Paycheck to Paycheck

Tears trickled down Alicia’s cheeks as she recalled days that she went without food in order to pay her bills. Gently rubbing her eyes, she kept an unbroken smile, and told the story of a “bubbly” girl raised by hardworking Mexican and Tonga Island immigrants who instilled a fervent value in education. Though Alicia is more than $22,000 in credit card debt, she’s confident that she’ll earn her master’s degree, become an established attorney and send her best friend on the vacation of her dreams.

Holding space in Oakland

I’m struggling to understand how to feel after the Ghost Ship fire. Thirty-six people — just like me; just like those I love — died panicked and in pain. How does anyone process that hard truth? I felt guilty for showing deep sadness when I wasn’t personally tied to those who died and I wasn’t sure how to act, what to say or how to be. I can’t imagine what victims’ friends and families are going through. The thought is agonizing. What I came to realize is I didn’t need to understand their pain.

Nine Inch Nails strip it down, wake us up

Eerily setting the mood with a rendition of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks track, “Fireman,” Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor kicked off the night with “Branches/Bones” and lit the crowd on fire. Sullenly shimmying and gripping his mic, Reznor's massive, black silhouette hovered over 50,000 people Oct. 21 at Monster Energy Aftershock Festival in Sacramento. And as each note synched with bursts of bright light, I reveled in a sweet dopamine high.