To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Well, maybe not “loved”. To all the boys I’ve crushed on before.

Last night, I was brainstorming a second chance story that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to write pretty soon but it was still too fun not to brainstorm, when I suddenly thought about all the boys I’ve ever had a serious crush on. All my life, I’ve only ever had a real, true deep crush on four guys, not including the ones na kinikilig lang ako kapag nakikita ko ‘tapos pag di ko na nakikita, di ko na naiisip. Yeah, four guys… and not including Nick Carter, Travis Fimmel, David Gandy and Chico Lachowski.

So did what anyone would do, checked Facebook. I found three of the four.

E
The first guy I had a serious crush on was E. This was when I was in elementary, as in I was nine. I couldn’t say he was cute then because based on my memory, guwapo siya eh. Tisoy, matangkad, he was cool with a hint of bad boy-ness. They lived on the same street as we did and my grandparents were friends with his. His grandfather was a former Philippine senator.

Did he look at me? Probably not. I was a small girl with big eyes hidden behind huge, Coke-bottle glasses with rat’s nest hair you can’t tame even if you used hair spray, mousse and a whip. Did he know I had a crush on him? Aside from it being so painfully obvious, I also had two older cousins who played basketball with him who would cough like they were auditioning for a Solmiux commercial whenever they all come to the house. I feel sorry for my eight-year-old self.

Last I heard about him was that he had a kid. We moved away when I was seventeen, and I’d already gotten over my crush on him so I didn’t keep tabs. But I found him on Twitter last night. Apparently, I remember him through an Instagram filter because he wasn’t tisoy OR matangkad 😂 and he wasn’t “guwapo” anymore, at least to me. And he does have a kid and he appears to be a single dad. But his kid is cool. She’s into muaythai and kicks ass, and he’s obviously crazy about her because most of his Instagram pics is of her, and his tweets are stories about his kid. If you asked me then, he didn’t seem like the type who’d turn out to be a good dad. Chickboy kasi siya n’un. I’m just glad he turned out the way he did with his daughter.

R
My high school crush was R. We first met when we were 14, when they moved to the house next door. It used to be my grand-uncle’s house before they sold it. They had a veranda at the back of their house just outside and to the side of my bedroom. He was a chubby baby siopao (like Tan from my Wattpad story, The Mansion #plugging). Singkit na singkit siya with floppy hair. We first talked about school (he went to La Salle Greenhills), our families (he’s the nephew of a former Philippine president), things we liked and his German Shepherd who I adore.

I don’t go out much but I noticed that he’d be at the veranda a lot and we’d talk, and then he went away for the summer. When he came back, I… didn’t recognize him. He shot up to 5’11”, lost all his baby fat, and looks like a typical chinito heartthrob/Korean idol. I wouldn’t have believed it was him until I the doggo slather him with so much affection that I realized that yeah, it was R. And I kind of tripped into attraction.

We started to hang out together. By this time, I’d already lost the glasses and I’ve already learned how to beat my curly hair into submission, so I was already a little more comfortable with myself, and about having a crush on a guy. We weren’t very close but we hang out the way two people hang out at the start of a friendship.

It never went anywhere though, especially since we moved away and we lost touch.

I didn’t find him on Facebook or Twitter, but I know that he’s already married and has a little girl with a name that’s really close to my second name.

J
In college, I had a crush on a classmate. We met each other when we were sophomores when we were both waiting to give our prof our class cards. We both missed the first week of classes because we had to go home as my grandfather and his grandmother passed away. I didn’t immediately have a crush on him. I don’t even remember how I did. All I know is that one day, I was walking near the Oblation Field on my way home and someone pulled my clip off, and I turned, ready to karate chop the b@stard, who ended up being him. And he was laughing. He did give it back and we ended up talking for a while, and offered to walk with me to town. I didn’t have my jacket then, too, and, well, he didn’t offer his jacket, exactly. He pulled me inside his jacket with him. Sooo yeah.

But as things usually went when it comes to me and guys, he ended up dating my best friend at that time. And that was my first real heartbreak because I really fell for him. But that wasn’t the part that hurt me the most, it’s that my friend lied to me and made me look and feel stupid. We, my best friend and I, stayed friends for a few years after that because I thought a guy wasn’t worth losing a friend over. We had a falling out a few years later that didn’t have anything to do with a guy.

J and I are Facebook friends so it was easy to check in on him. He’s doing well and I realized that I missed him. He had been a friend then, and I missed that friendship.

N
The last guy is N, and I was already working when we met. I didn’t have a crush on him at the start. We were parts of different groups during the start of our training at the new job but I became friends with a girl who used to be his workmate and who was really close with him. She had a love emergency one time and called me up, wanting to hang out, so I went to see her. I didn’t know she called him up too so I was surprised when he came. That was when we started hanging out. We became really close that I even told him about my crush on another of our wavemates.

N isn’t really that tall pero guwapo siya (sa ‘kin) at chinito rin siya. He’s really sweet and girls/women just flock to him. Maybe because he’s the non-threatening type and, sabi ko nga, sweet. He’s the boy-next-door, guy-best-friend type that you just inevitably fall for after a while even if all he ever did was sit there with you. Or maybe it’s because of that? I don’t know.

Then came Valentine’s Day… it’s a story I already wrote about in the start of my book Sa Kanya Pa Rin #plugging so I won’t write it down again here. He’s also a Facebook friend so I visited his profile. He was carrying a baby on his profile pic! But it turned out that it was his nephew. The last time I talked to him, we were talking about getting married… not to each other though. Friends, remember? He was my second heartbreak because I knew I fell in love with him too. We eventually lost touch and I eventually stopped singing Sa Kanya Pa Rin. Last night, I realized that I missed him too.

The last two guys, I think, I’m pretty sure I loved both of them. They were friends even before I fell for them. It’s just not meant to be the type of love I write about with a neat happily ever after. Sad 😢 haha

Actually, it was sad when it happened, but I’ve always been resilient, and I’m actually more used to being alone (which is a whole ‘nother blog entry), especially now. I freak out at the thought of being with someone. Like I’d automatically say “pakilala mo naman ako sa friend mo!”, but when someone takes me up on it…

running away

So please don’t. Please don’t take me seriously when I say ipakilala n’yo ako sa friends n’yo. And this is not reverse psychology. I mean it. You know how Erica (Lex’s Erica) said that? It’s like that. She was joking. She really didn’t mean for Mere to introduce her to Lex.

I’m actually happy for the four guys. They seem happy, or at least Instagram- and Facebook-happy. I wish they really are. And maybe I’d say hi to the last two guys.

No, I’m still not singing Sa Kanya Pa Rin. It’s more like I Remember the Boy… and I do remember the feeling but I don’t feel it anymore. And know what? I kinda miss the feeling.

Hello, Universe! Where’s my Chico? Dito na me!

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Cacti, My Cacti

Nilabas ni Mama sa garahe sina Jeongsu at Jinki. They’re my cactus plants and I keep them indoors because, well, I like them indoors.

Mama: Nilabas ko ‘yung mga cactus mo! Sabi sa Feng shui malas daw kasi sa loob! Magkakasakit ‘yung nag-aalaga!

O_O

Wala pa naman akong sakit… Well, actually, I *did* get sick the first time I had them. That was the reason why I also went online to consult Feng shui websites about having cactus in the bedroom. Aaaand most of them said that it was bad Feng shui.

I’m not a strong believer. I’m more of the “wala-namang-mawawala-kung-susundin” type of person. I don’t have a lucky pair of underwear, and while I knock on wood after saying that something bad could happen, I don’t really believe that 1) saying it will make it come true (it’s not The Secret); and 2) knocking on wood will stop something if it’s bound to happen. But you know, wala namang mawawala kung susundin.

“This was one of the first articles I read while doing research on the topic. What jumped out at me is that the cacti has needles that “look like thousands of tiny arrows that shoot directed energy into the surrounding space”.

And I’m, well, I believe I am, sensitive to energy. I get sick when one of my siblings get sick, bring home specific things they wanted me to bring home even though they neither told me nor text me, and I crave for the weirdest food without understanding why only to find out that one of my friends was the one craving it. Things like that require energy, don’t they? Brain… mind… energy or something? So plants “shooting directed energy” at me? Yeah, why not? Especially since I placed them directly across my bed.

The first night I had them, I got a really bad cold. And the days that followed, my anxiety doubled. I felt… prickly. I was always irritable and I got angry at the smallest, most inconsequential things. As in, OA ‘yung bilis kong magalit. So after reading a few more articles discouraging it, I decided to put them where Feng shui suggested I put them, in the “fame and reputation quadrant” of the house.

To be clear, I don’t really want fame and my reputation is, as far a I know, clean. Yeah, I don’t want any type of scandal and I don’t want to go viral for the wrong reasons, but fame is just not something I want. I’m an introvert. I panic at the thought of people. I just want to remain my low-key self with a moderate name recall, enough to sell a few books for my publisher. If my cacti could sit there and ensure that, and that nothing scandalous, like a video of drunk me dancing on top of a table at a bar somewhere, would ever make it’s way into the Internet, then I’m good. Isa pa, I just really want my cacti inside the house. It doesn’t matter if the bring fame or money or anything. I just want to be able to look at them easily, whenever I want, without having to go out.

I’m planning… well, hoping, I could go back to Baguio sometime this year. I’m planning–hoping–to go to Minesview Park because I remember that they sell succulents there. Now that I know I can take care of plants, I want to get a few more cacti and a few of the other succulents I read about and really liked, like these.

Anyway, my babies are back inside and I’m okay.

Also, why am I suddenly so into cacti? Well, because they represent me so well. Matinik din ang personality ko 😜

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Light Green Thumb

I have a new semi-obsession. Plants.

See, I’ve had a really bad month… okay, so I’ve had a few bad months late last year which meant that I rarely went out of the house, except to feed the fur babies and spend a little time with them. But I neglected the plants. My sister’s girlfriend took on the responsibility of watering them but she only stays here with us on the weekends. That means the plants only get watered twice a week and when it rains, which is not nearly enough to sustain life. So I all but killed them.

Now my mother is really good with plants. She has a thriving little garden in the province with flowering plants and even vegetables. She’s the type who can make the most sensitive plants grow. So the last time she came home during my sister’s semestral break, she came home to almost-dead plants. And weeds. Lots and lots of weeds.

She saved what she could of her garden here. She chopped off dead limbs, pulled weeds, re-potted some of the smaller ones… and after only a week in Manila, the nearly dead bougainvillea and kalachuchi plants are thriving again. As in they have flowers. Flowers! Lots of them. They almost didn’t have leaves when she got here.

I was embarrassed about my really bad gardening skills. Okay, so I have zero gardening skills. All I have to actually do with my mother’s plants is to water them. She handles the fertilizer when she comes home so I don’t have to worry about that but the watering, well. That I have to do. Especially the three bigger plants. Mama got them from my grandmother’s garden after Mommy died in 2007. So I have to keep those three alive more than all the others. Now that I know that those were my grandmother’s plants, hell, yes, I’m going to keep them alive even if I have to perform CPR to resuscitate them!

When I was in the province, I told my mother that I wanted to get a couple of succulents, maybe a pair of cacti. You know, low maintenance plants that are impossible to kill unless I prove that I’m really bad at plant care. They’re selling them at the supermarket and were about 120 tp 150 Php each. My mother just looked at me and said, “bibili ka ng cactus eh ang dami ko d’yan sa labas!” Then she pointed me to the part of her garden where her cacti were. I bought a pair of pots (11 Php each) and she re-potted a pair for me and I brought them home. I named them Jeongsu (after Leeteuk from Super Junior) and Jinki (after Onew from SHINee), and well, it’s been more than two months since I got them and they’re still alive and healthy. I brought them home to Manila with me, and they’re thriving.

They used to stay with me in my room during the night, and in a sunny place in the living room during the day but I read somewhere that cacti are really bad plants to put in the bedroom and a neighbor who knew fengshui discouraged it. It had to do with the spikes radiating negative energy which means they harm those around them to protect themselves, causing anxiety and restlessness. And since I have really bad anxiety even without the cactus in the bedroom, I placed them in a more fengshui-friendly area in the house.

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Mama also gave me oregano. She just literally cut a stalk… stem?… from her plant in the province, then stuck it into a pot in the garden here. And it has grown a lot since then. So much that I transplanted some of them into other pots. They smell really nice. Mama also gave me a couple of other plants. I don’t know what they’re called but they’re still alive and based on their leaves, they’re also really healthy.

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And it’s been a while since I started taking care of the plants here at the house full time but my grandmother’s plants? The ones that Mama had to chop? They’ve grown too. And one of them already has flowers again. They’re alive! I saved them! I saved my lola’s plants. I’m so happy!

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And the bougainvilleas are still flowering and if I wanted a bouquet of kalachuchis, I can make one because there are so many flowers! They used to only produce about one or two each but right now, there are more than a dozen flowers each plant! And there are new buds everyday! I’m not a plant killer anymore huhuhu I’ve even kept my sister’s sili alive too! Yay!

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Now I’m thinking of getting more succulents because they’re still the sturdiest plants and I can keep them indoors. I also asked my mother to bring home gumamela. And she did. I’m excited to take care of it and see the flowers bloom.

I’m actually just really enjoying taking care of them right now. Maybe because seeing them healthy and thriving makes me feel like, in the middle of everything I’m doing wrong, I’m actually doing something right. I can actually take care of plants now. And it comforts me.

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이것은 종현을위한 것입니다

I woke up early today and you were the first thing that came to my mind. It’s been a year since you left us and while I didn’t know who you were when I found out, I quickly came to regret that I didn’t. I fell in love with you so quickly, so fiercely, that I firmly believe that you led me to something incredibly special to help me go on, to live another day, another month, another year until I got here, writing about you. I will never be able to tell you but I know that you know.

I told myself that I won’t be sad today. Instead, I will celebrate. I will be grateful for you, for your members, and for me, for another year of being here. So that’s what I did.

I lit a candle for you, then I went out of my room to ask my sister if she wanted to have food delivered. We got KFC for the sole reason that she wanted coleslaw. We had a late lunch as soon as our food arrived, then I spent more than an hour in the shower because why not? I think better in the shower. I can relax there. And this is a special day. So I set a mini-spa and stayed there until my fingers were wrinkled prunes and I started to get cold.

Then I went out.

There were a LOT of times that I don’t go out. I stayed in my dark room, in bed, beneath the blankets, trapped in dark thoughts. But you will be glad to know that I go out these days. I stay out for at least half an hour, sometimes more, to get some sun. I read that Vitamin D is good for people like us. So today, I played with the dogs outside, watered my mother’s plants. Remember that I almost killed all of them during one of my three-week episodes? Well, one of them, one of the most critical ones, already has flowers. Flowers! It’s not only alive but it’s thriving and giving me flowers. I think that’s a good sign. I think that means hope.

After that, I went out out. For a walk. Walking is also good for us, right? I wanted to go to the chapel so I can say a prayer for you. It was hot at 3 PM but I like the heat. And the Vitamin D. But I wore a cap anyway, and put sunscreen on my face.

I thought about you while walking. Thought about what would you have done if you were still with us. Thought about how you are now. Thought about what you would think and what you would say if I told you that I, sometimes, envy you. I sometimes hear your voice in my head telling me not to. Not to envy you. Not to do what you did. Not to give up. To be brave.

Of course I know that our conversations are all only in my head, but then again, as with one of my favorite quotes from Professor Dumbledore, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). And sometimes, you’re more real to me than anything.

Others will not understand. They’ll say that I’m crazy. They don’t know that a lot of times, I wish I were. That way I wouldn’t know how hard things sometimes are. That way, I’d just let the tide come and sweep me away. Some will probably also say that it’s crazy/stupid that I found sanity and comfort in something so trivial. Again, they just don’t understand. To be honest, I don’t either. Not really. But I cling to you and your music and your members’ music, and here I still am. If they think that’s trivial, then bless them. I pray they will never know what it’s like to desperately need something to cling to, to anchor you, before the pain sweeps you away.

When I got to the church, music was playing. And I realized that there was a wedding. A wedding! It made me smile. A wedding on this day, a year after you left. It was a reminder that even on the saddest days, you can find a reason to be happy, to smile. Even on the darkest of days, you will always find light.

So I watched the ceremony for a while, then said my prayers for the couple, then for you. I thanked God for the blessing of you, that even though I didn’t know you in life, you saved me in the after.

I don’t know what the future will bring. I’ve come so close to giving up several times that I’m surprised that I haven’t, that I’m still here. My heart aches and I’m tired. Just tired. And I know, as sure as the sun rises in the east, that it will come again. But I also know I’ll stand up to fight again the next time, and the next, and the next because I never lose hope. I never have. I always believe that it will get better. That I’ll get better. That “spring will come to me too”.

And now, as I prepare for bed, I’ll go to sleep with you in my heart where I will always hold you in hope and in gratitude. Thank you. That is not enough to say. It probably will never be enough. But thank you.

Thank you.

You did well.

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Sleep Deprived

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”
― Ernest Hemingway

I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately. The last few months I’ve been tossing and turning, tossing and turning, tossing and turning for at least four hours before I finally fall asleep, only to wake up three hours later. I got an average 3.5 hours of sleep a day. Sometimes I sleep for eight hours but never eight hours straight. It would always be four hours twice a day. Like a panda. Sometimes I’d be awake for two days straight but I’d still only sleep for four hours. And I hate being awake because then I’d have to live with my anxiety and constant panic attacks. Which is why I both need, and should not take, sleeping pills.

So I researched sleep aids. Of course my go-to is Melatonin because that has always worked for me. I noticed it doesn’t make me sleepy quickly but it always made me sleep well. I usually only take one 1 mg tablet, sometimes two of them, but I wake up groggy when I do. So I planned on going out to get a fresh supply of 1 mg tablets. I was going to go to my usual store but I remembered Healthy Options also stocks supplements. So I did a quick Google search and found out about their Ultimate Sleep Formula.

According to their blog post, the best natural supplements for sleep are: L-Theanine, Magnesium, Chamomile, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid and Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, all of which are in one Ultimate Sleep Formula capsule.

What sold me on it is that not only does it help relax the mind and body (or so it claims) but it has components that help with depression and anxiety which, I’m preeetty sure are the two main reasons why I’m having sleep problems. See, this is how it works for me. When I’m having a depressive episode, I usually sleep a lot. But when my anxiety is acting up, I usually rarely sleep and mostly never well.

So I grabbed a bottle of that instead of my uaual melatonin and I’ve been using it for a week now. But before I tell you how it’s working for me, let me say that this is only a supplement, not actual meds for sleep deprivation, depression or anxiety. Mahalagang Paalala: Ang produktong ito ay hindi gamot at hindi dapat gamiting panggamot sa anumang uri ng sakit *said in a super fast, almost chipmunk-y sounding voice*

If you think you have mental health issues, I strongly encourage you to see a mental health professional for proper diagnosis, medication and therapy if and when needed.

With that said, this is how the Ultimate Sleep Formula works for me.

Like melatonin, it doesn’t make me sleepy. Instructions said to take it thirty minutes before going to bed. So my first time, I took a capsule at 9 PM with every intention of going to sleep at 10 PM. I was still awake at 2 AM the next day.

I rationalized that it was my first time taking it and maybe my body needed to adjust. I also didn’t drink coffee but I practically finished a whole pitcher of iced tea at Samgyupsalamat during lunch earlier that day so maybe… caffeine? Sugar? But while I was awake for a long time after taking a capsule, I noticed that I was quiet. No tossing and turning. I was just… quiet. And my brain was calm, like I didn’t have any anxiety issues at all. Usually, within five hours, I would have worried myself sick about having to go out the next day to buy the furbabies more food to my sister’s college fund when she graduates from high school in 2029. But during that time I was… calm.

I’ve been taking the supplement every day for a week now and I still don’t fall asleep thirty minutes after I take it. It still takes me at least an hour before I sleep but hey, at least it’s not five hours. And I sleep through the night too for up to six hours. The best part is… I think it has really helped with controlling my anxiety. I haven’t had a panic attack in a week. I haven’t even been anxious. Sure, I worry but it doesn’t debilitate me or cause me to curl up in bed because my stomach is cramping because of anxiety. I’m chill.

Although to be fair, it may also be because I already went through my episode which usually lasts three weeks. After that time, my anxiety usually quiets down until my next episode so it could also be because of that.

I also cut back significantly on caffeine. I used to drink at least two cups a day, then I went down to one. Then down to three shots of Booster C Genius (which has no sugar, twenty calories and has caffeine equivalent to that in a cup of coffee) a week. Also, let me say I LOVE Booster C and I wrote about it but that’s another blog entry. I have a looot of drafts. Oh, and I also cut back on the Coke. And I stop looking at my phone too as much as possible when I’m already in bed and prepping for sleep. So maybe that helped too?

In any case, I’m slowly starting to sleep again. I mean, I don’t mind being awake at 3 AM because that’s actually the best time for me to write. I just don’t want to be awake at 3 AM after being awake for close to two days. I’m also thinking of trying out the supplement when (because I know until I go see a psychiatrist and get the help I need, it will happen again. It’s only a matter of time) I go through another depressive episode or a period when my anxiety is at its worst. This way I’ll know if it actually has a huge effect or if cutting back on caffeine is enough. I mean, it’s a supplement, right? It’s not a cure. You use it to help/support something else you have to do or take. Which also means that for it to better “supplement” my sleep, the best time for me to take a capsule is when I’m already sleepy. That’s when it works best for me. I’m more relaxed and my mind is quieter.

Again, it’s just a supplement, not a cure. It will help if you cut back on caffeine and the use of your gadgets before bedtime. Maybe tea or warm milk can also help, or like me, I usually smell like Katinko or White Flower before bed too because that also helps me. I haven’t tried breathing exercises but I heard they work too. The secret, I learned, is a quiet mind. Good luck to me though because my characters tend to party in my head when I’m in bed.

Still, a party by my characters is better than not being able to sleep because of anxiety. I’ll take that any day.

The Ultimate Sleep Formula from Healthy Options is 895Php for a bottle of 50 capsules.

This is not a sponsored post and I’m not being paid to write it. I bought the product with my own money.

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