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domi_quell
08 March 2012 @ 12:40 pm
There is nothing to do, and I cannot even think of anything to write about. I would call this writer's block but (alas!) I am no writer instead I take pride in calling myself a frustrated writer.

I have always loved writing. Being able to form my thoughts into words has always provided me with my much needed sanity break. But unlike most of them prodigies, my love for writing did not start when I was only 4 years old. I was already 8 when I began keeping a diary. Where I got the idea, I do even not remember. But, yes, a pink one at that, complete with a key and a little heart-shaped lock-- at that age, I already knew what a horrible nightmare it would be if my family found out my darkest secret, i.e. whom I had a crush on at school. But I also do not remember where I used to keep the key, so whether one of my sisters eventually found out about my infatuation with a boy I hid under the name David, I will never know. All my young and superficial sentiments, I wrote down until I finished grade school.

The first real book I ever read was from a series called Bobbsey Twins, which I borrowed from a friend in sixth grade. The two sets of twins, Nan and Bert and Flossie and Freddie, (you guessed it) found a mystery worthy to be solved wherever they went. I wish I could have read more of them, but my mother did not believe in buying me such books. There were enough encyclopedias and Reader's Digest issues lying around. :\

I was 12 when I entered high school. My school had a small library with more fiction than reference books. Despite the fact that there was a bigger collection of Sweet Valley High than anything else and that we were not allowed to touch the grown up books, I was still able to find solace in a shelf of Goosebumps. I would borrow three books at a time, cower in bed at night, and scare myself to sleep.



Then, I started buying my own, mostly adaptations of popular TV shows like The Secret World of Alex Mack and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, I also remember owning a couple of Choose Your Own Adventure.



Later on, during my second year in high school, a friend brought a copy of Rage of Angels to school-- this book started it all. If I had a hero, it would be Sidney Sheldon, through his books I found out how powerful stories can be. He made me angry, he made me cry, and he made me laugh. His ability to provoke all kinds of emotion amazes me up to this day. While his stories are riveting, his writing style is sharp yet smooth, his books house the heaviest dramas yet they are always so easy to read and so difficult to put down. After finally finding out what what the grown up books in the library contained, I was unable to stop. I read and read and read. Through college, I would move from one dormitory to another with at least two boxes of books. It was very inconvenient but I never dared to part with my treasures.



And while I was discovering the wonders of the Young Adult genre, I started scribbling down my own stories. They were always about Alexis and Matt, or Samantha and David (Sound too American? Congratulate the Western publishing industry for a job well done!) The internet also gave me the freedom to write. At fourteen, I started blogging and publishing my poems online.

After college, I got myself a so-called writing job for a few months. It was great, but it was then that I realized I had so much more to learn if I wanted to be a writer.

Despite all my love for writing, I never found enough confidence to actually call myself a writer or even someone with potential. Because I know quite well that it does not only feed on passion, you also need the innate talent to think creatively, ink and paper cannot be forced to make love.

I sometimes dream of writing a book that would change the course of literary history or that would make that special impact on people's lives. Maybe someday, when I have enough idle time, I can sit down and listen to the stories that are waiting and wanting to be heard from within me.

Right now, I write because it keeps me sane.


A few stacks of my books.
Though because of the Kindle, I have switched to e-books.


Today's lesson: NEVER GIVE UP. Don't stop doing the things that make you happy no matter how bad you are at it.
 
 
Mood: awakeawake
 
 
domi_quell
It's exactly 6am and I am wide awake. Two hours ago, Ysabelle, my 2-month-old niece, woke me up with another cry fest. She has been doing this to me since I got home about a week ago. :o Truth be told, every time she starts to sob, I tell myself I am never going to have a child. But whenever she lets out a squeal of laughter, it makes me think twice and I tell myself maybe it won't be so bad. I hate it when babies cry, not because their screaming hurts my ears, but because the terrible sound that comes out from them makes me feel like they're going through some intolerable pain. How do mothers handle that? The intermittent yet seemingly forever suffering of their toddlers?

Right now, as I type, she is stirring in her little hammock, fighting sleep and forcing her eyes to open, and I hear myself humming Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star in the most awful tune possible. Now, her cute round eyes glint in the dimmed light, she releases a little sigh and makes a funny sound by clicking her tongue. Despite the fear of having my own, I love children and babies so much. When I see a baby smile, everything in the world starts to make sense again. They remind me that, sometimes, little things matter more, that the simplest gestures can turn someone's world around, and that, most of the time, all we really need is a big hug and a gentle smile.


How can you not love life?
Taken with a camera phone, 8MP, converted to B&W.


I hum again. She stretches her tiny arms and legs and opens her mouth to let out a yawn. How is it possible for someone who has only lived for 68 days teach you so much about life?

--

No, I have not given up on photography though I also have not planned on turning it into a career. If you know me well enough, you should be able to tell why I bought a camera. I have already spent a lot of my savings on birding books and optics, and I plan to spend more. Before I could even start seriously photographing wildlife, I will have to buy a telephoto lens which costs more than my Canon EOS 60D with its EFS 18-135mm kit lens, which, by far, is the most expensive thing I have bought in my life.

I want to get a Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM telephoto zoom lens, which is currently on sale and goes for $1,589.00 on Amazon. Or I could get a prime lens, a 400mm f/2.8L or even a 500mm f/4L would be ideal, but I am stupid for neither to pretend like I can spend that much on a hobby right now. Priorities. Priorities.


"My soul is in the sky." - William Shakespeare
Taken at South Street Seaport in New York.


I cannot claim that I am a good photographer, I possess neither enough talent nor technical know-how. I bought a basic photography book specific for my camera and have read two or three online tutorials. I definitely will not be caught paying more than PhP5,000.00 (~US$117.00) for a week's worth of class. I am currently in search of a potential photography buddy, even someone as ignorant as me. XD Learning comes a lot easier if done with another person. Everything just seems more enjoyable with a friend-- I had to go through a gradual and painful process to realize that.


dSLR, birding books, binoculars


If given a chance, why wouldn't I want to study photography and make a living out of it? I would grab the opportunity in a split second. Unfortunately, the things in my life are currently not as aligned as I want them to be. Photography is very expensive. No matter how much it pains me, I have to dwell on the fact that I can't afford a telephoto and a wide angle zoom lens at the same time-- that is how I motivate myself. Haha. XD I have to remind myself again and again: prioriiitiiieees!

--

I have spent my first sixteen days in the Philippines whining, whining about being so whiny. The thought of being unemployed for the next couple of months scares the hell out of me. Again, if you know me well enough, you can testify to how much I like to exhaust myself, be it with work or sports or whatever. A few days ago, I listed and narrowed down all my choices. I have come to the conclusion that I would have to set aside my dream of becoming a Psychologist and an NGO volunteer. I have somehow laid out a little plan for my future. Now, I am keeping my fingers crossed that comes the next year, it will still be my little plan. In a week or two, I will start job hunting in Manila. If I do get accepted, it will take a few months before I could start. And, maybe-- just maybe-- I can continue seeing the rest of the world.

Today's lesson: ALWAYS RETURN A SMILE! :D
 
 
Location: Gubat, Sorsogon
Mood: blahblah
 
 
domi_quell
04 January 2012 @ 03:49 pm
(This post will probably suck, because I can't think right now. You have been warned, read at your own risk.)

What is more upsetting than getting sent home because you have the flu? Having the flu per se. :| But it makes sense to get sent home, so I'm not taking it against anyone. I can get both co-workers and guests sick. I might as well rest and get better.

Anyway, today would be the perfect time to catch up with some house chores: laundry and cooking. With all the food I've been eating, I deserve to be sick. I haven't been taking care of myself. No exercise, all work, and all bad food. I'm in very bad shape.

Since I started working in banquets, I have not had the time to run or go to the gym. After 3 months of running at least 4 miles a day, I stopped. It's not really my job that demands too much time from me. I force myself to work more than I should. People tell me all the time, "you work too much, Joan." And I think it's time for me to tell myself the same thing, I really do work too much.

Sometimes, I don't know how I do it. I always insist on working longer than 8 hours. I've been told that I'm killing myself; working 15 hours, sometimes even more than 20 hours per day, and going in the next day at 5am. At times, I only sleep for 3 hours between shifts. If I'm not working in banquets, I sometimes pick up shifts at Starbucks. So I rarely get a day off, and if I do, it's usually not more than one day per week.

After my first few weeks in banquets, I stopped keeping track of my hours. I don't even notice it anymore. Sometimes, it would feel like I only worked 60 hours, but when I check, it would actually be more than 90 hours. I once worked 118 hours, when everyone else just worked at most 80 hours.

I laugh about it. I laugh about intentionally exhausting myself. I laugh about practically living in the hotel because I'm there most of the time. I laugh about it but, in reality, I am very tired. And, now, it finally caught up to me. I am sick and it frustrates me.

Why do I work too much anyway? The obvious answer is I am saving up money. I have been doing a rotational training, the events department is my third and final assignment. In my first two departments, I worked a lot as well, but I was underpaid. I have not had the opportunity to earn decent money until I moved to banquets. So, these past months, I have taken advantage of the circumstances. I've been making twice, sometimes thrice, as much of what I used to make. I've finally been able to afford the things I want and need. I already paid off the money I owed for this internship program several months ago, and I was able to reward myself with some goodies and travels. But, more than anything, I am trying to earn some extra money for my mom, and for some future investments.

Other than fattening up my piggy bank, I actually just love to work no matter how tiring it is. For one, it preoccupies me. I hate being idle; I hate wasting my time on things that don't and shouldn't matter. And I thought I would never say this when I started working in that hotel, but I sincerely love the people I work with. They are appreciative and they know exactly what teamwork means. This is the reason I want to stay, because I know it will be hard to find the same kind of people to work with back home. Filipinos keep a very different work environment. Not much hugging, and not much besos. If there is one thing you need to know about me, it's that I'm a hugger. When I get back to the Philippines, I think I'm probably going to be depressed for a couple of weeks before I can properly function again. :|

I hope I can easily come back in a few months, but it's almost impossible. But I am determined to visit Peru to birdwatch and see some friends. Give me a couple of months to save for my ticket, and I'll be packed up and ready to fly to South America sometime in the next two years. I am honestly very excited about this plan. Haha. XD

Today's lesson: is very simple, DON'T WORK TOO MUCH! It has its drawbacks.
Tags:
 
 
Mood: sadsad
 
 
domi_quell
02 January 2012 @ 09:16 pm
01.01.2012

New year, woot. I am hungry, sick, and tired. Those are three very negative adjectives that I probably shouldn't be using to describe how I feel on the first day of the year. *sniffles*

The past couple of days haven't really been so bad, except that I started having this awful sore throat when I came home from work two nights ago. My throat is itchy, I cough, I sniffle, and I want to drink some hot tea.

My internship is almost over. I have but a couple of days left. And my heart breaks every time I think about leaving. :( I will be saying goodbye to a group of incredible people, and I will miss them terribly.

01.02.2011

I woke up today with a congested nose. My voice is hoarse and scary, and I sound like an elephant every time I blow my nose. I hate being sick.

After more than a month of working without a day off, the hotel's occupancy rate plummeted; no meetings, no events. I am still not sure if it was something to be thankful about. In the ten days that I was away from work, four days of it I spent trying not to get lost in New York.

Hanni and I booked our flight about two months early. Despite the knowledge that we will be spending a helluva lot of money, we were determined to visit The Big Apple before the year ends. Three days before our flight, we managed to convince Nohely, a Peruvian friend, to go with us. So instead of an iPhone, Nohely decided to purchase a ticket to one of the most interesting cities in the world.

The night before our flight, Nohely got sick and I spent three hours arguing with Expedia.com agents so she could get a full refund. It was a non-refundable ticket, and rebooking would mean another $150.00 over her 300-dollar flight. We cancelled her flight.

Nohely is one of the kindest people I've met. She is such a hard worker that it hurt to learn that she was going to lose her hard-earned money. She also did not deserve to get sick; I was fearing the worst. Then two hours before Hanni and I were to board the plane, Nohely called to say she was rebooking for an afternoon flight to follow us. We were ecstatic but worried; she was, after all, still sick. We met Benhur, Hanni's brother who was also an intern in Missouri, at the LaGuardia Airport in New York City.

We stayed in Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. Being Marriott employees, we got a pretty good deal. And since there were four of us, we only paid around $40.00 each for 3 nights. During our first night, we walked to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade to see the Manhattan skyline, and it was one of the most beautiful sights I've seen in my life. For the next three days, we made our itineraries ourselves, and mostly relied on Google maps. None of us had any GPS-enabled device, so we had to review all our daily routes before leaving the hotel. New York is the most exciting thing that has happened to me in my stay in America, and it is indeed what they say it to be: a melting pot of culture and people. I felt at home. The hustle and bustle made me feel like I was back in Manila, only it was better, busier, and more exciting. I can see myself living in New York City.


The Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn Heights Promenade


We did a lot of things in 4 days, from getting lost in the American Museum of Natural History to watching a spray paint art vendor in Times Square, from eating at a Filipino restaurant thousands of miles away from the Philippines to waiting in line for two hours to get to the top of the Empire State Building. And, yes more than what I paid for the roundtrip ticket and the hotel, I spent on commuting, admission fees, and food.


New York City at night, as seen from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building


But seeing the cultural capital of the world and sharing so much laughter with newfound friends-- it was worth every penny, and worth the frustration of creating reliable itineraries and getting lost. XD There was so much to do, but so little time. Four days were not enough, even a month would not have been.


Clockwise: A two-wheeler in Times Square, a graffitied truck in Central Park-Center Drive,
crowd in the Museum of Modern Art, exhibit in the American Museum of Natural History


I don't really know how I got sick. Stress left me a long time ago as I was away from work for ten days. A virus I acquired in the dirty subway trains of New York City? Or simply the flu shot wearing off?

Though I worked the the previous four days in Starbucks, I don't officially go back to work in banquets until tomorrow. Here's to hoping I get better! I don't want anyone else getting sick.

And as I type, I pause and blow my nose, I think about the people I've met in the past year, and I feel warm inside. But as I realize that I will have to say goodbye and that I may never see them again, the cold creeps in once more.

Today's lesson: MAKE IT HAPPEN. GET OUT THERE.
 
 
 
 
domi_quell
02 November 2011 @ 08:46 pm
I am a person. And I am a person who is scared of so many things. I am not exactly the daring type.

Singing and dancing in public scares the hell out of me. Driving makes my palm sweaty. And thinking about piercings turns my knees into jelly.

However, I am living several thousands of miles away from my country, family, and friends. I have done this not only once but twice in my life. And I intend to do it a hundred times over. I want to find out what the world has to offer.

I want to see Machu Picchu, get lost in the deepest Peruvian jungles, climb the high Andes, and get a glimpse of the White-Bellied Cinclodes. I do not want to just read about Peru. I want to go to Peru. I want to experience nature's bounty for myself. I want to stand on the soil of the birdiest country in the world. If Philippines has more than 600 bird species, Peru has over 1800. The figure is jaw-dropping, and simply reading about it fills me with euphoria.

I want to visit Picasso's birth city, and experience Europe's warmest winter in Malaga. I want to listen to La Marcha Real amongst the people of Spain. I do not want to just watch a flamenco dancer, I want to dance the flamenco myself and learn how to strum the Spanish guitar. I want to stand in front of the Sagrada Família and allow the greatness of its architecture engulf me. I want to listen to a Spanish historian tell the story of what was once the most powerful empire in the world. I want to learn one of the most spoken languages and speak nothing but Spanish for 3 whole months, so without pretentiousness and with just the perfect accent, I could say to myself "la vida es buena."

I want to teach African orphans how to read and write. I want help build water pipes for the remotest African regions and tell a six-year old girl that she no longer needs to make a 2-km trek several times a day for clean water. I want to touch the walls of African caves and decipher prehistoric paintings, and learn from the Ndebele people the art of beadwork and finger painting. I want to help rehabilitate lions and save sea turtles. I want to glide my hands around the trunk of a baobab tree, so I could understand the magnificence of the African savannas, then sit under its shade and watch the horizon turn into a golden orange.

A ticket to a new place is one of the best gifts you could give to yourself. On a birthday, on a holiday, or after a year's worth of hard work. I have come to realize that life is more than just your loved ones and job, and learning goes beyond what most of us would phrase our comfort zone. Life is also about yourself, your personal growth, and learning how to become a person for those you never thought you would meet or would need you. Unfamiliar faces and places teach us so much more than we usually expect.

Life is indeed full of surprises. We will meet people and see places. We will lose people and leave places. But wherever your passion and shoes take you, what matters are the memories you've collected and who you've become.

I no longer feel trapped. :)

What are the true risks in life? What makes you daring and what makes you not?

Today's lesson: TRAVELING IS LIKE STUDYING. THE MORE YOU DO IT, THE MORE YOU LEARN.
Tags: ,
 
 
Mood: cheerfulcheerful
 
 
 
domi_quell
26 October 2011 @ 02:17 pm
Yesterday, I waited for my second shift in the locker room. I read on my Kindle while four tired bodies slept beside me. America is indeed a land of abundance. Despite the fact that people work at least two jobs to afford what they want, the American life is still more fortunate than the rest of the world.

While in some places, people are dropping dead like flies as we speak, beggars in Indianapolis are overweight. At one time, I even saw a woman on her laptop with a sign beside her that says, "PLEASE HELP, JOBLESS." The whole world is an epitome of irony.

Day after day, I watch people clad in designer clothes walk around the hotel; a gentleman with a Burberry scarf around his neck, a lady with a Hermes leather handbag. Last night, 600 people filled one of the hotel's ballrooms. Men and women chatter while holding cocktails with one hand and gesturing with the other. They lined up for the most delicious dishes the world can offer, and they danced under the most colorful of lights. I also remember that some nights ago, we hosted a charity auction, and I overheard that a little puppy was just auctioned for $3,000.00. The hotel I work for caters to socially prominent people. People who can afford to stay in a hotel for several hundreds of dollars per night, and who want the best service their money can buy.

So why am I now thinking that I would rather be around people who make nothing than around them who can buy a small town if they wanted to? I really don't understand. I could probably easily get a job in a hotel back home, work in an air-conditioned establishment, wear a suit everyday, and be surrounded with people in the same outfit.

At one time, a co-worker and I set up a continental breakfast for 6 people. The event order form was stamped V.V.V.I.P. We laid out five plates of fresh fruits, a dozen bagels, a pan of premium glazed Virginia ham biscuits, and several dozens of pastries, breakfast breads and muffins on two 5000-dollar glass tables, not to mention the 4 gallons of coffee on the credenza which was worth almost $250.00. The room was spotless, it was fit for the royal family. After their meeting, we went to clear the room and to our surprise, nothing was touched. I stood inside a room that we so meticulously set up an hour ago, surrounded with food that was prepared by the most talented chefs, food that was going to be thrown away in ten minutes. Several Filipino families could've been fed for a week, convert it to cash and several Filipino families could've been fed for a month. While the hotel wastes literally tons of food every week, on the other side of the world, people are dying of hunger. How does such a thing happen?

Sometimes, when I wait outside a meeting room for a group to break, I like to pretend that they're talking about the future of children in Africa, and not of dominating their industries.

The world is a sad place guised by things that entertain and preoccupy us. Hollywood, anime, computer games, money, even friends and family. We all want to be successful, but material possession doesn't guarantee peace of mind. And personal wealth doesn't take away the fact that millions of children are growing up hungry and uneducated.

Do you care? Do you want to do something about it?

Today's lesson: CARE. REFUSE TO ACCEPT THAT THINGS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THE WAY THEY ARE.
 
 
Mood: sleepysleepy
Music: Dreamland - Mojofly
 
 
domi_quell
22 October 2011 @ 05:13 pm
Working too much has its drawbacks.

My watch read 7.52am. Five seconds later, I realized I was late for work. Almost two hours late. I took a cab instead of my bike. Fifteen minutes after I clocked in, I was sent home.

Unlike in my two previous departments, my current bosses are handbook nuts. I also found out today that a bunch of people has already been fired for tardiness, including an intern. So remind me to set my alarm two hours before my shift tomorrow.

I feel stupid that I worked so much in the past couple of days only to lose (at least) 8 hours of work today. When I mentioned in my previous post that the next two days were going to be worse, I wasn't joking. I was scheduled both in Coffee Breaks (CB) and Starbucks last Thursday. After 9 hours in CB, I only had time to change before clocking in for my next 8 hours in Starbucks. I was so tired that I decided to take two shots of undertow (vanilla, half & half, espresso shot)-- I found out later that night that it wasn't one of my brightest ideas. The undertow immediately took effect, I was wired for the rest of the night. In fact, so wired I didn't get to sleep until about 2.30am, and I had to be back at work at 4.45am. I worked almost 11 hours in CB, and almost 7 hours in Starbucks yesterday. 17 and 18 hours in two days with only an hour of sleep in between, am I trying to kill myself? I could be. So last night, I got home, changed and tried reading for 2 minutes before I dozed off-- I had to be at work at 6.30am.

Sometimes, I am made to wish I had an office job instead. CB is not as boring as I initially thought it was, my job includes lifting and transporting several gallons of boiling coffee in metal urns, and pushing rolling tables that are literally 20 times heavier than me on the hotel's carpet. I carry huge serving trays, which are also bigger and heavier than me, on my shoulder a lot. I'm really worried about my back. :| Other than being physically strenuous, every thing else is manageable. I am happy with CB. I still have so much to learn, but the group of people I work with is just really awesome. Today, instead of coming back to the apartment after clocking out, I went to a flea market and a pizza buffet with my new friends, Nohely and Stephany. Nohely was also sent home and she was only 24 minutes late! Being in a car with two Spanish-speakers can be really amusing, there always seems to be so much going on. I try to decipher some of their sentences; I understand a few words but end up getting lost. They just talk too fast. XD

Next week will be pretty slow though. I will have plenty of time to relax, which is disappointing. Because I want to keep working. It would be great if I could pick up some shifts. I really want that camera.

Working in a culturally diverse environment teaches you a lot of things. The event services department is a huge pool of immigrants, so you are expected to relate to all kinds of personalities. In CB alone, I work with Americans, Vietnamese, Mexicans, Peruvians, Iranians, an African, and an English. The degree of diversity was not as much in my previous two departments. Listening to the chorus of varying accents is surprisingly entertaining. I love everyone in CB but, right now, my favorite person would probably be Zaid (African), simply because she's very comfortable to work with, and she hugs like a mother. :) Ah, just thinking about saying goodbye to these people in January already makes me sad. :( It is really depressing if you think about it, because people come and go, and so many things seem dispensable. No matter how much you don't want some things to change, the harsh reality is you can't do anything about it. That's why every single day must be appreciated. The sadness of goodbyes is set aside if you live and enjoy life one day at a time.

Today's lesson: MEET AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN. LEARN THEIR CULTURE AND LANGUAGE. BE FLEXIBLE. YOU HAVE A LIFETIME TO START ENJOYING DIVERSITY, BUT THEN AGAIN, YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE.
 
 
Mood: cheerful
Music: Unwell - Matchbox 20
 
 
domi_quell
19 October 2011 @ 07:37 pm
The air is starting to smell like pork stew. The metal knife against the cutting board duets with the sound of boiling water. Zarah always cooks with so much enthusiasm that the kitchen seems to turn into her own little kingdom every time she's preparing something. Hanni sits in a corner with her Kindle, laughing one minute and whining the next. Twilight, she claims, is a good book. I sit on the floor opposite her. And I take a sip of my tea while I watch her read intently.

The sky is a subtle gray, a sad hue of white. It has been raining since I woke up this morning. It's 44°F outside, merely touching the glass window would make you shiver. Earlier, I cooked vermicelli and feasted on it while observing the crowd of teenagers enter the Conseco Fieldhouse across the street. Downtown Indianapolis has been very busy lately with a string of conventions. I was lucky to have been given a break today after working for 14 consecutive days. Tomorrow, I work again. When my next day off will be, I have no idea. I have not exactly done anything productive, which is heartbreaking. Other than doing my laundry and going to the gym later, I have not planned anything else. I feel like I'm wasting so much time. But then again, it's nice to be idle after working like a horse for 2 weeks. And, after all, the next two days will be much worse.

My sister has invited me again to Colorado in the first week of December, but I might have to turn it down for our planned New York trip on Christmas. It makes me sad though, to choose NY over Yana. But Yana I will see again next year, and NY I may never be able to visit once I go back to the Philippines. No matter how much I want to make money not an issue, it will always be an issue. Everything has a price. Like going to NY, seeing my niece again will cost me something, a helluva lot of something.

Due to an unexpected event, I will have to postpone buying a camera again. I am trying not to be bitter over it, so I'm settling for some other birding necessities instead. A number of items have been sitting in my Amazon shopping cart for more than a week now. And I've been itching to purchase them but the practical decision is to wait for my next paycheck. Fortunately, I only have to wait for two more days. XD And since my laptop has been very dysfunctional, I decided to buy a portable hard drive two weeks ago. I figured that it was more reasonable to buy an HD, than to buy a cheap but inferior laptop now and regret it later. So in case my laptop decides to fail me for good, my files are safe and I won't be as disappointed.



It is a Buffalo MiniStation, capable of storing 500GB of data but light as a feather, only 5.82 oz. With the dimensions of 3.03 x 4.5 x 0.55", it's lean enough. I initially wanted the 1TB version, but it would not have been a very smart investment; 500GB is more than enough already.

The sky has turned a darker shade yet it's only 18 minutes past 7pm. Two months ago, it would still be bright out. Winter is indeed on its way, and we'll be battling with hypothermia again. :\ I have started wearing gloves on my way to work in the morning. The cold air can get overwhelming.

My tea has gone cold, and I sip the last of it. Ah, I'm bored, yet some people would kill for the life I have right now.

I look out the window, hundreds of lights dapple the city's tall buildings. And I tell myself, the rest of the world awaits you, and you will see it soon.

Today's lesson: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH WANTING MORE, BUT YOU NEED TO LEARN HOW TO APPRECIATE WHAT YOU HAVE. IT'S A CLICHE FOR A REASON: YOU'RE LUCKIER THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE.
 
 
Mood: calmcalm
Music: I'm in Between - Macy Gray (As Told by Ginger Intro)
 
 
domi_quell
04 October 2011 @ 08:02 pm
I was having difficulty breathing, and my heart was throbbing so hard like it was about to literally jump off my chest. My belly was not being very happy. Bats, not butterflies, were screeching and flying around in my stomach. I have been very worried lately, and I thought maybe I would feel better if I write about it.

More than a month ago, I told myself I was going to take a Master's degree in Sociology when I get back to the Philippines. I have, after all, been wanting to study that discipline since time immemorial; it was just not so practical. Admittedly, I did not immediately zero down on Sociology. I was very confused; I want to learn so many things. Though I was quite sure I wanted to study something related to the social sciences, so Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, etc. Then, a couple of days ago, while in Utah, something resembling an opportunity presented itself.

Now, I've spent the last three days researching graduate programs here in the United States and in the United Kingdom. There are so many options, but I do not really qualify for all of them. I was not a good undergraduate student. In fact, I don't believe I have actually ever been a good student in my life. I am a person who settles on what is mediocre. I do not work hard enough to learn something I do not find interesting. But I did perform really well in my general subjects. True, it may be because they had less and easier requirements, and my instructors and professors were more generous but, more than anything, they were that part of my college education that I appreciated and enjoyed immensely.

As one friend also emphasized, I will have more of an advantage if I study abroad. And it just makes more sense. To be able to learn things in a more global perspective is essential if I really want to get somewhere. And let's face it, the University of the Philippines may be the best in the country but, sometimes, you can only learn so much from one place. Receiving further education here in North America or in Europe would help provide me with more opportunities in the future. Now, while I was looking into some academic institutions, in the back of my mind, I was also analyzing my life.

And it just hit me. You know that feeling when there has been something bugging you for a long time but you can't really put your finger on it? Like you've known it all along, but it has never really struck you? Well...the bomb just dropped on me.

What am I doing? I have nothing to be proud of. I am just another worthless individual. I have not done anything of importance for anyone else. I am just another person who is unconsciously living a life out of a manual. Be a corporate slave. Be a housewife. Be a businessman. Be an engineer. Be a doctor. Be anything for yourself and those close to you. And not be someone for the world.

And like everybody else who has had the same awakening-- I am now suddenly someone who wants to change the world. :|

I feel helpless. Because time is running so fast. And I feel as if I am wasting so much time and energy doing things that do not really matter. Things that do no matter to myself and to the world. I do not have the knowledge and background to be able to make an actual difference.

The problem is studying abroad is not as easy as it seems. There are so many factors to consider. I do not have the financial capability to study in a first-world country, where everything seems to have a price tag of at least 1000 times more of its counterpart in the Philippines. Yes, there are scholarships-- the issues here are: my transcript is not really impressive, graduate scholarships are very competitive, and (honestly) I'm not very smart. I currently do not have the confidence to compete with a bunch of intellectuals. I am mediocre enough to admit that. :|

So I was thinking...I could spend a couple of years in the Philippines to prepare for further education abroad. I have been reading about one of Colorado State University's MBA programs that specializes in the sustainability of small enterprises in developing countries. But I understand that I'm not yet ready for it. I have so much more to learn. This time, I will have to be more vigilant, it is better to spend a long time preparing than risk failing.

Anyhow, I'm not really sure what to do. And I'm not really that decided about studying abroad. I really don't know. Who knows, maybe next year I'll be in a cubicle acting like a robotic corporate associate. Or maybe I'll be back in school in the Philippines. Or maybe I'll still be wandering aimlessly. But, right now, I know that I want to do something meaningful. And, right now, I'm refusing to be just another person.

I can't wait for my current training to be over. I want to get on with my life.

I have to be smarter. More aware. And I have to learn how to properly act on that awareness.

Now, this is a quarter-life crisis. :|

I need to grow up.

Today's lesson: YOU CAN BE AS IGNORANT AS YOU WANT TO BE, OR YOU CAN BE AS AWARE AND KNOWLEDGEABLE AS YOU WANT TO BE. AT THE END OF THE DAY, WE DECIDE HOW IMPORTANT OUR EXISTENCE IS GOING TO BE.

P.S. No, writing didn't help as much. Maybe running would. You'll find me in the gym in the next hour.

UPDATE @ 11.19pm
Running helped while I was running. Sooo...not really, it didn't. ~_~
Maybe reading and sleeping would. I have to wake up at 5am for my new department training tomorrow anyway. :\
 
 
Mood: worriedworried
Music: Programmable Soda - Tori Soda
 
 
domi_quell
03 October 2011 @ 10:09 pm
There are no innocents. There are, however, different degrees of responsibility. - The Girl Who Played with Fire, Stieg Larsson

I am trying to convince myself to put off watching the film adaptation of the Millennium Trilogy until I finish reading the last book. This act of temperance is, in all honesty, very hard to manage. I have, instead, been re-watching the trailers. XD

The first (The Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo) and second (The Girl Who Played with Fire) books are by far the most riveting stories I've read of its genre, i.e. crime/mystery. When I finished the first book, I realized I started with very little expectations and did not anticipate the stack of twists and turns in the plot. It has been a while since I had refused to turn off the lights at night after reading time. XD Of course, I may just happen to have a very active imagination, but what my mind currently likes to make up roots from the books' macabre descriptions of murder, rape, and other obscenities. A few nights ago, during my vacation in Utah, I shamelessly asked my mom to scoot over to the edge of her bed so I can sleep beside her. XD I was too disturbed to sleep in my own bed, which was actually just adjacent her's. XDDD

Speaking of Utah, I spent four days in Salt Lake City to see my mother, who is visiting from the Philippines and to attend my sister's wedding. I was basically cut off from the rest of the world because my laptop's charger stopped functioning about two weeks prior to that. So I didn't bring any other gadget to SLC except for my Kindle and two mobile phones. My mom is well, but she seems very bored, which is understandable because she happens to be my mother. :| She doesn't like being idle. And, frankly, this is the most idle she has been in years. I can't remember her going on any vacation in the past except for those short three (?) days in Singapore with my brother a couple of months ago. She has about a week to go, and she's giddy to go home. However, as also expected, she is having the time of her life with her first grandchild, Yana. Just seeing her sincerely happy with Yana was enough to melt my heart. And I can't blame her, I had looked forward to that vacation myself because of Yana. If I believe in any magic right now, it would be because of her-- and it would be her.

I will talk about Yana and my vacation in another entry. Right now, let's go back to our initial topic. I actually put off finishing the second book because I was distracted by Rizal's Noli Me Tangere. I decided to do that because it was starting to become very disturbing and I was in a patriotic trance. But as soon as I started reading again, I couldn't put it down. Thank goodness for good books, I thought I would lose my sanity when my laptop broke. During my 7-hour flight to Utah and another 7 back to Indianapolis, I only alternated between napping and reading. I don't even remember getting up for a restroom break; when I would wake up from a nap, my hand would automatically reach for my Kindle.



WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire are both very well-written, several chapters were climactic and I was made to hold my breath more than once. I find Larsson's writing so vivid. The only part I got disappointed was when Ronald Niedermann a.k.a. "The Giant" ran for his life after imagining that Salander turned into some kind of zombie. I mean, seriously? An almost 7-foot gym junkie? A flick of his wrist against your chest can break your ribs; he has superhuman strength. To top it off, he has congenital analgesia, therefore, he is unable to feel pain. And he still literally ran away like a scared six-year old? But I guess it was vital to the plot, so we could meet him again in the next book. :\ It's just that his character's personality is so ironic it's almost weak. He started off murdering three people, and he ended up being freaked out by a barely five-foot and anorexic-looking girl. :|

It is probably safe to say that the first book is independent of the others; however, the second doesn't end with a conclusion, so the minute I finished it, I immediately downloaded The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I read somewhere that Stieg Larsson had intended to write a series of 10 books, and the fourth book was halfway done when he passed away. He was not only a writer but was also an investigative journalist and a political activist, he's a real-life Mikael Blomkvist (the book's male protagonist) himself. The books' theme circles around sexual violence against women. His feminist views stem from his own experience of witnessing a gang rape when he was 15 years old. According to his friend, Larsson failed to intervene in the rape of a woman named Lisbeth (the name he later used for the books' female protagonist), which caused a life-long guilt and a commitment to protect women. He had tried to personally apologize to Lisbeth, but she never accepted. I guess he decided to write the series also as a form of apology. And he ended up writing a series of international bestsellers, which have been adapted into movies.

Reading time.

Today's lesson: ENJOY THE SMALL THINGS IN LIFE, LIKE A GOOD BOOK. :)
 
 
Mood: calmcalm
Music: The Boy Next Door - Stacey Kent
 
 
 
domi_quell
17 September 2011 @ 01:46 am
I was fighting the urge to write so I could go to the gym, and I succeeded. But now that I am finally free to murder the keyboard with my thinking out loud, I've completely lost whatever train of thought I had been meaning to transform into words. I think it was about the mind-boggling inability of human beings to accept the differences in their societies. :| That or some other topic that was random enough to tickle my neurons. So let's try this again. (Though I can't promise anything worthy of serious contemplation because I'm actually ready submit to the Sleep Fairy.)

I am currently re-reading José Rizal's Noli Me Tangere (Latin, trans: Touch Me Not). This book was first published in 1887 in Germany, during the reign of the Spaniards in the Philippines. A sequel, El filibusterismo (Spanish, trans: The Filibustering), was later released in 1891. Rizal was, among other things, a nationalist. Contrary to popular belief, Noli is not simply a novel about the sufferings of the Filipino people under the Spanish regime; it is also about the Filipino culture: its strengths and flaws. Frankly though, I wouldn't be surprised if someone told me that Rizal is of the current generation, and he had written these books for the Filipinos of today. The sad truth is that the flaws of our forefathers are still our flaws today. And what is even more depressing (disgusting even) is that whatever strengths they possessed (unfortunately) died with them.



While before it was the Spaniards who oppressed the Filipinos, today, it is Juan dela Cruz oppressing Juan dela Cruz. Despite its so-called independence, the Philippines remains a home to millions of people who are confined in poverty by their own backwards culture. If Rizal could see the current state of the country, he would weep.

"In every instance I noted that a people’s prosperity or misery lay in direct proportion to its freedoms or its inhibitions and, along the same lines, of the sacrifice or selfishness of its ancestors."

The statement above is quoted from Noli, as spoken by the character Crisostomo Ibarra. According to Rizal, a country's prosperity or the lack of it is dependent on two things: its freedom and its history.

First, history. I will again admit that I am no expert on this subject. Though despite the reality that our history is actually a history of our foreign conquerors, isn't the country's current claim of autonomy proof enough of our ancestors' efforts?

Next, freedom. This is where it gets tricky. We should wonder if our autonomy is indeed synonymous to freedom-- and that I will ramble about in my next post. I am unfortunately a legal adult, which means I am forced by society to burden myself with responsibilities and priorities. And because I am a loser, it is waaaay past my bedtime. :|

OT: This is what I love about learning to cook. I can now eat real food. At any time of the day. Even after midnight. Carbonara, anyone?

 
 
Mood: sleepysleepy
 
 
domi_quell
15 September 2011 @ 12:27 am
I finally finished watching the complete Star Wars saga. It was around two weeks ago when I decided to re-watch Episode IV, which I first saw when I still believed I can have superpowers. Re-watching a movie in an age past your adolescence can be interesting. Re-watching a movie categorized as sci/fi in an age past your adolescence can feel almost liberating.

Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD

Star Wars is a story of betrayal, and not simply of men in robes with laser swords that emit funny noises. It is a film with political allegories. Or better yet, it is a political allegory in itself, that is if you try to ignore all of George Lucas' futile attempts to include romance in the plot. And from whatever angle you look at it, you can't deny that Lucas is a libertarian. Though I can agree that it would be better not to interpret any economic gabble from the story (since some would be fine just to have it as a story of robots, aliens, and cool superpowers), I sometimes happen to enjoy things more when I overthink them. XD The Galactic Republic reorganized into the Galactic Empire by a Sith Lord--taxation, rebellion, democracy, all these constitutional references -- why that can't tempt you into throwing in real political connotations, I refuse to understand. XD



While running on the treadmill earlier, I tried to think of justifications why Star Wars is a great story. But no matter how deep I think, a seemingly trivial reason always climbs its way on top of the list: Han Solo. Witty, reckless, egotistical-- all kinds of prick rolled into one-- that is the detestable Solo. He is part of why the original trilogy was such a great hit, and his absence is also a reason why the prequels were hogwash. Han Solo is the character most watchers can relate to. He is self-centered and cares about nothing else but money and his furry friend, Chewbacca. He does not deny his lust for financial abundance and does not think twice about blaming everyone else when he finds himself in a tight spot. He is unmistakably an asshole, he is the character closest to reality, and he is undeniably human (literally and figuratively). Though it would've been nice if he remained an asshole, Lucas decided to sprinkle a bit of nobleness in him, which didn't turn out as bad. Because, after all, every human being aspires to be a hero. And even when he became a hero, he was still a douchebag; he remained true to his nature.

The original Star Wars trilogy was released between 1977 and 1983. It is understandable then to anticipate substandard special effects, but George Lucas and his crew defied expectations. Of course, it wasn't perfect, Yoda could've easily passed for a Sesame Street character for chrissake. But watch a preview of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, released in 1979, and you'll know exactly what I mean.

Puppet Yoda:



Then, the prequels came out and Yoda became a full CGI. We finally see our little green friend in a lightsaber duel. We now see his feet when walks and his face can now express emotions.

CGI Yoda:



However, special effects do not make a movie. Star Wars is an epic drama, it is expected to have content. After the original trilogy, Lucas needed to present the same quality of writing if not better. I may be stereotyped as a basher, but it will not stop me from saying that the prequel trilogy sucked.

For starters, I couldn't grasp who the main character was. It was neither Anakin nor Obi-Wan, and it certainly was not Yoda. None of the characters satisfied the role of a protagonist. Unlike in the original trilogy, we actually followed the personal development of a Luke Skywalker. And didn't it feel like the whole trilogy was a complete drag? It took me more than a week to finish the prequels. I had to summon as much courage as I could to form the slightest anticipation.

Hayden Christensen failed big time. I can't believe how poorly he could act considering that he does it for a living. His acting was awkward and terrible. From little Ani to Padawan Anakin to despicable Darth Vader, I expected at least a subtle transition in Episode II, but Anakin was vile from the start. The way he would look at Padme was just disgusting. And as if Christensen's acting was not enough of a disappointment, they had to cast Samuel L. Jackson as Master Windu. I always thought that a Jedi Master should be calm and graceful in action and words, Jackson as Master Windu was not. He appeared obnoxious and aggressive.

I almost died when I saw R2-D2 fly. Honestly, I was extremely excited until I realized I was watching Episode II; he never flew again in Episodes III to VI. And, oh, it also appears as though the physics behind it is wrong.

Finally, the single appearance of Darth Vader in the prequel trilogy was ruined by a single line:



The dramatic scene above will never equate to this:



While the former had been created to draw out the same emotions from the audience as the latter did, it just wasn't good enough. I actually thought it was comical instead of jaw-dropping. Darth Vader was presented like Frankenstein's monster. As he was hoisted upright, his attempt to free himself from the operating table was unnatural. I think that one of the world's most iconic villains could've been introduced better.

P.S. This entry could've been longer but my brain refuses to cooperate. I think I am now in need of sleep. Even if bedtimes are for losers. :|
 
 
Mood: awakeawake
Music: Star Wars Opening Track
 
 
domi_quell
13 September 2011 @ 11:05 pm
Tonight I Can Write (The Saddest Lines)
Pablo Neruda

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write for example, 'The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to a pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.
Her voice. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

 
 
domi_quell
07 September 2011 @ 01:54 pm
As soon as circumstances permit, I'm going back to school for something I've always wanted to do. It will seem impractical to others, and they will convince me not to make a mistake. But I don't want to be one of those people who are unhappy and discontented because they keep putting off their dreams.

Remember when you were little and you wanted to be a doctor or a pilot or a firefighter? You never once doubted who you would become. Well, when I was a little, I never really had a dream. My ambition was vague and did not fit any title, so I let my parents dream for me. I was my father's future lawyer; I started dreaming about pro-bono cases and courtrooms. I was going to become a defender of the oppressed. But then, like everybody else, I grew up.

For college, despite my mother's disapproval, I took up Computer Science. During that time, Nursing was a hype in the Philippines-- well, it actually still is; it is the practical degree. Parents send their children abroad in hopes of becoming rich from remittances. High school graduates, who don't know what they want to do in life, are settling for a course that seems right because everyone is taking it. Well, I knew what I did not want to be, I did not want to be a nurse. And even if I never really wanted to be a programmer, I was willing to risk so I could figure out my life while studying in one of the best universities in the country, which for me was the more logical decision.

A year and a half into the program, I realized I could never become a computer scientist. It was difficult because I hated almost everything about it. True, I was good at it when I tried, but I hated trying to do something I did not enjoy. I could not visualize myself doing what computer scientists do, and it scared me. I decided to drop out from the program.

Then, the fear of disappointing the people in my life started to creep in. With that fear bound by the lack of ambition, I shifted to Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management. And, now that I think about it, I spent so much time in college trying to figure out my life. I spent several years trying become somebody I never wanted to become. But I want to say I have no regrets. I've learned a lot despite my wandering.

So, now, that I think I finally want to become something, I have no more excuse to put this off. Now is the right time, while I am young and have less responsibility than the average person, while I still have the appetite for knowledge. I want to learn. Though I still do not know exactly what profession to take, I know which path to follow to ultimately arrive there.

I have several months before enrollment. Acceptance into the program is still uncertain. My transcript is not very impressive. XD After all, I was never a good student. XD But I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I don't want to be a person whose worth is defined simply by his his bank account and material possession. I don't want to chase money just for the sake of chasing money. While it is true that I also want to be comfortable in life, I want balance in mind and fulfillment in self more than anything else. Life is short, I want to do this before it's too late. I want to truly enjoy life; I want to be sincerely happy.

Today's lesson: BECOME THAT SOMEONE.
 
 
Mood: optimisticoptimistic
Music: California Sun - Ramones
 
 
domi_quell
07 September 2011 @ 03:08 am
When we found out that the kayaking facility was closed, we almost ended up wasting the night. One hour after the disappointment, we decided to go to Greatimes, a fun park located 8 miles from downtown, which Hanni found online. It was already 7pm, and the park was going to close at 9pm, but we went anyway. The cab ride didn't take more than 15 minutes.

The park was almost deserted, much like a ghost town, which was actually good because we didn't have to wait in line for anything. XD The tickets were a little expensive, $5.00 for each attraction, so we just chose two rides. Two aweeeesome rides. :))


Larry, Zarah, Hanni, Me (click to zoom)


The first ride was called Bumper Boats, which I didn't expect to be that exciting. I mean, bumper boats? I thought the object of the game was simply to ram the rubber boats into each other. To control the boat, there were two triggers. The first one made the boat move-- the second was labeled gun. O_O When Larry got into his and pressed the gun button-- water trajected from a tiny hole on the engine. O_O Boy, were we in for a ride! XD We spent 7 minutes laughing like little hyena cubs, who were trying to drown each other. :))


Hanni, Jojo, Me, Larry after Bumper Boats(click to zoom)


Yes, we were drenched. I was especially soaked because I was wearing a thin shirt. :)) But it was one heck of a ride, one of the most carefree 7 minutes of my life. :))

Our second and last ride was kart racing. I was a little nervous because I do not know how to drive. With the excitement hangover from the previous ride, my apprehension easily went away. It was awesome, I felt so daring. HAHA. XD And I wondered about racers, how happy they are making a living out of something (sans the danger) that gives them so much enjoyment. I could've done it all day but it had to end. And the wind dried my clothes and hair. XD

A bowling alley was located next to the fun park. Unfortunately, a tournament was being held that night, the place was reserved. :\

We had dinner at P.F. Chang's China Bistro in the Circle Center Mall. We were aiming for something new but not very expensive. Haha. XD As expected from a Chinese restaurant, their servings were big enough for sharing.


(click to zoom)


We started off with an order of the Pan-Fried Shrimp Dumplings and Spring Rolls. The dumplings were amazing, which we shared over a discussion of the Philippines' local siomai houses. The Spring Rolls, however, was not very exceptional due to its blandness.

Our main course included the Wok-Seard Lamb and Shrimp with Lobster Sauce, which were both incredibly delicious. The former had a hint of sweetness in it and was very tender. The shrimp was cooked in garlic white wine sauce with scallions, egg, black beans, and mushrooms.

Of course, what better way to end the night but with mouth-watering treats. :D


(click to zoom)


The first photo is of the Great Wall of Chocolate, six layers of chocolate cake, frosted with chocolate chips and served with raspberry sauce and fresh berries. We also had the Banana Spring Rolls with the heavenly pineapple-coconut ice cream-- probably the best ice cream I've ever had in life. @_@ Yes, I can die happy now. HAHA. XD

P.S. My fortune cookie said:

 
 
Mood: chipperchipper
Music: Glad to See You Go - Ramones