2015/16

I got up at seven in the morning, an hour after my intended wake up time, grabbed my phone and went to the bathroom. I turned on the shower to jump start the hot water, sat on the shitter and checked my Facebook feed. When the water was hot enough to fog up my bathroom mirrors, I turned on Spotify on my phone, searched for the Spring Awakening soundtrack and hit Play. I did a quick look at my PayPal account to confirm I did transfer funds to my friend Harry who got us Spring Awakening tickets for the day before. I was obviously still riding a musical high from the Sunday matinee.

I woke up Andy as I was choosing which shirt to wear and picking up socks and underwear from the bedroom. I turned on the kitchen lights and dimmed the bedroom lights using my phone and then checked what the weather is going to be like for the day. An alert on my phone showed some train issues on the 7, so I begrudgingly decided to switch to a bus when I reach Queensboro.

The commute to work was uneventful. Listened to a few YouTube clips, continued on with Spotify. My iPad’s podcast app has been shitty lately, on my out of the door as I was refreshing my podcasts, it froze and rebooted – so I switched to my phone in the mean as it loaded, and it usually takes a while.

I got off on Greenpoint and Manhattan Avenues, visited a 7-Eleven. I showed my app that tracks how often I buy coffee – on the seventh visit, you get a free cup and I’m three stars away.

Despite the cold, I stepped out for lunch and went to my usual Thai spot. On my way back to the office, passed by KeyFood and tried using my phone to pay for my purchases. Worked like a charm.

I’m hours away from six o’clock, but I already know I’m going to need hot coffee on my way home. Starbucks has this app that has a way of ordering ahead of time, that way you show up at a Starbucks, skip the line and pick up your coffee. I’ll check my phone and check waiting times for a bus to Queensboro Plaza, or a train to Court Square – and depending on how long the wait it, I may also consider to use Uber and have a car pick me up and take me home without having to pull out my wallet to pay for my ride.

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably continue to surprise myself every now and then – but technology is amazing. I feel like we are living in the future. If I wasn’t so chicken shit, I can probably leave all my bank and credit cards, and cash home and go head out just armed with my phone and my Metrocard.

—***—

I had my share of concerts the past year. I have a rather simple mind – if I like the artist, I’d go.

The year started well when my best friend Ryan took me to a Lea Salonga concert for my birthday. We saw her many times before in Cafe Carlyle, and during her return in Les Miserables as Fantine. Lea never lets me down – and there’s not much frills in her shows, just her singing and talking. No dance productions, no light shows. I ended the year seeing Lea again in Allegiance. It was my gift for mom for her birthday, and she just wanted to see Lea live. True to form, mom’s first words when Lea came out on stage was “Tumaba si Lea (Lea has gone fat)”. Lea did a few dances too, which I myself was surprised. After a dance about playing baseball, Lea and the company did a fake baseball throw, and then my mom told me “Tamo, hingal na si Lea eh (Look at that, Lea is breathing heavily)”.

My friend Colter introduced me to The Mowgli’s months before he and his now husband decided to go back to Arizona. He made me search them in Spotify and I was surprised when I enjoyed the positive vibes they give off. For the most part, I enjoy listening to singer-songwriters who sing about broken hearts. I got us tickets to see them in The Bowery and fell in love with band. There are some bands and artists that you just have to see live and The Mowgli’s is one of them.

 

I saw Pentatonix twice this year, and also once late 2014. I saw Imagine Dragons in Barcaly’s. Saw Jay Brannan again in Joe’s Pub. I was also invited to join by the same folk I go with to see Pentatonix to see Ellie Goulding.

But my big three, plus one bonus, didn’t happen until towards the end of the year. And I know they are my “big” ones because I hardly have any pictures of these concerts – I paid way too much attention to singing along, dancing along, or just plain staring at the stage while occasionally grabbing my boyfriend’s hand and crushing it.

I saw Metric twice in 2015. Once when they opened for Imagine Dragons. But the second time was more special because I distinctly remember receiving their e-mail about starting a European tour for the new album, checking the dates, and giving off a quiet yelp when I saw that they will perform in Paris exactly on the same day I fly to France. I basically lost my shit and just bought the tickets without asking for my boyfriend’s approval. To make it more exciting, when we got to the venue, we were told that we have to pick up our tickets from some music store chain, and the closest one was half an hour away via subway. I had no problem playing the I’m-a-stupid-American card and practically begged to see a venue manager, clutching on to my e-mail, the credit card I used to make my ticket purchase and my passport. Some guy on a walkie talkie let us in and I saw relief in my boyfriend’s eyes. I really think he thought I was going to go postal.

On a sad note, less than a month after, the very same venue we saw Metric, Le Bataclan, was one of the sites terrorists attacked in November 2015.

Every year, Aimee Mann and a bunch of her friends host a Christmas show and every since I found out about it, I either forget and miss it, or hear about it too late and the event sells out. But 2015 was different, I lucked out and got tickets. And as an added bonus, Mann brought along Liz fucking Phair. I never felt so lucky.

Fun night 🙂

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But the biggest event for me for 2015 was the twentieth anniversary of Garbage’s first album. And Garbage decided to do a tour. I put on my imaginary pink feather boa, hopped on a train to Brooklyn, and just sung and danced for the next hour or so. Bow down to me.

Twenty years ago, I fell in love with a lil band called @garbage. Finally seeing them live.

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—***—

I didn’t do much travelling for 2015, but when I did, I went all out.

Celebrated my birthday in Boston. My boyfriend Andy was there for a convention, with our friend Matt. I actually spent most of the day by myself, discovering Boston’s horrendous subway systems and great art museums. It was not the worse birthday.

I cashed in on a holiday party gift and went to the company cottage in Nantucket. Nantucket was never in the radar, but I was glad I got to spend a weekend in this former whaling island. It was gorgeous despite the bad weather.

A week after, my boyfriend and I went to Europe. First was to Paris, followed by a quick trip to London. It’s a lot to write about Paris. I find it hard to believe sometimes that I’ve been there. It was beautiful. The food was great. The people was lovely. And that tower. And that museum. It was just too much for one me. And I definitely want to go back. Same with London. We visited and stayed with family while we were in the UK. We saw the Stonehenge. I saw one of the original copies of the Magna Carta. I realized how much i really do love old cities. It’s a sentiment I feel about cities like Boston or Philadelphia. But these cities are babies compared to the centuries old cities of Paris and London.

I ended the year with a trip with my best friend for her birthday. We love going away together, and it doesn’t happen as often as I want to. This time, we went to Orlando and had silly unbridled fun in Universal Studios. I fucking rode the train to Hogwarts.

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—***—

2015 was good year. 2015 was a shitty year. Every January, I look back at the previous year and pretty much always come up to the same conclusion: It was a good year riddled with shitty moments. And my hopes is it always stays that way, instead of having a shitty year with good moments.

fkenpmaes

 

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Stop Calling My Name

I was walking back to the house, carrying my baby brother Marty. Earlier, I was watching my siblings play by a now dry creek. When I was younger, I remember being too scared to wander off by myself because I was always told of stories of bears and mountain lions that roam the hills. I also remember stories about duendes and water spirits, who would sit on the fence posts, luring children towards the river. I knew the kids would be fine, I just felt more comfortable watching over them as my dad and step-mom prepare dinner.

I was walking back to the house because I heard my father calling out my name. “Kiko, Kiko-man,” he said. I rounded up my little troopers, counted three little heads plus Marty in my arms. We headed back to the house, and marched up the kitchen. The kids sprawled on the living room floor, tired from running around the creek. Dad turned around and smiled. I asked what he needed. He gave me a puzzled look and asked “What do you mean?”

“You called,” I replied.

“No I didn’t,” he said, and turned back his attention on starting a fire in the old iron stove.

***

I had a bad habit of sleeping in on weekends. It was my second year in college, and I was still trying to get used to in my new school. I just transferred from a state university and now was in a Catholic college. The transition was hard.

My room did not get any sunlight. It used to be a huge kitchen that my mom decided to partition to have an extra room so I wouldn’t have to use the bedroom upstairs. It was the family ancestral house that Mom decided to take care of after selling our place in the city, and I was scared sleeping upstairs by myself. Silly, I know, but the house was older than me, it was where my grandfather lived and he passed away even before my mom got married to my dad. I usually imagine his ghost walking around this house, and him seeing me and wondering who I was and why was I in his room.

My room does has a window – it was just really an opening so you could get some air. The opening lead to an outside kitchen that lead to a bamboo thicket. Stories were told of how the natives would run through this area and head towards the river trying to get away from the Japanese soldiers that once occupied the town. History painted a bloody picture of the grassland behind our house. I never stepped my foot out there.

My mom has a bad habit of leaving her keys behind. She would usually go behind the house, and yell out and would ask to open the front door for her. It was a Saturday afternoon and I was napping the day away. I heard footsteps in the backyard. Footfalls on dried leaves. “Kix!” Mom yelled. “Ugh, she forgot her keys again,” I thought.

I begrudgingly got up and opened the front door. I dragged my feet back to bed. Minutes passed by. I thought Mom should have walked in by now. Maybe she shopped and she was grabbing the bags from the car. Maybe she needed help with the grocery.

I got up and walked to the front door. Mom wasn’t there.

I walked backed in and put on my shoes. I left the house and hopped on a jeepney heading towards my grandmother’s place.

Maybe she needed the company.

I Have a Confession

Been dating the same guy for over six years now and moving in together is one big issue we have talking about more seriously recently. It’s really late by “normal” standards. If we were any other couple, we’d be living together by now, either married or already on the second child, if not both. But we are taking things slow mainly because my boyfriend has issues at home he has to smooth out first and once things are okay, we can consider moving in. So basically I’m waiting on him, the ball is on his court. For now.

***

Ever since I moved here in New York late 2005, I’ve had the same roommate. Things are not only doing well between us, but they’re going so great that even despite getting married and having a child, we still live together. She found us the perfect place in Queens – three bedrooms, two on one side, and across is her room. We never had issues about food, money, cleanliness, noise or having people over. This is probably the best situation I could ask for, especially when I first moved here, completely broke and unemployed.
I pay for two rooms because half the year, my mom is in town. She needs to be here to keep her green card status. But the first sign of snow, she packs and bails and stay in the Philippines with my grandmother so she can stay warm. The room becomes available and if my roomie has visitors, or if her mom visits, she can use the spare room. It’s a system that works, and I really don’t want to mess with it.

***

When the time comes that my boyfriend is ready to move in with me, we would need to start looking for a place. Luckily, we are both employed – we can pretty much afford a place in the city. But between us, I am probably the cheap one. Even if we can afford it, I really don’t like the idea of putting all our income towards rent. It sounds stupid. Ideally, a two bedroom in Astoria or Williamsburg would be great. It’s close enough to the city. And if we decide to have kids, both our moms would be close enough to come over and baby sit, but still not too far that they would have to sleep over.
That means I would have to break this nice relationship I have with my roommate. Luckily, she knows a lot of people – she can find someone who’d want my room right away.
I’d like to think my mom would still want to keep that extra room. I honestly don’t mind paying for the rent, and it’s nice that she’ll be with people I know and trust.

***

So here’s the confession: once the ball is on my court, I know how ready I would be by then.

Nana’s Gone

Nana passed away last night.

Well, she’s not “nana” in that sense. She used to be dad’s neighbor back in Colorado City. They literally shared a wall. But that’s not all they shared.

She was very close to my family. She introduced my dad as her brother. It’s her on going joke. “This is my brother Fred. I know, we don’t look the same, but my mother doesn’t want to talk about it.”

I didn’t get the chance to see her often. But when I do, it’s always fun. She’d tell me crazy stories of her hay days. She was an accountant like me, but a fun accountant. We had talks about finding a difference of $1.80 in our books, and knew it a transpose error somewhere, and we’d laugh knowing no one else would understand what that meant. She would show me her tattoos and I’d she her mine. I once saw her passport. It was green. A diplomat’s passport. I still haven’t figured that out but this is one of the reasons why I’ve always thought she was cool.

I know she lived a full life. She did what she wanted. She corrected any mistakes she may have done along the way. One of her final acts was getting in touch with someone she needed to make amends with. She took off and came back happy.

And now, she left us. And she left us happy.

Getting Old and Growing Up

Just saw a recent episode of New Girl. Early on the episode, Nick was talking to a homeless guy (not the first time he did this) looking for advice about making decisions as a grown up. He just lost his father and felt that everything can be taken away from you unexpectedly, and that he worries about his relationship with roommate Jess.

I thought, “Grow up, Nick.”

— — —

I’m still conflicted about my boyfriend’s dad passing away. Passing away – I hate that term. Sounds like he just happen to be in the area, walking from point A to Point B, and he just passed by me. But in this case, he did. I saw tears, grief, mourning during the wake – and I honestly felt sad. I don’t know if it’s because I felt bad for everyone there, the same way I felt sad when I saw A Walk to Remember, the same way I cry over sad movies. I don’t know if it’s because I felt bad for my boyfriend and his siblings, and being sad is the only closest I could feel to losing a parent since I’ve never lost one and I can’t find anything to compare it with. Maybe I just felt sad because I don’t know my boyfriend’s dad, and now I never will.

I don’t know what my boyfriend is going through. I feel helpless because there’s nothing I can offer to help. I do not have the tools for this. But in a very selfish way, he does not know what I’m going through either. He’s mourning because he lost something he had. I’m mourning for something I’ll never know.

— — —

I had cousins come over from Toronto and had a good time taking them around the city. Granted that it’s the most tourist-y areas in the city, I know by the abundance of pictures they took that they enjoyed the lights of Times Square and the view in Battery Park. Also introduced them to halal street meat, also known as heaven in a styro plate. Pictures were uploaded on Facebook, and I gleefully viewed every single one of them.

My favorite one was of my mom when she was visiting them the week before. She was surrounded by her “grandkids” – my cousins’ children, none of them older than ten. She looked very happy.

— — —

My body is killing me. I must have slept in an awkward angle because the muscles over my right shoulder blade are together in deciding I should be in physical pain for the length of whatever time frame they agree on. I had a massage to loosen them up, and I did get some relief that lasted the duration of the massage. It’s been a few days and the pain is slowly going away, but it is still uncomfortable to sit up straight.

Nothing is sexier than the red bear prints tattooed on my back next to Salonpas heating patches and smelling like a hospice.

— — —

I’m worried I’m getting old too fast. I’m worried my dad will be taken away from me unexpectedly. I’m worried my mom would be too old to play with my non-existent child. I’m worried my shoulder and back would be too frail for me to hold up a child.

And I thought, “Grow up, Ken.”

Day 3: Seven Days Until Thirty-Two

Will be turning 32 soon and for the next seven days leading up to my birthday, I’m going to try to write down any lessons I may have learned from the past year when I was 31.

The past year was great for traveling. I traveled to see family, I traveled with my love, and traveled with my closest friend.

I’ve said it before and will probably say it again – had I had more money, I’ll probably travel more. And if you think about it, the only expensive purchases would be the plane ticket and the hotel – everything else can be on the cheap. Food doesn’t have to be expensive to be good, and how much shirts that say “I’ve been to blank and all I got was this lousy shirt”? All you need to do is make memories and maybe take pictures to keep as a reminder of the good times.

I haven’t done any traveling this year but two are already planned – a Hawaii trip to attend my aunt’s wedding and to be followed shortly, if not directly, of my brother’s graduation in Colorado. No other plans, but DC is close, and Philly even closer. There’s Boston and maybe even Montreal. I can always go to these nearby cities on a whim 🙂

New Orleans with my bestie Ryan. I was probably drunk when this picture was taken.

Philippines trip – saw my closest buddies from college. We went to a karaoke place. I did not sing.

My boyfriend Andy wanted to see some video game exhibit in DC. So we went.

Saint Louis trip – it was really fun. This was taken in the Bud brewery. We saw those horses in the Super Bowl commercial with Stevie Nicks singing Landslide.

Thanksgiving in Colorado. The three craziest of the Maes brood is in this picture.

My cousin from Kansas asked me to be her son’s godfather. I said yes and went to San Francisco first. Sounds very logical to me.

This Girl Gets It.

Penny Gets Lucky

Dad:

I’ve had some time to think about the things you said to me, the day I told you I was bisexual. I’ve thought about what it means, and what you believe, and where I fit into that picture. I’ve come to a decision.

I assume by now you’ve shared the news with Mom, if not my sisters. (One already knows, I talked to her privately.) I don’t mind if you have, or if you choose to in the future. It’s not something I particularly need kept secret. In fact, that’s kind of the point.

I’m not writing this to disprove your religious beliefs, nor to tell you you’re wrong for believing them. My intent is not to break your faith in any way. However, in order to state my message clearly, there is something I need you to understand: I do not believe in your God. I do not…

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