The One With The Ways To Make Life More Interesting

I am both bored and have become absolutely boring.

This is my normal week:

Monday-Friday: Wake up in panic because I’m late for work – Work for the next 8-9 hours – Walk home and try not to buy anything useless while on my usual route (fail miserably) – Figure dinner out(Cook? Leftovers from the previous night? Takeout? Is there a friend who will rescue me from this decision-making exercise and just drag me out to have dinner, instead? Yogurt? Ooh! A banana!) – Stare at the ceiling until I fall asleep.

Friday-Sunday: Drink until I give up – Wake up with a hangover – Spend the rest of the weekend in bed hating myself for my bad decision making skills – Maybe hit the beach and nurse my hangover there while I bake under the sun.

Repeat. Every once in a while, chores happen: like grocery shopping, laundry, vacuuming.

My go-to, honest-to-goodness answer to the question “What are your plans this weekend?”: LAUNDRY OR NETFLIX. And it’s almost always true.

The most exciting thing I have on my calendar all week:

The most exciting thing I have on my calendar all week:

A photo posted by K (@kalatkid) on


When I get asked “What are you into?” The answer is BEER (because I’m trying to be funny and also because it’s true).

I AM BORED AND BORING and it’s making me dark and stormy.

Which is making me want to pull my hair out because I didn’t use to be like this. I used to do a lot of things! I went to BINGO on weekends (like a proper Tita). I went out for long drives with the windows down and Katy Perry on the radio. I made friendship bracelets because those things are not just for 12 year olds! I kicked ass at Monopoly. I consumed books weekly and I used to harbor dreams that I will write the next Kafka on the Shore when I’m 40. I pretended to go to the gym and I tried to learn new languages because somebody said once that learning new languages and exercise can help make you smarter. I constantly tried to be smarter. I flew out regularly to try to see more of the world!

And now? Aside from work – it’s been MEH. Productivity and learning has gone down the drain. Personal improvement? What’s that? 

So along comes August with the promise of a lot of alone time that comes along with having most of my friends flying out of the city for vacation and me stuck here. So I decided to put my foot and my forkful of fried rice down and shake my fist at my boredom! Enough is enough! It’s time to get off my ass and make life exciting (or at the very least, less boring than it is now) and productive (that is the hope) and conducive to positive energy (because I read The Secret and while it sounds all mumbo jumbo — I don’t see anything wrong in having positive-energy-influenced life).

And that super long introduction was just to set the tone while I segue into my real topic here: My August Challenge! 

So I made a list (to make it look more serious and official-y) of things that I want to accomplish by end of the month. It’s a pretty abstract list so the solutions can be a bit more experimental (like the true PM that I am *cough*). And of course, I’m sharing that list with you, dear readers (of which I have 0). As well as the things I’ve tried so far or am trying now to accomplish My August Challenge (insert drum roll please).

1. Do something that makes me feel uncomfortable

A lot of things make me feel uncomfortable. Talking to people makes me feel uncomfortable. Everytime I step out of my apartment, I’m flung out of my comfort zone. So this one should be easy right? Well choosing the right “uncomfortable thing” isn’t so easy when there’s a lot to choose from. But steps have been taken. I’ve finally said “yes” to a friend of mine who has been asking me for the longest time to try out “Swing-dance”. Going to a free class before the end of the month is definitely on my to-do list now.

2. Make healthier choices 

So I’m not going to quit smoking or drinking anytime soon, I’m sorry to say (but that’s in my longer-term to do list). But I shouldn’t compliment my already horrible choices in health with 7 nights/week takeout food, 0 exercise, and not getting any sunlight. I’m not too keen on increasing the already high probability of cancer or heart attack at 40.

So far, I’m doing pretty well in this, to my surprise and to my mother’s delight. I’ve signed up for Muay Thai Classes. I’ve only been to one class but 1 is better than none. I’m starting to walk home again (all 5km of it). I’ve been cooking more times a week and I try to reserve my eating out cards for the weekends. More sleep is also being clocked in (although 2am-9am is not exactly conducive to making it to work on time so I need to work more on that). And I’m slowly (very very very slowly) starting to give up dairy. Hey-yo! Self-five!

3. Have a creative outlet

I am a very emotional person (hohoho!) and I feel many feelings all the time. Keeping them all in, nursed with a bottle of wine, a pack of cigarettes, and whatever show/movie I can find on Netflix that will compliment current feelings — I’m almost always reduced to a bawling mess. And crying is only just one side-effect! Knee-jerk reaction when I’m overwhelmed with feelings is to be reclusive, cold, and on rare occasions (I say rare but some friends would say it’s a lot more frequent than I would care to admit) lash out on friends. And obviously, that’s not good.

Talking about shit helps. A lot. That’s why I didn’t have this problem back in Manila. But ever since I moved to Barcelona, I’ve been pretty short on shoulders to cry on. So I figured maybe channeling my feelings into something more creative can help. Not only am I letting things out, I’m also being productive. Big fan of killing many birds with whatever stone is in reach, I am.

So far, I’m also doing pretty well on this. I have started a Doodle-project: which forces me to draw something everyday. It’s quite meditative actually + focusing all of my energy on trying to create something takes away the bad vibes from my head. I’m trying to write more: on paper, here. Brain dump and word vomit clears my head. I’ve found that the practice of putting things into words is equivalent to the physical relief of taking off your bra at the end of a long day = best feeling in the world. Once on paper, I feel like I don’t have to care about these feelings that much anymore. They feel more trivial and less worrying. Well sometimes. 

4. Become smarter

Brain atrophy is real. Also the need to communicate in a different language so I can buy soy sauce is quite urgent. I still believe that my inner genius will appear sooner or later. And that I will become the next Marissa Mayer (sans the Yahoo drama).

So I’ve been reading more. My pile of unread books by my bed is no longer feeling neglected! I’m actually taking my Spanish lessons more seriously now. And since it’s summer and classes are out until September — I’m trying to learn on my own: by watching shows with Spanish subtitles, by reading books in Spanish (very x100 slowly, but I am making progress and I have actually gotten past page 1!), and by writing daily logs in English and translating them to Spanish. My grammar is atrocious and my vocabulary is hardly useable for the real world, but I am not discouraged! Now if I can only get over my anxiety and actually try to have a conversation with real people that go beyond just having answers for questions: Hello, how are you? Where are you from? How long have you been living here? Do you work or study? 

 

5. Make the universe deliver only good things

Idleness is negativity’s playground (I’m sure the saying is very different but it delivers the same message). And so is clutter. When you’re living in an apartment that has empty water bottles lined up along the corridor, clothes on the floor, couch, every chair in the dining area, and the foot of your bed  – and devoid of any signs of life apart from yourself when you can be bothered to crack open the curtains to let some sunshine in, it’s easier to just notice the bad things going on in your life and forget to acknowledge the good stuff (much less just focus on just the good stuff!).

So I’m starting to transform myself into a positive ray of sunshine! Organizing my apartment makes me feel like I’m having a handle on my life. Letting more light into the apartment (both natural and artificial) scares the ghosts away too (both the supernatural and the feelings kind). And spending half an hour to sit down and write down the good things that have happened during the day makes me revert my focus and realize that while there are shitty things that pop up every once in a while, there are more good things to be grateful for. And being grateful makes me a better vessel for more blessings, really (I’m not really sure about the rational behind this but I read this somewhere and I’m just going with it because again, there’s nothing to lose from believing in this).

And to be honest, I think I’m starting to see the effects. Maybe they’re coincidental. Maybe not. Maybe good things are happening in the same amount as they used to and it only feels like there are more because I’m choosing to only focus on them? Maybe. But I’m feeling bright and shiny. And one good thing is happening after another. And that’s all that matters.

Disclaimer: I’m not saying to completely ignore the bad things. For me, that’s impossible. All I’m saying is to acknowledge, learn, and move on. Don’t dwell and wallow for the next 3 weeks and refuse to see anything else. 

So far:

I’m on the 16th day of trying to do all the things I’ve listed above. Just trying to figure out how to complete these challenges is already fun enough. I’ve already learned that while I suck at drawing, I do have the potential to get better. I’ve learned that I’m pretty creative at cooking (hah!) and that I really like punching things. My flat is more or less organized (one room has been transformed into a makeshift walk-in closet while the other has been transformed into a reading space). And that being bright and shiny has more rewards than being dark and stormy. I haven’t been bored since August 1. And I have more answers now for when people ask me what my plans are for the weekend.

But I think the most important result for me is that: Loneliness is starting to become a forgotten feeling. Just starting.

The One About The Many Guides To Win At Life

29 habits you need to break before turning 30

11 things to do in your 20s to become a millionare by 30

10 Life Lessons from the most successful people in the world

10 life lessons for excelling in your 30s

7 easy ways to reduce side fat

They all say the same thing. Save. Invest. Exercise. Go to the doctor. Call your parents. Clean your toilet. Don’t mix your whites with your colours. Get a dog. But they all have something else in common too…

These lists make me feel like I’m crap at life.

I go through these lists and every single time my reaction would be to crawl back into bed, bury myself under the blanket with a pint of ice cream, crying at the failure that I’ve become in my 30s. I’m still trying to figure out how to operate my washing machine!

Meh

A photo posted by K (@kalatkid) on

But I also refuse to believe that I am a complete dud at life. I’ve had accomplishments and most of them are huge (at least they are for me)! So why was I letting some list that Glamour Magazine or WhoWhatWear.com make me feel like my life should be defined by just a list of 10 things? Is life really that simplistic?

While I don’t have 4 streams of income, I haven’t started my own company yet, nor do I go to my doctor/dentist regularly (to be fair, I just moved to a new country and it’s not a walk in the park to find a doctor/dentist who I can trust to not strike the fear of cancer in my heart every visit)… I am not the failure that these lists have started to make me feel. I’ve had my share of accomplishments too!

  • Graduated from University on time despite the fact that I hated all of my classes
  • Have a successful career doing a job that I actually like doing and that I’m continuously learning from
  • Moved out of my parents’ house and became independent
  • Have a good relationship with my family
  • Had really inspiring bosses and tried to be a good boss too
  • Traveled. A lot.
  • Made really amazing friends who have contributed so much to my life and I know that things wouldn’t be as excellent now if I hadn’t met any of them
  • Had relationships and came out a better person from them
  • Took a risk and moved halfway across the world to pursue an opportunity that’s shaping me to become both a better person and a better career woman
  • I can cook and people don’t die after eating them

So I’ve decided to make my own list:

10 things that I THINK have helped me have peace of mind in my 30s.

  1. Be grateful – Make a list of the good things that have happened. Say thank you a lot. Because you can’t lose anything from that. And no matter how shitty the day seems to be, when you make that list, and realize that good things happened too — then that day wasn’t such a failure now, was it? I read somewhere that there was some research done that grateful people are less likely to suffer from loneliness, anxiety, or envy.
  2. Learn how to cook, do the laundry, and iron clothes – I grew up with a househelp. And even when I moved out to my own apartment, I still took my dirty clothes home for the househelp to take care of. That sounds snotty, I know – but trust me, it’s normal in Manila. So when I first moved here in BCN, daily chores were the enemy. But take away food is too expensive and over time I got sick of pizza and stir fried Chinese food. And going to work in wrinkly clothes did not exactly scream professionalism. So I turned my white shirts grey, and some of them have burn marks, and I’ve burned one too many fish that I tried to fry. But eventually I got the hang of it. I’m eating healthier now and I don’t look like a homeless person when I come into work. And it helps with the boredom when the weekend has nothing exciting to offer.
  3. Read. A lot. – Don’t just get stuck in your head. Get stuck in your head while fighting off dragons or putting yourself in Jeff Bezos shoes when he built Amazon. Not only do these random information that you pick up from reading come in handy when you’re stuck in an airport with your boss, they can also offer an escape when the world is becoming too real and real is not what you need at the moment.
  4. Write. Make lists. – The grocery list. Your chores. Ideas. Words that rhyme with blanket. Better names for colors. Places that you want to go to. Because they help you remember the things that matter. And also they make you realize the things that don’t. Also so you don’t end up in the supermarket with a cart load of of chips, chocolates, ice cream only to realize when you get home that you forgot to buy tampons.
  5. Travel. A lot. – Because the world is too big for you to stay in one place. I read that somewhere. And I believe it to be true. And just like with reading: Travel stories come in handy when you’re stuck in an airport with your boss. But seriously, see the world. Smell sights. Taste stories. See experiences. And realize that your reality isn’t the only one that matters.
  6. Keep a plant alive – Having plants at home helps with good feng shui. Keeping them alive though is another story. So far I’ve managed to keep 2 alive (out of the 4 I’ve had). It’s a good feeling knowing that you can be responsible for something living, and that by doing so, you’re contributing to the improvement of the environment. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. And on evenings when the moon is full, and you’re missing people, and feeling insignificant — it’s ok to to talk to plants while you have your evening tea. They are good at keeping secrets.
  7. Call your mother – Regardless of the kind of relationship you have with your mother, that woman only had the best intentions for you and nothing else. Delivery is another story. So call her. Touch base. Tell her about your upcoming trips. Tell her about the new sheets you bought on sale at Ikea. And listen to her when she tells you that hand washing your bras will make them last longer.
  8. Don’t scrimp on the experience –  Having savings is great. It helps you sleep at night knowing that you’re not going to be in shitloads of trouble when an emergency happens. And investing money is also a good idea. But don’t pass on the opportunity to wear that little black dress to have a nice dinner at a restaurant where they change your plates after every dish or have different knives for each course. Go to your favourite band’s concert. Buy yourself a nice bottle of wine. Spend an afternoon at the beach. Go glamping. Because while having money is great, having a well lived life is even better.
  9. Make new friends. And make time for the old ones – This doesn’t really need any explanation, does it?
  10. Big love for the little things – Little things are the fillers for the gaps in your day. The guy in the metro playing La Vie en Rose on his violin. You and your best friend making hippo noises one evening when you couldn’t go out and have nothing else better to do. Finding out that you can eat orange and lemon rinds and that you actually should. Singing Wannabe on top of your lungs while you’re stuck in traffic. The little things provide diversion. The little things are guaranteed to get a smile out of you, and at best, a big laugh. And in this crazy, crazy world — a laugh can cure everything.

While some of these things are present in most of the lists that are being circulated online, I only kept the ones that I think matter and are relevant to me, today. Because today is what matters and tomorrow is abstract.  If I do good, If I constantly try to do good, then things will turn out good. The universe listens.

 

The One With The Updated Captain’s Log

“It was a year of great adventure

… And I suspect that in the months to come, there will be more.”

If I were to summarize the year since I moved here, in just 2 sentences.

A year!

June last year, I was running back and forth government offices, the Spanish embassy, doctor appointments to complete requirements and get permits, and squeezing in seeing friends and family for one last dinner or lunch before I leave. All these in between the packing and selling things I wouldn’t be able to take with me. 30 days seems so long if there’s nothing to look forward to (or dread — depends on how you look at it). But last year, 30 days flew by so fast.

Goodbyes are never easy. In all contexts, and no matter whose decision it was to leave. And last year, I said goodbye to 30 years of my life.

A photo posted by K (@kalatkid) on

 

The last 12 months has been 12 months of extremes. Extreme happiness. Extreme sadness. Extreme anxiety. Extreme loneliness. Extreme excitement. Extreme panic. Extreme hunger. Name it, I’ve probably felt it 10x more than I normally would.

Work.

Work’s been good. Better than I ever expected.

I work with 9 boys (+ 4 more who are plugged into the team doing other functions), and it feels like being a mother sometimes. I think this team is making me want a puppy more than eventually wanting a child. Work is not easy. Far from it. On most days it gives me the same feeling I used to get before going to Calculus class back in University. Fear. Dread. Diarrhea. Mostly because there is an awareness that I am not as good as any of the other PMs here. Compared to these guys, I’m super junior (not the Korean boy band). And my profile no longer fits the profile they’re looking for in their recruitment process. I’m kind of lucky I got here early before they upped their standards — because no way in hell would I pass this current hiring requirement. 

If I asked Susan Miller what the hell is going on and why am I stressed out all the time, she’s going to put a positive spin into this and tell me that Saturn is just in my solar 10th house of honors until December 2017 and Mars is in retrograde and has been in retrograde since forever. Of course I’m not really sure what that means, but I’m just going to take it as now I’m immersed in a really intense Product Managers’ boot camp which is both stressful and rewarding. It’s great, really. I can’t believe I’m working on one of the most important projects in the company right now and the work that I’m doing will be available in all of our marketplaces (that is the ambition, at least). Having a great team that has really good disposition and attitude towards all of the things being thrown our direction is like being in a Wolf Pack. And my alpha is my boss who’s got my back. This is a pretty solid environment that I am glad I am part of.

Sure, there is always drama. And every now and then, the drama gets to me and I go home wanting to punch things (mostly faces) or I wake up in the morning not wanting to leave my bed. But that doesn’t usually last for more than 2 hours. It’s not perfect, is what I’m saying.

If I were to share my feelings about work 6 months ago, I would’ve just burst into tears and ate ice cream in response. The state of my temporary contract and the absence of a boss made me break out into anxiety hives and I had insomnia for weeks. I was also stress eating so I blew up like a balloon. It was horrible 6 months ago. But now things are good. Great, even. “It’s just Saturn doing his work on me, but at the end of the day, I’m going to come out of this a super PM (har!)”  — is what I just choose to think everytime I feel like I am going to pass out from the information overload or from the feeling that I’m stretched into 10M different directions.    

 

  So this is what it feels like to have kids…   A photo posted by K (@kalatkid) on

 

Friends.

Being the socially awkward person that I am, my circle of friends is pretty small. The number of friends I have here, you can count in both hands. The number of REAL friends I have here — you know the kind you’d be comfortable to call in the middle of the night because you need to whine and wine? Or you forgot your keys. Or you’re out of milk. Or…  You get what I mean.  Well that one I can count in a single hand. 1. Well 2, if I count the person who moved back to Zurich. And the one I have left here, while I know I can count on him to pick up his phone, I think I would get butterflies of embarrassment dancing in my stomach first before eventually dialing his number (or well, I have him on speed dial now so that’s a huge step).

It’s not easy to be away from your friends. Specially when you have 1M things you want to dissect with them.

Parking lot conversations with bottles of wine and packs of cigarettes over big life decisions. 6am emergency heart break sessions. And unannounced refrigerator and alcohol stash raids. I took all these things for granted back home. And now that I don’t have them anymore, is a heart break I still quite haven’t moved on from. And I suspect I never will.

But it’s not all that bad really (I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot). I have people I go out on Fridays with to have beer and tapas and gripe about life. People I can drag to walk 26km with me so I can win a bet, or have Ramen for dinner in the middle of the week because I’m having a bad day. People who celebrate my little things and commiserate with me on the shitty ones. These guys have seen me go apeshit about losing my bag or have an anxiety attack because my contract is about to be reviewed. They’ve put away keyboards so they could have 10 minute of fresh air with me (which just means “please stop working I need to rant for 10 minutes. see you downstairs”). They’ve stopped me from punching people in the face because I was having a bad day and they’ve bought rounds of shots for other people to celebrate the fact that I was finally having a great day. And they have spent countless Friday and Saturday evenings dancing to every 90s pop song ever written with me because girls (and boys) just want to have fun. They have certainly made my stay here a lot less lonely than I thought it would be.

It can take awhile for me to be comfortable enough to spill out my guts to the people I’ve made friends with here. I had my entire life to be friends with the people I was friends with back home. Some took 2 years of drinking at Ponti every evening after work, some took all of highschool and some years of college. Most of the people I’m friends here I’ve only known half a year. So I’m not in a rush. The important thing is that I know who I can call if I need a beer on a Monday night because Mondays just generally suck or if I need a couch to crash on because I lost my house keys (again) — both of which have already happened. And maybe a few months from now, I’ll be able to call them in the middle of the night too just crying because I lost a toe nail. Maybe.

 

 

I just wish more of my friends from back home will come and visit me more often. :)

Life

When you grew up with somebody doing laundry for you, you end up not knowing how to operate the washing machine. True story.    

 

Things I am never ever going to be ok with: 1. Mondays 2. Mornings 3. Monday mornings A photo posted by K (@kalatkid) on


I’ve surprised myself a lot of times the past 12 months. From doing the laundry, managing to keep my flat spic and span, to being able to cook a dinner for two without killing the other person! My apartment is decent. My clothes are clean. And my fridge is a fridge my mother would approve of.

I have dead lights in the hallway and in the toilet. My microwave needs some disinfecting. And my extra room houses all of my junk that I don’t want to keep in the living room. I never said I was doing things perfectly. And I fight with my landlord everytime it’s time to pay the electricity bill.

But my point is, I’m managing. I’m trying to keep two plants alive. And I’m paying my bills on time. Budgeting is still a pain in the ass that I haven’t mastered yet — but I manage to survive month to month, and still able to go out for food and drinks and buy myself the occasional dress too. I think, as long as I’m able to sit on my balcony by the end of the day, with a glass of wine (or a cup of tea), look up at the sky and heave a huge sigh of relief for not being homeless— then I think everything’s good.

Now I just need to stop defaulting on calling for pizza for dinner because I’m too lazy to cook.

Feelings

Well the start of the year wasn’t really good for matters of the heart; but as months progressed, that department has undergone some improvements too.

I don’t want to put this into words just yet because I don’t want to jinx it. The important thing is that I think I have the happies. But I will say this:

Cheers to the guy who walked all those Sundays with me when I was trying to win a bet. Who was game to go along with my stupidest plans like Sundays at the zoo. Who made sure I had a great birthday week. Who has my back all the time, even at work. Who’s made it not too dreadful to go to work on Monday. Who lets me talk 100M words a minute. To the guy who’s put an idiotic grin on my face that I can’t seem to wipe off.

I can only hope that I’m giving him the happies too, even just a little.

Heart on my sleeve, My heart is full and he’s my good thing.

 

Margot and Richie breaking hearts since 2001.

A photo posted by K (@kalatkid) on

In Conclusion

I have gained a lot of weight in the past 12 months. I have known what it feels like to be alone… and lonely. And now, I think I’m really independent. I have lost. But at the same time, I think I’ve gained more in return. I have gotten to know myself better than I have the last 30 years – what I can do, what I can’t do, but more importantly that I while I have my limits — I can also surpass them. The past 12 months are easily the best 12 months I’ve ever had because I can say that I’ve really learned these several things:

  1. That it’s ok to be alone
  2. That it’s ok to ask for help
  3. That it’s ok to not know things
  4. Because the figuring out part is the best part
  5. Because while things are difficult, they are most certainly not impossible

So here’s to my first year in Barcelona! I’m pretty sure there will be more.

Mid-talk

A photo posted by K (@kalatkid) on

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.

 

P.S.

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.