trip report: D23 expo!

From July 14th through the 16th: I had the time of my life attending my very first D23 Expo!

SO and I like to go to Disneyland often, plus attend a lot of local conventions, so we consider ourselves decent nerd-fans and somewhat con-experienced. But D23 would be the largest event we’ve ever attended, and we wanted to do it right! Se did some preparations and research: watched videos, planned out our itinerary, wrote down panels, considered backups, and anticipated long lines. I bought my first Gold Membership in hopes of being able to use some of the line benefits. We got camping gear and Japanese snacks for potential overnighters outside.

I asked him, “are you willing to actually spend the night in line to attend this one panel the next day?” And he was like, “yes!” “ARE YOU SURE? Because I’m pretty darn crazy/nerdy and I totally understand if you don’t have the patience for that.” I picked a great guy!

I was so excited about the weekend, and a little anxious, because I’d be seeing a whole lot of Disney and Marvel things, and hoping for some neat moments and cool swag! As a huge Marvel fan, this was a pretty darn big deal!

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July 26, 2017 - 6:54 pm | Comments

trip report: washington dc and 17NTC

I’ve had a busy start to spring!! It took me a while to put this together, and it’s a bit of a late post- one month ago, I traveled to Washington D.C. to attend a conference: the 2017 Nonprofit Technology Conference! There was a lot of learning and fun times, and I got to visit and experience Washington, D.C. for the first time. Here’s a report of my trip!

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I got to bring my Nintendo Switch on the plane and get some Legend of Zelda time… just like in the commercials. Several people noticed it, including a flight attendant, and were super curious! I was pretty surprised, but I had some good conversations with people about it!

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My first sunrise in DC:

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The conference itself was fun, informative, and great for nerdy, passionate people to support each other in a collaborative environment. I brought a lot of good notes and takeaways back home to my work.

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I got the chance to visit the Smithsonian National Zoo (free!). Unfortunately, many of the animal exhibits were closed, probably due to the colder weather.

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Earlier at the conference during one of the lunch sessions, I asked tablemates for recommendations on desserts and/or cafe recommendations (because finding dessert places in every city is my #1 goal in life)- and one lady said, “You need to go to Un Je Ne Sais Quoi!”

And I was like okay coo I love French places, where is that and how do I get there?

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The Metro in DC is the cleaner, nicer, more crowded version of BART here in California. 100x better and more enjoyable to ride than our Bay Area transportation.

I made my first stop to Metro station in downtown-ish DC somewhere near the National Mall-

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Being the excited tourist I was, I walked and wandered around a lot.

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White House!

More wandering around led me to a field of cherry blossom trees that hadn’t fully bloomed yet, in front of the Washington Monument-

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So with all that walking around, it was time for me to find this French cafe, which would mean another hop on the metro to another part of the city. I ended up in Dupont Circle, one of my favorite spots:

A post shared by Mirabel (@chibi_m7) on

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At Un Je Ne Sais Quois, I ate the creampuff first and tried a cup of their mocha, and OH. MY. GOD. If that wasn’t the most delicious creampuff and cup of mocha I’ve ever had. I’m ruined forever. Because I can definitely taste the difference compared every other creampuff + mocha I’ve eaten. And I’ve eaten a lot of creampuffs and drank a lot of mochas. It’s one of my favorite pastimes.

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I brought back more goodies to the hotel, one of them being the most delicious thing in the world, the MERVEILLEUX. Am pretty disappointed I can’t find another one of these anywhere near me…

There was a cute little French-inspired boutique called Lou Lou’s, which had a lot of goodies – picked up some souvenirs for me and my family here. I really liked shopping here.

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I sat on a bench in front of the fountain as the sun was setting, watching salsa dancers and people going by, with the romantic sounds of aggressive rush hour traffic honking around me. I loved it!

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The rest of the trip and the conference was really enjoyable! Of course, I spent the return trip home on the plane playing more Zelda.

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Was very grateful for the opportunity to come here and learn, as well as be a tourist. As a city girl from the west coast, I’d love to come back and take more time exploring the area, and the east coast in general. Of course, having friends, family, and an SO can be great travel buddies, but seeing new city sights solo is really a special experience that I was long overdue for.

April 28, 2017 - 4:25 pm | Comments

starting off 2017 with a magical vacation!

Kind of a late-ish post. After a busy holiday season at work and dance at the end of 2016, I started off the new year with a wonderful trip! Sharing a report of highlights from our trip from earlier in January, with a few photos taken by me and BH!

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Our January travel timing worked really well. We caught the tail end of the holiday season and lights at the Disney parks, and made it to Las Vegas and home after CES, but before the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend holiday crowd came in. So, prices and crowds were really manageable for a beautiful time of year.

We drove with our buddy down to Anaheim first. He had never been to any Disney parks before, so we were excited to show him a good time. Our first day was at Disney’s California Adventure! I wanted to try so many holiday goodies.

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Photo by BH

We introduced him to the wallet-emptying magic that is pin trading.

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Photo by BH

Our timing for the evening at Disney California Adventure was fantastic- we were able to make it into the Cove Bar (!!) right before it closed, allowing us to land a view of the upcoming World of Color show from the bar. Delicious lobster nachos, delicious drinks, and delightful company with a delightful view? Couldn’t get any better than this!

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The next day was Disneyland. We tried to jam pack everything we could, since it was the last official day of the holiday season (and for other things!). All the major rides, Mickey beignets, Magic Map, Paint the Night’s last showing, holiday fireworks and lights.

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Photo by BH

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Photo by BH

The next day was our buddy’s last day at Anaheim. We ate a great breakfast, and did more pin trading and shopping.

A photo posted by Mirabel (@chibi_m7) on

He went back home that day, leaving me and the bf to do one last Disney visit alone on the day before Vegas. It was kind of sad, actually! We realized that Disney magic really is the people we spend time with along the way. Ha.

The next day, we packed up and had our first ride-share experience to LAX, and headed on a short flight to Las Vegas!!

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I’ve been in Vegas a lot with family as I was growing up. This was my first time going without parents, post 21 years old, and getting to enjoy it fully as an adult! Boy have things changed!

Also wanted to mention that it was our first time redeeming our MyVegas points and getting our Mlife rewards- super easy and very worth it, indeed!

We stayed in Paris with with a view of the Bellagio Hotel- was able to land a high tier room at a good price. The next day, we did some buffet-eating, sight-seeing. We had tickets to see Cirque du Soleil – Ka at MGM Grand that night. Amazing show!

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After the show, we ended the evening with drinks at The Chocolate Bar in NYNY.

A photo posted by Mirabel (@chibi_m7) on

The next day was Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef, with more sight seeing, and more eating!

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We rode the monorail a few times back and forth to see the length of the strip…

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And we later found a nice and crowd-free spot at Caesar’s Palace to take photos.

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We went back to our hotel room to get dolled up a bit (so I didn’t look so much like a little kid, too) and came back to have a little photoshoot in the area!

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On our last day, we used up the last of our Mlife rewards to nab another buffet and check out the secret garden at the Mirage. At this point on Friday evening, the weekend holiday crowds were really starting to come in! We headed to Excalibur to watch Tournament of Kings- a dinner show I watched exactly 10 years ago! It was as fun as I remembered.

More food and more walking.

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A photo posted by Mirabel (@chibi_m7) on

We gambled a little bit of our entertainment money throughout the trip, did a lot of sight-seeing and lounging about. And did a whole. Lot. Of. Eating.  Overall, it was a fun and successful trip, with a lot of discounts and deals acquired! Relaxed and fat, we flew home the next day. Both Las Vegas and SJ airports were very empty.

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I’m really grateful to be at an age and means to experience trips like this. With bf’s graduation and the start of the new year, it was a good time to reflect and appreciate childhood and adult fun… by doing both! We’re already looking forward to the next one!

January 20, 2017 - 1:40 pm | Comments

2016

2016 is coming to a close on my side of the world! It’s been a strange year in social media/politics/pop culture. But on a personal level, it’s been one of the most positive years I’ve had.

A photo posted by Mirabel (@chibi_m7) on

Getting a little personal – 2015 was an incredibly difficult year for me. A toxic job & work environment, a sudden move after losing a home of 15 years, dealing with the fall out of a previous relationship that refused to end, car dealership complexity and greediness- for that time, all of these things caused me a new level of anxiety and depression that I’ve never felt before.

But it was the start of a lot of great new things and transitions too. Immersed myself in dance despite the chaos, blossomed through a new, wonderful and healthy relationship, traveled with friends more than I ever did before, resolved car dealership greediness, and finally broke out of a bad place and into a new one before Christmas.

Then, 2016 happened. It’s been a rough time in the media. But it was a great time for personal blossoming, and I’m super grateful for all the memories and opportunities I’ve been given. I want to recognize a few wins and memories this year!

  • Got my first custom-made latin dance dress
  • Performed open routines in competition for the first time
  • My 1st annual Silicon Valley Comic Con
  • My 1st NTC – Nonprofit Technology Conference
  • A photo posted by Mirabel (@chibi_m7) on

  • My 9th year attending FanimeCon and my 6th year staffing!
  • Danced a Metal Gear Solid routine for said anime convention ball
  • Utada Hikaru’s new album
  • Frank Ocean’s new album
  • The Weeknd’s new album
  • Bruno Mars’ new album
  • Pokemon Sun/Moon
  • Having someone special to play Pokemon with
  • A photo posted by Mirabel (@chibi_m7) on

  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Rogue One
  • Captain America: CIVIL WAR NUFF SAID
  • Doctor Strange came out on my birthday
  • Movies in general- watched 23 of them in theaters (the most I’ve ever seen in theaters in a year! Thanks to bf for loving movies so much!)
  • Cardcaptor Sakura anime announced
  • Ballroom e Youkoso anime announced
  • Reunited with my childhood summer vacation family in SoCal for the first time in 14 years
  • Met my favorite VA, Steven Blum, for the first time
  • A photo posted by Mirabel (@chibi_m7) on

  • Saw my favorite childhood boyband, Backstreet Boys, live for the first time
  • Celebrated the 1 year anniversary of the best job ever

Cheers to nostalgia of old times past, the exciting and ever-changing present, and to a great new year full of more memories in 2017!

December 31, 2016 - 11:30 am | Comments

happy autumn! & project announcement!

Autumn is my favorite time of year! It’s been a good past month to attend a lot of events and enjoy the transition into fall.

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We went to San Francisco a few weeks ago to watch the Blue Angels during fleet week. I wanted to visit a place I’ve been eyeing for a while (La Marais Bakery), because I heard about their delicious french desserts – I tried a nutella creampuff and it was amazing…

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Wearing a handmade dress to match SF!

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We went to Berkeley this past weekend to attend and photograph a beginner ballroom dancesport event. It was a lot of fun to see newcomers enjoying themselves. We got to dance just a little bit, too.

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While in downtown, we checked out this dessert place for delicious taiyaki with black sesame ice cream… it was pretty delicious.

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Later that night, we attended SJSU School of Music and Dance’s first annual Kaleidoscope event! My cousin performed as a pianist for one of the acts. Overall, it was an ah-may-zing show!

So, I’ve been having a lot of fun lately- attending shows, trying out all the food, attending new/familiar events, keeping up my physical health, dancing, staying in touch with good people and colleagues, being in a great career, seeing new sights in familiar places in the Bay Area. I’ve even recollected some materials to bring back sewing and crafts into my time again. The past year has been really good to me, and I’m really grateful for where I am now. Because one year ago, that was certainly not the case.

Autumn is really important time of year to me. It’s been almost a year since I underwent a major change, closing a new chapter and starting a new one.

In the past year, I’ve discovered how fulfilled I felt working in the tech sector of the nonprofit world and contributing towards an international cause. For the first time, I feel like I’ve finally arrived at a working environment and mission that’s right for me. An article on Medium.com that recently went viral dredged up some sudden memories from last year, and I’ve been reflecting a lot on that experience lately. Too  much of the article hit home and were eerily similar to what I experienced and observed. A friend told me a while ago that I was basically coping with post-trauma. I’ll be finally ready to share that story soon.

At the same time, I’ve been inspired by positive friends, family, colleagues, podcasts, and media to try some projects and have a little bit of fun, with a little bit of challenge and and a little bit of vulnerability. Not sure how things will go, but figured I might try this!

Inspired by a few things and itching to do more things outside of work and dance, I’m excited and nervous to share:

1. An experimental podcast project, featuring friends and colleagues in the arts/tech/creative industries
2. A writeup about my transition from startups to nonprofits

I’ve been listening to a lot of excellent podcasts lately, in genres ranging from comics to coding to fiction. After mulling it over and planning it out through September with ideas, I decided to try it out as an experiment, and have asked a few initial people about it. I have a list of people in mind, and have already asked a few. Microphone and the rest of the equipment is basically ready to go- it’s just taking the first step that’s the hardest! I hope to be a better speaker and a better listener through this journey. More details to come later!

October 24, 2016 - 5:48 pm | Comments