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April 20, 2014

Nine days

Nine days before I turn 29.

Last week, I realized I'll be hitting that special birthday.

I guess I was in my late teens when I "learned" that when your age is the same as your calendar birthdate, it's supposed to be celebrated in a special kind of way. I may not remember who I heard this from or where I read it, but I do remember thinking, Mine's 29. No rush and no worries. I can afford an extra special birthday by then.

And here I am, nine days away from turning 29. Paying some bills on an Easter Sunday and wishing money grows on trees so I can outshine my 26th birthday - celebrated in two countries, carefree as a 17-year-old out to conquer the world and pit-stopping at a music festival, booze, long hair, snubbing maps, and breaking rules.


March 29, 2014

Cat Heaven

Apparently, Cat Heaven is by the tram station at Olaf Reyes Plass, cigarette butts and all.
I found this cat last summer. He looked so beautiful. Everything about him was happy. Black. Tail. Ears. Eyes. Smile. Halo. That was the summer I joined Opera Software.

That summer felt like everything was about to fall into place. I did everything that was asked of me. I had to start from scratch. There was no way I could easily land a job in media in a country I had no proper knowledge of, its language, its politics, its history, and all things in between. I finished with an A in the Norwegian language-competency course, university level. I was fresh from a one-year course of Journalism for TV and Radio in a college in the south of Norway, finally over the whole year of torture trying to make radio and TV reports in Norwegian, finally over the whole year of feeling like a misplaced decoration made of wood, rough around the edges, raw, expensive, bought from some exotic land, important mainly because it will add a stark contrast in a home full of breakable, Caucasian cherubs.

That summer felt like Norway has suddenly decided to be kind to me.

Let's stop this nonsense. She must have some use somewhere.

The summer of 2013 was a turning point in my life. I began to smile more naturally again I began to laugh without hesitation again, I began to take photos any time I want to again, bits and pieces of stories waiting to be taken in a digital, square frame.

Cat Heaven is one of those stories. By the tram station a few minutes away from the company-maintained apartment. 

March 25, 2014

Some trolls at home

Can you spot them?
I got my first and only trolls from T's younger sister, Marianne. One of them is old, playing a pan flute, and looking content with his (musical) life. The other two are teenage trolls with very long noses, stuck together, standing on a flat stone of some sort.

I've placed them on our biggest pot in the apartment. I like the fact that when we have guests, they can accidentally see them while sitting on the couch, maybe while they are half-listening to a conversation, looking straight at the wall in front of them, where the big pot stands, and then finding a nose there, and another one just behind it.

Well, if the guests would ask me, I'd tell them, Look at the other plants by the window.
We have several plants in the apartment. Most of them small ones.

When T and I were living in Kristiansand in the autumn of 2012, we escaped to Ikea when we got too tired or too bored at home. We loved (still love) window-shopping in Ikea. But, like they say, you never leave Ikea empty-handed. Aside from the furniture and what-have-yous, the plants they sell are also decent enough, in fact fancy and feels like luxury for young couples like us. By spring of 2013, the apartment got filled with several plants, most of them cacti, small ones that were too cute not to buy.

This was how they looked like after a winter of house arrest in Kristiansand, in a line, enjoying the sun:

Of course, I have several misses. Like killing the cactus that was once in that big, red pot:


Ouch. Hurts that I managed to kill a cactus. I mean, who fails at taking care of a cactus? Someone who forgets that cacti don't need water once a week: Me.

In the new apartment in Oslo, I'm trying to revive an orchid T gave me as a gift last summer. Wish me and my trolls some luck.

March 24, 2014

Nearing a decade

In four months, this blog will turn 10 years old.

On July 16, 2004, I wrote my first blog post. At 7:14 PM, Philippine time, most likely after school, in one of the internets caf
és outside the university, most likely in Surf 'n Play, where both high school and university students stay until midnight, playing World of Warcraft or Diablo, spending the rest of their school allowance on an hourly payment of 10 PHP to 15 PHP.

Those were the days.
I cannot wait for my classes to end so I could, like the gamers, spend my school allowance, thinking, I'll finally be able to write what I've been feeling the whole day: thoughts, rants, life drama, the troubles of being 19 years old, imagining what I would achieve by the time I turn 25.

With my best friends Russ, Yenyen, Liyo, and Chai, we would sit side by side for hours writing, sometimes getting unlucky, cursing the whole world when, just when we pushed Publish, the internet connection went down. Gone. All 30 minutes pouring our hearts out gone. Just like that.

But we went on writing again anyway. And again. And again. We would be able to salvage some phrases which we might have imagined sounded raw and artistic and genius.

One day, the whole world will read me.

March 4, 2014

The Mini Queen's post-it mania

The new apartment is about 42 square meters and the balcony gives a view of the street lined up with several buildings on both sides. It’s on the fifth floor so this view from the balcony looks like a mini version of Karl Johans Gate. If I’m not mistaken, Karl Johans Gate is Oslo’s main street, the view to which, maybe, if you stand in the royal palace’s balcony, what you would see.
Karl Johans.

This was what I thought the first time I checked the apartment.
It was T who pointed it out to me that this should be how it felt like if you were standing in the royal palace.
Balcony. Mini Queen.
Today is our third day here, and my first night alone. There is a BBC detective TV series playing in the background. I need some noise to distract me from:
1. thinking I wasted my day by not finishing a chapter of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad
2. imagining scenes from Asian horror films
3. thinking too much

T should be back two hours from now. He’s out for a birthday dinner. I didn’t want to go to this dinner. Most days I get too tired socializing with people. And besides, we can save money if there was only one of us going out to this dinner. We have this Switzerland and Vienna trip by the end of May and we need to make 6000 NOK fit this one-week trip.
I’m sitting in the dining/kitchen table with some of the books I’ve read (now that we’ve transferred to this bigger apartment, I can get my books from Fåvang and transfer them here to Oslo). I just wanted to write on paper, so I’m going through some lines I like from some stuff that I’ve read. Like these:

1. She didn’t have the same energy she used to have and over the years she’d wasted too much adrenaline and anxiety on disasters that had never had the decency to occur.
This is from Marian Keyes’ The Brightest Star in the Sky. I started reading this one last summer while at Fjærland while on that summer job at a hotel. It was interesting enough in the beginning, but I think the fjord, the glacier, the books on display in shelves lining the fjord, the 100-plus-year-old hotel were too delicious to experience and I had to put down Marian Keyes.

2. It’s turning out to be a bad day, a day when the sun feels like teeth.
This is from Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. This book is very promising and even making me read every morning on the bus to work (that is if there are no colleagues in the same bus with me, because then I would have to talk to them).

3. I believe those three words “We want you” were enough to cause my brain to rewire itself, and from then on, I would require MORE than other people.This one’s from Augusten Burroughs’ short story, Commercial Break (most probably what turned out to be one of the beginnings of his Running with Scissors. Or maybe written after the book? A chapter that can’t be squeezed in the book and had to be dropped altogether?).



The TV series is still playing on my iPad. This is turning out to be a very looooong episode, like a movie, two hours I think. Or maybe this is a movie? I think that the killer is the chauffeur. That’s it. He killed the 24-year-old actress in the story. Uhmmm, I’m wrong. About this being a movie, I mean. This is a TV series. There’s another story in it. About the head of the whole team not getting his promotion and all. So yes, there must be several episodes before this.

My nails are dry now. And I think what I’m half-watching is about to end. I think I may be actually wrong. The junkie flatmate of the murdered actress seems to be the killer. Or at least the writer of this episode wants me to believe so. If not, why let the junkie harm one of the detectives? Either ways, it’s almost done. I think I need to drink more coffee and call T. Ask him what time he’s coming home.

January 1, 2014

Tatay's happiness

Tatay's happiness. To illustrate how big our family is, there are 17 more grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren not in this photo. From Tatay and Nanay's 8 children, my Mama included, this is us:


December 14, 2013

Two Cebuanas working in Opera Software's head office

As a Pinay overseas, you feel like you've hit jackpot when you meet someone who speaks your own language. I'm OK with speaking Filipino (or Tagalog), but hearing someone else speaking Cebuano is music to my ears.

This is Lilineth. We work for the same company. She comes from Cebu like me, she cooks "adobo" the right way, and she takes me to Pinoy parties where I get to eat more adobo, puto cheese, dinuguan, sisig, and other Pinoy dishes I can't cook on my own.

Jackpot.