A Summer Break


The theme in June continues in July, with creative-writing taking a backseat in favor of business writing for work. But I am where I should be, so I’m giving myself one of those lazy beach moments. And let summer be summer. I’ll be sure to have some books for leisure reading.

The Soul in Architecture

A plaza opened before us on our way to the Academia museum in Venice.

I read an article last year about what architecture means to some well-known practitioners in the industry, and it made me reflect what drew me to my current situation with an interior architecture firm.  I wondered why I hadn’t pursued design in the first place, what took me off track.  When I was 11 and I had my own room, I decided to be creative with some corrugated cardboard and reclaimed toy pieces to create tables.  But it felt more like a passing fancy.  As I got older, a new passion took over and held my interest to this day. Maybe discovering and articulating the soul in architecture is the purpose of being here, while working on the financial and legal side.


It is said architecture is an expression of one’s world view.  It speaks to me none more so than in the confluence of cultures in restored Venetian building facades, and Venice’s plazas, San Marco being the ultimate manifestation of the public “living room” in an increasingly socially isolated world. Its cozy alleys that smack of claustrophobia, which if you let the discomfort pass, offer a level of intimacy that is rather personal, homey even. venetian-flag

Like the bustling under the windows of our pensionado during my 2008 trip there with my mom and sister, the pitter-patter of foot traffic was more a soothing murmur, not the profane cacophony of a major metropolis.  It was rather welcoming, the ambient sounds that would lull me into an eventual nap that afternoon.Serenissima room


photo by Rhodora Ayuyang


In my Absence


Sign of the Times: Chapel of the Chimes

Gosh, I look back at some of my blog posts up to date, and I realize I miss writing, like an old boyfriend or friend (none of which is mutually exclusive). As I see how other people’s lives unfold, I am aware I am living my own these last ten months. Much has happened in 2016, and while I’m inclined to bookend chapters in my life, it often plays out without a convenient break. Refusing to fit neatly in a tidy box, it is a messy proposition and overflows sometimes rather rapidly.

Having said that, I can’t promise fidelity to regular monthly entries, although I will try. Writing is a solitary, difficult endeavor when forced. It can’t often express everything inside me, although I love it so.


Some of My Favorite Things

Design in the Every Day: Reclaimed wood from wine barrels

Design in My Favorite Things: Reclaimed wood from wine barrels

Quite frankly, the month of August was about work as I made my foray to architectural writing: dIAmeter blog.  I cannot tell you the lengths I made to pull things together, but I believe in the end, it was well worth it to move to the next level of a rather wonderful life.

Architecture and Java: Like Blue Bottle Coffee



Book of the Month

Scan_20150524 (3)I finished reading a book not too long ago that resonated with me during a time I needed some guidance in my alone-ness.  I wished the story would never end, but of course, it had to.  One line that spoke to me: Sometimes our desires don’t always align with our intentions.  Bringing them together is often a challenge, which is what I encountered during this dating process.  In search of the person with whom I would be most comfortable being, this time in my life I really want to get it right, perhaps the reason why I keep chipping away at it until someone like Michelangelo’s “David” suddenly appears.
As the month wore on, I realized my desires and intentions are most in line when I am single and to some extent whenever I’m with my family and friends.  I returned to conversations I used to have with an old friend, who told me the man she would be with would have to fit into her life.  She eventually met him and enjoying a life with him.  So there’s hope after all, but in the meantime I’m savoring mine alone, whether it’s being more engaged with work I’m passionate about, hanging out with friends and family or simply taking care of myself as best as I know how.   And there’s never ever anything wrong with that.

A Letter to My Younger Self

Lil Rachelle in Ilocos Sur, Philippines

In a few years, you would fly on a TWA airliner to join your parents in the United States, rather sad, dare I say even upset, that you would be leaving your beloved great-grandmother, Lucia, who took care of you in your mother’s absence.  But when you were on the plane, you somehow had this idea that you were embarking on a great adventure, and later, you learn there is even a moniker for it–citizen of the world–one that you would feel aptly describes the role you were supposed to step into when you left the Philippines for good.

You would hit the books most of your life in your hometown of Pittsburgh, PA until your twenties, when you would spend most of the years after college having roommates and misadventures and working in your dream job in a city you weren’t completely sold on, even taking it for granted, until it’s 20 years later, and you’re still here. Many times you would want to quit San Francisco, but you just couldn’t quite pull the trigger.

You would fall in love before you turn 30 and lose your job and man in one year.  But you would travel to Paris at the end of the year with a ragtag band of your two sisters and two of your friends from high school and college, so that you would return to San Francisco, not only tinged with sorrow,  but also the joie de vivre of that magical city.  You would clean up after the party you had in your twenties and start figuring out in your thirties how you would want the rest of your life to look like.  Your Paris gave you the spirit, and you would try to recapture and infuse it.  You would tell people what you don’t want.  The things you would love most–music, writing and your family and friends–are your saviors.

You prepare for your forties so that you become the entire package.  You tell people what you do want and who you are for someone to meet you at that similar place–one who will love, recognize and accept you for who you’ve become at this point in time.  You learn to love and take care of yourself more passionately.  You’re less selfish, kinder and more forgiving.  You see the difference between falling in love, being in love and love itself, which means sacrifice, stretching and enlarging one’s heart for someone else, putting their needs before yours, compromise and attention (qualities that by and large characterize your parents’ own marriage of currently 44 years that while for years you promised yourself you would never want, is essentially a verity you’ve come to accept and maybe even embrace).

You believe true love will find you because you have a better understanding of what it is, not simply the romantic notions that spring from pop songs and Hollywood movies, but also the changing faces of the moon in shadows and light, shades of gray, cyclical endings and beginnings that test one’s faith in whether it could ever be sustained.  For all the experience and wisdom you’ve gained, you haven’t really cracked most of life’s mysteries.  And that’s okay because your life still remains an unfinished work.

Birthday Hopes and Dreams

After celebrating another birthday in May and experiencing a period of loss and change, I think of Thomas Pastorius, who passed away last year.  Considered the first microbrewer in Pennsylvania, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he also marked the coda of my high school journalism career when I interviewed him for one of my last articles in North Catholic’s Trojan News.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, he would open Penn Brewery at the bottom of Troy Hill Road by the Fall, while I was starting college.

Although my meeting with him was brief, he was a gracious and generous man who fed my fledgling ambition by basically giving me something grown-up to write about.  I am now in rather awe the prescience of standing and speaking with him in the dank and dark interior of the old Eberhardt and Ober brewery below my high school before its grand transformation.

But as life would have it, his dream of an on-site brewery and restaurant proved to be a high-maintenance job.  One’s passion could also produce much anxiety and frustrations–that much I too do understand.  Throughout my career, I’ve gone in and out of the thing I love to do most.

Another birthday does give me pause, and a refocusing of sorts is in order, for starters, infusing more positive energy and a healthier balance during work weeks.  And if I’m lucky, I may even capture a little of the thrill “Mr. Beer” once had of crafting brews–often times the hard but, in his mind, the right way.

Call Me Old Fashion

Last weekend, I randomly popped in a cassette tape (remember those?) that turned out to be a collection of love songs, one being a 1996 hit single by R&B singer Kenny Lattimore entitled  “For You.”

I recalled I wrote a profile about its songwriter, Kenny Lerum, when I was a magazine writer, and after realizing I didn’t have a personal copy, I decided to chase it down, going almost immediately to the San Francisco Public Library to retrieve one.  Although it was one of my smaller articles, truth be told, it’s more or less for sentimental reasons that I desired to have it now, in time for Valentine’s Day no less.

Dream a Little Dream

I remember watching Liz Masakayan on TV growing up in the burbs when a sport that is beach volleyball was in its infancy.  I was awestruck by her athleticism and  all her competitors in general because it seemed you had to be an all-around athlete to succeed.

I thought how cool it was that she could just be known by one name, her surname, which was four syllables long.  And I dreamed that one day I would meet her.  And so, I did.

(Cover photo & photos by Aaron Chang)

An Olympic Spirit

When I was a magazine writer, Olympic champion diver Victoria Manalo Draves was hands-down one of my favorite Olympians whom I had covered.  Delightful to speak with, she had the quintessential Olympic, as well as American, story.

In 2005, I got a call from the City College of San Francisco, asking for a copy of my article because it was honoring Mrs. Draves as outstanding alumna for that spring’s graduation class.  Five years later, she passed away at the age of 85.

All afternoon, I was looking for the beautifully handwritten card she sent me after my article was published that I kept on my desk, but I guess I had stored it when other things started to clutter up the space.  She was such a gracious person, and I am honored to have had gotten to know her, even for a moment for a little ole story.