E is for "Effervescent"

Thoughts, and then some.

From Elisha to Reader 27th January, 2021

Dear Reader,

I completely devoured this book overnight. I had chanced on seeing the movie on Netflix and was interested to read the book after. Make no mistake, the movie was great, but the book from which they lifted the storyline is absolutely fantastic. The entirety of the book is pages and pages upon letters and notes that the characters passed between each other, with a few journal entries mixed in, and I thought it was such a clever way to write a novel! It made me wish my own letters sounded just as lovely and eloquent as theirs.

A lot of my enjoyment of the book most probably came from the fact that I listened to it as an audiobook, with different voices narrating different characters, giving to life the different personalities the story had. It was a real treat that I couldn't stop listening to it – I only paused to bathe, eat and sleep.

Wishing you well always!

Love, and kiss kiss kiss Elisha


As I was reading this piece by Olivia Sudjic on The Guardian regarding being on the internet is slowly becoming an increasingly dominant theme and/or influence in fiction, I had only one thought: what we are willing to share online could just be a half-truth or even a lie.

What I mean by that is, even as much as I try to be truthful in my writing here, or I strive to have this space to be a brain dump, I still find myself censoring my own words. The me that you may be reading right now isn't a whole picture of me, and that is all that everyone else will see – even if you piece together all my social media accounts, my tweets, my past blogs, my youtube and podcast playlists, etc. Unless a correspondence or a conversation actually happens, my internet presence is indeed just a persona.

Oddly enough, we're encouraged to create one -or at least have a LinkedIn account so that potential employers can verify that, yes, you exist in the digital realm as well. I've heard someone say that having no internet presence makes one suspicious, even up to the point of marking it as a red flag. In dating, most of us are probably guilty of stalking our potential dates before the first coffee meet-up. People younger than me probably have it rough – acceptance among their peers and FOMO looming over their shoulders.

I do admit now that having a minimal social media presence can backfire sometimes – I have no idea what my friends and family are doing unless they come out of the woodwork and tell me. I am the last to know, and sometimes I have to play catch-up while everyone seems to be on the same page. But there's beauty in talking, instead of passively seeing a photo and acknowledging it with a like. Reversely, I like being able to regale friends with my (mis)adventures in complete detail. The way I see it, my current internet presence is probably an ice-cube size tip of the iceberg, and I am much much more than that.

Nowadays, I've come up with a new schedule and rotation on how I consume media.

In the mornings, there are only two news morning briefing I read – one from SF Chronicle and the other from The Guardian. Both of them sit pretty in my inbox every morning, so at 8 AM I'm forced to read them first thing after I hit stop on my alarm.

When I'm finally settled down in front of my work laptop (with out without coffee), I go over my Youtube feed to see if any of my subscriptions posted anything new in the last 24 hours since I've been online. I rarely watch every video, and instead I pick and choose which ones I feel like watching for the day (mostly around 5-10, short ones), make a playlist out of them, and then let those play in the background while I go about doing my morning tasks.

In the afternoon, I switch over to podcasts. Never mind if I don't finish the playlist – I save it with the day's date and then finish that the following day. For podcasts, I have a running queue that I add things to daily – again, I don't listen to every episode that just came out. I slightly bump up the news and political episodes to the top so they stay relevant, but everything else are sequential – things like Second Date Update, to Nobody Panic, to Every Little Thing.

Recently, I've come to appreciate Zoom webinars, so I schedule a few every now and then, mostly at the latter part of the afternoon. I find out about them through the various newsletters I'm subscribed to, and each time I come in there (muted and no video), not expecting anything – but somehow I get sucked in to listening to the live conversations, 45 minutes pass by and I'm completely absorbed.

I eat dinner. If I'm hanging out with my boyfriend, you could bet that we're chowing down on pizza while intently watching Star Trek Deep Space Nine – which is growing on me. Before that, we've been cycling through episodes of the Office or Star Trek The Next Generation (which I've also come to love). If I'm by myself, I put on either a random movie or the next episode of the anime or show I'm currently into – right now, it's Kuroko no Basuke. Next week, I'll make sure I've started on Toradora.

At around 9 or 10, even if when I'm not absolutely sleepy, I pick up the book on my nightstand. Sometimes I merely go along with the flow of the book and end up reading for an hour, but for those that are excruciatingly painful to read (and that I haven't given up yet), I set a 30 minute timer.

Pointless and aimless scrolling is, finally, reserved in the last few minutes of my day, just before I go to sleep.

Taking a short break from this usual busy workday to share with you this golden nugget by Sandra Goldmark in a podcast interview she did with Green Dreamer:

  1. Have good stuff
  2. Not too much
  3. Mostly reclaimed
  4. Care for it
  5. And pass it on

You can listen to the whole episode here – Sandra Goldmark: Redefining materialism and reviving the repair economy, ep284

Well, this is it. This is finally the culmination of all my Youtube learnings and book readings on Minimalism, Zero-Waste, and Money Management.

I'm doing a No-Buy.

Specifically, I'll be doing it for the first 6 months of 2021, alongside my mom. I don't have all the details yet, and I don't know how I'll survive, but I feel like I'm at a comfortable place wherein I have everything I need within my grasp – anything additional to that would just be some odd, not-well-thought-out fancy.

So for now, I thought of taking the time to voice out why I'm putting myself through this ordeal. Let me begin by saying that, this is nothing new. I've been popping the idea of a No-Buy or a Low-Buy to anyone who would listen (mostly my best friend), but it never came to fruition. To be honest, I personally feel like I have enough – enough entertainment, enough stuff – but I seem to be just raking in more and more without even being conscious of it. In the latter part of the year, I've been practicing becoming more mindful of it, and I've somehow slightly succeeded in the task of mentally swatting my hand away from touching, and consequently obtaining, the next shiny object I see.

But aside from that, I wanted to take advantage of the stability that I've finally found myself in. I've spent the better part of 2020 paying off some of my largest debts (mainly that one medical bill I found myself having after being in an emergency room years ago), so now that that's ending, I can fully focus on just saving to reach some monetary goals I've established for 2021:

  • 3 mos. Emergency Fund
  • Going to a pottery class
  • Half of my share for a House Fund

I wish I could include at least one travel plan in here but COVID-19 is still a reality :(

That's it. I have no New Year's goals (I've never believed in them anyway). This is just me declaring my intention of what I'm setting myself up for in the coming year. If anyone out there is doing anything similar to this then, please know that you're not alone!

Truthfully, I might have this weird obsession in trying to discuss (or justify) in detail what I try to do in my spare time other than to be sucked back into social media and do the proverbial “doom scrolling”. In fact, I feel like I have been pretty good at keeping myself in check. I must admit that there were a few weeks in between that I had been in a YouTube rabbit hole (in fact, my boyfriend also has the same problem, but unlike him, I did not delete the app and THEN watch videos on the phone browser – you played yourself, sir), but I stopped myself before it got any worse.

They say that to correct one bad habit, you have to replace it with another, good one. Cue in books.

As I have mentioned, and probably lamented, before, I have a ton of reading material. When I moved houses, I probably only got rid of a dozen, but the majority I had kept with me. Yes, some have been relegated to trophy status (my prized Filipino books collection, with a few English ones that I occasionally lend to the curious – let me know if you'd like me to feature them), but there are still some that I have truthfully bought at a second-hand shop but not touched. Back in May, I was hopeful that I'd find that one book that would ease me back into the habit, and I did find it – coupled with my enthusiasm to check out the new book-related website rivaling Goodreads – The Story Graph.

I started reading Together: The Healing Power of Human Connections in a Sometimes Lonely World by Vivek H. Murthy back in September. It was given to me and my colleagues by my boss who enthusiastically bought us all copies after hearing the author talk in one online seminar or another. Now, this isn't usually my type of book – I have always thought of myself as a fiction lover – most non-fiction books bored me to death. I gave it a shot anyway and enjoyed his writing and his experiences in seeing, identifying, loneliness in people. In a way, I related to it – I had spent my first few years in this country trying to battle this profound feeling of loss and loneliness, and in one way or another, the book touched something in my soul.

There is still a third of the book left that I have yet to finish, but it had me going. Since then, I've found the motivation to finish two audiobooks I borrowed from the library – A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Elsie Chapman and Ellen Oh and The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store by Cait Flanders. I've also taken up reading two other books to somewhat “relieve” the heavy feeling of reading a non-fiction book – The Secret Loves of Geek Girls by Hope Nicholson and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Looking at this current read and reading list, it's made me wonder how different my tastes have changed, if at all. The problem I had in May might have just been because of the fact that I was trying to cling on to a genre, a type, that was no longer serving me. YA books had always been my sanctuary, but during the time that I stopped reading, the love for quirky and awkward romances somehow died. What I was left with was a passion for books, but with no suitable candidate to fill my current interests.

What I'd like to try doing is to try and diversify the content I'm reading. I have a few ideas, a few challenges, but we'll see how that goes. I'm also slightly interested to try, at the very least once, the phenomenon that is letting independent, local bookstores recommend you a book based on your reading needs and/or wants! Very very curious.

Thanks for reading till the end! If you'd like to drop a message (even just to say hi!), get in touch with me here – would love to hear from you!

Writing this in the last few minutes of the day (it's officially 11:56 PM and I'll probably finish writing this past midnight) but I just really wanted to put it out there – how do I try and tell my relatives and friends that yes, I'd love to receive any gift you might give, but also if you can please not gift wrap it, thank you very much.

Assuming that Christmas this year is not cancelled (we'll see how things go COVID wise during the Thanksgiving season), there will probably be gift-giving. Or at least I presume I'm still young enough to be considered being given a gift at all – as plenty of you might have noticed, the number of gifts you receive on occasions slowly dwindle as you age. I love receiving presents, but this year I feel like I have to push a little more in terms of intentionality and maybe slightly zero waste. I already felt a little inkling of it during last year's holiday season, but now I feel like I'll go insane if I didn't at least try let people know that my values and preferences for gift giving has changed.

I don't think my bigger family knows that I'm big on the idea of minimalism and zero waste. Of course, I'm not the perfect example or a shining beacon to look up to on that subject since I've only begun, but as it is I am 100% convinced that the holidays pose so much waste – from paper plates to plastic utensils and cups while eating, to single-use gift wrapping paper – I have absolutely been there. I like the direction where I'm going with this change of lifestyle, but I'm beginning to dread the idea that I am no island, and that people in my social circles don't necessarily see my current endeavour as something they'd tolerate.

My initial plan was to create a publicized wish list (presumptuous, I know), but as I was writing it I felt like I'd get some backlash or resistance of some sort. Now I'm stuck thinking, maybe I should just open the conversation while it's still early?

Another thing I might have overlooked when I first moved out a few months back is the fact that I had to feed myself. Okay, that might've been a bit of an over exaggeration, but a few weeks after the inital outburst of grocery shopping and eating leftovers and takeaways from my parent's place from the weekends, I've found myself hopelessly eating take out on days when I felt immensely lazy.

But I feel like I'm not alone in this dilemma either. I remember talking to my bestfriend a month back and she echoed the same sentiment somehow. And so did my boyfriend. And so did a lot of other friends who were living apart from their family. I feel let down by myself when I think back on the days that I spent attempting to cook during lockdown (and slightly succeeding in it, if I do say so myself), because more often than not I feel a slight bit of dread just dragging myself to the kitchen and thinking of what to eat for the next meal.

I am pretty good at rationing any take out I get tho.

So today, after a long while of just sitting on the idea, I did two things – I signed up to check out Thrive Market, and because they didn't deliver fresh produce, I hauled myself to the corner store and bought various vegetables and fruits – no packaged goods. I've been hearing about Thrive Market for awhile now, mostly from people I follow on YT, but I wasn't really sold on the idea until I realized that a) Whole Foods was quite a walk from me and b) there's an allure to getting your groceries delivered in a box, which you get to open as if it were Christmas. I have yet to get my first order, but I really look forward to getting it and seeing if it's worth keeping the annual subscription – I might just have to share it with someone for it to be worthwhile.

Aside from that, I haven't really properly took a look at the corner market near my house until today and oh my stars, is it golden. I would usually go in and out of there quickly, buying the usual carton of milk or a $1 banana, but today I actually took a little basket on the side and walked around like everyone else. It's a bit small but I was glad to find the usual Asian staples I go looking for when I need comfort (aka kimchi for Kimchi Fried Rice). Since I had just bought pantry staples from Thrive, I've made it a point to just buy fresh produce.

All this to say that I'm trying my hand at cooking real food again. I don't know how long this enthusiasm will last, but while it's here, might as well indulge it.

It's been a while since I've actually gone and eaten a full meal in a restaurant. To clarify, I ate at the outdoor converted space in the diner's parking lot where tables were equally spaced apart further than pre-covid days. There was a canopy above lending shade to patrons, but sunlight still managed to filter through the little gaps. It's not quite fall season in the Bay Area, but it was definitely a fine day to finally eat out for once.

Different conversations floated around, most of them were stories about what people would do “when this is over” or “while things are the way they are”. A group of elderly people who had finished off their plates ages ago were still sitting, catching up with one another as if they haven't seen each other in ages – no doubt. There was a family with little kids, the oldest running around an empty space under the bright sun, chasing his shadow. Another couple was seated somewhere nearby, huddled while talking as if in a world of their own.

As for me, while waiting for my longed-after french toast, I was busy folding origami with the restaurant's paper menu. The SO and I had gone through folding hats, boats, planes, and the square folding game – and while the paper could still hold out, I was busy making my final paper crane while he was busy following instructions for a paper sumo. Breakfast then arrived the moment we were both done, as if it were a reward.

Maybe the best and worst thing about living on your own, regardless if you have housemates or not, is the silence. When literally there's no one around you to cut through it, you either become the best philosopher of your life or deal with your own company.

The latter I find very hard to do.

I'm sure it didn't used to be this way, since I was always the kind of kid who would run from one idea to the next, always the busy body, always the person slightly reaching out to one person to the other for some fun activity. If not that, I had plenty of things to amuse myself with – books, games, and it would be a grave mistake if I didn't include the internet. Everything felt new, shiny and exciting and the buzz in my head would always be full of questions and anticipation of what would come next.

But lately, and maybe it's the years saying this, I'm not too excited. I've become a person of habit, someone who I thought I would never become, but here I am taking pride in doing a 9-5, taking a walk on MWFs and having the occasional take-out. Besides going home for the weekend or the usual dinner with the SO, I am pretty much left to my own devices. No one day is the same, of course, and life is definitely beautiful in all its messy glory, but the down times wherein I'm by myself in my room feels both pleasant and frustrating.

I've heard a few other people say that we have become a generation of people who don't have hobbies – and I feel like part of that is true, and for myself, most of it is my fault. Writing this feels like keeping a journal, and therefore not a hobby. If I were given a slambook write now, I would probably have no or only a generic answer to the word “hobbies”, because I find it hard to pinpoint what exactly lights me up and excites me. I wish I could say sewing was a hobby, or reading, or gaming – but to be frankly honest, I haven't finished anything that I've currently started (maybe except watching movies because two hours of my attention span while bingeing on popcorn is okay).

In this silence, I have idle time. It upsets me, but only because I haven't resolved it in myself that I am not who I used to be either.

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