Today’s trivial thoughts

Alliteration – I didn’t mean to alliterate the title of this piece. It was originally supposed to be “Shallow thoughts,” but I wanted a less negative word to shallow. ‘Trivial’ came to mind.

Then I thought: what if I make this a regular series? There should be a word that differentiates one day’s thoughts from another. So “today” was included. It resulted in a cringe-y alliteration.

Eh, whatever. It’s too early in the morning to get hung up over it.

Video games – I’m annoyed. Partner and I bought Animal Crossing, expecting to have our own islands. But I found out last night that the game only allows for one island per Switch! And since he has started his game way ahead of me, it means I’m stuck in his island. Isn’t that just GREAT! 🙄

Since opening my account we’ve given each other death stares. Don’t mess with my island, his eyes say. If I could get off your island, I would, man!!

Making dessert -Partner has begun making delicious desserts since quarantine started. The other day he made financiers. Last night, he made strawberry tart from scratch.

Everything he makes is delicious, which is a problem for my paltry self-control. I’m stuffing my face with more sugar than I need! Our pantry has a generous share of chocolate and chips, too, which makes it worse. I have to master my self-control, even if just during the quarantine period!

The other enemy

Philippine news has always been a circus, but moreso now, at the height of the Covid-19 crisis, than ever before. This has divided people to the extremes. On one hand, there are those who complain about the government and are demanding better measures. On the other are those who are defending its policies, and believe that the course of action being taken now is satisfactory. I’m in the former, and I have always been vocal against our rulers’ out-of-touch, anti-poor governance.

I’ve observed us Filipinos pitting ourselves against one another. We fight with the “other side” – those whose opinions differ from ours – and we end up getting too distracted, lost in the myriad of pettiness. We generalise those who are of a different mind, and forget that this fight is with an invisible enemy, and not with each other.

A few days ago, two good friends of mine complained about my opinion of our government. They told me that I was too negative, and that I had no right to complain because I, “haven’t contributed anything to the betterment of my country.” They went on to list down a few other people who were “too negative,” and jokingly said these others should form an anti-government club with me.

My friends and I have different opinions, but we’ve always mutually respected each others’ differences. Why was this case different? Their complaints literally felt like a stab at the heart. These are my closest friends, how could they say this about me? How could they pair up and do this together? I saw a chunk of our mutual respect chipping off.

Their complaint drove the point home for me: that what’s happening in the Philippines – and, contextually, the whole world – drives a wedge between people. This wedge is so deep that we’ve begun to feel disrespect, and even a deep contempt, towards those whose opinions are different. This is why my country is at chaos: because we see other people as enemies, and cement in our minds that they always will be. As we plant these seeds of hate, we also set aside our salvation: uniting for the sake of our country.

Honestly, I’m far from being a saint. I also tend to stereotype those who have a different stance to mine. But I hope that my friends’ words would serve as a guiding light, to help me see that I should have more tolerance, acceptance, and respect towards others. If I could contribute anything to my country (other than taxes!), then it would be the will to set aside my differences with others, and collaborate in the face of turmoil.

Painting: The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault

Cabin fever

Written last 21 March 2020

I’m writing from my favourite cafe again this Saturday morning, bypassing my original plan to stay at home amidst fears of the pandemic. I’ve only been staying at home for three days and cabin fever has already set in. Restlessness, irritability, the urge to get out and stay out – cabin fever is real and is rearing its ugly head.

My partner and I are attempting to be more creative in this dilemma of staying indoors. On day two of the attempt we realised we are, in fact, not very creative, as we have already spent more money than we anticipated. We’ve bought a Blue Yeti microphone (for all ASMR-lovers out there, watch out for my Youtube channel) and two Nintendo Switch games. Being bored could be expensive.

I’m very aware that I’m speaking from a point of privilege. If your main problem during this period in history is how to kill time and how you’ll keep from going crazy indoors, then you’re incredibly lucky. Boredom still is a problem though, and during this extraordinary time, it is an issue for many.

Here’s how I keep cabin fever at bay:

  • Establish a routine – If you’re spending all day thinking of what to do, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Establishing a routine keeps your day structured. Not to mention, a routine will eventually set you on autopilot, which means your brain power can be allotted to more important things.
  • Meditate – I attest to this. Healthy mind = sane mind. If you’re staying indoors for long periods of time, decluttering the mind is necessary.
  • Put your music on speakers and dance – OKAY, this sounds like something your single aunt with ten cats would say. But keeping things light in the time of coronavirus helps. Not to mention, dancing is a form of exercise, so you’re hitting two birds with one stone.
  • Exercise – I have two resistance bands which I use often to exercise. There are also tons of videos on Youtube on indoor circuit exercises and cardio.
  • Video chat with family and friends – Now is a perfect time to catch up with your loved ones. I’m sure they will be glad to hear from you!
  • Learning or practicing a new skill – I will admit that it can be a bit of a pain, but learning a new skill is a great way to spend your time. On my own list is: learning to do ASMR (lol), watercoloring, and writing some more.

What do you do to keep from being bored?

Black Mirror-esque

It feels like the world has gone mad. For weeks now, all I see in the news are reports about the pandemic. People are getting infected by the thousands, death tolls are rising, borders are closing, events are getting canceled, and even government officials are getting nervous. The news grows more and more feverish as the days go by, resulting in everyone losing their minds and hoarding supplies.

At first I had no worries about the virus. We had pandemics more deadly than this before; each time we found a solution and life went on. But as months passed, it felt like everyone was at their wits’ end. Over what, I have no idea. But panic is more contagious than I thought it was, because now I’m anxious, too.

Yesterday, Friday the 13th, was the day I felt most worried. Everyone at work was on edge because of the pandemic. We had a concert slated for the 20th, but the artist has decided to cancel because of the growing fears. Everyone was scrambling for a contingency plan. The whole day was dedicated to emergency meetings about COVID-19 and its implications for our business.

While this was happening, news came in about my country, the Philippines, too. Our government has decided to put Metro Manila under lockdown, and the municipality of Cainta under quarantine. My dad and my brothers work in the former, while our house is located in the latter. Did it mean that my family had to choose between going to work and being locked in, or staying at home and being unable to go out? The virus has hit closer to home than I expected.

My partner had his own worries, too. He was growing stressed over the news in his home country, France, and upset over the many events being cancelled. We both couldn’t understand how this pandemic has caused such an upset over daily life.

I couldn’t concentrate at all yesterday. All I was hearing, and all that occupied my head, were the reports and my worries over it. Nothing felt normal. It felt like we were all in a Black Mirror episode: everyone was so oversaturated with news that it caused a global frenzy. I had to remind myself not to be swept away, that it would do everyone a disservice if I panicked. I managed to calm myself down by taking a long, hot shower, disconnecting from my phone, and watching anime over a dinner of spaghetti carbonara.

As we don’t see the solution being delivered any time soon, the best thing to do is to, as the higher-ups say, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and NOT PANIC. Because when you panic, people around you will be inclined to, too!

100 new experiences

Early this year, I found a list on the back of my journal that went all the way up to a hundred. Having no idea what I could have it as a list for (100 grocery items I need in the house? 100 must-use table topics?), I settled for “100 new things I did in 2020”. I knew from the beginning that it’d be asking for too much, but I wasn’t too bothered.

Three months on, I’ve still only listed down nine items, the last one being two weeks ago. At this rate, I’m sure I won’t fill up the list. Still, it feels satisfying to have some experiences written down. I have a tendency to forget how I spent my time, so I greatly enjoy being reminded through my journal.

Here are the new things I’ve done thus far:

  1. Get a matching tattoo with my family – this is extremely special because it involves my family (sans my dad, he doesn’t like needles!). We’ve been planning it for over a year, so to have it come to fruition was unforgettable and quite touching.

  2. Submit a proposal for freelance work – I’ve always liked the idea of freelancing, but I’ve never taken the first step of selling my skills. Finally submitting a proposal was satisfying, because it felt like I broke a wall. (By the way, the proposal was unsuccessful. But still, I already took the first step!)

  3. Attend a Toastmasters meeting – I’ve mentioned this here, with the goal of curbing my social anxiety. I plan on joining the club this month, which, once I accomplish, will be another first!

  4. Played petanque competitively – I don’t mean this in a professional way, no – I just played petanque with my boyfriend, hah. But he’s pretty athletic, so I felt competitive still. It was also my first time actually playing a full round of the sport, so there’s that.

  5. Cooked stir fry veggies – The first attempt, and a successful one, at that! Stir-frying veggies with garlic, pepper, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and cornflour produces such good results. Eat it with rice and you’ve got a winner!

  6. Buy my own domain – you’re reading through that domain now!

  7. Made kale chips – This was a fail; it ended up so salty that it was inedible. Still, I tried. I’m keen on trying a whole lot more of new recipes, so many of the items on my list will be probably be cooking-related.

  8. Made a Fiverr account – bent on having my first freelancing gig, I joined Fiverr and created a decent profile. Fingers crossed that I’ll have the first gig by this year!

  9. Win three consecutive pool games against my boyfriend – My partner is a skilled pool player, having honed his skills from the many backpacker hostels he’s stayed in. I’ve always been frustrated over not winning against him. Imagine my joy when I finally did, and won three consecutive rounds of pool! (Okay, he wasn’t in his best form at that time and kept making mistakes, but still, victory tasted so sweet!)

What are your novel experiences thus far for the year? Let me know!