Posted in dating, relationships

Cruel To Be Kind

I am not the type to play games. I consider myself to be a straightforward person in most aspects of my life, but especially when it comes to dating (or not dating, as the case may be).

The thing is, I’ve been on the other end of the equation far too many times to ever be cavalier about another person’s feelings. I’ve been strung along and lured into believing there’s something there when there isn’t; I’ve been on the receiving end of too many “non-rejections” because the other person was too afraid of hurting my feelings to be honest with me.

I think sometimes the hardest part is not knowing. Its like waiting for any test results, its the waiting itself that’s agonising; you really just want to know if you’ve passed or failed so that you can move on with your life one way or another. I think people, more than anything, just want certainty.

I get it though. Any conversation where there’s a chance of hurting the other person’s feelings is bound to be awkward. There is no kind way of saying, actually, I can’t see this working out between us. People, myself included, resort to tactics like simply ignoring texts (“ghosting” as one of my other dates called it), giving off “friend vibes” during dates (such as refusing to hold their hand during a long movie; note to self – do not ever watch any instalment of LOTR or The Hobbit unless you’re really sure of your bloody date) or just simply going off the other person’s radar.

I read a blog once that said that our generation, The Tinder Generation, tend to see dates as disposable. Its apparently so easy to get dates these days – as easy as swiping right with your index finger – that dating itself has lost much of its value. Just like everything else in the 21st century, we’ve found a way to make something that used to take so much work and effort into a fast, efficient and effective (for some anyway) machine.

While I disagree with the whole dating is easy thing (even with Tinder I struggle), I can’t deny that I’ve absorbed just a little the mentality of “oh if it doesn’t work out, you can always swipe right for the next guy“. I’d like to think I put in an effort for every date, but is it easier to date because you know there’s a safety net of an app that has already lined up a plethora of other choices for you?

I’m ashamed to say there was a time when I resorted to ghosting someone who had gotten too intense too soon. And then I read that article and I was filled with so much remorse because if I put myself in that other person’s shoes, that’s not how I want to be treated. So as painful as it was to have an honest conversation with the guy, I managed to get through it.

I was honest about having second thoughts and why I was having them; I was magnanimous enough to say I’m happy to try a second date but that I though our basic incompatibility was just too big a hurdle to overcome. I don’t think he was very pleased with that decision, but he appreciated the honesty and I slept better at night for having had the guts to just say ‘not interested’.

If I have one wish, its that we need not go through so much overanalyses when it comes to dating. I mean, maybe the uncertainty is part of the allure for some. But all the misconstruing just leads to unnecessary stress and heartache; a lot of our problems can be avoided if we just say what we mean and mean what we say. Its not rocket science people. You like someone, you say it. You don’t like someone, don’t date them.

I personally don’t subscribe to this whole giving-them-a-chance nonsense. I think you know straight out of the gate if there’s potential or not. And I’m now at that age where I don’t want to waste my time with someone (and potentially lead them on) all in the name of kindness. If I’ve been on a date, especially if its gone past the first date, its because I’ve wanted to be there.

I go with my gut instinct most of the time, and its never failed me. Yes I’m still single, but I’m also not stuck in an unhappy relationship just because I was in love with the idea of one (or just because I was pressured by society!). I think the worst thing to be is to find yourself in a hole of your own making just because you didn’t have the guts to be alone and hold out for the right guy.

I guess I’m just writing this to reaffirm some of my personal dating credo. I know scruples and principles don’t mean much anymore, but my conscience simply won’t allow me to date without them.

Don’t lead them on.

Say what you mean, mean what you say.

Don’t force yourself to feel what you don’t feel.

If its right, its easy.

Don’t think yourself shallow just because you need to be attracted to whoever you’re dating. If it works out, you’re potentially going to wake up seeing that mug every morning. That’s a huge decision to make!

A little sense of humour goes a long way.

If he doesn’t understand sarcasm, run the other way. Lol

And always, always, be honest.

Be honest about what you want and what you don’t want.Kindness is very subjective, but I think we can all agree that its kinder to reject than to string along; its kinder to rip off the band-aid with the truth, than to leave a wound to fester underneath. Its kinder to say no right now than to say no later down the road when you’ve already invested real emotions.

And really, you’re being kinder to yourself if you allow yourself to be happy in your own company while you wait for the right person, than to subject yourself to the agony of “settling”. And whatever lies you tell yourself, bowing to the dictates of others and making a decision you wouldn’t normally make just because you feel pressured and you want to be “kind” is settling.

Like the old saying goes, sometimes you just have to be cruel (even to yourself) in order to be kind.

Posted in dating, Feminism, Filipino, relationships, Self-Discovery

Where’s Your Boyfriend?

Every time I come for a visit to the Philippines – and especially as I reach that age where everyone you know is either a wife or a mother – there’s just that little bit of anxiety and a touch of resentment mixed in with the all the excitement.

You see, I come from a culture where its more or less expected, nay, required for a woman to be either in a serious relationship if not married by the age of 25. For a long long time I bought into the whole Stepford wife illusion of white picket fences, loving husband and 2.5 babies. That to me was THE goal.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, moving to London saved my life.

The Giving Tree

I once volunteered to help less fortunate children to read and one of the books we read was The Giving Tree. I must have been 27 at the time and I remember trying my best to keep it together and to keep my emotions in check so that I wouldn’t blubber like a nutter in front of all those kids who had so much more to worry about than my love life.

I was in a very self-destructive, unhealthy and pathetically one-sided relationship in college that gave new meaning to the word friend zone. I lost myself completely in my misguided quest to make another person love me. I was stupid enough to believe, just like that bloody giving tree, that if you give of yourself enough that other person will love you back.

It took me about 8 years to realise that love doesn’t work that way. You shouldn’t have to work so hard to make someone else love you. You don’t need to lose yourself in a relationship. Even as you become partners in all things, its still healthy to retain that sense of individuality, and the sense of who you are as a person outside of the relationship. In short, to be able to truly give yourself to someone, you have to be whole, and you have to know and love yourself first.

This was not an easy lesson for me to learn and in a way, I’m probably still in the process of learning it. Its hard for me not to be a giver (I probably always will be) and it was so hard for me to gain back my self-esteem and my self-respect.

That’s one of the main reasons why I’ve remained single for a long long time. I date, sure, but at the back of my mind I know that my head wasn’t in the right place for me to even think about starting anything serious. I had so much to discover about myself, so much lost time to make up for, so many things that I still need to do and a boyfriend would just get in the way.

I’ve probably been a bit self-absorbed for the last 6 years or so – about the length of time that I’ve lived and worked in London. It was all about what I want to do, what I need to learn, where I need to go. I enjoyed the freedom of having no one to think about apart from myself. If I make mistakes no one else needs to suffer from it.

And to be honest that was probably a good thing. My experimental forays into trying things that are outside my comfort zone have gained me new skills, new friends and new experiences that cannot be bought by any kind of money. I have a job I love even as it often gives me stress, a side job that pays me to do one of the things I enjoy most, a blog that keeps me sane, a comfortable flat, and the kind of life that if I really think about it, brings me happiness. I’m one application (and 2 thousand pounds) away from being British. I’m so damn proud of all my achievements and I’ve never had any reason to doubt myself and my life choices. Until I come home to the Philippines of course.

I’m Alone…But Not Lonely

Look, I date okay. Not that I need to explain myself to anyone, but I do in fact go on several dates a year. The quality of those dates are sometimes suspect and none of them have panned out yet, but I’ve yet to lose hope that I’ll meet that someone and I’ll just know it was worth waiting and holding out for something more meaningful than a one-night stand.

I know, I know, I turned 30 and I’m losing fertile eggs as we speak. But seriously, the notion that being a wife or a mother is the measure of how successful a woman is is really outdated. I came home this year and people start to look at me funny because I don’t have a man by my side or an infant in my arms. No one wants to hear about every thing else I’ve done or what I have achieved, they just want to look at my finger to see if anyone’s put a ring on it.

I admit, I had my moment of panic when I turned 30. For maybe a day. And then I gave myself a kick in the arse and reminded myself that first of all, its not a race to the finish and second of all, 30 isn’t exactly ancient. I’ve had dates that never would have taken me as seriously at 27 as they do now. My life isn’t over, its not quite time for me to think about adopting cats yet.

The Measure of Success

It drives me mad to think that there are people who think I’m somehow less just because I’m “still” single. I have all the admiration in the world for mothers and for women who have chosen to start a family even at the expense of having a career – I think those women should be celebrated (sainted, really). But equally, credit should be given to those women who chose the other fork in the road and have fought to build a career despite the challenges and yes, despite being alone for most of it.

And its not like motherhood is not part of the plan. I, for one, would like to see my genes propagated (is that the right word?), but I’m not sitting around twiddling my thumbs while waiting for the future Mr. Angela. Its part of my bigger plan, its not my only plan. So yes, I do want to get married eventually and this is the first time that I can honestly say I’m ready for it (cue Taylor Swift music) so the answer to that question is a “not yet” rather than a hard “no”.

I hate having to defend my life choices to other people, I promised myself that I would rise above the weight of society’s expectations (I absolutely knew this was coming). It sickens me to think that I can still be affected by other people’s small minds and narrow world-views. I sometimes want to scream in frustration that there is a world out there bigger than the very small circle in which your lives revolve, but I don’t want to seem like I’m belittling anyone’s life or the choices they have made. I just wish they’d exercise the same caution when they choose to judge mine.

Where’s Your Boyfriend?

I don’t know. I don’t know where my boyfriend is. Twice in the past 6 years I thought I’ve found him but it turned out I haven’t. I haven’t met him yet, but I can feel myself getting closer. I’m enjoying the roundabout journey I’m taking to find him. It might take me a little longer, but when I meet him he can be sure that I’m whole, I’m ready, and I’m excited to share my passions, my dreams, and my life with him and to have him share his with me in turn.

Like I said, there’s a great big world out there for me to see. Life is one very exciting adventure and it would sure be grand to be holding someone’s hand as I live through it.

So for all you women out there who get asked the same questions from well-meaning and sometimes not so well-meaning friends and family: DO NOT GIVE IN. DO NOT SETTLE. And absolutely DO NOT let it be a factor in your decisions. You will come to it in your own damn time, and in your own way. Be strong.

Posted in Books, Reviews, romance

Book Review: How To Stop Time – Matt Haig

Its currently 4:30 am in the Philippines and I’ve had zero sleep because of jet lag. The only good thing that’s come out of that is that I managed to finish this book that I bought ages ago but only just decided to read.

This book had far too many similarities to The Age of Adaline and The Time Traveller’s Wife for me to be comfortable reading it when I wasn’t in the right headspace. As most of you know, I tend to get too involved in the lives of the characters I’m reading such that their emotions become my own. And as much as I love books like these, I know without a doubt that they never have a happy ending.

Tom Hazard looks like a normal forty-year-old attempting to teach history in East London. In reality, he is 439 years old and has lived through both the Great Wars, met and worked with Shakespeare, had drinks with F. Scott Fitzgerald and has witnessed all the defining moments of history. He has a condition called anageria, which means he only ages a year every 3 or 4 decades.

Tom is part of a society of people who are just like him and the idea is to protect each other from threat and exposure. There are a few rules: no photographs (difficult in this age of selfies!), move every eight years and of course, don’t fall in love. Apparently, this is the one thing guaranteed to drive you insane (I wholeheartedly concur).

It would be easy for me to dismiss this book out of hand if it turned out to be just another story of love defying all odds and impossibilities. Its not that; rather, the reader is allowed to go on a journey as Tom discovers the difference between existing and living. I think that this, this moment in time, is the perfect time for me to read this book.

You see I think it throws everyone off their game, turning 30 and realising that you’ve become a full-fledged adult with 3 decades of experience behind you. Being 30 comes with expectations, the word marriage is mentioned much more often (along with children, babies, etc). We spend so much our time thinking of, planning for and worrying about the future.

Its the same thing with dwelling on the past; there’s never any point in being stuck on the mistakes and the what if’s but we do it anyway, when in fact the only thing you should be doing about the past is learning from it. I think this is what Tom came to realise in this book. The secret to enjoying life is in enjoying the process; its the journey, not the destination after all.

For all its faults (that ending was a bit abrupt and tidy), the book is incredibly poignant. It reminds us that to live in fear is not to live at all. It tells us that things are going to happen that we won’t be able to control but just like a surfer, you should just be able to ride out the waves.

Everything is going to be all right. Or if not, everything is going to be, so let’s not worry.

As many of you know, I am a little bit obsessed with the concept of destiny and seemingly random moments that turn out to be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. So yeah, I found myself relating to this book and nodding along to Tom’s internal monologues. It can seem a bit much, but stick with it and you can see kernels of truth of like this one:

That’s the thing with time, isn’t it? It’s not all the same. Some days – some years – some decades are empty. There is nothing to them. Its just flat water. And then you come across a year, or even a day, or an afternoon. And it is everything. It is the whole thing.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. When I look back on the past 5 or 6 years of my life, its not the big moments that I relive when I need a good memory. Its the many small moments that I didn’t think amounted to anything at the time. I wish I was better at taking photos or that I had time to write about even the mundane things, because someday when time has passed me by these are the memories I’d fight to keep.

And lastly, just to get out of the depressing mood of that last paragraph, I think Matt Haig makes a case in point of what I’ve come to believe is a universal truth: the present is vastly underrated. We don’t appreciate the present until it becomes the past. What is so wrong with us that we can’t seem to just live in the moment? Life is far too short to be stressed all the time. Someone please remind me of this the next time I moan about being stressed!

I won’t tell you if Tom discovers the secret to stopping time, I’ll leave you to read that for yourself. But in a book with so many quotable quotes, I’d like to end with the one that really spoke to me:

If only we could find a way to stop time. That’s what we need to work on. You know, for when a moment of happiness floats along…

We so very rarely get true moments of happiness. When you do, hold on to it and enjoy it. That’s my secret for stopping time, anyway.

Posted in family, Filipino, relationships

Goodbye, Lolo.

Yesterday was the 3rd death anniversary of my grandfather. I remember so distinctly the moment I found out that he had passed away. I was on leave from London for the first time since getting my work permit. My father’s side of the family was having a reunion in one of the beach resorts in Cebu and we had just finished a scrumptious breakfast buffet.

I was trying to burn a few calories by doing my own version of swimming in the ocean (I can’t swim to save my life) when my uncle hailed us to come back to shore. I thought he was telling us we needed to check out soonish, but then he said that my grandfather (Lolo) had died that morning.

I went up to our suite to find my mother barely keeping it together. Being the eldest child, I knew I had to travel with them back to Samar (another island in the Philippines) so we can lay my Lolo to rest. I had a moment of self-absorption to be honest, because I had my holiday all planned out and that changed everything. But all my plans paled in comparison to the fact that my mum needed my support.

I did not have a great relationship with my grandfather. Because they live in such a remote area of the country I rarely had time to visit them when I started college. I was also quite a spoiled, judgmental teenager who could not wait to go back to the city every time we visited.

His drinking, and the attitude that came with it, really rubbed me the wrong way. I think I was 16 when I first started making it clear that I did not approve of it and I started to pull away. I might, in a fit of adolescent tantrum, have even said all this to his face.

I didn’t realise the value of family until I was much older and living in a city where I didn’t have them. Its only now that I know enough to be ashamed of my actions and to regret never cultivating a better relationship with my Lolo.

When I was 16 all I could see was the drinking and the person he became when he was drunk; I’d forgotten about how, when we were younger and could visit for much longer, he would make every effort to make sure we enjoyed our stay.

He’d catch fish for us, slaughter his chicken and pigs for us (sorry, I know this is crude), introduce us to everyone in the small town and tell everyone how smart we were; he’d sing karaoke with us, take us swimming in the nearby river and watch out for us. Back when we were young and able to appreciate the simple things in life more, we were able to appreciate him more.

My brother and sister were better with him than I was. You see, I went through a phase when I was so full of my own hubris that I thought I was better than everyone else. I had a holier-than-thou attitude that makes me cringe when I think about it now. London has been good for me in so many ways and in a way, living independently has made me more grounded and more appreciative of my family.

I never got to say goodbye. I thought I would have more time. We always think we have more time until we don’t. I can’t even remember when I saw him last (it must have been in 2011 shortly before I left the country), what I said, whether I was able to say I loved him or able to apologise for my shitty attitude towards him growing up, or to tell him that I understand about the drinking.

I visited his grave with my mum, my sister and my aunt and uncle yesterday. We organised a mass for him and said our prayers. It was raining and I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes but I was determined not to complain and to see it through. We then visited our grandma afterwards and we sat around while my uncle reminisced about his last day. It was a sort of catharsis for them all to relive it and to be relieved that he went so peacefully.

He inspired devotion in his children, despite everything. I’m sure they also found him challenging but they loved him so much that they’d travel from afar every year, even after his death, just to visit. He took care of them and made sure that they had good lives and a good future. That’s the minimum that you can ask of a parent and I’ve seen enough of the world to know that not everyone is so lucky.

He was a good man.

There’s no one on earth who can say that they’ve lived a life with no regrets; this is one of mine. I can’t go back and change the past but I can be better and do right by my remaining family in the future.

I think this is one of the reasons why I’m home this month rather than off exploring the world. You never really know how much time you have with the people you love. With my sister also home on leave, we’re a complete family for the first time in 3 years. That’s more important to me than climbing Machu Pichu.

Its ironic but I don’t actually come from a family where its easy to express words of affection. Words are wind anyway, its our actions that speak volumes. I will try to be a better person than I was to my grandfather but I also just wanted to write this blog as a love letter to tell him the things I never said and to say goodbye.

Rest in peace, Lolo.

Posted in Books, Reviews, romance

Book Review – A Man Called Ove

In 2009, Disney Pixar’s ‘Up‘ was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award. Before this film, there had only been one other animated feature nominated in this category (Beauty and The Beast). I was one of the millions and millions of people who watched this film, and I still hold the opinion that that Best Picture nod owes itself to the first 5 minutes of the movie, the most gut-wrenching, heart-stabbing, tear-inducing 5 minutes I’ve ever experienced while watching a cartoon.

A Man Called Ove will draw the inevitable comparison to Up because they have pretty similar themes and messages. For example, both will make you think about the things that we lost in the name of progress.

You see, I think that while the world has gone forward in leaps and bounds in many respects, we’ve also lost some of the essence of what it means to really value our relationships with other people.

We see other people as dispensable: if we lose one friend there’s always another follower on social media to ease the sting; not happy with the guy you’re currently dating, well, moving on to the next guy is as easy as swiping right with your index finger.

Reading this book gave me all sorts of feels. I mean, let’s start with the fact that it was exceptionally written. It was funny in a way that didn’t take away from the importance of the message it was trying to impart; it was emotional without being heavy-handed; the darker undertones were well-balanced with the lighter moments. Like a metaphor for life, it had its ups and downs, good times and bad times, the tragedy of loss offset by the many small moments that make life worth living. I absolutely loved every single minute of it.

Ove is a throwback to the days where, if something’s broken, you fix it rather than replacing it. He’s simple, straightforward and rule-abiding. He thinks that there should be a place for everything and everything in its place. He doesn’t talk much but he makes sure that when he does that it makes an impact. People think that Ove is bitter and taciturn, but he is one of the most caring and endearing characters that I’ve ever read about in my life.

Above all, Ove is loyal. He is loyal to the people who has somehow wormed their way into his life even as he tried to drive them away. He is loyal to his friends even when he’s feuding heavily with them. He’s loyal to stray cats even as they muck up his daily routines. Most of all, he is loyal to the love of his life, the one person that he would walk through hell for: his wife, Sonja.

This book is about a lot of things: friendship, finding your place in the world and finding a reason to live again. But at the heart of it, its about the love that one person is capable of feeling for another. I stumbled upon this book at a time when I needed a reminder of the kind of love that is worth waiting for.

In this age of Tinder, Bumble, match.,com etc., we need a little of reminder of what love and romance mean. Other people hear romantic and think unrealistic. But romantic to me has never been about the grand gestures; its not the Christian Grey hearts and flowers with a little BDSM version either.

Romantic for me is what Ove had with Sonja: constancy, stability, the kind of love where one would spend hours on a train going in the wrong direction just so he can listen to a girl talk about her favourite books.

Romantic is being there when their noses are runny with the flu; its being there to hold their hand and hug them through the failures and popping open the champagne through the triumphs. Its just about being there, really.

Ove says that every person needs to know what they’re fighting for. I would fight for that kind of love, that kind of relationship. I can only hope to find someone worthy of that kind of bond and I can only pray that I am also worth the kind of love and commitment that I’m looking for.

I didn’t expect a love story when I started this book, but in a nutshell that’s what this is: a love story of Ove and the people whose lives he has touched. Thank you, Frederick Backman, for this amazing book. I love it so much that I’m making another blog post about it. Click on the tag Ove to check out the other life lessons I learned from this gem of a book.

5 out of 5 stars! Get the book from Amazon by clicking on the image below.

Posted in Careers, friendship, relationships

How To Face “Challenging Behaviours”

In my 30 years of existence, I have inevitably come across people who are mental – excuse me – I mean, challenging. Before I moved to the UK, I used to be what is popularly called a doormat. It seemed my personal goal in life is to please people, no matter how many times I’ve been told that its impossible to please everyone. I had an intrinsic fear of authority figures and my first instinct when I’m told to do something is to say yes. Whenever I’d get shouted at or told off, even by my one of my personal friends, I would be the first to back down, give in and/or apologise.

As the line from Wicked says, we are “led to those who helps us most to grow, if we let them“, so I suppose there’s a reason why October has been absolutely  rubbish for me in terms of my interactions with other people. I have had enough confrontations in October to last me a lifetime. It has not been particularly pleasant, BUT, looking back its been a real learning experience. I think I can now write the following tips with some authority. I’m hoping to avoid any conflicts this month (and for the foreseeable future, obviously) but hey, if more conflicts come my way I’ll soon be a subject matter expert. Anyway, here’s some of the things that I’ve learned to do when coming across bullies. 


1. Present Reality
I am of the opinion that most bullies are delusional, in the sense that they think its all about them. This whole “me, me, me” attitude is what makes them bullies in the first place and they are unable to look beyond their own narrow perspective to the bigger picture. 
I find that when facing people with this attitude it works to bring them back to reality and make them aware of everything and everyone else that’s involved in the situation. 


2. Acknowledge Their Feelings (as well as your own)
Look, we all have bad days. And when someone you normally get on with becomes confrontational, there’s usually a good reason. Also, they usually have a point even if that point has been communicated in less than desirable ways.

It always pays to be humble enough to acknowledge your part in the conflict, or to acknowledge that the other person is entitled to be mad or upset while still making the point that there is no call for rude behaviour. 


3. Don’t Make It About You
I think sometimes the issue is bigger than the both of you (or how many other people there are involved in a confrontation) so after you’ve acknowledged your feelings, move on to the bigger picture. Yes, your feelings have been hurt but don’t let that overshadow any bigger issues at hand. If you make it all about you, you’re no different from the bullies whose behaviours you’re trying to challenge. 


4.  Make Use of A Mediator
Its rather presumptuous of me to make this list because I have been known to make confrontations worse by saying the wrong things or just plain giving in. So if you’re like me, the obvious thing to do would be to phone a friend and have someone there who’s not involved and who can remain calm and who can defuse a situation when the shouting (inevitably) commences. Make sure this someone has a level head on their shoulder and maybe a good right hook in case physical violence ensues. Lol


6. Remain Calm

Again, I am so bad at this. As most of my followers know, I tend to be dramatic (understatement). I hate the fact that I also tend to tear up when I’m really angry. 

However, most of my friends are men. I work in a speciality that’s about 80% male and men do not respond well to tears. They’re either afraid or contemptuous of it. I feel like I lose all their respect when I cry because they think I’m using the sympathy card. So no, getting emotional helps no one. Remain calm and get through a difficult conversation with your composure – and dignity – relatively intact. You can find a nice toilet stall to bawl your eyes out later, after all is said and done.


7. Don’t Burn Your Bridges
Look, no one likes to lose friends. Most of the time you get into fights with people that you actually give a shit for, and their friendship is worth saving. I think its why you’ve fought in the first place, because you actually give a toss about each other. 

Its the same with work colleagues. I’m not saying you want to remain friends with them but like it or not, you’ll have to work with them at some point in the future in a professional capacity. So if issues can be resolved without completely damaging the relationship, that’s the best outcome to aim for. 


8. Speak up. Stand Up For Yourself. 
All of the preceding points don’t matter if you don’t speak up when you feel you’re being wronged. Its difficult to be the one to rock the boat, but like I said these past couple of weeks, sometimes one must show that one is not pleased. I’m a pretty easygoing person, I don’t have a lot of pride and I have a pretty strong tolerance for bullshit BUT when I do lose my patience…it ain’t gonna be pretty.

You’ll never change things if you keep quiet. You’re not gonna get the help you need if you don’t tell someone that something’s wrong or that you’re not happy. So if you’re faced with challenging behaviours, challenge them. Confront them. Do not suffer abuse – or bullies – gladly. You (and I) deserve better. 

Happy weekend everyone! X 

Posted in dating, Feminism, relationships

Of Retinal Detachments (Maybe!) and Late Night Realisations 

It was the middle of the night and I was caught in a rather strange dream about two of my workmates when my sister suddenly barged into my room, frightened, because she had a sudden blurring of vision on one eye. Being a nurse aaaaand somewhat of a hypochondriac my brain automatically goes to the worst case scenario. Some people would probably think its nothing, but I immediately think retinal detachment, macular degeneration and oh God, let’s go to the A and E.

It made me think about the other times that my sister would come barging into my room with one form of complaint or another, whether its the fact that we’ve suddenly lost the wifi or something more serious like when the time she had severe abdominal pain (and we really HAD to go to the A and E because her pain tolerance is minimal to the point of nonexistence). She comes in expecting me to be the mature adult when I really have no idea what I’m doing half the time. Its funny because really, between the two of us my sister would probably be considered more mature but when it comes to acting quickly in a crisis, I’m your girl. 

My brain doesn’t believe in wasting time. It will automatically go into problem solving mode and switch from ‘Houston we have a problem‘ to ‘okay, what can we do?’. That’s not to say I’m fearless; in fact, I’m probably scared shitless the whole time. But the way I deal with fear is to eliminate the source as quickly as possible and most of the time fear comes with the unknown. So no matter how bad it might be, I would always search for answers and the root cause of the problem so I can go about looking for solutions. I’ve never really thought about it, but I suppose this is one of my greatest strengths.

Its also incredibly exhausting.

And when Arlene came into my room that night, I found myself wishing there was someone else with me to support me for a change, someone I can rely on and count on, even if its just someone who will call an Uber whil I deal with my sister. I am usually the first person to bolster someone who’s feeling lonely and afraid because they’re single. I am probably the poster child for single adulthood because I can say with all honesty that I’ve never felt like there was something missing in my life just because I don’t have a boyfriend/partner/husband. It would certainly be nice, but its not something I would force or rush into just for the sake of it. Its too important a life decision to treat impulsively.

But that feeling of wanting someone as a partner came over me suddenly that night, I have to say. Not to use as a crutch, but like I said, it would be nice to have a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold as I face life’s many inevitable problems. Its the kind of feeling that probably means my online dating presence will be much more rampant in the coming days.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that while I’m generally a very strong person, it would be nice not to have to be strong all the time, to trust someone enough to let go of the reins and to be able to cede control of my life to another person for a few moments, trusting that they’ll act in my best interests and that when I’ve recharged they’ll hand it over to me, and I will be all the better for it. To me, that’s what being in a relationship means and if that’s what’s waiting for me at the end of all this dating palaver, I will gladly go on Tinder and whatever other online dating app there is. 

I talk to the universe and God less and less about my love life because I think they have other more important things to worry about but just in case they’re in the middle of a break and have 3 seconda to spare, this is me asking nicely for them to give a girl a break, enough is enough, maybe its my turn to win the relationship lottery huh? Its been a long time coming. 

Posted in dating, london, relationships

Seventeen Thoughts That Run Through Your (or MY) Head on A First Date

I have been called a serial first dater so many times. Dating for me is like one of those things that I need to tick off on my yearly to do list, like: travel ✔️try a new workout ✔️lose a few kilos ✔️ go on a date ✔️✔️

As I always explain when people ask me why I’m single, I don’t necessarily feel like I’m somehow less just because I’m not one half of a couple. I do my own thing and live my life the way I want it to, not as society expects me to. But every now and again I do feel like it would be nice to have someone to share these experiences with and so commences my annual dating bonanza, a series of first dates that never really lead anywhere.

I think bad dates are a universal experience. I certainly have my share of stories to tell but apart from the initial apprehension, I do enjoy meeting and getting to know someone. Here are some of the thoughts that inevitably run through my head on a first date:

  1. Oh God, what am I going to wear?
  2. Hair up or hair down? Hair up makes me look more chic but hair down hides the fact that my face is as big as the moon. What to do, what to do?
  3. Am I wearing too much perfume?
  4. God, let this case finish early so I can get out of the hospital with enough time to freshen up.
  5. Why why why did I schedule a date on a work night?!
  6. Damn, I should have taken the tube instead of the bus.
  7. Please Lord, let him look better than he does in the photos.
  8. Oh, and please don’t let him be a psycho.
  9. Okay, he’s attractive enough. I can work with this.
  10. Hmm, has a sense of humour. Great.
  11. Would it look bad if I get another glass of wine?
  12. Why do first dates in this country mean just drinks? I’m really hungry and could do with some food.
  13. Pace yourself, anj. You know you have to drink water in between liquor so that you don’t get too drunk.
  14. This date is going better than I thought it would.
  15. Yes, there is definite second date potential here.
  16. Ah, the goodnight kiss.

And depending on how well number 16 went….
17. Please let him text me. I really like this guy.
Hahahahahahaha

I don’t know why I constantly find myself on a first date situation. It would be nice to try a long-term thing for a change but I’ve come to accept that if its not in the cards for me, I’m gonna have to learn to deal with it. The one thing I don’t want is to feel pressured to settle just because society dictates that women have to be married at a certain age. Don’t ever settle, people. The kind of love we’re all looking for is worth the effort, the wait and the endless first dates.

Posted in Books, relationships, Reviews, Women's literature

Book Review: The Robber Bride and the world’s fascination with infidelity

An abundance of mistresses…

What is this fascination we have with infidelity? We gossip about it over morning coffee, talk about this person’s marital woes over a glass of wine after work and discuss the nuances of a failing relationship over supper. For those of us who’ve never experienced being cheated on, we think we have the right to criticise or pass judgment. Those who are seemingly secure in the strength of their own relationships even condescend to give advice about how to keep your partner happy. Others have the audacity to say ‘leave him’ as if its as simple as returning an unwanted Christmas present.

Shortly before I left the Philippines to come to the UK, infidelity seemed to be the most popular subject in my country’s entertainment industry. Movies with titles like ‘The Mistress‘, ‘The Other Woman’, ‘No Other Woman’ and television series like ‘The Legal Wife’ were all the rage back then. The public lapped it up; it was the topic of many a Facebook posts and internet memes, lines were quoted and the inevitable confrontation – and ensuing hair pulling and inconsolable crying – drew a million viewers, myself among them. I remember a couple of year ago, a movie called ‘Etiquette for Mistresses’ came out and the hue and cry along the 7,107 island of the Philippines could be heard all the way to Europe. Critics claimed that it glorified cheating; its a movie that suggests to idealistic little girls that being a mistress is glamorous and fun, something to be considered as a lifestyle choice, like choosing to be a vegetarian.

 

SERIOUSLY. SERIOUSLY?!

Intelligent women degrading themselves into this role. And for what? The illusion of love. Love is not love if you can’t shout it out from the rooftops. What is the point of love if you can’t be there for another person because you’ve even relegated to some sordid background role where you can only care for the person in secret? I can hardly claim to be an expert on relationships. And I always think it doesn’t do to air your lofty views because you never really know how you’re going to respond to temptation until it actually comes your way, and you don’t want to be known as a hypocrite after. But I’d like to think that if I were ever in a situation where I was seriously tempted, I would find the self-respect to say no. Because I respect myself and my fellow woman far too much to ever be a mistress.

Zenia: The Robber Bride AKA The Anti-Mistress

The Robber Bride is the last of the trio of Margaret Atwood books that I’m reading and reviewing. Out of the lot, I found this the hardest to read, digest and make sense of.41y7iBx7i2L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Ros, Charis and Tony all had one thing in common: at one point in their lives they’ve been brought to the lowest of lows because of Zenia, this fascinating creature whose primary talent was to draw men into her company; to tempt and seduce them until they succumb to her charms. She wants what she can’t have. actually no, that’s not accurate. There is nothing that she can’t have. It would be more apt to say that she wants what she doesn’t have and when she inevitably gets it, she despises it. So she seduces these men, sucks their souls dry and then leaves them when she tires of them. And they’re left in a daze, wondering what happened, a broken shell, a pale shadow of the men they used to be.

When I read a book, I feel so much sympathy for the main characters that sometimes their pain becomes my pain. I knew going in that this book would be about cheating, so I was already in tenterhooks, waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for the inevitable infidelity committed by these women’s husbands/partners. And when it does, I do feel so sorry for them.But I have to admit I also feel enraged. Enraged that they would tolerate it; that they would condemn the deed and the other woman but forgive their husbands. I think Zenia is right. Towards the end of the book, she tells Ros that she should put more responsibility on her husband’s shoulders because at the end of the day, its not about what Ros or Zenia did or didn’t do: her husband did exactly what HE wanted to do. Its so easy to blame the other woman, but actually as cliche as it is, it DOES take two to tango.

I think Tony really captured the essence of what Ms. Atwood wants us to feel when we read this book, especially for us women (I reckon men would be a bit frightened of this one). As much as you want to hate Zenia (and you do, she’s a conniving little viper), you also want to cheer her on for having the balls to take on the men of this world and beat them at their own game. She calls no man her master, she gets what she wants from them and they can’t hurt her. To a wife, someone who is always burdened by the weight of expectations that come with that role, that must seem exhilarating.

It also seems incredibly lonely.

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with the feeling that I’m missing out on something by continuing to pursue my independence and not seriously thinking about settling down with someone. It might be nice to come home to someone and to have a partner in all my endeavours. But do I really know what that means or am I still looking through rose-coloured glasses? Am I really ready for that level of commitment to another person? I’d like to think so. But I’m afraid that I’m probably a little like Zenia myself, going after what I want (though I’ve yet to be a home wrecker lol) and to hell with the people who judge my choices.

Goodbye Ms. Atwood

Its been a real eye-opener, reading all these books about women and feminism. I think Margaret Atwood really is one of the premier author of women’s literature, and there’s a lot we can learn from her books. They tend to be long and sometimes overly descriptive; I’m sure I could have done without all the descriptions of foliage, scenery or the really wonky spiritual metaphors that just went over my head. She also has this habit of digressing and writing a whole paragraph about something that I thought did not contribute to the story at all. But then, maybe the whole paragraph was a metaphor for something the character was going through and I’m too shallow to see it. I don’t know.

But when you get to the heart of the story, when she starts weaving the tales of these women, its transcendental. This isn’t light summer reading; she’s one of those authors whose books  you read, put down and digest, maybe read something fluffy in between chapters, and then read again. You won’t finish it in one sitting and neither should you, because you will need time to understand the implications. But give it a chance, do not DNF her books. Forgive the metaphors. Its worth it.

 

 

Posted in friendship, LGBT, relationships

Love Wins: A Love Letter to Damier

Dear Damier,

Here  we are, one week before you finally marry the love of your life. 5 years ago when we first met, you seemed so sure that you would never get to this stage. You never thought you’d find the person that you’d plan a future with, that you’d share the rest of your life with. I’m so happy that this is one of those times when I can prove you wrong, because you have found HIM.

I remember when same-sex marriage was approved in the States last year; I immediately thought of you, although its been legal in the UK for a while. I always say that I can’t imagine a world where you don’t get to be your fabulous self. I can’t imagine a world where someone gets to decide who you can or can’t have feelings for. I can’t imagine that someone would think you’re somehow less of a man just because you happen to be in love with another man. They don’t know your courage, your generosity, everything that you’ve sacrificed, how hard you’ve worked to provide for your family. You are more than a man than most of the men I know. You just also happen to be good at shopping and putting on make-up for me. :p

You’ve always been my number one fan, and you know I’ve always been yours. Without you, I wouldn’t be the confident and empowered person that I am. You’ve always encouraged me to avoid setting limits for myself when it comes to my physical attributes, because that’s always been one of my biggest insecurities. But you’ve taught me to break through those barriers. In return, I am telling you now that I will fight to the death to make sure no one ever sets barriers for you. You can do anything daim, and we’ll be there to cheer you on all the way. I cannot wait for you to reach this milestone in your life, I just know that you are going to make the best husband. Tom is a lucky guy and he knows it. 🙂

I’m not going to get too sappy; I’ll save that for the wedding. I just didn’t want to end the night and not say how happy I am for you, and how much I think you deserve every happiness that comes your way. Happy Hen-Tag buang! I hope you enjoyed your Butler in The Buff. I’ll see you at the wedding. Xx