Transcending Ethnicity

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When I think of who I am, my first instinct is to define myself using personality traits rather than by ethnicity. I often wonder why many multicultural people intuitively do the opposite. Have I dishonored my heritage by not prioritizing Filipino-American as my core identity? My personal reflections on race have been admittedly stifled. I probably don’t give enough praise to Filipino culture as I should. I’m not sure if I’m to blame for this or if my parents are, with their progressive break from conventional Filipino customs when they came to America. Then again, exactly how much attention does my cultural identity merit, when in reality, the things I believe distinguish me (indecisiveness, corny humor, chocolate habit, introversion, soccer) don’t involve it? In such a global and diverse community as Georgetown, just how important is one’s ethnicity when it comes to identity? Continue reading

NEW DAWN, NEW ERA, DEMI LOVATO. Alternate title: Out from the Shadows

An important announcement, an even more important metaphor, and a random moment of life reflection. I’ll regret this later, but let’s get personal.

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I once had a secret dream two years ago to become a legitimate fashion blogger. Today, my furtive efforts to achieve that dream have been revealed. Against all odds, I have officially imported my old fashion blog of two years, Coco Carte Blanche, into my new supposedly literary blog of barely two months. (The Fraicheurie Files starts where Coco Carte Blanche ends, after the post, “l’art pour l’art,” and with the inaugural post, “A Riotous Introduction of Sorts“). The result is a mishmash mutt of a personal compendium with little sense of what direction it’s headed in or where it came from to begin with, which works well as a life metaphor for me personally.

Moving on to that important metaphor.

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Les Gaufres, The Waffles

photo copyI have an unhealthy addiction to beautiful photographs of beautiful people.

I check Instagram every thirty minutes and log onto Tumblr for hours at a time. I go on Facebook to stalk the people with glittering lives and find them through what I can only imagine to be sheer desperation. The glitziest crowd is the Manhattanites. I once met a dark-haired girl over the summer who lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side, a true-life Gossip Girl in the flesh, hailing from Argentina’s international elite, with a backstory worthy of a Pulitzer Prize winning novel.

She vacations in Paris with her closest girlfriends, and they parade around the hotel room with thin flutes of champagne and dressed in nothing but white bathrobes, probably scented with roses. I know this because there are pictures of it all over Facebook. It’s an absurd life, but it looks amazing on camera, frozen into place and glossed over with a vintage filter. Nothing looks quite right these days without a filter over it. In fact, it would be a real discomfort, an act of defiance, to see a photo Instagrammed in unvarnished color, with no sepia or burnt-orange tinges and only the truth, black and white as ever. Continue reading

A Riotous Introduction of Sorts.

tumblr_mjlbvy7zp71r0hz4io1_1280I grew up in a world of mildly rich people with dippy problems.

These problems often concern serious trifles gone awry. A majority of them deal with the three final rungs on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Belonging, Self-Esteem, and Self-Actualization. As for the people, we’re not The Rich Kids of Instagram. We don’t have inheritances or titles. But many of us are moderately wealthy tykes of the Lexus-driving variety and we all just graduated from the Academy, which comes with its own presumptions. We’re (more or less) well-educated and well-off, and we advocate for little brown children in South America via Valencia-tinged Instagram feeds. We’re also fiercely suburban, albeit in denial of the fact. As it seems, life is an absolute idyll for us, as absolute an idyll as the 1950s American Dream in 2014 can be.

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Announcement (plus a story, which is why this post is so long)

If anyone out there reads this blog regularly, you’ve probably noticed the dwindling number of posts I’ve been getting around to. Truth be told, my fashion blogging craze has begun to lose its sparkle and I’ve started drifting off towards other quote-on-quote “creative projects.” Over the past week, I’ve been cooking up a short story, so I’ll post the first few paragraphs at the end of this post to prove it to you. Hopefully, I’ll be blending in more creative pieces into the typical fodder of le blog.

Start of untitled short story:

The golden sun, milky and pure, that poured into the road took me by surprise. And so did the skinny ribbon of cracked asphalt, and the wheat fields miles away from any shopping center or subdivision. Something raw and wild crept out from behind the landscape. From the rusty pick up trucks that spotted the curbs, to the creaking traffic lights that swung above the intersections, something was wedged between the cracks of it all that felt blissfully untouched. I couldn’t tell you how, but the world that lined route 463 felt perfectly removed from the rest of the universe that whirled beyond it. It was a beautiful anachronism, the idea of a two-lane road that stretched for miles like a quaint curving stripe. I sped along it with a goofy smile smeared on my face and music pumping through the speaker system, a study in smooth happiness.
Eventually, I reached the hills. They bubbled up and down making the road rise and fall and twist back over itself. I drove right past Mill Road, where I was supposed to turn right. I had to make a looping U-turn through a sparse neighborhood in order to get back to it. Driving on Mill Road was like riding a children’s roller coaster, one of those wooden Gemini Jr. ones that didn’t have any upside-down loops but had plenty of swooping turns and drops. I thought it was a sheer delight. And between the skinny skeletons of trees, when I rounded a bend, I could catch a glimpse of a huge basin of water beyond. It almost looked like a wide river if you didn’t know any better. The hills cradled it into a valley where it shimmered like dull silver.

I drove along Mill Road for 2.7 miles until it brought me to a mailbox labeled 1129. A long driveway stretched behind it leading to a house that couldn’t be seen. I pulled in slowly, rolling along the ashen pavement and passing a carved wooden sign that read “Fantasy Farm” in large, cartoonish letters. The house was made of dark panels of wood punctuated with black triangles for décor. Another big black triangle of a roof sloped casually over everything. It was a squat, horizontal house, only two floors high, and it sat like a solemn wooden dwarf in a forest clearing. The air around it had an evergreen tint, and the grass at its feet was a faded olive. It all felt a bit tired, as if the dwarf-house had been waiting for someone to arrive. But the moment people came, every crease of weariness melted into a warm welcome.

Movie Musings – Masculin Féminin

Masculin Féminin is bursting with literary allegories, motifs, and themes. One could do a feminist interpretation of the way Madeleine constantly plays with her hair and touches up her makeup. One could psychoanalyze the scene where Catherine eats an apple. But I, for one, will spare you all that in lieu of a feverishly written fit of personal opinion…

Seeing this movie, I felt like a Parisian café dweller eavesdropping on a particular group of people as I watched the world go by. The dialogue was so natural and unvarnished, it could only be the fragments of an overheard conversation. Like an extension of the French custom of people-watching, this film celebrated those little details, plot lines, and tiny idiosyncrasies that you fill in about someone when you pass him or her on the streets. Skipping to the beat of France in the ’60s, this movie presents a perfectly imperfect picture of life as a blithe adolescent in that time and place. Continue reading

Musings + A Polyvore Set

Dogue

Marni green top / Sass Bide short mini skirt / Joe’s Jeans high heel shoes / VBH blue handbag / Topshop midi ring / STELLA McCARTNEY tortoise glasses / La Mer The Oil Absorbing TonicI got a bit carried away with the writing today…When I go about trying to find my own personal style, sometimes I feel like I’m suffering from the identity confusion of a postcolonial literary character. Let me explain. For about fifteen, arguably seventeen, years, my fashion sense has been oppressed by the dominion of suburban-preppy garb. First, there were sweatshirts, jeans, and Uggs (à la middle school). Then subsequently, kilts, crew necks, and Lily Pulitzer (à la high school). I’ve also played competitive soccer since I had size four cleats, and thus I have a bit of an athlete’s closet (sweatpants, drawers of cotton tees, baggy shorts–the ones that aren’t the chic, runway type). Basically, if I wanted to assimilate, I didn’t have much elbow room for sartorial expression.

But as senior year carries on and my time in suburbia runs out (my style ambitions sighing in glorious anticipation), I find myself in a struggle to develop a sort of “national style identity after colonial rule.” How does one overcome the wardrobe culture of a cable-knit-sweater-clad colonizer and embrace an identity involving metallic mini-skirts, cat-eyed tortoise shell glasses, and fashionable chihuahuas?? That’s a question I long to answer. To my dismay, you can’t quite parade around The Academy dressed in sculptured stilettos and toting oversized, blue clutches without incurring puzzled snickers and accusations of “trying too hard.” I don’t know if I should channel my inner Audrey and embrace la vie à la mode in all its man-repelling glory, or ring in with the Girls that only know Pearls but also sport leggings and CustomInk T-shirts for those more casual days. Then again, maybe I should just approach this from another angle. Prep, if done the Jenna Lyons way, is still quite fashionable after all. And who am I kidding, I love J. Crew. And Gossip Girl.

In the meantime, as I figure out the style I most identify with (preppy, bohemian, luxe, minimal, tomboy??) I’ll just continue secretly listening to trendy Euro Hotel Lounge music (via Songza) while pretending I’m somewhere in Paris.

Snapshots No. 6 – Adios 2013, Buenos Dias 2014!

Behold the stowaways from my latest escapades to zesty, guacamole-infused Mexico. The skull, his name is Julio-José Fernando Santos The First, is my pride and joy. I begged my madré to do away with a well-spent 6,500 pesos (not dollars) for this guy, which actually isn’t too bad for such a jewel-encrusted treasure as Julio-José. And really, what better way to kick of 2014 than with my very own (pseudo-)crystal skull, the stuff of old Mayan legends and Indiana Jones blockbusters!

I hope all of you celebrated a wonderful New Year’s Eve 🙂 Asides from the absence of Papa Richard, who flew home to the Philippines to visit my grandfather, mine was an especially memorable one. In place of string-in-a-can fights and plastic ponchos, this year’s countdown salsa’d beachfront to the peppery beat of Latino melodies. And there’s nothing more festive than Latino music (I’ve been going through a phase long before our trip), authentic tortillas, and beaded sombreros.

Below, enjoy a mishmash of pics from my trip in various, rosy-tinged filters

As for New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve typed up and printed mine out in the meager hopes that I’ll actually abide to them this time. I also drafted up a completely separate NYR list just for the blog. My top three? 1) a personal outfit post each Saturday, even though I abhor the inherently awkward and self-absorbed nature of these. 2) blog consistently, following a structured timeline. 3) quality over quantity.

I’d love to hear your resolutions, whether blog-related, food-related, fashion-related, or stave-off-senioritis-until-at-least-end-of-first-semester-related, so please comment below!

P.S. I wasn’t lying when I said I’ve been going through a Latino music phase. To hear the Pandora-playlist evidence, just click here. I’ve been furiously thumbing-up my favorites, a lot of which are by Marc Anthony btw, and have now achieved a sultry mix to ease the unbearably endless haul between now and June. Post-Christmas winter is always so depressing 😦

P.P.S. If you like that kinda music, why not try some Spanish? Click here or here.

P.P.P.S. Or just listen to this now:

Things I want to try this year:

-get a French pen pal
-watch more Studio Ghibli films
-eat more avocados
-take regular yoga classes
-read up on Buddhism
-read Atlas Shrugged
watch Il Volo in concert (they’re having a tour!!)
-watch the news in the morning with coffee
-do homework in the Starbucks café in Barnes and Nobles
-catch up on Game of Thrones (I’m soo far behind…)
-go on long distance/endurance runs on a regular basis
-write a collection of short stories
-get more involved in Model UN (says my inner nerd)
-sing at a school coffee house (w/ a friend to harmonize)
-revamp my wardrobe

My Social Life at The Internship

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Okay, so I just got back two days ago from a three-week long summer internship program. I stayed in a college dorm with a bunch of other high schoolers from around the country and the  world who were also doing their own individual internships. I spent my days working and my nights socializing. Let me tell you, though. “Socializing” at high school summer programs like this defies all normal conceptions of the word. Just imagine: You take 400 awkward high school students eager to revamp their reputation in this blank new slate of a place and what follows is the complete upheaval of all normal social rules. In the first week it was a mad race to be the loudest person, to make the most friends, to hook up with the most people. Complete social chaos I tell you. And as if that’s not enough, all the international people there had their own different cultures of interacting with people, so no one ever knew what was acceptable or not.

I personally observed from a distance, slightly amused, slightly terrified. But anyway, when I got past my initial annoyance at the whole middle-school-esque atmosphere of the situation, I realized how cool everyone actually was when they weren’t trying to be so cool. My favorite were the kids who went to international school or came from another country. Hands down, internationally-minded students are the most interesting group in the high school demographic. And they all seem to know each other, bragging about their global contacts in foreign nations as if each nation was just another school to them, which it probably was. Some countries of origin of my new friends: Egypt, England, Italy, Spain, Germany, Korea, Colombia, India, and South Africa, to name but a few (please excuse my bragging).

This is what I absolutely loved the most. Meeting so many people from a myriad of backgrounds was a dream come true for a travel-hungry, culture-starved, first-generation suburban teenager such as me. The conversations we had were fantastic. We would talk about restaurant bread that, when eaten, was “like chewing gum” for my one Spanish friend, or the legal age to go clubbing in India, or the explanation of countless American idioms (have you realized that to be down for something means the same as to be up for something?).

I was so sad on the last day when we had to say goodbye since the chances of any of us meeting again in person are pretty slim 😦 And so now, I’m here sentimentally blogging about everything as I struggle to readjust back to normal life.