Hi, Cinderella

Photo taken in Nara, Japan

Anne Lamott’s TED Talk on the 12 Truths I learned from life and writing (watch it!) helped me a great deal in surviving 2018.

An excerpt:
“Number eight: families. Families are hard, hard, hard, no matter how cherished and astonishing they may also be… When William Blake said that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love, he knew that your family would be an intimate part of this, even as you want to run screaming for your cute little life. But I promise you are up to it. You can do it, Cinderella, you can do it, and you will be amazed.”

Happy new year to all of us and may 2019 bring us (and our families) happy surprises.

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Haggle But Don’t Settle

Today’s life lesson brought to you by my McDonald’s breakfast experience.

So here’s what happened: I ordered Sausage McMuffin and coffee to go. A little after I paid, the service crew told me they only have juice and hot chick so which one would I like. It was the kind of morning that needed to be shaken up by coffee so I said I’ll just cancel my order because I really want coffee.

Without a word, the crew left me with the cashier who asked how many sugar and I creamer I want. I said, “Akala ko walang coffee?” And he said, “Gumawa yun, Ma’am. Kesa mag-refund.” Aha! High-five, self! Good job sticking to your real choice.

In all fairness, I was extra productive at work today. I bet the morning caffeine helped.

Dubai Atlantis

We stayed at Atlantis The Palm and it was magnificent. Here are some snapshots while going around the hotel resort.

Original like a donut, tasty like gelato

Literally a gingerbread house

I mean look at that ceiling

My lovely room

Just keep swimming!

Dubai Diaries

I was in Dubai from December 21-29, 2017 and it was eight days of being in awe at everything and everyone around me. The city is truly a melting pot of the world’s cultures. Typical scenario: To my right is an Indian family wearing traditional sari and enjoying their holiday, while to my left was a European couple having a quiet moment as they enjoy their breakfast. Different variations of that every day and it made me feel giddy inside because I felt like I was out there in the world.

On the morning of our third day I woke up from an almost-nightmare and wrote a piece of what I’d like to call the first of my Dubai Diaries. Here goes:

It’s 3am in Dubai (7am back home and my body clock is still in Manila mode) and I just woke up from a bad dream where my dad is obligated to pay a huge fine for accidentally neglecting to settle a relatively small obligation a year ago. I was crying in my dream and I was sniffing from dry tears when I woke up. This is the second night that I woke up from a bad dream here in Dubai. The first one was yesterday when I had a dream about seeing a ghost, only to find out I was pranked by my cousin. These instances are ironic samples of when reality is actually better than the dreams.
In my two days here so far, I’ve been having lots of overwhelming fun and sometimes I just pause and wonder what I ever did to deserve this. I also get mindblown every now and then because of the sheer grandness of Dubai. This place is literally defying nature and is truly a purveyor of possibilities. I mean, Dubai is known for its desert, right? But they have a freakin Atlantis city! The hotel we’re staying at has a giant indoor aquarium and yesterday, as I was sipping my cold brew after breakfast, the only thing separating me from a stingray was a huge glass wall. I was just standing there, amazed and in awe at the wondrous things swimming right in front of me. Of course I couldn’t help but feel bad because look at these poor creatures who were plucked out of their natural habitat just so people could marvel at them. The irony is as palpable as the breakfast buffet I just had.
And then last night, we went to the Mall of the Emirates and it was humongous. I’m not really a fan of malls because it screams capitalism right in your face but I couldn’t help but stare in wonder at how huge and grand the whole place was. And the most amazing thing about it was that it has a freakin Snow City inside! The restaurant where we had dinner was right next to this man-made winter wonderland and it was such a visual circus because when I looked to my right, it was all a warm orange glow from the cozy atmosphere of The Cheesecake Factory (which had amazing food in huge servings, by the way), and when I looked to my left, it was a white Christmas feast with everyone in their winter clothes running around and playing in the snow. Again, mind… blown.
I pointed it out to my cousin and his explanation was simple: Oil. The middle east is known for being the world’s mecca of oil sources and when you got natural resources and you maximize them, you can achieve wonders. But he also pointed out another great irony about these Asian neighbors of us (I have to remind myself sometimes that the middle east is still Asia because it’s so different from our homeland). Geographically, countries in the middle east are located close to each other, but there is a big disparity in their respective realities. Some countries, truly a melting pot of practically all the world’s cultures, are so progressive where east meets west, yet some countries are war-torn and filled with geopolitical conflicts. It’s heartbreaking.
Well it’s almost 4am now and all I see out my windown is a thick haze. I haven’t seen clouds and stars in almost two days, but I’ve seen some pretty amazing things. We got six more days, Dubai. Take my breath away, will ya?

Books I’ve read in 2017

Happy new year, guys! Sharing with you the list that was 365 days and thousands of different emotions in the making.

1. Lucia, Lucia (2003) by Adriana Trigiani

~ January 2, Monday, 11:00 a.m.

2. The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide (2003) by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

~ January 4, Wednesday, 7:39 p.m.

3. The Devil’s Wind (2005) by Richard Rayner

~ January 12, Thursday, 10:28 p.m.

4. Lucy (1990) by Jamaica Kincaid

~ January 15, Sunday, 11:20 a.m.

5. Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (2005) by Motoro Mase

~ January 24, Tuesday, 10:53 p.m.

6. Freaky Green Eyes (2003) by Joyce Carol Oates

~ January 28, Saturday, 10:28 a.m.
7. George’s Marvellous Medicine (1981) by Roald Dahl

~ February 4, Saturday, 7:48 p.m.
8. Love and Vertigo (2000) by Hsu-Ming Teo

~ February 12, Sunday, 1:18 a.m.
9. Anna and the French Kiss (2010) by Stephanie Perkins

~ February 19, Sunday, 8:37 a.m.
10. Summer Sisters (1998) bu Judy Blume

~ March 1, Wednesday, 5:32 p.m.
11. A Virtuous Woman (1989) by Kaye Gibbons

~ March 9, Thursday, 6:41 a.m.
12. The Book of Evidence (1989) by John Banville

~ April 15, Saturday, 9:45 a.m.
13. Digging to America (2006) by Anne Tyler

~ April 28, Friday, 6:54 p.m.
14. Brick Lane (2003) by Monica Ali

~ June 18, Sunday, 7:53 p.m.
15. Sabine’s Notebook (1992) by Nick Bantock

~ July 1, Sunday, 12:28 a.m.
16. The Beach (1996) by Alex Garland

~ July 6, Thursday, 5:30 p.m.
17. The Wonderful Man (2004) by Edward Monkton

~ July 8, Saturday, 7:17 p.m.
18. How to be Good (2001) by Nick Hornby

~ July 30, Sunday, 3:50 p.m.
19. One Day (2009) by David Nicholls

~ August 20, Sunday, 1:11 p.m.
20. Smaller and Smaller Circles (2015) by F.H. Batacan

~ Seltember 2, Saturday, 8:40 p.m.
21. A Walk One Winter Night (2013) by Al Andrews

~ September 10, Sunday, 10:12 a.m.
22. Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause (2011) by Mignon F. Ballard

~ September 23, Saturday, 12:22 p.m.
23. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962) by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

~ October 15, Sunday, 1:50 p.m.
24. Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self (2009) edited by Joseph Galliano

~ October 31, Tuesday, 2:43 p.m.
25. Sam’s Letters to Jennifer (2004) by James Patterson

~ November 1, Wednesday, 11:49 a.m.
26. Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend (1993) by Robert James Waller

~ November 7, Tuesday, 11:30 p.m.
27. The Help (2009) by Kathryn Stockett

~ December 31, Sunday, 6:34 p.m.

25

I can’t believe I used to think 25 is old and it just makes me laugh that there was a time when I thought I’d get married at 25. I turned 25 yesterday and I must say it feels a bit weird to be in this age and still be as go-with-the-flow as I am. It’s a bit complicated and I’m not in the mood for some existential discourse right now; I just want to chronicle how I spent my silver birthday hehe.

I woke up to a happy birthday song from Daddy, Mommy and Vicoy and was surprised when they showered me with gifts, each one competing on which gift I liked best. I felt so loved!

Fresh from sleep birthday girl!

I treated the family to lunch at SumoSam because Japanese food is my favorite hehe.

The crew sang a birthday song for me and gave me free ice cream. It was strawberry cheesecake flavor and Vicoy and I took turns eating it.

My brother and I absolutely love the Korean group BTS and here we are channeling our inner V.

We booked an overnight stay at a nearby hotel and we were all excited because it’s our first time to try this staycation thingy. It was definitely a fun, hilarious, and almost ridiculous experience. A weekend of carefree joy and relaxation, indeed.

Vicoy is so into the K-pop look, hence the eyeliner. Or as he called it, guy-liner.

After we got settled in the room, we decided to walk around the hotel.

We love beanies!

After walking around, we went back to the room for some beer and a game of Uno cards.

Okay that’s supposed to be 25, not 52 😅

We had poolside barbecue buffet for dinner. The air was a bit cold, the kind that reminds you of Christmas. We teased each other endlessly and filled our tummies.

I fell in love with the Japanese drama Pride in August after my friend recommended it to me. She even gave me this hockey jersey from Pride!

After dinner, it was time to blow the birthday cake. Every year, my only wish to my parents is to have as many birthday cake candles as my new age. Hehe. It’s just one of my tiny quirks.

It took three of us to light all those candles. We were in a hurry because we were worried the fire detector might get triggered with 25 burning candles. Hehe. Thankfully it didn’t.

After the birthday cake ceremony (haha), we went to the hotel bar to watch the live band.

It was also where we accidentally got this magic shot that I absolutely love because it looks a bit like one of Jungkook’s photos from the BTS’ Love Yourself album. Please see below. Hahaha.

I sent these pictures to my very good friend Red (who also super loves BTS) and told her I just couldn’t resist it. Hehe. She said mine was just a low-budget version. Which of course it was. Haha.

I went to sleep past midnight feeling loved, happy, and eternally grateful to God for 25 years and counting.

The next day, the first order of business was the breakfast buffet. Hehe. Bacon 4lyf.

Day 2 of being 25. Day 5 of my pimple, though.

They took a nap after breakfast and I read my current novel, Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend by Robert James Waller, the same author of the classic The Bridges of Madison County.

We couldn’t leave the place without taking a dip in the pool so after their nap, we went down to the pool area.

Embarrassing fact: I don’t know how to swim. I know, poor me.

We obviously liked their cute towels. Hehe.

We ate cake and chips in the room for lunch and then it was time to pack up and check out. I love this chill birthday. When we got home, we all unpacked the  went to our own beds for some siesta time. Hehe. You know Sundays are not complete without naps!

When I woke up, I fixed my bed, read a little, and then went to church.

And now here I am smiling to myself and remembering the lovely weekend I had with the people I love most, and feeling optimtic about this new age of mine. It’s only been two days but so far, si good! ❤

Dear Me

I just finished reading my 24th book for 2017. Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self was such a fun and bittersweet read. It made me realize that adolescence is such a universal phenomenon but also unique to each one.  

Here are some of the most common advice shared by writers to their teenage self:

  1. Trust your intuition.
  2. Dream hard, work hard.
  3. It doesn’t feel like it, but things will turn out okay.
  4. Stay away from sugar.

I’m turning a year older in four days and if I were to give an advice to my 16-year-old self, it would be:

Be bold. Don’t be afraid to take risks and put yourself out there.