27 January 2012

Heaven for the Devil in Me

I don't talk often about music because there isn't a lot that I like. During my pre-Internet childhood, the music that found its way to local radio stations was not as varied and, shall we say, "cool" as the music my capital-based peers have in their libraries. Let's just say that Nine Days and Enya were about as far out of the mainstream as you could get, and nobody had a clue how great Bjork really was (But, could you blame us? The "Hunter" video had us all scratching our heads).

So whenever I heard something that I liked, cool or uncool, I latched onto it and, given my music landscape, only it—as an angry teenager, "The Madding Crowd" was the only album I ever played at full blast behind my locked door. The music I loved, I loved fiercely, perhaps because it felt like it had made such a long journey to present itself to me.

I don't know whether it's just the way I am, just my age (the other day, some high schooler on the radio didn't know the words to "Don't Speak"), or actually the way many people really are, but this is still how I acquire music today. Having access now to the immense volume of music out in the world actually makes it even harder for me to find a musician or band that strikes that magic chord inside my tiny little body.

The good music, I've found, tells me a story, and the better music makes me feel like the hero, whether that story's happy or sad. I guess that's kind of escapist, but whose daydreams aren't?

The best music, however, makes me feel capable of anything, right here, right now.

And all that's just to say that I can't get enough of "Ceremonials" by Florence + the Machine.

Sometime last year, I heard "What the Water Gave Me." I had just wrapped myself around Flo's first album, "Lungs," and I was a little afraid of what she was going to do next. The new song took me back to all the afternoons I spent holding my breath under the water, training myself to dive 15 feet without a tank. It felt like my dreams of flying—and when I dream of flying, I feel and move like I'm swimming.

Then, the day before I went home for the All Souls holiday, about two months after my breakup, I heard "Shake It Out," and I just knew that this whole album would be everything I needed to hear.

I finally bought it—bought it!—on Monday, and I haven't been able to stop listening to it. Every damn song makes me feel like I could win a war, even if that war's just with myself.

I wish I could go on, but I have to dash off now to meet my dad and brother; we're hiking around Taal Volcano tomorrow. \m/

Life feels awesome right now.


Like the new layout? I do. The old one was a little painful to look at. Have a good weekend, everybody.

24 January 2012

Letter to My Unborn Firstborn

Dear L.,

According to the timeline of my high school daydreams, you would have been born about two years ago. Of course, that depended on marrying the high school sweetheart I didn't have then (someday, you can ask me about the one I had instead), and the man I'd hoped would be your father left the picture last year.

So I guess it's safe to say that I haven't found your dad yet. In the meantime, I'm trying to be a good example for you, for when you get to my age. I'm trying to show you as well as myself that your happiness mustn't depend on having another person around, because people leave. And even if they don't, they sometimes fail. We all do, little love.

I'm trying to prove that spending too much time pining for a great love and a faceless man can be a waste of energy. You should be working to be at peace with the only person you'll be with at the end, yourself, and you should stay productive. Do a good job at your job; volunteer; find a hobby, craft, or art you enjoy; travel; and make friends.

I am not going to be one of those people who will tell you that if you do all these things, the right man will arrive in good time and find you attractive. Nor will I tell you that God will reward you for your efforts, as God is no respecter of persons. You must learn to be happy regardless.

I am sorry to report, however, that I seem to be failing us both, mostly because of the above paragraph and the possibility that this letter may never get sent. I get through a week pumped/psyched enough for work, I read, I work on my crafts, I go out in search of adventures, and I enjoy time with family and friends. But when I go back to my one-room walkup at the end of a weekend, I still find myself wishing I had someone there waiting for me, to make dinner with, chat with, watch Sunday night HBO with, and fall asleep holding.

I don't know, baby. Maybe your mom got too used to having someone like that around, or maybe she's seen too many bad movies. But mostly, your mom is scared of being always alone and never learning to deal with that empty Sunday night feeling. She wants to be a strong, independent young woman, so she's scared that admitting she's lonely will make her seem weak or desperate. Your mom feels stuck right now, my darling.

In my daydreams, when you get to my age, you are terrific and self-sufficient. You handle life and the world much better than I ever did, your outlook is both pragmatic and positive, and your heart is practically indestructible. You take difficulty in good stride. I won't take too much credit for raising you so well, because I believe you'll take yourself in hand, too.

So I hope that when you get to my age, you'll find this letter absurd. "Poor, less enlightened Mom," you'll say. "If only she knew, life is _____________."

But if not, if you feel just as restless and clueless as I right now, I hope you'll give me a call. I'll tell you, I don't know how things are going to be, but I believe in you. Even if you don't find the answers, I believe you'll get closer than I ever did. And if you still don't, tomorrow is another day, and I'm still going to cheer you on.

See you.



P.S. - Give your grandmother a call, too. She's been my own personal cheerleader for a while.
P.P.S. - I'm assuming you're a girl or a gay boy. If you're my straight son, give me a minute; I have other things to write you.

23 January 2012

Bike Notes 7 - Now All I Need Is a Sword

The bad news is that after this post, I will no longer be biking to and from work. I stopped a long time ago for a number of reasons:
  • Too many late nights meant too little energy to bike in the mornings.
  • On the mornings I did feel up to biking, the weather wasn't on my side.
  • Biking home uphill at the end of a draining workday stopped being fun.
  • Biking home at night with four-wheelers who refused to share the road stopped being fun.

Now, not biking at all made me feel like I was giving up and therefore a chump, so I was determined to find time to bike and, if possible, bike far. The only time I had to bike, however, was on weekends, and I've been spending the weekends with my brother in Makati, where bikes are a little more welcome but where I didn't have my bike with me.

So, on Saturday afternoon, while traffic was light, I decided to ride my bike all the way from Cubao to Barangay San Antonio and leave it there for future weekend riding.

Part of me knew that this was a crazy, possibly stupid idea, and part of me worried that I would collapse from fatigue somewhere in Sta. Mesa. But I guess the craziness won out—apparently, I would rather bike all the way than take the bike-friendly LRT part of the way (people would stare at me) or take a cab with the bike in the back (the cab driver would make bike smalltalk or maybe steal my bike before I could get in/out).

I guess I now have to thank that one crafty taxi driver who, last year, took me and @patriciavalerio on this overlong route to Makati. I don't know where I would've ended up last Saturday if not for the memory of that weird U-turn past the seedy motels.

Here's where I passed:

I wish fear of being sideswiped hadn't kept me from taking out my camera, so these maps and notes will have to do.

It was about 1445 when I set out, so the sun was still hot, but along Aurora Boulevard, I rode in the shade of the LRT. Like I said, traffic was light, so apart from the stoplight snags, I rode unharassed (well, for the most part).

I know people in cars hate motorcycles, but I happen to believe that the weaving they do to get to the front at a stoplight is partly defensive. If you're on a bike or a motorbike, you want to (1) stay clear of the bigger vehicles and (2) stay where they can see you.

It's easier to do this by getting to the front at a stoplight; it takes cars a few seconds longer to get moving when the light turns green, so you have those few seconds to put some distance between you and some jerk's front bumper. Sure, they're going to overtake you in a bit, but at least when they do that, you're within their line of sight, and they can avoid driving too close to you.

Another point is that staying put instead of going to the front will have me breathing exhaust from at least two sides. Even with one of these pig masks on, I'd rather not take risks. I happen to like my lungs.

[image source]
Actual pig mask source: local hardware store.

And lastly, it's a little gratifying to eventually catch up to the same cars that overtake you. You may be fast, Mr. SUV, but we all end up at the same little red light in the end.

Now, this is a hidden turn to Aurora Blvd. for people who don't want to climb that crazy hump from EDSA:

I didn't actually ride against traffic; my Google Maps line is just crooked.

I am sad to report that I didn't see anything very interesting on the ride down to Makati; most of the time, I kept my eyes on the road. Much of Aurora Boulevard was a tall gray blur of shops and grime.

I did enjoy crossing this inlet, polluted as it was:

One of my worries regarding the bike route was crossing bodies of water, and the Guadalupe bridge was one reason I didn't take EDSA. (The other reason was, it's EDSA.) So, achievement unlocked!

Here's the neighborhood I had to navigate after I left Aurora Blvd. I almost missed the turn onto Valenzuela St., but something told me to bank right (left) then. Thanks again, sneaky cab driver.

This was my favorite part of the whole route:

I crossed the Pasig River and rode along the rails with a couple of human powered carts rolling with me. Then, I went up onto Padre Jacinto Zamora bridge, where I rode roof-level with warehouses to my left and slums with green railside yards to my right. Apart from a few cars and a group of neighborhood kids also out on their bikes, I had the bridge to myself. It was a huge relief from cramped and crowded Cubao and Aurora Blvd.; everything was quiet, and it was like riding into the sky.

I also got to pass by the old Paco train terminal, the beautiful, sad old thing.

I really hope it gets preserved.

All in all, the ride was smooth sailing to Makati. The only undesirable event took place somewhere on the home stretch:

I was suddenly aware of a guy on a bike beside me, and he asked me if I had the time. He could plainly see I wasn't wearing a watch, so I just shrugged and kept pedaling. Then I heard him saying something to me. "Miss, tingan mo ito. Tingan mo ito."

He had one hand on the handlebars and the other down his shorts. Both hands were busy, to say the least.

Unlike the last time something like this happened to me, I didn't feel freaked out. I didn't react. I just ignored him and kept pedaling, and he quickly fell back.

I didn't think about it anymore. I'd just proven to myself that I could take care of myself in yet another way. I wasn't going to let some jerk ruin the magic of my big bike adventure (but my grandmother's concerned scolding did a little when I got to the house, haha).

Now if I had a sword and a magic talking animal friend, I'd be set for life.

18 January 2012

Dead Rabbit

I take horoscopes and other attempts at prediction with a grain of salt, but out of general curiosity and growing interest in Chinese culture, I decided to check out what Chinese astrology had to say about my prospects for the year of the Water Dragon. Somehow, I stumbled upon this website and received a troubling forecast.

The site first gave me my birth chart (click on the image below), which made as much sense to me as hieroglyphics until it was supplemented with this other website. I have strong fire and weak water (whatever that means), which both make for good times with the Dragon.

Top geomancer Joseph Chau, who works with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel as well as with certain local real estate companies and other businesses, also supplied our women's website with these more detailed predictions. According to him, for a good year, I must:
  • Work hard
  • Maintain stability
  • Try not to aim too high
  • Be more humble
  • Try not to be greedy
  • Strengthen my immune system
  • Relax more
Now, this sounds like good advice for anyone regardless of their animal sign; that's the main reason I take this stuff with a grain of salt.

The first website, however, gave me a less benign outlook for the long term. Behold, "the rise and fall of your (my) entire life:"

According to this, I have some pretty good years ahead of me, and if I want to have a happy marriage, I ought to get hitched before I turn 30. (My mother would probably agree.) After that, I'd have about 20 years of happy relationships and financial bliss.

Once I turn 50, however, my luck flat-lines. I wonder which of these horrible disasters should befall me then:
  • I get cancer.
  • I go to prison with a life sentence.
  • I get a death sentence.
  • I get hit by a car and become a wheelchair-bound vegetable for the rest of my days.
  • I lose my mind.
  • All my kids die, my husband deserts me, and my assets disappear.
  • All my life becomes a sisyphean striving in what should be my golden years.
(In contrast, my friends here at the office are all going to be rich cougars. Maybe one of them will take pity on me and hand me some leftover smoked salmon from the window of her diamond-encrusted BMW.)

My immediate response to this graph was to tell myself, "Just spend life making it good and happy, and maybe you'll avoid most of that bad juju."

Then again, my efforts to make life good might only land me in some Greek tragedy by way of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Either way, it seems useless for me to worry about it now. I'll just enjoy the next 25 years and then see how long I can keep going after that—my approach to life before this stupid graph, anyway.

Gong xi fa cai!

13 January 2012

In the Beginning

I know I said I'd reread the whole Bible this year, but I hadn't realized that reading it in three languages was going to slow things down quite a bit.

The first time I did it, I got through on four chapters a day—and I wasn't taking notes. To do it in three languages this year will require 12 chapters a day, which I don't have time for, considering the other things I want/need to accomplish each day.

Three to six chapters a day (one or two for each language) plus note-taking seems more reasonable and, if I'm diligent, will at least get me to the end of the Old Testament by December 31.

Why am I doing this?
I could explain it myself, but I like G.K. Chesterton's way (emphases mine):

"There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place; and I tried to trace such a journey in a story I once wrote. ... I conceived it as a romance of those vast valleys with sloping sides, like those along which the ancient White Horses of Wessex are scrawled along the flanks of the hills. It concerned some boy whose farm or cottage stood on such a slope, and who went on his travels to find something, such as the effigy and grave of some giant; and when he was far enough from home he looked back and saw that his own farm and kitchen-garden, shining flat on the hill-side like the colours and quarterings of a shield, were but parts of some such gigantic figure, on which he had always lived, but which was too large and too close to be seen.


"It is well with the boy when he lives on his father's land; and well with him again when he is far enough from it to look back on it and see it as a whole. But [passionate critics of religion] have got into an intermediate state, have fallen into an intervening valley from which they can see neither the heights beyond them nor the heights behind.


"[T]he best relation to our spiritual home is to be near enough to love it. But the next best is to be far enough away not to hate it." — Introduction, "The Everlasting Man"

I feel that I left the valley of exasperation with my religion a long time ago and have climbed to that opposite side. So now, it's well past time that I took a good look and decided whether I could still have a home back there.

Why start with the Bible, then? Why not ask a priest or pastor to lead me?
I grew up Protestant, so I subscribed to the sola that told me all I needed to understand was in the book, and the book was open to me, and I didn't need (but could be helped by) someone in church authority to explain it to me. It was to the Bible I turned when I got fed up with what I was hearing from the pulpit, because I wanted to be sure of what's what. And today, the Bible still feels like the best starting point, because it's the book upon which all Christianity stakes most if not all of its claims.

It's also a point of unfinished business; I never finished my second re-reading because by the time I'd reached the middle of Isaiah, I was in the thickest part of my angst about the church and couldn't take anything more to do with it.

Sola aside, I don't claim to know everything about Christianity. Nor do I claim complete self-sufficiency. That's why I still go to church on Sundays; sitting in the pews and listening to an appointed leader is part of observing from the other side of the valley.

Why read in three languages?
It's a matter of pride.

Language has always been among both my greatest strengths and my greatest weaknesses. English was my first language, and I've made a living out of sentence-wrangling with it. I seem to be getting along fine in Mandarin so far. My tongue still stumbles, though, over the simplest Tagalog and Bisaya. When I speak in these languages, I can hear my own accent, and it trips me up.

I've always felt like an outsider in this country—I find it hard, sometimes, to call it "my" country—because of how I sound and the way I'm treated because of how I sound. There was a vicious circle for a while there; I had an aversion to learning the local languages because I wasn't good at using the local languages.

I think I've also crossed the valley when it comes to my ethnic identity, and I'm far enough away to make it out now. But to do that, I believe I need to tighten my grasp of the local languages—the one used here in Manila and the one used back in Socsksargen.

So, I'm going to read and listen and mutter to myself a lot more, and I'm going to start somewhere that's familiar: the Bible. Then, maybe when I'm done, I'll know which side of the valley is home.

11 January 2012

The Sculptor's Model

Last Saturday was the last day to view Pablo Picasso's "Suite Vollard" at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. I was especially struck by "The Sculptor's Studio," a collection within the collection.

When viewing this set, some people may admire or romanticize the sculptor's dedication to the point of ignoring his surroundings.

But perhaps because of my own experiences last year, I sympathized with the model, who in some scenes also seemed to be the sculptor's lover.* I kept looking at her face and her place in the pictures, remembering how earnest and maybe even self-centered I could be, and imagining what was going through this girl's head:

04 January 2012

To-Do in 2012

This is an expanded version of the list I made last month. I thought I'd have just 12 or 13 items on my list, but I kept thinking of things to do as I went along.

I'm looking forward to striking at least half of these by next December.

1. Sign up for the next cycle of Mandarin classes.
I still don't know what I'm going to use this for, but something tells me I should keep going.

2. Re-read the Bible two or three times.
I used a New International Version the first time I read the whole Bible. This year, I'm going with the King James Version.

I think it's time I reexamined some of the things I decided to stop believing, and who knows? Maybe the text that inspired authors and religious scholars for centuries might show me what's really missing in my own faith.

How am I going to read the whole book two or three times in just one year? I'm going to read the Tagalog and, if I can find it, Cebuano translations and read them at the same time, like in "The Other Side of Heaven." It sounds like an ambitious if not really ridiculous project, but it should still be interesting.

3. Move out of Cubao within the next six months.
I'm currently eyeing the Kamuning-Tomas-Morato-Timog-Scouts area because they're within biking distance of my office, and I really want to use my bike more.

But, I'm also considering Makati; I'm already there every weekend, and it would be nice to bike to all my now-usual stops (church, restaurants, grocery, etc.) there. There's also the chance my brother might change his mind and decide to move out of our grandmother's house, and anywhere other than Makati would be too inconvenient for him.

It will be a challenge to find an affordable studio in both these areas, though; they're kind of expensive.

4. Finish at least two economics reference books.
That includes the book I bought last year but never finished. It's at the office now, making me feel guilty whenever I open my desk drawer.

The second book would probably be a standard college textbook; maybe my brother Mikko can lend me something.

5. Use my induction cooker.
I won one at the company raffle last month, and I haven't been able to use it because the communal kitchen doesn't have any electrical outlets. :| It's just one more reason to get a new place, really.

6. Travel out of the country at least once.
Mikko and his girlfriend Camille are going to Bangkok this summer, and my pushing-90 grandmother wants to fly somewhere, too, so I'll probably get this done before my next birthday.

If not, I think I can plan going to Hong Kong or Singapore by myself.

7. Email my parents more often.
I used to do this once or twice a week. Now it's only when I remember, every couple of months. :s

8. Get rid of old/unneeded belongings.
Anyone know what to do with handbags that aren't in great condition, but still seem too useable to throw away?

Also, why do people keep giving me bags?

9. Get my college stuff out of storage and sort that, too.

10. Invest.
I have some money in a mutual fund; I think I might give my bank's asset management thingy a try. Savings take forever to grow, and I'm thinking of getting a computer to play games with. :p

11. Read at least 50 books.
This includes the Bible(s) and the economics books but also:
—just to start with.

12. Make more complicated popup buildings.

13. Visit Luneta on a Sunday morning
—and maybe do Intramuros at night.

15. Use my Ayala Museum membership at least once a month.
Thanks, Mikko.

16. See Picasso's "Suite Vollard."
The last day is this Saturday already. I have to get a move on.

17. Visit Manila Ocean Park.

18. See my childhood friends more often.
The ones who're here in Manila, anyway.

19. Hang out with Internet friends IRL sometime.
The list currently includes @dearpilar, @pitradactyl, @presidents, @bottledbrain, my own cousin manangdidang, and—who knows given #6?—@zoelionesque.

(Guys, you're welcome to join me for any of the items on this list.)

20. Spend a weekend in Baguio.

21. Spend a weekend in Corregidor.

22. Find out if that thing they keep saying about my great-grandfather is true.
My great-grandfather Crispin Nones was something of a self-made Da Vinci; he didn't get any higher education, but he was a class A mechanic, tailor, wood-carver, artist, and metal-worker. My grandmother claims he was the man who made the giant eagle on the Blue Eagle Gym. My dad asked me to verify this when I was an incoming Ateneo freshman, but nearly eight years later, I've yet to come close.

23. Be a better editor.

24. Redesign certain company websites for fun with MAMP and a local Wordpress installation.
I say "for fun" because even if I do show anyone these designs, it's unlikely they'll bite. :s Anyway, I miss web work and could use the practice as well as something to do on slow days at the office.

25. Watch at least two Filipino plays.

26. Finish at least one abandoned story/essay and submit it somewhere.

27. Get a pet.
I already know what to name any future turtles or hedgehogs.

28. Be open to whatever's around the corner.
I thought about making this item the cheesier, "Fall in love [again]," but who can really say who or what is coming? So instead, I'm only promising to to jump when it's time to jump, grin and bear the crap, and just be happy as much as possible.

Here's to a great 2012 for everyone. Thanks for reading. :)

03 January 2012

Back from Mars

On my last day home, I took a walk around Kalsangi by myself.

I ended up somewhere on the golf course between the 9th and 2nd fairways, and as I looked at all the trees and the space and listened to the birds and insects, I was overwhelmed with heartache and loneliness.

Dramatic, maybe, but those are still the best words for the feeling.

I kept thinking of the Martian Manhunter.

Image source: Comics Alliance

I haven't read any of the comics he's appeared in, but in the cartoons, J'onn J'onzz is the last surviving member of his race and now lives on Earth as a superhero.

"Kind of like Superman?" you might ask. Well, yes, and no.

Superman was sent to Earth as a child and grew up more or less an American boy. While he has his own angsty, "I'm too different; no one understands me," moments, to me, they're kind of on the level of the identity crises every young adult goes through.

Martian Manhunter, on the other hand, escaped a horrible plague as an adult. Upon his arrival on Earth, his Martian identity was more or less fully formed.

That's why I think he feels the loss of Mars more keenly than Clark/Kal-El would for a Krypton escaped in infancy, and the alienation, no pun intended, that J'onn experiences among his adopted people must also be much, much higher than Clark's. More than any other superhero, Martian Manhunter is separate from the people he has chosen to live with and protect.

I hope this explains why, as I stood where I took the 360-degree panorama below, three thoughts kept repeating themselves in succession:

1. the magical, fearful, reverent, "I am in a place that is unique in all the world."
2. the slightly more self-centered, "Because I grew up in this place, I am also unique in all the world."
3. the similar, "No matter how long or far I live away from this place, I'll always be like Martian Manhunter."

Click to enlarge.

Hear me out. I know I'm not the only person who grew up in Kalsangi nor the only person who had an idyllic childhood. I'm also deeply aware of the other truths about Kalsangi: it's a middle-upper-middle-class village for a multinational company's senior management, and it has all the comforts of a Manila executive's provincial summer home, year-round. The only thing I really lacked was consistent and prolonged exposure to the larger world outside.

But, that's precisely the reason I'm writing this now, and why I wrote this post last year. That's why I feel like J'onn J'onzz or John (the) Savage, even if on a much smaller scale. No matter how easily I've come to function outside of Kalsangi, I've never felt like "one of the people." I may be thriving and even happy in Metro Manila, but it never feels like home.

Maybe the best way to explain the feeling is not to see myself as a born Martian, like J'onn J'onzz, but a made Martian, like the children of "The Million Year Picnic."

Imagine that Martian Manhunter helped a bunch of Earth scientists set up a colony on his wasted home planet. That environment would be both manmade and wild, reachable and isolated, comfortable and spare—all the things I knew Kalsangi to be, at least before Internet access, better cable TV, and Gensan's current economic boom. Imagine that human families had children and raised them in that colony. Barring books and a few field trips every now and then, that would be all the world to those children.

Then, imagine that some of those children were told to leave, to go "home" to Earth and make a new life for themselves there. Imagine the taunts and the funny looks they'd get because of their diction, their cultural clumsiness, and their general lack of fashion sense. They would be expected to do and talk and live as their fellow Earthlings—it should be easy, as Earthlings!

Except, inside, they would also be Martians, always and forever.

I can see my house from here.

02 January 2012

Self Q&A 2011

I've got a bunch of things I've been wanting to post since before the New Year began, and I'd like to redesign the blog. I've just been too busy. Give me a minute.

In the meantime, here's a tidy little Q&A whose questions I got from Tin's tumblr.

What did you do in 2011 that you’ve never done before?
Find a hobby I could stick with.

What countries did you visit?

What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Love. That's a very sad, possibly melodramatic answer, but it's honest.

What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
29 August 2011, of course; Martin and I broke up. It was fairly late in the year, but I'd say all of 2011 hinged on it.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I was learning to take myself in hand and just be happy. The breakup, painful as it was, only helped to clarify the process.

What was your biggest failure?
I could have been a better friend. I could also have been a better employee.

What was the best thing you bought?
A folding bike. It was also the worst thing I bought, considering all the difficulty I've had using it, but I'm still glad I bought it.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
  • My brother Mikko; it was great watching him navigate the post-college months much better than I did.
  • My cousin Trixi; I'm not around for her as often as I'd like, but she's become a really cool kid and is one of my favorite people to follow in Twitter.
  • My youngest brother Mon; my mom may worry about him a lot, and he still has a few things to learn about girls, but all in all, he is a good guy.
  • Martin, on the good days.

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Martin, on the bad days, and certain people at the office.

Where did most of your money go?
  • Savings
  • Food
  • Rent

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
  • learning to cook simple meals in a microwave
  • architecture
  • Singapore
  • origamic architecture
  • biking
  • learning Mandarin
  • people I loved

What song/s will always remind you of 2011?
  • "Moves Like Jagger" – Maroon 5
  • "Dustbowl Dance" – Mumford & Sons
  • Adele's entire discography
  • Sia Furler's "Some People Have Real Problems" album

What do you wish you’d done more of?

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Did you fall in love in 2011?
No, I built up to it.

What was your favorite TV program?
HBO's "Game of Thrones."

What was the best book you read?
"The Red Tree," by Shaun Tan.

What did you want and get?

What was your favorite film of this year?
It's a toss-up between "Crazy, Stupid, Love" and "Never Let Me Go."

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 24. I went to work. I might have had dinner with a friend or two, or I might have had dinner by myself. I'm not really sure; it was the week after the breakup, and things were a blur.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Answers, of course.

What kept you sane?
Paper crafts, good days with Martin, Sundays with Mikko, Mandarin lessons, work, good friends, and the small comfort of knowing that not everything has an answer.

What political issue stirred you the most?
RH bill.

Who did you miss?
Everyone important.

Who was the best new person you met?
No one, though I did renew some old friendships.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Life happens, and you're not too bad at moving on.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"The seasons are your friend." – Death by Chocolate, Sia Furler