The One With The Downward Spiral

Captain’s log Day: 129

“Welcome to Barcelona”, they said; when I told them that I walked out of the metro station and found that my bag was open and I was missing a phone (the company phone, of all things!).

Who knew that having my phone stolen would have opened up a can of worms for me in terms of feelings that I didn’t even know I have been keeping bottled up inside me since I got here.

I’m alone. I’ve always called it “I’m by myself.” Not alone, because the word “alone” has always had a negative connotation to it that I didn’t like. Yeah, I didn’t have my friends and my family with me here right now; but I was ok with that. Was being the operative word here. When I first found out that I lost my phone, the first thing I did was to call a friend of mine who I was with on the metro (I had another phone). I just needed to say it out loud. But I couldn’t tell him that I was actually crying about it, or that the incident made me feel scared and vulnerable and that it made me start thinking about several worse things that can happen to me here.  And for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to call any of my friends or family back home because I want them to think that I’m ok. Because I’ve seemingly pushed away a couple of them for wanting to be 100% present in where I am. Because I’m avoiding. Because I’m evading. Like I always do. And by calling any of them, I know I’ll be forced to deal with other things that I’ve pushed back for the longest time when all I want to do is cry about the missing phone and all of the feelings it brought with it.

Because I didn’t feel safe. I felt vulnerable. It made me realize that more terrible things can happen and I will have to deal with all of them by myself now. No more condos in Makati to run away to when things are home are overwhelming me, or best friends to call at 6 am when I can’t sleep because life has been uncooperative again, or impromptu weekend drives to clear my head because decisions have been made and I’m not 100% comfortable with them. No more. Now, when shit hits the fan, I have to clean them up on my own.

Maybe that’s part of growing up. And all these things, they’re just growing pains. But they’re still pains. And there was a hurt in my heart that I guess I should start calling — loneliness. And I guess I’m going to feel that way for awhile. Because that’s how I deal with things. I put up walls and refuse to acknowledge the fact that sometimes I need help. And I know I can always change that — but I don’t know how. And I’m not even sure if I want to.

I’m just rambling. Like I said. Stolen phone turned out to be the straw that broke this camel’s back. Feelings and things — they’re out the bag now. I’m not sure how to deal with them still. But they’re out. I can either stuff them back in again or face them head on. I haven’t decided yet. For now, I’m just acknowledging. And it looks like I’m still running away from them. My pace is slower now — hence it managed to catch up with me. But I’m still running. Maybe I’ll stop. Maybe. I’ll let you know once I’ve figured out what to do.

But right now, I will admit that I’m not ok. And that’s how far I will go in terms of whatever this is.


The One With The Captain’s Log

Day 57:

I’ve moved in to a nice flat in Gracia, near Joanic station — near Plaça del Sol. The first time I realized that, I shook my head and said to myself, “Oh the irony. Of all places”. But I love my apartment. With the original Catalan flooring — a different design for every room. My small balcony and the fake plants. The guy who lives next door owns the Donner Kebab place downstairs and he says hello and asks about how I’m doing everytime I stop by to buy “too lazy to do anything else but chew” dinner. The guy who works in the supermarket across the street that’s open on Sundays, has started to make fun of me for buying Cervesa all the time. The old man who owns the Xarcuterria also across the street, knows which bottle of Cava I want to buy exactly and has stopped asking for what I want whenever I walk into the store. He just smiles at me now and greets me with an enthusiastic “Hola” whenever I see him on the street.

I cook now. Every once in a while. When I can’t be bothered to go out for dinner with the handful of friends I’ve made here so far or when I’m tired of tapas and “something else” is too far a walk for me at 10pm on a week night. Everything’s good if you wash it down with a glass of Cava. I’m starting to get used to having lunch at 2pm and dinner at 10.

The weather is great. People here have been complaining that it was too hot; especially a month ago. I came from an almost 40degree no wind summer in Manila before I flew here. This is heaven. And as September is approaching, the sun is starting to set a little bit earlier everyday, and the wind keeps blowing cooler wind up my skirt more and more. I’d say, every day is a lovely day for walking. So I do. 5km from work to my flat. I’m starting to measure things in the metric system now.

Last night, post-post beer Fridays at the office, I was hanging out at my balcony with one of the guys from work. And I got to talk about my work feelings. My frustration so far, the things that I’m afraid of, etc. And it felt good to talk about it. Coz 57 days later, I still feel like I’m sinking. But at least no longer drowning. I’m starting to kick harder to keep my head above the water. I made a friend last night. I feel. And these days, friends are rare. So when they happen, it’s like Christmas day.

I’m ok, by the way. Really, I am. And I’m not just saying that.

The One With The Apocalypse Survival Guide

I just watched the movie, San Andreas. It’s pretty crappy but I’ve learned to lower my expectations when watching movies in exchange for entertainment that does not require brain cells activity. So I highly enjoyed San Andreas despite the many continuity issues, and loopholes. Plus points for having Kylie Minogue, Ioan Gruffud, and Paul Giamatti on the cast list. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, as usual, was a good fit for the movie (acting skills may be lacking, but you have to admit that the guy’s pretty charming).

The movie’s got pretty good timing too, with the recent earthquakes in Nepal that pretty much crippled the country still hot in the news. I think the entire world just became conscious of their local fault lines. In my network, an article about the West Valley Fault line has been passed around too since it’s pretty much due to be activated. Nearly everybody I know lives directly on top of the fault line or pretty near it. Our house is less than 5km away from the fault line. It’s a ticking time bomb, and we’re all just holding our breaths waiting for it to go off.

Manila (and pretty much the entire country) is not disaster friendly. You would think that after all of the super typhoons that hit us within the last decade and caused so much damage (and grief) for the nation, the country would have a pretty good disaster plan in place by now. If we don’t have a disaster plan for something that occurs regularly like a typhoon, I’m betting my right kidney that we don’t have anything in place either for something that rarely happens like an earthquake.

Facts: we have unstable power lines, a lot of our high rise buildings are not earthquake ready, and our rescue response teams are ill-equipped and low on manpower. We’re pretty much screwed.

Obviously, the movie stirred my more realistic fears. I’m already anxious about the rainy season because of all of the typhoons that it’ll bring. And typhoons = major flooding that can rival the flood that Noah and his giant ark faced. Now, I’m about to have a panic attack about a possible major earthquake that’s due to happen c/o the West Valley Fault line.

I’ve realized that I have a Zombie Apocalypse plan in place (not kidding) but nothing that could be useful for an actual, more likely to happen, disaster — like an earthquake. There used to be an email that went around awhile back about the “Triangle of Life.” Supposedly, it’s the ideal earthquake survival guide. Some experts have debunked the tip, but the guy who made the survival guide had other tips that are still useful and could keep us alive: like avoiding the stairs. So be careful of what you read and follow. They did mention “The Triangle of Life” in the movie, San Andreas, but the crowd scoffed at it. One of the many faults of the movie, I think. People are impressionable, Hollywood! Be careful of what you teach people!

I should come up with an earthquake disaster plan for our household. In fact, I already know what item #1 on my list would be. Have Dwayne “The Rock” Johson on speed dial so he can save your ass.

Have Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson on speed dial so he can save your ass.

Have Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on speed dial so he can save your ass.


Tldr; San Andreas the movie was fun to watch barring good taste, but it got me pretty spooked. Now I’m starting to have the beginnings of a panic attack over an earthquake that may or may not happen. Also The Rock was kick ass, as usual.



I wonder if the city I’m moving to is earth quake friendly…

The One With The Girl Who Taught Me How To Dance

I used to hate dancing. I have 40 left feet and I have moves like Jagger’s grandmother. The most that I can do is bob my head and raise my pointer finger to the roof — awkwardly. Last year in Barcelona, one of my friends took me to a Salsa party. His teacher asked me to dance, one of his classmates asked me to dance, but I stayed glued to my seat. I regret it to this day.

Well things changed when I went to Ho Chi Minh City for work last year. On our first night, one of our companions booked a Vespa Food Tour. We were grouped with 3 other people: an older gentleman (I think he’s German, I’m not sure), a Vietnamese dude who’s come home from being away for so long, and a girl from Hong Kong with tattoo sleeves and the perfect cat eye liner. During the tour, I managed to become friends with the girl from Hong Kong. Her name’s Wolf. The German dude gave us a tobacco each so we smoked that the entire night. She taught me how to smoke a proper cigar. She also convinced me to hang out after the tour. So we did.

Apparently roof top bar parties were a huge thing in HCMC at that time. So we went to a really popular one — the one with a MANGO event going on. While people were swagged up and dressed to impress (or hardly dressed at all), we were in our shirts and shorts. Wolf took off her jacket so at least she was wearing a tank top. I just folded my shorts 2 more cuffs so it was super short. We blended in perfectly.

She told me about herself. She even told me really personal things. Like the guy she slept with the night before who she sleeps with everytime she’s in HCMC. How high she got that same night. Who she buys her pot from in the city – he delivers to her hotel. She bought us the first rounds. I bought the second. And many rounds later, we were drunk, and talking about all of the stupid boys we’ve fallen in love with.

She wasn’t shy. She spotted a cute guy and decided to buy him a drink. Two drinks. She disappeared for a few minutes to talk to the dude then came back declaring him to be cute but kind of dumb. “All brawn, no brain,” she said. Then a music she liked started to play. And she danced. The way she danced, you can’t help but just watch. She was by no means a great dancer. She was all arms and head. But she didn’t care. She had her eyes closed and she was singing along to the song — but only to the parts she knew. And she laughed. She was laughing the entire time. She wasn’t laughing coz she thought she looked funny. I guess she laughed because she was just having such a great time and she didn’t care about anything else.

I wanted to join in on the fun. I wanted to be part of that private party she was having in her head in the middle of all the people we didn’t know. “C’mon Kax. Stop giving a fuck.” I remember she told me when she saw me nervously swaying my hips to the music and looking around to check if there were people making fun of my awkwardness (there wasn’t). I laughed nervously at that. There are a lot of things I don’t care about, but looking like a train wreck while dancing wasn’t one of it. She told me to get out of my head. So I did. And went into hers — where it was more fun and where other people didn’t matter.

That night was the first time I danced in a club and actually liked it (not even caring that the music playing gave me a migraine). We ordered more beers and shots. The drinks were expensive but we stopped counting. We ran out of cash and it was time to go home.

She wasn’t on Facebook. She told me. So she gave me her number instead. She flew back to HK the day after and I went to work. The last time I was in HK I wanted to get in touch with her to see if she wanted to get a drink. I lost her number though. But out of all the people I’ve met during my travels, she was my favourite. She taught me to be more comfortable and confident. She taught me to not give a fuck and just have fun. And somehow, she taught me to just go out and give things a go.

I love dancing now. I still can’t dance for shit but I’ve stopped caring. If the music is good, I’ll dance to it. If I need to get out of my head, I’ll dance it off. I probably still look like I need some oiling in my joints but now I’ll dance anywhere. In the club. In grocery aisles and parking lots too. And when I start feeling stupid, I’ll just remember Wolf and how it was fun to be in her head for a while.


The One With The Checklist

A friend told me yesterday that I’m too pre-occupied with the next item on my checklist that I’ve completely forgotten to enjoy the item I’ve recently ticked off. She can’t be any more correct.

I’m too overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to make the next thing happen that I’ve overlooked the many important things I’ve accomplished lately. I found a great job in a great city. That’s 2 things I’ve managed to get done: Find my dream job and live outside of Manila. And I did all that without even breaking a sweat (well I did sweat. buckets even. during my job interview). So I got to bask in that for now. Before moving on to the next thing that I have to do.

So I will. Other people could only dream about what I’m about to do. I’m flying out in less than a month. Everything is awesome.

I’ll worry about the next item on my checklist once I get there — now if only I can convince myself to follow through.