STEM Sistahs in the Snow: Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe! From left: Stephanie, Ashley (Bday girl), Teionna, Jackie, & Jainee

For today’s #travelthrowbackthursday, we are featuring my main crew at San Francisco State #gogators. These intelligent, beautiful, and fun Black women recently went to Lake Tahoe and frolicked in the snow high up in the Sierra Nevada mountains bordering California and Nevada. They actually came with a big group and rented a big cabin to celebrate Ashley’s dirty 30 birthday! To top it all off, Ashley’s aunt came and cooked for this big cabin all weekend long!

Ashley is a genetic counselor in the SF/Bay Area. She went with her husband, Randy, a math educator who somehow found the time to organize this fun-filled weekend! And of course, friends and relatives filled up the whole cabin. I met Ashley and the rest of the crew while we were in a STEM pipeline program in college. Her cousin Stephanie and best friend Teionna are now both public health microbiologists in the Bay Area. Our other homegirl, Jainee, is currently a Ph.D student in Microbiology at University of California, Davis (it’s near Sacramento, the capital of California). They are all living it up in the professional world, yet they find the time to enjoy life’s precious moments!

In the photo above, you see the fantastic four with another one of Ashley’s best friends, Jackie! In the photo below, you find more of Ashley’s family and friends, including the handsome Stefon! Catch some snow up in the Sierra’s before it’s all gone!

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Natas Pastries in Sherman Oaks


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Tai’s baked salmon

So far this year, I have to say that my favorite restaurant in L.A. is Natas Pastries, a Portuguese restaurant in Sherman Oaks in the San Fernando Valley AKA The Valley–yes, that valley that pop culture associates with so-called Valley Girls some decades ago. Needless to say, I usually do not venture out to the Valley that much, especially with the million distractions where I live right in central L.A. surrounded by the neighborhoods of Downtown AKA DTLA, Koreatown AKA Ktown, Hollywood, Silverlake, and Mid-City. However, as part of my local birthday celebrations (yes, on top of the Vegas shenanigans), Tai surprised me by taking me here one chilly winter Sunday evening via the northbound 101 freeway. After she drove through and past the Hollywood freeway, I felt clueless about where we were going since I have limited knowledge of the territory beyond Universal Studios in North Hollywood. She parked in a residential street and we then walked over a few blocks to Ventura Blvd. and Fulton Ave. in Sherman Oaks. Once we made our way to the entrance of Natas, I became instantly excited since I love Portuguese food! Continue reading Natas Pastries in Sherman Oaks

Artivism in Dakar, Senegal

AeroSoul’s Refa1 with a local artist at Festigraff International Spraycan artist gathering in Dakar, Senegal last year.

This week’s #travelthrowbackthursday #ttbt comes from Oakland’s favorite son, Refa1 . We randomly met at an activist party called The Bay Area Leftist Lounge at The Noodle Factory in West Oakland, California about a decade ago–then, we held a spontaneous tailgate party outside this event a la “a party within a party” style LOL! Since I was not from the Bay Area, at the time, little did I know how influential Refa1 is: apparently, he’s a pillar in the local HipHop culture movement. I recognized that after our meeting and followed his art-ivist work ever since. Continue reading Artivism in Dakar, Senegal

Fat Tuesday Abroad!


All this week, the world has been celebrating Lunar New Year, Fat Tuesday, Galentine’s Day, and Valentine’s Day! For this week’s #travelthrowbackthursday #ttbt, we feature some snapshots of my friends’ fond Fat Tuesday memories in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain)!

Monique in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


My friend Monique grew up in Rio de Janeiro and then later in Queens, New York City. She is now an educator in the Bronx. In the 2009 photo above, she had just bought this costume for Carnival at the Beija-flor school of samba, which is located in the Nilopolis community where she grew up in Rio. Continue reading Fat Tuesday Abroad!

Bike Tour: LA to Tijuana

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Zumi & Apollo’s chicken katsu curry (cutlet)

Last week, the homies Zumi and Apollo invited me over for dinner after returning from their bike tour from L.A. to Tijuana with the local collective, L.A. Rooted. When I say bike tour, I meant they rode their bikes from L.A. all the way down and across the border of Mexico to Tijuana–all in their two-wheeled machines–over the course of a few days! By car, it would take only about two hours to drive 140 miles, but on bicycles powered by human muscles, sweat, and sheer stamina, this seems like a daunting task. Continue reading Bike Tour: LA to Tijuana