Weekly Ketchup 43 - The More They Stay The Same

I've had friends tell me that I'm "masipag" when it comes to maintaining this blog. I tell them it's really not that hard since: a) I stick with a regular schedule as much as posssible; and b) there really isn't all that much to do or think about since this is mainly just a recap of the week's events. Most of the time I just react to or recall seemingly random events and find some connections and commonalities for the sake of cohesion.

There are times, though, when do I let the need to deliver content drive my actions for the week, which mostly results in me sharing the latest book, game, or movie that I'm checking out. I haven't done any of that these recent weeks either because there are more pertinent matters that I felt were better to discuss or because I don't really have anything new on those fronts to share. For example: I'm still playing Zenonia, Age of Wonders 2, and Heroes of Might and Magic Chronicles. I did get started on Neil Gaiman's "Anansi Boys" a few weeks back but I haven't finished it, though I am liking it far better than "American Gods". I haven't seen any new movies in a while and my taste in shows have just merely carried over from the previous shows. I haven't been checking out any of the new shows for fear of them getting cancelled just as I was getting invested. I'll see if the shows I'm interested in make it past December before I dive right in.

All this pretty much highlights what I've known all along: That sometimes I just got to let things plateau and just chill. I started this blog announcing all sorts of changes and challenges, all in the hopes of finding something new and exciting, of pushing myself forward, and all that jazz. Sometimes, I just got to let things stay the same.

I do have to point a couple of things out though:

I saw "Book of Life" last Tuesday and surprise! I actually liked this movie far better than "Frozen". However, I do feel like the story could use some restructuring so that we spend more time in the Land of the Remembered. We seriously didn't need 15 or so minutes establishing their childhood. I also didn't understand why there had to be a framing story with some kids in the museum. But other than that, I thought the film was perfect and really wins in animation and voice direction.

And yeah, this trailer, which I already wrote at length about already, so I'm not gonna bother anymore.

Of things that stay the same, I found myself back in my habit of compulsive spending, which is only notable because of last week's blog. If I've been Instagramming a lot more than usual lately it's because I got myself another cheap-ass droid last week mainly for the mobile Internet and the camera. I also got new more expensive eyeglasses last weekend because the plastic one I've been wearing breaks easily (at least once a year). Here's hoping the investment pays off and it stays with me for at least ten years. Lastly: A quick errand at SM yielded a shirt and new jeans (something that's been known to happen to me A LOT in the past). To be fair, they were on sale and I do need new jeans. Also: A sideline job paid a couple of weeks ago but not enough for a party (yeah, I'm being defensive).

New shirt, jeans, and glasses and taken with a new phone.
I look great, okay!
I'm also back in the habit of unconventional dieting where I would eat a lot in the morning, a little during the day, and nothing but water in the evening. Of course, that also lead to my habit of breaking that diet when geek friend Tobie treated me to his special pasta recipe and milk shake from Ludo last Friday evening. This was his late birthday treat for me, which is just really sweet of him. Of course, Tobie being Tobie, we played some games! I surprisingly won our game of Carcassonne Wheel of Fortune at his place and Ludo co-owner Jay won the two "engine-building" games we played there.

Image credit: BoardGameGeek.com
Diet be damned again come Saturday evening because a friend I thought I've lost is back in my life. Beejay and his fiancee Din invited me and Din's friend Karen to dinner. I haven't seen or spoken to Beejay since a spat we had over Facebook messenger early last year so I was surprised to get the call sometime ago (briefly hinted at here) inviting me to be a groomsman at the wedding. I'm also to be a host at the reception, along with Karen, which was what the evening was really about. What I thought would be an awkward dinner turned out to be quite enjoyable - like no time at all has passed (I am disgusted at my own cliche but it is what it is). Even if I feel like I've changed a lot since the last time we saw each other, and he most certainly has, there's still that sense of familiarity and it's wonderful.
From Din's Instagram
I suppose going back to the comfortable and familiar in a sea of change is a good thing every now and then. Yet before I even get to big change I've been planning for myself, I now have a problem: The wedding is in February. I wasn't planning on hanging around these parts by then. What do I do?

Whatever happens, I wanna be able to vote in the 2016 US elections in person. I mailed my absentee ballot for this year's local elections last Thursday and I felt like cheating. Why am I voting when I don't even contribute taxes there (something I feel strongly about the voting populace here)? And, no, this isn't a new experience since I've already voted in absentia back in 2012.


Weekly Ketchup 42 - Money/Talks

It was my birthday this past week. I wanted to have this Broadway-themed Halloween costume party where me and my friends would dress up as characters from Broadway shows and sing songs from the musicals. I had a venue in mind already but, obviously, that didn't happen because, well, money and that I didn't have enough of it. I was hoping to score another gig a month ago, which I obviously didn't get as well, otherwise this would be a totally different blog altogether. The thing is: I have been saving money since the year started, which has been great, but I'm also not making enough from my day job and I'm not scoring enough moonlighting work to splurge on a birthday party. A big consideration is that I am also leaving soon.

When I was younger, say 15 years ago, I thought that I'd be financially okay by this age. That I'd have all the money in the world to splurge on my hobbies and interests and that I wouldn't ever go hungry. To be fair, those expectations were met, except that I also imagined I'd be living in an apartment and paying rent but that didn't happen either because the reality is that I can't have my cake and eat it too.

I honestly don't know how to be wise or smart with money or even how to make them other than to work, be productive, and create something I can be proud of in the future. For me, that's always been in stories - whether in photos, in videos, or in words. Yes, even in ads and design & layout. I've been offered to change careers into something more lucrative (*ahem*BPOs*ahem*) or engage in different schemes of multi-level marketing, which, more than anything, offers "financial stability" but I just didn't see the value in any of it other than the money. I've also been offered long-term investments with the already little money I make but that would mean giving up on theater, movies, books, and everything else that I enjoy.

Money today just makes me happy but money in the future would just make me less miserable, which are two totally different things. This mentality of mine scares the living shit out of me because, as much as it makes perfect sense, it's also not practical or sustainable. I realize that the solution to all of this is to move to a bigger, higher paying  company, which I'm not willing to do as I've already discussed here, or get promoted, which my current company isn't willing to do. And now I'm back to square one: Spend less and make more money elsewhere. Seriously, if I had been born incredibly good-looking, I'd whore myself out to the highest bidder. Yeah, I'm that kind of person.

Yesterday's new haircut plus today's new frame.
I thought I looked hella good until people said I look more like Olaf.
I just can't win!
Yet, despite unmet expectations, I can't really complain. I always say I'm still better off than a great number of people, I've always managed to stave off emergencies despite my limited means, and what I currently make is really more than enough - if only I wasn't me. But I am who I am and, as was evidenced to me this birthday week despite the absence of a big party, people like me well enough, which is something I wouldn't have been able to say 15 years ago so I still win in life!

Which brings me to my next thought.

I'm not really sure what I enjoy the most about engaging in conversations or interactions in general: That they let me get to know another person or that I get to know more about myself. This entire ramble about money was borne out of a conversation I had with geek friend Paul over pad thai and pho yesterday after checking out Uniqlo (another thing that was borne out of a particularly interesting conversation over Facebook). I already knew that he fared a little better than me in the salary department (though he does pay bills and rent that I don't), but he is also incredibly prepared. The word "mutual fund" figured into the conversation. There's just something so adult about it that's just not me and I find it fascinating.

Me at Uniqlo before Paul arrived. Didn't much care for it.
Another conversation that got me thinking about my status in the universe is one I had hours after that with geek friends Denice and TJ at Uno Morato about, well, porn. I'd like to think that I'm well-versed in the perverse but apparently porn and porn stars are something that people talk openly about now - as if they're regular summer blockbusters. Denice and TJ bandied names and words with the crowd at Uno Morato and I was like, "WTF?" I have never felt more like a prude my entire life. To be fair, I have seen my share of porn and I find it disgusting. I don't understand how disproportionate body parts and bad production can be titilating. Short Bus, though.

Checked out the Saturday morning cartoons thon.
I arrived really late though.
I suppose this shouldn't really be any surprising given last week's revelation (do they go hand-in-hand?), which my teammates (Nabs, Marge, Kai, and - for the first time - Nina) at last Tuesday's Relik Trivia Night (where I ended up celebrating my birthday) pulled me aside to talk further about. Questions like "Do I fancy anybody at the bar?", "What's my type?", and other questions but I was fumbling for answers! It was so awkward! I felt like I was improvising a role that people were forcing me to play and I was talking out of my body (to be fair, I was also a bit sloshed)!

From Jovan's Facebook. WE WON!!!
My reaction to these scenarios obviously speaks volumes about me more than the other party. Like I've already established, I relish my oddities because I'd be boring without them. It's the adaptive nature of evolution at work, I guess. With no looks or money smarts to bank on, I'd need talent and an ebullient personality to survive. One, I can work on (and have been working on); the other, I either have or don't - and nature has at least given me that.

Now if only I can make money off of my neuroses. Hmmm.
Maybe a sitcom or webshow about me and my equally eccentric dog?


Weekly Ketchup 41 - My One Regret About Growing Older

No, I'm not about to go on a ramble of insecurities, mistakes, and regrets about turning another year older in a few days, though I very well should. This past week alone, social media has brought to my attention that a couple of org-mates from college who pretty much received the same education as I did were now either teaching or being deployed to other countries. I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm just a tad envious but they got it going on and good for them! Meanwhile, I'm still crawling through, learning on the job and celebrating every little gig I get. Just today, I got to cover another baptism/birthday combo with my trusty new camera. Just a few days ago, I sent in a new article for Planet Philippines. While either doesn't really make me much money (none of what I do or try to do really does), that I get to do both, among other things, is a dream enough come true. Maybe someday whatever I do will take me places. Maybe someday I'll be so good that I'll be invited to teach. Or maybe not. But right now I'm happy that I can tell my 23-year old self that "you're doing exactly what you would imagined you would be doing ten years after college graduation - writing articles, making videos, taking photos, etc".

Boho Quiz Night. Our team, the Candlenicks, won! 
No, I'm also not about to begrudge time and nature for aging me. Yes, there is gray in my hair and my hairline has receded a bit (my bangs have all but disappeared). My face has gotten a bit gaunt, my lips thinner, and I wrinkle. I say bring it on - it means that I made it! I'm still here and I'm healthy. As unfortunate as it is, I've already outlived some friends from college. So yeah, let time do its worst! I'm prepared, though if it could do it in little increments over a long period of time, that'll be great. I don't wanna make wearing sunscreen a daily habit - something that I started doing this week. Also: If my body would just let me enjoy life without breaking down easily, that'd be great too. I'd like to enjoy more of last Wednesday's Boho Quiz Night, which was followed by an impromptu YouTube karaoke. I'd also like to get more from my day. Yesterday's Star Wars Reads at Glorietta 5, while fun, left me exhausted that I didn't have energy to go out and party some more.

Chaos at Star Wars Reads Manila
And no, this is not a spree of tired cliches and pretentious adage about what "growing up" means (because really why?) but I do want to point out some things. I am now roughly the same age when my mom had me (my dad was way older) so some things do bear thinking. Having been surrounded by families and children this entire weekend, maybe it's also a thematic question to ask: Marriage, family, and children? I guess same with success, aging, and maturity, I could care less about having any of them (Yeah, I say it now).

Here's the thing: I don't know if these things will ever be in the cards for me. I'm certainly not closed to the idea. Maybe I'll grow into the role of a family man someday but it isn't something I'm actively working towards.

Obviously because it also takes more than just my efforts.

While I think I've made peace with the various aspects of my personality so much that I feel like a complete person who can take on anything, this is the one area where I fail completely. Heck, I'm 33 and I've never even once gone on a date, flirted, hooked up, much less been in a relationship. I just never really saw myself as good enough for anyone. To be fair, people have gone up to me to make me believe otherwise but I just got creeped out most of the time. And yes I've known infatuation as well but I just dismissed at that: Infatuation. True enough, whatever it was I thought I was feeling went away as quickly as it came.

I'm obviously an incredibly strange person, which is one of two reasons I've always had in my head about why I've refused to let anyone else get intimately closer; the other being that I didn't like the idea of my life, my time especially, being intertwined with another person's (people in relationships call it "compromise"). Now I'm thinking "strange" means "interesting" and maybe "intertwining" isn't so bad after all. So if there's one thing I do regret about growing older is that I wouldn't know what it's like to be young and "in love" enough to write about it. I've let youth and beauty lapse without having lived the complete experience.

Like I mentioned in an earlier blog, it's the things I didn't get to do that I regret the most. Now having put this nugget of information out here, what next? I guess I'll let you know once I've figured it out.


Weekly Ketchup 40 - When It Pours

After relatively quiet weekends with virtually no social obligations to meet, I decided that I was gonna go to EVERY EVENT I was invited to this past week. This after many months of skipping conventions and other events, which, to be fair, has done wonders for my wallet and my time (being definitively "anti-social" allowed me to advance in the many games and ebooks I acquired the past year).

While tiring myself out in pursuit of geek activities (remember Geek Week?) isn't really new to me (lord knows how I feel about repetitive activities, especially conventions), something just clicked into place earlier this week: A sudden burst of motivation, inspiration, and productivity.

The team at Relik's Trivia Tuesday. We lost by 2 points. Bummer!
See, for a long time now I've been thinking about launching a vlog series about geek life in Manila. I actually shot some footage a couple of years ago (in standard definition) but never got around to compiling them into a watchable (and hopefully shareable) video. So yeah, it's been a long time coming and the footage have just been gathering virtual dust on my hard drive.

Now that I have a better high definition camera and with so many geek events happening back-to-back, I thought it would be a great idea to restart and actually pursue the project. This would all have been pretty dandy but, as with any good story, there must always be conflict. Unfortunately, inspiration isn't the only thing that came pouring in heavily this past week. I'm talking about the effin' weather! On more than one occasion, the rains have (literally) dampened my plans. Our house was also flooded in TWICE this week! It's ridiculous!

Winners' selfie after Amici Quiz Night last Thursday
Also: Being out every night wreaks havoc on my budget and diet (yeah I said it). I've been trying to cut back on my gluttonous behavior because my pants haven't been fitting well these past few months but I just can't help it when I'm out with friends. And when you eat, you spend! I didn't get to attend Geek Fight Wednesday because of the rain and because I spent too much the night before at Trivia Tuesday. But that's just on food!

Since most of the events I attended ran well into the night, another consideration and reservation I had was security. The entire week I was worried about going home with my expensive camera that I won't be able to replace anytime soon if it gets stolen. I don't drive and I can't afford to take a cab every night (I had to take a cab Tuesday evening because I wasn't feeling well) so I was risking a lot to pursue this project.

Pirates at Ludo! Got to play Pirate Fluxx, Walk The Plank, and Munchkins!
Rain and limited money were the reasons why I had to walk a long way to get to Ludo for Play Like A Pirate Day on Friday evening. Come CosplayMania the next day, I had to deal with EVERYTHING - keeping my camera secure from the rain and theft, not feeling well, and working with a limited budget!

Was it all worth it?

My only picture from CosplayMania. From geek friend Adrian's Instagram.
That's other geek friend Alec as Starlord.
Well, all throughout the week, I had to remind myself why I was doing this. Aside from hanging out with friends and the satisfaction of completing a personal project, I was thinking I could use the experience to beef up my portfolio in case an opportunity to earn money from doing similar projects comes along. I'm subscribed to many YouTube channels right now (the Buzzfeed channels and John Oliver are my latest favorites) and I would love to participate in that industry as well.

Hopefully, I'll have fewer things to stress about in the next few events I plan to cover. Star Wars Day, Komikon, and the Christmas ToyCon are all in the pipeline but I'll start working on editing the footage I already took this week! As always, the chief motivation is just to be able to say "I've done it".

This week's newest discovery is John Oliver.
I plowed through his entire playlist.
So informative and entertaining!