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…is what I occasionally ask myself when my mind or hands are not busy with something. Looks like I won’t be blogging as much as I did back in college–where I would carefully craft my posts feeling like I was such a good writer, at least I made some of my friends laugh with my words–but I’m totally fine with it. That’s because at least now I have good things to be busy about.

So yeah, what AM I doing with my life? I finally had the courage to resign from my advertising job a few months back. It was a fun ride, 80% of which I would account to the people I worked with: they were fun, lighthearted, creative, wise, funny, and more important, they were my friends. But work was busy as hell. Don’t even get me started; anyone from advertising knows what I’m talking about. Being busy is overrated, even glorified. I got caught up in this competition at one point. Big projects? Yay! Going home on time? Be prepared to be questioned about what you did for the day. Now, honestly, I still want to be busy enough to be productive towards goals that matter to me (no, you cannot expect me to be a bum for days, it’s not in my system) but still have time to clip my nails.

So what does matter to me?

  1. Being an entrepreneur – Although I didn’t graduate a business degree, nor have I handled a big business, I have always been compelled to push through with entrepreneurship. Ever since college I have been telling myself and others that one day I wanted to do this. And not just one day–I mean I see myself doing it in my future. Office work was always something I felt was temporary in my life. I can’t imaging being 30 and still confined to a desk. Finally my friend and I decided to get a small food cart. We already made a few mistakes before even starting, causing much delay, but I guess those are things you learn when no one is dictating what you’ll be doing for the day. I’m just happy that I found a reliable partner to work with and taking the leap with this maybe not-so-big move is the starting point to what I really want.
  2.  Being creative – I just CAN’T imagine life without creativity. And that is one reason why I decided to go into entrepreneurship–so I can have more control of my time and focus a part of my energy to making or developing things that others might love as much as I do. I’m taking a short accessories course, and I’m glad I am doing so (knowing I can be a spendthrift) because 1) what could be more fun than learning something new? and 2) it has empowered me to start a new accessories line (secret for now :P) and level up from the handmade trinkets I did. All I can say is, I am very very happy that I am doing something I truly love, that I’ve taken this not-so-little step, and I can’t wait to make it grow and grow and grow.
  3. Having control of my time – Not just time, but my energy. These two things in my life were out of control when I worked in advertising. It exhausted me too much, leaving me little time for everything else that mattered more than the flyer I was working on: relaxation, focus on personal projects, dinner with loved ones. Yeah, we all want those, but we can’t always have ’em. And that’s what I’m working on–finding that balance in my life. I want to pour my energy on things that actually came from me, not what is handed to me.

Where I am in my life, where I will be in the next few years, I don’t know, and no one else in this world can really answer this question for themselves. Sometimes I doubt myself–most people my age and older work in offices (which honestly I like too) and then they’ll move to bigger companies and eventually be in top positions. But that just doesn’t appeal to me. I will not be true to myself if I go down that road. A call back from an ad agency I did an interview with was exciting when it happened, but turned it down because 1) I might be blinded by the new offer 2) All I could think about at that time was the food cart we wanted to put up, and the Incubus album “If not now, when?”

I am lucky enough that when I’m in doubt of my life decisions, I am able to find reassurance just around the corner telling me I’m doing fine. It truly is a risk, it’s scary, but really exciting. I am happy, and whatever the outcome (crossing fingers of course!), where this adventure leads me to, I am pretty sure I can say this when I read back this entry one day–no regrets.

I’ve been living with a bitch in my house for three years now. Don’t think she was loved from day one. When she first arrived, she was very much unwelcome. She was nameless, taken away from her family, bought for a price. We had no choice but to take her in after she showed up on our doorstep.

She was such a burden. She showed no concern for how things went about in the house, just making a mess everywhere. She was selfish, eating up a whole pack of star peanuts given to me without even asking permission. She’d steal chicken drumsticks on the dining table and sneak around to try and get a bite of the fruits I was eating. She left tissue rolls ripped, more than a dozen slippers ruined, and food finished all for herself. Soon enough, our furniture were also disintegrating. The only way she thinks she can cover up her mistakes is by looking at us with beady eyes. Well it doesn’t work all the time–it works most of the time. Later on, we learned that she only needed attention and a very repetitive heart-to-heart conversation to make her understand how things work around.

Meet Skittles:


We could have chosen a much less cheesy name for a dog, but when you get your first pet the instinct is to name it after something sweet, or at least after pleasant-sounding food, especially if it’s a female. We couldn’t let her walk around without a name for long, so it was settled with a colorful candy to call a furry white dog.

Being a smart breed, training wasn’t a big trouble, except for the pottying part, which I haven’t straightened out until now. All I needed were some biscuits, meat jerky and the patience to teach her how to sit, stay, fetch, go up, go down, eat, and to move over when someone exclaims “excuse me.”

What I love and hate
What I hate: Fur all over the house. I had to buy a lint roller when I realized how silly I look when I’m trying to get rid of the fur sticking to my black shirts one by one.
What I love: When Skittles gallops like a wild horse when I step into the house or when we meet first thing in the morning.

It’s fun having a furball hang around.

Note: I wrote this a few years back, I don’t know why I never published this. Our baby is turning seven in a few months!

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Picking up a gluestick that’s been lying around in my room since who-knows-when was a clear sign that it was time to let go…of junk.

I’ve had what most would refer to as organized clutter, and I can name them appropriately if there was any need:

  • Shoebox maze
  • Readables (books, magazines, pulled-out newspaper articles)
  • Everything else that can be piled up

It’s not easy to forego of things that once meant something to me—books that made me cry, CDs that were soundtracks to my teenage years, my favorite brown shirt, and scents that remind me of my first albeit naive love. Of course, I still kept many things that are more than just static physical objects now, as they have become reminders that carry their own stories only I could share.

Fast forward from the little drama, I decided it was time for some things to be treasured by another room, hand or heart. I paid the P250 for a space that was a parking slot at Cubao X, and set up my table. Below are items I put up for sale, but remained untouched until early afternoon.

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You can sell ANYTHING (except those that the organizer has not allowed). I’m not saying people will buy, but yeah, someone just might take interest in your video documentaries, scented candles, picture frames, shoes, bags, pens, lamps, or rulers.

It pays to bring an umbrella and enough loose change if you don’t want to be toasted (or rained on) and if you want to save yourself the hassle of running around to break a bill, respectively.

Tip: If you see something you like from another seller, get it the moment you touch it. It’s usually very good bargain, because twice I walked away from probable purchases, twice I ended up empty-handed when I decided to come back. And that was a matter of MINUTES.

What was most interesting for me during the weekend market were the conversations that took place: a well-dressed middle-aged woman from the next space sharing with me her relentless hope for love despite being separated; and a guy who looked like John Lennon, from whom I bought two DVDs from, who talked to me about mind and knowledge and power and movies, and whom I didn’t even realize was one of the great rock guitarists in the country.

Pretty neat for a word-of-mouth Sunday market, don’t you think?

I’ve had a clean slate from day one of 2013, and swept from that slate included my first ever day job. Looking back at my goals for the supposed last year before the world melts away, I’ve only done one out of three. I can blame this on a number of things—throw myself in.

I’ve occasionally expressed that I want to run a business, but I never really had the time to think about it, more so to move forward from mind to paper to its actual existence, when I’m in front of the computer emailing clients all day. What I did to make it up to myself was squander the rest of the night’s hours for amusement and some sleep.

This year, I’m proud to say I have not bummed since the first of January. I’ve been maximizing—even too much sometimes—what time I have control of now. I’ve incorporated discipline into the weekly skeleton I crafted; without this, I’d still be sleeping at 3AM, waking up lunchtime and accomplishing nothing of the baby project I’m working on as I write this.

Each day is still a work day for me—rise and shine at nine, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, sleep at 1AM latest (still struggling), and do one or many of the following in between:

  • Watch and read up on craft tutorials, design, life, drying time of glue, and everything potentially relevant to my plans
  • Read the morning paper
  • Check out materials and visit suppliers
  • Cook
  • Meet a friend
  • Exercise (semi-true)

Productivity is key. Ideas, plans and wishes remain abstract without action. Frankly it can be tiresome, especially when I fail to put a limit to my daily workload and balance it with leisure, but thinking about how it leads to my personal goals just ignites the enthusiasm I could not attain for the big chunk when I felt jaded.

Here’s a glimpse of my domino tile project:

Liquor love

Candies

It’s small scale for the time being, but I will gradually create a brand that carries handcrafted items, down the line exploring papers and colors and patterns and textures. I truly feel this will be the outlet I’ve been looking for, as one who is wooed by design, hoping my endeavors will feed me one day.

I am scared and excited. A college professor once told our class that nervousness and excitement bring about the same physiological feelings, and the positivity or negativity of the feelings we experience depends on how we perceive them as emotions. Best way to deal with anxiety? Try swapping it with excitement—maybe it wasn’t anxiety after all!

Right now, all I can say is that January has taught me way more than I could ever learn in months.

What about me

I first saw this artwork on Tumblr months ago and saved it on my laptop because I thought it was beautiful. I look at it and wish I thought of this first. Its simplicity and realism says a lot–this is how we look like when we cry. When we cry, blood rushes to our faces and gives off a pinkish reddish tint we call blush. Then the waterworks follow.

Now I have to deal with this blushing at erratic times of the day asking the same question.

It’s been some time since I last posted something here. I’ve been so occupied with a number of things. I read somewhere–and apparently it came from a Starbucks inspirational cup print called “The Way I See It #283”–that you should say I WILL instead of I wish, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do.

This year has been off to a good start. With I WILL in mind, I decided to start taking action towards the things I really want, and one of those is to continue doing designs. What I’ve always enjoyed during my college days were really the graphic design classes in my course. I am amazed at how typography, layout, shapes, and colors work together to make visually appealing works, whether simple or elaborate.

I acknowledge that I still have limited skills to execute the ideas I have, but for now I make do with what I’ve learned and try to read and watch tutorials from time to time to keep my mind fresh. I’ll also be enrolling myself in a short course for Adobe Illustrator hopefully by next month. I was thinking a lot about how much it will cost me, but I thought, what the hell? I’ll go for it. I don’t spend a lot except on food, so why not use the money to learn something new, right? It should be a good investment for whatever reason. My goal is to be good at graphic design, get work that allows me to be creative in this field and make projects in the future, but for now I  will keep learning and practicing when I can.

I started a tumblr site just to get my works out there. You can check out HelloStephYu to see some of the stuff I made, which isn’t a lot yet, and some photos I took that I never uploaded anywhere.

Heima's Paper Club

One of the actions I took was to work as an intern at Punchdrunk Panda, a Filipino brand that sells graphic-designed products such as shoes, laptop sleeves and camera straps. Although I worked as a marketing intern, it was an experience that further made me realize what I want. I got to meet some talented people and hear their thoughts as we did webisode shoots at Heima, a quirky furniture store; and organized an event called Anteroom Sessions, where Pinoy entrepreneurs showcased their products and compelling local bands played songs that brightened up the driveway of Cubao X.

All I can hope for now is that I am on the right track, but then should I hope it or will it? I say both.

It’s not year-end per se anymore as I write this, but it is just appropriate that I let the 365 days pass before doing an analysis of the year, for who knows how much can change in the few days since I decided to record this? (FYI, nothing much.)

It would be unfair to evaluate the year specifically in successes or failures only. 2011 is the year I truly lived—I learned what it meant to step out of my comfort zone, defy a few rules, take risks and find myself in situations I thought were always just going to be figments of my imagination. It took two decades and a series of wet and dry seasons for me to understand what living really entails.

Below are just a few things I’ve learned, experienced and discovered in no particular order.

Dated a Houdini

First of all, I don’t even date–not since I had my last relationship, and not until I decided to. It just so happened that I thought I was ready again, and I was, but I should have known better than to expect where a three + invisible-fourth month-long dating can end up in. I was a hopeful cynic, ready to finally let butterflies flutter within my intestines again yet keeping in mind the dark side of it all, hoping we won’t ever reach that side. But we did. It ended as quick as it started, but I can’t say I regret my decisions or call the whole thing a mistake on my end (no, I am not in denial, I swear). I learned a lot more than I ever expressed and a lot more than I thought I would in three moon cycles.

For the short time that he was a significant chunk in my life, one of the most important things I picked up from him is that dreams can come true, but you have to start somewhere. It’s okay to dream and not let fear take over me when I haven’t even started. How do I find things out without trying?

And other things I learned…

-I saw the beauty of lies. Yes, a lie crushed my illusions but I have eventually learned to use the white variety to my advantage.

-The local music scene is alive and kicking…when did I stop being in the loop?

-Other things I ought to know in my twenties

-You cannot expect everyone to give you an explanation, as much as you want it, as what my officemate has repeatedly told me a.k.a. life is unfair

-I learned how to ride the bus, which leads me to my next item…

Mastered the Metro Manila public transportation

Back in first year college, the first time I rode the LRT on my own, I felt like an independent and invincible adult. Then, I realized, bragging about this little achievement of mine made me one of the typical inexperienced freshmen. Everyone else in my school rides the train and generalizes it as commuting; I am proud to say I’ve come a long way from that.

I learned how to ride the FX, jeep, tricycle, and cabs that eat up my allowance. Then came the bus. I became a bus girl since I rode one with that guy, and it was my mode of transportation from work to home for a period, enjoying 1.5 hours like a field trip and listening to albums I’ve downloaded. Then I learned about the shuttle service. I’ve heard about this, but I never thought there’d be routes going up north. So now I am shuttle/van girl.

Hurray! You can now leave me in a street corner and I won’t be as terrified as I would have been five years ago. Someone wrote this goal in my life list and I never bothered to erase it, and now I have another ticked off without noticing this lesson unfold.

Got a job

Had I known that I was going to be part of the anxious and whiny employed population, I could have saved a lot of time seeking out the perfect job. My peers are surely familiar with this. We all want the perfect job, and we want it to be the first. Screw that.

It happens for some, but I am part of the most. The way I see it, it shouldn’t be too hard to jump from one chapter to another despite the pressure of having to finish a whole year just to have a fool-proof resume, but right now I am more resolved to focus on finding my next stop. Seems that one way to find out what I want is through a process of elimination.

Fulfilled a dream

This was done in a month-long routine, paired with a few tears and a confused mind on self identity. I wish I could mention this already, but all I can say for now is that I’m glad I did this and refused to let the opportunity slip through. What helped: a little less thought on the future and more living in the present.

Other unusual highlights

I drove with no license from Makati to Quezon City at midnight (thank you world for not conspiring against me); got my way out of getting a ticket by crying; lost appetite and weight for many weeks; hit my neighbor’s water pipes, which meant they couldn’t take a bath or wash anything for a span of a few hours.

I have a bundle of goals for this year, have semi-organized them by priority and I’m all set to take action. Here they are vaguely stated:  eat more, spend more, walk slower, start a business, design and create, think less and act more, make stronger connections, find and seize opportunities, let go, and love myself more. I know I said in a previous entry that I am not a fan of planners, but if there was one year I would have wanted to record with Staedtler pens in a diary, it would have been the year of 2011.

I did not look forward to Christmas, and I’m not even too giddy for the new year. Like a true Filipino, I used to look forward to the ber months—the cooler breeze in Manila, lounging in coffee shops with a book or a buddy, shopping for a few presents (and receiving some), and nonstop playing of Christmas songs. Well, not this year. It was warm all throughout December, and I only felt the season on the eve itself. What a bummer. Recapping the year I can see and dissect exactly why I am a Grinch this season. I finally understand what it feels like to be on the side of the anti-holiday.

I strolled around Greenhills for a few hours yesterday, stopped by for a drink and indulged in a moment I have been fond of since I started driving after twilight—parking the car. And no, it’s not because I’m about to make out with someone; it’s turning the engine off and letting the music roll that turns me on. It’s perfectly still as I let the radio station play their soundtrack to the weekend, and I can only focus on nothing more than the instruments and vocals that lightly reverberate within the space that wraps me. I am breathing pure sound in a concert for one. I have my feet up on the seat, curled up with shins resting against the steering wheel, and it’s just a moment when I feel so safe; everything else is suspended. Beyond the dashboard are some Christmas lights adding color to my thoughts.

I am also reading Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down. It’s about four troubled Londoners who encounter each other at the top of a fictional tower block called Topper’s House during New Year’s Eve for one reason: to throw themselves off the rooftop. This book is very timely on my part for a trifecta of reasons: I bought this novel months ago and now I am reading it on the same holiday when the whole story starts off; it shares with four perspectives on what ticks people off and decide to cross the line; and I see myself in two of the younger characters—reading their struggles, resolutions and youthful idiosyncrasies is like reading advice tailored to my own life. It’s not sappy, does hit home on some counts, but this writer can lightly talk about heavy hearts with humor and not turning it into a joke.

These are just a few things I want to share with less thought on organization. Earphones will be blasting Generator by the Foo Fighters when the clock strikes twelve. Happy new year.

That’s what’s in for me one Monday morning, the day I was set to tell my boss I was taking three more days of vacation leave, right after I used up the five days I filed for the month. I won’t elaborate on what happened; all I can say is I got what I wanted.

Reading the daily paper—once a habit done purely for leisure—is now also a requirement for my nine-to-six (nope, not five) day job. As I scan the papers for pickups, there is one section I will always avoid: the horoscope. As much as I am curious about what it has to say about my day, I would always convince myself that I can’t let two sentences take over the next 16 hours of my life. But then occasionally my officemates take a detour and read out loud their own fate, then ask my sign; and I am compelled to say it because I want to know mine.

I do not know exactly how the workings of astrology are done and how the writer formulates predictions to make anyone feel like something is looming over him. I read it because sometimes the assurance of a friend or giving myself a pat on the back despite the turmoil in my head is not enough. I want another option to tell me that today I will find a missing piece, or an opportunity to do something great, or that I will meet people and that today I can be courageous.

I always make sure that reading my horoscope works out for me by being partial to what I choose to absorb:

Gemini: You will find love today. You will finish something you’ve started long ago. Your lucky numbers is 23.

I say: Great! This is totally possible!

Gemini: You will have an awkward encounter with someone. Money is not your friend today. Two stars today and lucky color is orange.

I say: The hell. Noo, it can’t be. It just can’t.

My take on this is not to take it seriously. The cool thing is when it matches or your status or un-status quo, but these are just a few words put together to tell you how your life might run, or how you might want to run it. It serves as a reminder to what I’ve forgotten I can be: that I can be creative today, that I can start a business or a project, or that I can choose to take action despite this piece of print telling me today is not a good day to do ambitious things.