Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My First Nuffnang Contest: Hapontukin!

Here's an email that recently arrived in my inbox, courtesy of the awesome folks at Nuffnang Philippines:
Have you experienced hapontukin?  It’s a condition where you don't have enough energy to last you through the day. Kaya you're always antok sa hapon!
For those of you who don't speak Taglish, "antok sa hapon" means "sleepy in the afternoon." So, in other words, we're looking at what's globally known as the afternoon slump.

If you’re like most of us, you’ve had your hapontukin moments, yes?  Then tell us about it!  How do you cope when hapontukin sets in?   Show us!
Hapontukin, you say? Well, you're talking to a veteran of the hapontukin wars, here.

In my twenties, I used to work as an assistant at a predominantly male tech firm, where the hapontukin weapon of choice involved violent video games on an LCD flat-screen in the conference room. Since I didn't do the whole video-game thing back in the day, I ended up fighting the good fight with a combination of sweet and salty snacks, accompanied by the caffeinated drink of choice.

I left that job when I went to graduate school, but the same story continued even after my post-Masters career. Long story short: Didn't work.

Over the years, however, I stumbled upon a few things that did work for me. Now, when hapontukin sets in, I employ a variety of strategies that share a common theme: Stimulating the mind through the senses.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Randomesticity: Beyond the Makeover

While the last few entries on this blog have been occupied with all things weight-related, I also haven't neglected my beauty-blogging duties either. Here's what's to come in future editions of Domesticity:

- I may (or may not) have discovered the Holy Grail for my hair. Hint: it involves a sulfate-free shampoo that cleans beyond my expectations.

- I'm also entering my first entry for a blog contest sponsored by the folks at Nuffnang Philippines... and the only thing that's keeping me from finishing it - which is, of course, my career - may actually hold the key to making this entry even more awesome.

- Speaking of awesome: As much as I don't always agree with Dingdong Dantes - first and foremost being that he's a grown man who chooses to call himself "Dingdong" - we do share a few things in common... which will be eventually addressed in a future Case for the Basics post.

- Also: More hotness from all corners of the world. It may or may not involve El Dingdong (because pictures of otherwise hot Filipino guys will never get old) but it will involve some extensive poking-around through the Google Images archive.

- Yes, I'm about to jump on the Michelle Phan bandwagon - a few months too late, but on the bandwagon nonetheless.

 - And finally... There's a surprise brewing that I can't really tell you about right now. I really can't spoil it here, but I promise you that it's definitely in line with what this blog has always been about for the last five years! 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pump and Lift, Episode 10: Guess How Many Pounds I Just Lost?

Yeah, you heard me. I just lost 10 pounds. TEN POUNDS.

But contrary to what I've written earlier, I'm not celebrating with the mani-pedi that I promised myself. I am, however, celebrating with something that's more decadent than a pre-pedicure champagne foot soak:


That's right, I'm finally giving myself permission to be in the moment. This was the week when I could've stress-eaten my way a la Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer (that pilot episode alone is like Sex and the City for snack-food junkies) but ended up drowning my sorrows in crackers and decaf - so of course I'm ending the week on an edgy note.

But today...

Okay, so this morning wasn't exactly the best place to start, what with the various computer drama and the eye-gouging review of constitutional law (did I tell you that I'm teaching a fun class?) but halfway through it all I just decided that I was going to let it all go and move on to the next activity on the slate. In my case, it's catching up on my blogging, revising my food journals, and getting my eyebrows back into shape.

The problem with being a workaholic in a crazy job is that the stress tricks the mind into thinking that "me time" does not exist. This may have been true during my twenties, when I was hungry and eager to prove myself... but now, after all the health scares I've put myself through, I have to remind myself time and time again to give myself permission for things that I would otherwise talk myself out of doing. Things like walking my dogs, watching TV and sorting out my work space at home.

(That last one is very important. Without a good work space, I can't write. Period.)

So here I am, getting my mind back into the writing mindset so I can get on with the rest of my day. The future will take care of itself.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pump and Lift, Episode 9: Trapped in the Closet

No, I'm not talking about R. Kelly or "switching teams" here. I'm talking about an actual incident that involved an actual closet.

Twenty years ago, I went through an epic humiliation involving my sixth grade crush and a bunch of guy classmates around us... which led to me saying more than I was supposed to, and my crush being absolutely disgusted with me. (I don't want to go into the details, except to say that part of this could have been avoided if I'd decided to just leave certain things unsaid. Goes both ways, I say.) There were scads of personal drama going on with me at that time, too, and it got to the point where I wanted to run off and hide where nobody could find me.

So I did what a 6th grader undergoing an epic humiliation would do: I hid in a closet.

The space was perfect - a cabinet with shelves large enough for me to fit in, and a sliding door that only I could close and open at will. The plan, in itself, was perfect too: I was going to hide there until class ends, which means I could hide from the assembly that was going on that day and never have to look at anyone ever again. Then I could go home and pretend that nothing happened... although, now that I think of it, killing myself would have been the next logical step.

And I would've gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for a teacher who looked inside my classroom and found me peeking out of the sliding door.

I don't remember what she said to me, exactly, but I do remember her saying it in a crisp British accent. And not in the way that most teachers would speak to somebody my age - Come on! You have to go to the assembly! Quick! NOW! - but in an oddly compassionate manner that made sense. And this was the gist of it all:

"You know, there are other things going on right now that are better than hiding in a closet." 

That jolted me out of my sad-sack phase altogether... and just like that, I walked out of that closet and joined that assembly. 


I still think about those words now, actually. (The crush-y guy, not so much... although I hear he is doing quite well. Good for him, I say.) There are so many things that are much more fun than shutting one's self out of the world. I talk about how much work I have to do at my job... but I don't have an obligation to be there all day, all the time, so I can't use work as an excuse to avoid working out or any other form of "me" time. And I also can't use the craziness of my job to avoid having an actual social life outside of work, either. Sooner or later I do have to open up to the possibilities and get myself a life.

The other thing I learned from this incident is that every person who undertakes an epic journey can always use a supportive group of friends and family. That's what made the situation worse for me: I was just so fixated on this guy that I didn't realize that there were other people who could actually give me their unconditional love and support - not just guys, but actual friends. And part of the process of making friends involves getting over myself and reaching out to other people. Which I didn't, because I was so insecure with myself that I didn't get to do things like joining a choir or a sports team, or even developing a hobby other than writing. Instead, I let this pattern rule my life - the whole "you know, my life would be much more awesome if I had a boyfriend and people liked me" mindset - and it has brought me nothing but grief.

Until I got over it, and chose to rise above my own helplessness.

It's a choice that I still have to make, day in and day out, to rise above the negative and reach out towards the light. That's what I mean now about mending fences that need to be mended: making peace with the past, towards building a new future.

I hope I'm doing a good job.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Makeover Project, Episode 8: Happy Saturdays

We've dealt with the physical on this blog; now we go into the meta-physical.

Today I was struck by the realization that I'm actually happy right now. I have great friends, a loving family, a stable home life, a stable spiritual life... and a job that - as stressful and time-consuming as it is - has not made me cranky in the way that other jobs usually do for me. AND I'm losing weight, too, so my diet is finally sorting itself out.The only way that I could get even more happier than this is to attract more happiness in my life. Here are the little things that have contributed to my cheerful state of mind:

- New shoes. I got these gray shoes at the Skechers store; they're designed for people who have to be on their feet for work (like I do) so they totally pass my comfort test. The great thing about these shoes is that they're sneaker-like without being actual sneakers, which is just perfect for avoiding dress-code issues at my workplace. As for the gray color... well, considering that most of my dress/work pants are either black or gray, it's not completely out of place in my wardrobe at all.

- "Old" books. I mean this in a figurative sense, since there's a research aspect to my job and I have to scrounge through books on philosophy, psychology, education law, *and* history to give my lessons a little perspective. Yes, all this reading poses a risk of me turning into a workaholic with a Claritin habit, but that's part of what makes my job so satisfying - both for myself and my students. Now, if only I had a magic spell to teach my students how to take good notes...

- The strange (but true) relationship between my dog and my cat. Okay, so Tyler Durden really isn't my cat; I don't take him to the vet as often as I do with our mutts Williams and Sonoma. (Names have been changed to protect the Hacienda.) But for some reason, Williams - the older, bigger of the two - has bonded with Tyler in a weirdly wonderful way. Both of them are roughly the same age, so they were able to learn the dynamics of dog/cat play-fighting while they were still young. In recent months, however, Williams and Tyler have scaled back on the Fight Club aspect of their relationship in favor of something close to synergy. There are days when Williams isn't too keen on whatever kibble he has in the bowl, for example, so he lets Tyler come over and snack on a bit of kibble, too. It's pretty obvious that Williams and Tyler have practically adopted each other, even though Williams and his brother continue to be clueless when it comes to other cats.

- Mini-reunions on Facebook. It always starts with an innocuous post - somebody posts old pictures, or a song that reminds us of the old days - and suddenly everyone comes out of the woodwork after 20 years to say hello. I've found a lot of "renewed" friendships this way; it has taught me to mend fences where they truly need to be mended. Then there's the shared cheese factor of seeing so many bad outfits and worse hairstyles (see: yours truly as a first grader, at left), which are more than worth their weight in gold.

- Naps and massages. For obvious reasons.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Giving New Meaning to the Words "Pump and Lift"

New Zealand issues the call...

And Fiji takes up the challenge...

And the whole entire time, all I can think about is, "Dagnabbit, will somebody please send me those sugar-free cookies from Food Hole Whole Foods that don't taste like styrofoam?"

For the rest of you who enjoy Polynesian deliciousness of a different kind: New Zealand vs. Tonga.

(Sorry, guys: Next to the hotness of the All Blacks, there's no way I can follow this up with a video of the all-undergrad University of Hawaii football team performing the ha`a. Here it is, though.)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Makeover Project, Episode 7: Six Pounds

That's the total amount of weight that I've lost this month. Judging by the way my tight T-shirts have started feeling loose again, it looks like I'm slated to lose even more.

The way I did it looks so simple: rationing out the carb portions, eating more vegetables, drinking more water, cutting down on the sweet stuff. The truth of the matter, however, is much more complicated than that.

It's no joke to go from relatively laid-back slacker to college lecturer in one week; the transition to lecturer is already crazy enough as it is without the surrounding drama of my life (i.e. respiratory infections, stolen wallets, etc.). Right now I've been scrambling to make sure that my students are covering all of the important philosophies before I assign their first quiz and their first paper, which means that I'm up to my elbows in reading old books and looking up terminology online. With craziness like this, it's no wonder that aerobics is the furthest thing from my mind right now.

What does feel good, however, is leaving the house once in a while and taking in some fresh air.

It's been hard to enjoy the outdoors because of the rainy season over here, but today I was able to enjoy a brief, overcast walk around the yard with the dogs. I miss smelling the fresh air, the temptation to run... really, any kind of breathing in general. Maybe this week will be the week when I will be re-introducing exercise into the equation - don't know how I'll do it, but I know I will.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What's Your Fantasy: Pinoy Hotness, Pt. 2 - Or, Why You Should Coco

You know that you've made it as an indie darling in the Philippines when somebody puts your name in a search engine and ends up with a kajillion pictures of you in various states of undress.

By now Coco Martin must've already realized that this was all part of the bargain, considering that he auspiciously began his acting career playing different flavors of rent boy in Brillante Mendoza's art films, as well as other gay-friendly indies from known helmers.

Then Cannes started happening to Coco, via Serbis and Kinatay...

...and the world at large started taking notice.  

The story doesn't stop at Cannes, though. Coco also started showing up on the ABS-CBN slate as everyone's favorite antihero, playing characters ranging from unhinged gangsters to vigilante lizard-wranglers. (Yes, I just typed the words vigilante lizard-wrangler. I kid you not.) He also started campaigning for Noynoy Aquino and even starred in a movie as a filmmaker following the current president-elect throughout the years. Meanwhile, he still hasn't abandoned his fans (of all genders and orientations) from the eye-candy years by modeling - once again, in various states of shirtlessness - for Bench.

Which then brings us to the question: How does one cross over from steamy indies to PG-rated mainstream stardom with such ease?

In Coco Martin's defense, I can say I'm less likely to tune out a teleserye whenever he shows up onscreen. He has the tendency to not play the same character twice, in spite of the typecasting. So far he has played trigger-happy nutjobs in two back-to-back seryes, but even then I could tell those characters apart, thanks to the different nuances that Coco brings to each character - gestures, body language, tones of voice. Even in a show crammed with established big-ticket names, Coco is almost always the best part of it all.

The other thing is that Coco doesn't seem to be the kind of guy who's going to stop being, well, Coco. He's not the guy that your grandma wants to end up with the girl, so it follows that he's also not the guy you want to see singing bad covers of Top 40 hits on your average noontime show. He is, however, the guy that you do want to see in a vodka commercial, because he's one of those rare booze endorsers that nobody wants to punch in the face. And of course, once he shows up at the nearest billboard in his underwear, you'll be almost thankful for the crappy Manila traffic.

But seriously, though: vigilante lizard-wrangler. Dang.

(Photo credit for screengrab:

Friday, June 04, 2010

If At First You Don't Succeed...

...Why yes, I'm still getting over the fact that I'm working again. Thanks for asking.

Domesticity, as we know it, will resume as soon as I take a breather.