Jodythinks · Love/Life

The End of the Gifts

Not my secret

This isn’t my secret, but I’ve thought about the poem a lot. When times were hard, and things didn’t seem like it would get better, there’s doubt sometimes. And why wouldn’t it be now on everyone’s mind?

Writers, television, movies romanticize suicide. 13 Reasons Why was a horrible way to depict the aftermath of it. Like justice was being done because the girl died and left tapes, and there was justification for the act done. It’s dangerous, showing the past with the present because it doesn’t feel like Hannah, the girl who killed herself, is really gone. The flashbacks, the glimpses of her like she would be back, are tired, triggering images that can send people the wrong message about what the aftermath is for people that have taken their own life.

It’s not pretty. It ruins the lives of the people that love you. It will make them blame themselves. It will make them hate you for not reaching out. You won’t be there to feel validation for the pain you’ve caused the people who you think deserve to feel the pain of you being gone by your own hand.

THERE’S NO GOING BACK.

There’s only a corpse to bury and the cleanup after. I’m not trying to guilt trip you, as I know sometimes existing is just hard. But we can forget about the realization of all that comes after. You can’t haunt the people that have made you feel the way you do into submission or feeling bad about it. It’s even harder to explain why you think it needed to happen in a way that will make it okay to the people you love that have been left behind.

I’ve been thinking more about the aftermath of suicide after Anthony Bourdain died. What drove him to do it, how his family and friends must be feeling, how the world is still reeling from his loss. I’m still reeling for his loss. It’s devastating, and I never even met him.

So think about if even one person will feel hurt about your loss. And how you will most likely shit your pants when you go, because we lose control of our bowels when we die. How your stuff needs to get packed. How the family will have to talk to the people that will visit your wake about how they didn’t know it was that bad.

And I’ll keep myself to this poem when the bad days roll around too.

Fuck the poets of the past, my friends. There are no beautiful suicides

Just cold corpses with shit in their pants

And the end of the gifts.”

Gratitude · Jodythinks · Love/Life · Thanks

Midyear Thoughts

Lately I’ve been thinking about how my year has been going. It has not been the smoothest, and definitely there have been some curveballs that I’m still figuring out how to deal with. 

Suffice to say there’s no shortage of whining and crying about how things have not gone my way. I keep hearing myself saying that I miss my grandmother and how my knees are still not being helpful in my quest to be a better exerciser. The year has not been perfect. However, there have been some bright spots. I am putting these down “on paper” so I can remind myself the next time I’m on the edge again, and find the bright in the dark.

  1. First time in Japan. Osaka. Second time traveling with my cousins, but now a smaller group of four. It was one of the most relaxed, extra food-y trips of my life, and even if we walked around more than 14 kilometers a day, I think all the Japanese rice made us gain a few kilos each. Osaka was a food wonderland at every corner, and seeing the Gion I only used to read about in one of my favorite books when I was in college was amazing. I cannot wait to travel with my cousins again.
  2. A weekend in Taipei. No planning, just booked tickets in a span or a couple hours of agreement that we were actually going to do it, a weekend in Taipei was a yummy jolt to the senses. The best hot pot I’ve ever been to the second time, art spaces and more food, it was a super short trip that only lacked more time for more of the former.
  3. The time and the resources to be able to be with my friends. One of my friends that I’ve known the longest got married this year. Another got his house built. We got to go to weddings. We got to go to the beach to start off the year. We got to go to our family’s town fiesta and introduce two friends to the joy of drenching fellow adults in ice cold water while drinking. We got to have good food cooked by each other (With my sister and I mostly just doing the eating). I met significant others for the first time in a friendship that spans more than a decade and a half. There were big things, and little things, but all these things just cemented the friendships more, even if some of these things were hard to laugh at when it was happening, it was funny eventually.
  4. Taking time for myself and the family at the house. I had always been busy since I enjoyed working. With a night shift job in the past, I had to put my health to the side and just do what I needed to do, take what I needed to take to be able to sleep, and then to stay alert for the post. There was no helping at home, or contributing to the overall cleanliness of the house. I bought what I could to help, but the labor wasn’t really there. I am not saying I’m helping full time now, and I still feel guilty when I don’t think of how to help, or that I really can’t when it comes to the dog’s foodstuff because the smell makes me want to yak, but I hope I’m more helpful. I’m not a saint like my sister, but I do want to be a better contributor. Maybe the taking time for myself is around 70% to the 30% I actually help out around the house with, and mostly with driving my mom around to do her errands, or cooking here and there.

Yeah. 2019 has been a kick in the shin but my life is pretty difficult to complain about overall. Not that I’m challenging the universe to throw more at me because please no I’m just saying I’m grateful still for what I have.

What are you grateful for so far this year?

Gratitude · Jodythinks · Love/Life

525,600 minutes later

This time last year, I was probably nodding off to sleep in the room my sister and I had at Montemar, savoring and digesting the heavy early dinner we had because the kitchen closed at 10 pm.

I was on melatonin to try and sleep more than 2 hours at night time and failing, waking up in the middle of the night and dreading 32. It just seemed so unremarkable, so dreary, to be moving to my mid 30s in the middle of picking up the pieces of my heart, after an inevitable break.

It was depressing, and even if my sister was a massive help, the quietness of the resort, the tranquility was so goddamn defeaning. Giving me time to think of the “might have beens” or could have happeneds”. It was an exercise in futility that I could have told the past version of myself was part of the process to get me to where I am now, different but invariably, more rational.

I haven’t made the “enlightened” joke yet because I know I regained all the weight I lost last year but hey, the food and the company I spent it with, truly worth every straining dress and groaning pair of shorts.

Right now I am lying on my semi new mattress (Still new after 3 months thanks to my mattress cover) trying to convince my bunnies to snuggle with me to bring in my next 525,600 minutes. It’s not so cool, (or maybe cooler because the airconditioning is cranked up) but definitely much more my speed these days. Making the most of those moments that pass by that you never appreciate until you can’t have them again.

We are never going to be here again, and the non-picture perfect moments are what we tend to miss now, because of the priority to “record it for posterity”. We can’t capture the feeling, but the idea of being fully there is so exciting to me now. Not to demean anyone who loves taking photos because hey, you do you! Maybe I’m just not a front of camera type of woman, and what I can jot down is the romanticized, distorted version of events, but my heart says it true. And that’s good enough for me.

But I digress (as always). I’m not there yet, I’m still figuring it out and finding the right path for me. In life, career, and with the people I love. Luckily for me, the people that are around me have been loving, supportive, and can crack the whip when needed.

I guess all I’m trying to say is I’m grateful for 32, and I’m looking forward to what 33 has in store.

Gratitude · Love/Life

Hello, summer

It’s been a rocky few days for Metro Manila. A water shortage has crippled thousands and has made the heat that has come in even more difficult. It’s hard to be thankful for beautiful things when you feel grimy and thirsty and don’t know when your next bath is.

So far my solutions are cold drinks and ice cream (still dreaming of the Cremia ice creams from Osaka) and water tumblers full of icy water.

We’ve put out all our water containers and now alarming amount of reusable bottles we didn’t know we had and filled them with water for drinking and the rest of our pails and drums with washing water.

We’ve been fortunate and the schedules have been accurate so we’ve been able to plan our day around when water will be available. I am hoping that all of this winds down soon though for everyone’s sake. Water is so essential to everything. It makes everyone uneasy for the most basic thing to be limited.

Are you affected by the shortage? How are you coping?

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.

Jodythinks · Love/Life · Songs to listen to

I think you should listen to Lany’s ILYSB (Stripped) today

Simply because it’s damn sexy. And I don’t say that about a lot of new songs since I am an oldie that likes songs that even my parents were too young to like.

But this song is just breathy and simple and I can’t get enough of it.

Here are a few lines from the song:

Ain’t never felt this way
Can’t get enough so stay with me
It’s not like we got big plans
Let’s drive around town holding hands

Mad warm when you get close…to me
Slow dance these summer nights
Our disco ball’s my kitchen light

And even if it sounds sexy the lyrics are pretty innocent. Holding hands in the car, slow dancing in a quiet kitchen. To me it not only speaks of desire for closeness but real intimacy.

And what’s sexier than that?

What songs are you listening to today? Have you slow danced in your kitchen with your significant other this year yet?

May this Friday treat you as well as the couple in this song, who only have eyes for each other, and if not, there’s always Saturday to make it up to you.

Jodythinks · Love/Life · Work

What motivates you?

I’ve been reading a lot of motivational things lately. If you know me personally, you know that I’m not a person that reads self-help books a lot, or attend those workshops or necessarily believe in the theoretical versus the actual. I tell people I’m very grounded in reality, which sometimes can come off as cynical. Maybe it’s because of what’s happened to me in the past, or sometimes I’m just being over cautious to the point of paranoid.

I’m trying to see things more positively. I’m trying to be less sarcastic and cynical. There is just too much reality sometimes trying to grind us down to nubs and it’s not helpful being another voice in the chorus of negative Nancies.

So I try now to write down what I’m grateful for the day, or what made me happy even for a second, because every second counts. That quote that says “don’t just add years to your life, but life to your years” isn’t just something that can be brushed off, it’s something to think about. What are we living for anyway? Is it to spend all hours stressing out about things you can’t change, or is it being happy about the things you’ve accomplished? Even if it’s just getting up in the morning, sometimes life can be so overwhelmingly sad that you just want to hide under the covers and not deal with it, getting up can be a big deal. Laughing about a joke your friend made, even if it’s something that you wouldn’t necessarily laugh at. Or looking at yourself in the mirror and thinking “I don’t hate it” is a Yay! moment. 

Life is short, if you don’t pay attention it flies by and you’ve missed the important things. The milestones of people you love. The events that change lives. The opportunity to be with them, even if you have to take the extra step to do so, it’s worth it. Because that can all change in a second and all you’ll have left with is regret.

So let me start your day with a photo that’s made me grateful for a couple days:

 

 

This view, and the opportunity I was given to enjoy it, with the music I love and friends I cherish, is something that I am glad to have started the work week with.

What’s your motivation today?

Gratitude · Jodythinks · Love/Life

You lucky SOB

I catch myself complaining a lot, and 2018 was not a year that I was very positive about a lot of things. When life threw me for a loop, I bitched and moaned about it. A lot. And I can recognize venting and mourning loss, but I also have to acknowledge what a lucky son of a Barbie (I won’t curse at my mother today) I am.

In 2018:

  1. I got to be there a lot more for what turned out to be our Nanay’s last year. 
  2. I spent a lot of times with my friends, and made a few new ones.
  3. I finally got to deal with my health, and found that there are some things you can turn the clock back on, and some facts you just have to accept for yourself.
  4. I got to see semi familiar places with people I love. Ho Chi Minh for the first time, Cebu city and Tabuan’s inner workings, Korea in the dead of winter, Vigan in a storm, Siquijor and Dumaguete, Batanes.
  5. I got to travel with our cousins for the first time and my heart could not have been more full at how wonderful people they’ve grown up to be, and how they’ve used their privilege to be better people than I’ll ever be.
  6. I got to travel for the first time myself. It was mind numbingly reflective but also cathartic.
  7. I changed how my room looked (sort of) and felt like a different person.

I feel like I need to list this down just so the next time I whine about how bad my situation is, I remember how much I actually got to experience and live in a challenging year.

Last year was certainly memorable and I survived it, albeit kicking and screaming.

And maybe I also need a wrap up to see what I have to look forward for to 2019, and Lord, I’m not challenging you on this, I know you’ve given me a whole lot and I am very grateful. I’m still breathing and most of the people I love are the same and mostly healthy. We got this, and I hope we all make it out alive this year.

Gratitude · Jodythinks · Love/Life

Merry Christmas Nanay

Dear Nanay,

We were all home and got to spend Christmas together (except for Ann but you know she’s committed to the thing). We ate a bunch of things. Ninong taught most of us a game. The fathers drank whiskey, the kids (is it still kids if no one is younger than 21?) drank bottles of sweet wine.

You were still part of the raffle, and actually got to the end, but lost out to Joannaman. I bet if you did win you’d give it to us anyway like the year you did win the top prize.

Almost all the kids give gifts now so it took a good 15 minutes with several people walking around to just give away presents. Did you see the portrait we had made of you? It’s gorgeous and I think it really captured your spirit. The painting feels happy, like you always felt to me.

We miss you Nay, and I am curently typing this in the chair. Next to the bed that was yours wishing you were still napping here. As you would after a big lunch of Kare Kare, ribs and chicken lollipops.

It’s been so different without you but still we carry on. We learned from the best. It’s just so much better when you’re around.

Merry Christmas Nay.

Love,

Jody Anne

Gratitude · Jodythinks · Love/Life

Saying goodbye

Another month, another wake. This time though, I am not the one offering my condolences but one of the people being offered theirs, because our family lost our Nanay.

She wasn’t young at 89. She had already outlived all other grandparents by at least 5 years. It wasn’t a surprise, as she had been in the hospital for around a month, and we had known when they found a mass that it wasn’t going to be long. We couldn’t go for treatment because of her age and already existing health issues, and we had resigned to just making her feel comfortable. We say it’s a blessing to have her out of pain, off the strong prescribed painkillers that made her groggy and sleep often.

But knowing she was going and seeing her gone are two different things. She is looking beautiful in the beige blouse she had specifically asked for. She has a lovely necklace from Rome they dressed her in, the colors of the makeup are colors she would have used in life.

Every now and then I want to reach over that glass bubble and shake her awake, tell her to enjoy the party being thrown in her honor, the people that have come out to say goodbye. This is the first time in a really long time that her grandkids are all together, being busy with school, work, and all the other small things that life makes you busy with.

But she’s not waking up. She’s going to miss everything from now on, and the person I’m smiling at saying to wake up is not her anymore. It’s just a shell that held her spirit and all that made her the magnetic, feisty, warm woman we all gravitated towards.

Her room already feels empty, because they took out the hospital bed she was in at my last visit. People keep joking about not wanting to go home because they don’t want her tapping on their shoulder or lying next to them on the foam mats laid out for our family to sleep shifts on.

For once I am not afraid of a presence because hers always brought me comfort. From the beginning she was always a source of good things. Of food and fun and all the glorious things that came to coming home to family and being surrounded by people that loved you unconditionally. We’re not the most vocal or the most affectionate but we’re there for each other. Even if sometimes we’re not 100% behind each venture, we show up.

And that was mainly her. She considered food something never to skimp on, living through World War II. That diets made you stupid because you went with less nourishment that equipped your brain less. She set the tone for all celebrations for decades to come, long after she herself stopped cooking in the kitchen.

I never got to sit with her to write down her specific tricks to recipes. It was mostly sitting together, asking her where she got her lovely new blouse or where she went or was going with her friends. And I was happy with that. Just being in her presence. Now though what are we to do?

Our Nanay was a one in a billion kind of woman and it will be hard to lose that heart, and we’ll be spending the next few days really just hoping to get to to goodbye without too much pain.