A year ago, when Vice President Joe Biden revealed in a television interview that he supported same-sex marriage, such unions were legal in six states.

Tuesday, the Legislature in Biden’s home state, Delaware, voted to become the 11th such state, part of a rapid shift on the issue that is making same-sex marriage the norm in liberal parts of the country. The Delaware Senate approved the marriage bill, 12-9, sending it to Gov. Jack Markell, who has championed the measure.

Delaware’s action, combined with Rhode Island’s passage of a similar law last week, means that same-sex marriage is now legal in most of the Northeast, from Maine through Maryland, with the notable exceptions of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie, the state’s Republican chief executive, has blocked a marriage bill passed by the Legislature.

          I’m really happy that the number of states where same-sex marriage is legal is now over 10%! We gotta start somewhere, right? Progress is a process.
          The article also notes that Minnesota and Illinois will be facing marriage equality votes soon too. We also find out the results of the Supreme Court cases in about a month or so — ah!

         On Sunday morning, my family and I moved all the bags of unnecessary belongings from my dorm room into the car, which was a really strange feeling. It feels as if I only moved here just a few weeks ago. Afterwards, we ate at iHop and hung out at the Cerritos Mall. I felt an overwhelming sadness when they left (as I always do when we say those good-byes), but it didn’t last too long this time because I knew I’d be home in less than two weeks.
          Later on in the day, Angel and I went to a jazz concert together so that we can write our last concert report of the semester. It was a ton of fun (jazz is so amazing) and I absolutely adored the way all the band members played their instruments. This concert was very well-timed, considering our jazz lecture was just a week ago! But gosh, I was snapping my fingers, tapping my feet, and definitely getting into the groove.
          I’ve really loved my music class this semester and I’m glad we’re required to attend various school concerts (of our choice). I used to be more appreciative of classical music as well as other genres when I was younger, but that stopped in middle school when I started going through different phases of music. I mean, I’ve always appreciated music in the general sense, but this class made me more aware of that gratitude, which I think is amazing. That’s what good teachers and good classes are supposed to do, right? I’m definitely going to take at least one or two (or more!) music classes in the future.

          Adventures from Saturday aka May the Fourth be with you day!
          I spent the weekend with my parents and brother (which explains the lack of posts), along with my relatives in Long Beach, who I haven’t gotten to hang out with in a while due to the fact that spring semester is just so crazy compared to fall semester. 
          I told them all I wanted to eat was Asian food because the dining hall’s futile attempts at making good Asian food was taking a toll on me and one can only eat so much Panda Express (which isn’t even the best anyway). So we ate at this nice sushi place (yum tempura ice cream) for lunch and had pho with other relatives for dinner. Very creative restaurant name, Pho King Way. I haven’t had pho or an avocado shake in forever. Yay for getting some of my cravings satisfied.
          Other than the glorious food, Saturday was full of a lot of story-telling with my relatives and some good ol’ family bonding. I was glad my family surprised me this weekend and I can’t wait to be reunited with them for the summer in TEN DAYS! 

          Guess who just spent a couple of hours packing unnecessary clothes, school supplies, and random knickknacks? You can’t really tell just how much stuff I have ready to go because of the lighting and angle, but there’s five big shopping bags of clothes, a bag of blankets, a blanket case of a huge blanket, a backpack full of pictures and posters that never made it on my wall/saved newspapers/school supplies I don’t need, two corkboards, a jewelry box, a bag full of some shoes I won’t need, and a bag full of random things such as an extension chord, DVDs, and an umbrella. And so much more.
          My parents called me last night and told me they were coming down to SoCal this weekend (surprise surprise!) and we agreed it would be smart to move all the belongings I don’t need while they’re here, so move out day in two weeks (well less than that, actually) won’t be too difficult.
          I did a pretty good job of clearing out my closet and drawers, along with my nightstand and desk. I have a decent amount of clothes left for the next 12 days and other than that, all I have is the stuff on my bed and the things I need on my desk. Plus the pictures on my wall.
          My friends and I had to postpone our Disneyland trip to next week, but I guess it works out because it’s way too hot in Anaheim this weekend. I can’t believe there’s less than two weeks to go — when did that happen? Bittersweet feelings.
           Good night, I’m going to see my parents and Josh tomorrow!

          I didn’t even transcribe the whole audio clip (which is an hour and six minutes) - this is probably just 40-45 minutes. But it’s okay, because I’ve got some really amazing quotes (which will go into another post).          Sometimes I really hate transcribing because it’s so painstaking - having to pause and rewind over and over again just to make sure that the direct quotes I’m getting are correct. But at the same time, I enjoy listening to the interviews because it brings me back to the discussion, talk, speech, or whatever. And boy was Geoff Boucher’s speech an insightful and entertaining one.           And now begins the brainstorm and article writing.           And then I will repeat this process for two more recordings of the panels I attended.           I guess you can call this my first attempt at covering a speech, eh? Great, because there’s a first time for everything.
Let the story writing begin!

          I didn’t even transcribe the whole audio clip (which is an hour and six minutes) - this is probably just 40-45 minutes. But it’s okay, because I’ve got some really amazing quotes (which will go into another post).
          Sometimes I really hate transcribing because it’s so painstaking - having to pause and rewind over and over again just to make sure that the direct quotes I’m getting are correct. But at the same time, I enjoy listening to the interviews because it brings me back to the discussion, talk, speech, or whatever. And boy was Geoff Boucher’s speech an insightful and entertaining one.
           And now begins the brainstorm and article writing.
           And then I will repeat this process for two more recordings of the panels I attended.
           I guess you can call this my first attempt at covering a speech, eh? Great, because there’s a first time for everything.

Let the story writing begin!

Happy May!

          Cheers to the month that has always been my favorite - and no, not just because my birthday falls in the middle of it. (I promise.)
          I love May because of the spring and summer vibe it possesses. The care-free and even happier nature that takes control of my mind, body, and spirit. I love the perfect weather - when I can wear a flowing dress and flip-flops because the sun is out, but I’m not sweating my butt off in irritation like I tend to do by the time July comes along.
          I love May because school’s out, and while the end of the academic year is always bittersweet for me, there’s nothing like getting the chance to think, “Wow, another year’s over already, look at everything that I’ve been through since then, look at all the things I’ve learned.” 
          I love May because my birthday (shared with one of my musical loves, Jack Johnson) falls somewhere in the middle of this great month, and it causes me to reflect on if and how I’ve grown in the last 365 days even more. And there’s nothing like getting to celebrate a birthday during the best month ever.
          I love May because while it may symbolize a few endings, it’s also the promise of new beginnings - for me personally, another year of life, but also the start of the summer. A few months to myself - to read, to rejuvenate, to reflect and ponder about anything and everything without having to worry about anything else, to get lost in myself.
          This May is particularly special because it’ll be a great start to my summer before I start a two month session of summer school in June. I’m also working hard on getting a job, so there’s another beginning (if I can land one — fingers crossed!). And I may (pun not intended) especially love this May even more because I’m going to three concerts in the span of two weeks (starting on my birthday) and one of them includes a meet and greet with one of my favorite people in the world.
          I love May and everything - absolutely everything - it brings along with it. I am so ecstatic for what’s to come in the next 31 days. So here’s to finishing my last two weeks of school with a bang! Once I get school, finals, and apartment confirmation stuff out of the way, I’ll be back in the Bay Area just in time for my birthday :)
          It’s gonna be (an incredible) May! I have always loved this month most and I’ll never stop putting it on a pedestal, in case that wasn’t already clear.

          Today was Journalism and Careers Day at school, and boy, was I lucky to not have any morning classes so that I could attend all three different events!
          The keynote speaker of Journalism Day 2013 was Geoff Boucher (pronounced Boo-shay), a senior writer at Entertainment Weekly. Prior to getting this job, he worked for the LA Times for 21 years, starting with an internship he landed as a junior. Some of his most famous work include an LA Times blog he started, titled “Hero Complex,” and the Entertainment Weekly version, “CapeTown.”
          His talk was absolutely incredible and insightful and the audience was laughing the whole time. He was relatable and practical, and so very honest and open. It was so great to listen about the road he’s taken to get where he is now, which he vividly illustrated with his different stories, including a 4 a.m. heart to heart he had with Mariah Carey, connections he made with Bruce Springstein, and adventures with politics and crime scenes. He left the event relatively early so he could head back to Hollywood for a film festival.
          I loved the way he spoke of writing as a craft, an art, a process - one that we spend our entire lives improving on. He reminded us to be open and ready to adapt, especially with the ever-changing industry and technology that surrounds us.

          There were two other events that took place afterwards - I’ll get to those later - but wow, was Boucher’s talk amazing. Journalism Day definitely reminded me of the conventions I was lucky to attend while I was still in high school. I’m so blessed to have been able to listen to some really great and inspiring writers out there (like Lisa and Laura Ling!!!!!!!!) and I am just so eager to gain more knowledge from these journalism and mass communications veterans. I can’t wait for other insightful people I will come across in my future.
          Now it’s time for me to transcribe three hours of recorded audio on my phone (transcribing interviews is probably my least favorite part because it’s so painstaking and takes forever) and the notes I took during the follow-up interviews. Then I shall  get to work on writing three different articles on the events that took place today. But first, perhaps a nap - today’s immense consumption of journalism insight and knowledge has definitely worn me out.

          In the last few days, New Zealand and France became the 13th and 14th countries to legalize gay marriage, respectively. My home country, South Africa, legalized it in 2006, becoming the first African country to do so.
          Although it was a positive move, it doesn’t mean that South Africa is progressive enough for gay people to live their lives entirely without fear. As in many of the countries that have made the move to legalize gay marriage, the decision was met with a good deal of criticism: Internet forums were splashed with derogatory comments, sermons and prayer groups were devoted to seeing the law revoked, and gay people were persecuted as much as, if not more than, ever before. In 2008, Eudy Simelane, a player in the national female soccer team, was a victim of “corrective rape” (a phenomenon in which lesbian women are gang-raped in order to be “cured” of their homosexuality) and murder. And last week, police cautioned against a serial killer who may be targeting gay men in Johannesburg — with some people lauding the killer a “hero.”
          This is partially why I follow the U.S. debate surrounding gay marriage with some interest. It’s not because I’m gay but because I can’t understand why there is so much straight hysteria surrounding the subject, with radicals blaming everything from Hurricane Sandy to the Boston Marathon bombing on Obama’s support of gay marriage. “This is just the start,” one man wrote on Facebook. “Who knows what will happen when the laws are actually passed?”
          You know what will happen, right? It happened to South Africa, and it will happen to you.
          Ready?
          Wait for it…
          A bunch of gay people will get married!
          They will do so the same way straight couples have been doing for years: Privately, with their friends and family, without you ever having to know about it.
          It’s what has happened in South Africa. Gay people got married. The girl who came in third onIdols, the South African version ofAmerican Idol, got married. Two men got married in a traditional African ceremony, wearing animal skins and killing an ox so that their ancestors could bless their union. An avid rugby player I went to high school with got married to his partner, whom he met while traveling. A friend of mine from college is thinking of proposing to her longtime girlfriend. Gay people got married, and some got divorced, and some are living right across the road — and my life has gone on as usual.
          I understand the religious fears. I’ve heard the argument that the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah were “homosexual cities,” and that God decided to firmly and mercilessly “smite” them with fire. Therefore, by “endorsing” gay marriage or homosexuality, we open ourselves up to fire and damnation — a sort of condemnation by association scenario, I’m assuming. Well, that hasn’t happened over here yet. Seven years on, and the whole gay marriage thing is still as mundane as straight marriage. It hasn’t shaken the foundations of society, and there is no sign of fire raining down from the sky.
          In other words, legalizing gay marriage will not make it easier to be a gay man, woman or couple. It’s still a struggle, and a scandal, in many communities. My own friends who have come out have had a long, painful battle for acceptance. Some were able to open up to their parents in high school, some cracked under the pressure of bullying, and some are still grappling with the very idea of being “different” in their 30s. Some haven’t spoken to their families in years. Some entered disastrous marriages with the opposite sex in order to “fit in.”
          Thus, legalizing gay marriage has not changed the landscape of South Africa in any way, shape or form. The only effect it has had has been on gay people themselves, and on a deeply personal level. It also won’t make it any harder for you to be a straight man or woman, or to raise your children with your values. It won’t change your life — and it might not even change the lives of gay people.
You might therefore wonder why gay people would want the right to get married if it won’t change anything. I’ve lived in the pre- and post-apartheid South Africa. I’ve seen people who didn’t have the right to vote before 1994 go to the polls, year after year, and go home to the same shacks, in the same ill-protected, under-serviced slums, working the same jobs and going to the same subpar hospitals. Perhaps on the surface little has changed for that individual, but the right to vote has meant everything, even if it simply means that there is hope that things will improve for them in the future.
          Living with someone for years, knowing them intimately and yet having to do so without being seen as that person’s legitimate, legal partner, and without being able to make important legal decisions with and for that loved one, is dehumanizing in the same way that denying someone the right to vote for who will govern them or access to an education in their home language.
           Legalizing gay marriage did not flip a magical switch that made our society more tolerant, but it was a very real gesture, a move in a direction where all people, no matter their sexual orientation, will be accepted for who they are, along with those whom they love.

         The Huffington Post’s stories are my favorite to read,  especially when stories with headlines such as this catch my eye. I loved this article, very well-written and I think it gets the point across so well.
          (Now if only my articles regarding this issue could make a difference too - or at least matter to someone other than myself - that would be awesome.)

          Guess who got the VIP upgrade to meet Darren Criss? (And guess who’s sobbing about it?)          I was in bed by midnight last night because I was terrified I wouldn’t be awake by 10 a.m. PST. I made sure all the concert tabs were open on my browser before shutting my laptop off and left my debit card on my keyboard.          It turns out that I didn’t have to worry because I ended up waking up at 4:45… and I refused to go to sleep because I was scared I wouldn’t wake up again in the case that I went back to sleep. So I just stayed in bed until 6:15, when I went downstairs to the lobby to avoid bothering my roommate.           Getting these tickets was extremely stressful and we even crashed the site (it’s the hunger games out there!), but in the end, WE PREVAILED. WE OBTAINED THE TICKETS. Who’s meeting Darren Criss? Gagan, Danielle, and Justine are! AFTER they see him perform live as Darren (and not as Blaine from ‘Glee’). Emotional performance of Teenage Dream? Please.          Gagan has yet to get the general admission tickets for us later when they go on sale at 10 a.m. and while I’m in dance learning our final routine. So of course a part of me is still waiting to completely lose myself in celebration.          But for now, I am really happy. AHHHH THIS IS SO AMAZING, I JUST WANT TO HUG DARREN AND TELL HIM HOW MUCH I LOVE HIM AND WHAT A GREAT INSPIRATION HE IS TO ME… and now I’ll have the opportunity to do that. Oh. my. god.          I’m in such a good mood and I don’t even care that I can’t go back to sleep because I have to get ready for class. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Sometimes Wednesdays can be amazing.

          Guess who got the VIP upgrade to meet Darren Criss? (And guess who’s sobbing about it?)
          I was in bed by midnight last night because I was terrified I wouldn’t be awake by 10 a.m. PST. I made sure all the concert tabs were open on my browser before shutting my laptop off and left my debit card on my keyboard.
          It turns out that I didn’t have to worry because I ended up waking up at 4:45… and I refused to go to sleep because I was scared I wouldn’t wake up again in the case that I went back to sleep. So I just stayed in bed until 6:15, when I went downstairs to the lobby to avoid bothering my roommate.
           Getting these tickets was extremely stressful and we even crashed the site (it’s the hunger games out there!), but in the end, WE PREVAILED. WE OBTAINED THE TICKETS. Who’s meeting Darren Criss? Gagan, Danielle, and Justine are! AFTER they see him perform live as Darren (and not as Blaine from ‘Glee’). Emotional performance of Teenage Dream? Please.
          Gagan has yet to get the general admission tickets for us later when they go on sale at 10 a.m. and while I’m in dance learning our final routine. So of course a part of me is still waiting to completely lose myself in celebration.
          But for now, I am really happy. AHHHH THIS IS SO AMAZING, I JUST WANT TO HUG DARREN AND TELL HIM HOW MUCH I LOVE HIM AND WHAT A GREAT INSPIRATION HE IS TO ME… and now I’ll have the opportunity to do that. Oh. my. god.
          I’m in such a good mood and I don’t even care that I can’t go back to sleep because I have to get ready for class. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Sometimes Wednesdays can be amazing.

          After months of debates and protests, France has officially legalized same-sex marriage with a 331-225 vote. This occurred just days after New Zealand voted on marriage equality too.
          As of now, there are 14 nations where same-sex marriage is legal. And my fingers are crossed that the United States will soon join that cluster of accepting countries.

*Gosh, I’ve been watching the French marriage debate pretty closely and I’m more than excited that the bill passed! :)