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 🙂

A post shared by F Ken P Maes (@fkenpmaes) on

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.

A post shared by F Ken P Maes (@fkenpmaes) on

—***—

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.

A post shared by F Ken P Maes (@fkenpmaes) on

—***—

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

 

It Finally Happened – We Parted Ways

My boyfriend Andy and I have been together for over seven years now. We’ve been living together for almost a year and we are in heavy talks about getting a puppy. We have gone through a bunch of arguments like most people in long term relationships. I often joke about him hitting me one of these days, and I probably deserve it if that ever happens (it won’t). And we are still together and I’m sure there will be bumps and obstacles in the future but I’d like to think both of us are committed enough to know to never let go.

That being said, be it known that it would have been easier to break up with my love than what I recently did – I let go of my BlackBerry.

It was August of 2006 when I first got a BlackBerry. It was Pearl. It was stupid. I never believed in cases to protect my phone, so I’d slip my Pearl in my pockets where it would collect lint that would get stuck in the Pearl’s button.

BlackBerry Pearl

BlackBerry Pearl

The QWERTY keyboard was also horrible. There was a very steep learning curve from your typical phone back then, when you have to press the number two three times to get to the letter C.

But it was my introduction to smart phones, and it was a good introduction. I heavily relied on e-mails then – I just moved to New York from Colorado, and from the Philippines before that, most of my contacts are easily in touch with me via e-mail.

I moved from the Pearl around the same time I met my boyfriend in 2008. We were both utilizing the BlackBerry Curve. He was probably my only BlackBerry Messenger contact I regularly talk to.

BlackBerry Curve

BlackBerry Curve

It was a great phone. Full keyboard was great! But it still had a pesky trackball but was a novel idea at first, but I had the same issue with lint getting into the trackball and getting it stuck. Fortunately, the company moved away from the trackball and moved to a trackpad. I did not use this device much for e-mail anymore though it’s e-mail push technology was still great. Facebook was existent by then and it was and still what I use to get in touch with friends who are not in the same time zone as I am.

I never left the brand. The Curve was replaced by the full touchscreen with a keyboard Bold, and even after the complete operating system overhaul, I stayed with BlackBerry and got myself a Z10 which is basically BlackBerry’s iPhone. I did miss the keyboard which is why when Passport came out, I was one of the tens if not hundreds who bought it. It was silly, huge, bulky, but I totally loved it. I even got a leather case for it that was ridiculously expensive and was handmade.

BlackBerry Bold

BlackBerry Bold

BlackBerry Z10

BlackBerry Z10

BlackBerry Passport

BlackBerry Passport

After the Passport, there were rumors that BlackBerry will be designing an Android phone. And that was the final straw for me. I stayed with these line of devices mainly for the physical keyboard and its operating system. Yes, the OS did not get much love from app developers. But I had Facebook, Twitter and a few apps here and there and I was fine with that. One of my favorite adage was BlackBerry is not a toy, it’s a tool. I did not care if I can’t play Angry Birds on my BlackBerry. I purchased an iPod specifically for the “fun” part of technology and kept my BlackBerry for more serious matters like work e-mails and a decent LinkedIn account. With BlackBerry making devices powered by Android, then might as well switch to an Android phone.

And I did. And it was rough. I remember purchasing it on a Wednesday. I remember it was a Wednesday because I have a standing Wednesday night drinks with two of my close friends. We met at Lillie’s in Union Square and had nachos and three bottles of wine. I was laughing, drinking, munching on greasy nachos but my mind was pre-occupied by the fact that on the table, was a Samsung S6 Edge phone, and not my Passport that also acts as a coaster occasionally, if not most of the times.

It’s been roughly two weeks since I made the switch. My boyfriend got the exact same model I got but he got it in black. Mine was white because between us, I;m the fucking angel. Call me silly but I mourn over this. I feel like I lost something and it is so stupid to feel this sad about it. I have said before that I know how to hold a grudge, and I guess it’s also true with regards to things I hold dear. I maybe just a sentimental fool who does not know how to let go.

Forty Days and 40 Nights

Updates during Lent

I moved to the US around July 2002, which makes 40 Days and 40 Nights probably one of the movies I last saw in the Philippines. IMDB says about the movie:

After a brutal breakup, a young man vows to stay celibate during the 40 days of Lent, but finds the girl of his dreams and is unable to do anything about it.

I can totally relate to that. Except I didn’t have a break. And the young man is youngish. I wasn’t celibate. And change “girl” to “iPod”.

For Lent this year, I gave up my iPod. I’m almost positive this is not the first time I’ve done it. But I have the newest iPod at the moment, with a camera and can do Instagram, and has Vine. It’s harder to let go of this iPod, and I find myself constantly looking for WiFi hotspots when I’m out ad about the city. Also, I discovered podcasts, and I’ve spent hours and hours of listening to comedians talk about mundane everyday stuff, of catching up with the news by watching Rachel Maddow’s previous night’s episode that I can never catch live on tv, of being mesmerized by Ira Glass’ voice. I know they are hungry kids in Africa, and somebody is probably being molested at this very moment, but I am not thinking of either when I say I don’t think I can’t live with my iPod and giving it up for forty days and forty nights is probably gonna be hard. But I did it, come Ash Wednesday morning, I got a cross on my forehead and I turned off my iPod.

I use my iPod primarily for tuning out everyone for my 45-minute commute in the subway. It’s a good way to remove yourself from the time and space continuum – swipe your Metrocard, hop on the M or the R train, drown myself to a podcast, then POOF, it’s been 45 minutes and it’s time to get off the train. Without it, I had no idea how to kill time in the train.

I ended up reading for the most of the time. I really can’t read and listen to my iPod, so the intellectual hobby of reading was let go in favor of chatter of funny people. And I realized how much I do love reading. I used to say I love bookstores and libraries because it’s filled with knowledge I do not know and ideas I’ve never thought of, and I like physical books bound in paper and I like surrounding myself in my room with them because these are the tangible evidence of the knowledge I do know and ideas I have thought of. Luckily, I have a mom and a dad that are both readers.

So here I am now, Easter morning, roughly six weeks after I washed the ash off my forehead – I turned on my iPod and was inundated with software and app updates. I clicked Update All, grabbed my phone and fired up my Kindle app and continued reading The Shining which I am reading for the first time.

How to Make French Toast Using Your Smartphone, Your Tablet and the Internet

I recently visited my friend Rey and his wife Charmaine in Saint Louis and one morning, we decided to have breakfast in a French restaurant. Charmaine was craving for french toast, which was not on the menu. The chef and owner of the restaurant, who happens to be French, told our server that french toast is not actually a French dish, the same way french fries is not originally French.

Fast forward to one month later, Saturday morning, and I’m craving french toast. But I don’t know how to make them. I’ve seen my mom cook the dish, but I didn’t exactly hung around to watch the whole process. I was more excited about sitting down and inhaling my mom’s cooking.

I figured it can’t be that hard to make french toast. It’s 2012, everything can be found in the internet. My dad was active in the Navy when I was growing up, so I turn to my father figure: Martha Stewart. She of course, had a recipe for french toast. She had eighteen of them. I picked one with apples.

I use an app called Evernote. It’s amazing. I downloaded the app on several devices I have: my iPod, my Blackberry and my PlayBook. I copied and pasted Stewart’s recipe to the online Evernote app. Put on a baseball cap and head out to the local grocery. On my way, I checked my Blackberry and synced Evernote – the recipe is now on my phone.

I now know what exactly I need to buy in the grocery. Grabbed half a dozen of eggs, a loaf of bread and a few apples and headed back home.

I prepared the kitchen to cook and grabbed my PlayBook. Fired up the Evernote app and basically had a “cookbook” by my stove so I can follow along the instructions while I cook.

Isn’t technology amazing? So was my french toast.