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Life Update: Or, Coming Closer and Farther Away

This post is mostly for my own peace of mind, but if you care in any measure, then I guess this is for you, too.

First thing’s first: I lost my passport in Chicago on the day I was about to go back to the Philippines last January. So, I feel like that’s sort of like a sign, but more of like a forcible action from God or the universe or something to make me stay put. For the moment, anyway.

I’ve written a little bit about August in Berlin (though I have way more things to say…) and Prague, but since those last updates, I have also gone to Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Sydney, Coron, and a few states in the U.S. It’s been a little hectic, but you know. I’m going to seize every damn opportunity. I can’t afford not to. My lost passport says otherwise, obviously, but there you go.

Copenhagen was really beautiful. I’ve dreamt about going there since 2006 (because of a World Expo booth and some short films, full disclosure), and it felt serendipitous that I got to do that ten years later. Again, a sign! I wrote something about the stupid frakking anxiety that literally¹ gripped me somewhere else, but yeah. I began this particular trip in Berlin and Billund, and could not shake away my weird bout of anxiety until the tail-end of it, when I got to Amsterdam—about five-ish weeks later.


A Real Struggle™ in Amaliehaven

Still, I had a lot of beautiful moments in Copenhagen (I saw Mitski!), and I think it’s amazing that I got to spend my birthday here. Predictably, it was the only day it rained in the entire two weeks I was traveling by myself. I spent about eight nights there (I had planned on stopping by Sweden for a while, but again—anxiety) and mostly walked to the places I wanted to see, and while that takes a little longer than taking public transport, it really made me appreciate the quiet and the city and how these things make me feel.


On my first full day there, I went to a museum an hour-long train ride away from Copenhagen, and got to look out Nivå Bugt, which is a bay that separates Denmark and Sweden. The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is so beautiful; I wish I had gone back, even though it’s a pretty small museum. The place itself was magical.

My next and last stop was Amsterdam, which had always been on my places to see again, after a short visit in 2012 made a very strong impression on me. By which I mean, I fell in love with it. It remains to be my favorite place, which is probably a little weird and unexciting since the things I like about it are very vanilla. The moment my plane touched the tarmac, I honest-to-God felt a wave of calm wash over me. So, you know, again—a sign.


Sarie joined me for about two days! She took a short side trip after a most amazing time in Berlin, before she headed back to London. We went to the northern part of Amsterdam, which was cool, and somewhere I think I wouldn’t have gone to had I been alone the entire time.


A few weeks after I got back, I spent a few days in Coron, Palawan with my best friends, Isa and Barby. It was pretty amazing; we went to see lots of small islands, lagoons, and a lake by boat. My favorite stop was probably the Hidden Lagoon. It doesn’t seem like a popular spot, so it was nice and quiet, and saltwater meets with freshwater there, so the water was brackish and pretty cool to experience. We went during a particularly stormy season, and actually ended up stranded there for an extra night, but it was really lucky for us to have been able to go out at all on the boat to look around.

In November, I flew to Sydney to watch Julien Baker play in a small bar. This seemed like a no-brainer to me, since I didn’t want to see her during a festival, and also I hadn’t been to Sydney, where my friend, Tata, and her husband, Kris (who I guess is also now my friend!), just moved to. So, I asked if I could crash with them (aka, no need to look for a hotel/hostel/Airbnb). My mom’s brother and his family lived in New South Wales, too, so I figured I’d go visit them.



Anyway, if you follow me on any other online platform, you’d know how big a deal this trip was, since I got to actually frakking meet Julien Baker for a piece on CNN Philippines Life. Predictably, she was the sweetest and kindest person, who articulated thoughtful and honest answers and who even invited me to have dinner with them next door (it was American Thanksgiving) because she knew I was staying for the show, and she thought I was alone. Like, what kind of angel on earth.

Tata and Kris watched the last date with me (I managed to catch the first night, too!) and now, we are all in love with her. My Sydney trip gave me a lot of separation anxiety re: Tata and Kris, let me tell you.

And I have more to say about Julien Baker—PREDICTABLY—so I’ll have to write, like, a completely different post on it. Especially because of the next part—

Two months later, I get the opportunity to go on a press trip to New York. Details on it are still under wraps, but I thought that I would extend for about two weeks, so I could go around New York City, and revisit Chicago (which was one of my favorite rediscoveries in 2014) since I had wanted to go back there anyway, because Julien Baker was opening for Ben Gibbard.


You know how I feel about Julien Baker, and this is how I feel about Ben Gibbard and Death Cab for Cutie. Again—a sign. I found out about these Chicago shows in October, but really resisted booking plane tickets (even though I whined about it a lot to many different people), so this press trip, even though it was extremely short notice, really made me feel like I had to go. I just had to. I had to!


It was good that I did, since they ended up playing “Photobooth” together.


way too happy about snow

Long story short, I went to both show dates (briefly considered going to the Pabst Theatre one in Milwaukee, because I’m me) and ended up losing my passport in between going in for the show on the 20th and leaving the show for my hotel. I was supposed to fly out on the very early morning of the 21st, but then the passport thing happened. Which, gave me a lot of grief at the time, but now that I’m home, I have, of course, resigned to my fate.

On the upside, I was able to join the Women’s March in Chicago, which turned out to be so huge that there wasn’t really a route left to march on, since people had already occupied that space. It had felt strange to be there for the inauguration, because in many ways, it felt like what I had gone through for our own administration transition, but that’s a different story, I guess, that I’m not even sure I want to tell.

On the even higher upside, all of these trips, whether or not I was in some sort of mishap or not, made me realize how blessed I really am to have so many kind and gracious and amazing people I have in my life. I’m going to be writing about these things, in detail (again, because I’m me!), but that is the gist of most things that’s been happening to me since late September.


I don’t feel quite at home at home, yet, but I do know that I have so many things I owe people, even outside my job (which has been incredible and, again, gracious, to me). But yes, I suppose the “fight,” for the lack of a better word, goes on and on and on, over here.

———
Title is from Lucy Dacus’ beautiful song, “Map on a Wall”:

¹ I, too, am a pedant, so I’m here to tell you that both uses of “literally” are now acceptable.

Casual Consumption No. 15

The last C.C. was written in May! I’ve casually consumed so many things since then. We had a different president then? I’m a little alarmed? But also not? Ahem.

To be honest, this blog’s categories and series don’t really mean anything anymore, but I wanted to talk about some of my current obsessions. Even though it says “casual,” but um. Like I said, these don’t mean anything anymore. Go out of the box, etc. etc.

Also, I’m not going to backtrack… that’s not a smart thing 2 do.

Books

My reading took a little ride in the backseat in January, since I was did a lot of traveling and moving around. And basically, I have found it really hard to focus on fiction, specifically, if I can’t really sit down and spend time on it. And also, if I’m trying to maximize my vacation days while working on the side.

The books I did manage to finish in January are Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Clothing of Books (technically an essay, and read as per Aldrin’s recommendation), Vivek Shraya’s even this page is white (poetry, as recommended by Leena), and Stephen Collins’ The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil (graphic novel, as recommended by Sanne, a long time ago).

Fun (I guess? Maybe?) notes on the books:

  • I was reading The Clothing of Books next to a girl reading Emma Cline’s The Girls (also on my list) on my flight from Newark to Chicago, and the flight attendant was like, “I love her! Is that new?” etc. and then proceeded to tell my seatmate that she didn’t enjoy/get The Girls, right as she was in the middle of it, lmao. I don’t know why I found that funny, but I do. Anyway, the book is great. 10/10 can relate, as both a book fiend and book cover fiend.
  • even this page was white, I saw at a bookstore in Chicago called Volumes, which also has a cafe. Essentially, I finished reading it there as I was passing the time before going to the Ben Gibbard/Julien Baker show. It’s quite good and deals primarily with racism and colonialism in Canada, but also in what I think is an intersectional way.
  • The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil was waiting for me when I finally made it home—I had ordered it before I left for the States. It’s very delightful and you’re endeared by it… even as you realize how sad it’s continuously getting as you read on. Beautiful art, and who can deny the pleasure of The Bangles?

Currently, I’m still in the middle of a couple of books from last year—bad habit, I know!—as well as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Melissa Broder’s So Sad Today, and Michael Heald’s Goodbye to the Nervous Apprehension, which I got at a BEAUTIFUL bookstore in Chicago called Quimby’s.

Films

For 2017, I’ve only seen 3 films so far, and that is only because I forced myself to watch them in-flight instead of just sleeping all the way through. I managed to watch Kubo and the Two Strings (which I think I would have appreciated more had I seen it on the big screen), The Secret Life of Pets (which was cute enough, I guess! But I kept imagining the voice actors for some reason), and on the way back home, Kimi no Na Wa, WHICH WAS ABSOLUTELY CAPTIVATING? It was so charming and funny and sad. And like Tara said, if you think about the mechanics of it too much, the story will fall apart (which is my biggest issue with time travel and like, the disruption of existing timelines), but even then, it’s so good.

So, yes, I suppose I did just see cartoons this year.

Television

Um, yikes. I had to catch up with so much TV when I got home, so. I suppose I’ll just talk about my notables, and leave the bad choices buried in my shame. Just kidding. Sort of.

So, I’ve been surprisingly really enjoying this season’s Teen Wolf, for some reason? I would still like a bit more Scott, but I think after the (what felt like) extended Dread Doctors storyline, I was desperate for a change of setting, haha. I love the investigation into the power of memory, too, and how that tether sort of connects us all so strongly.


(gif from here)

I’m also really enjoying Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is honestly the biggest surprise for me, in general. It ticks off most of the boxes of things I’d be annoyed with, but I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, since Rachel Bloom made Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury. Supergirl has been a really feel-good series that I’ve been keeping close to my heart, especially with their, dare I say, masterful way of dealing with Alex Danvers’ coming out.

Other TV I’ve been watching: Timeless (enjoying, but again—time travel issues! The good thing is that the characters aware of the issues that meddling brings about, it seems like), Riverdale (extremely surprised by how much I enjoyed the pilot. Betty Cooper, especially, was a delight to see), A Series of Unfortunate Events (I’m still mad about Neil Patrick Harris, barf), America’s Next Top Model (really enjoying, sue me), The Magicians (enjoying with some trepidation! Also, I forgot how intense the last two episodes of the first season were), and Orange is the New Black (catching up, because reasons, and enjoying immensely).

Music

Mostly still Julien Baker, but also a lot of Lucy Dacus! I don’t think I’ve mentioned her on here, but barring Julien’s Sprained Ankle (technically a 2015 release), Lucy Dacus’ No Burden was my favorite album of 2016.

Beauty Stuff

I experienced my first winter! My moisturizers onhand did a surprisingly good job: Aesop Camellia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream and & Other Stories Cashmere Hydrating Cream. And a big (huge!) round of applause for the Nuxe Rêve de Miel for keeping my lips from splitting. Mostly just used & Other Stories Cheek and Lip Tint in Swayback Plum and an eyeshadow by MAKE for my brows. And didn’t bother with much else for the majority of the trip. I was so happy with my moisturizer, I think??

Websites, etc.

A handful of websites I’ve been enjoying: The Establishment, Femsplain, Hooligan Mag, and Matter, among others.

That’s all for now. See you in six months, haha.

Capsule Reviews No. 7

Hoping to finish these posts before the year ends! I’ve reached the halfway mark, so I’m a little happy about that!

MAY (PART 2)

For the first half of May Reads, please refer to this post.

19— After Eden by Arnold Arre *

I lent someone in high school my original copy of After Eden and never saw it again, but that this graphic novel presented to me the idea of love—the purest, realest love—remained with me for years. So, I was excited to learn about its reissue, jumping on the chance to acquire it again and read it. Arre admits to some rewrites, to better fit his worldview, etc. since the book had existed for so long. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite hold up to the version I’ve long kept in my head. I don’t know if it’s the changes, or if it’s just a simple case of me outgrowing it, but After Eden felt infinitely more special the first time I read it. Without my original copy, I can’t compare or track the changes, but I suppose part of me will always think of how much this book meant to me the first time I met it.

20— Saga: Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan

As it turns out, I’m shit at keeping up with ongoing comic book series, but Saga is just one of those stories that you can’t quite leave behind, even after forgetting about it for a while, in between waiting for issues. Though it happens in a highly fantastical world—it is a space opera after all—Saga, through the eyes of Marko, Alana, and the rest of the cast of characters, takes on deeply compelling issues that touch on some aspects of today’s socio-political climate, especially with regards to racial differences, as well as the looming threats of war on micro and macro levels. Compiling issues 31 to 36, Saga’s sixth volume inches towards the broken family’s reunion, and even more challenges up ahead for them.

Poems & perfume / 🍃 clean, sopy scent by @radioactivemushroomsitf — #CarinaReads2016

A photo posted by Carina Santos (@presidents) on

21– Come Close by Sappho

Mainly a short volume of beautiful poetry. The homoerotic nature of Sappho’s poetry has been consistently contested, but the way devotion and desire were shaped in this collection, no matter how short, is gorgeous and luscious.

22— Episodes with Wayne Thiebaud

I loved this book, though I took quite a leisurely stroll through it. If you have vague knowledge of Wayne Thiebaud, you probably know him for his cakes—the same way one might know Pollock for his action paintings, Koons for his balloon dogs, da Vinci for the Mona Lisa, and Warhol for Marilyn or the Campbell’s soup cans—but Thiebaud is quietly prolific, and unabashed in the way he works and approaches art, which mostly is concerned with experiments and learning, rather than proving oneself in terms of whether or not one’s art is real. Over a series of interviews and/or conversations with Wayne Thiebaud, Thiebaud reveals that he spends no time on questions about the validity of his art. Instead, he spends time answering his own questions about art that are concerned with things like light and shadow.

JUNE

23— Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

I spent (most) of this book listening to Aziz Ansari read it out to me. I’m a fan of Parks and Recreation, so the lilt of his voice is familiar to me. I feel like, even without the aid of the visual graphics on print versions that are unavailable to the audiobook, his narration lent a lot of character to the book. I appreciated how well-researched it was, abut it left me super exhausted at the thought of dating in the modern love. I have decided that I do want love (in a very specific way, I think), but having all of this data read out to me by Tom Haverford made me question if it was worth the trouble. The data doesn’t really give me a definitive answer (just a sneak preview of tiredness)—but Mitski says it is—and to be honest, I’d listen to her over any sort of research, any day.

JULY (PART 1)

24— Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan

Another offering by BKV, and one I keep tabs on, too. Jonty gave me a signed copy of the first issue, and I’m so happy with how well the story is and has been progressing. If you’re not familiar, it’s an adventure/fantasy/friendship story set between the ’80s and the future, and features honest-to-God paper girls and some type of alien–time-travel mystery and drama.

25— The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

I’d been waiting for this book for a long time before I finally got it. My Book Depository shipment got lost and they couldn’t send a new one to me because they had no more stock left, so I had to wait for it to go on paperback, then it shipped out in a Balikbayan box that took forever to get here. Even with all that time, I mostly went into it blindly. I loved the honesty of it, but I was a little unprepared for the discussion of parenthood, even moreso than when I realized that a bulk of the thoughts concerned gender. Overall lovely book with exquisite writing all the same.

Saturday ☁️📚🖊 catching up! — #CarinaReads2016

A photo posted by Carina Santos (@presidents) on

26— A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

This took me a long time to read, and while I appreciate it—especially because of when Woolf thought these thoughts and penned these words—but I really got stuck with it at some point.

27— The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist Volume 1

Such a great volume of spin-off work for fans of Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (my favorite book!). Not quite an extension of the lives of Joe and Sam, but a great glimpse of “their work” on the novel’s fictional superhero, the Escapist.

🍋 From "The Happy Film" by Stefan Sagmeister — #carinareads2016 #Books

A photo posted by Carina Santos (@presidents) on

28— The Happy Film by Stefan Sagmeister

I don’t think I’ve ever gotten over my dream of being Stefan Sagmeister. Endlessly inspiring person and work.

——
* re-read

The Sunday Currently Vol. 34

I haven’t done this in a while, since I haven’t had a lot of time or motivation to finish uploading all the backed up posts I’ve wanted to do (which I know I shouldn’t be pressured to put up, and I’m not—hello, Taiwan visit 1 and visit 2, you are still nowhere to be found—but some part of me feels like I have to go through the year’s “planned posts” in chronological order and this is likely going to be the death of this blog; kidding), and so I haven’t been posting at all. But anyway, just so it’s not all backlog, and because there are just times when the mood strikes you to just write out current goings on, instead of waiting for other things to get sorted out before you catch up to the present day. Or something.

Anyway, it’s not that deep. Here is a list of current things.

Reading

I’m trying to read through the books I started this year (or at least the ones I did, towards the end of the year) and currently, I’m in the middle of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit, and The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren by Cody Wagner.

If I finish these in a “timely manner,” I’m hoping to get started on a couple of titles in time for Holiday Booktubeathon. I have also finished my 2016 reading goal, so I’m taking it easy right now, with the books, though, again, I would like to finish the three ones mentioned, at least, before the year ends.

Writing

Not writing anything currently, but I’ve been wanting to write a lot more investigative or research-based pieces. I don’t know. I feel like I want to tell better stories… or tell stories better. You know.

Listening

Currently in the middle of writing out my Top 10 albums of 2016, and I’ve filled in about 7 spots, so I’ve been going back to albums I listened to a bit in the year, too, like Bon Iver’s 22, A Million, to see if they fit my Top 10. I don’t know if that’s weird, but there you go. Listened to Touché Amoré’s Stage Four last night, too.

Watching

Just finished catching up with Teen Wolf (surprisingly invested this season) and Younger, which I have been enjoying immensely.

I also just finished watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story twice in a span of 24 hours (IMAX Midnight Screening and office blocked screening!) and I am very, very emotional about it.

Thinking

“This year is about to end!”/”This year can’t end fast enough!”

Smelling

Nothing, my nose is being a bitch.

Wishing

I had enough money for my love language to be me giving people gifts. I’m too poor for that, and yet.

Hoping

Something comes up so that I can fly to Chicago/Milwaukee and watch Ben Gibbard play with Julien Baker. Because of course I want to cease existing.

Wearing

Clean clothes, despite opting out of a shower for the last two days. Don’t worry, I will get around to it tonight.

Loving

Getting super into my planning system for next year. I’ve narrowed it down to something I’m comfortable (ish?) with, and just to divulge my EDC (or Everyday Carry), it’s going to be the Hobonichi Techo (A6) and a Field Notes insert. I’m going to have a bunch of other planners/notebooks for projects or specific notes. I mean, let’s see how long this lasts, but I’m pretty happy at the moment.

Wanting

Clarity… and a new pair of the navy gumsole Vans I left behind in Copenhagen because they had been too tattered and hole-y to keep bothering with.

My shoes are breaking, 5 days into my trip 😓 — #📍carina

A photo posted by Carina Santos (@presidents) on

Needing

To stick to my guns, etc. I’ve been very waffle-y lately.

Feeling

Very, very defeated, but we soldier on.

Clicking

Mitski by Jenny Zhang at Yours Truly

The Sunday Currently was originally created by SiddaThornton

Capsule Reviews No. 6: April and May (Pt. 1) 2016

What a long and boring title. I’m a little behind in… well, a lot of things. But I’d like to think it’s because I’ve been concerned with a bunch of other “more interesting” things. This, post, for example, I had planned to post about a month prior to today. And here we are. To be fair, I have gone to another continent (and it’s something I’m still not quite over!) and have been working, etc. And also, I should have posted this earlier than a month ago, anyway.

APRIL

In April, I read four fairly short books, and my memory’s a little fuzzy, but I’ll try to talk a little bit about them. Like, oh, I don’t know, a capsule review. Ahem.

07— The Guardians by Sarah Manguso

I guess I had an inexplicable urge to buy all of Manguso’s books that I didn’t already have? I only had Siste Viator, Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape, and The Captain Lands in Paradise at that point. This is the first nonfiction book of hers I was able to read in its entirety. It’s poetic in its (seeming) pointlessness, where Manguso attempts to solve the death of her friend, trying to fill in the hours between he was last scene and what appears to be a suicide-like departure, despite not being a witness and not having any clues. Read More