The Sunday Currently Vol. 1

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Reading 

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. I was a bit worried it might be a little too heavy for my current mood given the subject matter, but I’ve been loving what I’ve read so far. It’s the eighth book I’ve read–or rather am reading–this year, which means if I want to make my goal of reading at least 30 books this year I really need to step it up. But then again, compared to the two measly books I read last year, it’s a huge improvement, so I’m not gonna be too tough on myself this time.

The other books I’ve read this year, ranked by the order I read them:

  1. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
  2. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara*
  3. The Sell-Out by Paul Beatty
  4. Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein*
  5. Outline: A Novel by Rachel Cusk
  6. Double Cup Love by Eddie Huang
  7. The Girls by Emma Cline*

(* – the books I especially enjoyed/loved)

Writing

Inspired by a blog I stumbled on last week, I’ve started a daily writing project: flash fiction inspired by Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day. It’s been really helpful in keeping me writing, especially given my current situation of being in between jobs, it helps me feel like I’m at least getting ‘something’ done, however inconsequential that ‘something’ is.

Listening

SaigonRockandSoul

Since Joff’s usually got some music playing, it’s been a while since I’ve actively sought out new music online, but I’ve been hearing some good stuff at CAMA ATK, the venue he works at as events/operations manager. So far, I’m really liking Sunflower Bean, Alvvays, and this amazing compilation of songs by Vietnamese bands from the ’70s called Saigon Rock & Soul. Listen to the whole album here.

Thinking

I should really start looking for a new job. We have friends visiting from Manila this entire month so it’s been a little difficult focusing on what needs to be done. Luckily I still have money saved from a previous job so the situation isn’t that dire.. yet.

Smelling

Some lingering smells from the Thai food we had delivered for lunch today.

Wishing

I would learn to multitask better.

Hoping

For good weather tomorrow. It’s the last two days of Seka and Roman’s trip and it would suck if the rain ruined that.

Loving

David Cross’s new comedy special on Netflix, Making America Great Again.

Wanting

My purple Uniqlo raincoat and moss green rubber hi-cut Chucks I left in Manila.

Needing

More time to read, and more books! For anyone who’s reading this, I’d appreciate your recommendations. I have a few lined up but could use a nudge or two in the right direction.

Feeling 

Drunk on pizza. Had dinner with Seka, Roman, and Joff at Pizza 4 P’s, an awesome pizza joint here in Hanoi that’s got some pretty terrific and unconventional flavors. My favorite from tonight’s dinner was the duck, apple and gorgonzola pizza.

Pizza 4Ps Duck gorgonzola

Clicking

On the importance of ending the stigma of HIV – http://www.bustle.com/articles/176482-i-have-hiv-but-its-stigma-that-makes-me-sick
On creativity and what it means to be a ‘good reader’ – https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/08/10/auden-dyers-hand-reading-writing/
On child boxers in Cambodia – http://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2016/08/Cambodias-Child-Boxers/495083/

(Got the idea for this post from Carina, who got it from siddathornton.)

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I turned 32 four days ago in Singapore surrounded by my nearest and dearest (including a not-so-little girl I haven’t seen in two years). It was one of the best birthdays I’ve had in a while.

I don’t know when I started feeling weird about birthdays, and not in that oh-god-I’m-getting-so-old/here-come-the-birthday-blues kind of way, but more of a geez-are-we-really-still-doing-this? kind of ambivalence. After a certain age, maybe 25, I just feel like celebrating becomes kind of unnecessary, even a bit excessive. It’s weird, though, because I do get a little intense and excited about other people’s birthdays, and I always insist that people make a big deal about theirs. But my own celebrations just feel a little embarrassing, but I guess that says more about my own insecurities than anything else.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, despite my own feelings of inadequacy, sometimes, birthdays are kind of rad, especially when they bring together the people you love.

While I may have turned 32 in Singapore, today I reached another milestone: it’s been two months since I moved to Hanoi and I’ve never been so grateful and happy about a major life decision ever. It’s early days still but I really do believe it was the right thing to do. On our way home from the airport, I was beaming. It felt really good to be back. Manila had me by the throat, so it feels good to be somewhere I can breathe.

You were so poorly cast as a malcontent

I’m writing this from my parents’ house in Merville six days into our post-Poblacion existence. Moving out of that apartment, one we’d spent the better part of two years in, was a lot tougher than I had anticipated. Sure it wasn’t the best apartment, in fact it had started falling apart about four months before moving out.  The pipes underneath the bathroom sink wouldn’t stop leaking, then the toilet started leaking, shortly after that the kitchen sink started making this loud ringing noise. I told myself this was the universe’s way of encouraging us to leave Manila; the truth was was that the building just had shitty plumbing.

Still, it was the first apartment I had made my own. And I will always look back on our days there with a fondness reserved for beat-up books and dirty, overused sneakers.

So long, 2A.

Moving on, this is the second time I’ve contracted some sort of stomach infection in the last three weeks. I wish I could chalk it up to stress but all I’ve been doing is going to the beach on weekends and vegging out at home, so there’s no excuse for my shitty immune response. Ugh. It doesn’t help that I am seriously craving Korean food right now and miss the days when my fix was just a two minute walk away. Jumong, I love you forever.

15 days til Hanoi.

My head was a condemned church

We’ve booked our flights. D-Day is May 17; 57 days from now. Every time I think about leaving this strange mixture of sheer joy and anxiety just washes over me. I think about my family, my friends, my dog, and I feel like crying and laughing at the same time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about flexibility lately. Not so much in terms of physical flexibility but emotional and mental flexibility. The type of stretch that’s required for big changes, like moving to a new and unfamiliar country, for example. And I think about all the times I’ve had to do something I didn’t think I could do, and how wrong I usually was about my perceived inadequacies. More often than not, I managed, I adapted. If you know me well, then you know I have anxiety issues. I worry a lot, about everything, really, so much so that it’s given me a whole slew of wonderful conditions I’ve had to deal with on top of the already debilitating anxiety. Some days are worse than others, but lately I’ve been having more good days than bad ones. And I think it’s the thought of leaving that’s been carrying me through it all.

I know that whatever happens, I can adjust to the situation, and I’ll learn. However long it takes, I’ll get there; I just have to keep reminding myself that everything will be okay, and that I’m not doing this alone.

Ch-ch-changes

Hi. I know it’s been a while. I am terrible at this, obviously, and I doubt I’ll get any better. Not that it matters! I know there are three, maybe four people, who periodically check this. And maybe that’s enough? IDK.

A few life updates:

Joff and I went on a two-week vacation across Southeast Asia in December to January. It was amazing and, as cheesy as this might sound, pretty darn life-changing. But I’ll get to that part later. In two weeks, we visited four cities, first starting in Bangkok, Thailand; then Vientiane, Laos; Luang Prabang, Laos; and finally, Hanoi, Vietnam. It was my first time visiting all three countries so I was thrilled to say the least. Any initial anxieties I had about this trip turned out to be unfounded, thankfully, and it went on without a hitch.

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I learned SO MUCH, food-wise. I’ve never really been that big a fan of Vietnamese cuisine, but I realize now that it’s because I was never really exposed to good Vietnamese food. Hanoi totally changed my perspective on the cuisine and I am smitten. Laotian food was also a big game changer; their sausages are the best I’ve ever had. I’ve been trying to recreate them in my kitchen – operative word here being ‘trying.’ It hasn’t been a complete failure but it’s also not quite there yet.

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Asian food is the best, y’all. There’s just no two ways ’bout it.

Anyway, onto the ‘life-changing’ part of my update: We are moving to Hanoi! YEP.

Before you start laughing at what an embarrassingly ‘white touristy’ thing that is to do after only visiting the city for four days, well then, you’re only partially right. 😀

We obviously know it’s a BIG DEAL to just be up and moving to some exotic city, which is why we’ve given this A LOT of thought. We also consulted people who already live there (friends of Joff’s) who are all really encouraging and are already helping us slowly make the transition.

We’re moving in May, which gives us some time to tie up any loose ends here in Manila, save a little bit more, and look for a job and a place in Hanoi. Sure, I’m freaked out, but I’m more excited than anything. We’ve been looking to move for a while now and this decision couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. My family is also incredibly supportive of the decision (thank glob), so that makes it a little easier.

So, here’s to the last few months in Manila! And to anyone who’s reading this: If you and I are homies IRL, let’s grab a few beers before I leave, alright?

Singapore Schlep Nov 2015

It’s been a week since our Singapore trip. It was good beans, as usual, though a bit more than usual this time around since we stayed at a hotel in Clark Quay instead of on my cousin, Evan’s, living room floor where we usually park our tushes when we’re in the country. I love staying at my cousin’s, but getting spoiled at a fancy hotel is nice for a change – especially when it’s on someone else’s dime, which, thanks to Joff’s job it was. (Thank you, Deezer.)

This was our third time in Singapore this year and I’m glad we at least made a bit of an effort to not just do what we usually do when we’re there, ie. chicken rice and hawkers out the wazoo, Orchard shopping jaunts, and Tiong Bahru/Lavander twee coffee shop runs. Since we were staying in Clark Quay, we mostly hung out/ate in Chinatown, which we discovered was just a short five-minute walk away.

Some highlights:

– The Szechuan restaurant my friends Anton and Faith took us to on our first night. Joff and I liked it so much that we returned twice in the next three days. I miss it SO MUCH.

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– The dessert place we ate at after the Szechuan place!  We had this amazing shaved ice dessert called Chendol Snow Ice: it was a glorious mess of coconut flavored shaved ice topped with pandan flavored jellies that look like worms (the aforementioned ‘chendol’), red bean, coffee jelly, and the best thing since sliced bread in my humble opinion: GULA MELAKA (a dark brown syrup made from palm sugar).
– I bought a camera! My first one in a really long time. It’s a FujiFilm X-M1 and I am in love with it. It’s frighteningly easy to use and makes everything look really pretty.
– Neon Lights Festival! The reason we were in Singapore in the first place. We had boatloads of fun watching bands we were vaguely and not-so vaguely familiar with, and were also humbly reminded that we are getting too old for music festivals.

Festival faves:
– Gengahr! These dudes are awesome. If you’re not familiar with them, please give them a listen. I think an appropriate descriptor for their music would be ‘compulsively listenable.’ Every time I go out for a walk, I find myself going back to their album “A Dream Outside.” My current favorite tracks are Dizzy Ghosts, Tired Eyes, and She’s a Witch. Their music makes me feel like I’m 23 again waiting for the boy I like to text me back. I think it might be because they remind me vaguely of Menomena.
– Rachel Yamagata. I never really listened to any of her stuff until a few days before the festival and I really dug it. She was even better live and also surprisingly funny.
– Sun Kil Moon – Mark Kozelek sang Moon River and grabbed at audience members’ phones; it was strange but fun, much like Kozelek himself.
– RATATAT! Wasn’t a fan before seeing them at the festival, but boy were they good! Super fun and energetic set with amazing visuals.

Here are some photos from the trip:

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Told ya it makes everything pretty
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Gengahr!
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Rachel Yamagata
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A delicious plate of char siew

 

The pizza is a lie

Hello, babies.

October has been a tough month. I kept meaning to write, but life got in the way. I also felt a bit uninspired, which I kept kicking myself over because being inspired shouldn’t be a pre-requisite for writing here. So, I’m gonna try to be better about that.

J got really sick two weeks ago so I took that week off work to take care of him. This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill flu, too. It took everything out of him. I’d never seen him that sick. His body just shut down and he was totally helpless. We were convinced it was Dengue but, thankfully, it just turned out to be a particularly nasty viral infection. It took him two weeks to recover. Ugh, it was terrible. I got so worried I would just break down at random times during the day cos I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Anyway, it’s over now and he’s back to his normal, silly self. We’ve taken it as a sign to keep our immune systems up, especially during this bipolar weather we’re having.

My health hasn’t really been in tip-top shape either, but I’m getting better at taking care of myself. Allergy season is in full swing and it’s been a real bitch. There were times when I’d be sneezing throughout the entire day. My breaking point came during a particularly nasty allergy attack a week ago. I’d been sneezing and sniffling the entire day and when I came home, I couldn’t find my allergy medicine and I started crying in frustration. I got our carpet, drapes, and bed vacuumed a few days later and it’s helped immensely. I really wish I’d done that earlier, but I kept thinking it would just go away by itself. Now I know better.

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In between sneezing and taking care of a sick boyfriend, I’ve managed to keep Boys and Pizza running. I needed to get my kicks somehow. I’m super happy about it cos my last post did really well: I got 30 likes! More than any other post has gotten since I started this whole thing. If you haven’t followed it yet, PLEASE DO! I promise it’ll be worth it. If only to inspire the occasional giggle from you.

Other things that have kept me from falling miserably into depression:

  • Survivor! This season has delivered in ways I hadn’t anticipated. Some players I thought would be more aggressive have been relegated to the background, like my main bb, Ciera. But it’s still relatively early days and I know how crazy things get post-merge so I’m already looking forward to that. BUT, fuck we’re only on week 6 and so much has happened already. Despite being a relatively early boot, Varner kicked so much ass and I can’t wait to see him on the show again.
  • How to Get Away with Murder – OMG this show is bonkers. I always dismissed it as some low-brow show that relied on cliffhangers and melodrama — it does, but it’s also SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. I’ve gotten so used to the cast’s diversity that all other shows just seem so painfully white now. I started it initially so I could see Matt McGorry during OITNB’s off-season. There are some problems with the plot but overall, it is awesome, and if you haven’t gotten on this yet, you should.
  • My third Block Party is coming up! It’s on November 7 and 8 at Makiling Park in Ayala Alabang. I’m really gonna try and step it up in terms of booth design. Please come if you can!

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