It was Matt’s birthday last Friday but because everyone’s schedules was all over, dinner was re-set for Saturday. We went to Kalye Manila, a Filipino restaurant. Matt ordered everything he wanted to eat; he had sisig, tokwa’t baboy and lechon kawali. His grandmother would’ve been horrified, but he’s 23; he could eat anything he wants and does.
I hate travelling.
Give me a good book (or Netflix), a quiet day without any commitments to work and two comforting meals (like the poached chicken above) and i’m all good. I will be restored.
Caught a slight chill in Australia with that scratchy throat and all the familiar accompanying symptoms.
Lozenges were all I could do then. When I got back, I just worked from home, made soup, avoided expending negative energy (eg. getting enraged at the news, reacting to people on social media).
And all was restored. For now at least.
I was minutes away from upgrading my Apple Series 2 watch to the 4; a stainless steel model in gold (after years of preferring silver) even if this was for the Australian market. The 4 series stainless steel Apple watch variants are not sold in New Zealand because the telcos have yet to adopt eSIM capable devices. If I bought it, the watch would have limited coverage as well as limited consumer protection guarantee if it somehow got broken but…
The meeting was delayed. I sighed, adjusting the sleeve of my knitted cashmere shirt. The stainless steel Apple watch in gold on my wrist with its matching gold Milanese loop, glinted as it caught the light. The face complication mimics that of a mechanical watch, but rendered in full digital colour and this contrast between the traditional and the new never fails to excite me…
It’s perfect I murmur to the sales-staff (a woman in her late 30s wearing horn-rimmed glasses) who knew that I was on the verge of buying it, that I was the type who bought these things. It would be my dressy watch, I had told her earlier as she nodded approvingly; and in my head, for when I get that cashmere knit, the pale tan Chinos, the navy-blue double-breasted pea-coat and suede Chelsea boots to go with it.
The enumeration of these items, of where I’d get them, of how much they’d cost, of which other item of clothing they’d match with in so many combinations felt as if I had fallen down a steep stairwell, everything a blur, a jumble of colour.
A co-worker called her to come over for a second and when she turned her back, I stood up from where I had fallen and slipped away as stealthy as a ninja and escaped.
Is it outrageous to spend over AUS$5,000 for a bag? In my mind, having already spent the same amount for a non-essential, it doesn’t seem to be.
The black Yves Saint Laurent Sac Du Jour is done in a seamless matte black leather with matching matte black hardware and padlock. The first one I had ever seen was in shiny, black croc skin which I thought was too feminine. But this one was perfect- it had heft and a structure that meant you could put in it, your grey MacBook Pro and black iPad Pro; you’d need several Classic Moleskine notebooks as well, a proper metal pen and none of those gel-inked ones that may stain the bag.
I would need ink-black Nudie jeans (a tighter, skinnier fit than the pair I already own); a black pair of Brogue boots; red plaid shirt and maybe a sleeveless puffer jacket (dark green?).
I work in a part of Auckland that Aucklanders describe as rough; but of course the standards for rough are vastly different from the standards I used to apply when I still lived in the Philippines. Rough meant that the only eating places within walking distance were a Burger King and a bakery. Rough meant that when you were waiting for the bus or caught the train that you were a bit more careful than usual about who was loitering around (like 6 foot tall teens who would steal shoes off your feet if they liked them).
Rough meant that some staff go to work in clothes I would only wear at home- not that there’s anything wrong with that.
And I take public transport- sometimes I take the train, walking along a walk-way which at night or even at noon could be trouble.
And here I was possibly walking through it with a $5K bag with $5K worth of tech inside, in $250 jeans and a $350 puffer jacket.
I put the bag down, thanked the sales assistant for her time and walked out the store.
I had to go to a bookstore, like this one
Bookstores and libraries are my safe places,
I feel reassured that somehow,
when everything has been lost, taken
by fate, or by foolish choices,
I will find myself here again.
All I have to do is look
Does walking an average of 8kms a day justify eating pizza?
I’ve discovered that sales-staff at camera shops know their stuff, like I think that some of them are actual photographers or content creators. The good thing about this is that they can point you out in the right direction in terms of what gear to get. On one hand, you’ll encounter someone so passionate about their craft that they FAIL to distinguish between their personal opinions and their duty to provide factual information and advice.
‘I never did warm up to the (Lumix) G9” I said. ‘Why??” He replied, ‘I have a G9’, his face showed slight irritation as if what I said was a personal repudiation of his own ownership of one. After a few more awkward words, he took the camera (the new Lumix S1) off my hands and I left.
Well fuck you, I thought. I may not be a completely knowledgeable photographer but I don’t sweat long hours working in a stupid camera shop and acting like a know-it-all asshole.
I don’t like my camera anymore and it’s as simple as that. Trouble is, after having spent nearly $5,000 getting my current one only a few months back, where am I gonna get another $5,000 to get a new one?
I was calm today when we went to the Queen Victoria Market. The only time I audibly gasped was when I saw a stand selling bratwurst on a good-sized baguette and with sauerkraut that reminded me of insipid atchara. I’ve been here three times so it wasn’t at all startling to see mounds of antipasto (six kinds of olive, octopus, apricot stuffed with sweetened mascarpone), french pastry, cured meats and pale-pink langoustine cooling on beds of ice. I had the bratwurst and then $10 worth of what locals call chicken ribs (which is really a chicken’s scapula, the meat on which is part of the breast) which has a bit of crispy, rendered skin and a good enough sliver of meat). And it wasn’t even 9:30am.
But I tell myself, I’m on holiday and of course, normalcy goes out the window.
And that’s good because at some point, you’d really want to go back to the normalcy of ‘normal’ food. It’s cost-effective (I got a $20 sliver of truffled manchego cheese) and healthy (the last time I had greens was four days ago). In the afternoon, rummaging through a clearance book centre I found what I thought was a good $3 deal for a cookbook or any book for that matter. Nutrient Dense Food on a Shoe-String Budget by Arabella Forge won’t win you Master Chef, but that’s the whole point of real cooking- simplicity, flavour and practicality (guess how I could buy that Gucci bumbag I’ve been eyeing? Yup, by savings from preparing basic meals, a compromise which to me, is a win-win).
Basic in this sense, means the right kind of food; unprocessed, fresh, nutritious and cheap.
Looking forward to:
Making my own DIY bacon
Shifting shopping sources to local farmer’s markets
Stricter food planning
Making natural sauces
Baked apples stuffed with mince and peas
Making kim chi
Making lemon curd cheese
Pickled salmon (yum!)
Translated, Huawei according to Wikipedia means ‘splendid act’. It can also mean ‘China is able’. So let me mash those together and say that Huawei is really ‘able to make splendid things’ like perhaps the most spectacular camera-phone ever made yet. Let’s face it- phones are now cameras in which we all communicate in visual short-hand via emojis, Instagram, Snapchat. I have always been after the perfect image, the most compelling shot and in in lieu of the written word, I take photos instead.
And so now, I carry two phones with me which is kinda stupid isn’t it?
You could repeat every line and word from the last post from Jan 11 and it would describe exactly what every week and month was since then.
Literally wash, rinse, dry, repeat. April is nearly done. I turned a year older, actual age irrelevant. Matt will be 22 in May and spends his days ordering food via Uber. Leila should’ve stayed behind in the UK. Dagupan burned in the summer-heat. Elections are coming up in the Philippines and the only reason I care is because for some strange reason, I even bothered to sign up to vote even when we know that it’s POINTLESS. When I think of it, it makes me want to vomit bile; it makes me think of horrible things I would like to do if I only had the means because the truth is this- NOTHING HAS CHANGED. What does it take to remove a mountain blocking your path? YOU BLOW IT UP (God, forgive me).
I need to put this aside because another truth is this- it’s no longer my life, even part of my family is still there; it’s no longer my reality. When I putter around the house that I bought and see a sunrise across the Pahurehure inlet where the Auckland Southern motorway runs through, it is something that absolutely does not remind me of anything of the life I left behind. It feels that I am starting again, that this is finally, the life I actually want.
Everything is both new and old. I am both old and young.
A whole work-week finally done. What did I accomplish? A lot actually. And the thing is, no matter how much I love my job or how interesting it is, I’ve never really blogged about it. It’s enough that after I clock out (while actually still doing snippets of work after work, on the weekends, on the bus, on my vacation…) there is little enough (just in my mind I believe) time or energy for personal stuff which is funny and ironical because the stuff I like to do after work is the same thing I do for work (insert that laughing emoji with tears).
But this week I managed to maintain a decent work-out routine. It helped I think that I got new shoes to motivate me (insert that laughing emoji again with the tears.)
I also got my new glasses and at the bus stop today I struggled juggling the damned things- take out the reading ones to read texts; put it back and put on the distance ones to check the bus time-table; put everything away and take out the sunnies because the bus is coming.
After having vowed never to buy Wayfarers again after having lost my fifth pair, I bought a new one (OMFG, insert that laughing emoji again with the tears ) because they were 60% off. Who can resist that tell me?
I’m not much of a fruit-person really but it’s hard to ignore fruit when they’re growing everywhere; and Kiwis don’t generally care if their yard is carpeted with fallen fruit just rotting away. So what to do with a bagful of plums from Jong’s garden and from the neighbours at Wattle Downs? Make a plum cake.
This recipe- and there are a million recipes for this cake- is from Chelsea Sugar’s Recipe Club Bake-Off winner and uses almond meal which I think gives this cake (and fig cake which I’ve done before) a lighter, airier texture which I like.
10 dark red plums
3 Tbsp white Sugar
1½ cups white Sugar (I only used 3/4 cup)
Zest of 1 orange (I didn’t have an orange so didn’t include this)
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ cup milk
1½ cups flour
1 cup ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
Icing Sugar for sprinkling
Preheat oven 180°C and grease a 26cm tin. Cut plums, discard stones and put into a bowl with 3 Tbsp sugar. Set aside.
Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs one at a time and then mix in zest and vanilla. Stir in milk, flour, almonds and baking powder.
Spread into prepared tin and then place plums over the top. Bake for 1 hour.
Sprinkle icing sugar on top when cool
I had my yearly eye-test today which is sort of confusing because it’s supposed to be every two years, but I’ve been bombarded the last couple of weeks with reminders by OPSM, the eye-glass retailer that I’ve been going to since I started wearing prescription readers, to get one and so I did.
I’ve been obsessed with getting a pair of Tom Ford readers as well and hemmed and hawed all through-out the holiday season about getting one, but the prices never really got any lower (starts at $380). And because OPSM is quite expensive, I wasn’t about to spend nearly a thousand dollars bringing in a brand they don’t carry (which they should because they carry everything else like Prada, Armani, D&G etc) on top of putting new prescription lenses on them.
But I forgot all about the Tom Fords when I went into an OPSM shop and saw the lighter RX series of prescription frames by Ray-ban and of course I just had to get a new pair; I picked this one:
I got bi-focals last year but in that space of time, my general vision has deteriorated a bit. Below is how I see things; left is without glasses on and right, with glasses. It’s even gotten to a point where I bump into door-frames, protruding open shelves, table edges and basically everything at the periphery of my unaided vision.
The good thing about eye-exams is that they can also reveal whether you’re sick of something else like glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts etc. I had none of those thank God, but my cholesterol levels needed to be checked because the eyes can show cholesterol deposits as well and surprise, I have quite a few.
But that’s life- there’s nothing you can do with normal ageing and its effects, but you can manage what you eat.
The theme for this year (and the new one) is: less carbs. Well, I’ve been doing this for decades really but I guess it hits home when you try it and seeing for yourself how dramatic the results can be as Jong has found out. We had grilled lamb, pork and chicken, a salad, shrimps. For desert, Doyet baked a cassava cake- we tried to look up Erwan Heussaff’s recipe- but with half the sugar. Over-all, the meal was satisfying and the clean-up, a breeze. Less is definitely more.
The good thing about celebrating the New Year is that it’s not burdened by sentiment- that’s reserved for Christmas. You start afresh. There’s promise of a new beginning (whether you believe in that or not). The day literally transitions from an old day to a new one- and so can you.
The worst thing you can do is to mentally believe that nothing has changed.
I like Eddie Garcia. First thing, he looks like dad. My dad was like him in so many ways except for one thing- a distrust of our very mortal bodies. This was one man who was incredibly fit and incredibly conscious of his health. If my dad had been more of the same, he would most likely be still alive today.
About fifteen years ago, I read an article about this and how he supposedly takes more than a dozen vitamins and supplements a day. I’ve done the same thing since then and never questioned the cost or the efficacy because if there’s ever a guarantee for things whose outcomes are not certain, it’s consistency.
Be consistent on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and the results would be optimal; be consistent in eating crap and sitting on your ass the whole day and well, you know how that story turns out…
What you could do today, you should do now so you could do something else tomorrow
Tiime and discipline are important
On directing and editing: be definitive on what you want
Passion is important. if you can’t find passion in your job, find something else (for nearly 70 years I continuously did movies because it was a job i really liked)
Money earned but not spent is really not your money
The reason you earn is because you want to spend it
Women should be put on a pedestal (Ryan: and pray that they’re worth it)
Cheating (when you’re in a relationship) is wasting time
Only set goals that are realistically achievable
On legacies: if you’re dead, you’re dead. Who cares if nobody remembers you?
I should be grateful and not moaning about the fact that my camera was not getting the shots I pictured in my head. My go-to answer is always- buy another one..but I won’t. Christmas done, and for New Year and my main resolution- be smarter; work and study harder. Much as I’d like to believe I’m already doing that, I’m actually not. I could do so much more- we can be so much more.
Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson is as far removed from the Christian tradition as anything. It’s a collection of short-stories linked by a troubled narrator who is an addict. In one story, the narrator hitches a ride in a car he somehow knew before-hand was going to crash- supernatural prescience? Too much drugs?
There was a time in the 90s and all the way to the early 2000s when all I looked forward to on Christmas eve was to drink alcohol at friend’s houses. I started on my street and finished off at my best friend Eric’s before staggering back home and putting out the food 30 minutes before mid-night. Things changed when we all became adults. My parents had always been a team- left to their own devices, they would have coped happily whispering sweet-nothings to each other without having to worry about keeping up tradition for their adult children. Alcohol and the company of friends made the night more bearable.
But things swung back to how they were when the kids started to come- there was Matt and several years of Christmases when all the gifts under the tree were his; then Yanna but all too briefly because Al & Binky already lived abroad; then Toni and Jay’s kids.
Christmas is really about the children, no doubt about it. When Chini grows up, I think finally, I can have that Christmas I’ve always only recently, been thinking of having- to be alone, somewhere cold (or hot it wouldn't really matter), happily coping with just memories, and drinking tons of alcohol because this time, I’m actually happy at the thought that the holidays- unburdened by glossy memories of the past- is finally mine and mine alone..(does this make sense?).
All the best meals and food items for 2018 in photos because why not- you’re a compulsive photo-taker of your food since 2003!
How can you be generous to other people when you can’t be generous to yourself? I’m still mulling over getting a pair of Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 Shield Water-Repellent running shoes but then who knows?