Merry Christmas!

So…I meant to write a story again this year, but alas, real life is always, always on the way. Have you noticed how quiet it has been here in this blog lately? I know, right. Even I am surprised. Maybe changes are coming along the way, who knows?
Oh who am I kidding — yes, there are changes, and I hope to have them up by January 2011. Please life, give me time to do that.

On another note, in lieu of a story, here’s a picture greeting instead:

Merry Christmas! :)

Yep, Merry Christmas everyone! :) I used to have a Santa hat, but it’s gone missing, so the sunflower hat should do, right? :)

So, flowering trees and snow aside, I hope this Christmas finds you well and blessed and happy with your family, loved ones and friends. And I hope this Christmas, forgive me for using the cliche, but I hope we remember the reason for the season. A little birthday greeting, perhaps? :)

Happy birthday, Jesus! :) Enjoy your party!

So peace, love, blessings, good food and books to one and all. :) Leaving you with a song from the one and only, Dave Barnes. :D

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God bless everyone. :)

Polar Opposites

I’m noticing a pattern in the past few days.

Image from sxc.huLast Monday, I was talking to some friends on chat, and I find out the following:

  • One friend is now happily in a relationship
  • One friend is nursing a broken heart
  • Another friend found out something not so nice about the guy she’s dating

Today, I found out:

  • A friend gave birth to her first baby last weekend
  • A friend’s dad passed away yesterday

Talk about polar opposites. And all during the Christmas season.

Things like this baffle me. Sometimes I wish there was something we can do to stop bad things from happening at this time of the year, because let’s face it: who wants to experience death and broken hearts at this time of the year when people are supposed to celebrate? Can’t it be in any other time of the year?

But who wants to welcome bad things at any other time of the year, though?

And…how can we appreciate the good if it not for the bad?

Life and death. Happiness and sadness. All together in one cycle…does this mean one cannot be there without the other?

Ah well. Thoughts all over the place again. Sometimes I want to contain them all in a metal building, just so they won’t run all over the place in the middle of the work week.

Forgive me for this word vomit. I’ll try to post something more coherent next time.

Physicals

Our annual physical exam for work is scheduled a little bit earlier so now we’re supposed to go do our physicals this week. I was expecting it to be on January, but it’s not like we can do anything to have it rescheduled.

I know I’ve turned into somewhat of a health buff in the last year, but I’ve loosened up on all the health stuff I’ve been doing late this year, so I’m sort of kind of scared of the upcoming exam. Weird, right? I mean, I usually go through these exams and not worry about anything because I know there’s nothing to worry about, but this year, I feel extra anxious for some reason. There is nothing to be worried about, right?

I guess the idea that blood chemistry is added in our annual physical exam added to my anxiety. It used to be only complete blood count but they added blood chemistry, so now we’re supposed to fast before the exam, which means I have to put that in schedule, too. Meh. That’s 10-12 hours of no food or liquid…how will I give my urine sample, then? Ack.
I worry too much.

I guess anything health related is kind of worrying. Well, I know I shouldn’t, but sometimes I feel like I hardly take care of myself, even if I’ve been taking the time to exercise and all that. Still, you never know what could hit you even if you’ve taken care of your health and all. I’ve heard stories of some healthy people who suddenly get sick with serious diseases and stuff. And I’m afraid to know that I am sick, or if I would require some kind of operation or something.

And I don’t want to be sick. Who wants to be?

But isn’t it scarier if I find out when it’s all too late? When I could have prevented everything if I did what I had to do at this age and not push it all for later?

You know what, I think all this anxiety is also because I haven’t been really okay spiritually. As usual. I always falter. I’ve stopped struggling for the past few months already that sometimes I wonder how far gone I am. And if I could ever get back where I used to be.

Ah well. This is one fact of life that I can’t skip, and I know that I must face, and pray that everything will be okay. It will be okay, right? I’m just being paranoid, right?

*deep breath* Dear God, even if I keep on forgetting You lately, please don’t forget me.  Lord help me remember that You’re bigger than any of this. Please let everything be okay.

Counting Down to Christmas

November has come and gone, and I thought I would never finish my novel. Well, I didn’t finish it, but I got to 50,000+ words and I promptly stopped writing. I never thought I’d get there. True, this year’s draft is probably the crappiest of them all, but I don’t care. Right now I’m content to having the unfinished draft of Song Bird residing in the deep recesses of my hard drive, never to see the light of day until I finally sit down and figure out what the story is really about. Because right now, I have no idea. :P

The novel I still want to finish is 2008’s and I must really, really sit down and finish that. :)

On another note, it’s December! December is my next favorite month after March, for obvious reasons. I love that Christmas is just around the corner, I love that December means cooler weather, and I love that December means the year is ending and we’ve got a new year coming. I’ve been feeling extra cheerful ever since yesterday, and I’m betting it’s the holiday season.

Of course, there’s another side of Christmas that I’ve been feeling a lonely chill to lately…but nah. I don’t want to think about that. :P

So Christmas! This means:

  • Christmas shopping – more people to give gifts to, and I’m glad the other people are so easy to give gifts to now. :P
  • Christmas stories – Wordplay will be revived!
  • Christmas readings – Did anything ever stop me from reading
  • Christmas eating – of course. I feel a bit guilty for being too lazy to go to the gym today, though (eep). Definitely not the best way to lose weight, folks. :P

Of course, Christmas means more than that, but allow me to be caught up in the festivities for now. :)

So I just thought I’d drop in and say hi. Now that NaNoWriMo is out of the way, it’s time to get busy with other things I have put on hold. I should start doing that now. So happy December everyone!

Long November

It’s true. November is the longest month of the year.

I apologize for the lack of posts here. With the book blog, NaNoWriMo and real life, my hands are full. Everyday is just me, reading, working and writing, even if I absolutely do not feel like writing. I labeled 2007 as the hardest year in my NaNoWriMo history, but I feel that this year is the worst so far.

Oh well. No pain, no gain, I guess?

I’m still fighting for this novel. So while I do, I thought I’d share this pep talk I sent last week — probably the most honest one I’ve ever sent.

My Novel Sucks – a pep talk from Tina (tinamats)

I knew as a kid that I wanted to be a writer, ever since I “met” Elizabeth Wakefield in Sweet Valley Kids. She was my first writing inspiration, and I am pretty sure she was the one that made me start writing stories even if I never read any of her stuff. I was all set to take up Journalism in college, but I got sidetracked when I was introduced to the wonderful world of HTML and web, so I took the geeky path and graduated college with a degree in Computer Science.

I did not abandon writing in college, though. I joined our school’s literary folio, but quit two terms later because I couldn’t do the residency and I always felt out of place among them. I wrote a few short stories, but I took my own sweet time writing them, except of course when they were semi-autobiographical — with that, it was almost like word vomit. For other attempts at literary work, I totally sucked.
Earlier today, I managed to reach 20k words in my novel. I forced myself to write, write, write and close other things that would make me slack off until I reach that magic land of 20,000 words before Monday came. Then I made a mistake at taking a break and reading some excerpts of the other Wrimos here posted on their profiles. Then I came to a sad realization.

My story sucks.

This entire attempt at writing a retelling of a fantasy story sucks. Really and truly sucks.

And because I chose to stick to the story, that I chose to stick to writing this, it just follows that I also suck.

Depressing, yes?

Here’s a confession: all these years I have been a Municipal Liaison for the region, I have always felt that I was one of the worst writers in the region. No joke. I like writing, yes, but I feel that I lack the formal training, the vocabulary and sometimes even the imagination to be a real writer. Sometimes, during chats and write-ins, I feel lost about the things people talk about. I have to double check the dictionary to understand some words that I feel I should have known before given my reading habits but it never stuck. Sometimes I feel like my novels can never compare to what you guys write. I feel like I’m the most boring person in the world, using the same words over and over again with long sentences and sometimes a bad grasp at grammar. Sometimes, I feel like my words do not carry enough weight, that it’s not exciting and no one will ever look at whatever I wrote, except for friends who get bored and ask me for things to read that are my own.

Yeah, I suck. Continue reading Long November

Who says I'm wasting my time?

It’s been three days since NaNoWriMo started, and even I am surprised at the lack of posts I have about it here. I’m not really sure why I’m not posting about it, really. Maybe it’s because I’m just plain busy (which I am), maybe I have no plot to talk about (partly true), or maybe I’ve just decided that I’ve blogged enough about it and I don’t need to really blog about it again (I’ve blogged about it here, anyway). It’s no secret to anyone who’s been following my blog (and the four, five who read this regularly) — I love NaNoWriMo. I cannot stress that enough.

So it kind of breaks my heart when I read some articles like this (and I kind of hate that I’m linking it, but I guess I have to) that slams something that has made my November for the past six years happier and crazier, and has allowed me to meet some of the most inspiring people I’ve known. Truth be told, the article kind of depressed me a bit, and wonder about how people can be so harsh about something that makes people of all ages write? What’s so wrong about attempting to write  a novel in a month?

And then I started to read the comments. Then I felt better because I realized that I’m not alone in feeling indignant. Misery (well, if you can call that misery) does love company! :P

Before I even heard of NaNoWriMo, I’ve been writing a lot. I wrote short stories, I had plots for novels and even some nonfiction books. I dreamed of being a writer, and I dreamed of seeing books with my name on the cover in the bookstores, but I got sidetracked by real life. In college, I attempted to write but I hardly finished anything because I always felt they weren’t good. I wasn’t brave enough to keep writing and I never had a looming deadline to give me discipline to write everyday. It was typical “One Day Novelist” syndrome: “One Day, I’ll write a novel.” When is that day? Whenever.

I think the most important lesson that NaNoWriMo has taught me is there’s never a perfect first draft. I’ve read blog posts of some of my favorite writers and other popular authors nowadays and they all say the same thing: the first draft is always ugly. I take comfort in that and despite all the screams of my inner editor, I write. I write for myself, I write for the people in my region who look up to me as their Municipal Liaison. NaNoWriMo has taught me the beauty of allowing myself to make mistakes and just keep going, because I know I can always go back to it later if I want to, after I have finished it from start to finish. The important thing for me right now, as a writer, is to get them written.  What was that I always tell our Filipino participants? Oh yeah, this one: don’t get it right, get it written.

And isn’t that what all writers should really start with? Even just wannabe writers who decided to jump and join the fun? Hello, fun?

And just a little rebuttal to the author of the article: I believe NaNoWriMo is not just a celebration for writers, but also for readers. Granted, not even 10% of the NaNoWriMo novels written in November gets to see the light of publishing day, but hey, I doubt these people who join NaNoWriMo are not readers, too. There may be a small percentage of non-readers there, but I’m pretty sure majority of those who join and enjoy the challenge and actually finish and return are readers, too. Perhaps they may not be the readers that you think (you know, those who read novels that are written by the authors that you also approve of), but they still read. And isn’t that really the point of it? Would you rather that people do not read if they’re not reading the “right” novels? In the same vein, would you rather people not write if they’re not writing the next great (insert your nationality here) novel?

I know I’m probably writing a bunch of crap this month about mythical creatures and Orlando vacation packages, just like I’ve done for the past six years, but at least I’m writing and I’m enjoying it. I’m not letting a pretentious article from someone who’s probably never even tried joining NaNoWriMo to discourage me from doing something that I love.

White Dress

So my brother got married last Thursday.

My brother proposed to his girlfriend during the Chris Daughtry concert back in 2008. They were supposed to get married last year, but because of budget constraints, they decided to push the wedding to the following year, which was a blessing, too because of what happened to our family last year.

Anyway, so I was supposed to give a surprise message to my brother last Thursday. It was supposed to be a surprise, but because both of them were stressed out, he somehow read the program and found out about it. It was timely that I was writing my “speech” in the hotel room that night, and tearing up on it slightly. Hah.

I was supposed to blog the night before the wedding, but of course there has to be no Internet at the hotel. It’s okay, though. I wrote the speech, but it’s in the other computer, plus I didn’t even read it in full. Of course, I did it extemporaneously even with that. So here’s the gist of what I said:

My brother and I were not close when we were kids. I think people who have siblings can attest to that — when you’re still kids, you just don’t get along with your siblings.

I think my brother and I started getting closer when I was in second year in college. That was the time when his ex broke up with him. I remember the first time his ex asked for space. I didn’t see him cry, but my mom said my brother cried, and for some reason, I immediately teared up! When she finally broke up with him, I didn’t see him cry, either. I did see him have that generally sad air — he would tear up at random times, hear mass almost everyday and finally, he would play The Art of Letting Go CDs in the car every single time. Yes, he was broken-hearted all right.

When he took cooking classes near my college, that was when we started talking more. He told me about more of his life, his ex, and his friends, and in turn, I started telling him stuff, too. That’s when we started growing closer, and I think that helped a lot because when he started courting Ate Liza, I was also one of the first to know. I think I was also one of the first to know when they were finally official — I remember a very jubilant text message from him that night. :)

My brother and I are hardly sentimental to each other, and usually, we joke around when we say “I love you” to each other. But allow me to be slightly sentimental tonight: I’m happy that you’re happy now, Kuya. Thanks for being my brother. :)

And to Ate Liza: welcome to the family! I meant what I said in your wedding guestbook: I’m really glad it’s you. I finally have a sister! :)

Congratulations and best wishes, and I love you both!

Oh, and I can’t wait to be a tita. :)

It was definitely a beautiful wedding. Thank You Lord for all the people, for everyone who helped, for the good weather, and for all the love that we felt that night. :) It was actually quite nice to see my brother tear up when he saw his bride. ;)

And I mean it — I can’t wait to be an aunt. :P I think I will be one of the most excited ones when my sister-in-law (woooh got to get used to that!) starts taking prenatal one multivitamins. :)

Oh and the night was even more awesome because of my really awesome friends:

Thanks, friends, for being there to celebrate the night with us. :) So who’s getting married next?

One more thing! Sharing my brother’s same-day edit video made by his videographer friends. Beautiful video, beautiful song (White Dress by Ben Rector — contributed by yours truly!). And you’ll see my brother cry here. Haha. Love you Kuya. :)

[vimeo 15892161]

I never knew that I could love someone the way that I love you… ♥

10.10.10

Of course I can’t let this day pass without blogging.

The past few days have been grueling for me, with lack of sleep, family errands and work stress all coming down on me all at the same time. I have never felt so tired, so giddy, so pissed and so stressed in one week, so much that I wanted to cry as Friday ends. I’ve been trying not to make it such a big deal and not stress over stuff, but sometimes you just can’t help but feel it.

Suffice to say that I’m sort of dreading tomorrow because I do not want to be stressed again. At least, not in the same level as I was last Friday. I mean, I’m all for taking responsibility, but don’t you hate it when you have to take responsibility for other things other people committed to do when you weren’t even involved in it in the first place? And you’re put into tremendous pressure because no one else can pick up the slack? UGH. Seriously, give me a break.

BUT. I must stop. No more stressing out.

I wanted to write something fun about 10.10.10..but honestly, I’m out. I’m sort of just waiting for this year to end, which kind of sucks because that’s not how it’s supposed to be. I should be enjoying 2010, I should be thankful because on the overall, it’s not such a bad year. I think I’m just resisting the changes coming, somewhat, or maybe I’ve bitten off more than I can really chew and I’m close to choking.

I really, really hope not.

Let’s see. What are the other stuff that’s coming up anyway?

  • Brother’s wedding
  • Adidas King of the Road
  • NaNoWriMo 2010
  • Runrio leg 3
  • Christmas

Why does it feel like I’m running out of time again?

I’m pretty sure I need to take a step back and figure out what else I can set to accomplish before this year ends. I’m sure I won’t meet all my goals anymore, but I sure want to say that I tried meeting some of them. I need to stop being chicken (about driving  — learning about car insurance quotes included — and getting checked up), to stop being lazy (writing, baking, getting to my ideal weight). I need to start doing something…I don’t know, worthwhile?

Yes, I’m having a growing up crisis today. Oh hormones, would this be you? Please be you.

I think one of the important things I’ve learned — or I’m starting to learn — lately is to stop sweating the small stuff. I musn’t stress over the things I can’t really control, or stress over the things that I shouldn’t really be stressing about. And I have a feeling I’m doing that now with this semi-growing-up crisis I’m having.

Focus. Focus. And prayer. I haven’t been praying for a while now. Must get back. There is no excuse for me not to pray. I’m not holding my end of the relationship well — I’m sorry, God.

Okay breathe. That’s it. It will be okay. By God’s grace, I’ll be okay, and I’ll snap out of this funk and I’ll be able to enjoy the good stress that my life brings and enjoy it at every moment, no matter what.

Dear Jesus, please be with me. I know I haven’t been the best daughter lately, I’m sorry. Please help me get back on track.

10.10.10 seems like a good place and time to start.

Daghang salamat, Cebu!

When I went to Cebu two years ago, I know I said I’d return again the following year. That obviously didn’t happen for several reasons, and I kind of succumbed to the thought that I’d rather go somewhere else rather than visit the same place again. So many places to see, so little time, yes?

But when Cebu Pacific had a seat sale, and my colleague invited us to go to Cebu, I jumped at the chance, dragging Grace and Jana with me. The flight was booked by April, so we had the time to pay off the tickets and save up for the activities for our (somewhat) epic weekend.

My real intention of going to Cebu wasn’t really to go around and sight see since I’ve done a bit of it the last time I was there. The initial intention was to meet up with my best friend who was there for his GX programme, but it turns out he goes back to Manila a week earlier than our flight. We wanted to go to Bantayan Island or those other beaches in Cebu, but schedule won’t permit, so we settled instead on a sort of beach-y and food trip weekend. Not as epic as Coron, probably, but relaxing enough to make it epic in my standards.

What’s with the word “epic”, anyway?

Let’s break it down by days. WARNING: Photo-heavy post!

DAY 1:

Airport, chatting, reading while waiting for the plane. Grace spotted Coco Martin on the same flight at the front, and the plane was full, so no chance for photo-ops. He was really cute in person, though, and I think the FA’s agree. ;)

We got to Cebu after lunch, and headed straight to BE Resorts in Mactan Island to meet with our other friends who flew there Friday. BE Resorts used to be Microtel Cebu. I’ve never been to Microtel, but what I know from the old name was it was also cheaper than it was now. But the hotel is still pretty, and we had a pretty great view of the pool and the beach, even if the beach isn’t that pretty. See how many times I used the word “pretty” there?

Continue reading Daghang salamat, Cebu!

Ondoysary

Allow me to use a common introduction to horror stories to start this post: This time last year, it was a dark and stormy night.

This time last year, my parents, my best friend and I were carrying our important belongings through chest deep flood water across the street to our neighbor’s house, where they have been waiting for us to evacuate for a while now. The rain won’t stop, and we carried all the important things that we can to their house, where they welcomed us in one room. We cleaned up, changed and prayed and listened to the rain pour down. My parents fell asleep, but my best friend and I were too antsy to do so. We talked in hopes of calming our own fears and listened and prayed for the rain to stop so the water will not go up anymore.

I was expecting the worst the next day. We woke up to this, our house submerged, on our street that has never flooded for the 20 years we’ve lived there:

One year ago.

I’ve been afraid of typhoon season starting ever since that day. Hard rains freak me out, and I find myself always, always praying for sun, and stopping myself from complaining about the heat. Better heat than flood, right?

I always said that I just need to get through this one year anniversary without any major calamity and I will be okay. Just that, and I think I can really, and fully move on. I don’t know how I could say that, but I’m big on dates and anniversaries and all that. I’m not a human calendar for nothing, you know.

But you know what? I will never really know if there will be another Ondoy. It doesn’t matter how much weather watching I do — if there’s another one, it will come and I am only human. I can’t stop it from happening. I can only do so much, I can only prepare myself so much and read about all the life insurance premiums and acts of God on insurances I can read about, but in the end, it’s all…well, God’s. He commands the weather, and everything else in this world, after all.

Ondoy really changed my life last year, and even if I know I’d rather not experienced it, I am still thankful that it happened. I don’t think I would be the person I am right now if I didn’t. I still don’t understand why it happened to us, to me. I don’t know if I will ever understand it, at least in this lifetime. But it doesn’t really matter if I understand it, or know why it happened. It’s kind of hard to explain, but trying to figure it out will just stress me out, when I can just rest in the fact that God knows and God understands and He will never ever give me anything that I can’t handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). So…why worry, right?

I will never forget what happened on September 26, 2009. I refuse to forget because I don’t want to forget how it changed me and the lessons I have learned. It will always be a part of me. But I will also refuse to worry about it happening again. My God is bigger than any other typhoon or calamity, and I rest in the fact that He is always in control, and He understands even if I do not.

I don’t know if I have thanked everyone who helped, prayed and listened to me and my family during the entire ordeal and after — if I haven’t, well, THANK YOU. You were all God’s blessings to us. Thank you, thank you.

It’s been a year, and I am never more happy when I woke up and saw sunlight shining through my window. :)

And for the record, I want to say that despite all that happened last year, I’m not an Ondoy victim. I’m a survivor. :)

Blessed be His name.

Read other Ondoy related entries in Refine Me:

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