on creative writing

okay, so i joined a creative writing workshop last saturday. i thought it was about time i improve on my writing skills and maybe learn a trick or two on how to write creatively.

however, no tips or tricks were dispensed that day. instead, we were asked to write a letter to ourselves describing the place we live. a writing prompt that gave us 30 minutes to exercise our minds and purge out words from our pens.

i never really had any trouble writing it. just as i didn’t have any trouble defying the instructions. because while i started with “dear jan,” i followed it up with sentences and paragraphs describing a house i have not lived in for 12 years.  i don’t even know why i chose that as my subject. i guess i’ve never really been a stickler to rules.

as we were all just sitting down, it wasn’t my knees that were shaking when i read my writing out loud to an audience of strangers. it was my voice. funny how the words flowed smoothly while i was writing it but when it came to actually reading it for other people to hear, the words somehow became unreadable and all i heard was the beating of my heart clashing against my thoughts silently screaming “omigod, why did i even volunteer to read this crap?”

somebody in the group must have uttered “wow!” because that was the first thing i heard when i finished reading my last sentence which wasn’t really a sentence because it ended with a question mark. either that, or i was hallucinating. but they all thought it was really good and i was just in disbelief as i still am now. like, really?!

fiona tuomy, the coach, said it was a creative piece of work. jeff, who’s very creative himself, thought it was brilliant when i read it to him later that night. (bless him, he is such a wonderful and supportive husband.)

so now i wonder, WHAT (REALLY) IS CREATIVITY?

but more importantly, why can’t i see it in myself when i can so easily and clearly see it in others? weird.

el2 in melbourne

i excitedly called her last monday to tell her zoe and alex are still together.

“you called just to inform me that the couple you didn’t like in married at first sight are still together?” she asked in a tone that could’ve easily said, “that’s it?!”

“no. i also called to tell you that ayden and jess won in reno rumble.” i said matter-of-factly, proud to be the bearer of such good news.

in case you don’t know, married at first sight is this tv program my sister and i got hooked on, but then she had to leave for the philippines before she saw the ending. the concept of the show is kind of like couples going on a blind date; set up by a group of psychologists and dating experts who match the couples in terms of personality and compatibility. except that they don’t go out on a casual date. they get married right then and there and see how far they’d go in their relationship.

side note: yes, it’s true i didn’t really like zoe at first because she seemed so distant during her wedding. but as the show progressed, she seems like a really genuine person who doesn’t put her heart on the line straight away. she kind of reminds me of me when i first met jeff, actually. hahaha.

reno rumble, on the other hand, is a show about renovating other people’s houses. my sister loved that shit. she used to hang around on the couch waiting for the block. this one time, we were having dinner at jeff’s mom’s house and she was getting antsy. she wanted to go home as quickly as she could because it was “almost 7 o’block!” lol.  sometimes i don’t know if she was into it because of the home ideas or because she fancied some of the chippies and the tradies.

anyway, point is, i kinda miss having her around.

and i realized i still have heaps of photos of her that i have yet to post during her 2-month stay here in melbourne.

like that time i took her to flinders street station so that she, too, would experience what i felt the first time i saw the light and the busyness of the city upon exiting the station. suffice it to say that i’m the only one who ever gets emotionally poetic about these kinds of things. #loser

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as hosier lane was just a stone’s throw away, i took her there as well. because she’s into art.

hosier lanehosier lanehosier lanehosier lanehosier lanehosier lane

as well as into posing like a fashion blogger for her instagram too, apparently. tee-hee.

on infidelity

for the record, i love TED talks. either by stumbling upon them on social media sites or being referred to watch them, i love them all the same.

this one in particular was girly’s recommendation. or should i say, forceful prodding?

“listen to it sometime. it will change your life. or not.” she said.

that was last saturday. two days ago, she vibered me again. “have you watched it yet?”

i felt an oncoming panic attack as i hurriedly scrolled up, up, up through our viber chat looking for that damn link she sent me 6 days ago. 6 days! if you know girlie like i know girlie, she’s relentless. if she so much as tells you that you watch a video or listen to a podcast that she feels would definitely make a cosmic impact on your life, you better stop playing candy crush and do it, mate. because she will not stop until she squeezes an input out of your own personal realizations.

that’s what i love about her. the fact that we can both philosophize shit together while simultaneously discussing the best way to cook humba (braised pork). she’s a really good writer too. she has a private blog where she writes with brutal honesty it’s both soothing and heart-wrenching at the same time.

so, anyway, she told me to watch this video about infidelity. and i’m glad i did. i think you would, too.

assuming that i understood everything that i heard correctly, i think that the whole point of the talk is to stare at infidelity in the face and look at it objectively. be scientific about it, even. ask the right questions. formulate reasonable hypotheses.

but i’m not gonna lie: it fucking scares me.

But then we have another paradox that we’re dealing with these days. Because of this romantic ideal, we are relying on our partner’s fidelity with a unique fervor. But we also have never been more inclined to stray, and not because we have new desires today, but because we live in an era where we feel that we are entitled to pursue our desires, because this is the culture where I deserve to be happy. And if we used to divorce because we were unhappy, today we divorce because we could be happier. And if divorce carried all the shame, today, choosing to stay when you can leave is the new shame. — Esther Perel

a day in the life of melbourne’s city streets


there’s more to tyabb than just cows. there’s also tyabb packing house.

the whole time, i was thinking about my mom. and wishing she was there with me to witness awesome antiques in all their polished glory.

tyabb packing house came as a pleasant surprise. on one of jeff’s rare saturday day off, we drove to this camera shop in frankston to have his rolls of film printed. of course, if you know jeff, there’s NO WAY he cannot NOT linger around far longer than his parking time limit when he’s in a camera shop. he just goes cray-cray — either drooling over cameras and lenses, or chatting up the staff who may be just as crazy about cameras as he is.

so, yeah, he was looking around for vintage lenses. talking to some guy on the counter with ridiculously flawless skin i had to restrain myself from interrupting their conversation and asking him about his skin care regimen. you know how some people have skin that glows? his was like that. i have to admit he wasn’t bad looking. (quite the contrary, actually.) if i had the guts, i would’ve definitely asked him to go out with my sister. i reckon he’s definitely her type — soft-spoken guys with a nice hair tied up in a ponytail whose skin glows softer than a japanese lantern. (a what?!)

anyhow, my ex-future brother-in-law, with his calm, quiet voice advised us to go to tyabb packing house. said there’s a shop there that sells vintage lenses. and so we did.

twenty minutes later, we found ourselves in a place my mom would consider a paradise.

tyabb packing house

a lover of antiques, my mom would simply flip at the sight and smell of vintage everything. i know i did, being my mother’s daughter. i had to call her the next day just to tell her about jeff and mine’s discovery and she sounded pretty ecstatic at the thought of us taking her there on her next visit here. i told her the next time jeff and i go, i’m buying her those cute thimbles (because they were only $12 each) but she was like, “nah, find me some nice teapot sets.” (jeff and i did go back there 2 days later and those teapot sets my mom wanted? waaay out of my budget! lol.)

tyabb packing housetyabb packing house

as much as i love antique shops or old museums, the thing that really gets to me are the dolls. there’s just something about their seeming innocence and beady eyes that make it hard for me to edit the pictures at night. (because even if they give me the creeps, they have this hopefully not demonic pull on me that compels me to take photos of them. (by far, the creepiest of them all i found at balay negrense.)

tyabb packing house is actually a complex of vintage shops — which is properly called tyabb craft village — with tyabb packing house another one of those shops but i collectively call the whole place tyabb packing house anyway. because erroneous as it is, that’s the name stuck in my head so i’m going with it.

tyabb packing housetyabb packing house

of course, there’s so much more to see in there (heaps!!!) than the photos jeff and i took on that trip. it’s just that we weren’t really sure if you’re allowed to take pictures, although some staff were kind enough to accommodate us.

tyabb packing housetyabb packing housetyabb packing house

on that day, i fell in love with this decommissioned vintage train which they turned into a restaurant. it was so cool. sure, inside was pretty tight but you can just imagine what train rides were really like back then. probably cramped and noisy and perhaps not very comfortable at all, but nonetheless, i was really happy just being able to see what it must have been like before.

as it was a restaurant, we ordered their scones. they were okay, which is a code for me that it was pretty much so-so. too thick, if you ask me. i like my scones sliding gently down my esophagus, and not feel like my throat’s been jammed. but other than that, the vintage mug that jeff’s hot chocolate came in looked nice. if that’s any consolation.

tyabb packing house

you wanna know what else rocked in that place? the bookshop! thousands of books — old and new — stacked next to each other in a dizzying array of shelves categorized according to authors’ names or genre. i spent most of my time happily lost in there.

tyabb packing house

meanwhile, jeff spent a whole lot of his time at the camera shop, talking to the owner about camera stuff with all the passion that can only come from avid photography enthusiasts and checking out different lenses and asking about adaptors and discussing the merits of vintage lenses, etc etc etc. when all was said and done, jeff blew his money on 3 vintage lenses. cash.

him and the old bloke are bestfriends now.

tyabb packing house

all in all, i have to say it was a pretty nice saturdate. =)

caribbean gardens

embarrassing, how i had to google the correct spelling of caribbean. even more embarrassing that i had to double check if i was spelling embarrassing correctly.

temporary amnesia aside, things are getting really cold here down under. my fingers are in the process of getting a frostbite as we speak. even this computer keeps freezing a lot, although i doubt it has anything to do with the weather. jeff says it’s a very powerful machine but, i don’t know. even superman buckles under the force of kryptonite. i can’t even explain how that relates to the latter. my brain’s probably frozen as well.

occasionally my mind wanders to someplace warm and sunny. where the washing is bone dry by sunset. and i don’t have to forcefully un-glue myself from the heater or a warm bed.

most of the time, i dream of escaping to cebu, where my family complains about the extreme heat when we’re chatting on facetime. they say it’s scorching hot in there, saying it in a somewhat exaggerated tone which i still believe because i know what the wrath of the tropics feels like. it ain’t pretty.

caribbean gardens

so i go back to my happy medium — those days when it was neither too hot nor too cold.

one of those days was when jeff and i went to caribbean gardens. it’s nice there. they have this huge lake where you can go on a boat ride, or feed the ducks, or whatever. (but frankly, if ducks and lakes are your thing, that’s nothing compared to western springs lakeside park in auckland. the entire scenery blew me away. except for their native eels because i don’t like slimy, slithering creatures.)

caribbean gardens

you can also go on a carriage ride around the premises. or ride on the little train. or play mini golf. or hop on a cable car that would give you a bird’s eye view of the lake — a low-flying bird, at best, because it’s not very high.

caribbean gardens

i’m not really crazy about caribbean gardens, to be honest, but it does hold a somewhat special place in my memory, if not my heart. it was where jeff took me on our first date “as a couple.” our very first weekend together together, if you know what i mean. he posted a photo of me on that sunday two years ago on his instagram. i looked like shit.

these pictures here should be enough to redeem me.

caribbean gardens

i don’t know if you noticed but i keep carrying this bag with me about 80% of the time. it’s my favorite bag by bric’s. very versatile, not to mention sturdy. i have used and abused it for half a year now and it still looks amazing.

flight of ideas. why am i suddenly talking about bags?

the billion fireflies that light up melbourne at night

what was supposed to be a helicopter ride around the city turned into something much tamer. my folks didn’t wanna risk their lives to the frivolities of melbourne’s winds, which can sometimes be tenacious. strong winds are normal here. people still go through their daily routine without batting an eye.

back in the philippines, winds as strong as that already warrant a lockdown on all government and private schools and offices, with students refreshing their facebook feeds for any official news of no classes. that is, if the posts holding the power lines haven’t toppled down yet.

the first time i witnessed the raging winds here, i was like, “omigod, this is already a typhoon in the philippines!” i don’t mean that as an exaggeration. sometimes you can literally hear the winds screaming.

it was something my mom and dad experienced, too, on their first night here. which is why when i called them in sydney to inform them that we’re going on a helicopter ride when they come back, my dad automatically said NO. yep, the all-caps kind of no with no room for persuasion.

so jeff and i took them to eureka skydeck instead.

red pepper indian restaurantred pepper indian restaurantred pepper indian restaurant

but before that, we had dinner at jeff’s favorite indian restaurant at bourke street, where i made the mistake of ordering something completely unknown to me, for the sake of adventure. (okay, fine, they didn’t have my vegetable korma.) i forgot what the traditional punjabi food was called but let’s just say i went on a skydive. with a parachute malfunction.

anyhow, my mom ordered goat curry (which the server said was pretty mild but could actually burn your mouth all the way to your esophagus) and I LOVED IT! that was pretty much all i ate on that night. i am so getting it again next time.

eureka sydeck

it was either eureka skydeck or melbourne star. i read the reviews days before and aside from the fact that melbourne star is more expensive, there’s really nothing much to see, as it sits on the far end of docklands. eureka tower, on the other hand, confidently stands like a beautiful skinny model in the middle of the city, collecting $19.50 from every adult who wants to get on top. (wait, why doesn’t that sound right?)

good thing the line wasn’t that long when we were there, considering that it was a weekend. i kept my folks occupied during the short wait, reading to them some interesting facts about the building off the brochure.

while my dad kept interrupting me to ask me to ask him what time it is because he just got a new watch, given to him by my cousin in sydney.

i still have the brochure with me so might as well share the geekiness with you.

eureka sydeck

skydeck 88 is the highest public vantage point in the southern hemisphere. that sentence alone is enough to amaze you. but you know what’s even more amazing that it almost borders on stupid?

it suddenly just occurred to me that the reason why they call it skydeck 88 is because it’s on the 88th floor. (took me almost 3 weeks to figure that out. the whole time i kept wondering, “what’s with number 88?” good thing i didn’t ask jeff. he loves keeping a file of all my blonde moments on index cards in his head, which he pulls out every now and then for his amusement.)

anyway, it takes less than 40 seconds to arrive at level 88. traveling at more than 9 meters per second, the elevator is that fast your ears won’t even have enough time to react to the pressure. even your eyes feel like they’re losing focus just trying (and failing) to keep track of the numbers on the elevator. i should know, i kept my eyes glued on the screen, as if i’m deciphering a magic trick. (speaking of magic tricks, one blog post on that coming soon!)

eureka sydeck

eureka tower is 300 meters in height. the top of the tower can flex up to 600mm in high winds. two 300,000 liter water tanks on level 90 and 91 prevent any excess swaying.

there are 3,680 stairs, 92 storeys, and 52,000 square meters of windows. (that’s a lot of windows to clean!)

the glass on eureka’s top 10 levels is 24 carat gold plated.

eureka sydeckeureka sydeck

i could go on and say that eureka weighs 200,000 tons but at this point, everything becomes just a number i will forget as soon as i hit ‘publish.’

i’d rather do the counting in one go and lump it all up in a single phrase:

the billion fireflies that light up melbourne at night.

and there goes another one of my lame attempts at poetry.

eureka sydeckeureka sydeckeureka skydeckeureka sydeck