Blow by Blow

Blow by Blow

I got my first rejection email recently.

I was, absurdly, thrilled.

This may mean nothing to the ones who are brave, who always put themselves out there, who really and truly don’t give a single damn what people think. You know who I mean. The ones able to post anything and everything on social media. The ones who lay themselves open for all of us to see. The ones who share fresh selfies, unfiltered by anything but strident fluorescent light. The ones who post every excruciating detail of their personal relationships as it crumbles around their feet, oblivious to or uncaring of the reception from the rest of us. They hide nothing. Not their pain. Not their joy. Not their confusion. Their feed is a raw jumble of exposed nerve endings, every gnarled moment on show.  To the very brave – and, incidentally, the very stupid – everything is fair game, and they are unfazed by having the world at large as their audience. To them, putting themselves out there is as easy as breathing.

I’m not brave like that. I have always lived by the tenets of nganong ni enter, a maxim that means never willingly putting oneself in a situation which is bound to have an unfavourable outcome. I have never  found myself capable of  rolling  over to expose my belly for inspection, of being that vulnerable in public. It’s a big reason I fail in the world of social media, because so much of it requires selling myself and my capabilities, something I am way more comfortable having other people do than actually doing myself. It’s just not how I am, and I realize I am eventually going to have to get over myself someday, but for now, it is what it is. My  feed is a hundred percent self-deprecation, almost an apology for sharing, like excuse me for showing up on your wall, but yes, I would like to share this today. It sounds sad, and maybe it is, but that is the way I operate. I deflect with humour and sarcasm. I am outwardly blasé because the truth is I care very deeply about things. Risking being seen as anything less than strong and capable is very hard for me, as I am not brave enough to be who I really and truly am unless I trust someone implicitly. It’s difficult for me to readily trust society. I think people as a whole are terrible (except me, I’m amazing), and the internet hasn’t done anything to change that point of view. If anything, it’s magnified that side of the human race a thousandfold.

(Yes, the irony of putting this out for anyone out there to read doesn’t escape me – but a blog is different from social media!)

Anyway, I was thrilled.

Not because being rejected puts writers in the “company of greats”, as so many aspiring dreamers like to say, assuaging the pain with thoughts of Stephen King and the nail in his wall, impaled with so many rejection slips, he had to drive another one in beside it to accommodate more. There is a cold sort of comfort in the story of J.K. Rowling and her incredible journey to superstardom, her path strewn with numerous rejection letters from publishing houses and agents who failed to see the potential of a boy wizard with a lightning shaped scar.

That’s not why I was thrilled.

I was thrilled, because it felt freeing. I had opened myself up to the very real possibility of receiving a blow, finally received the blow, and realized it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. It’s like taking that first step into thin air, with the very real fear of falling to my death, and realizing it’s not the end of the world.  I think I would like to see how far this little side project of mine will go (and no, I’m not giving any further details about it for now!), because I want another blow like that, as masochistic as that sounds. And another. And another. And still another. I will take my blows, and – hopefully – come out on the right side of it, battered, but with a dream come true.

2018: The Rundown

2018: The Rundown

I’ve been using precious holiday time to rewatch all the episodes of Downton Abbey. It’s rather silly  for me to revisit something that I’ve seen before, with all the new material out there to watch, but right now watching Downton Abbey is the closest I can come  to a getaway, to being in a place where everyone has manners and life is a lot slower. I always come out of a Downton Abbey haze feeling like I suddenly am a bit more of a priggish, ladylike creature as if the show itself had performed a tricky bit of osmosis and I suddenly have qualities I don’t think I have at all. I like to pretend I’m soft-spoken and elegant and have a clipped British accent, even if I’m not and I don’t. Of course, this is all in my head, but it never hurts to have fun with it, even if the hubs calls Downton Abbey a “total snoozefest.”

So, in the spirit of revisiting the past, and also because I hadn’t gotten to start my usual year-ending video, I thought it would be fun to review everything that’s happened in 2018, as trivial as it may turn out to be.  I always like taking a moment to think about the past for a little bit, before the new year and  2019 comes barrelling in, so here goes nothing!

January  – in hindsight, this wasn’t the best way to start 2018, what with idiots eating Tide Pods, the rapid rise and sordid stories behind the Me Too Movement, and the funeral of my aunt, but it did get a little better in…

February – when the Winter Olympics came around, along with Black Panther and my glasses, even if we did still have people who need way more attention than the rest of us, something I believe is not going to go away, just like the inundation of choices we now live with, that I tried coming to terms with in…

March – where I began feeling particularly paralyzed by choice, although I did rise above it to see the Shape of Water. At least I like to know I have more choices food-wise than voluntary vegans do, anyway. I’ve nothing against their self-imposed dietary restrictions, but I’d be a lot more receptive if their movement wasn’t defined by so much self-righteous preaching.

And then all of a sudden, it was April – where I decided to at least make something about my forays into YouTube with the first Random Youtube K-hole. At least that was something I liked sharing about, although I really don’t share that much otherwise.

It feels like 2018 went by in a blur, and no more so than May – but at least I found a bit of time to document all my excuses (and alibis) for not writing as much,  amidst the excitement of the Avengers: Infinity War trailer being released, which was a good thing, unlike lettuce, which – in May, anyway – turned out to be very bad.

June as a halfway point had me birthing Internet Sausage Links and battling FOMO. In retrospect I feel quite grateful that this was all I was battling with. Others had heavier things to fight, a struggle not all of them won.

July was when we finally took the plunge and got a new bed-in-a-box, trusting that it would all end well (which, happily, it did). Trust seemed to be a theme, along with my trust that Marvel wouldn’t disappoint. It didn’t, not really, although, Ant-Man and the Wasp could’ve been better…

Anyway, August rolled around and I have to say it and September were my favourite months this year, what with our dear Rafa Nadal making everything better at the Rogers Cup and us finally going on our annual trip. The high school reunion was a highlight along with getting to see Hong Kong, which I never got around to writing about. I did get footage though, and you never know, I might just put that together! Still, travel is something I feel is always worth doing.  I love flying, including the challenge of  staying alive in an airbus cattle car. I even gave tips!

The rest of Canada agreed with me about flying, because October was when the North finally got the go signal to fly high without fear. November came with the promise of Chris Pine peen, forced me once again to face the prospect of middle-age, and proved idiocy in 2018 was alive and thriving, by reminding us all again that people will throw parties for the most ridiculous reasons.

And, finally, December. Not much happened, although I did decide to break up with Netflix in favour of Crave and not Jason Momoa, as many might surmise.

Finally, if you’ve made a habit of coming here to read my silly things, I want to thank you for it. I hope your year has been eventful in a good way, and I do hope 2019 will be good to all of us. Now all this remembering has really given me an appetite for putting all the year-end footage together in time for NYE, so maybe I might just do that after all!

Means to an Endy: Jeepers Keepers

Means to an Endy: Jeepers Keepers

I had originally planned to chronicle my experiences with the Endy mattress a lot more regularly than I actually have been. Oh who am I kidding? That was a dream that died before it could ever really become reality. We’ve had our Endy for a bit now, and I spent more time sleeping on it than doing any actual writing about it, which should tell you how much I enjoy using it. So to answer a solicitous e-mail from the company wanting to know “how have you been liking your Endy?” I like it. I like it very much.

The whole process – from purchase, to receipt, to unboxing, to watching it puff up like a lovely souffle, to being able to use it within half an hour – was quick and easy with none of the pain of buying a regular mattress.  There was no need to troop to Sleep Country and spend an hour lying on different beds with varying modes of softness, feeling like an urban Goldilocks with no idea if a 2-minute test on a Serta would work out in our favour.  A big part of the appeal of buying an Endy is how streamlined and simple the process is. It’s a mattress in a box with a one-size-fits-all approach, with a money-back guarantee and a generous trial period, which gives a lot of leeway to the customer.

It’s not the answer to world peace, but I found myself actually missing our Endy at the end of August, when we went off on a two week vacation. Nothing against hotel beds – they’re still the jam – but its cool, firm support is  something I longed for. I found myself consciously comparing the hotel bed to that of the Endy, and found there wasn’t that big a difference. I actually like the Endy more, because I’m a fan of firmer mattresses and a hotel bed can be quite plush.

The hubs has liked it so much, he went all-in on an Endy pillow. The goosedown ones that I use have so far done the trick, so he volunteered to be the crash test dummy of the pillow experiment. He is a mite heavier than I am and very picky about pillows so I figured if he likes it, I would take the next step. He’s had the Endy pillow for about a month and a half now and claims to happy with it so far. While the trial period for a pillow is shorter than that of the mattress, Endy very kindly lets you return a pillow after 60 nights if you’re not satisfied with it.

The only thing keeping me back was its price point – it’s not a cheap pillow by any means. At $80 a pop plus tax, it’s an investment, but I’ve found myself bogarting Le Hubs’ pillow whenever he’s not in bed, so maybe I might just take that next step after all!

Homecoming Queens

Homecoming Queens

I used to wonder why school reunions made adults so wistful. Why did they keep playing Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko at these things? Why would all the other oldies inevitably scream and enthusiastically make for the dance floor? I couldn’t grasp it. It was incomprehensible to me.

We spend our youth wanting to grow up, and spend our adulthood wanting to be young again. There’s finally enough mileage on the old engine for me to think I get it.  Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko was to them what I Want It That Way is to us. Obviously cornball and ridiculously outdated, it’s the soundtrack to our youth – and sometimes music, like smell, evokes memories and emotions. It’s not so much being young, it’s feeling young, truly young, the way we used to feel when we didn’t have to pay rent and each day was an empty page to be filled with new and exciting stories, not a mindless slog to the office.

While I wish high school was the way it was in Clueless, the reality was a lot more grim. Thankfully, not Columbine grim – we didn’t fear school shooters as much as we feared mosquitoes that carry dengue – but teenagers always feel everything so keenly. High school for me was not always a fun time. High school is good to rich, attractive teenagers with seemingly effortless cool. It is very rarely kind to bepimpled, skeptical bookworms who don’t understand why always having the same things and going to the bathroom in packs are necessary.

I have always found it easier to befriend people with wills of their own, who have their own interests and aren’t afraid to pursue them. I felt fortunate to find people who – although way less awkward and bepimpled – were in their own way, iconoclasts. I like to think the friends I’ve made are all iconoclastic in their own way. We were all united in our shared respect for each other’s different interests. The main thing I have in common with all of them is a deeply twisted sense of humour, which we use as a crutch because life is absurd and laughter is the only way to get through it.

So our friendship, formed in our very early teens (and for two of us, childhood) and forged in the highly pressurized crucible we call high school, had miraculously survived the inevitable forces of growing up that cause us to drift apart. Things like college, career choices and immigration. Through it all we had stayed in touch and hung out with each other, but never as a whole. It had been almost two decades since our foursome had been complete, so like the first Avengers movie, we decided it was time. Boy am I happy we got together again.

What we don’t always realize is that high school forms the bedrock of our most cherished memories. The cruelty of it all is that we will never really get it back. One can only try to recreate it, which is why high school reunions are always a thing. We only decided to join this year because it was the 20th anniversary, and we all felt it was a milestone worth celebrating (i.e. join while your body still holds up to some extent and you still look relatively good in pictures.)

 

You can try to recreate a memory, but it will never truly be the same; the only way to get through it is to make new memories. And that, I think, we accomplished in spades.

How To Stay Alive When You’re Stuck in Economy Class for Fifteen Hours

How To Stay Alive When You’re Stuck in Economy Class for Fifteen Hours

Looking like you just got off the Paris runway is ridiculous if you’re ultimately headed for the cheap seats in the back. Wear a sports bra. All the support, none of the underwire.  You’ll have enough aggravation going on without including uncomfortable underwear into the whole mess. Dress light, dress comfy, use shoes you can ultimately slip in and out of very easily, and for the love of god, wear socks. You don’t want to be traipsing barefoot through security checkpoints when they ask you to remove your shoes. Gross.

My go-to travel outfit is a long-sleeved sweater, lounge pants from Uniqlo and my trusty Adidas Superstars. If it was socially acceptable to travel in a Snuggie, I would consider it. For a few minutes. I’m not that far gone.

Pick an aisle seat. You’ll get a little extra wiggle room and getting out is easy. Watch those elbows when the food cart comes around, though.

Have a travel buddy? Great, you get to keep that armrest lifted for a less confined feel. You can also try to game the system. If the plane’s seating configuration is 3 x 3 x 3, choose seats that leave the middle seat between you empty. If you’re lucky, no one will book it, and you’ll end up with even more extra space, because no one likes the middle seat.

Fair warning, this doesn’t always work out. People flying economy rarely cancel intercontinental long-haul flights if they can help it.

Stand. Stand often. Deep vein thrombosis is not your friend. No need to be a jack-in-the-box, but try to stretch your limbs at least once every couple of hours, and a potty break is a great excuse.

Keep your socks on. Planes get cold. Fun fact: you can get free socks and a sleep mask for free if you ask!

Use shoes when you use the lavatory.

This really shouldn’t be a necessary reminder, but I’ve seen quite a few people traipsing up the aisle in their stockinged feet. Observe hygiene and common sense; an airplane is a giant, bacteria-filled flying bus. God knows what you’re picking up.  (Hepatitis? Swine Flu? Foot and Mouth Disease? Gingivitis?)

Pre-load your phone/tablet/e-Reader with enough material to keep you occupied. In-flight entertainment may not always be ideal (Cathay Pacific – yay! Air Canada – boo!), and you’ll need something to make those interminable hours pass quickly, especially if you find it hard to sleep on planes. Otherwise, there’s always extra-strength Benadryl.

You know what, forget everything you’ve just read, with the exception of the sports bra. When all else fails, always go for extra-strength Benadryl. Sleep your way through a plane flight with no underwire digging into your ample curves, and you’ll be juuuust fine.

Magic Carpet Ride

Magic Carpet Ride

You know how it goes. Street rat in disguise woos princess away from her balcony with an offer to show her the world by magic carpet. She accepts, and it’s glorious. Fantastical. Amazing. Romantic, the kind of adventure a young girl would give her right arm for.

But I’m old and jaded now, and you know what? It’s a carpet. There won’t anything between you and the elements, no stable foundation for your backside, no one serving warm rolls and instant noodles, no inflight entertainment.

Economy class is a bit harder on the body. It’s a cattle car on a flying bus with a caste system. There’s the one percent – first class, with its hot towels and personalized care. Then upper middle class – business class, with its bags of warm nuts. Then there’s lower middle class – premium economy, the place where the more fortunate bob up from under, using their miles or squeezing the last drops of their life savings for slightly larger inflight entertainment screens and a bit more legroom. The rest of us ne’er do wells are in economy, herded together like a bunch of sheep hitching a ride to the slaughterhouse.

I personally enjoy nabbing the cheapest prices I can find, but you really do get what you pay for. It’s fine for short haul flights that take about two or three hours tops, but when you’re winging your way across the Pacific on a flight that lasts for forever in the middle seat and unable to stretch your legs (and really, much of anything) it’s an exquisite sort of torture. Exquisite because I know I’m going to end up somewhere nice, like Silliman University’s Founder’s Day celebration (yay!). Torture, because it’s fifteen interminable hours of being in one position, praying the passenger in front of you isn’t a jerk about reclining, that the people you share seats with won’t come with a squalling little human and that the stranger behind you doesn’t treat the touch screen monitor like a punching bag.

Worst of all, airlines never let you forget how much better you can have it if you just pay more. Why else do we peons get a glimpse of the business class section on our way to the back of the bus plane? With its roomy seats that turn into recliners, ample legroom and enough space to for others to respect your own personal bubble, business class is a glimpse of heaven on your way to hell. Wish you were here! It’s awful.

So to everyone who’s flown in to catch SU’s 117th anniversary and did it on an economy fare, I salute you. Loyal shall we e’er remain, indeed. Happy birthday, Silliman!

 

Image Disney/Aladdin

Means to an Endy: The First Five Nights

Means to an Endy: The First Five Nights

Before anything, apologies for the photos – we unboxed at five in the morning last Saturday so the lighting is crap. Also, our bedroom looks like we just moved in. I really should get a rug and a few more doodads to make it look like a wet dream straight out of Pinterest, but the truth is I can hardly be bothered. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of random house froufrou is always how much cleaning am I going to have to do now? We don’t have a maid and I’m lazy. Still, I really should get a headboard, if only to annoy the elderly neighbours next to us with constant knocking against the wall, hint hint, nudge nudge.

Having watched the instructional video, the first few minutes were spent discussing how they could possibly have fit a king sized mattress into a box the “size of a hockey bag. ” If it didn’t say Endy on it, you’d think it held an extra large Christmas tree. It’s definitely a space saver, helpful for moving around corners. Obviously it only works when you’re buying it, because you can’t compress it again if you do decide to move somewhere else. Still, you couldn’t ask for a more convenient way to get a mattress – buy it online, they ship it to you (gratis!) and you get a hundred nights to see if you want to keep it. There’s a a full refund if you decide it doesn’t work for you, and they’ll send people over to collect the mattress, where it either gets recycled or donated to a local charity.

20180728_050204.jpg

Based on box size, he guessed fold + roll and he was right. It’s actually flattened, folded, then rolled and comes out looking like a gigantic Little Debbie Swiss Roll. We had a debate on the merits of compressing a foam bed so aggressively, but what’s life without a little belief thrown in?

The mattress is heavy, so if you’re working with a king sized one, make sure you have help. Or you know, do it yourself, but maybe not at five in the morning, because it’ll involve a lot of grunting and a few thuds here and there, nothing new for the Joneses next door, hint hint, nudge nudge, wink wink. Alright, I’ll stop.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anyway, once the box is opened, there’s a helpful infographic insert re the steps to take to get your Endy up and running. They also include a plastic cutter, which functions just like a letter opener (it IS a letter opener, and I’m totally reusing mine). Before cutting into it, you’ll have to maneuver the roll into the middle of your bed frame, get the plastic unrolled with the help of the plastic “tab” (a really long piece of extra plastic wrapped around it, think scotch tape when you first use it) then unfold. You’ll need to work fast, because it immediately starts to expand when it’s unrolled, and it’s not shy about it. (Think watching a sped-up video of a souffle rising in an oven. It’s that fast.)

It inflates VERY quickly and is ready for use almost immediately. I was going to give it at least three hours to stabilize a bit, even though their website says you can use it almost immediately, but it looked so enticing, we were lying on it after about half an hour. It feels like being in the arms of Jesus. To be fair, anything would be heavenly compared to our old mattress, but the Endy, which I had been apprehensive would be too soft for me, is actually just right. (So far.) It seems fantastical for a full foam mattress that came out of a box to feel so solid, but it does. The topmost layer is memory foam followed by a transition layer and then the support core. I was iffy about sinking into memory foam and feeling warm and icky, but it isn’t cloying at all, nor is it overly soft and you can almost feel the mattress working to displace your weight evenly. It’s also great at muffling movement; I can barely feel Le Hubs fidgeting around when he gets restless.

There’ve been notes about a chemical smell from the mattress, and we did notice it, but it goes away within a few hours and I’ve no complaints. So far, the first week has been going well, the sleep quality has definitely improved, and I’ll continue to keep tabs on our experience for the first hundred nights, so expect an update every so often!

Once more for the cheap seats in the back: this is not a paid Endy endorsement. I am in no way, shape or form connected to anyone behind Endy sleep.