Erika's Weird Dreams, Running

The nightmare before my race

At the starting line, I carried a big black bag and a fanny pack I decided not to use for my race. I saw an acquaintance in the crowd and asked her to carry it for me. She said no.

Meanwhile I saw another friend take off with someone else. To be more specific, this is the same friend who ran the half-marathon with me in 2014.

From a distance, I saw my dad walking away from the starting line. Feeling weighed down by all the bags I carried, I dragged myself toward him and asked him to hold onto my bags until I finished my race. He said no.

In between me and my dad, a seemingly friendly stranger interjected and offered to carry my bags. This stranger was a big white dude, undoubtedly a weeaboo, who gushed to me about his obsession with Japanese culture and anime. Gross. But I had no choice.

He handed me his smartphone so that I can input my contact information. I noticed his keyboard was in Japanese, enabled with the handwriting recognition.



In case you’re wondering what’s a handwriting recognition?


I was already rushing to get going with my race, yet the smartphone wouldn’t recognize the characters for my name no matter how many times I wrote my name in Japanese. At this point everyone already started racing… except me.

And then I woke up.

The sun’s about to set over here in Pacific Standard Time and I’m still thrown off by this silly dream. I’m gonna go on a walk, blast 24K Magic into my ears, and embrace my anxiety (compounded by other life things, but that’s another story).

And stay hydrated. Can’t forget that, either. *chugs water from my 40oz hydroflask*

I trust myself and I know that I have what it takes to run a full marathon!!

Dreams, Erika's Weird Dreams, Music

It was all a dream, or was it?

I’ve been seeing interesting dreams lately. In the most recent episode, I played my sax in front of my friends and a large crowd at a dimly lit, yet spacious venue. Velvet draperies decorated the interior. I was a bit nervous at first, simply blowing air through the horn, playing a one-note melody, keeping it as simple as Miles Davis soloing in “Surrey with the Fringe on Top.” Next thing I knew, the accompanying bassist, drummer, pianist, and I grooved organically to each other’s sounds and motion. My friends cheered us on as my solo intensified. I felt alive.

But it was all a dream. I woke up and thought, “When’s the last time I felt that alive?”

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had countless ecstatic moments over the years. The last time I felt that particular way was June 2012. My high school jazz band performed our final concert of the school year; for me, my last performance as a high school musician. For background, my jazz band dealt with serious conflict that had me and several other members wondering if we’d make it to the end altogether. Looking back, our band drama could have been a prequel to the 2014 film Whiplash… except rated PG and without any band mate getting into a major car accident on the way to a competition.

For this final concert, one of our numbers was Charles Mingus’s “Boogie Stop Shuffle.” Since we performed this tune at festivals and concerts all year long, and on top of the drama, we were so done. As planned, I was one of the soloists for the song.

Unlike previous performances, we had an alum on the drums since our regular drummer had quit before the concert. Despite all the drama that went down during my last year of jazz band, I decided to let go all of the stress and enjoy playing the music for one last time.

As planned, I improvised within the usual 16 bars or so. Then, without prior rehearsing, I started trading fours with the drummer. Akin to a conversation between two people, we played off of each other, anticipating what sounds would come out of us in reaction to our improvisation, culminating in the most energetic moment…ever. And, like the aforementioned dream from last night, I felt alive. Adrenaline rushing through my body, through my fingers pressing down on the keys, through my breath vibrating within the bell of my horn. My friends and family in the audience felt me, too.

When my solo ended, I was breathless, I was euphoric. The drama no longer mattered, everyone let loose, and we made it to the end. Everything turned out okay 🙂

…So I bring up that anecdote from almost five years ago (oohmygoodness I’m old!!) because I woke up this morning with that exact feeling from my last high school concert. Riding on the dreamy wave of excitement, I fixed myself a small breakfast and sat myself down in front of my piano. I sight-read some tunes from a book filled with piano arrangements from Studio Ghibli films. Being a lot more literate with treble clef than bass clef, I saw the sheet music for the first time and played with my right hand. I even sang along to the Japanese lyrics written within the bars while my fingers pressed on the black and white keys.

Although I bicker about being in the suburbs, I am thankful and privileged to have plenty of time to play the piano, to train for the marathon. Experiment in my creative side without the pressure of weekly deadlines or having to mold my words in dry academic language. Let my body digest food and water well enough before I run or workout without rushing myself in between work, school, and studying.

I’m working towards reaching that point of euphoria, but who knows how that will manifests? Someday, I hope to find a healthy balance of all these things that fulfill me.

Erika's Weird Dreams

Waking up angry at the world

7:00 AM – my alarm beeps too loudly.

I hit the snooze button to savor as much sleep as possible.

I resumed back to my dream that I had been seeing throughout my sleep cycles last night. The latest episode in Erika’s Weird Dreams went something like this…

I was part of a Vagina Monologues* panel discussion with a mix of about ten male and female college students. And you know who facilitated this? An old white man… Haaah. We had a rehearsal before the actual event, and I spoke about how alcoholism is connected to consumerism and capitalism. I continued going off about how people spend their money on a substance that they think will save them or help them find love when it can ultimately hurt them in the long run.

For whatever reason, I sat in the front row closest to stage right during the actual panel discussion while everyone else was standing on stage. I wasn’t sure whether or not I was supposed to be on stage before I had my ten seconds of spotlight. When it was my turn, I got up from my seat and started walking up on the stage. Yet the stage had all these barriers set up so I stepped over them cautiously as to not cause unnecessary disruption during a live talk.

Before I could even share my two cents with the audience, the facilitator completely skipped me and moved on to the next pair of student speakers. Much to my frustration, I called him out on stage: “I’m part of the panel. Why didn’t you let me talk?”

“I didn’t like the way you talked about money in all this,” he rudely answered.

[cut to reality]

What the hell did I just witness?

I can’t remember the last time I woke up feeling so frustrated, angry, and confused at the same time. No better way to start the day than with some dude disrespecting my space and not letting me express my thoughts–even before I crawled out of my own bed. How ironic that an old white man controlled a critical discussion that aimed to be inclusive toward women. Clearly, money is out of the equation when discussing about consumerism, alcoholism, and relationships with people.

Perhaps Vagina Monologues came up in my dream since the women’s theater group at my school will be putting on their own version of it tomorrow and Saturday. With many of my fierce, badass friends involved with the production, I can’t wait to watch them perform on stage. I am all for performance art that celebrates womanhood and intersectional feminism while urging to end the systematic violence against women. I remember seeing this play back when I was an ~innocent~ college freshman and it kindled a fiery kind of woman power within me.

And that flame will stay ignited.

*Immediately after I woke up, I hurriedly jotted down on my phone every detail I could retain from whatever I had just seen before my memory vanished. I specified the discussion as Vagina Monologues but it could have been anything.