C is for Coffee

My brain hasn’t taken a break since 8 am today. Even if it’s tried.

I blame it on the caramel macchiato that I started my day with. I haven’t been so relieved to find a Starbucks open on a weekend in an office building. I was running low on sleep, after a busy week and I did something out of character: kickstarted my day with a generous helping of iced coffee.

Har har har. Joke’s on you girl because twelve hours later your brain is still raring to go, but at the same time, blindly seeking the likings of a pause button. Or a break pedal. Or an open field with wild flowers to run my energy off, and cold, soft grass on which to crumple with relief.

Let’s just say I don’t do coffee. In the past it has, for me, only resulted in heart palpitations, feelings similar to that of a panic attack, or lost hours of sleep. I love everything coffee flavored. I love everything coffee scented. It’s coffee that I can quite manage in heavy proportions. Even if it’s poured over ice and drowned in milk. Heck, I can get an energy kick out of a bead of chocolate. Or a drizzle of caramel. Or a glass of water. Or a smile. Seriously.

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Thus, even if I want le brain to stop. It just keeps going.

Which was probably a great thing today. Saturday was non-profit work day! 🙂

From 2006 to 2008, I studied at an incredible school called  the United World College Costa Rica. Those two years changed me. Changed my life. UWC makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. The network is global, as each campus has about 200 students each year, representing more than 100 countries. The exciting part is that the real UWC experience happens after graduation. I have not stopped being surprised with how the movement continues to challenge me, as well as open doors. Not to mention, some of the most interesting and talented people I know, I’ve met through UWC, even in the years since graduation.

Today I worked with the UWC Philippines National Committee, helping facilitate the selection of two new young scholars to be sent out to international campuses. What an exciting process! This being my first year home since I was selected myself, I loved meeting the candidates and connecting with other members of our committee. I helped facilitate round table discussions on loaded debate topics while the formal interviews went on. I had so much fun (especially since I purposefully played devil’s advocate) that I would love to organize conversations like this just for the pure joy of the experience. Conversations like this were a norm at UWC, often without prompting. Would you give cash to the poor to reduce poverty? Should prostitution be legalized? Is bribery sometimes acceptable? Should developing nations place restrictions on rural-urban migration? 

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The second highlight of my day, which took the late afternoon and early evening, was meeting with the Board of Directors of my non-profit organization, the Buhay Makulay Children’s Project. It’s been a long time coming, and I finally had this key meeting. And just like my brain has been foreshadowing all day, I am now raring to go. Might I remind you that I moved back home because I wanted to focus on Buhay Makulay? Wait and see, wait and see. And pray for me. Big changes are brewing, and you can be a part of this story too.

In the meantime, hydrate.

More soon,



Waking Up, Watching Honey Drip

I tried out a different branch of my usual coffee shop this morning, where the barista who served me my extra cup of water asked if my name was Emily. She was inspired to ask because of my large earring, cut out of an old license plate, boasting the letter E. She later remembered my name when I returned to the counter to order my favorite mint tea, where the other barista asked if I wanted honey in my tea. I watched as he squeezed the packets into the cup, thankful for the thoughtfulness, but a little resentful that he took away one of my favorite pre-tea-drinking rituals. Pouring honey into the hot, colored beverage.

I love watching honey drip. Especially into a steaming cup of tea. The thick glazed rope, twisting heavily into a thinner thread, coiling and applying itself in the heated liquid, poured out of a larger glob of sweetness. With the wooden stirrer, I like to harvest all the stubborn honey that won’t freely drip at the end of the open packet.

Today is Friday, and I begin it much like I did my Monday. Sitting at coffee shop by the window, a steeping cup of mint tea before me. I got an early start to my morning, both on Monday and today. I guess you could think of it as an early start to my week. On Monday, my eyes didn’t fully open until the first sip hit my lips. Thanks to the heavy rain, I had missed my usual Sunday morning tea time at the nook I frequent – an important time that I set aside to reset, to journal, to catch up with my self between weeks. There and then I like to read poetry, passages from the Bible, and sit in peace.


Monday morning tea and planning.

On Monday morning, I think the universe was trying to console me, in some odd way repay me for rising so early. (Interestingly enough, it set the early tone for the week, since I’ve been awake before six am almost every day this week.) I sat at the corner of the shop, on a high chair looking out onto the street. First the sun woke me up with a brightness that it had failed to share in the previous days. My nose produced its usual beads of sweat in response. But the sun soon cooled off, as if it had just wanted a moment with me, obnoxiously trying to grab my attention. It was the sun’s version of a wave.

Minutes later, I watched a dog cross the street. It was the cutest thing, a caramel brown dog tottering across the city road. You would’ve thought he was just another citizen of the city, on its way to work, walking right on the crosswalk when the pedestrian light flashed green.

Later on, a large vehicle was paused at the curb, waiting for his signal to turn. On the lap of the front seat passenger sat an adorable little girl who waved at me and smiled without stopping. She had the most infectious smile and wouldn’t take her eyes off me or look away. I waved back. She continued to watch me, and I her from the brim of my paper cup, still steaming mint. Before they finally drove off, she gave one last shy wave goodbye. Or hello.

And just those little things, as I sat in a coffeshop, made my morning good. Today feels like another good morning, as I wait for the tea to steep. Dad and I just had breakfast and he’s already left for court. I am left here still giggling every time I look at this shot I stole of him telling stories of workers suing their bosses. Oh lawyerly humor!