E is for "Effervescent"

Thoughts, and then some.

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.

Two days ago I found myself in this predicament that I'd never thought I would be in – my laptop had a virus. Now I'm usually the most careful person out there, and maybe I'm no advance tech gal who has all systems in place (in truth, I would be on a Linux machine if I really wanted to be hardcore about it) but I do make the effort to have a paid antivirus software for everyone in the family. I would be the one constantly reprimanding my brother about his questionable website choices that seem always attached with a warning, or the one reminding my parents not to click this or do that.

But I still got it, and all because I was too trusting of an email.

The details of what transpired over the next two days are a bit complicated, but either I was hit by something new, or I lost confidence in two major antivirus software because they couldn't tell it existed. In the end, I decided to just do a fresh reinstall on Windows and hoped for the best.

In which that's what I've been mulling about now for awhile. If this had happened a few years back, I would be in a sort of crazy state right now, probably crying on the floor for the inevitable wipe. But I didn't. I looked over the files that I thought I had on my Downloads and Documents folder, but lo and behold, nothing was really too important to be even worth keeping.

Now I know this would have been a different scenario if it were on my work laptop, but this is my personal one – the one that I write these subpar entries on. The one where I boot up Steam to play some obscure VN or RPG Maker game. I thought I would've had a stronger attachment to the thing, but it turns out that I ended up caring more for other people's laptops than mine. Not to say that I wouldn't be unhappy if it became totally unusable, but I feel like my relationship with it has changed.

Aside from the old school papers I still had in here from a year ago, I don't think I've done anything major on Mulberry (my laptop's name) for about a year or so now. Most of my important files have been backed up on the cloud, tucked away for some future use – they're mostly pictures. Most of my usage solely rests on being in an open tab on Firefox instead. One one hand, I think it's amazing that technology has come so far that the average user only really needs one running application – an internet browser. But in the same vein, that sounds completely dangerous in a security stand point – if someone just cracks the code, all hell could break lose.

And so I wiped it clean. I have no idea if it's actually really virus free or not, and I still have to have that conversation with our work's IT guy tomorrow, but literally besides Firefox and my antivirus, it seems that nothing else will probably get installed on here for the time being.

Maybe Steam to play games, but we'll see.

If there was one anime I know every episode by heart, it would be Aya Nakahara's Lovely Complex. I first heard about it from a friend back in high school, but I only ever did give it a chance a few years after and completely fell in love with it. For those of you who're not familiar with it, it's an anime about a tall girl falling in love with a shorter guy and spends around 17 episodes trying her very best to make him fall for her – and it's great. If anything, I feel like it was very ahead of its time, tackling on one or two social issues whilst dazzling us with romcom tropes, but the actual story pans out as a very satisfying watch.

Or at least to me, I felt very drawn to it because I was going through the same thing. I had the greatest crush on someone who was a couple of inches shorter than me, and I honestly could not resolve this inner conflict. Fresh out of an all-girls highschool, my college had so many good-looking guys, and I end up liking one who was just as geeky as me BUT shorter? My 17 year old self must've been trying to grasp for some acceptance and reason. And so, I clung to LoveCom for dear life. And to those naysayers out there that say anime can't teach people a thing or two – I learned from this show that when you're visiting a sick person, the right etiquette is to bring well meaning gifts like citrus, or the person's favorite get-well snack. Take that.

But kidding aside, I love everything about this anime, even if it was stupid at times. But now that I'm older (hopefully wiser), and more experienced, I think back to my teenage years and feel that maybe I must have had too much unrealistic expectations of what “being in a relationship” and “giving your best” actually means. I had been that tall girl trying my very best to get that short guy to notice me, succeeded at it after a months and months of painstaking heartbreak – but the similarities end there. I am happy that in my mind, after 24 episodes, the main characters get to perpetually live out a fantasy romance we all dream of.

But not for me – real life is different.

I feel like I've come a long way from how I used to be a decade ago, and real life has definitely taught me difficult and hard lessons I would never wish on anyone. To the me now, love isn't constantly giving your all and crying at every rejection. It isn't being with someone 24/7 and expecting every minute to be magic and rainbows. As I type all of this, please know that I'm actually cringeing and beyond embarassed – and I really wish I could send my current self back in time to just let the old me know that it's okay to have a break.

That it's okay to quit too – putting yourself first is more important.

Of course, my bull headed teenage self wouldn't listen to all this enlightened talk (would call bullshit on it, in fact), but we get dealt with different cards with an unlimited number of episodes to play out. The LoveCom chapter of my life has long ended, and now I can look back to it fondly and say that really, I lived out an anime for a time.

Recently, I've just slowly become more conscious about forming habits and routines – the good ones. When I'm in my space, I find it a lot easier to follow through some well established ones – so far I have:

  • In bed by 11 PM, asleep before 12 MN
  • Reading a few pages of my current book 30 minutes before I snooze
  • Awake by 8 AM
  • Breakfast (which is a huge deal because I was never a regular breakfast person in the past)

I know these sound very basic, but I feel like I speak for a lot of other people when I say that the pandemic has absolutely changed our well established routines. During the earlier months of the year, I felt like I was in a long summer vacation where I would wake up in the middle of the day and go on playing or watching things way past midnight. It's still the norm when I go back to my parent's place for the weekend now, given that my brother is A) a college student who knows no bounds or limits and B) my parents and I particularly like watching movies whenever we're together – I find it a struggle to keep on switching back and forth between these two routines, but I try anyway.

There are also a few things I've been trying out too:

  • Meditation when I get up in the morning
  • Drinking vitamins like a proper adult
  • Taking a short walk outside when I can during the day

As simple as those three sound, they're pretty challenging if I were to be really honest with myself. They're pretty new routines, so I'm trying to be kind to myself, especially when I slip up and forget. Consistency is key, so I just have to keep on hacking at it and trying until I get there!

Now that things seem to have slowly fallen in to place after my recent move, I've been trying to slowly pick up the pieces of where I've left off, including writing on here. It has honestly been AGES since I've fired up W.a and I feel like I'm back to the very beginning – sitting blankly in front of the white canvas in front of me with nothing to write.

But that isn't true – there has been so many things that has happened recently, sometimes I feel guilty. I virtually met online with my therapist a month ago and with embarassment and guilt, I told him that on one hand, I feel happy where I am right now because things are still turning for me, but yet I simply can't indulge on this happiness too much because I fear that maybe I'm not being sensitive enough to others. I fully admit that it's a weird balance between my pride and my empathy, and up till now I still don't know where I should stand between the two.

Nevertheless, I am alive, healthy, and doing well. That's what's important.

I now also have a bigger desk, which is why it's becoming a more recent thing that I'm sitting in front of my computer, instead of having to look at my tiny cellphone screen for entertainment. I also do have a hand-me-down TV set inside my room, but I just realized that it caused me more headaches and neckpains in the past few weeks from prolonged viewing. I know it's from the angle of where it's located in proximity to my bed, but there's no other space to put it.

I am also slowly incorporating a few healthy habits, now that I have the time and space for them – might actually write about it in another time. Being alone has definitely freed up pockets of my day, and I am thankful that I can focus on a few areas that I haven't thought of focusing on before.

Let's see if I come back to write tomorrow, or in the next few days.

It's been a while since I've last written anything, so much that I've completely forgotten how to use Markdown, and therefore I am writing all of this void of any formatting. I may or may not get back into the groove of things (with me, who knows?) but I just wanted to write down a few things that have transpired over the course of a little more than a month.

The biggest things probably is that I have finally moved houses and I am now fully living the so-called “adult life”, albeit it has only really been less than a full week. The house is in your typical San Francisco Victorian house style, complete with two flights of stairs that are excruciating to walk up to when you're dead tired. I share the space with two lovely ladies who I rarely see, but I hear their presence whenever they pass by the corridor. My only fear is that one day they'll come up to me and say “I can hear you snore”.

Joking aside, it is absolutely fantastic! The month I've been away from writing was spent on getting ready, and mostly buying new supplies and gadgets that would satisfy my aesthetic and trendy needs more than my practical ones. I've ransacked my parent's cupboards and brought with me whatever I think I could cook, but the past few days had me buying take-out and dividing it into three equal parts: today's lunch, today's dinner, and then tomorrow's breakfast. I must admit, there were some things that I severely overlooked, and in my excitement to go, I didn't think about the practical side of living alone: meal planning, cleaning, and laundry. I was only prepared with the idea of having to do it, but not actually doing them.

But then, this is where I should start to grow. I now call the shots on my life fully, with no one else to blame if things hit the ceiling. For now, it has been lessons on eating properly and telling myself constantly that just because I can, means I should. Still, the other day, I bought a few cans of beer, fully knowing that I don't drink too often. It will probably take me months before I finish the last can.

But anyway, Cheers!

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