Millennial pains, simple pleasures and a metaphorical lump of coal: My 2014 in review

In the future, when I get really, really old, barring Alzheimer’s or dementia, I’d look back at one particular year, equal parts tumultuous and agonizing, but nonetheless full of insights that will make me nod meaningfully while I stare blankly across a porch, gingerly clutching my urine bag. Gross.

2014 was, for me, an ECG chart, a roller coaster, a mercury in a thermometer, or a dick. It went up and down, up and down, and it made me want to scream at God while I cry and dramatically pull weed from the ground. 2014 was life’s harsh way of telling me that I’m already an adult, and that I needed to experience more adult things aside from watching porn if I were to grow up into a proper man.

Pondering some serious shit
Pondering some serious shit

Starting the year with a heartbreak, because life
In February this year, just weeks after I posted on Facebook a post that read ‘February: no doubt the best month of the year,’ my father died from prostate cancer. It sounded like something straight out of a tv series that involved angsty millennials and divine irony. It was the ultimate buzzkill to end all buzzkills, because February is also my birth month. And Facebook’s algorithm had the gall to tell me ‘It’s been a great year; thanks for being a part of it.’ Fuck you, Mark Zuckerberg. I can definitely talk lightly about it now but back then I hurt so much, obviously. Hey, who doesn’t cry when his father dies, Zeus? I still miss my father every now and then but I’m glad his suffering has already ended. I wept when he died, but right after, I knew that it was bound to happen and that I needed to grow up and move on. I’m still trying, and my family is still coping with the loss, but I’m glad to report that we’re back to making fun of each other and doing crazy things. Speaking of crazy, I just confessed to my mother last night that I smoke cigarettes. I’m not proud of it, and I hope I can quit soon, but I felt she needed to know. I told her it was bad that I didn’t tell her about it and she asked me what it tasted like and I told her it was alright. She pulled a cigarette from her shorts and lit it. In between short puffs, she told me that at least I didn’t get someone pregnant so I was basically off the hook. I was relieved, but somehow I felt annoyed that she was just chill about it. I thought maybe she should have higher expectations of her children. I don’t know, maybe she’s already jaded. I told her I started smoking in college because of the stress. She had already stopped smoking, but she said that it returned because she got sad when my father died and she needed something to cope with the loss. By the end of our conversation we had a mutual understanding that slowly killing ourselves via cigarettes is not really a sustainable coping mechanism so we resolved that we will quit smoking soon because it’s bad for our health and we need to get a move on with life and its many tragedies.

Never being enough is how I roll
If you’re a close friend you’ve probably heard about how badly I wanted to get to graduate school abroad. I applied for three scholarships in 2014 and well, in line with 2014’s theme of teaching me how to deal with depressing things, I got rejected in two of them. For the third one, I managed to get into the interview phase. I gave my best in the interview even if I had loose bowels and the results came on the night December 23, while I was drinking alcohol in my friend’s housewarming party. The email, which I read from my phone, had a link to a PDF attachment of the scholarship result. Below the link was something like ‘congratulations and merry Christmas!’ and it got me so thrilled that I screamed oh my God while my friends were all wtf is happening to Jovan.
Alas, the PDF said I got it, but not really. I made it as a reserve candidate, which meant I’m in only if a scholarship awardee backs out. I don’t wish death or the 10 plagues of Egypt upon those who already got the scholarship and I hope they enjoy their time studying abroad. Goddammit, though, how I hated my fate. The scholarship secretariat told me that even if I’m a reserve I still need to attend course counseling and an orientation of sorts in March 2015. However, because life is tough I’ll have to suck it all up in case no one backs out and I end up as that guy who prepared for something he won’t experience anyway. It’s like being second string in a finals game. Or the first runner-up of Miss Universe. I was like

 

Since it came two days before Christmas, I thought it was like a lump of coal from Scholarship Santa. He’s got a nice and naughty list, and I might have been in the morally ambiguous territory. If my organic chemistry is right, a coal can either turn into a diamond, or you know, just burn and die. I hope this goddamn coal sparkles by March, but hoping is quite torturous so I’ll keep my expectations reasonable. I’ve been keeping my expectations reasonable since 1990.

Making memories
I went to Malaysia in March for the Malaysia Debate Open which gave me the rare opportunity to reconnect with my other Asian friends, and I returned in May to cover the opening of the country’s new airport, the klia2.
Despite depressing things that happened in 2014, I take comfort in that I got to spend trips with friends and family. It was too much time that at one point I contemplated the moral permissibility of strangling a crazy travel buddy with my bare hands. I’m looking at you, Norman. I went with college friends to Boracay in May, and it was like a jungle filled with wildlife that was mostly drunk college students who waited a year to show off their pubic hair in public. We went for another time in December before Christmas, when the sun was less scorching and we had relatively more freedom to do stupid shit without the fear of bumping into someone we knew back in Manila. Boracay in December is quite magnificent; it makes you want to live there for the rest of your life or at least wish holidays take months not days.
In November, I went with high school friends to Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte, where I got to taste authentic Ilocos empanada which can very well substitute for everything- rice, bread, sex, true love.

empanada
Ilocos empanadas are forever

 

Also in Pagudpud I got to swim in a beach surrounded by motherfucking windmills. It was grand.

pagudpud
(still screaming internally)

My family decided to spend the holidays in Cebu to visit my sister who’s working in one of the BPO companies in the city. It was nice since I rarely visited my mother when I was in Manila and it’s a chance to bond with my niece and nephew, who basically spent every day of their lives playing with God-knows-what on their tablets. My 8-year-old nephew is more adept with technology than my mother, and he’s got textmates. Textmates! He’s 8-years-old! When I was eight I didn’t even have a beeper and my childhood was spent climbing trees, catching bugs and occasionally studying algebra (that one didn’t go well).

How’s your bucket list goin bruh?
I am a slightly big fan of tennis. Not too much, but just right. It started in college when my roommate Jon-Jon introduced me to the unhealthy habit of staying up late to watch the Grand Slam tournaments, and I’ve fallen in love with watching the games and reading up stuff about the sport. I’ve always wanted to see a tennis match live, but because tickets are expensive and matches are held overseas it was just something I held on to. Then came the Thai coup d’etat which ejected Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from power. Trust me, there’s a nice twist somewhere here. Months before the International Premier Tennis League planned to hold a tournament in Asia, Thailand was chosen as one of the venues along with Singapore, India and United Arab Emirates. Because of the political situation in Thailand, the organizers had to choose an alternative venue. They looked at Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong, but eventually ended up choosing Manila. Because I’m a journalist in the Philippines, I got an invite to the event’s opening dinner and got to see a match live. I talked to the tournament organizer and former Doubles No. 1 Mahesh Bhupathi, and got a selfie with Kirsten Flipkens, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Mothereffing Murray.

tsonga
Tsonga and I are happy we met each other

 

andy
Got a selfie with an Olympic gold medalist nbd tbh

I also saw Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams and a whole lot of tennis players I’ve only previously seen on tv. I basically went to tennis heaven. Thank you, Thailand.

McLuhan would be proud
As a journalist for four years I’ve already been accustomed to seeing my name on a newspaper or online. I’ve been on the radio once and on tv thrice, but I’ve never been on a magazine. That’s why when I got the chance to write a crime story for Rogue, I took it. It was published in November and I was lucky to be included in the Guest List section, so I bought a copy as a keepsake. I’m planning to conquer YouTube or Podcast next, so eat your heart out, Kris Aquino!

 

There’s no doubt I won’t forget 2014 for all its Bertie Bott’s jelly beans realness, but I need to move on. Hopefully you had an awesome year, and we’ll face an even better 2015. With reasonable expectations, of course. Cheers.

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