Cheese · Songs to listen to

I think you should listen to Ezra Furman’s “Every Feeling” today

Maybe I’ve just been watching too much Sex Education on Netflix (where this song is from), or maybe I just need a break from the same 50 songs I’ve been listening to for the past six weeks, but this song really hit me.

I’m gonna feel every feeling in the book tonight
Fuck the hurt, fuck the pain
Fuck the panic, fuck the hate

I wanna feel every feeling in the book tonight
And only love, only love and happiness will remain

And I’m not trying to sound different with all the cuss words that I don’t really use on this thing, but I think these lyrics are quite apt. I haven’t had time to process anything for the past few weeks, I’ve been too busy, too full of people in my life that aren’t usually around to really make room for what it is for normal.

It feels a little like a cop out to use being busy as an excuse to not deal with things, but what I’ve learned as an adult is that it’s such a delicate balance of things before one thing shakes the whole thing down.

So maybe today I will feel every feeling in the book tonight and leave with only love and happiness.

At least I hope so?

Cheese · Jodythinks · Love/Life

Hit like a frying pan

I only found out yesterday that GQ came out with an article about Anthony Bourdain, compiled of snippets from the people that really knew him. I knew I had to read it immediately and in private the words just resonated with me, especially this quote from Lydia Tenaglia and Chris Collins, his colleagues from Zero Point Zero Productions, and who he’d been working with his whole television career. People were detailing how they found out and this is what they said:

Tenaglia: I don’t think it was a shock that one day we would get a call. It was like, “Okay. Maybe we should prepare ourselves that one day Tony’s either gotten into a plane crash, or flipped on an ATV, had a heart attack.”

Collins: Not expecting, but you acknowledge that it could happen.

Tenaglia: But we didn’t expect that call. It’s like someone’s just hit you with a giant fucking frying pan. (source here)

I think all the fans, everyone who followed his career, watched his shows, read his books, all felt like with his lifestyle and the dangerous places he goes, there was a risk involved. There was a big possibility that we would lose him to one of those ATVs that kept flipping when he was riding them, or his body would give out, or he would be in some country that wasn’t safe from war or conflict and he would get stuck in the crossfire. Not the way we lost him. And I say we lost because most people I talk to feel like this man, who travelled across countries and sat with every single type of person and shared a meal with them, was someone they knew. And loved (or hated). 

It was terrible to lose him to such a tragedy. We can all blame external causes but internal demons can hurt people so much more than the outside. It can be a moment, it can be years of pain and hurt, but it only takes one attempt that pushes through to snuff out the light that makes the person themselves.

I don’t think he knew how much he meant to the world, but the world is still grieving his loss. Nobody could do what he had accomplished when he sought out to see the world. The rest of the world saw it with him and it might not have been pretty all the time, but that’s the reality of the place we live in.

So any time, anyone is thinking the world is better off without them in it, don’t. You mean more than you can imagine and you will leave a wound that would not be easy to repair. 

If you’re in the Philippines, here are the numbers for the people who deal with this professionally:

Hotline: (02) 8969191
Hotline: Mobile phone: 0917 854 9191

Or if that won’t work for you, let me know. We can all help each other.

Cheese · Gratitude · Jodythinks · Love/Life · Thanks

Can I keep you?

Lately I’ve been thinking about loss. With my sister and a friend going to wakes one day after the other, another terrible number up on this year’s wake count, I cannot help but think of who we can keep.

Honestly, I am quite lucky, my parents are both here and generally healthy (I say generally because they are not perfectly there but that’s another conversation entirely). I got time with both grandmothers and one grandfather. My mom’s siblings are all thriving. Cousins are intact and can be direct messaged or sent embarassing videos at any time. Friends who’ve stayed are those who are amazing (and even saw me through my worst when I just wasn’t there for anyone and was just surviving).

But what happens when the loss is unavoidable? A death. A choice. A fight so big it breaks the whole thing. Waking up one day realizing you had nothing in common. It’s inevitable, unavoidable.

Clearly I cling. Some of my closest friends are one that I’ve loved since I was 5 years old. Decades of weirdness, thousands of miles apart, misunderstandings, horribly embarrassing formative years.

And it’s not just them. Some people I’ve met I just want to keep forever. A month ago, a friend I made a year ago basically asked me if she could keep me and I didn’t hesitate. Good women, good men, amazing friends. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded with people that love and support me through something as big as a cancelled wedding to something as small as terribly applied makeup right before we went out in public in her hometown.

So when I ask to keep you, know that I mean it, and I will do my best to deserve to keep my place in your life. Also know you can tell me if I’m doing it the wrong way and you want to run in the other direction. My heart is patched up and perhaps defensive but it has the best intentions. And I intend to keep those who are in it to stay.

Cheese · Jodythinks · Love/Life

To a home of my own

I plan. I make lists and dream about the future, growing up for me was a scary, but amazing concept of independence and free choice. One of the things I have always thought about, was a space of my own.

You see, growing up, our nondescript address always had people lost, deliveries delayed, and people scared. The neighborhood itself was okay, but the surrounding areas you had to go through to get to it, difficult.

Growing up as well, going to friend’s houses, I noticed all the good, the bad and the ugly, and the things that I wanted growing up, I have found, I still want. So let’s keep this here for posterity.

My dream house will have…

…comfortable seating. I have always had issues with seating. My posture is not the best. I like sitting in comfortable chairs. I do not like those uncomfortable, Victorian chairs that will make your back hurt after two hours. I will drown in my couches and fall asleep in cushy love seats.

…beds with solid bottoms/storage. Boogeymans will have no space in my future home, as I will fill the space with socks, or books.

…a space for books. Even if my new books will all be in ebook form, I will forever haunt discount bookstores for cheap finds and musty tomes. My children will not have an ipad to read on, but actual books that they will read at night, with flashlights.

…wood or marble flooring. I am a klutz. I slip, I forget about spills, and tile is too crazy slippery for every day. Carpets are fine, but too hot for the weather, and I do not know if I can clean it well.

…printed personal photos. The country we live in is gorgeous, and we keep going back to the picture perfect places that will make anyone with a phone camera look like a pro just because of its natural beauty. The goal is to print, frame and mount personal photos in the future house. So that the art is personal, and represents the people living in it.

….real food. In as much as I will always be weak for the junk, the fatty, the sweet, real food will be paramount in my home. While I may not get the island in the kitchen in my first home, I will make space to make real food. I have learned to make my own gnocchi, pesto, cookies, cheesecake, longganisa, and all others in between, and my home will be filled with the smells of cooking and baking.

….color. In as much as all I’ve read and saved photos of beautiful spaces are monochromatic and full of white, I am very much a fan of color. I have rainbow colored mini Christmas trees. Curtains that look like party streamers. Sheets that look like neon highlighter. I will try and tone it down but my fabrics will scream color, my art a rainbow of hues.

…love. My home will be full of love. All kinds of love. Annoyingly, messy love that takes over everyone that enters my home. As a home without love is just a space with stuff that people live in. My home will be a setting for love.

 

Cheese · Jodythinks · Thanks

On looking at the bright side

Most people hate the rain, and why wouldn’t they? It makes driving harder, which makes it more traffic to get to work or wherever it is you need to get to, and so on and so forth. It soaks your outfit, makes a mess on the floor, makes your dad yell at you when you come in with wet Chuck Taylors (long story).
But it also makes for this view at the Banaue Rice Terraces:

Walang tapon,
Walang tapon,

 

We forget how beautiful nature is sometimes when it’s beating down on us and is seemingly endlessly depressing. We forget that it makes the grass green, the trees lush, flowers bloom, fruits exist. The beauty of nature is that it doesn’t merely exist, it sustains. Food. Air. Overall nourishment. It took us 14 hours in a van to get to here, and I’d like to think it was worth every second. What about that view, eh? It’s intensely gorgeous without trying to hard, and it makes food too.

 

What view are you grateful for today?

Cheese · Jodythinks · Love/Life

On what makes a life well lived

I went to my uncle’s funeral yesterday. He was 85 and lived a full life. Married, had children, made mistakes, made some more, fixed those mistakes, and made amends with others. He was definitely not a saint but he wasn’t all at fault for all that’s gone wrong or right in his life either. I will always remember him as this man who was always cheerful, impeccably dressed, and loved watching wrestling. Yes the WWE. The last time we visited him at home, he actually had it on the TV and was excitedly talking to my brother about it. He may be the oldest fan of the franchise that I know. I’ve heard some stories about his life that have made me nod and think to myself that I’m not worried about what he’s done for himself, but for the family that he’s leaving behind, most particularly his grandchildren, who he was grandfather to, and sometimes father as well. He was a warm person and a fun loving guy, and my favorite memory of him is of three years ago, when our tire blew on the North Luzon Expressway, he took it upon himself to be an extra early warning device to make up for our puny orange cone. He picked up a large branch off the side of the road and just started waving it at the motorists that were passing through, to make sure they knew we were having an issue. It’s not very sweet. It’s definitely funny. It’s very much an anecdote of his personality, that he would make the effort to try and help, in any way he knew how. Also that he had a sense of humor about himself that never really went away.

The priest at the mass for him had said, the Bible says we live to 70. He got to live to 85, and for that, we need to be thankful. For anyone who gets to live their bonus years, and for being able to say goodbye in a room full of people who loved and cared for you until the end. Not a lot of people can say that. I am happy that he got to do so, and that the pain and difficulty he had been suffering the past several months because of the cancer that ravaged his body has now lifted, and in my head, he is off to his afterlife, sipping a brandy and watching advanced episodes of the WWE.

It’s really got me thinking about what I would be looking back on at my twilight years (If I’m lucky enough to get to them). I’ve been thinking about this a lot. It’s a mix of hearing friends describe their lives, what they’ve gone through, the situations they’ve been, the insanity that life has handed to them. While I have admittedly, gone the safest route possible, with the most moderate risks and thought about decisions this whole time.

 

I’m not particularly adventurous, nor very friendly. I don’t enjoy going out at night. I like to read, and catch up on shows I follow on TV. My most adventurous is when it comes to things I eat. Weird things, unusual tastes, I like to try new dishes and offerings that I can get to as much as I can. Even that though has its limits. I hardly go out anymore and I yawn when out at 9 pm at night. I stop drinking after two glasses/bottles. I don’t like rollercoasters, I don’t even watch horror movies. What gives me a thrill is a new restaurant, a nice  place to stay, a calm beach with no one else around and a cold drink.

My lifestyle was, and still is, quite boring, and my approach to life, safe. Sometimes I think about growing old and wanting to look back on life and finding something to reminisce about, the wild days. Because there are no wild days quite yet. Even at the age of 30, there are no stories that will make my future grandchildren blush or exclaim “Gross!”. And maybe that’s all right with me.

What scares me is not a life too safely played, but the inability to make significant connections to a minute amount of people. I am not very affectionate. 90% of my conversations are sarcastic comments and self-admonishing quips. I do not tell my friends I miss them or shower them with embarrassingly public displays of adoration during their birthdays or life milestones. I don’t even ask for hugs when I sometimes need them. I forget birthdays and lose numbers. When a friend is going down a self-destructive path and I can’t bear to watch them do it, but can’t really dictate their actions, I lend an ear when they ask, but don’t meddle. When I can no longer look, I step back and wait for them to ask for my help.

I’m hoping when I get to the afterlife and I’m asked what I did in this one, that I can answer truthfully that I’ve loved and tried all my best to help and not to hurt. Because there is so much hate, pain and suffering we can inflict on others, and I don’t want to be part of that as much as I can.

What do you consider a life well lived?

Cheese · Jodythinks · Love/Life

Hello from a Christmas elf

So I’m not officially a Christmas elf anymore, since I moved companies early this year. That doesn’t make me less of an elf however, as Christmas still makes me giddy, even with all the stress that comes with it.

I love the weather. It’s a little bit colder than usual, cold enough to use a pajamas at night, a sweater if you’re spending some time outside.

People are generally more generous towards each other, with Christmas bonuses, gift giving, parties and all. There is a festive mood, even if people try to deny it and complain about the inevitable horrid traffic getting there and going home, when they get to see friends and family they made plans with, faces light up and people breathe better.

20151127_232104

There are a ton of parties to go to, reunions, people you troop to the other side of the metro for, since most of the year there seems to be less reason to see each other. When you think December, you remember the people you don’t get to see often but want to do so.

There seems to be more food going around. Being given as presents, baked goods abound. Cheesecakes from the family friend that’s also a dentist, brownies (my Tita Lita’s fudgy brownies I CAN’T WAIT), cookies. Bibingka and puto bumbong from the church early in the morning, in our town in Batangas with this perfectly made pandan tea. Suman from our town in Bataan with halaya already in the middle, perfect with a cup of tea (or coffee if that’s your thing).

More hugs are given for some reason. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it the mood. Maybe it’s a hugging disease going around, and I’d like to get infected with it.

I know I’m lucky, to be surrounded by family on Christmas, a particularly noisy, easily excitable family that is there for each other year after year, and I hope to never get tired of it, or lose that place.

Christmas is my favorite holiday, bar none.

May your Christmas be merry, and full of love. If it’s quiet, make it noisy. If it’s lonely, reach out to a person you love, you won’t be less of a person if you make the first call. Fill your life with love. Be careful with people’s hearts. Love one another.

Merry Christmas.

Cheese · Jodythinks · Love/Life

On being unprepared, but grateful.

So I found myself in the UK last month. It still seems like something out of the Twilight Zone , me actually getting there(Millenials, see here). After two weeks of preparation, I found myself in the freezing early winter in the UK for a week and a half. I never feel like I’m fully prepared for a trip. I never pack the right amount of clothes, either it’s too much or too little. This trip fully left me with a sense of panic. This was evident as I was waiting for my aunt to pick me up at the train station in Newcastle, wearing layers entirely too thick for the country I left, and pathetically thin for the country I was in.

I have lived my whole life in a tropical country. Our average temperature is around 25-30 degrees Celsius even in the coldest of months. Our humidity is 75% up and smog adds to the thickness of the metro. Knowing this, I had bought and packed parka type jackets and thick coats that in the heat of the weather where I bought them, seemed enough, even too much for where I was going to. Through the advice of my significant other, and (sort of) cousin I packed mostly in dark colors, mainly black, so as not to literally stick out of the crowd in my usually loud colors. I brought (thermal) layers, scarves, headgear, and thick socks.

I was smug and thought for once I had packed quite enough for the weather. I was happy with my monochrome wardrobe, knowing I had survived with significantly less in the thick of winter at the Bay Area, with temperatures at 8-11 degrees Celsius during my stay.

I was wrong. This is what happens when you’re overconfident. I knew I got cold easily since I usually get cold here, but when I got there, I was miserably freezing. After a few hours, a family friend came over and brought over a suitcase (literally, a roller bag full) full of winter things for me to wear. Things I would actually buy if I knew how DSC01788much I was in for, and how cold I would really feel.

That whole UK trip (Scotland, NewCastle, York, Sunderland, London, Maidenhead), 90% of what I wore was from that suitcase. I switched out some things and did laundry, but the average -1 to 3 in the north, 2 to 11 degrees in London was a lesson to me on humility and gratitude. Humility that I did not know what i was doing even if I thought I had enough research and prepared, gratitude to the people around me that understood what it means to be from a country so different.

 

I certainly felt like I was going to a foreign territory, but found myself feeling quite at home because of the community I dropped in on. Those who I was related to by blood, but also those who I knew since I can remember. One thing I’m grateful for is for the warmth of the welcome, the degree of hospitality, and the generosity of the people that I saw when I was there. I never could have enjoyed myself without their help, and have seen the country for what it meant to them and their families for them to be there.

They say the Filipino spirit is waterproof, I say it’s lifeproof. However far we are from each other, how different our lives are, how hard the obstacles, we still find a way to smile through tough days, months, years. I admire each person who leaves our country to work for their families and loved ones, because it is exhausting to be in a place that’s not “home”, and to be apart from the ones you love for months or years at a time is an immense sacrifice. Of course it is also great fun to explore, see another place, find your way around and get to travel the other side of the world, but in the end, home is where our hearts are, and if we’re not there for most of our lives, it’s forfeiting time spent with the ones you love.

Suffice to say I am learning more the farther I get from my home base. And I am loving that I get the opportunity to do so.

 

Cheese · Jodythinks

Here’s to unexpected friendships

How do you make friends as an adult? Most of us say the same experiences. That means, being colleagues and enduring the same ups and downs, and the intricacies of company policies and politics that inevitably plague any environment that has more than 2 people in it.

I do not make friends easily. I don’t smile. Don’t make the effort to introduce myself. I don’t start conversations. It is not because I do not like people, but really, I am very wary of being shut down when I try. Shy isn’t the word to describe me because no one would believe it, but maybe defensive is the better term. I put walls up. I admit it. It’s easier for me to just sit myself down and think that it’s just not going to happen, or people will assume I’m a b**ch and I’m not going to help my case much.

Now and again one or two people break through that shell. One of them is my friend Anna. She is about the exact opposite of me. Thoroughly girly, she is a makeup artist and content creator by profession. She can talk about outfits. She likes the tall, dark and rugged. She knows how to do a wicked pose. She is actually friendly. She is almost excessively peppy that you don’t know if she’s being fake.

She is one of the most sincere, caring people I know. Count yourself lucky to be considered a friend because she is inclusive and protective of the people she loves to the end. She knows how to bring people together just by her presence. She has one of the most positive outlooks out there, that I hope the world doesn’t beat out of her, because it almost glows through her. Her laugh is infectious and her humor, never malicious.

Don’t get me wrong, she has been through a lot, and life has tried to beat her spirit down, but she always gets up. She finds the good in situations and figures out how to spin it to look at it differently. She is hopeful but not naive.

She turned 29 last week and I was sitting there at the beach, with a couple of her other friends, shaking my head thinking what am I doing here. Because it was so random, and if you told me I would be there in 2007, I would have laughed my butt off at the absurdity of the concept.

I am grateful to have her in my life and I hope you find a friend like her. Maybe you get to meet her one day too, and you’ll see what the fuss it about.

 

Cheese · Jodythinks · Love/Life · Thanks

Pat yourself in the back today

Hello, everyone who’s going through a quarter life, midlife, single life, married life, crisis.

 

It’s me, Jody. I have been there, and I’m still there. Lost, sometimes dissatisfied, always wanting more. I recently watched the movie The Pursuit of Happyness and found myself struck by the words in the movie, “preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness”. It left me asking, will we always be in the pursuit of happiness? Or are some people perfectly happy where they are? I ask, because, while I am happy, I am always on the lookout for the next big thing, the next step. Where do we take life when we’re hardwired to look for bigger things under the ideology of ambition and success. But what is success? I know I’ve asked this before, and so far, I haven’t found anyone who considers themselves successful and is good to stay where they are. In conversations, everyone is always waiting for the next step, a higher goal.

 

Does it set us up for success or failure? Will we always feel incomplete because we’re always in pursuit? Or will it keep us moving, always working and always finding something to strive for.

 

For me, now, it depends on your perspective. I’ve always read that the most successful people are the ones who never give up, who keep on working. And then there are those who are quite cool with the simple things, those that sit at the end of the day and think themselves lucky to have their one bedroom apartment, dog, and netflix streaming.

 

I say, define your own success and pat yourself on the back today. You got through another night, you woke up with all your faculties, you can sing (even if you can’t hit one note), you have that cup of coffee to stay awake. Even with a grueling commute to an exhausting job that you spend 50 hours a week on that still isn’t enough to get you through your vacation in three months, it’s there, you know you’re able to eat in a few hours.

Pat yourself on the back for smiling at the colleague who looks like he’s going through something today, but is too quiet to say a word. Or for not burning the toast when you forgot to take it out before you took a shower.

 

Pat yourself on the back for being you, because you are awesome. You believe it today, and the world will find out about it soon.