Music, Personal, Travel
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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.