Almost over.

Today is my last night here in Chicago. Joel is arriving later on and tomorrow, I will be riding the megabus back to Cincinnati. It’s a good glimpse of life here in Chicago. I was able to tend Sasha while Joel is out. I lived in the Boystown area. I walked around the city in December weather (albeit quite mild based on the locals’ opinion here). I played volleyball at the Center at Halsted. It was a good laid back stay for me that made me love Chicago even more.

Call it rationalization, or whatnot, but the idea of Chicago life got chipped a bit. It’s not the pristine image I had in mind a few months ago. I am seeing some cracks on the perfect image I created in my head, which is probably a good thing because it gives me a better sense of reality here.

For one, I realized that I am more subdued/conservative than I thought. I like how progressive the city is, but it also attracts some interesting people that I will probably not deal with if given the chance. I played volleyball twice here, and I sensed a bit of chaos and bitchiness that I do not get in Cincinnati. It can be that I was just overwhelmed by everything, or a sense of alienation because it’s something I cannot really claim as “home”.

If I would nitpick some more, the effort of having to wait for public transportation that’s sometimes out of schedule can throw your schedule off. I love public transportation and using it here has been pretty cool. It just peeved me a bit that I needed to wait for 15-30 minutes for a bus just to go from Point A to Point B. So, I have to give more allowances for travel time because of that. As said, it’s nitpicking because it’s not really that bad, but something that kinda bothered me a bit.

Of course you have to balance that with a good amount of diversity in the city. Having access to my favorite spots (Shake Shack, Nespresso boutiques, Eataly, Boystown, and soon Uniqlo). There’s an abundance of things to do here that interest me. Just being in the Mag Mile / Loop area can take a whole day already for me.

I guess this trip gave me a better perspective on things, and allowing me to give Cincinnati its props because it is really not bad at all. Moving here in Chicago will not make my life any better than my life in Cincinnati. It is a trade off — you gain some, you lose some.

One thing is for sure though — this is a good vacation break.

Chika-GO!

I. Really. Love. Chicago.

I am back here in Chicago since last Thursday. Irene, the kids and I drove here and I will be staying until Wednesday to tend after Sasha Fur. It should give me an idea on Chicago life if I ever ended up here (WISH!!).

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So, what have I done so far? I was mostly with the Boloquis and we just spent a huge amount of time in Mag Mile. I was walking last night there while listening to the Once The Musical soundtrack and I felt that I was in the right place. This is the life I want — living in a diverse city with all good money, the lights and progress. I am not sure if this is something that is achievable but ultimately, it’s something I can see myself. Note, that I also see myself settling down in Cincinnati, but there is some chaos that I also want amidst all the routine life.

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Of course, the main purpose of this trip is really to eat at Shake Shack! It is heaven! It’s reason enough to go to Chicago. There’s also Eataly (awesome sweet brioche), and Garrett.

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I also got to play volleyball here last Saturday. It was fun to play and just not care for who you are. There are bitchiness, and sororities, but it’s people you can relate with. Even if I was an outsider, I did not feel left out at all. I felt included and part of the community here. I’ll play again tomorrow and see how that goes.

setting the mindset.

For the past year or so, I’ve been trying to ready myself to the big possibility of living life alone. Not because it is my choice to live this way, but it just does not happen. It’s another topic if I am actually ready or not, but it’s good to actually try it out, right? Some people get it easy, but my life has made me realized that I am not one of them. Social sciences also indicate that this is a reality that other people live. This is not new. There are people who get married and live old together, some of them separate, and a lot of people do not couple up, either by choice or not. This is not a far fetch theory that needs a proof, but a possibility that people usually dismiss because it’s really depressing to think that you can live alone and not get that “happily ever after” with someone.

Lately, I’ve been feeling the downside of solitude. It can get boring just living alone and not being able to share life with another person. So, I think it’s time again to think through what I need to do to enjoy life as it is, and plan it accordingly so I don’t spiral out of control to depression.

I want to expand my circle of friends. Being an introvert, it’s pretty tough. I am not a big fan of small talk, and dealing with new people. In group discussions, I’m more of an active listener rather than a talker making me appear aloof and detached. Not good at all. What is interesting though is that I can be extroverted to some people, but not to others. I fall into this selective extroversion that I have with a certain crowd. If only I can just normalize how I deal with other people — especially with new crowds. I need to dissect why I get out of my shell, and what my behavior is. For sure, there’s an underlying rationale behind this and potentially reapplicable to other areas of my life. My gut feel says it’s all about confidence, but I am not sure.

I want to grow professionally. I’ve been toying with the idea of studying further to help enrich my skills, and also to expand the people I surround myself. I blogged before that I feel that I’ve degraded as the years go by and my prime was probably 5 years ago where I had the gusto and drive to excel. I really need to get that fire, and use that to light up further growth.

I want change. When things become too normalized, it is time to make a change. I don’t know specifically, but I really need to shake off my life and be forced by the change that would be sweeping me. It’s always a risk though because change can swing good or bad and you never know, but you have to roll with the punches, or reap the benefits of it.

My next-few-years goals shape how I can live life happily with or without someone. I want my own place, a dog, and a sustainable hobby (I say volleyball, but my knees are singing a different tune). It’s very simple, but requires a lot of work and working with personal constraints, assumptions and dependencies. I guess this is a preview for my 2015 goals, but I think it’s simple enough to work on, and challenging enough for me to have an interesting time dealing with this.

day 1.

I’m officially on vacation starting today. I took all my leaves for this year, else I would lose them. It’s something I earned, so I should use it. Next year though, I need to be wiser in how I use them because I don’t want to get stuck with 15 days of vacation close to November. But, the good thing is that I have a planned vacation already to the Philippines next year. I am just on the fence if I want to do it during the Christmas holidays. Perhaps, I can just do it after Christmas and spend 2 weeks after all the holiday rush! Yeah, I hated all the traffic, and stress that last year caused. I’ll have to check with my parents on that.

What has happened? Last time I posted something was about Thanksgiving. I finally finished The Leftovers, which was something that did not really appeal to me at the start but eventually, it improved a bit. I did not like how it ended, but I could not also think of anything else to end it in a good note. I did the book club session and I still felt like I was walking in egg shells because the theme is about losing people you know inexplicably, and the loss of our colleague is probably still very fresh in everyone’s mind. It ended up well, and I needed to really improve on rallying people in discussions and engaging them. I need to analyze how I talk with my friends and to other people. Believe me, it is a stark contrast.

Yesterday, we did our cookie exchange for the volleyball group. It was nice mingling with other people because it’s kinda interesting how people deal with others. I still think I need to improve on that especially in small talks and just being able to carry conversation with people around me. Being an introvert kinda sucks in that department. Anyway, the cookie exchange haul is kinda daunting. I am not sure how I would finish all of them and being on vacation kinda limits my exposure to people who might want some of these. Worst case, I’ll ask Dave to bring it to office this week and hopefully, my work mates would want to take a piece (or more!) of these treats.

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So what else is in store for me? I have an upcoming Chicago trip this Thursday and I’ll probably head back to Cincinnati on Wednesday. That should be fun since I’ll be dog sitting Sasha, and I can experience Chicago life in the middle of December. I hope I can tolerate the cold and wind and I am already thinking what I’ll bring since it will be very frigid.

I’ll be doing a lot of staycation and just going around town and think about what I want to do in 2015 and plan for it. Maybe do some risk analysis and cost benefit analysis on things I want to work on and start doing since I am dead set in doing some changes in life next year. I just need to be sure of it and commit to it with a plan and drive!

thanksgiving.

I need a break in reading The Leftovers for my book club at work. I’m hosting this coming week and I need to make sure I actually finish the book. It’s easier said than done because the book is something out of my wheelhouse. I kinda like dystopian future narratives but this is just too emotional for me. I think I can finish it but I really need to put in all the effort I can muster. Side note, one of the guys I played volleyball before (Ben) apparently works here in my Starbucks in Kenwood Rd. Of course, I did not talk to him. Maybe some other time when I feel more social.

So, thanksgiving! This year, I spent it with some of the Latino peeps eating tacos. I never really got into the turkey thing ever. Maybe that’s one of the things I need to check on my list — having a traditional thanksgiving meal with turkey, stuffing, and all that jazz. But, the spirit of thanksgiving is really about finding time to celebrate the things we have. Even if there are things that are not working well in my life, there are also a lot of things that I have. I just have to really balance that viewpoint that I am not in the worst situation in the universe but there’s always room for something to strive for. So, this year, I have loads of things to be really thankful about. I got my green card, I was able to sell my old car and got a new car, I have work that I like and allows me some flexibility, volleyball that keeps me sane, I still have my parents alive, and I have friends that make life worth sharing.

Next year, it’s 2015 and I need to continue my gratitude exercise to be honest. I started it a few months ago but it never really took off. Well, it is 2015 planning so this is probably the best time not only to set targets but think about the strategies to keep them.

Once and more.

I’m still in my Once high and I’ve been continuously playing the soundtrack everyday. I wish I can capture it in film and watch it at home. I can dream.

Last night, I watched Mockingjay Part 1 with some friends. Similar to my reaction to the book, it was a bit boring since most of the action really happened when the rebels stormed The Capital. They should not have just split the movie into two. It could stand as one movie, but I guess Hollywood needs some more money making schemes.

I have not really mentioned Interstellar anywhere in my blog even if I’ve seen this already last week. Nolan proves to be a visionary once again, but I thought it was a bit lazy to use the specific deus ex machina. The first 2 acts were amazing and emotional, but the last act felt a bit rushed and bordering WTF is this. I like the science of it and it really made me go gaga with all the astronomy stuff in it.

This week made me more at ease to be honest. I think I still have remnants of the high I felt of having Elle around here. It was very comforting to be able to feel again the kind of relationships I’ve left behind in the Philippines. It’s just so different here in Cincinnati where I feel that I have to fend off for everything! Everyone is just caught up on “making it” or “living life” here that sometimes, you miss the point of having quality connections with people who are willing to share lives with you. Living life independently and not relying on other people are still something I need to focus on, but it’s also good to be able to share some life stories with other people and just freely convey your thoughts/feelings without judgement.

Anyway, it is Saturday and this upcoming week is Thanksgiving week. I should be able to rest more and really listen to my doctor’s request of resting my left knee due to Patellofemoral pain syndrome. I’ll have to manage and wing this because at this point, I really do not want to give up playing volleyball. I’ve purchased a knee sleeve last Thursday and so far, it has stabilized my left knee and did not experience any pain. So for this week ahead, I will rest more, and finish reading The Leftovers. I need to finish it for our book club, and to move on to Percy Jackson! I still have not read Blood of Olympus! Gah!

some updates

While I keep my left knee iced because of some jumper’s knee (or runner’s knee), let me try to be productive and put out an update here.

A good friend of mine from PH visited Cincinnati! I really had loads of fun with Elle being here and even if I had to go out of my way to just be there, it was worth it. I mentioned that I felt happier in the Philippines because of all the relationships I’ve built and nourished that kept me sane. However, I still prefer a better quality of life and I’m also happy here in the US.

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I finally got to watch Once the musical. This is one of my favorite musicals now and I was so enthralled by the story, music and characters. Guy was also very hot with an amazing Brit accent. I was a very happy camper. My seats were also awesome!
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This week, we had our first snow fall. It’s pretty unusual actually because it’s November! It’s still autumn, and we aren’t supposed to receive any wintry weather this early! Bah.

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Personal growth

I can say that I have not really focused on improving myself seriously in terms of what I do. Career-wise, I’ve been skating around and just taking things head on. I was looking at my old projects and realized how much better I was than who I am now. I can admit that I’ve really let things go and not really put in more than what I usually can give. This is alarming, and really needs loads of attention in terms of getting out of this black hole.

Know strengths, and weaknesses. Look at the options on the table. Create corrective actions, and improvement plans. Be better.

sad news

I heard of sad news from work today. Someone from work took his own life and it just really made me think how we do not know people. I only know of him from work, but not personally. I do not even think he knows my name. Honestly though, I never thought that he was having a crisis, but like anyone trying to transition, I can imagine the possibility. It feels like a dark cloud swept by because he’s someone I’ve seen in the office walking around, and suddenly, not anymore. And, one of the saddest idea though is that business goes on as usual. Life moves on and we try to fill the void.

Sunday!

Targets for the day:
go to Costco for a stroll
eat dimsum
go to Whole Foods for milk, and hotdogs
put boxes to the recycling bin
clean up FY13 mail from inbox
– read more of The Leftovers for the book club

Last night, I watched The Usual Suspects. I thought that it was very intelligent, but nothing that really made me feel WHOA. The ending was a great twist, but it did not leave me excited like how Shutter Island did.

Also, I had my first bread making misadventure. I tried to re-do the ensaymada recipe I saw but with half quantities. I don’t know what went wrong and I’ll probably have to ask my baker friends, but it just did not knead properly. I had to throw it earlier when it was hard as a rock.

I still have the cough and it’s quite annoying. I will probably just rest today and workout tomorrow (skipping Monday night volleyball). If Tuesday gets a good number of players, I’ll come out to OTR, and just workout + yoga on Wednesday. I really need to give my body the chance to recover!

november!

I still feel a bit off today. I thought that I was already 100% well after my little bout with some fever, sore throat and cough last Tuesday. I still feel a bit weak, and lethargic. I was a bit out of focus while playing volleyball earlier. And the cool weather is really not helping at all. Well, it is November.

It excites me a bit because I know that it is a new fiscal year at work, so that means I kinda start a new slate and I can create new SMART targets and work on achieving them. After another change of manager this year, I just hope that my new manager can help me grow professionally. Also, I am not really closing my doors for opportunities outside the company. Heck, I’d want one especially if it is in one of the locations that I want to move to. I just want something to change for the better in 2015.

Yes, it’s really time to think about the future and see what I really want to do or work on in 2015 in my personal life. I try to create targets/goals every year just to work on my self, but this year has been really a big blah year. I am grateful for the opportunities, but I was not really into it. I did not want it enough I think.

I have enough time to do further self-examination in the next few weeks. I think what I need to really decide is what I want to do this December. I took 3 weeks off, but I did not really plan anything about it. It can just be a staycation and doing some road trips around. Let’s see what my wanderlust (or laziness) will bring me.

saturday mornings.

I like Saturday mornings because it is very quiet, and I know that I have another morning the next day where in I can just be relaxed and not think of work. It’s almost November and I really, really feel that time has gone by so quickly. I have this mixed feeling of not doing enough with the time that I have, and enjoying the moment by doing absolutely nothing.

This week, I have received a bunch of the things I have purchased in deals. I got my —
– LG Tone+ which I got for $31,
– my iPad Air 2 that I only paid for $180 after trading in my old iPad Mini, iPhone 4S and a mover’s coupon
– my Logitech iPad Air case for $30 from Costco

I’ve enjoyed getting those good deals, but I really need to stop a bit and save up some more. The holidays are coming right up and for sure, I’ll be spending like crazy again. I already have a gift to myself planned out. I just need to buy it in Chicago. No, it’s not a Shake Shack burger which is opening there! Ha!

I’ve been battling productivity issues during work. Sometimes, I can work well and not be distracted by anything. However, I get days where I just do not want to work and procrastinate. I’ve tried reading some of those insaymadaBuzzfeed posts about motivation, and productivity but they have not really sticked to me. I guess just like Paleo, I need to find the right motivation/lifehack for me.

After a few months, I started baking once again. My first attempt is an ensaymada. It’s one of the few breads that I really really love! I am trying this recipe. I am not sure if it will turn out right but I am crossing my fingers!

thoughts, thoughts.

I do not understand people sometimes. It makes me wonder what goes in their mind when they do things. What’s the motivation behind their actions? It’s just a question that has been bugging me and I continue try to read people on why they do things. Some seem genuine, but others seem to be contrived. Maybe there is really an underlying reason here that I cannot comprehend. And to be honest, I should not really care.

Anyway, on other things… I finally decided to add a rest day in my week. My knees have been sore and I do not want to aggravate it. I’ll probably skip Wednesday volleyball days and use that as my rest day. Monday, Thursday, Saturday will be my volleyball days, and Sunday, Tuesday, Friday will be my workout days. It makes sense in my head, but let’s see how this will translate to reality.

Last Sunday, I visited Oxford, OH and just walked around Miami University and High Street. It was a pretty little college town. It made me want to go back to school and just have a sense of focus and purpose. Of course, it is not easily done. Financially, it’s going to be difficult. Tuition fees here in the US are just too much! And, for sure, I have to shake up my life to fit this in and something definitely has to be sacrificed. Trade offs! I did spend a night researching a few schools before and felt that OSU would be the top contender to get an MBA degree. Wishful thinking.

I’ve also been obsessing with deal hunting! I got an LG Tone + for $31, and most likely will trade in my iPad Mini 2 and iPhone 4S for an iPad Air 2. Best Buy has a good trade in deal there and it seems to be a sensible switch since my content consumption might be better suited with this. Also, forward planning, when I get a new iPhone next year, it’s probably the same size of the 6 which means I have a bigger screen for content consumption on the fly.

It’s just Tuesday. I wish the weekend comes quickly!

quiet mornings and more

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For the past few days, I’ve been enjoying my quiet and less stressful mornings. My project is drawing to a close and that means no more busy mornings when I chase after folks in Europe. My next project is in Mexico and that only means that I am taking back my mornings! I can leisurely make breakfast and really use my Nespresso without thinking much about work. One of the few things I am grateful with.

The weekend has been pretty busy for me. Other than my normal volleyball schedule, I was able to do some shopping for the care package for my parents. Since I do not have plans of going to the Philippines this December, a balikbayan box should do it. It’s not the same, but it’s the thought that counts right? Anyway, I visited Costco twice this weekend and I really love this place! You always get good finds here!

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There’s also a pair of shoes I’ve been eyeing like crazy. The problem is that it’s $125 and I do not know if I can calm my thoughts to go through with the purchase. I just find it too expensive. I do not spend so much for shoes because I do not really take care of them. I drag my feet, and I do not clean them enough. Maybe if I get a pricey one, I’ll take care of him (my head thinks no). Let’s see!

My mom told me last night I was looking more trimmed and that is music to my ears. I have been trying to focus on my workouts, and diet for the past few weeks. I am happy that I am getting some validation here. Volleyball yesterday was also better for me. I felt snappier in my approaches for blocking and hitting, but I still need a lot of work in my ball handling/passing.

I forgot to mention that I watched Gone Girl last weekend as well. I really loved the book and I was thrilled that the movie did not disappoint. I think a big part of it is because Gillian Flynn also wrote the screenplay of the movie and David Fincher has provided good direction based on Flynn’s vision. Rosamund Pike was awesome as Amazing Amy (my muse!) and Ben Affleck portrayed Nick very well too. My friend Dave was not that happy with the ending but I thought it was really apt!

another terrible volleyball day.

My game today is off once again. I really do not know why, but I think I’ve been playing really bad for the past few weeks. I think I need to focus on training once again and get myself back into shape. I’ll probably cut back on my volleyball days and increase my gym days. Right now, I think I’ll stick with my Thu & Sat LAF days, and just skip the Rec Center days on Mondays or Wednesdays. I need to research more and build a plan for myself.

do you seek feedback outside of work?

Do you seek feedback outside of work? This question made me wonder. In our workplace, we usually have appraisal processes that has feedback mechanisms to get other people’s thoughts on how you did at work. These would be taken into account in coming up with your performance review and determine your strengths, and opportunity areas. But, that’s at work. In our personal lives, we encounter a lot of people who would not usually provide feedback to you if you are doing well or not. Our work selves do not necessarily translate to how we manage our lives. So, how do we improve ourselves other than self-examination?

I am doing an exercise on seeking feedback from some of the people around me informally so I can incorporate that in my self-improvement plan. I already did that for my workmates since this year’s performance review mechanism is just limited to 5-6 people and I worked with 20 people this year.

There should be an app for this… seriously.

Weekly / October 5

I can’t believe that it is October already. There are just 2 more months to go and then it is 2015. I really need to start planning my 2015 goals and really keep to it. I made some 2014 goals but I have failed in diligently managing them. I need to devise a system to be able to manage my goals and stick to it. It’s just that when work piles up, it is the first thing to go. Not the best idea to be honest.

Anyway, what’s been going on? Work-wise, my current project is already winding down after being put on hold by my customer. I am getting into s new one and the good thing is that it is nearer to my time zone so I am happy about that. No more 5AM calls! Woohoo. I finally did my self-evaluation for my annual performance review. I don’t know what I will get this year (if I get any rewards at all) but I am not really expecting much. I think I did well this year but I know that I need to work on a lot of things. I am so not ready for prime time.

This weekend’s weather is just blah. We are in the 40s and I am not ready for this. Yesterday, Irene and I went to the Luxottica sale. We had to line up at 6am in the low 40s. It was not a fun 2 hour wait. I got some good deals in the sale though. I bought a D&G sun glasses which are awesome and cheap and another pair of my everyday glasses in Oakley. I got each at $38. I really love this about America. Amazing sales!

Another thing I’ve restarted is the 100 Push-ups program. I did that before but decided to start this again because my volleyball game has been terrible. I need to physically condition myself better. So far I feel stronger already which is a nice feeling. My explosiveness is lagging though so I need to do more plyometrics and sprints in the gym. It’s all about focus and commitment. If you want something, you’ve gotta work for it.

Other notable shoutouts this week:
– my mom celebrated her 60th birthday. She’s officially a senior citizen with all the discounts that come with it in Manila.
– Annabel’s is still awesome.
– I’ve been enjoying doing salads lately. I think that’s why I feel better too. (Random and unfounded correlation)
– I’ve been watching a lot of movies lately — transformers 3, Lucy, neighbors, edge of tomorrow, maybe this time, bride for rent.
– TV shows are back as well! Scandal, How to get away with murder, awkward, the vampire diaries, the voice

Changing the mindset.

I was trying to find answers why I should continue to strive to be better. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve kinda settled in that zone where I do not think I have anything to strive for. I really do not have big aspirations in life anymore, and that sorta pushes me to some kind of borderline mediocre zone where I just skate around to get by. My gut tells me this should not be the case. This is not who I am. I’ve been a fighter, and a people pleaser. Good enough is not an option because there’s always something to improve. It can always be better.

I know myself, and I’ve always wanted something to be better. I perform self-examination (too much sometimes) and I know my strengths, and weaknesses. I should exploit my strengths and improve my weaknesses. Actually, I should not just want to be better, but really think that I need to be better. There’s no other choice but to help myself to be someone greater than who I am today.

Another rambling post.

Step it up.

I really need to step it up and strive to be better with what I do in life. For the past few years, I’ve just been skating around and just letting things go because I am not really driving things to a higher level. Playing volleyball earlier in terrible form just made me realize how much I really need to work harder. I think as I grow older, I just tend to let things go because I am settled in my comfort zone. What else do I need to prove, right? Well, prove that you can be better yourself. I really need to push myself harder to greater heights. Tracking achieve quantifiable goals again might be something I need to restart. I’ve done this, and I know I can do this again. Take that Excel file and plot those data points and try to do a data-based tracking one again.

Take accountability. Ask for help. Work for it.

Work excitement.

I like the idea of change in some areas of my life. In general, I like stability of permanence, but when it comes to work, I like the idea of working in a dynamic environment. Of course, not much though.

I’m finally getting a much needed change at work and some developments outside of my current work. It’s exciting because it is giving me something to look forward to. It is still unsure how things will pan out but at this point, it’s not really something that would disappoint me.

Is it weird that work excites me and life in general does not? I mean, I can be a workaholic who does not want to be stressed out. I’ll take what I can!