Megabus

I can hear the crinkling sound of a packet of crisps being opened. Crunch. Crunch.

We’re speeding along the left side of the road, and my bladder is cursing me for that cup of lukewarm mocha so inconveniently consumed right before the journey started.

The couple in front of me are joined together in holy naptrimony, and I can’t tell if that little snorty snore that just escaped from its olfactory prison was from the man or the woman.

The seats are upholstered in a tacky velour fabric, royal blue with yellow and orange geometric Pacman-esque shapes.

Megacool fabric on the Megabus from Bristol to London

It complements the shiny shell of the exterior, in the same shade of royal blue, with bright yellow letters spelling out “MEGABUS.”

It reminds me of Santa Clara High School’s colors, and I feel a twinge of nostalgia for my high school days across the other side of the world.

As I turn back to see if the bathroom is vacant, I notice that everyone is sleeping. Some people have their heads rested back, and others are sprawled across both seats.

It’s funny how, no matter what age or gender, everyone looks so serene and innocent when they’re sleeping. Normally furrowed brows become uncreased. Nervous, shaky limbs become tranquilized. Tranquil eyes?

Heads gently bob from the movement of the bus. Mouths are relaxed, neither smiling nor frowning, slightly parted to let warm air out. Expressions are even more neutral than Switzerland.

Some people are stirred awake by an unexpected bump in the road, or change in speed, while others soldier on through their slumber.

All roads lead to London

Next stop: London!

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Trailer: California’s Cannabis Culture

Yes, I know it’s a bit backwards to post the trailer after posting the full-length documentary…

California’s Cannabis Culture

It’s been a couple of months in the making, but my final MA dissertation/final project documentary, “California’s Cannabis Culture” is officially done!

And it can be viewed here:

It’s a journey into California’s marijuana scene, which could take a pivotal turn in November, when Californians vote on whether or not to legalize marijuana.

Please watch, comment, share, and enjoy!

Tamale-Making: A Mexican Christmas Tradition

Every year at Christmas time, without fail, my mom likes to tell the same joke:
Q: Why do Mexicans always have tamales on Christmas?
A: So that they have something to unwrap!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mexican cuisine, tamales are a concoction of cornmeal and various fillings (sweet or savory), wrapped in corn husks and steamed until cooked.

Once a tamale is cooked, you unwrap it from the corn husk and enjoy.

For many Mexican families, especially in California, tamales are synonymous with the Christmas season.

Many families turn their kitchens into mini tamale-making factories, churning out dozens of batches at a time.

The tamales are eaten throughout the entire holiday season, and also given away to friends and family members.

I’ve always liked the idea of everyone getting together to make tamales. Unfortunately, my Mexican side of the family lacks the know-how and culinary skills to actually take part in this tradition.

Instead, we turn to our local taqueria owner, a woman from Oaxaca, Mexico, who sells tamales of your choice by the dozen.

Joining the Tamale Production Line

This year, however, I had the chance to get together with a couple of my friends in California—who are both of Mexican descent—and join their families in the tamale production line.

I always had the idea that tamale-making was a very laborious process, but it turned out to be relatively simple.

We bought a bag of prepared masa (a mixture of corn meal, water, lime, salt, and lard) from a nearby taqueria. The dried cornhusks, chicken, and green chili sauce were purchased from a Mexican market.

To make the tamales, you first have to soak the corn husks in cold water to make them pliable. Then, a layer of masa is spread on the smooth side of the husk. In the middle, you add the filling. Wrap everything up, and the tamales are ready to go in the steamer.

We ended up making two types of tamales. The first were sweet tamales, with a combination of brown and white sugars, and a heavy-handed pouring of ground cinnamon. The second was a savory mixture of green chili and shredded chicken.

Both types turned out really well, and it was fun to partake in this traditional activity.

It’s a nice way to spend time with loved ones over the holidays, and to create something delicious in the process!

Graduation: One Year Later

Exactly one year ago, I was nervously standing on stage in front of hundreds of my peers, receiving my diploma.

I distinctly remember the feeling of achievement, excitement, and anxiousness that I had on this day.

After working hard for four and a half years, I had reached the end. I was now a college graduate.

The whole day was a blur of emotions. Thank God for the invention of waterproof mascara.

Growing up, graduating college is one of those things that seems so far off. So adult. The beginning of a new chapter of your life.

The first month or so after graduating felt like an extended winter break, with the added bonus of not having any assignments to do. It felt good to be able to relax and not have to worry about school.

GRADUATING IN AN ECONOMIC CRISIS

Unfortunately, the time I graduated was during one of the worst parts of this economic recession. Many of my peers were having a hard time finding jobs anywhere, especially in the media field.

Slowly, it began to sink in that I could be in a very tough position if I didn’t find a job quickly. There were student loans to start paying back, among other living expenses.

By the end of February, almost three months after graduating, I had finally landed an internship at a company called Ustream. It was unpaid, but it was better than sitting around at home, so I took it.

Luckily, I was offered a full-time job as Marketing Coordinator, just after a little over a month of interning.
Sure, the pay wasn’t the best, and the hours were even worse, but it felt good to be working in a career related to my degree.

A NEW DIRECTION

Despite being happy about having a job, I felt that if I continued on down this path of marketing, I would move further away from my career goals.

I wanted to be the person producing media, not the one marketing it.

Over the summer, I made a big decision to go to graduate school in London. It wasn’t an easy choice, especially considering my economic situation.

But it was the right choice.

I haven’t looked back since making that decision, as I know that by doing this course, it’s putting me closer to where I want to be.

NEW GRADUATES

This year, I watched some of my best friends walk the same stage that I did.

I’ve watched them work extremely hard over the years, and I was proud to be able to watch them be honored for their achievements.

It seems that landing a job is getting harder than ever, but I have high hopes for them.

I think that, as long as you work hard and have clear goals set out, you can achieve them. Maybe it will be a difficult journey along the way, but sometimes you learn the most from going through hardships.

So, to my lovely friends who graduated this year, congratulations! Keep doing what you’re doing, and welcome to the post-grad world.

As Monica once said in Friends, “The real world sucks…you’re gonna love it!”