music (on my own). It's one of my favorite things next to traveling, picnics, breakfast foods and dogs! I've been pretty good about setting time aside to discover new music for the past year (I'd say), but over the past month or so, I've just been traveling so much that I haven't had any time to get lost in the search. But over the weekend I discovered Marlon Williams (thanks Wild Wild Country) and I'm smitten! He reminds me of The Cure. I was so surprised to learn that he's my age! He sounds like he's from a previous era - mixing elements of blues, folk and country. And I can't stop listening to "Dark Child" - the song has inspired me to write a short story about my mother and just about anyone who sheds the beliefs instilled in them by their parents, going after their own truth. 

  • Ricardo Bofill

    I quit Twitter earlier this year because I couldn't take the negativity anymore. I love the news feed format of Twitter, but I couldn't deal with the millions of tweets from people saying how offended they were about some joke a comedian said 20 years ago. I was getting sucked into a vortex of negativity (my fault) and it was bringing me down (also my fault for giving Twitter the power to do that). So I decided to quit, just temporarily. I started using my Twitter again in March, here and there, and I haven't had an episode of range (even with the latest Kanye tweets). As long as I don't click the hashtags, I'm good. I don't get easily offended. I am not politically correct. I can take the jokes and teasing. I understand that there's different levels of sensitivity, but just because you're offended doesn't mean you're right. I like Ricky Gervais' example - it's like seeing a sign that says "Guitar Lessons" and getting mad at the sign and saying "But I don't want guitar lessons!" Don't worry about it then, it's not for you.

    With that said, today Twitter introduced me to Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill and I'm so, so grateful and happy I came back to Twitter, if only for this. I don't know much about him yet, but I've already spent an hour looking through photos of buildings he designed. I'm not an architecture geek or anything like that. I've taken photos all my life, but I've never been into photographing buildings. Always people, some landscapes, never buildings. But I guess I grew a little jealous of my boyfriend's interest in photographing buildings that I decided to start taking photos of them too. I'm a little competitive, so there's that. And now I'm super into buildings. And I'm totally in love with Ricardo Bofill, and inspired by his style and aesthetic and the way he understands and interprets space. 

  • Film Photos: Hello 2016!

    I've been wanting to post some film photos for like 9 months. These are from an old film roll, from late 2016. Trips to the L.A. Natural History Museum, days in Los Feliz, my annual Friendsgiving Dinner, a day-visit to Universal Studios with Omar. It's not nostalgia - I just want to post more, for my own sake and memory. 

    And now that I'm here - I have more film rolls that need to be developed, but where are they? This is what happens with film rolls isn't it? Film rolls are tiny and easy to lose, and then one day, you find them, hidden inside an old shoe box, go develop it and find a nice surprise. I guess I'll just wait for my nice surprise 4.5 years from now. Hey, I'll be in my 30s! 


  • Best Films of 2017

    2017 was a huge year for movies, not because of the movies themselves but what happened outside of them: the truth, the takedowns, the movements. Some of us are still angry. Some of us can't watch movies without thinking about the ugliness that goes on behind the scenes. And some of us have become numb to it. Thankfully for me, none of it really ruined movies for me. Movies are still my sacred place. No one, not Harvey Weinstein, not Kevin Spacey, no one can ruin movies for me. They are magical and damn anyone who tries to kill that magic. 

    Among my favorite are PTA's Phanthom Thread. Honestly, anything with Daniel Day Lewis automatically becomes my favorite, but I especially love a collaboration between PTA and DDL. Also, very happy Greta Gerwig directed her own film. She's one of my favorite young actresses, and I love her writing. And Coco - oh how I loved Coco. No other movie made me cry and sing and laugh as much as Coco. Truly a work of art and inspiration. 

    Here are my favorite films of 2017: 

    1. Phantom Thread by Paul Thomas Anderson
    2. Coco by Lee Unkrich
    3. Lady Bird by Greta Gerwig
    4. Blade Runner 2049 by Dennis Villeneuve
    5. A Ghost Story by David Lowery 
    6. Logan by James Mangold
    7. Mother! by Darren Aronofsky
    8. The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro
    9. Dunkirk by Christopher Nolan 
    10. The Florida Project by Sean Baker

    Let's go 2018. 

  • I'm Producing My First Documentary

    For the past year I've been producing a documentary titled Brewmance, about homebrewing and independent craft beer, and the magic that happens in-between. I've travelled to Minneapolis, GABF, Yakima during Hop Harvest, and more. Every trip brings me closer to my crew, and makes me fall more and more in love with craft beer. Brewmance is my baby, and hopefully, by the end of this year, we'll have a feature-length documentary to send out into the world. This is an excerpt pieced together by our director, Christo Brock, featuring Liberation Brewing Company. 

  • Best Films of 2016

    My love for movies is deep and everlasting. They are my friends when I feel lonely and my backup when I feel uncertain. The movie theater is like my second home - a magical place where I laugh and face my fears, and also a place where I constantly challenge my worldviews and beliefs.

    I always like to list my favorite films of the year by Oscar night, so here are my favorites of 2016:

    1. Arrival by Dennis Villeneuve
    2. Moonlight by Barry Jenkins
    3. La La Land by Damien Chazelle
    4. Hell of High Water by David Mackenzie
    5. Midnight Special by Jeff Nichols
    6. 12th by Ava Duvernay 
    7. 10 Cloverfield Lane by  Dan Trachtenberg
    8. One More Time With Feeling by Andrew Dominik
    9. Everybody Wants Some by Richard Linklater
    10. Café Society by Woody Allen 


  • A Post-Election Open Letter To My Niece Liane

    To my dearest Liane, 

    Liane, when I think of the future, I think of you. You are the closest thing I have to a daughter right now, and I care about your future and the world you grow up in. Today is a very sad day for me and a lot of other people in this country. While you might be too young to understand some of the things happening in the world right now, it is my sincere hope that you become a socially conscious woman who cares about women’s rights and the rights of minorities, since you are both. 

    As your aunt and as a feminist, I believe I have to share my beliefs with you, because I love you and care about you, and your generation is the future. I know there’s a lot of apathetic people in our family. If you don’t know what apathetic means, look it up. But you cannot be that way. You must care. You must care for women. You must care for the oppressed. You must care for our beautiful planet. 

    For the next four years (at least) of your young life, the president of the United States will be Donald Trump. It breaks my heart that this is the man who will govern our country while you’re still growing up. I so wish it would’ve been Hillary Clinton, so I could tell you with full confidence, that if you work hard enough, you could be anything you want to be, including the President of the United States of America. To me, you are smarter, sharper and more incredible than any boy your age. I do believe that you can do anything you set your mind to, and that during your lifetime, an amazing woman will be the leader of the free world. I so wish it could’ve happened this year, because there’s also a little girl inside of me, trying to believe that she can be anything she wants to be. I know the world does a bad job of showing you this, but don’t ever believe that women are less than men. We are strong and powerful all on our own. The truth is, a woman like Hillary Clinton is what we want our little girls to become, but some people are too ignorant and dumb to accept that. Even women believe that women are not good enough, and that’s truly tragic. Women who don’t help other women succeed are the worst type of women. 

    My hope for you is that you always believe in yourself. I am so disheartened and disillusioned with people right now. I am angry. But I will find a silver lining in all of this, and my hope will return and my fight for equality will continue. We're lucky to live in a democratic country, where, every four years, a new guy gets a chance. Many countries don't have that, and for that, I am still grateful.

    Soon the old and ignorant people in Middle America will die, along with their old and ignorant points of view, and a better generation will take over. One that believes YOU, a little girl with Mexican parents, can be the leader of the free world.

    I love you so much my dear Liane. Please stay curious and kind. Accept people for who they are. Right wrongs. Fight for those who need fighting for. And don’t ever stop believing in yourself. 

    Love always, 

    Your aunt Laura

  • Being “Bossy”: Figuring Out When Being “Bossy” Is Okay

    As I previously mentioned, I’m trying this thing where I’m honest with myself about my problems, and I have to admit that I just don’t know the answers. Well actually, I do know the answers, the ultimate answers anyway, but I don’t know the answers on how to get to the ultimate answers.

    I am aware that I like to be in control. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be the leader of the group. It’s not always great because it usually means you have to do most of the work and pick up other’s slack, but being in-charge gave me a feeling of comfort that I preferred.

    When you’re a girl, wanting to be in control gets you labeled as bossy. I’ve been called bossy all my life, and it never really bothered me. For the most part, I’m glad it didn’t because I was able to hone my leadership skills without being aware that it was actually a discouraging word for girls.

    But now, at 26, it looks like I’m having some trouble with the word.

    My boyfriend has always called me bossy, and much like when I was growing up, it’s never bothered me. Bossy doesn't have a negative effect on me. Like Amy Poehler, I believe that bossy women are passionate and ambitious and caring, and I am all of those things. But sometimes my bossiness gets the better of me, and it feeds the control freak inside of me, which is a recipe for disaster in a romantic relationship. And that bothers me. 

    The thing is, when you’re in a relationship, being bossy isn’t actually a good thing, for men or women. This is not to say that I want to be bossed around. Absolutely not. But I, and this is super hard for me to admit, have a very hard time letting go of control. And this has always been a problem in my personal relationships, whether it's friends or boyfriends. But I've never totally been aware of the problem, until now.

    Here's what I want, honestly: I don't want to be upset when things don’t go my way. It’s so childish to get angry when people don’t do things your way. But when you’re as stubborn as you are a control freak, it’s really hard to just ungrudgingly accept something else.

    Perspective changes everything. If you look at my issues from a professional perspective, they actually look like strengths. In my job, I want to be someone who takes charge. If there’s an issue that needs to be solved, I need to be stubborn in order to get what I want. But when you look at it from a different perspective, the personal one, these same issues turn into weaknesses. Sure, I want to be with a man who takes charge, but not so much that I get bossed around. And no one wants to be with someone who’s too stubborn to apologize or recognize a mistake when they’ve made one. So, how do you rid yourself of these feelings for one section of your life, but keep them well and healthy in another? How do you know when it’s right to pull out your stubbornness, or put it away? How do you know when it’s okay to be bossy or let go of control?

    Maybe I'll never know.

    But the older I get, the easier it is for me to identify my tendencies, good and bad. And I’m really trying to find a way to use my good and bad tendencies at the right time. Maybe I’m going after the impossible, maybe I should just be bossy and a control freak and stubborn, and hope it doesn't lead me to self-destruction. Or maybe I should think of these tendencies as guns, that should be used when absolutely necessary and kept locked up the rest of the time. Now that's something I could get behind. 

  • Tiny Walls Are Still Walls: Getting Over My Somewhat-Anxiety

    You might have heard this before, probably from one of your writer friends: writing gives me clarity. That’s what writing does for me. It resets me. It gives me a clear head, and that’s why I could never stop writing.

    That’s not to say that my writing is any good. Some days are better than others. But when you go days, weeks, months without writing for yourself, the writing gets bad. It’s like running after not running for a while. You’re going to struggle. You’re stomach is going to cramp. You’re going to want to stop. But the goal is to keep going, even if you’re slower and walking most of the time. Eventually you’ll get back to where you were and maybe even better.


    I, like many women my age, have ‘somewhat-anxiety’. I call it that because I’m not taking any medication. I told my doctor that I get anxious, but she just told me to lower my caffeine intake. Sometimes I listen to her, other times I drink like 3 cups of coffee and a diet Dr. Pepper. But most days I keep it to one cup, just to wake me up. My somewhat-anxiety causes me to worry about everything and I hate it.

    When I was in third grade, my teacher, whose name I forget, told me something about myself that has haunted me since.

    “Laura, there’s a tiny wall in front of you and you tend to focus so much on what it is and where it came from,” she said, “All you need to do is step over it and just keep going.”

    I didn’t really understand her then. For a long time I pictured a tiny wall in front of me, and then a tinier me trying to climb it but being unable to. Later on, when I became self-aware of my self-awareness I realized that she was talking about something that plagues my whole generation: anxiety.

    How did I fall into this anxiety dilemma? I was such a happy kid. I really hate that it happened to me.

    I could trace it back to my childhood and whatnot, but right now, at this point in my life, I just want to get over it. I want to stop worrying about the things that don’t really matter and focus on the things that do. I don’t want to become overwhelmed by solvable problems because in the end, almost always, things work themselves out. But in the moment, I freak out and think of the worst possible outcomes and start to ready myself for them. I’ll admit that this tiny wall has been useful sometimes because it pushes me to plan for disaster, especially when it comes to work, but the times that I have ‘let go’ of the worry and just stepped over the tiny wall, have been magical.

    I recall one time in 2014, when my mother visited me in Fresno (while I was living there). I took her to the Japanese Garden and left the keys inside the car. Now, this is a common problem that happens to a lot of people. It’s happened to me a few times, but not so much that friends attribute it to my character. Anyway, the keys got left inside and I panicked for a couple of minutes. Then I looked over at my mom and best friend (who was also there) and told them that I was going to make a call and that afterwards we were going to go inside the garden and do what we went there to do, because there’s no good reason to ruin the day for something like this. And we did. We walked by the man-made lake, took pictures with the peacocks and talked about my new life. After we were done, my cousin came and helped me open my car. Everything worked itself out, and my day wasn’t ruined.

    I remember my mother being so impressed with how I handled things. And it felt good, and I felt like I had grown up a little.

    I’m getting better at not feeling overwhelmed. It use to be really bad because my confidence and self esteem where so low. Believe it or not, that adds to it. Mind you, I don’t openly freak out when something goes wrong. Maybe I’ll bite my nails, but usually I get really quite and the thoughts start to build rapidly and repeatedly inside my head. And they’re usually all bad outcomes. Some more nail biting. I have gotten better at this, mainly by feeding myself confidence and listening to some rap. But I crave the day when I’m just effortlessly resilient to all of it.

    I was listening to a podcast earlier today and the host said something I very much related to. She said, “Here’s the other thing about anxiety: You have to realize that all of those terrible thoughts you have, those are all false voices in your head. They’re like little liars that sound like the voices you’re familiar with, the ones that you’ve grown accustomed to hearing in your head that sound like the other voices and act like the other voices but are a little bit evil.”

    Basically, she was saying that, “When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.”

    And yeah, when you’re so use to freaking out about the little things AND the big things, it begins to feel like normal. And then eventually it just is normal. So how do I combat this anxious behavior that comes crawling in as I’m reacting to a somewhat (sometimes not at all) overwhelming situation? I mean not to sound like some rapper or anything, but the times I do catch on I basically tell myself that I’m going to handle it like a boss and then I do.

    One thing I have noticed about myself is that when it comes to work, I don’t get this anxious. Not anymore anyway. Sure I get stressed about ongoing projects and deadlines and things not working out the way I wanted them to, but I have garnered an amazing level of confidence where I don’t experience my somewhat-anxiety. Perhaps this is due to the constant validation that I get from my boss and colleagues. I mean, I shouldn’t rely on the constant validation of others to make myself feel better, but after hearing, “Good job, well done, awesome work,” constantly before, I was able to build a validation system for myself that counterattacked any doubts I had about the work I was doing. And maybe that’s what I need to do in my personal life as well, but without the validation of others. I need to continue feeding myself confidence, until it feels natural, until it’s just the thing that happens when something goes wrong.