I was supposed to go to a client meeting today, and the building was somewhere around Chino Roces Avenue. With the usual Makati traffic, it took me an hour and a half to get there from Eastwood. It was the first time I’ve ever gone to Chino Roces, and I had to get dropped off at where I thought the building was, based on Nokia’s Maps and Google Maps.
When I went down though, it didn’t seem to be the right building number, and I was starting to feel a little anxious.
It’s ridiculous, because I’m 23 and an adult, I told myself, and it wasn’t like I haven’t gone outside to unfamiliar places before. I mean, I’ve been perfectly okay taking the train and the jeep from time to time, even going to places like Binondo and Intramuros, but for some reason Chino Roces felt very old and dirty urban, less claustrophobic than Binondo but also unfamiliar. There were so many jeep, so much traffic, too narrow roads, and nearby empty, deteriorating buildings among other things. It was making me extremely nervous, and I was glad I had a Nokia for a phone or else I felt like trying to contact someone out in the wild would’ve gotten my phone snatched.
I tried to be brave though. Man up, I told myself. So I tried to look for the building and walked around a little. Even canceled my earlier call to get picked up to see if I can walk further on ahead and maybe I’ll find the right place.
The signs were terribly placed, and I could hardly see the address of the buildings.
I felt completely out-of-place, lost, and a sure target for anyone who’s looking to mug a stupid-looking person.
By the time I reached the end of the street and still couldn’t find the place, I gave up and decided to go home. I was getting extremely anxious, which was a tendency I’ve unfortunately developed two years ago. I asked to get picked up from the gas station that I ended up in.
Aside from the anxiety though, I felt disappointed in myself for feeling scared. I don’t know. It just felt like I shouldn’t have been scared of the place because it’s not like it was that scary, even if it were really dirty and claustrophobic? I was used to the wide, newer streets of High Street in Taguig, of the pedestrian-friendly sidewalks of Makati CBD, and the less deteriorated look of Ortigas. I’m not rich. I’m middle class and I’m not new to a bit of grime, but why was being there and trying to find my way in one of the cities of Manila scaring the shit out of me? It just felt wrong that I considered the place dubious and dangerous when maybe it’s just as ‘normal’ as any other city in Manila.
It’s sort-of the start of September, and I may have not done everything I said I wanted to do back in July, but this week has been a week of learning new things, so time hasn’t been completely wasted.
I managed to try out and installJekyll, and I’m still evaluating how convenient it is (if it is actually convenient) for front-end prototyping. Since Jekyll seems to be primarily used for static blogs, the projects I’m prototyping are more of customized content management systems, so it’s not always easy. I managed to edit a sample plugin someone had put up on the internet and made it work to my needs despite never writing Ruby before (though the changes are minor), which gave me a bit of a push to read up more on Ruby programming.
And such was my circumstance last night when I started (and finished) reading The House at Tyneford. I’m easily a sucker for romantic novels, much more when they’re set in various time periods, and this being set pre- and during WWII was no different. My inner romantic properly satisfied, today I can focus on work again.
It’s the weekend again, and although I’m cramming some work for Saturday and Sunday, it’s not so bad.
I’ve been holding out and/or waiting for projects since I quit working full-time for Save22 in July (I also no longer work freelance for them due to an onslaught of work), and finally everything caught up with me.
1. I found part-time work (still daily) at Eastwood, where I’m learning to make Phonegap stuff for Android, and Android/Mac problems are pretty weird sometimes. Like, for some reason I couldn’t detect the tablet from my Mac when I run the android app unless I check/uncheck the Developer and Application settings. It is still buggy sometimes, and I have no idea what causes things.
That and the last time I used an Android tablet was 2 years ago, when I still worked with Chikka, and we were doing this HTML5-JS/CSS-animation app thing.
(Since I have an iPad, I think Android tablets feel so weird to use, haha).
I’m thinking of buying myself a Nexus tablet for some new projects so I could practice, aside from maybe I might also have to buy an Android phone as well for this other project I’m going to do (web) UX for.
2. I’m still doing some UX-related freelancing with interesting groups, though schedules for these projects are less predictable than my part-time work. They are challenging work though, and most of the time I’m not really sure if I’m doing UX work properly (since coming from Save22, the extent of UX we do isn’t very structured and is more informal than anything).
3. I really hope all my work/projects sort-of stabilizes in a way that my schedule can eventually become predictable, but so far I’m trying to adjust as well as I can, I think.
4. My dates with Charlie nowadays mean playing Guild Wars 2 together, haha. :P
Today is my last day of Chinese 1 class at the Ateneo Confucius school. Even if my team epically failed the final activity this afternoon, it was still fun. I think I’ve learned a lot: I just need to practice more. I’m not so sure yet if I’m going to enrol in Chinese 2 in July because I’m not very proficient with the lessons from Chinese 1. I’m thinking of reviewing and self-studying the lessons all over again before going to the next class.
I had a pretty interesting lunch with my classmates. The great thing when you have older classmates (or at least, they may be your age but are also working adults), is that the conversations are more varied than the topics I have with most people in college. We talked about politics (which is really dirty in this country, I’m beginning to see most people have just quietly accepted the fact that it will never change and I’m not quite sure I’m ok with that), some business and even app ideas, weddings, military in-laws, among other things. I love it. I should really hang out with other people more often.
I also saw Mica (who works with Sulit), who was taking Chinese 4 with some friends. They were having lunch in the same place, and I got to sit down with them for a bit. I felt like I made new friends. :)
Yesterday I bought a Lumix LX7 (thanks to Peter) after hours of looking for one at Hidalgo. All the shops have run out of stock, save for a White one that they were selling at P16k (the black one was available for P14.5k in one store but like I said, they were already out of stock and I didn’t really want to go back to Hidalgo for a few thousand difference).
We were warned by one of the shop owners that the Lumix LX7 has been discontinued. They weren’t releasing stocks anymore, I think, though a few ones might still be coming in at Henry’s camera shop. There’s a newer Lumix coming out sometime soon (Googled it and they said either this year if it starts becoming like Apple, or next year if it will follow the usual product refresh time). I’ve decided to still get one anyway because (1) I wanted a new camera for Vietnam next month and (2) I don’t think it’ll make much of a difference for me since I’m not really a Pro user.
After last night, I think Peter decided he also wanted one, but we thought it would be better for him to wait for the next Lumix since he might not need a new camera so soon.
I could have bought the camera for less than PhP16k, but even that by itself was already cheaper than the Canon Powershot S90 that I bought three years ago.
We tested it out during the Nanay Mo album launch (though it was actually Charlie who did most of the testing).
I’m sure the quality of the photos were due to Charlie’s skills (because I myself aren’t that familiar with photography yet). Most of my photos were overexposed! But I wanted to show how the nicer ones turned out in different conditions:
The stage photos were pretty sharp for a compact camera, with the proper camera settings.
The flash + cam settings made the photos look decent!
Charlie played around with the exposure for a bit so we had a bunch of those light/party photos.
Then again, even just as a normal camera with flash inside a bar — the photos were pretty sharp and way better than anything I’ve tried to take on my S90. (Though I actually blame that on my lack of skills than anything, haha.)
All for 16k. The Powershot S90 was more than P20k during its time — and I didn’t really get to maximize the use of that camera much. I gave it to my mom now so she can have a new toy.
Now I just need to practice and understand the camera settings more on the LX7 to prepare for Vietnam next month!
“The secret to a good life,” he told me once, “is to bring your A game to everything you do. Even if all you’re doing is taking out the garbage, you do that with excellence.”
– We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler
Sometimes I want to be more.
But isn’t this it?
Some days are hard. I can’t do everything. Does A-game mean every thing I doshould be pixel perfect? Trying to think about the design, doing the code, understanding and implementing the flow, figuring out the whole experience in one sitting — I’m sure I’m not really giving an A-game.
I’m not practicing my Chinese lessons enough. (Not even consistently.)
I managed to make time to swim a few days a week with Charlie, as some kind of exercise. Twice last week (could have been more if Charlie and I didn’t get sick), but I’m targeting at least three days of swimming this week.
That said, I gained a bit of weight and it’s probably fat because it’s not as if I’ve been exercising enough to gain some muscle. LOL.
I learned that sometimes it can even take 295 days before a hobby becomes a person’s normal routine, and I’m hoping it doesn’t take that long for swimming to be part of my normal routine.
I’m getting used to cold water. It’s pleasantly surprising.
All I’m left to balance is reviewing my Chinese lessons every day, plus a side-job. Work + study + cleaning dishes every day should be manageable, because god knows how parents out there manage to raise kids and pay for the bills and shit.
Sleeping and reading on weekends seem to give my brain a break.
I’m not used to planning surprise parties and OH MAN it is one of those more stressful/paranoid-inducing things a person can experience. Emile and I had our “HE-KNOWS!!!” moments, but Charlie was so overwhelmed by the surprise that it was just so worth it.
It was Charlie’s birthday last Thursday (11th) and I thought of maybe surprising him with a party at his place. But I couldn’t do it alone, so I got Emile to help me as co-host (and co-provider of food — i.e. alcohol and cocktails). He also picked up the customized Doctor Who cupcakes I ordered from Love Lots Cakes, so I really couldn’t have done it without him.
The Party Menu
Doctor Who Cupcakes – c/o me
“Charlie Alexander” – black-russian inspired drinks by Emile
The other cocktails – we were going along with the sonic screwdrivers, c/o Emile
Fish and Chips (for fish fingers and custard) from MOMO – we only got two because of my budget, lol
Vanilla pudding (because we couldn’t find just custard from the grocery, we got pudding as a substitute, hahaha)
Carbonara – I originally wanted to order the Fetuccini (sp?) from Banapple, but I was getting short of money so I had our cook from Save22 cook for me instead. But I paid for the ingredients and everything. We ended up having too much of this. :P
Chocolate cake – it had some coffee-tasting stuff. Sponsored by Angelica (from Cafe 1771)
How the surprise happened
A few weeks before the birthday:
I asked for a quote from Love Lots Cakes (you need around a month before the event so that Mel (the artist) can check if her schedule is free. It was P1.5k per dozen for my set of Doctor Who cupcakes, and I ordered two.
Messaged Emile to be my partner in crime because I really needed help to prepare everything and make sure it will seem like a “normal” day for Charlie.
Set up a FB event to invite some of Charlie’s close friends. We couldn’t invite a lot more people mainly because we’re only having it at his condo, and we wouldn’t be able to fit everyone.
Ask permission from Charlie’s brother. Since they shared the place, we had to make sure he’s ok with us having the party there. Luckily, a few days before the birthday, while Emile and I were preparing dinner (Charlie was working) his brother was there and I got to ask if we could have a surprise party for him. He said ok, as long as we don’t spill stuff and keep the condo clean, and keep butts off the top of the sofa.
On the day:
I went to work as usual, but stayed only until lunch. As soon as the carbonara was cooked, I went to Charlie’s place to meet up with Emile (who also just picked up the cupcakes). He parked his car in the condo parking, but opposite where Charlie usually parked. Because they wouldn’t let him park on a different floor, I had to be sure that when Charlie and I come in later in the evening, he wouldn’t notice the car. I got to the place first, so I dropped by National Bookstore to get some things:
Blue velvet paper – which served as our “tablecloth”. They didn’t have the exact same shade of TARDIS blue, but it would have to do. I put it on the tables so we could “spill-proof” the area.
POST-IT notes – I originally wanted a “freedom wall” for people to scribble in messages or draw stuff for Charlie, but I didn’t want to stain the wall accidentally so I settled for post-it’s
Markers – for the notes
A white cartolina – for a huge greeting card
When Emile got there, we dropped off the cupcakes, alcohol, liqueur, and glasses at the condo before going to the grocery to buy additional stuff. I got some disposable utensils, and we bought some lemon, the vanilla pudding, additional mixers and vodka for the drinks. Right after paying, I got a cab to go back to Ortigas since I usually ride with Charlie after work. It had to feel as NORMAL as possible.
One thing that wasn’t part of the plan: Charlie’s car was coding. I had to text everyone to say that we’ll probably be arriving around 7.20 PM instead of the originally-planned 6.30 PM. All the while I was worrying that Charlie would want to have dinner at Ortigas instead, since we’re going home later than usual. Good thing we had a late “merienda” at KFC, which meant he’d still be good for dinner afterward.
On the way home, he asked me, “What do you want for dinner?” and I could only say, “I’ll think about it later!”
On the way to the condo, Angelica also texted me asking where we were, and for some reason Charlie chose it as the time to bug me about my text and what Angelica was messaging me for. Good thing I replied quickly about thanking her for the gloves she gave me, which I used in Shanghai. A conversation that actually happened, except it was a few days earlier. :P NICE SAVE.
But that didn’t stop me from worrying how I’m going to pull off the surprise successfully, because I was actually thinking, CHARLIE KNOWS. lol.
Anyway, I HAD to make sure we didn’t go straight out for dinner after parking at the condo, so I told Charlie I needed to poop first. I can’t say I wanted to pee, because you can just pee at any bathroom. But everyone knows you can only poop comfortably at your own place, or in a house/condo — not a public restroom.
So we were going up and I was updating Emile and Peter every minute. FINALLY we got to the floor and Charlie opened his door and he noticed the post-it notes on the wall, but didn’t think much about it yet until everyone got to say, “SURPRISE” and someone opened the lights and Charlie was successfully surprised, except it was so unexpected that he also thought: “Dammit, I was planning on working tonight.”
Later on, Anton and Paoie surprised us (again) by making us think they couldn’t go anymore. Cholo feigned having something wrong with his stomach and Charlie accompanied him to the bathroom where Anton and Paoie surprised him with raisin bread from Baguio (lol).
AAAAAND, that was it. I am so relieved it’s over. :D Although we missed some people who weren’t able to go, everyone had fun. I’m so so thankful for Emile, Aldous, and Donna who helped with the preparations, and Cholo who also arrived early, and everyone else who made it. You guys made Charlie a happy bear! :)
Me: So I was playing this English-patched, fan-translated, Fire Emblem game from 2010, and I was comparing it to the Awakening demo. And well, the new one coming up has a better story; the older one was too linear and step-by-step —
Charlie: wait, stop.
Me: huh? what is it?
Charlie: look at you, talking about games like you really care. You are my only girlfriend who ever did.
Me: oh. okay.
Ron: Lope you missed out on some fun code merge otherwise your day would be even better
Lope: wait, wdym by code merge?
Me: THERE ARE SNACKS AGAIN IN THE KITCHEN! BANANAS
Ray: thanks for the update, camille :D