Living on Chinese Lumpia and Yakult

I can’t believe it has been a year since I started working. 

In one year, I have paid for my own things and learned a lot in the process of saving my resources. From my earnings, which isn’t much, I have learned a lot about grocery shopping. My choices are mostly defined by the prices, secondary is my brand preference, third comes my need for the item.

At this point, I realized that there’s a lot I don’t need nor want any longer.

Food is one thing. I can go with very little food. It’s not like I can eat anything I want anyway. Just give me a banana and I’m good to go.

Some nights I have to buy dinner. My go-to place is The Little Store on Gilmore. I get Chinese lumpia (meat free!) for P100. That’s about two cups of veggies packed into a roll. I get my fiber without spiking my blood sugar. There’s a lady staff member, Leslie, who knows exactly how I like my lumpia. NO GARLIC. I go easy on the sauce of course. This place is also where I get almond milk cheaper than at the major supermarkets.

On my weekly stops at the pharmacy, I also get a pack of Yakult. It feels more like preserving part of my childhood more than my daily intake of probiotics. My gut stays healthy (as it claims to help with) and I get to be a child for a moment, enjoying a tiny bottle of happiness.

I wrote this post because I had lumpia again.  Not that I mind. ♦

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Business Terms Make My Head Hurt

I just spent a few minutes reading about real estate investment trusts, exchange-traded funds, market volatility, and all kinds of securities. It was a bad idea to just cram information from Investopedia all in one sitting. I need some water and a Tylenol now.

It’s because of my job. I’ve been working as an indexer. Not any close to my preferred profession, but it’s better than nothing while we wait for our big move to the province. Every day I read, analyze, index. Read. Analyze. Index. Mundane as hell, but I go home smarter, although  overwhelmed with all the knowledge.

Sometimes I get to work on business articles and personal finance advice. I like reading about personal finance because it’s just what I need. I’m a taxpayer now. “Adulting” as you would say nowadays. I don’t complain or dread about the “real world” that older adults scare/inform me about. In fact, I wish to know.

This job made me experience the economic empowerment that I hoped for. I can buy my own medicine and healthy pantry staples. I can even pay for my own Grab rides. The nice thing about my list of needs is that it has a set of fixed prices for every item. Unless inflation kicks in or something, the cost of everything I need is easily computed per month.

That’s just at a personal spending level. I want to know how to properly handle my finances. I already know how to save, then I eventually learned how to manage my budget. Now I’m thinking long term. What to do with money, how to manage properties and assets, how to invest, and if I ever make it, a retirement plan. I believe we need to know these things no matter how much we earn.

As I write this, I am reminded of my grandfather. He taught me something about wants and needs. Relating to World War II when the Japanese invaded the Philippines, my grandfather and his family lived on scarce resources. He said that when he looked back, he survived without any luxuries. The principle of saving applied to anything that was useful at the time. People also had to find ways to amuse themselves, and my grandfather told me he would play card games or smoke cigars if they had any. He concluded, “If you can live without it, then you don’t need it.”

I agree, Lolo. I don’t have much, but I’m still living… in spite of this headache.

Hey, Slim!

 

Yes, I’m skinny but it is not a choice.

Ever since I lost weight, I feel like a great load has been lifted off my joints, particularly on my knees. It’s also a lot easier to get in and out of my clothes. Sometimes I still struggle with my slacks, but on good days I can manage to wear them when I have to. As strange as it sounds, the end goal of losing weight was actually to spare myself the hassle of struggling with clothing. I look like this as a result of a drastic lifestyle change that came with rheumatoid arthritis. When I think about it, I look like this not because of the conventional weight loss methods that people are familiar with.

I do not work out regularly. I used to though and certainly miss the benefits of it aside from weight loss. I miss the feeling of having a good sweat and to feel my heart pumping. Just to feel like I actually have a heart is wonderful. I also slept better back then. Now I manage my weight by doing house chores and grocery shopping. I walk every chance I get as long as my feet don’t hurt.

I do not starve myself. The starving is inevitable. It just happens sometimes. With all my body’s picky-ness and reluctance to digest gluten-containing, processed, fried foods, I’m usually left with little to no options for a meal. My mom takes great care in making my lunch for work days, making sure that it is low-fat and oil-free. Nowadays I’m more excited about being at the office because I know I won’t starve. At home, my meals are never certain. I would usually make green smoothies for dinner if I could find fresh spinach or kale. There are nights (like tonight) when the family settles for a delivery. Tonight is Pizza Hut night so that means no dinner for me. I’m used to it and I have developed a preference for not eating dinner. I don’t like having any extra carbs to keep me up especially when I have work the following day.

I am not vegan. I wish I was! The plant-based diet is the best diet for RA patients and I say this based on experience. My diet is mostly plant-based, but I still have the occasional Dilly bar from Dairy Queen or a slice of cake. Cheat days are the kind of days that make me feel normal, when I don’t have to fret about what I’m eating. Maybe I can’t be vegan after all because I can’t bear the thought of parting with Dairy Queen.

I Saw My Grandfather Again

This time I remembered he was dead.

Two nights ago, I had a dream about being picked up in a silver vehicle. Where I was or why I was being picked up, I did not know. The driver was my grandfather who had passed away seven years ago.

Whenever I dream about him, I never remember that he is actually dead. The dreams look like memories or as if he was still around, and he always looks the same, like James Stewart in Vertigo (1958). Not exactly like Jimmy, but mainly because of the same gray hair and tall stature that I first remember my grandfather having when I first met him.

That is how he looked like.

I seemed to be standing on a curb on a quiet street. It was a cloudy day and quite chilly too. I don’t remember if it resembled any actual place I’ve been too, but I do remember that there wasn’t a soul in sight. My grandfather pulled up to the curb and greeted me. I thanked for picking me up. On the way to somewhere (which I also couldn’t recall), I spotted an abandoned carousel on what looked like a cul-de-sac. It was a large carousel covered in vines. My grandfather said that there was no one there. I wanted to go see it but I figured it wouldn’t be safe. In the back of my mind, I thought of my father who was also dead.

The carousel reminded me of my father because of his favorite musical film Carousel (1956) with Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. To be brief, Carousel is a story about a tough and troubled carousel barker named Billy Bigelow. He dies, leaving behind his wife Julie and his daughter Louise. In heaven, he learns that everyone is allowed to return to earth for one day. He picks up a star to give to Louise, who is having some troubles of her own. Billy’s one day back on earth gives him a moment to be a father (although poorly executed) and makes him realize how much he truly loved Julie.

Imagine my father as Billy and me as Louise. That movie has sentimental value to us and it was just what he said he would do when the time comes. He said he would come back and give me a star.

My father isn’t there, I thought.

We drove past the abandoned carousel. I continued to wonder where he was. Moments later, that’s when I realized that in this particular dream, I was dead too.

 

Tanka & Haiku

I found my old poetry homework for English from high school.

———————————————————

TANKA

Wonderful seasons
Ever changing with our time
Seasons come and go
Summer, winter, spring, and fall
Every season has its tale

The river is life
Life that’s always on a move
A river can run
For miles and miles it will go
On a destinate path

Lovely orange leaves
Some of red and yellow too
They fall of the trees
For the time of Autumn comes
They shower us with their warmth

He was once my own
Yes, we were so much in love
We were each other’s
Until the day we parted
With him was my heart and soul

A baby is born
So soft, small, and innocent
Blessed with life and youth
For years the child shall live
Until he meets his demise

HAIKU

The kitty cat sleeps
Under the dining table
Sleeps like a baby

Fluffy are the clouds
Reminiscent of whipped cream
White and flurry peaks

There was a bunny
It knew how to sing and dance
We pranced together

A piggy back ride
I cling to my brother’s back
My arms ’round his neck

Fruits in a big bowl
I just want to eat them all
Each one a sweet treat

Career Goals: Somewhat Defined

On my last entry in 2015, I wrote about how I didn’t know what to do after college. After experiencing the actual work that goes into Journalism and Cinema, I realized that those fields are not for me.

It’s 2017 now. I am happy to say that I am graduating with honors this month. I never thought that I would be eligible to be honored Cum Laude because of the Cs (2.00) I got in PE classes. I haven’t seen my cumulative General Weighted Average (GWA) yet so I’m not sure about the final tally of my labor. Again, I go back to what I said in my last entry that grades are quantitative measures of my knowledge. I don’t know what that will do to help me in the future. For now, I just see the Latin honor and the GWA as a “wow factor” on my resume.

As the title of this entry says, I have somewhat defined what I plan to do after college. My career goal started to form a picture in my junior year when I took an interest in Research. What started out as a mere requirement for my undergraduate thesis on the representation of persons with disabilities (PWDs) turned into a genuine fascination with disability discourse and portrayals in media. Later in senior year when my group defended our thesis, I found myself speaking as an advocate for PWDs more than a college student. My mentor was right when he said that personal interest and advocacy can inspire good research because having those are motivations on their own to pursue the subject. When I got to the last semester of senior year, I had a course called Development Communication. Upon reading the syllabus, I was surprised to see that it was like what international organizations do to help developing countries. I never thought that we would tackle this in Communication so I really looked forward to it. Driven by personal interest and advocacy, I excelled in this course while others bled to survive. My professor once asked me if I was ever offended by apathetic classmates. I told her that I used to be but I knew that their apathy comes from a place of ignorance. You can’t truly care if you don’t really know.

Well, at least that’s the way I see it.

Anyway, Research and Development Communication became my favorite courses in college. Those inspired me to aim for a career in the United Nations (UN). I know that the Philippines is still far from reaching the Sustainable Development Goals but I hope that we can do something for at least one of the items on the agenda: quality education.

I dream of seeing all PWDs get access to quality education. If PWDs knew what I knew now, then perhaps that could also help get them out of the disabling environment that prevents them from developing and realizing their full potential. I also want all PWDs to become aware of their rights and privileges. Yes, charity can help but education can empower.  I believe that the whole concept of empowering  through education should involve developing their character and boosting their moral. As the UN advocates, there should be a “person first” approach in defining disability. It basically means that we should acknowledge them as persons and should not define them with their disability.

I have yet to define my specific career goal but I now I know where I want to be. For now, I hope to take languages courses and get a job at a non-profit organization after graduation. Hopefully it will lead me to the UN.

 

P.S.

Watch me face my biggest fear of public speaking by delivering the valedictory address at the 89th Commencement Exercises. I heard a rumor that it was going to be live on Facebook. God help me.