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.

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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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Life Lately #1

Pickled red onion is the gift that keeps on giving
HI.

I haven’t been keeping up with this blog as much as I should be. I know. I promise to do better.

Life has been delightfully uneventful lately. I say delightfully because when you get to a certain age, as I have, you kind of relish the absence of drama in your life. It’s the seemingly boring stuff that I go gaga over these days: quiet mornings spent making and eating breakfast with Joff, weekends when all I have to concern myself with are which shows I want to watch and what I’m having for lunch/dinner, falling asleep on the couch while playing Star Wars Commander, listening to my podcasts with a cigarette in one hand and a Schlurp in the other. Just listing all these things down makes me giddy. These days, I don’t get FOMO anymore. I get JOMO (Joy of Missing Out). Going through Instagram on a Saturday night gives me intense JOMO that I’m not at some shitty bar paying for overpriced cocktails while trying to shoot the shit with someone I barely know. UGH.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m just done with that life, but who knows? This is probably just a phase and I’ll soon be chomping at the bit to get crazy at ‘da club’ again. Probably not, though, but YA NEVER KNOW.

Anyway, here are some things that have been keeping me busy:

  1. SURVIVOR IS BACK! – If you’re one of those people who groans, “What? People still watch that?” when someone mentions Survivor then you are not my people and maybe stop reading this blog? Survivor is a huge part of my life. (Sad, I know.) and I’m like a kid during Christmas whenever it’s on. I love this show so much and I love its fans even more. I recently got added to a local Survivor fan group on Facebook (thanks, Anj!) and it has made my life exponentially better now that I’m able to talk about this stuff with people from here. My friends are big fans of the show too but I worry I annoy them sometimes. So, yay!
  2. The Serial Dynasty Podcast – If you followed Serial then Serial Dynasty is an absolute must-listen. Bob Ruff, Dynasty’s host, distills new information gathered by the Undisclosed team (Rabia Chaudry, Susan Simpson, and Colin Miller) plus his own findings into easily digestible nuggets of HOLY SHIT. It’s amazing the stuff they’re finding out and I’m still floored to learn there are STILL so many people who believe Adnan Syed had anything to do with Hae Min Lee’s murder. Do yourself a favor and subscribe.
  3. How to Get Away with Murder – I started watching this show just to fan out over Matt McGorry. 6 episodes in and I’m enjoying it. I wouldn’t say I’m hooked or that it’s the greatest show ever, but it’s entertaining and I hear it gets better, so I’m on board for now. At least until Bennet gets his ass back on OITNB.
  4. BOYS AND PIZZA – To deal with the less-than-savory aspects of my life, I started a new Instagram account! It combines the two things I love in life: cute boys and food. Please follow BoysAndPizza for your daily dose of gluten and dreamboats!

BOYS AND PIZZA

Sweet and sour speech

Well, yesterday’s market was a bust. While I thankfully was able to break even, I didn’t sell nearly as much as I’d hoped I would. Meanwhile, my booth neighbors were selling out.

I learned a lot, though, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time. I know now that I definitely need to beef up my booth decor, and that Makati folk are a pretty fickle bunch. I also may need to consider selling some smaller, cheaper portions.

I also wanna experiment with making falafels. I used to cook them all the time when I went vegetarian but haven’t since. Why make your own when Beni’s Falafel is a 10-minute walk away? (Note to self: Get Beni’s for dinner?) But I’ve been thinking of making hummus or falafel wraps for future markets. Gotta do some more experimenting in the Cool Beans kitchen (aka my small but cozy kitchen).

After the market we headed to Gianco and Viella’s apartment to salvage the remains of an otherwise shitty day. Managed to do exactly that after we copped a bottle of Bombay Sapphire, some gruyere and Port Salut from The Market, a cute little deli in Salcedo Village, and some pretty good chorizo from Ralph’s. Spent the night nerding it up over Star Wars Commander, excitement over the new season of Survivor, and American Ninja Warrior videos on YouTube.

I gotta admit I was feeling pretty fucking defeated at the market yesterday. Thoughts like ‘well, I’m never doing this again’ and ‘wow, this is embarrassing’ were running laps in my brain. There were a few moments when I just wanted to pack it up and leave. But I’m glad I stayed, and even though things didn’t go exactly as planned, I really do believe it was a valuable learning experience. Just the thing I needed to kick me out of complacency. And the fact that the night ended on a high note, with four of the best people in my life, helped immensely.

The sweet truly ain’t as sweet without the bitter.

PS. New-old favorite song: Paul McCartney’s “Let Me Roll It” ugh so good.

Bloggin’ about bloggin’

It’s been stressing me out a bit, not being able to write here regularly, or at least semi-regularly. I think about doing it all the time, but then I worry I don’t have a lot to write about. So, I guess I will be opening every blog entry about my inability or struggle to write. At least this blog has some semblance of a unifying theme, eh?

Anyway, a few things:

1. I’m giving myself a deadline for finishing Shiny Beef: September 19. That’s also when Valero Eat Street is happening; it’s this food market I’m a part of to hawk some tubs of Cool Beans. It’s gonna be at the Signa Residences on Valero St. in Salcedo Village. Whoever’s reading this, swing by and grab a copy. I’ll be giving them away for free when you purchase some hummus. This is gonna be my 3rd weekend market and I’m really excited for it, especially since this is the first one I’m doing in Makati. So glad I won’t have to haul ass to Alabang.

2. Joff bought a new cookbook and we’re already experimenting with a few recipes with some success. It’s called Plenty. It’s a vegetable-centric cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi. So far Joff’s made sweet potato cakes with a yogurt sauce and some black pepper tofu. We’ll try a couple more and I’ll post some recipes in the coming weeks.

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3. I came down with a really bad case of allergies on Friday which then mutated into a full-fledged cold and cough over the past few days. I’ve been subsisting on leftovers and ginger honey tea that Joff makes for me. We stayed in yesterday and started watching Twin Peaks on Netflix. Joff’s never seen it and I was more than happy to watch it again. It’s been more than five years since my last re-watch and it’s been a trip watching the entire thing again. Everyone loves Audrey Horne so much but no one gives Maddy Ferguson any props. She’s obviously the OG hipster. Holla, Maddy.

RIP Madonna

Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a lifestyle blog. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m just trying to manage your expectations. (Or my expectations.) You won’t find any life-changing advice here; I’m not dispensing any sage words over the merits of mason jars (though, I can attest to there being plenty) and the KonMari method here. I’m just trying to get out of a five year creative slump by doing what I’ve been avoiding for so long, which is to just fucking write.

I’m just tired of second-guessing myself. I know it’ll never end, so my way of fighting it is to just do what I want regardless of how terrible an idea I think it is. (Tbh, I’m already kicking myself over writing this disclaimer, but WHATEVS. Shut up, brain.)

Now that that’s out of the way. Some sad news:

Madonna and Birgitte

My first cactus, Madonna, died yesterday. Rot somehow (edit: lol I just found out I was giving her way too much water) got in and started eating away at the base. She was my favorite, and it sucks, but it’s ok. I’ll try again. Meanwhile, Birgitte is thriving. She’s got so many new sprouts I’m gonna have to transfer her to a bigger pot. If you’re looking for a fool-proof plant to start yourself off and dip your feet into crazy plant person territory, fernwood sanseverias are your best bet.

10 Happy Things

Still trying to get the hang of this blogging thing cos damn, it’s been almost a decade y’all. I think things get a bit tricky once you start prioritizing the ‘blogging’ part over the writing part.

The difference being, in my opinion, is that one is done for an audience and the other is done for the self. Not that either is better than the other, just different. And maybe it’s a lazy distinction, and maybe it’s just my way of shedding accountability for what I write, and maybe I’ll get to that later on. But for now, I just don’t want to think of that.

For now, here’s 10 Happy Things:

1. The weekends make me happy, not only cos there’s no work but because my Saturday rituals are something I live for. I can honestly say they bring me unadulterated joy and I feel a little lost without them. On Saturdays, I wake up obnoxiously early, which for me is around 6 am. I work out, have a slow breakfast with some coffee, then head to Salcedo Market to meet my dad. Afterwards we head to my parents’ home in Merville for lunch. It’s a simple ritual but it really means the world to me.


2. I have a new cactus (the one on the far right.) I haven’t named him yet. One of my co-workers got him at an event and since no one at the office wanted to take him, I did. So happy about my ever-growing plant family!

3. My mom is making lasagna for Saturday family lunch and I’m extremely excited about it. I’ve been craving lasagna for a few weeks now ever since we did the Lasagna Battle over at Juice. My mom hasn’t made it since we were living in the States so this is a big deal. (No pressure, Ma!)

4. Joff made some Hijacked Biscoff cookies this morning and they are a-mah-zing. Seriously.

5. Our cleaning lady came today and now I don’t throw up in my mouth every time I walk into the bathroom anymore! (Just kidding, I still do.)

6. I’ve made lemongrass sausages twice in two weeks and it’s been really delicious both times! So easy and good. Here’s the recipe I use.

7. The weather these past few days has been dreamy. Yesterday, I woke up at 5:30 am and saw the sun rising behind the buildings in Rockwell. The light peaked through the window; it was the most gorgeous hue of pink and orange and it gave me this weird feeling like life might actually be worth living. (Which quickly dissipated as soon as I got on the road.)

8. Work has been good lately. It hasn’t been too intense and I’ve been able to concentrate on doing things well instead of just getting them done; that’s important, I think.

9. Made my third delivery to Connie’s Kitchen this week! Apparently, their regular customers have really been enjoying it and want more. V V happy about that.

10. I’m in the middle of a serious granny phase where I don’t go out, drink, or socialize much. Currently, I’m about 3 or 4 months deep. It’s been awesome but I think it’s time I crawled out of my cave for a bit. Gonna have a few drinks with G, V, and J tonight at Crying Tiger. Looking forward to it.

That’s it! Let me leave you with the cutest demon baby ever.

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A word to the wise, maybe don’t get a 4D sonogram? 

This would be funny if it weren’t so sad

Hello, internet!

Now, before you roll your eyes at yet another blogging attempt, let me tell you, it’s different this time.

Just kidding, no it’s not, and I’ll probably end up abandoning this one too, but for now, let’s have a little fun, shall we?

It’s been a while, I admit, but how ’bout I get you up to speed.

In 2015, I am:

  • Managing Editor at Juice.ph – I started this new position in January of this year. It’s been swell so far and, after taking a year and a half off to freelance (and slowly lose my mind), it’s been nice being able to interact with actual people I like and not faceless names on a screen! So, yay! Also, the monthly check doesn’t hurt.
  • Running my own food business – I now run a small food business out of my apartment called Cool Beans. I make and sell hummus to order, and out of the Connie’s Kitchen deli in New Manila. It’s been a fun and tiring ride so far (mostly fun) and I can’t wait to build my own hummus empire. I’m getting there, I think.
  • Thriving like a motherfucker – I live in a one-bedroom apartment in Poblacion with the man I love and two house plants: a cactus named Madonna and a sansevieria named Birgitte. I like my life a lot.

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  • Working on a zine that actually looks like it may get finished! Shiny Beef is a food-focused zine that features recipes and essays from myself and a slew of amazing Manila-based writers such as Bong Sta. Maria, Nikki Ignacio, Nicole Sebastian, Diane Wuthrich, Anton Umali, and Marla Miniano.

And you’re caught up! Feels strange reducing my life to a few measly bullet points, but w/e, I will spare you the boring-ass details (ie. let’s save them for another post).

I don’t really know the direction this blog is gonna take, and that’s okay. I’ve been trying to be kinder to myself in a lot of ways and not having things quite figured out is part of that.

So, here we go.