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24 April 105

Upon hearing of my anxiety attack two nights ago, all my friends have advised me to write.  To take up a hobby, to jog. I know they are right. Killing my thoughts with Modern Family marathon and crying endlessly haven’t done much for me. So this is my attempt at verbalizing my messed up thoughts.

 

I am writing. And it’s hard when every line I want to type is a rant against my present circumstances. Every word is etched in despair, every letter a product of all the tears I’ve tried at first to hold in, but failed to. It’s hard because all my words have been drowned in tears I’ve needed to release in the past week. Everything about me right now screams of desperation and stress, in levels unprecedented. Every thought occupying my mind is beginning to sound like a complaint against the God who I still, in my heart of hearts, believe to be a good and almighty God.

 

I’ve done so, so much thinking about my thesis already. It’s been keeping me awake at night, and it’s been keeping me from waking up before noon. It is all I can think about. Sometimes, I have a hard time breathing from all the stress and anxiety. Thesis is literally giving me claustrophobia. Taiwan, right now, feels to me like one big prison I just want to escape. It certainly didn’t start off this way, and I know it shouldn’t end this way, either.

 

I’m not even in the mood to write. I guess thesis really has broken me. I’ll write later.

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A Taiwanese tale

It was the perfect night to test what little Mandarin skills we had. Erik was not due for a few more hours from a week-long trip from home, and there were tasks we wanted done asap. So ate Leni and I put on our jackets and set out to prove ourselves.

First, we went to the general merchandise to buy a length of rubber tubing. “Duoshao qian?” I confidently asked, a smile escaping my lips, before I even finished my sentence. We had practiced this line several times. It was 7nt per foot. The storeowner gave his answer wordlessly, gesturing with his hands. I took five feet and gave him the exact amount. Three silver tens, one five. San shi wu. We were getting good with numbers.

Bolstered by our successful purchase, ate Leni and I gamely went around the back for a more difficult task: looking for my missing water bottle.There were three possible places where I could have left it: at the 823 grocery store, at the duck restaurant, or at the hot soya place at the corner.

We stepped inside 823, and with one glance at the counter, concluded that my bottle wasn’t there. We were out before the automatic doors had closed behind us. At Duck, asking “shui ping?” and miming drinking yielded an apologetic “no” from the Taiwanese cooks. Our trip to the hot soya place was also a bust.

Feeling perplexed, we retraced our steps, trying Duck again, armed this time with hastily translated phrases, courtesy of google.

Left water bottle? Left water bottle last night? We were met by confused stares. It must have been our accents. Finally, ate leni thought of showing them the translated Chinese characters. The three men looked at my screen, and then to one another, and then back at the screen.Voila! One of them produced my water bottle from off the side, smiling profusely. We showered the air with Xiexie’s as we left.

To celebrate, we two accomplished adventurers shared an order of xiao long bao before returning to our campus.

We were beaming with pride as we related the story to our two friends.
“We have a new phrase! Zuo shuiping?
Likai shuiping zuo wan?”
Erik, the only Chinese speaker in our all-Filipino group looked puzzled. His brows furrowed as he asked as to repeat our sentence. We proudly obliged. He was silent for a moment, and then he burst out laughing. Zuo was left, as in left or right. It was not the past tense of leave.

Amidst our laughter, we learned a new word. We had been in Taiwan for a month. There were more bloopers to be had. 🙂

Friday Night Well Spent

Food can only take me so far

A Venti Latte, a few more waking hours


But today is written in the language of laughter,

In conversations never awkward,

In songs which would make a weird mix tape

Fit for a person with the most eclectic taste

In friendships that endured

Months of absence,

And missed milestones

In connections which prove stronger

Than the turning of the calendar


And it takes me far-

To the knowledge that I am treasured,

and that in them I have treasures,

To a heartfelt grateful prayer


I had dinner with college orgmates today- two of them I regularly see, and the rest I haven’t talked to in a while. Most of them were from younger batches, and I realized that while I’ve always thought I was closer to the older batches, that may not have been true. Tonight might be proof to the contrary. Thank God for giving me a wonderful college experience, for the friends I made in college, for these wonderful people who have always been my cure to homesickness, and for the opportunity to spend time with them again. 

How to Really Un-crush you Crush: A Method Tried and Tested (once)

This is a follow-up to the post where the narrator described a method she never got to try. This new method has been tried and tested once.Again, a disclaimer:
The author is definitely NOT a love/relationship expert .  She’s naive and innocent and that’s great because you get to read her notes without any pressure. She expects nobody to follow her tips but feel free to prove her expectations wrong. If you do that, please let her know how effective her method is by leaving a comment. 🙂 

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So you’ve been crushing on this guy for so long it has broken records. Kim Chiu has finished two soap operas and you’re still mooning about him. The night you first got introduced to him, Hunger Games was still shooting. The people in Hollywood are wrapping up Mockingjay and still you’re hung up with him. You have kept your crush for him alive for so long by constantly thinking of him. You have kept him in your mind, alongside dreams of moving back through time and getting a letter from Hogwarts,  waking up to find yourself training to be a ninja in Konoha  alongside your childhood idols, and sliding down a rainbow and finding a unicorn waiting for you. He was the man of your fantasies and to your fantasies he belonged. In your mind, the two of you have rekindled your acquaintance, built a friendship, fallen in love (maybe, even got married).

And, yes, all this fantasizing has gotten old. And absolutely pathetic. And did I mention PATHETIC?  You decide for the nth time that you just want the crush to be over, despite him being  your best crush ever. What do you do?

Here’s what:

  1.  Perform classic crusher moves. For 25 months, develop affections for him. Devote two and a twelfth of a year to scavenging facts about him and store them in the hard drive incorruptible by virus, your heart. Think about him non-stop and feel guilty afterwards. Summon to mind the pathetically paltry times you had an encounter with him and relive them again and again, in alternate universes, through your thoughts. Pray that you’d dream of him at night and then daydream about him in your waking hours. Like any typical crusher, you stalk him. Use up a lot of bandwidth getting to know his Facebook profile. Google alert his name. Spend countless hours poring over his notes, tweets and statuses.
  1. Watch him fall in love with another girl. You’ve felt it for months. The twitch in your heart  that came with every cheesy status he posted. The doomed hope you had that it was somehow, some impossible how, meant for you. You’ve imagined that the notes he wrote were about you and the hints he dropped were for you. You wondered about his social media hiatus and now, you feel strangely betrayed when the next thing he posts is a picture of the girl and a declaration of his feelings for her. Is that stupid or what? [Your (over)reaction, not his emotions.]
  1. Refuse to feel jealous. Because you can’t! You’ve got no right to feel jealous, negative claims to being affected, absolute zero reason to feel hurt. You forbid yourself to shed tears over news that makes everyone else happy, him and the worthy girl deliriously so. (Yup, you have stalked her wall, too, because at this point, you have neither self-respect nor self-control to stop yourself.) You promptly feel your eyes water. But you stop there. Accept that the two of them will be the couple of the year.  That adorable kilig-inducing pair who will cause everyone around to go “awshucksing“. That model romance who will inspire singles to wait patiently for their love stories- something you should have done from the first. Admit that they make a stunning couple in every way.
  1. Feel embarrassed. Over everything. Every wayward thought, every fantasy, every verbal wedding invitation you jokingly gave away. Let the embarrassment overtake the hurt. Gather your self-respect again. Muster what little control you have over your emotions and direct them to feeling shame instead of pity, and then finally feeling relief. Laugh at yourself twice for every tear you shed. Delete your browser’s history, remove that bookmark and wish him and his soon-to-be-girlfriend well. The embarrassment is little penance for fuelling your crush for him, and it will pass soon. What follows will be self-deprecating humor. Embrace it.
  1. Write the tale. Writing about him is nothing new. For the past 25 months, he has appeared in practically all your diary entries and starred in half. Over and over again, you would spent hours daydreaming about him. And then you’d feel guilty. You would try saying goodbye. You prayed that God would take away every ounce of emotion you’re harbouring for him. You would vow that the entry you had just written would be the last to contain him. You would make promises to let go repeatedly, only to break them all. You failed as many times as you tried. The next entry would inevitably contain something about him. He would haunt your thoughts and the next thing you know, another entry is bearing testament to the madness that is that crush on him.   But the entry you write after watching her picture on his wall rack up likes and comments composed mainly of <3’s will truly be the last. Pray while writing it, begging God to take the edge off the pain and humiliation. You will live up to the words you wrote. It will be the entry that will truly purge you of all the admiration you feel for him.

And then you will feel freer. You admit that it was actually tiring and stressful to be crushing on a guy you so rarely see, and one whose FB profile you know better than him. You will feel better. There will no longer be the euphoria that a crush brings. But you will decide that you actually want this better- this feeling of freedom and anticipation for the one who will make you forget all past crushes, including him. You will say goodbye, and then good riddance.

Good riddance.

More than Academics

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Finals week is coming fast at our univeristy.  There are only two weeks of classes left which means my teachers are piling on all the work they forgot to give earlier. I have zilch progress on my thesis so I’ve been pestering the chemical suppliers for the quotations for the reagents I need. I’ve also been worrying more over my plant design and how I could reduce its payback period. I have exams, papers, reports, and deliverables galore. I barely have time for sleep so I’ve been missing some of my classes. Most students would call this a hellweek, but most Christians are averse to this term; they say it’s graceweek. The terms might both be right. This is my hellweek, not for the reasons most students have, but because I’ve been skipping my quiet time  and sacrificing mg bible study for more acads time and study. And yet, I still see God’s grace in everything. Despite my various shortcomings, He is quick to help and sustain me and His grace overwhelms me more than my acads could ever do. Which is why this is also my graceweek. I’m horrible, I know. This is why I’m trying to reorganize my prioroties  and check my motives. Below is a note I wrote two years ago, when my acads life was starting to get really, really unbearable. It’s a little reminder for me, and one I need often. It might be useful to other Christian students out there. 

The Christian student is a student for Christ. She is first and foremost, accountable to God for her academics. Her education is her ministry, and she studies to glorify and please God above all.

She attends class on time and at all times because God wants her to honor her commitments.

She does not cheat in any way because cheating is lying and God finds a lying tongue abominable.

She works hard for academic excellence and is not lazy in studying because God honors hard work and detests laziness.

She trusts that God is in control of her academics and exercises faith by not giving up though her subjects seem daunting and by not getting frustrated by lack of results.

She does not sacrifice her quiet time for more study time because God values meaningful intimacy over ministry involvement, and ultimately, acads is just another ministry.

She studies to please God and to honor Him- not because of others and not for selfish ambitions- and so does not consider good grades as the ultimate goal of studying.

She always puts God first over academics and acknowledges that her only source of strength, understanding and intelligence is God.

She is a student now and she will be for the next few months or so but that state is temporary. Thus, she is not defined by the grades she get or the number of bloopers she collects in class recitation over the semester. What she is is a servant of the King of kings, a student of the omiscient Good Teacher, the beloved daughter of the only God.

She is a Christian before she is a student and a Christian she is forever.

Why I’ll Never be the DChE Poster Girl

If the university ever prints a brochure advertising the Department of Chemical Engineering, I would be the last person you’d find there. You wouldn’t find me on the cover, smiling and maybe talking to some faculty members. Nor would you find me quoted on why a high school senior should pursue the same field of study I am pursuing now. Given my attendance to department activities, you probably wouldn’t even spot a tiny, pixelated version of my face in the photo collage at the back of the brochure. I’d never make it to a DChE publicity material, not only because my eye bags ensure that my face is never camera-friendly or because I don’t have the latest ChE polo shirt to wear to the pictorial. Neither is it because I’ve never represented the department in the annual Engineering Cup or my batch in the Battle of the Batches.  It’s not even about my less than stellar academic performance and the 3.0s which seem to punctuate every subject that begins with ChE in my true copy of grades.  The truest, most honest reason why I’ll never be the poster girl is the culmination of all the reasons I just mentioned: I don’t love my course enough to promote it. I don’t love my course, period. 

To ask why I am even here now is a valid question. There is no one reason, but it might be easiest to share the story of how I met my course. Senior year in high school featured an immature me choosing a course based on prestige and lousy pieces of advice. To be fifteen, I suppose, was to care about what people thought about me, to desire to be admired, to sincerely believe that I could be anyone I wanted to be. Everyone’s first choice was BS Business Administration and Accountancy, so mine had to be something else. I so admired my sister’s “So what kung uno ka . . .” angas shirt so I just had to get in the coolest college in UP. My math and science grades were fairly good so I thought I’d accept the challenge of taking up an engineering course. After crossing out the engineering courses without board exams, and the ones my father told me I was too feminine for, I found myself scrawling BS Chemical Engineering in my fourth and final UPCAT form, the one which I submitted a few days later. Such is the tale of how I became a ChE student, and it is one which makes me inwardly cringe. 

Freshman year came and I contemplated about shifting out. Despite the fact that I did not love my course then, I thought I’d come to love it once I started with my major subjects. It was also the fact that I really could not decide on which course to shift to that made me stay. My indecisive, stick-in-the-mud side constantly controls me so by the end of my second year, I still hadn’t decided on what field of study to pursue. I then abandoned all hopes of shifting out and made up my mind to earn a degree on BS ChE. Whatever I’ll do to that is a choice which belongs to the future, when I actually have my degree conferred upon me. Perhaps, I’ll try to get a job to better appreciate my field. Maybe my thesis and plant design will even interest me enough to take a masters degree. I can get a second degree just so I can finally know what I missed when I chose ChE. More likely, I’ll take the board exam and bum around at home for a few months, procrastinate some more, and assign the job of decision-making and praying for discernment to the more mature me.

Right up to this point, I’ve been very negative but the truth is I learned a lot in my course. I journeyed from trigonometry to transport phenomena, from balancing chemical equations to mass and energy balances in unsteady-state systems, from titrating carbonated drinks to titrating methyl acetate. I learned how to design pumps and heat exchangers, and perhaps I do them less excellently than my professors expect of me, but I did learn. I am learning how to face the frustration of striving so hard just to stay in the middle of the pack. I am becoming skilled at cheering myself up when failing exam scores begin to mount. I am getting trained to push myself to work when my target grade to pass becomes impossibly high. I unwillingly receive a tutorial on how to get over defensive feelings whenever a new topic in my major subject makes me feel so dumb the same time I receive a piece of chocolate from my ES instructor because I topped a long exam. The urge to declare in my facebook wall that my grades in my general education subjects can attest to my being a non-slacker student comes whenever I fail yet another ChE exam but I’ve never given in to it, thank God. The need to shout to the world that I am much smarter than my collection of embarrassing moments in class recitation leads others to believe almost always overwhelms me but it does eventually leave. I have had my share of unos and tres and I’ve learned that comparing them is like comparing apples and oranges- pointless and frustrating.

I’ve often wondered why I take extra effort understanding ChE principles. I am still puzzled by how math, chemistry and engineering science concepts I grasped so easily before stop making sense when taken in the ChE context but I guess it has something to do with the fact that my brain always has to get around my prejudices against my course first before I finally understand my lessons. I feel prejudiced against ChE because I’ve always felt like a square peg in a round hole in my home department. I hate that my creative juices can’t find an outlet in my course. I loathe the fact that writing, something I’ve enjoyed since grade school, is reduced to boring formal reports and journal reviews by my major subjects. It doesn’t help that I find no one among my peers who share my frustrations because my batchmates who might once have felt the same way I do have either shifted out or learned to love the discipline.

I guess one of the most important things I’ve been taught in ChE is that a square peg can  grow in a round hole. Maybe, she’ll always grow at a slower pace but with God’s help, she will survive. Perhaps, my best efforts will never quite compensate for my lack of natural affinity and interest in my course, but I’m still here, with no singko so far, by God’s grace. I will graduate, I promise myself that. Whatever I do after graduation, the things ChE taught me will never go to waste. And that’s a good thing because I learned in ChE how difficult it is to treat waste. #  

Date a UP Dormer

Date an Iska. The reasons are obvious. Date an Iska who lives in a UP dormitory. Let me tell you why.

Date a girl who buys her meals inside UP. Date a girl who can live on less than a hundred pesos per day. Date her because she can still get excited over eating a 30-peso meal bought from the aristocart, whose owners may or may not be scrupulous inadhering to food safety standards. That is a moot point after a week or so of cart food breakfasts, anyway, because by then, her stomach has probably developed immunity against harmful bacteria. When she has tired of the cart’s unchanging menu, she has the contact numbers of all on-campus culinary establishments who boast of specializing in deliveries but somehow take morethan an hour to deliver orders to a dorm a mere fifteen minutes away from them. Still, she chooses to endure pangs of hunger and postpone meals because fastfoods, though decidedly more prompt in their deliveries, charge exorbitant delivery fees and give measly servings. On the few times she succumbs to herMcChicken and hot fudge sundae cravings, she rallies her friends to order along with her so they can split the 40-peso delivery fee. She can even live on cup noodles, oats, and instant coffee, especially during finals week. Her frugality is further seen in her jumbo-sized toothpaste and bath soap 3pid-packs, which cost far less than sachets in the long run. She won’t turn her nose up in anywhere you’ll choose to bring her to- of that you can be sure.

Date a girl who has spent the darker half of her college life in a residence hall. (The lighter half, the daytime hours, she has most probably spent in classrooms or tambayans.)Date her because she has long been practicing patience. Between the long check-in queues that compete for her time and energy against subject enlistment semester after semester to the towel-lined cubicle doors that greet her every morning, she has long since learned that patience is a virtue. Draining as UP enrolment is, she reserves enough time and energy to spend in dorm lines so shecould spend the night wearing herself out by covering her new closet and unpacking her things. There are times she exercises her wits instead ofpatience and hangs her towel in the cubicle door even before she sleeps so she can take a bath as soon as she wakes up. However, because the resident pilfering princess takes everything from laptops and celphones from dormrooms, to Toblerone bars and fresh milk  from the communal fridge, to freshly laundered underwear and sachets of fabric conditioner from the laundry room, to Pond’s facial cleanser and pails from the comfort room, a dormer runs the risk of becoming a robbery victim by hanging her towel before the morning rush. Threats of poison, biblical curses, and mambabarang are all no match for kleptomania so in the end, she prudently chooses to wakeup early to ensure her towel’s safety. If the simultaneous ringing of alarm clocks in her corridor don’t wake her up early enough, she waits patiently for her turn in the cubicle. If you still doubt her patience, try the dorm WiFi at night.

Date a girl who daily shares her bathroom with a hundred other girls. She knows how to dress quickly because much of her time is consumed with waiting and fervently wishing that those before her would skip conditioner today so they would take less time to rinse their hair. When the need arises, she can take five-minute showers and four-minute breakfasts and she can take less than thirty minutes total to transform herself from a groggy zombie in PJs to a beautifully-groomed lady ready to take on the world. On her more desperate moments, she had tried shampooing her hair in the sink so she needed only to wash her body inside the cubicle. She is as economical in the minutes of her morning as in her money.

Date a girl who has lived away from her parents for months at a time. She values her independence and considers resourcefulness as one of her assets. She has lugged large bags and boxes containing all her things to her room alone during check in. She has reassembled her electric fan in the middle of the night after she accidentally kicked it in her sleep. She has tried (probably unsuccessfully) to fix a loose bathroom faucet. She has broken a padlock after locking her key inside the closet. She has summoned herculean strength to pack a year’s worth of stuff before the 12noon deadline for checking out. She has learned to do the things she used to ask her father to do at home and  yes, she’s proud of her accomplishments.

Date a girl who has a collection of dorm life anecdotes that rivals Ted Mosby’s New York City stories. She has participated in silly dating games she had no intention of winning and revealed her embarrassingly sharp memories of G-Mik, Esperanza, Doraemon and Asian Treasure in a jologs quiz while in her classy mini-dress and heels during dorm formal dinners. She has relived her childhood by representing her corridor in games like chinese garter and agawan base , or pulled on a towel in an improvised game of tug-of-war, and maybe, even took a ball full on the face from an athletically-challenged teammate on a dodgeball skirmish- all of these during Sportsfest week. She has narrowly lost the December Door Design contest by cutting out chichirya wrapper stars to hang in her doorjamb or by pasting Christmas figures on her door, including a sheep the myopic judges intelligently took for mounds of snow. She has belted outKampana ng Simbahan  or faked dancing talents to the tune of Tuloy na Tuloy pa rin ang Pasko or got nominated for the Annual Kalabasa Awards  whose categories included Payatas Award, Alpha Kapal Muks, Ms.Acadmode and Banyo Queen on the dorm Christmas party. She has abandoned a calculus problem or a position paper to go down to the lobby and listen to frat men serenade her and her dormmates on Valentine’s Day. She has shared her academic woes to a group of newly-met people during a bible study on the lawn. She has watched Disney movies, Hollywood action films, Star Cinema romantic comedies and Japanese horror in the TV area during dorm movie nights. She has borrowed Jane Austen classics, Sophie Kinsella chicklit and Dan Brown mysteries from the House Council Library and maybe, even had her name published in the “Overdue Books” list for a Precious Hearts Romance novel (Stallion Series: Jigger Samaniego) she had been so careful to return on time. She has even shown her solidarity in the fight for greater state subsidy by joining in candle-lighting ceremonies and dormers’ camp out. She has collected bloopers and enjoyed it. She has suffered public humiliation and lived to retell (and exaggerate) it. She has lived through the dorm’s constant bustle of activity so she’ll also appreciate a quiet evening with you. She understands the efforts involved in preparing for an activity so she’ll appreciate yours in planning for your date. She is able to find fun in practically any activity so you can take her out in any kind of date and she won’t complain.

Date a girl who has interacted with all kinds of people for an extended period of time. Friends come and friends go but a roommate is a roommate for at least a sem- that is a dormer’s motto. She has come to accept that not everyone is easy to live with and even the best roommates have bad days. Diversity has obtained a whole new meaning for her because of all the people she has met in the dorm. Just trying to get along with strangers have taught her responsibility, respect, and pakikisama. She has befriended the ultra-shy roommate who spends half her life in front of her laptop. She has successfully claimed tutoring sessions from the resident GC. She has charmed the dour janitress to say “hi” back to her. She has spent entire nights fantasizing about her future love life and discussing current events with her friends. She has sharpened her conversational abilities and can now carry out discussions on a wide range of topics because of all her dormfriends, which include the varsity player, the activist, the nerd, the Christian, the TV addict, the only child brat . She has played Florence Nightingale to a roommate sick with fever. She has obeyed orders and listened to lectures on cleanliness from an obsessive-compulsive friend. She has given orders and lectures on cleanliness to a pack-rat and slob friend. She has sung second voice to a concert diva in the shower so she won’t upstage anyone. She has discovered that enjoyment is the secret to endurance, and endurance to enjoyment. She has earned a place in her roommate’s thesis’ acknowledgment page. She will earn a place in your heart.

Date a girl who posts an FB status on homesickness every start of sem.  Date her for she values family time. Because she only gets to spend a small fraction of the year at home, she has long realized how precious family bonding time is. She misses her family often and she may even succumb to tears of homesickness at times, but that only goes to show what a loving daughter and sister she is. She knows that Facebook pokes and text messages are poor substitutes for a hug and a face-to-face conversation with the people she loves. She appreciates the simple comforts of home such as homemade meals and good TV relay. She tells “I love you” to her parents whenever they call her. She devotes a chunk of herallowance to prepaid cards so she could listen to her parents’ voice, hear her younger siblings’ “I miss you, ate” and check on her aging dog. She is sweet, caring and not stingy in her affections because she has realized that life is not always generous with time with the people she loves most.

Date a UP dormer- on second thought, don’t. At least, not now. She is having a wonderful time discovering herself, making a niche forherself in college, building relationships, learning independence and interdependence that she might think she’s not yet ready for a relationship right now. She is busy balancing academics and dorm life that she might think there’s not enough time for her to spend with a boyfriend. Date her, but wait. Pursue her because a more datable girl you’ll never meet. Sweep her off her feet and date her when she’s ready. Date any UP dormer, but watch out for the kleptomaniac.