The Daily Grind – 4.8.14

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It’s another forty minutes trapped inside the cab that is (unsuccessfully) navigating Manila’s infamous traffic.

i’ve been doing this for more than a thousand days–that it has become an automatic habit for me. Wake up, take a bath, kiss the husband goodbye, rush out of the house, work like a robot, finish what I can, catch a cab, go home, spend whatever waking hour I have left with the hubby, fall asleep, Press repeat.

There are days when I am okay. But there are also days, like now, when I am convinced that real life is more mortifying than a Steven Seagal movie.

The only wind pushing my sail is the impending trip on my birthday–God willing I’ll get a visa. Going away somewhere great can be quite difficult for normal citizens like me whose parents don’t work for the government or have a trust fund, at least.

Work… is great, as long as I don’t think about my salary grade and the office politics. Work is great because I am learning, getting recognized for what I do and earning my own.

Everyday, I think about how my friends started building their families, of having kids and all, while Hub and I remains a family of two. There are days when it’s okay, after all we are happy, the two of us. But there are also days when sadness creeps in and I am left with ugly thoughts like, “God seemed intent on giving children to everyone I know except apparently, me…” Today is one of those days, aggravated by a callous remark made by one of my friends who deemed she is more “inconvenienced traveling because she has a kid, something that I childless person like me won’t understand…”

I tried giving her a piece of my mind bit what for, really? After all, she is partly correct.

…finally reached my office building. It’s kinda amazing/pathetic that I am pouring today’s emo thoughts on my iPhone. Whatever happened to good old journal keeping?

Confessions of a serial dieter

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It has come to my attention that all perceived weight and flabs that I have managed to lose due to exercising like a mad woman during the last quarter of 2013 has been slowly creeping up my flab-riddled body.

The warning signs were there: clothes that felt a bit too tight around the middle, difficulty in running as part of the office’s running club and the slowly expanding gut. Sometimes, I say no to invitations for drinks and get-together because I don’t want to see old acquaintances and hear them say the usual line, “what happened to you? you gained weight! you used to be so thin in college!” Yes, I can deflect it with my usual tough girl lines but it kinda eats me away inside–especially when I am already at home, looking at a pile of clothes that no longer fit me.

While I do my four minute work outs during weekend, I have also begun to collect flimsy routine just to get out of my exercise routine. This–and the lack of discipline–are some of the reasons why I managed to gain back the pounds I managed to shake off.

Now, I am in panic mode.

Like the serial crammer and dieter that I am–and faced with the thought of looking pudgier than I was before–I started looking at my options.

1. Replace coffee with green tea and stick with it – after reading somewhere that tea is a good anti-oxidant and that it helps you lose weight, I started impulsively buying various green tea variants in the market and leaving it anywhere: in my room, the office and a sachet in my bag. My reasoning is that I will replace my coffee intake with green tea. I managed to do this for about a week and then stress hits me and I am chugging coffee again like a fiend.

2. Salads, hard boiled eggs and eating healthy – When I was still doing the fitness boot camp, I was eating salads, vegetables and fruits, drinking milk everyday and staying away from sweets (aka “my weakness”). But after the boot camp and the stress of work reappeared, I was downing cup cakes and fudgee bars every chance I get. I blame this for the bloated feeling.

To address this, I started eating healthy again — but man, trying to lose weight is very expensive. I was spending almost a hundred bucks per meal for my salads! Fruits and veggies also don’t come cheap. But it really needed to tone down. So, I am temporarily breaking my frugal ways in order to sustain my “healthy lifestyle”. If you have suggestions on how I can eat healthy and on the cheap – let me know!

3. Get my chair off the butt and start running again - I wasn’t able to run as much as I like due to my very hectic work sched. However, deep inside, I know that I am using work as a reason to procrastinate on my running and exercise. I have to stop this. I already left my running gear at work, reasoning that it will allow me to run if I want to.

4. Explore gym membership – I noticed that there’s a small community gym a block from my house. If I don’t have the discipline to do the work outs on my own, maybe it’s time to hit the gym and hire a trainer to bully me into submission.

God knows how much I wanted to lose weight. I don’t want to acknowledge it but gaining weight is already affecting my self-esteem.

:(

My Selfie-loving country

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I live in Makati City, Philippines — recently declared by Time as the “Selfie Capital of the World.”

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Above: Screenshot of the Time study identifying cities with the most number of “selfie-takers.” My city takes the cake with 258 selfies per 100,000 people.

The news was met with the same intensity as Filipinos hearing about an American Idol contestant with a drop of Filipino blood: news gets circulated starting from the 7AM news up to the 11PM round up, people share the “good news” on Facebook and yes, there are actually people tittering with excitement due to this honor. Truth be told, I am conflicted if this bit of “good news” is something to get excited about.

Have we become to transfixed with ourselves that we have to record our faces everytime?

During last Sunday’s mass, the priest talked about this bit of news and how capturing moments have become extinct, same as the company  Kodak which went bankrupt following the death of film cameras. I remembered when I was young and people use nothing but film cameras. We buy film rolls (usually comes in 12 shots, 24 and 36) and we have to make sure that the moments we take are worth it in order not to waste a shot. Hence, the pictures of yesterday shows our fully-made up forebears, dressed to the nines and usually include all family members. To take pictures then was to celebrate an event, to capture a moment or simply to have a momento to a very important occassion. I remember my mom telling me everytime “not to waste my shot” as I clutch the trusty Pentax wind-up camera given by my (now departed) uncle. Same uncle replaced the clunky Pentax with an automatic one (I love the sound of “whiiiiiiir” as the film roll retracts back to its case) after a few years but it always ends up with me retracting the film roll and going to the friendly neighborhood film processing studio to turn it into pictures. Same studio is still open (but has gotten rid of its film developing business) and is now a mini grocery store selling sanitary napkins and batteries.

Taking pictures then was equal to celebrating an event — nowadays, taking pictures is something people do when they want to pass time.

Don’t get me wrong — I am also guilty. A folder in my Facebook page, plus a few shots in my Instagram account will prove that I am also a trigger-happy, #filter-using, Instagramming fiend who celebrate hair cuts and newly bought lipstick with a mean selfie.

But how do we define when your addiction to seeing your duck-pouting, filter-dependent self is just too much? Consider these examples:

  • You have a folder/s in Facebook dedicated to 67 pictures of you and your various head angles/ duck pout variations taken when you woke up. I have friends like these and they happily rest under my “Unfollow Friend” list.
  • You can’t get out of your house unless you take a #OOTD (outfit of the day, for those with lives not revolving vanity). Never mind if the clothes you wear are not Fashion Week worthy.
  • You sprained your hand because you keep reaching up – to take the patented “camera from above” shot that is popular to the selfie loving masses.
  •  You have 15 different folders in your Facebook page that contains nothing but your face.
  • You have the complete list of photo apps in your iPhone/Android phone to make sure that you have all the tools needed in creating the perfect picture.

Of course, the advent of smart phones have erased the need to “wait for the moment” before anyone can take the pic. A simple press of a button, some swipe here and there for photo editing and you are good to go. If you find the photo is not to your liking, you can always erase and take another shot.

Being declared as the “Selfie Capital of the World” is not bad. But I do want people to know that we are more than a country of selfie-loving people. We are strong, resilient, we love unconditionally, we are God-fearing and we know how to celebrate moments with our nearest and dearest. Taking a picture is just one of them.

PS: I opened the Photos folder in my trusty iPhone and it shows that I have about 30 selfies out of 284 photos. That’s more than 10% It means that I contributed to the findings by Time.

…today’s dose of vanity (Vol. 1 Issue 2): The Evils of Threading

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(TODAY’s DOSE OF VANITY (phrase): a collection of my efforts to scare away my readers by doing either: posting my ugly (don’t worry readers, I have a healthy dose of self confidence); or make like a fashion blogger and post OOTDs (where my usual choice of clothes doesn’t exactly read “Fashion Week”)

Being a woman, while an utterly rewarding, exhilirating and amazing experience, can suck sometimes. OH DON’T GET ME WRONG…I love being a girl and all the shoes and bags and clothes that go with it, but when you are render motionless sometimes due to your monthly period; go through depression because you can’t conceive and a big biological clock seems to hang ominiously in the background…it can get in the way of me being a full-pledged fan of the sisterhood.

And yes, can we even talk about body hair and our need to yank, strip, shave and just get rid of the damn suckers all the time?

Case in point and the reason for this post: I went to my usual spa to have my eyebrows fixed the other day — it’s a very unpleasant experience for me but something I know I must go through in order to curtail the population of bushy-browed women in my office. Threader goes in to work on my eye brows when she noticed the thin and faint layer of fuzz on my upper lip, it’s not really visible but yeah…it’s there. She says, “ma’am do you want your upper lips also threaded?”

Because having my eyebrows threaded is already my idea of eternal damnation, I said no. But then it hit me. If it will just cost a little and will make me a lot more human (a.k.a “prettier”) in the eyes of my long-suffering husband, why the eff not? Surely, threading your upper lip can’t be more painful than cat bite (which I’ve had a few) or worse, a paper cut?

So, after confirming that upper lip threading will cost the same as the eye brow threading, I said yes. With a stern warning that this will be the first time for me and can the attendant be gentler? The kind lady said yes and proceeded to put a thin layer of baby powder on my upper lip. With a few twists of the white thread, she started getting to work.

Owwww. Ouch. Sh*t. It.is.excruciating. What.the…….

Immediately, my eyes started to water — I am tempted to tell the attendant to forget it and leave my faint little upper lip fuzz in freaking peace. But no, my pride and the fact that I will be paying for a job halfway done got in the way, so I decided to grin and bear it. For me, it felt like my cats have declared revolution and decided to gnaw on my upper lip as their form of revenge. Imagine fine thread yanking those tiny buggers off all at the same time.

After about fifteen minutes, it was done. The attendant efficiently moved on to my eyebrows which was not as painful as having the tiny hairs on my upper lip yanked. Trying to force a smile, I closed my eyes and tried to sleep… convinced that threading should be declared as another form of medieval torture.

My go-to place for threading:
Let’s Face It – Glorietta Branch
3F Glorietta Mall (near Gold’s Gym) Makati City
Threading starts at PHP150 (about 3.50USD)

* I am just being creative in describing my experience, but I can assure you that “Let’s Face It” is a nice place and has really efficient staff. They’re my go-to place when I want to look vaguely human. And no, this is not a sponsored post.

…today’s dose of vanity (Vol 1, Issue 1)

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TODAY’s DOSE OF VANITY (phrase): a collection of my efforts to scare away my readers by doing either: posting my ugly (don’t worry readers, I have a healthy dose of self confidence); or make like a fashion blogger and post OOTDs (where my usual choice of clothes doesn’t exactly read “Fashion Week”

For this issue:

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Maxi dress: Forever21, bought for PHP505 or USD12
Knitted Sweater: Primark (given by the mum-in-law)
Rosary Necklace: Forever 21; about PHP250 (USD6)
Knitted Wedge Sneakers: Non-branded, about a thousand bucks
Belt: Bench

I am starting to love maxi-dresses! My current haunt nowadays is the maxidress/maxi skirt pins/board on Pinterest. I know wearing a maxi dress entails well toned gams and long legs–which I either don’t have. But screw the convention, I love the way it skims the body and flatter (thankfully) the happy love handles.

Should my strict budget allow, I intend on stocking up a few. So for a couple of weeks, I will be reverting to my old 25 year old self and get temporary citizenship at Forever21. Uniqlo is also a nice source for maxi dresses but my problem with this brand is that it doesn’t seemt to like curvy (read: fat) people. Finding a L or XL-sized dress in Uniqlo is like trying to find a prep-school graduate haggling in Divisoria–Possible but nothing short of a miracle.

Writing.

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For the times when I am stuck with the fortieth revision of a program plan or dealing again with the stupid impossibility of office politics that I sit back in my cubicle (amidst the work clutter) and ask myself where would I be should I decided to stick being a writer and not sell my soul to the devil, otherwise known as the Corporate World.

Sure, being a journalist here (even in my capacity as a lifestyle writer) in the Philippines will never guarantee to make you rich. You will be earning peanuts but will have an ample supply of deodorant, feminine wash, napkin, shampoo and gift cheques to restaurants that will last you a lifetime courtesy of various SWAGs from the events you cover. Yes, you will eventually get to the media junket but that is after you have earned your dues and have risen from the ranks from being the junior writer to being an associate editor. But no matter how measly the pay, it is the allure of writing stories — giving angle to what was just previously words and thoughts and sometimes, pitches (from your friendly neighborhood PR agency)–to seeing these same previously jumbled words published, smelling like freshly-churned newsprint that I find myself yearning more.

I don’t know which I miss more: covering events and looking for people to interview; rushing to the editorial office, trying to make deadline while grappling with writer’s block or trying to survive a dressing down and salvaging bits of my pride and sanity as my editor reviews my written piece. Maybe all of these? Because these past few days, all I can think about is going back to writing. Or how I miss the sound of the insistent clacking of keys from 2PM to 4PM on the editorial floor.

I miss being creative. I miss the cred of being a print journalist. I miss the dressing downs that usually came with a side of insight on how you will move up the publishing world. Yes, the only thing I do not miss is the measly pay.

Almost a decade ago, sick of the rejection I had following a failed internship in a well-known glossy, I decide to throw caution to the wind, sell my soul and go corporate. First, I tried Public Relations which can be best describe as “excruciating” especially to an anti-social like me before moving on to corporate communications and marketing, fields I have come to love.

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I was happy — or at least, I thought I was happy. That is until recently when I noticed myself hankering to go back to the twenty year old me, a snot-nosed kid always eager for a writing assignment.

Hustling

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While I would like to make myself believe that I have enough money to fund the stupid things I usually get into — I really don’t.

I maybe working from 9 to 7PM, and with responsibilities that can kill an overgrown elephant — but if you would care to look at the status of my finances, OH BOY — I am a merely a pathetic little bitch. Here’s the low-down, my monthly income is in the lower five digits. Might be enough if I am fending only for my big ass, but quite pathetic when I am trying to sustain a lifestyle, fill up a savings account and be a supportive wife to M, my long-suffering hubby looking for work after he graduated from Caregiver school.

Yes, life sucks — but when life hands you lemons, you gotta find a way to make a mean lemonade.

The obvious solution to this is to hustle, something I have belatedly learned a year ago when I started accepting freelancing jobs to get by. On my first freelance writing job, I quit after my second submission — the pay was peanuts but the extensive research needed was too much for my sanity. Then, I started doing copy and copy editing work to a near competitor of my previous employer — the money was good for a while, especially when I was offered a bigger opportunity that is, until the work dried up and here I am, on the look out again.

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Giving up is not in my vocabulary — I am determined to work hard and hustle, just to earn an honest buck. There is no shame in hustling. It strengthens your resolve, gives you a much-needed ego check and underlines the value of hard work.

Right now, my freelance gig had all but dried up. It’s already been two months and the blank lines in my passbook account betrays this need for more money to come in. The most obvious solution to this problem is to check the net for postings and opportunities. Right now, I’ve signed up for a gig doing hush-huh reviews but there was really no pay involved, except for opportunities and little pleasures. It’s good though, as it allows me to experience things without having to shell out a dime. If I am lucky, there will be (in the near future and sometime) a monetary value in the work I do.

I am not ashamed to say these things because it is part of who I am. I will not lie or cover the fact that I am hustling for a living through any good, honest-to-goodness means. As long as it will never compromise the values I have been taught since my childhood, I am open to opportunities. After all, this world belongs to every hard working man.