Eleven Reasons why Eating in the 626 is the Good Life.

Growing up in Alhambra has been an experience near and dear to my heart. It’s the city where I made some of my first friends and created some good memories. I’m sure my childhood friends would agree: Alhambra and the 626 in general is unforgettable in a very endearing way. In addition to the good times we had, it was just recently that I realized that the San Gabriel Valley is one of the greatest places on earth for its absolutely amazing food selection.

Here are some of my favorites right now (Yelp links included for the sake of addresses):

1. Sam Woo BBQ (Get the shrimp chow mein).

2. Green Zone (Get the won ton soup with ramen).

3. Lollicup (You have to have a boba drink if you’re in the 626. It’s a must).

4. The Original Hat (My favorites: Chili cheese fries, pastrami sandwich, and cherry coke…share the first item)

5. Vittoria Pizza (Pizza is delicious, but they’re also known for their sub sandwiches. I usually go for the #47 1/2 Meatball, 1/2 sausage sandwich with cheese.)

6. Angelo’s Pizza (Another good pizza place. Intimate. George the waiter is the man.)

7. Petrillo’s Pizza (square pizza. Lots of locals boast about this place)

8. Chicken Now (Fried chicken that is way better than your KFC and Popeye’s)

9. Yogurtland and Menchies (Fro-yo for the win).

10. Manny’s El Loco (Tacos! Burritos! Carne asada is tasty and the refried beans are to die for)

11. El Vaquero (Hole-in-the-wall good. Carne asada burritos are packed with good meat and good beans. The family that runs this place are really welcoming. Hidden gem in Alhambra.)

Well, there you have it. I know that I haven’t covered everything, but that’s where you come into the picture. Add your favorites in the comments section. And for my friends no longer in the 626, I apologize for making you homesick. When you come back, be sure to shoot me a message so we can grub.

Everything has a story.

Everything has a story. That’s what one of my internship bosses said to me about the items strategically placed all throughout his office. For some reason, when I was going through some boxes in my own garage tonight, I was thinking about the time that him and I had that brief conversation. It got me pondering, with all the objects I’ve accumulated over the years that are dispersed throughout my garage, there’s many inside of it that also have a unique and memorable story.

For the longest time, I’ve been meaning to go through my possessions while simultaneously cleaning the sacred, cluttered storage space. While I’ll be doing so, I know for certain that I’m going to come across things that’ll bring back a flood of memories.

Besides writing about other special events that happen in my life on this blog, I think it’d also be pretty neat to occasionally blog the stories of certain items that I come across while organizing my garage space. In the next few days, weeks, and months, I’ll be doing just that. It should be delightful to see what I stumble across and to trace back to the moments- maybe even lessons- that came along with owning those trinkets.

Stay tuned! 

Good company.

As Thanksgiving approaches, one of the many blessings that I’m thankful for this year are the genuine friendships that the Lord has placed into my life. For some reason, that’s been on my mind lately. It could be because of a few recent experiences or because of these particular experiences and then some.

I’m thinking it has to do with the idea that- with each year of entering another season of life- I’ve grown in the ability to realize just who those special individuals are. They actually care about where I’ve been, who I am, and who I’m becoming. Characterized by sacrifice and the building up the others, such people are rare to find.

Here’s a dominant factor that I’m noticing: They’re friends who aren’t afraid to give me that slight, but firm nudge to tackle certain challenges. It’s not that they want to see me fail miserably in a fall-on-the-face kind of way, but because they know that I’m capable of handling those specific challenges and are confident that I’ll be better at the end of them. Like a shot of adrenaline in a marathon that I initially didn’t think I could complete, so are those who’ve come alongside of me to share some special moments and memories.

I think it’s important for us to regularly take inventory of just who those friends are and to invest in them even more. Investment is an activity on our part to seek their well-being while putting ourselves second. Each authentic friend is unique and they shouldn’t be taken for granted. I have been so uplifted and edified more than I could have ever imagined through the friends sent to me this last year and in the years prior to this one.

Cheers to deepening the friendships that we have and to reaching out to those hungry for such good company-today, tomorrow, and in 2013.

Hungry.

I’m hungry, but in more ways than one. Two for now actually. It’s more than the typical Facebook status kind of being hungry for a sandwich, a burger, or whatever other things people are salivating over when they’re on Facebook. Here’s what’s been consuming my appetite lately.

1. I’m hungry to go to another social media/technology conference in the San Francisco Bay area. It’s been just short of a year that I was there for the Social Media Optimization Conference back in Spring 2011. It was at that very gathering that I was able to broaden my perspective on social media even more thanks to industry leaders who shared their insight with me and other conference attendees.

The opportunity to hear from those in the industry in the geographical center of the tech industry was extremely exciting for me. The added bonus: I’m very much a fan of San Francisco. I feel very relaxed when I’m there and would love another opportunity to rub elbows more with people-many of whom are a part of my generation- who are making a huge difference in innovation. I’d love to learn more about what they do and how they do it. It’s probably on my bucket list to experience an all-night hackathon one of these days. San Francisco is very much a collaborative environment when it comes to these kinds of things. I like that and thrive off of it. The learning never stops.

2. I’m hungry to be pushed to be a better leader, both in the church and the workplace. What I’m particularly thankful for right now is that there are friends and family who know that and are willing to be a part of the effort to help me in making an impact in the church as well as in within other areas of life for Christ. It’s one thing to realize that there are needs to be met, but it’s an extra blessing when I have the support and encouragement from others that equips me with the necessary resources to help meet those needs-with God’s strength.

Why I like root beer and cream soda.

It’s no secret that I like root beer and cream soda chilled to perfection. As a matter of fact, it was just the other day that I was drinking some A&W brand root beer that I was flooded with some refreshing memories of why I enjoy it so much.

No too long ago, glass bottles of IBC root beer and cream soda were a symbol of what brought people together- both girls and guys- in my dorm room at the Master’s College for the special occasion of Open Dorms. The day before the monthly event, I would head out to Target and buy a few six packs of the stuff-that and a pack of Double Stuff Oreos. I would stock my fridge full of them and hand them out to people who would stop by my room if they wanted one. It was certainly a good opportunity for some great conversation and breaking of the ice with random people roaming the halls of Hotchkiss.

I started doing this in my freshman year because I just wanted to meet people, get to know them, and be hospitable at the same time. To the best of my memory, I think it’s a tradition that continued into my Senior year of college. I really couldn’t put a number on the amount of people that are my friends today because of the root beer and cream soda nights in my room, but it’s something that I really would like to find out if I could.

While many of us Master’s grads have gone our separate ways today, I will say that I did enjoy the company of anyone who did stop by to say hello. In fact, as I’m writing more in this blog post, the more I’m remembering specific people that did come by regularly for my root beer nights and who remain some of my most cherished friends today. There’s some of whom that I still keep in touch with every now and then.

Up to this point, I really couldn’t put a finger on why I enjoy bottled root beer and cream soda so much. When I opened that fridge the other day to take a sip, however, something must have clicked in me. So the next time someone asks me why I enjoy the stuff so much, I now have a solid story to tell them and possibly another friend to gain in the process.

Listening.

Listening. It’s at the heart of what I do for my job as a social media community manager. I won’t bore you with the details of what my daily routine entails, but will say just enough to provide a context for a lesson in life I’ve been learning as of late.

To say that I just post content to Facebook is underplaying what I get paid to do. That’s where the listening aspect comes into play. What shapes the content I post online is to monitor what people are saying about a certain subject on the internet. Then I respond to what I “hear” with relevant words of my own, strung together to call and guide people in the direction where they can make a difference on a particular issue.

Here’s where it gets interesting: While many people try to keep their work and personal lives separated, I’m finding more and more that what I do professionally is spilling into the personal section of my life. By that, I don’t mean that I Facebook and Twitter a lot…even if that’s something that I like to do.

What I mean, rather, is that I’ve become more of a listener rather than an actual talker in most situations that I now encounter and the people with whom I converse. I find that I actually like to listen to people talk, whether that’d be about themselves or about a particular point of view that they have on life. While I hear and process their words through my brain,  I’m formulating a precise response to engage the person or group with whom I’m talking.

This habit that I’ve unexpectedly formed has been immensely helpful for me because it’s shaped my thought pattern into one that values people not only in an online environment for work. This has also carried over into my face-to-face interactions.

It’s a work routine that I don’t mind carrying with me into my personal life.

By practicing it, I’ve learned that there’s great benefit in having ears wide open in learning about and focusing on individual people- and effectively doing so in a world full of noise.

The ironic part of this post is that I just spent about 400 words “talking” about the importance of listening.

Your turn. What’s your take?

Life is like a steak.

WordPress wrote on my Facebook wall tonight. It told me that I haven’t written here for a while. I apologized for getting caught up in the news that I almost completely forgot to come back here and write about what I’m enjoying in life apart from politics.

Sometimes it’s easy to get so immersed in the “busy” aspect of life to the point that I don’t slow down, reflect on what I’ve been blessed with, and what I’ve learned along the way. Nothing helps me better to slow down better than the activity of writing itself, whether that’d be here or on paper.

Life itself is like a steak, a blessing best enjoyed and appreciated when it’s savored. Don’t eat too fast.

If I may, I’d like to add to this analogy with a quick qualifier. As a Christian who believes in Jesus Christ as my Savior, cherishing life itself is all in vain if I don’t do so in the context of God Himself giving me the very life that I have. It’s because of this truth that I must treasure the moments that come my way under the light of glorifying the Lord in everything. It’s essentially the 1 Corinthians 10:31 principle.

So with that said, I hit some pretty awesome things in life lately. I look forward to expounding on them in the next few series of posts.

Oh yes, and in case you’re wondering, I’m alive and well.