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Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
04 December 2028 @ 05:27 am

Let"s skip the embarrassment and talk about adding...Collapse )

To friends visiting: You can still leave comments even if you don't have an LJ. I'd love to hear from you.
Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
03 December 2028 @ 02:09 am
Last Updated: May 26, 2015

At least 10 previously unwatched movies a month in 2010 2011 2012 2014 2015.
Feel free to recommend movies, I'd really love it. (No film school stuff though, got those pretty much down pat because I studied film at uni. No "The Ring"esque horror films too. Just, no.) Anything that struck a chord, in any language, and preferably well-made, do tell.

FILMSCollapse )

Also, Japanese dramas watched, in alphabetical order. I'd love recs too!

J-DRAMASCollapse )
Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
20 September 2016 @ 04:53 pm
I feel like I've been kicked around for a bit.

I'll say it only this once: I'm not made for corporate muscling. I deal and trade in sincerity and passion. I sound like I'm bragging? Not really. To be honest, it's a pitfall when it comes to my profession.

I've learned to function as my real self in this industry anyway.

But I'm surrounded by so many good things and even better, brighter, souls that I'm tempted to just brush all of this off. I'll have to deal with it head on, though. It's still work. I know I can muscle through this just as well as anyone. It'll just be harder because I cannot stand to be ruthless. I am too soft.

Buck up, kid.


Last week, I turned 28. It didn't happen silently.

Two special people woke up extra early during a weekday to have breakfast with me in my favorite cafe. The barista, a cheerful girl with long blonde hair who has been brewing my morning caffeine fix for the better part of a year, gave me my coffee for free. Free coffee!!! I am all about that life!

Saturday, my oldest friends made sure that I blew all the candles on several delicious cakes. Clincher? They're all my favorites. Yulo's stawberry shortcake, green tea white chocolate torte via Homemade by Roshan, Polly's chocolate cake, Cuerva's mango torte, etc. I love cake. It's not a birthday without cakes, plural.

So, as they were making sure I blew all the candles, I was also chastised for wearing a dress with a plunging neckline on my birthday thing. But it's my birthday??

(It's apparently because plunging necklines are not conducive to documenting candle-blowing that entails running from one cake to another. Oh well. You can have your cake and eat it too, I guess.)

After stuffing ourselves with cake, we went out to karaoke. They sang terrible songs, by the way. I mean, it was my birthday, so of course I had the right to put up my hood and bust out "his palms are sweaty, knees weak, arm's are heavy, mom's spaghetti" with ~feelings~! But all of you! The Jubilee Song? Ordertaker?

...okay, maybe I can blame the seven bottles of sake for that. Fine.

Sunday, a spicy Thai feast with my family then coffee in a sun-drenched hotel lounge. But most of all, this bright little someone named Saige. Niece, tugger-of-hearts, precocious little pup, dolphin whisperer, APPLE ORCHARD OF MY EYES. This was her after lunch. Do you know why she was making those faces?

Because of the wind.

The wind.


Her first time to feel the caress of wind on her cheeks. The way it made her giggle in delight and scrunch up her eyes. The innocence and the joy of it...

I was shocked. I could go on about how much it melted my heart, but I wouldn't be able to stop. She is such a gift. I'm surprised that there exists a part of me that would find grace in such a small moment. Frankly, the past six months have been filled with these pockets of grace, of moments that just stun me into submission. I'm not even her mother. I'm afraid to ask my sister how terrifying it is to have such a force of change in your life.

Somehow, though, I could understand it. My love for her, when she was born, was instant and fierce. My stand on having children is ambivalent, at best. But this little bug, I will protect and love and herd and hold close for as long as I am able to.

I will give her the wind.


What is worth celebrating, what is not?

It's a question I've been wrestling with recently. But in the end, you just take the cake and take a beloved's offered hand. Isn't that the sane thing to do in this hard and unrelenting world?

28 years. I choose and relish all this sweetness. It's good to stock up on it for the stormy days.

Thank you. 
Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
01 September 2016 @ 03:20 pm

I really, really do hope you are happy.

Okay, I need to start from the beginning. Frankly, it brings me some distress to see you on my notifications. Are you "liking" my happiness, or at least my projected sense of it? We are all accomplices in the treachery of social media, right? Or are you liking my appearance, the way my hair swayed along effortlessly as I walked in a batik dress along 17th century French-Indochinese architecture? Not that it was staged, but a good friend who knows my angles and lowest points snapped that pic for the 'gram. It was a moment. I felt comfortable and didn't feel like an asshole as I had it taken–I honestly felt joyful, and I wanted to preserve it. In a foreign land, I get overtaken by the desire to capture and share everything, even more than usual. My feed gets more constipated with my ravings and my thoughts and the filters I subject to all these new places to me. It's like my brain gets displaced along with a stamp on a passport. Travel is in the mind.

But there it was. You liked my photos one after another. Under the sweltering Hanoi sun, I paused underneath a tree because I was so overtaken by an irrational impulse as your name on my screen repeated itself infinitely in my head. Melodramatic, but I horribly wanted to hop on a plane just to hug you. I swear now that I could have. I wanted to wrap you up in my arms, to feel the heft of your head on my shoulders. Like, hi, there. How are you. What have you been doing? Who are you, now? I missed you, so so much. Let's talk, let's catch up. Coffee or whisky is on me.

dislike your likesCollapse )
Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
17 August 2016 @ 11:01 pm
Every time I try to stay silent, I end up on the brink of wanting to explode.

That's my state for the past month. Yes, work has been good, I have been productive. I have tried not to talk more than I needed, tried to step away from things and people that I love, if I felt they were a source of distraction. I am interested in far too many things, but in reality have so little time to devote to most of them. Can't help but think it's also because of a lack of confidence, a heart that's too small to devote myself fully to any one thing. I am a melange of half-baked interests. I have too much to say, I feel like there are conversations I avoid because I will ooze out from underneath my words, bound to be misinterpreted, or worse, bound to say something that's purely buoyed by raw emotion and nothing else.

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Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
25 July 2016 @ 02:18 pm

Frankly, it's scary how fast a week goes by these days.

I don't know if it's my age, my current situation. The working part of the week always whizzes past like a steamroller—a good or bad thing, depending on certain things. What I've learned to cherish the past year or so is the perfection of a week. I'm not sure I'll be able to articulate this accurately, but somehow, isn't seven days just perfect, just right on the mark? Six days feel rushed. Eight is an indulgence. Somehow, the seven-day weekly cycle is long enough for me to see how I can improve the next week without it feeling too far-off or too overwhelming. Seven is just right for benchmarking.

Work thoughts aka I warned youCollapse )
Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
18 July 2016 @ 04:19 pm
I wake up drenched in milky sunlight, blanket unconsciously shoved aside some time during the night. It’s 6:30 in the morning. My body is used to being gently nudged into wakefulness by a susurrating, Steve Jobs-approved melody. Gone are the jangly alarm clocks of my childhood, the ones with glow-in-the-dark numbers. These days, I wake up with the whole of humanity shoved to my face, all on a handy screen.

Well, not this morning. It feels luxurious to ignore all the updates and notifications. There’s no need for them today. I lock the screen and get up to take a shower, the small window affording me a view of a pale sky. I try my best to work my vegan shampoo into a respectable lather—no good. Not this time, and maybe not ever. At least my hair smells like yuzu lemons, all citrusy without the cloying acridity. I will own this small pleasure, at least. This is one thing I can control.

When we meet up in the lobby, his countenance tells me that his day is ending. I smile, hoping that it communicates sympathy. He probably interprets it as a sort of shy sheepishness, something I wish I never convey so openly, especially to him. I watch his fair, veined hands curl around a cup of barako coffee. He hovers the cup in front of his mouth for a few breaths before he takes a small sip. I couldn’t meet his eyes, even though I made a conscious effort to try to do so. Somewhere along the way, I had begun to want him again. His silence tells me that he knows.

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Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
23 May 2016 @ 02:53 pm

Beauty is brutal.

I sit here, on my office chair, heart quivering, strands of hair on my arm raised. Halfway through my plain chicken and pesto sandwich, I set it down. Here I am, on the 27th floor, overlooking Manila, coated in pallid greys today. It is both extraordinary and calming drudgery. All that matters is that, out of nowhere, I am assaulted by a purity of resonance that come far too rarely in a life. The French call the phsyiological effect frisson—a sensation close to a shiver, an overwhelming response to something that stirs us deeply. We search for discoveries that elicit responses that can change our perspectives in one fell swoop, but never find them when we expect to. They have to come to us, unbidden, and only when our souls are ripe for understanding. Frankly, the conditions and prerequisites are bleak. We continue searching, still.

I didn't know that when I woke up today that I would be in the mercy of such a discovery. How can a thoughtful caress by a bow on a cello, sure fingers on a piano, and a transcendent vibrato-less female vocal wrap me up so completely? I don’t know what to tell you, really, because by all counts, it’s a normal day. I have a job to do, words to write. I'm in a pair of pants that in some offices would count as pajamas. I haven’t even had my 3 P.M. coffee, which is usually the only thing I look forward to. But this, this is beauty. Captivation that hits you out of nowhere, unasked for. I feel faint, like my outlines are blurring into my surroundings. Anytime now, I feel like I will fade away within the rich notes.

I imagine a humble house, a trellis covering its walls. There is a peppering of Portuguese accents, a feeling that my ghost is walking amongst warm, open faces. In the house, there is a room, with old but beautifully lacquered instruments. They are held by veined, dexterous hands. The expressions on their faces are calm and expectant as a warm breeze flits in. There is a world before the first note is played, and a world after it. I float within every note. This is truth I can buy.

I take cover under this feeling, something to share in haste with a beloved. The skies and this music swathe me in everything I could hope to feel, in a moment I can never own and instead only observe in sadness and awe. How silly our existences are! How laughable that we can be brought down to our knees by a song, by a record!

But yes. There's nothing to do but to sit with the crippling knowledge that yes, there is more. There can be more.

I'm off to get that cup of coffee.
Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
09 May 2016 @ 03:25 pm
Balance doesn't mean that the negative aspects of things disappear magically. It simply means that you learn to recognize the "now" for what it is: the only important thing, your breath filtering through your nose.

I'm alive! I feel joy. I feel pain. I have been carrying myself all through these years. I am alive. I am now. 
Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
06 April 2016 @ 12:07 am
It’s overwhelming to get a peek into a person’s inner life—to see an emotional ecosystem propped up by personal fears, buffeted by small victories, and pockmarked with anxieties and barely articulated hopes. There’s a very thin line between talking with someone and suddenly finding yourself staring at who they are: a unique composition, in shades of light and dark. It’s like being entrusted with a secret that you never asked for.

I've found that people are a moment of transcendence and an ocean of linked tragedies. It moves me, to see people as they are. I’m not talking about inner beauty or realizations of their humane decencies. It’s not about the obscure and carefully preserved cultural frame of references they safe-keep for their identities either.

It’s about that elusive state when you’re perfectly equidistant to someone’s shame and joy. That eureka moment.

Everyone is a tapestry. Sometimes we’re lucky or unfortunate enough to see where the stitches are. Do we pick at those stitches? Run threads of our own through them—to bind, to suffocate, or to allow for lungs to expand, to feel the vigor of sharing lives? In our best moments, I believe we reach for each other. We say hello, without agenda. We are struck dumb by people, by their reasons. We stop in our tracks to ask someone “how did you become who you are” without saying it out loud, our existences hinging on their answer.

I find myself thinking this when I meet strangers, or people I feel like are about to be robbed away from me by circumstances: please stay still long enough for me to muster the courage to caress you and graze against the cracks you’ve accumulated. Give me a chance to run wild and rampant in you. Let me hold you close in your most anxious moments. Allow me in.

Living in a crowded city makes instense personal contact surreal, an abstraction that we get too self-conscious of once we realize it’s occuring. Terrible, because we all deserve connections that aren’t stage-managed by our insecurities. I walk these streets, wondering if people feel like I’m someone worth delving deeper for. There are so many walls. Small wonder that it’s so tempting to just hide away and never crash against the loneliness of seeking and not finding. But I won’t, and I can’t afford to anymore.

I want to wrest my chest open and hand something dripping and warm and grotesquely real to everyone who passes by. Here I am, spun in rather dark shades, trying to show you something of me. Because when I see you—whoever you are—as you, I find nothing but solace.