The following are excerpts from the journal I’ve been keeping before and during the lockdown.
I promise there are alcohol-related gems in there (gotta stay within equity!).
Disclaimer: I don’t have any structure whenever I write in my journal, so I hope whoever reads this takes their editor hat off for a moment (PS, sorry, I tend to babble).
Edited for context.
9 January 2020
Still reeling in from the Japan trip… I’m craving all things Japanese. Buyer’s remorse: Regretting that I didn’t buy that masu – the Japanese box vessel one uses as some sort of sake glass?
Good God, I gotta make a trip to Ralph’s, I hear they’ve got a great sake selection… Maybe grab a couple of bottles of red while I’m at it.
Speaking of wine, I gotta remember to do that long overdue WSET project.
Anyway, spent the first couple of waking hours running with Rita, our Golden Retriever (she’s turning 2 this year!). I love walking (and running) around the village because
I drink too much and I discovered, somewhere in my mid-30s, that I’m a probinsyana at heart (oh, my dad and kuya would be so proud). I need nature. I need the breeze (January in Alabang is still pretty chilly in the mornings), the sun… I like seeing our neighbours (I’m still itching to introduce that smiley biker dude to my sister), who are such a far cry from the ones we had in Salcedo.
I spent most of the day researching about sake for an article I’m posting tomorrow… Then I went to the mall in the afternoon to de-stress, do some errands, and knock back a pint. It’s pretty odd that in Manila, people look at you kinda funny when you drink during the day… It’s one of the things I miss about Europe, how perfectly normal day drinking is. In fact, I discovered that alcohol consumption long before bedtime is healthier, since it gives your body time to metabolise the stuff.
Speaking of Europe, Chad, Paulette, and I are talking about our planned trip to Europe for my birthday this year. Paris is gonna be a definite stop, and Normandy for a change… I’ll save my “wine tour” for the Italian leg. Maybe Piemonte this time: A mighty Barolo for me, and Nutella for Chad and Paulette.
Good lord she’ll be hopped up on sugar… Save me.
Speaking of chores, finished doing groceries today. The funny thing about the Alabang grocery scene is that selections are horribly fragmented. This means dog food is in Festival, fresh meats and veggies are in South Super, el cheapo cleaning supplies are in Puregold… It’s exhausting. I’m old school, though… I like choosing my veggies from a selection in front of me as opposed to buying them online. Thank goodness for our “yaya formidable” who sorts out everything once I get home, and keeps the house (and the dogs!) immaculately clean.
Ran into a friend who I haven’t seen in forever by Rustan’s (my go-to place for withdrawing cash). He’s still as funny as ever! I think we may have freaked everyone around us with the prolonged hugs and loud gossip sesh (maybe that pint I downed kinda contributed to the volume… Eheh).
Looked at my calendar… I’m prepping for a long overdue surgery at the end of the month, with a month and a half recovery period to follow. The severely introverted and socially anxious side of me is so happy to have an excuse not to go to events for a while. I’m not UNHAPPY to go to events, it’s just that… It does take a toll on me. I need to recharge from a day to a week after each event I attend, depending on how many people were in attendance. I rarely get hungover, and honestly, I wish it were just that.
Planning out projects in my head for the year. 2020 is gonna be great!
22 April 2020
Looked back on some of my pre-Taal, pre-COVID journal entries and man… Is today a far cry from those days or what?
I just realized… I haven’t been out of the house since I found out N died last 12 March.
I ended up becoming busy semi-hoarding in the days leading up to the lockdown. I bought enough alcohol – both the boozy and not so boozy kind – to make sure we’re sated and germ-free… but not to the point that I cleaned out shelves (because that’s just nasty). It required multiple trips to the mall, connecting with face mask suppliers… I bought enough for me, our friend whose mom isn’t doing too well, my germaphobe sister, and our staff.
Speaking of staff, yaya formidable got stuck in Bulacan before the lockdown. This means I’ve been doing a lot of the chores. We luckily got a temp, but understandably, she neither possesses yaya’s skills nor strategies. Our ironing lady – who we lovingly call THE iron lady of the house, Señora – also got stuck.
That said, I’ve been the one bathing Schrumpf (our driver and the temp could handle Rita… but Schrumpf bites anyone who’s not me, Chad, or yaya), doing the laundry (there was an episode of a great washing machine meltdown… Thank goodness Chad works for Electrolux and got us a washing machine the day after. Love him, but I’m not washing his huge T-shirts by hand), tidying up, cleaning up the stuff the temp misses, and cooking.
God, I miss Señora. It’s too hot these days for me to even attempt ironing. Besides, we’re pretty much stuck at home, so we’ve been in what we lovingly call our “pambahay best” anyway… No need to iron! I miss wearing freshly pressed clothes, though.
Sigh… I looked at my closet, my shoes, my bags, and my makeup stash. All of this and nowhere to go. I wonder if this is our generation’s version of living through a world war?
I was hoping to get more “crafty” during the lockdown but honestly, with the amount of work needed to be done around the house; I can barely find the time… Plus, I get vivid dreams these days that exhaust me to no end (it’s apparently a natural occurrence during crisis situations).
I could forego my morning ritual of hanging out by the balcony in the mornings and exercising, but I like the former because I get a reflected form of vitamin D to replace the ones I that I got while walking around the village. One of the positive things this lockdown has brought about is the cleaner air… One can argue that our neighbourhood has always had that (which is one of the reasons why we moved here), but this is the first time that summer nights are cool (by Philippine standards, of course).
Anyway, hanging out in the balcony also gives me some semblance of human interaction. Chad and I discussed that, since I just got operated on, I’m considered immunocompromised… So he does the groceries for our house (and sees people), thus removing any need for me to go out. The situation seems like an introvert’s dream come true, but I’m actually missing seeing people.
Anyway, this daily morning ritual lets me listen to my neighbours’ kids playing the violin, my adult neighbours discussing things in Korean (a new kdrama, perhaps? I haven’t seen anything I like since CLOY), and cars going to my other neighbour’s house (she runs a food business where neighbours could pick up food from her… I should get her to make more of that mango sago dessert!).
Speaking of Chad doing the groceries, man… The things that come naturally to yaya and I – quantities, brands, etc – are all new to Chad. He’s not alone: There are many stories of husbands Facetiming their wives to figure out exactly what they need to buy.
Going back to exercising: I’ll be honest. I don’t do it to lose weight. Losing my thyroid early this year and being in limbo for further blood tests because of the lockdown means I am likely still suffering from hypothyroidism, so the idea of weight loss is simply moot.
I am trying to be as disciplined as I can because of my anxiety and depression.
It’s not the undiagnosed, “ooh, I’m feeling sad so I must be depressed” kind. I’m legitimately a card-carrying, Philippine government acknowledged PWD (with the discounts, booklets, lining up perks, anxiety attacks that involve superhuman efforts from my family and I to drown out the cacophony in my head, and medication to match). I have been reluctant to talk about it for many reasons: I could lose jobs, people could use it as ammunition against me or my family (if this is any indication, my anxiety/depression has something to do with deep-seated trust issues), and frankly, this country has not made it conducive to have a proper conversation for mental illness. My psychiatrist (plus my endocrinologist, back doctor, and dietician) recommends small doses of exercise a day – which again, I used to get from walking.
Alas, with the lockdown, walking is no longer an option… but I discovered a nice series of doable HIIT exercises from a village post (which came about after that infamous neighbourhood argument as to whether or not jogging should be allowed with face masks, but c’mon… Face masks are hard to come by, and I’d rather save them for frontliners), which I’ve tweaked using tips from Brad, my friend who trains dogs and humans alike. If there is a will, there is a way, no excuses! I’m about 33 days into it (stopping once because my ankle hurt, but I made up for it with a swim), and I’ve only had one minor anxiety attack. Maybe the exercises (plus making sure I drink my meds on time) are really doing what they’re supposed to do.
I see a lot of my friends wrestling with their own demons online and I worry whenever people prescribe alcohol and e-numan sessions (a pretty fun trend where people drink in a video chat room as opposed to houses or bars). While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with e-numan sessions, I’ve dealt with my demons long enough to know that I should stay away from the bottle whenever shit gets bad in my head. I mean, I work in the industry and bottles are pretty easy to come by… It’s way too easy for people like me to become alcoholics.
I’m not saying I’m an angel, though. I got really shitty when I found out N died with a bottle of white and half a bottle of Jäger.
There’s actually an idiotic liquor ban going on in Muntinlupa (and some parts of the Philippines). I’m completely against it… After all, the trend usually indicates that people don’t necessarily switch to the cheaper stuff or forego drinking altogether during times of crisis. Historically, people make a switch to the harder stuff. This is why I think that several politicians in our country are making a stupid decision in this regard… This, along with delaying mass testing and travel bans, constant politicking instead of working to get our country back up, choosing to turn a blind eye when a fellow politician decided to be privileged and stupid by ignoring self-quarantine policies while he was a PUI (keeping receipts, baby!), prioritising the welfare of other countries before our people, and not coming up with a sustainable economic plan to make sure our country doesn’t implode when all this is over.
Nah, let’s kill off ONE more industry!
God, I’ve always been politically neutral, but c’mon… I knew a crisis situation would bring out the best or worst in a person. Why am I stuck in a country where it brought out the bad and the ugly in people who are supposed to be leading us?
I haven’t written a word for the blog… Not that I’m completely ignoring it. I’m actually setting up plans with a couple of friends, but I’m weighing the mood. As I’ve probably alluded to, I haven’t had the time… and even if I were wholeheartedly against the liquor ban, I’d rather respect that by not promoting anything alcohol-related.
I ran out of everyday wine (I only have stuff in my chiller meant for cellaring, and I’ve already gone through 2 of them *sob*) and beer, so I’m going through my gin stash. I’m about to run out of tonic water though.
Sigh… 8 more days…
Anyway, I shouldn’t gripe, right? All things considered, I’m pretty fortunate. I’ve still got a wide enough space at home to get some sun and even take a dip. If we were still living in our first condo, I think Chad and I would have driven each other up the wall… but there’s no alcohol ban there, so maybe not (har har). I still have enough alcohol to last me until after the lockdown. The Eurotrip may be cancelled, but Europe is always going to be there. I also get to talk to my friends from Europe (and other parts of the world) through social media, so it’s as if I’m there anyway.
Talking about good fortunes, I’m blessed to have family, and if there’s anything I’m thankful for during this outbreak, it’s that everyone is safe, and I get to spend more quality time with them (especially my husband!). I think I would go crazy if I didn’t have Chad with me in the house (he’s the best person to be stuck with at home!), or the dogs… Or even our (skeletal) staff that we consider family. I get to call Paulette to have a scream fest (much to Chad’s eternal annoyance), message kuya whenever someone stupid is online (seriously, much as I want to wish for this virus to do the Darwinian thing and weed out the stupid, it’s also gonna take down innocent people, plus an economy or two), check up on my kid brother (who’s apparently looking like a cross between a mountain man and Confucius these days), or call Momma Bear whenever things are at the brink of bringing me down.
Like the religious, sassy, caring, unconditionally loving mother she is (I know, I know… I should reply more to some of her Viber messages), she has never failed in sending me several religious quotes and prayers every single day, peppered by a sassy meme here and there. 😉
*cue dramatic moment*
I remember having lost all sense of desire to have faith in any god. I didn’t have good examples of “religious” people growing up, and reconciling that with what I intellectually know about what God is supposed to be never matched. Momma Bear, however (and to some extent, my kuya and sisters), has an unshakeable faith. No amount of heartbreak ever made her waver. This is why, beginning last month, I started to try and follow in her footsteps.
The day after I found out N died, I started to pray every night for her and her family… especially her widower, V. I admit that I didn’t have my hopes up: He is in the age range of people who would most likely lose the COVID battle. But I never stopped praying, every single night.
Miracle of miracles, I found out from her daughter (who I now consider a friend) that V is FULLY recovered, back home in their apartment, and is contemplating writing a book with her about N. He’s even figuring out how he can contribute to society.
Am I saying MY prayers got him to that point? No. But for the anxious person in me, rediscovering the power of prayer – especially in these trying times – is better for my mental health than any alcohol produced by man. I’m still not as deeply religious as my folks, and I keep exploring other religions for their philosophies… but much as we joke about Schrumpf being Satan’s spawn, nope. Not going down that route!
Anyway, drama over. I’ll focus on the positive side of things.
Again, it’s just another 8 days… and if the lockdown extends, I will keep on prioritising important people and things. That should be enough to keep me sane, right? 🙂
PS, that datebook I bought from Sanrio Puroland? Languishing on my desk.