Monday, January 24, 2011

In a parallel universe

In a parallel universe, I am submitting Cvs after CVs in publishing houses and newspaper companies. I am certain I wouldn’t have to wait long for an ideal first job. After all, I spent 4 years honing my craft with a BA degree in Creative Writing and in Ateneo, at that.

In a parallel universe, I am flying in and out of the country, immersing myself in a variety of cultures. Because in my kind of career, imagination is everything and nothing fires up imagination more than experiencing new things in a foreign place.

In a parallel universe, I am single- by choice. And only because no man can tolerate my ever-changing whims, my relationship with books, my thirst for adventure and my constant need to be alone.

In a parallel universe, I am a free-spirit, blazing through each day without any plans for tomorrow. Hell, I don’t even know where I’ll end up in the next hour.

In a parallel universe rest all things I didn’t do, every option I turned my back on; it is where all opportunity costs get booked (sorry for the jargons). It is that ‘lifetime’ Jodi Piccoult was referring to when she wrote ‘Change of heart’. And I can go on and on, sentence after sentence, but Piccoult got it in one breath:

In between yes and no, there is a lifetime.

That lifetime will haunt you down on nights like this one; when silence is not called for and nothing else is worth remembering. That lifetime will pull you back to the roots you thought were long cut and thrown away. That lifetime has the power to make long- forgotten feelings re-resurface.

That lifetime can break you but there is a cure to the curse. That is, waking up to a reality that is far better than every alternative in all of any multiverse. Better, meaning, worth it.

These thoughts used to hardly ever visit me. But lately, they crash into my brain like a thief in the night. I wouldn’t go as far as using the word ‘haunted’, “reminded” is a more fitting term.

The idea of having made different decisions in a far-off planet reminds me of the several branched- out paths I abandoned. Seeing people who, in reality, tread on those courses sometimes mess with my brain. But at the end of the day, give me a rocket ship to that other universe and I’ll surely end up selling it to someone else.

For every YES are a hundred other NOs. A YES wouldn’t mean a thing if you couldn’t stand up for the NOs that come with it. The theory of a parallel universe is tempting; the concept of anything other than what is here and now is always hopeful.

But it isn’t real.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Press PLAY

3 hours. A Venti drink. And a book that is just too lovely.

Here, meet:
So, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist has been a really pleasant surprise. I would want to try writing a review on it but this is all I got:

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist is written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. It is intended mainly for young adults. In 180 pages, it told a story, a pretty amazing story, of boy meets girl. You should read it because I have read a tall heap of books in my life and I have never found one that used the words Fuck/Fucking/Dick/Shit for like 10,000 times and still managed to sound beautifully romantic, until this one.

So go, find a copy of this infinite playlist and press play.

"Some things you don't need to hear in order to hear. The mind has an ear of its own and sometimes memory is the fiercest fucking DJ alive."
— Rachel Cohn

"Singing in the rain. I'm singing in the rain. And it's such a fucking glorious feeling. An unexpected downpour and I am just giving myself into it. Because what the fuck else can you do? Run for cover? Shriek and curse? No--when the rain falls you just let it fall and you grin like a madman and you dance with it because if you can make yourself happy in the rain, then you're doing pretty alright in life."

- David Levithan

Girl Talk over Kopi and Teh

Yes, that’s right: Kopi and Teh. At least, according to the menu board in Toastbox.

The façade of the newly-opened Toastbox café/restaurant in Greenebelt 5 caught the attention of my officemates. So, one Friday night, after the tug of war between going and not going, we all agreed to give it a try.

Now, if you are dying to know just how good their Kaya toast or Iced Teh C is, I’ll tell you their food and drinks are amazing. But that is all you will ever get on the subject of food here. You are so wrong to think this is about a feast of flavors, because this actually delves on a feast that is friendship.

I have always believed on the promise of a Friday night until I actually started working. Friday night life isn’t always loud and sparkly. Sometimes, it is just boring and tiresome and extended work hours. Other times, though, it can be amazingly unplanned, comfortably unrehearsed and just purely unforgettable. Like the Friday night Toastbox dinner bonding we just had.

We were a group of 9. We started on nonsense talking and complaining and what not. Until now I can’t recall what started it, but at one point in between babbles, we just steered into the most intriguing topic of all: love. Actually, the other 6 officemates continued on their own “most intriguing topic”, which I wasn’t able to hear what about, but us, 3 girls, were left glued to that 4 letter word.

We chatted about first meetings, the highschool sweetheart phase, the era of picture messages, screen savers and ringtones. We dove into each subject with gleaming eyes and too many stories. We had different points of view but there wasn’t a time for argument. We were just talking. We were sharing our stories and not proving a point or asking any opinion. We never had to worry about the awkward silence or running out of words. Gulping for air, stories after stories, was more of the problem. We giggled about “proposals”, cursed people in our past, laughed at each other’s absurdities until it got too late we had to leave.

We left the restaurant, walked back to the office, knowing and understanding each other a lot more. I found the words forming in my head: It was some night, huh.

Work rants and salary babbles are nothing new on this blog. But this, this is a glimpse of how I manage to survive and actually enjoy a seemingly merciless job. I know one day I will surrender to the harsh reality that I’ve been using these people as a plastic strip to cover a hole in me only professional fulfillment can heal. On that day, I will move on to better opportunities and to a more manageable career. But I would never have to worry about missing these people. Our attachment certainly goes way beyond the confines of a 15 story building we call workplace. We have gone beyond being friends until the clock strikes 5:30 every afternoon. We are friends. Plain. Simple. Unforced. And I see many, many Friday nights like this one in our future, officemates or no longer. *Pinky promise*

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What I've been telling myself all year (A last look at 2010)

I was in a constant battle on how I should get my year-ender message across. Choosing among per category, per month and just all in one blow took me almost the entire first half of this month. So, before this gets a little too late, I opted to do this in the most painless way.

Here is a list of all the sensible and not-so-sensible things I learned and un-learned the past year:

1. There are days that start with over the top crappiness but that doesn’t mean the rest of it will be a series of unfortunate events. It only takes a compliment from a friend, a hug from the boyfriend, a positive comment from the boss and, perhaps, a cup of warm coffee to turn it all around. But you will never find out if you choose to stay in the sheets and hide behind curtains feeling sorry for yourself. So, leave the bed, get in the shower and believe that something wonderful can happen everyday.

2. Saving up not only takes discipline, but a concrete, time-bound and realistic goal-setting. You cannot put aside money just for “something”. Resisting temptation from all the glittering stuff would be too hard that way. Rather, save for something worth splurging for. The goal is not to not spend, but to not spend foolishly.

3. A Starbucks a day costs P150 on the average. Mini Stop has Chillz that, although not as delightful as green tea frappe, tastes surprisingly good, charged with enough caffeine and costs only P26. Enough said.

4. As much as possible, do not listen to songs with lyrics that are familiar to you while working. You might be singing only in your head, but your brain cells subconsciously prompt your fingers to type random lyrics in queries and notes to reviewers. And there is no possible valid excuse to writing “The Company subjected it’s a love story to withholding tax” in any output or to any reviewer.

5. There will be trials that seem endless and merciless and pointless. Like the forever challenging annualization of wages, reconciling BIR assessments and settling whatever troubles government officials create just so businessmen will be confused with their taxes and inevitably seek the services of equally confused CPAs like myself. But, at the end of the day, nothing is more fulfilling than getting all of it done.

6. Missing deadlines is not the only negative result of lacking time management skills. For every extra hour you put into work, you steal from the precious few you have left for family, friends and loved ones. So master the art of efficiency and give the best part of your day to those who deserve it.

7. It is in your nature to always see the good side in everything. Some people don’t get that. Most people assume you just sugar-coat everything and simply lack guts. But you know you are being true to yourself because that is your sappy idealist self speaking. Although, you have limits, as well. You can be painfully honest, to the point of being brutally so, when the situation calls for it. That is another part of you, too.

8. There is a reason why it takes you 2 years to use up a faceshop face powder and a lifetime to replace your pretty when pinched cheek tint from Bench. You are the laziest when it comes to cosmetics and hair softeners and the rest of those “beauty products”. I get that you will never be the dolled up Barbie some girls are. But there is that boy who loves staring at you and your too bare of a face. It wouldn’t hurt to put a little powder, tint and gloss to make him stare longer.

9. It is worth shelling out hard-earned money for traveling. The experiences you get, the memories you build, those will stick to you longer than material things ever would. So, save up, book a flight and runaway with your favorite people as much as you can, while you can.

10. Live your dreams and wear your passion. You do not have to answer to anyone but yourself. It doesn’t matter if they don’t understand or they don’t give as much importance to the things that are important to you. In the end, it is about having the courage to live up to your very own definition of happiness.

Reading everything I have written at this point, I sincerely enjoyed looking back at the highlights and low points of the past year and gathering up words to sum it up in a couple of sentences. Seems like, I found another tradition to keep in the coming years. 2010 had been such a good year in a complete package. I look forward to 2011 with a big smile in my face and these words in my pocket:

Wherever I go, I’ll go there with all my heart.

That’s my mantra this year.

Cheers to a passionate year of making risks, reading books, surprising the world, making new friends, staying in love, saving then spending, learning from mistakes, writing my heart out and 365 cups of coffee (or more)!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Our Tagalog theme song, finally

It took Keng and I years to find our perfect theme song, which we came across after watching Serendipity for the nth time. It was "When you know" by Shawn Colin. We stumbled upon that song again just when we were ready to take the step and know for certain there's no way we'll be turning back.

The other week, I heard this independent artist over the radio. He was plugging about his album which he sells himself. Like, through meet-ups and gigs. He was Johnoy Danao. And after singning a couple of songs he got me hooked. But, after singing this particular one, which he composed himself, I was head over heels in love with him.

Listen and fall in love:


Ikaw at ako, pinagtagpo
Nag-usap ang ating puso
Nagkasundong magsama habangbuhay.
Nagsumpaan sa Maykapal
Walang iwanan, tag-init o tag-ulan
Haharapin bawat unos na mag-daan.
Sana'y di magmaliw ang pagtingin
Kaydaling sabihin , kayhirap gawin
Sa mundong walang katiyakan
Sabay natin gawing kahapon ang bukas.
Ikaw at ako, pinag-isa
Tayong dalwa may kanya kanya
Sa isa't-isa tayo ay sumasandal
Bawat hangad kayang abutin
Sa pangamba'y di paaalipin
Basta't ikaw, ako
Tayo magpakailanman.
Kung minsan ay di ko nababanggit
Pag-ibig ko'y di masukat
Ng anumang lambing
At kung magkamali akong ika'y saktan
Puso mo ba'y handang magpatawad
Di ko alam ang gagawin kung mawala ka
Buhay ko'y may kahulugan
tuwing ako'y iyong hagkan
Umabot man sating huling hantungan
Kapit-puso kitang hahayaan
Ngayon at kailanman
Ikaw at ako.

It is impossible not to be touched by this song. I am declaring it as our official Tagalog theme song, with or without the boyfriend's approval. (hehe) The words are just too real, the melody perfectly classic. Ahhhhh, I'm in love with this song! Johnoy Danao, you are a genius!

Sabay natin gawing kahapon ang bukas.- Johnoy Danao

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