New spaces

In my house, tables aren’t exactly workspaces. Once you have fully explored and observed the second floor, you will find study desks and wooden surfaces stocked with books, pens, papers, test papers (of my mom’s students), boxes–all kinds of information and crap imaginable resting in supposed work/study/play tables. Laptops are placed on beds or on our bellies on lazy days. In my case, sometimes it rests on my chair. Ever since graduation, I haven’t exactly prioritized my table.

But a few days ago, I decided to clean all the crap out and leave space for the newly acquired things in my life. My book collection has expanded, and so have my notebooks. Thanks to the generosity of three of my favorite people in the world, Sam Modina, my sister, and my boyfriend Benjo, I now have Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter in the Dark (second in the series) and Sieg Larrson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Now I’ve got a wider makeshift bookshelf on my ‘study desk’, along with other Avalon.ph purchases I have yet to read, hee. There’s also an actual writing/typing space, which I shall utilize this 2011 to:

  • Properly go over my daily expenses and future earnings/savings/spendings
  • Write short stories, do writing exercises, and maybe work on an essay I can submit to a contest
As everyone’s facebook and twitter statuses proclaim, 2011 is a year to own. In my case, it’s a year to make space for productivity and room for new stories to start and finish. 
Apart from literary inspirations and aspirations, it’s also the year to get my bake on. So far, I’ve made cookies, red velvet cupcakes, and the classic apple pie.
A gorgeous shot of my red velvet cupcakes c/o Johna. Cream cheese frosting decoration done by my sister.
This year, my parents gifted me with a KitchenAid Electric Mixer. It was literally, all I wanted for Christmas.
I think I love baking as much as writing. Having said that, it’s a lot less frustrating since the products are a lot easier to present to an audience and determine in terms of goodness. I actually feel warm and fuzzy inside when I give out cookies at work and they go “YUM!” That, and I don’t plan on making a living out of this delicious hobby (but I don’t mind doing small orders, of course ;). Thus, more enjoyment and less frustration.
So far, we’ve made Eggnog that two families have enjoyed c/o the electric mixer. Next on my list: peach cobbler, moar apple pie for New Year’s, and carrot cake. I’ve even plotted out the holidays/birthdays where I can bake more cake! 
I’m definitely looking forward to a new year of discoveries, flavors, places, and writers. 😉
 
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My delicious 23rd birthday

December is my favorite time of the year for three reasons: the long vacation, Christmas, and my birthday. Parties are a bitch to schedule but I’ve always had my day free thanks to the holiday fever. I decided to go all out this year, and took a day trip eating my way through Tagaytay. In between digesting all the food, we enjoyed the view along the road and stopped by Chapel on the Hill to say a little prayer. The view there was breathtaking, with the cool breeze calming my usually stressed mind. Up on the mountain with lush mountains and fields below and towards the horizon, I felt an inner piece knowing I have and am blessed: a complete family, a wonderful other half, ever supportive friends, a decent job, food and shelter, and the ability to work and persevere. Life has truly been good to me.

Also, my belly is full and the treadmill is calling. My tastebuds are still hungover from the fantastic menu(s) my family, Benjo, and I feasted on today:

Brunch- Bag of Beans
  1. Breakfast Sampler (Hashbrowns, bacon strips, ham, sausage, pancake)
  2. Shepherd’s Pie
  3. Steak and Mushroom Pie
  4. Cinnamon and Raisin Bread with Jam and Butter
  5. Barako Coffee
Late Lunch- Manos Greek Taverna
  1. Greek Salad
  2. Spanakopita (Spinach pie with Feta Cheese :D)
  3. Moussaka
  4. Two plates of Lamb Shoulder
  5. Baklava (oppa!)
‘Dinner’ – Frutti Tutti
Mango froyo with Peaches and White Chocolate Syrup
After around six hours of digesting all this (and froyo to cap off the night), midnight hunger now calls me. But I shall save that for my second day of being 23 21. Here’s to a new beginning and the ever awesome blessing of knowing the universe and my loved ones always have my back. 

Life, Unexpected

The last month of 2010 has less than two weeks left, and Christmas is just six hours away. I’ve had a blessed holiday season so far. It hasn’t been perfect, as life will always give its share of downs. But last night, after spending an impromptu Christmas dinner with office mates, then shopping for last minute gifts with two good friends, and capping off the night talking to my loved one, I realized the discouragements of the universe are only challenges. The universe has taught me well, insisting I persevere and stay sane simply because there are people in my life who give me reasons to go on.

As the year wraps up and friends and family come together, everyone is also forced to reflect on the year that has past. Along with the ‘Top (insert number here) Best (insert product/idea here)’ lists we’ll be making, there are also personal lists and resolutions to make. I don’t believe in the latter, so I think I’ll stick to a retrospective: events/people/things in 2010 that I never saw coming. Looking back at the joy, laughter, tears, and frustrations of the year, there was so much I did not expect to happen but stuck with and went through anyway. Here goes:

1. Resigning less than year at my first job
– For security’s sake and formality reasons, it’s been advised that one should stay at their job at least a year. Unfortunately, I found reasons not to stick it out any longer simply because my security was compromised. I don’t regret the job itself because I do recall needing the job. Every fresh grad takes the first thing they can get, out of boredom and a lack of stable disposable income. I don’t regret taking it all together, as without it, I wouldn’t have felt independence and started on my savings. Finances aside, it also made me realize I did want to pursue writing for the rest of my life. There has been nothing else and I haven’t looked back.

2. My sister’s accident
– I used to be a firm believer in planning. Not that I’ve turned totally careless, but the life-changing my dear sister went through this year taught me that one small, unexpected moment can change what you’ve planned and prepared for years. You have to be ready; you have to be on guard. There has to be a back up plan. And if you’re not sure about plan B, then you move forward one step at a time. The movements are slow at first (literally and figuratively for my sister), but the road to overcoming challenges becomes easier. And some pretty awesome people will come along to support you through it all. Entropy exists, but as humans, we always find ways to cope and find order in chaos.

3. Moving out temporarily
– In relation to the second event, and other unspeakable (at least online) circumstances, I moved into my lola’s for a while. I got a taste of living up north, which was refreshing and polluting at the same time. Refreshing since it made us three gals closer, and discovered which friends make the effort of contact despite the distance. It was an awakening of sorts, as I found myself outside of my ‘roots’ and comforts in Alabang. At the same time, I got to spend time getting close to two of my new officemates going up north via the MRT. Thus…

4. Meeting more than 2 long-term friends
– I discovered and got to know the wonderful people of my office. I rarely click instantly with a lot of people, but it so happened it didn’t take long before I made some pretty, awesome, crazy friends. They’ve been a total boost of confidence and a booster/stabilizer when things get crazy at the office–which is a huge plus for the unglamorous part of our jobs. (Wait, it isn’t glamorous, at all. Haha)

5. Hoarding dice and playing a swordmage/dwarf/warlord almost every week
– My sister’s accident not only led to new living circumstances and perspectives. We learned several new games, the first being Dungeons and Dragons (then Shadowrun), care of our good friends at My Girlfriend is a DM. One is never too old to roleplay…or rather, play pretend, as the game challenges one to stretch their imagination. It’s a lot more engaging than press and play video/computer games, and it’s lovely to see how the spontaneity of the human condition creates unexpected stories.

6. Booking a flight to a foreign land by myself
– After six months of editing and drooling over travel pieces (and a year before, writing about places I didn’t know or experience), I knew it was high time for me to be out there myself. One Cebu Pacific promo later, and I have a 3-night trip to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) booked for February. Not sure yet if I’ll be travelling alone, but either way, I am more than excited. I can’t wait to soak up and digest the culture of my Southeast Asian neighbor.

7. Three years into a relationship
– Five years ago, if you told the then-me that I would be with a sweet, kind, loyal, smart, cheerful, and prettymucheverythingawesome (I am rarely this cheesy, c’mon. Haha. I make a face at the suggestion to get us matching shirts for Christmas) guy, I’d laugh and think it impossible. But I am, and we’ve been at it for three years. Every Christmas/birthday/year to come is warmer thanks to having him. 🙂

Ctrl C + Ctrl V

We’re only two weeks away from 2010 ending. The end of a decade begins and a new one is soon to unfold. It never ceases to amaze me how quick people, places, and things can change in just two years ago. A simple example would be my parents’ comments on my college friends. We had a FAT Christmas party yesterday at my house, and the first thing they notice about my mates for three to five years? “They’re bigger. Why are they so large?” Yes, we’ve eaten more fat, carbohydrates, and protein, and along with it grew our group and friendship. An awesome feat indeed.

But one thing that grows faster than we can comprehend? Technology. We may not have hoverboards, but in terms of communication and information dissemination, the speed of sending and getting things know is much faster and simpler. The unfortunate downside to quick information and easy access? Laziness.

Every time I talk to a teacher, I always hear stories of blatant plagiarism. Gone is the concept of forming original sentences or rephrasing several sources to make a research paper. We now have CTRL C and CTRL V. Students seem to think teachers won’t Google their sentences, but they do. And so many instances of laziness show up as results.

I can only imagine what it’s like to talk a young student today in high school or college. Have they ever held a hard copy encyclopedia? Have they ever read more than two paragraphs of a textbook? I don’t mean to generalize, but I have worked with young students. Whenever I open up their books, they give me a face and say their notes are shorter or that they can grab the power point online.

Fast information and quick publication has its advantages, but there has to be a way for students to learn patience from actual research. I’m proud to have known and experienced the hours spent reading encyclopedias, rushing through the card catalog back in high school to get a paper done, or simply sitting down and finding the right piece of information. I learned patience and eventually discovered the wonderful AHA! moment, along with that feeling of accomplishing something after hours or days of stitching together pieces of information.

Has patience become such a foreign concept to today’s instant generation? Is there anyway for us to take advantage of the search button, but still teach students that a masterpiece–an A+ or a high school diploma– comes with using your own brain and not the computer’s easy commands?

How being an adult stole Christmas

Once upon a time I was 17. During that time, I told myself I’d never turn into a cynical, ‘unpatriotic’ adult. I promised myself that I would hold on to hope for this country. I promised myself that I would find reasons to smile and not be cynical.

Then I turned 20. Now I’m 22, and in a week, 23. It’s been six years, and I’ve broken that promise. And I come across this realization on the supposed-season-to-be-jolly. But for me (and a few of my dear friends), it isn’t. I want to end the year with a sunny disposition and my best foot forward. I want to choose happiness, but I end up running back to frustration, disappointment, and negativity.

I think I’ll quote some great songs to capture this un-holiday moment:

I’m stuck in a moment I can’t get out of.

I need the dog days to be over.

I think I’m also slowly understanding what Katy Perry meant by feeling like a plastic bag drifting through the wind.


………….

What Else is There?

Women are natural hoarders. As much as we hate to admit it, we have those moments when our boyfriends/dads/brothers/bro-friends scoff or roll their eyes at our ‘unbelievable’ spending habits. It takes a lot of will power for us to resist buying more-than-one of one-kind of thing. Yes, we hate to admit to our shopaholic moments, but how else can one explain the number of women-oriented ads that overpower guy products? We women like to look good and feel good as a result, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Some women collect shoes. Others collect books. And then are those that collect gaming dice. There are also girls who obsess Chucks. Whatever your taste or collection, closets and cabinets are brimming with representations of our personality.

Of course, there comes a point when too much makes hoarding, HOARDING. There are, after all, bills to pay, food we need to eat, and commute expenses that take us to our paying jobs. As much as we tend to be shopaholics, no one wants to end up like Becky Bloomwood.

I’m not quite sure what I’m collecting but so far, my hoarding female habit has filled my table/cabinets/shoe closet with the following:

  1. Gaming dice! I posted a pic in a previous collection, and I got some new ones from My Girlfriend is a DM‘s POLYHEDRAL: Triple Crit Event. I was oh-so-tempted at said event to get my hands on some light blue ones, but SAIGON 2011 has required me to resist the splurge of temptation. Also, someone else bought it as the night ended, the ultimate sign it wasn’t meant for me.  
  2. Black flats – Mostly a combination of me and my mom’s shoe collection, but as I was deliberating over my shoe outfit choices, I realized I have too much! They do match (almost) every outfit, but doesn’t a girl need variety more than quantity? 
  3. Necklaces – Need I say more? It’s the complementary piece to any plain-colored outfit. I had to buy a necklace case just to keep them from getting lost in my room.
  4. BOOKS – My library has grown significantly this year, thanks to employment and unemployment (the former funds it and the latter gives the time). New additions: Hunger Games, Percy Jackson Series, Dexter Series by Jeff Lindsay, Ian McEwan’s titles…. and I’m not even finished yet. To come: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the rest of McEwan’s work, Dave Eggers, and Malcolm Gladwell (the last two authors are up for completion). Oh, and I also collect magazines (besides the ones I work for, of course).

Hmmm, I do wonder how my profile would read, given these ‘collections’. I do know, though, that the journey to ‘completing’ my book, dice, and necklace habit isn’t finished yet.

Impulse

Today, I probably made…wait, I did make my most impulsive buy to date: a round trip ticket from Manila to Ho Chi Minh. I’ve been wanting to treat myself to travel (you’d be surprised how much actual travel I get working for a travel magazine, haha), having an enormous desire to turn long stares into foreign lands on the computer screens into an actual, complete, all five-senses experience. And so I made it happen, coincidentally happening after my mother gave me a pseudo-blessing (that, and my passport arriving last Saturday):

Backstory- My mom had a Vietnam trip scheduled for work in 2011, and I was planning to tag along.
Mom: My trip to Vietnam is in July. I might not be in the country then.
Gela: Looks like I have to go there on my own then.
Mom: Looks like. Be careful in crossing the street there.

And just three hours later, Cebu Pacific decided to give a promo fare for all flights on January to March 2011 to Ho Chi Minh. The universe was yelling GO FOR IT, and I did. Vietnam was the first thing that came to mind a few months ago, when I decided to choose one place to travel out of my own budget and will. Why? It’s Southeast Asia (no need for visa) and it’s affordable. Culture wise, there’s much to be discovered, especially with the FOOD. Okay, maybe the FOOD really was my primary reason. But do you blame me?

Here’s to a rocking three days in February 2011! For anyone who wants to tag along, tell me! And I’ll give you my scheduled days of the trip :).