The honest truth is I welcomed 2019 in my mismatched pajamas, a bare face (literally, without a gloss on my lip, not even moisturizer), and sprawled on the couch. My new year came through the door quietly, and I let it in calmly with no fuss. I think this is the first time that I consciously greeted the new year like this. I used to always dress my best and get so upbeat. I’d make a lot of noise, jump and run around the house in my polka dot outfit with coins bouncing in my pocket for good luck throughout the year. This time around, I felt the adult me take over. To welcome the new year in a formal business fashion. That ‘let’s make a deal if you treat me right’ statement. I just wanted peace and quiet and a really good sleep.

Every time a year starts, I always try to get a general vibe of how the year will transpire. For 2019, I see an exciting, record-breaking, successful yet challenging year. In 2018, I definitely pushed the envelope, taking more risks and thus meeting the side of myself that I didn’t realize existed. I finally met her — the strong-willed and courageous one — and I think in 2019, she will unleash her beast full-fold. In 2019, she will be bold and audacious. She will be brave enough to show the world who she really is and what she is about. It’s her show now.

Well, my first week of January has been pretty low key and uneventful. Just about right and what I deserve, since the last three months of 2018 I have been a hot mess. So I had a painful breakup. I came to face the fact that dealing with heartbreak really ruins your orientation in life. You get confused about yourself, your doubts and insecurities start creeping in, and you feel lost and blindsided. It really throws you off. That’s exactly what happened to me. I thought the bullet missed me. I thought, ‘I’m a strong girl, I don’t get hurt’. I thought the breakup left me unscathed. The truth is, it was just a ruse. I was just ignoring the blistering wound festering in me that one day started hurting so much. And when I saw it, I started pushing on it, so more blood, self-loathing, and anger came out. Pain changes a person. It even turns some into monsters. I became a self-destructing monster. But enough about that. I think that I am over it — mostly.

The intention this year is to focus on what matters, which is my well-being and what needs to be done for my career. I think coming into the year, I’m bringing a new sense of maturity. I’m not as anxious as I used to be about where my life is going. Whenever I feel down, I always go back to 5 years ago in my life when I started from nothing — with zero idea of who I am, a transplant from the Philippines not knowing what career I can have here in the U.S. But fast forward to today, I’m still here, working and figuring it out. It doesn’t mean that everything is clear and certain now. The secret is finding the will to live — hoping that tomorrow will be a better day. Maybe tomorrow brings more inspiration. Maybe tomorrow I’m luckier. Maybe tomorrow I find more motivation. As long as that hope is alive, I just keep on going. I don’t think it really matters if everything makes sense or not yet, but if I ask myself am I happy? Yes should be my answer. And if I am not, how can I be happy? Happiness is what we should aim for. I stopped making excuses years ago and that change of perspective really did good to my life. When we stop playing victim in our own stories, when we stop blaming the world for our circumstances, and start acknowledging the fact that we can actively turn things around to our favor, achieving little successes that may not be exactly what we want but something close, it is considered a win. Let’s take control of what we can in life and run with it.

Bottom line is, my 2019 carries a lot of hope. I believe them when they say it’s a year of MANIFESTATION. I’m excited for the coming months! A lot of work to do and boxes to tick. Also, here’s to writing more. Truthfully and organically, as they would say. Let’s get on it. 🙂


Have a day where you don’t talk to anybody. Be unavailable to everyone but yourself. Take this time to recharge and replenish. To everyone who needs you and demands your time, they can wait.

Check yourself. Are you alright? Are you rested? Are you happy? Reflect on your current situation. It’s important that you are still present. And that you don’t over-exert yourself. You work best and love best when you are at your best.

Take breaks, it is necessary.

Selfish in its own right

Today’s reminder is about demanding your place in a relationship / situationship.

I used to always accommodate people I date. I adjust myself in order to be not too demanding and not too lax at the same time. But after a lot of pondering, I thought, “Hey, what about me? How about my feelings? Have they considered my wants and needs?” Most of the time, we get lost in the idea of pleasing the other person that we neglect our own needs and desires. It is okay to ask yourself, “am I being appreciated in this relationship? Am I getting the same effort of what I’m giving?”

It is never selfish to demand what would make you feel secure in the relationship. So what if you look clingy? So what if you think you’re too demanding? This is your relationship. State the terms of your peace and happiness.

It is okay to demand the same level of attention, time, and affection of what you are giving. It is only acceptable. Remind yourself: this is your relationship, too.


I am done pinning my self-worth on other people’s acceptance of me. I am important because I know who I am and I know my value. I get it, I will meet people who will not see me for who I am and won’t treat me the way I would like and deserve. And that’s okay. I will walk away and accept it. That’s how life is. You give yourself to someone you hope is worthy of you, and in cases that you fail, you hurt but you try again.

I know that the person who is worthy to receive my love will value my time, my attention, and my whole person. I can’t wait to meet that person one day. But for now, I am worthy to have me.

The Unpopular Immigrant Story

There is an immigrant story that books and the media fail to cover. It’s the story of the international students who walk the long road to becoming immigrants in the United States. It’s a story I identify with and a story that you will hear today.

Four years after my departure from my beloved home country, I still have a number of friends who ask me “What exactly are you doing there?” They know I’m not a green card holder and I’m not a U.S. citizen either. It’s a question that always lead me to my scratching my head before I answer. How do I explain what I’m doing to someone who wouldn’t understand the struggle? Because the answer is not black or white. It’s gray with a tinge of blue and specks of brown and, okay, hints of green. To put it bluntly, it’s shit.

Me: I am an international student here in the U.S. But I also do work on the side.

Friend: What work?

Me: Some work.

Friend: Okay. And what are you studying?

Me: Some studies.

That’s the best answer I can come up with. And I know, given my vague answer, that my friend is not far from thinking that I am an illegal alien in this country.

Okay, you want the real truth? I am not an illegal alien. I have a legit valid non-immigrant status. I am an international student and I study at an ESL school. “Study”. Now this answer opens another bag of worms. My friend goes, “But why?? You don’t need to study English.” I probably don’t, but I NEED it so I can stay here.

If you choose to be an international student in the United States at a college or university, you need to have kaching in your kapow. I don’t know what I just said, but you need bucks. Thousands of bucks. At least if you’re looking to apply for a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree for a year, you need to show an estimate of $25,000 – $100,000 in your bank account… Or your sugar daddy’s bank account. Or whichever person you find who would be glad to sponsor you, good luck. Yes, if you don’t know it yet, to say that you will avail of an American education is usually a joke. An expensive joke.

If you’re an international student who would enroll at a college or university, you are required to take a full-time study which should not be less than 12 credits. Mind you, the usual price for 1 credit at a community college, the cheapest you can find, is $600. You do the math. You need at least $7000 for one semester. And that could be you learning basic foundational courses like Math, English, and Science… which you already did in your past life when you completed your Bachelor’s Degree in your home country.

Now, let’s say I will go for the international student option, but I am poor and I don’t have a network of capable sponsors. What can I do? My family lives here in the U.S. (legally) and I want to live here too. I don’t want to leave just yet. Do I just give up? Maybe I do have other options.

Enter English for Second Language schools aka  ESL schools. An ESL school is a different breed of school. They accept international students on F-1 visa, but the full-time study only costs about half of what you spend in one semester at a college or university. Let’s say $4000 for 2 semesters or a year of school. Good enough. I found a legitimate way to stay here and “perfect my English” while I’m on it.

On to the next problem, international students are not authorized to work in the U.S. The only exception is if you found a job on campus. If there are no jobs available on campus, how are you going to live then? This is the major problem that people like me who take this route live with everyday. I am an adult and I’ve reached past that point of mom and dad being responsible for my breathing, my eating, the roof above my head… my makeup, my happy hour margaritas, and (duh) my avocado toast brunch-driven millennial lifestyle. Because we have to survive (and let’s be honest, a lifestyle to maintain), we need a good source of income. In comes the side jobs aka waitressing, bartending, coffee-making, babysitting, caregiving, old people-sitting, dogwalking, etc. In Manhattan, it is a LEGIT source of living, I kid you not. Babysitters make more money than you in your office job that you feel so smart doing. I’m talking about $100 a day playing with kids and dropping them off at ballet classes and soccer practice. It is a good source of living, but you ask yourself, is this really the life that you want? Is this something so sustainable that you’ll be doing for the rest of your life?

I’ve spent two years at an ESL school, so why am I doing this again?? And why are there so many foreigners like me who are doing this? Being in a community of ESL students on F-1 visa here in the United States, I must know of a thousand reasons why. And all are sewn by a common thread. We are people who have Bachelor degrees in our home countries who decided to take a risk and get better chances at a country that appreciates and pays hard work. It’s definitely not an easy life. I have made a lot of friends who left the familiar, jumped out of their comfort zones to provide a better living for those who they left behind or to provide for a better future.

But what exactly does our future look like? The hope is that we can actually convert our status into something that allows us to live and work here, without the constant worry of Trump suddenly kicking out all international students. There is a way which is finding a company that is willing to sponsor you for work, but that road is also congested and demands 10+ years of work experience. The hope is that some kind of magic happens where work authorization cards grow on trees and it wouldn’t matter whether someone is a non-immigrant in this country. Can’t we be allowed to work anyway? Because when you have been a U.S. resident for more than 5 years, can’t that count as residency yet? Immigration is a real tricky thing.

We are not undocumented immigrants, but we are the almost-immigrants nobody really knows a lot about. We just live in the seams, hoping that there would be a quick and easy solution to all of this paperwork, that doesn’t involve having a fake U.S. citizen marriage.

I can’t blame the people who choose to live their lot here. It clearly is better here than what we left behind, but nobody really grasps the difficulty of figuring out a way to stay for good when you don’t have the benefits of a U.S. citizen. And it haunts you in your every waking day.

To be honest, when I began this journey, the only reason that made me stay is because I don’t want to take the chance of not seeing my family again. I knew back then that if I opted to stay behind, I would be risking not seeing my family again. So right after college, I packed my bags with no certainty of what I was gonna do and let Jesus take the wheel. I did that. And I’m here now. I’m still at a place where nothing’s certain but I just continue to carry the hope that tomorrow will bring some sort of solution to my problem and I would be able to live free and travel to Europe without worrying if I can ever come back to the U.S.

My parents just got their green card two days ago. I tell myself that I don’t have to fight so hard to be here anymore. I can find work in another country and try my chances elsewhere and my parents and brothers can just visit me. But then I fell in love with Uncle Sam. I fell in love with my life here. I fell in love with what I slowly grow up becoming — independent and carefree. And I don’t see myself living this kind of life in my home country or anywhere else just yet. Now I have a different reason to stay but the circumstances are the same.

I don’t know how this story ends. I’d just have to live everyday and see the opportunities unfold. It is so cliche, but everything really is uncertain. Wherever you may choose to live in this world, life has a way of challenging you and hitting you with roadblocks. It may not be immigration issues, but it sure is something else. You just continue hope that you’d have enough strength and stamina to face it all. With a little help from friends and family… and some vodka. 😉

And that is my immigrant story.





These past few days have been a bust. As much as I try to control things in my life, there are always these little details that are out of my grasp that get in the way. So now I find myself at a buffer zone and the looks of my near future are still a blur.

Some deets on my life lately:

  • I have been accepted to the Masters program of my choosing and I’m waiting on the results of my chance on a scholarship. That’s the only way I can accept the offer to the program anyway. To be honest, I’m also doubting whether I can really study full-time again. Do I have the grit to study again? I’m a little afraid to go back to school, but at the same time, I know I have wanted this for so long.
  • I have a pending employment application that I have to wait results for in May or June. Will I push through it if it did get approved? The good thing about it is SECURITY. I have imagined for that day to come in so many ways. Now that it’s near and so damn possible, I’m not sure if it’s right for me.
  • A friend offered to be roommates with me and she wants to move to a new apartment this summer. I have to make a decision quickly, because we need to find a room we can afford together. Moving is such a hassle and I don’t know if I’m ready for a new set-up or higher rent.
  • I recently decided to do a diet/fitness lifestyle overhaul and I’m trying my best to keep up to it. I have been making and eating healthy lunches, zero-carb dinners, smoothie breakfasts, taking 5k runs around the city twice a week, and the whole thing is just so tiring! I wonder how people can maintain this on the daily. (I have a serious issue with routine and discipline.)
  • Lastly, there is an e-mail lying around my draft folder, with me asking for a salary raise. Due to wanting to get the timing right, it’s been lounging in that folder for two weeks now. I’ve been pushing myself to work harder just to justify my request even though I know that I have deserved it since the beginning of the year. I don’t know when I’ll press send. It’s driving me insane. “Charmaine, grow a backbone. You deserve this,” is my speech every night.

So yup, that’s what’s been happening in my life. There are so many things bogging me down and the stress and anxiety is creeping up slowly. I hate it. I hate dealing with all of this adult stuff. I wish I can go back to being a kid again, when my worst problem was a math homework that my mom can help me answer.

The only thing that makes me happy about this is the achievement after three months of hard work that has got me to where I am now. Truth is, these problems were brought on by my actions that I did out of the desire to have a better life and a better career. Because of my desire of security and stability, I now find myself in a place of endless possibilities. I am proud of what it all led to. Although, I would say that there are days that I still feel lost. I am never 100% sure whether I’m doing the right thing. I just know that doing something will open more doors for me and will take me somewhere at least. After all, actions make half of the dream-chasing. As Ally Macbeal says, “I actually like the quest, the search. That’s the fun. The more lost you are, the more you have to look forward to. What do you know? I’m having a great time and I don’t even know it.

Tomorrow at nine a.m.?

Oh man, I feel nervous writing again. I was so scared I lost the groove because I have been struggling finding the energy or the inspiration to write, especially these past months. For a long time I couldn’t find the right words or the courage to let all my issues out. Now that I finally overcame the curse of the blank page, let me begin by telling you about my work.

Around April this year, I ended my unpaid internship at the Embassy and started working as a full-time waitress at a restaurant. Some of you may be wondering, “You have a college degree, right? Why work as a waitress? Couldn’t you find a better job?” For all of you concerned, it is quite complicated. Everything about my life became much more complicated since I moved here in the States. I don’t want to give you a headache with immigration terms and conditions, so let’s leave it at ‘It’s complicated’.

Being a waitress/cashier/hostess at a restaurant was a brand new experience to me. It has never occurred to me that I’d get paid serving someone their lunch or dinner. To be totally honest, I was too proud to do the job at first. But after a week of learning how to carry three or more plates at a time and learning what ikura, tamago, and masago is (I work at a Japanese-Chinese-Thai restaurant), I am thankful at how this job has humbled me and put me in my place. I have begun to appreciate the worth of every hard-earned dollar. The experience definitely honed my focus and multi-tasking skills. But most of all, it has improved my confidence in talking to people and engaging them in conversation. Although, unfairly good-looking customers still faze me a bit, the fact that I can ask them how their day went without hyperventilating is a good improvement to my esteem. Gee, thanks to this job. Other than that, other perks to my job include being surrounded by good food all the time (and getting 30% employee discount on all entrees!) and getting to meet the fun co-workers that I have.

BUT! Despite the fast cash and free sushi buffets, there are still a number of reasons why this job sucks. I hate that full-time work to my boss means working six days a week, from 10am to 10pm. My boss doesn’t want to hire a lot of people so I’m covering a lot of shifts at the moment. This arrangement is the reason why I have zero social life. Anyone working in the restaurant industry knows that Friday and Saturday are the busiest, so that’s off the negotiation table for day-offs.

Another thing I despise is how monotonous a day can get. Rush hour is only five hours tops in a day where I work, so the rest of them is basically free time. Sometimes I just really wish I was doing something creative. It’s hard not to feel like I’m wasting my time and my life when there is no business at all. All the idle time only creates space for unnecessary thoughts and worries.

Lately, I’ve been feeling really blue and anxious about my current situation and my future. Feelings like, “I never wanted to be in this situation in the first place” or “I didn’t graduate college for this” would come to the surface and it’s taking too much space in my head it’s becoming harder to ignore. I know that I wish I was doing something else, but the problem is not knowing what that something else is. I wouldn’t know where to go or what to do if one day I decide to quit. Several times I imagine myself running far far away, away from all this ennui, and off to discover my life’s passion. Like that’s so easy to do when you’re broke!

It’s such a struggle, isn’t it? To feel so stuck and clueless. To feel lost and to not know where to look to be freed and be found. I owe myself at least the resolve to figure the next stone on the path, but right now all I can offer myself is a shrug.


I have been captured by this riveting thought David Sedaris has implanted in my mind. In one of his essays in his book Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, a Mrs. Dunston said,

“Me, I have a son at the college, so that’s what I’m doing, just checking in. He’s my second boy, actually. The first one went here too. He’s not working in his field yet, but with unemployment as high as it is. he’s lucky to have anything at all. If I’ve told him that once, I’ve told him a hundred times, but of course, being young, he’s impatient, which is natural. Wants to set the world on fire, and if it can’t happen by tomorrow at nine a.m., then life’s just unfair and hardly worth living…”

That is the plain truth — for me and for the rest of my kind of this generation. We are growing more and more impatient with our lives that when we don’t achieve our desired success RIGHT NOW, we get really frustrated that we start blaming the universe for being so unfair to us. We forget that apart from wanting our success, we should DESERVE it to have it. And we wouldn’t deserve it if we don’t work hard at something.

On the positive side, I think now is the perfect time to be lost, to wander, and to try everything until you find the One thing you want to do for the rest of your life. We just get frustrated because we are all in a rush to our supposedly happy destination, but we can’t really find that overnight, can we? I agree to working hard and collecting all the experiences that I can so when the right time to strike comes, I will be prepared to set the world on fire. Who knows, maybe tomorrow at nine a.m.?

What Will Make You Want to be In a Relationship?

Getting into a relationship these days is complex and stressful. There are rules and there aren’t and there are these different levels and stages. I’m not the type who is always in a relationship. Aside from the fact that I am comfortable being single, I’m also more into finding that one great love. I’m a damn romantic, okay? I just don’t want to waste time with people who won’t even be half as great as my greatest love.

I don’t have a lot of experience in relationships being that my last and only one was back when I was 14, but I have taken a lot from that experience. It was the teenage kind of love, too frail and inadequate to have kept up with my goals and other priorities in life. After that, I just became very picky and I always do risk analysis every time I meet a guy who has boyfriend potential. After six years, what am I even looking for?

1. A person who will sweep me off my feet. I believe that the guy who will make me consider being in a relationship has to have the X factor. Someone who can make me laugh, make me appreciate the world more, and push me to be my best. Someone who appreciates beauty and is energized by adventure and surprise. Someone who has passion and little joys in life that he could share with me. Just someone who isn’t afraid to show his true self and express his feelings, and who will accept my true self and respect my feelings as well.

2. An irresistible and growing attraction. You know, that feeling of just looking into the person’s eyes and instantly getting a spark. That feeling of sharing the room with the person and it’s as if the world around both of you is collapsing. That feeling of desire and attraction so strong it must be mutual. I also want to be able to see this person and tell myself, “He can’t possibly just be a friend.” I want that intensity.

3. That special moment which will make me say, “I can drop everything for this person“. I’m a go big or go home kind of girl. If I go for a guy, he can bet on it that I’d play all my cards for him without holding anything back. I do believe in fate, and if a person who would make me question my priorities comes in my life then I will follow my heart unconditionally. Once I realize that that moment has arrived, know that I’ll be fighting for him and for us at all odds. It’s irrational and stupid, but that’s how it goes for me. Love and lose everything or have nothing at all.

At present, I do feel more prepared for a relationship, albeit still not fully. The greatest revelation is I definitely know what I want now. I’m just waiting for the right person and the perfect timing for me to jump in a relationship. Hopefully, the next one is the great and last.

Emotional nonsense

Five years and a thousand splendid suns ago, I was new to the blogging world. I was the hormonal teenager who used the Internet to spread broken pieces of her little heart. Thank God I left this as a draft in my first blog:

This is why I hate falling in love. I don’t know what I’m saying! The pain of bullets are sporadic yet they attack hard every time making me spill every damn thing on this blog.

A hard fall.. but tonight, you memory, I’ll leave you in the dumpsite. You belong in the bitter well. To drown. Even if the echo of your drowning will remain in my heart. I will always be here. If you choose her, I’ll be okay.

Don’t worry about me. She needs you more. She needs you, breathlessly. Even if I’ll be in pain it’s okay. I just want you to smile and remember. Ill always be your friend.

Before anything, give me a minute to puke in my mouth a little. Forgive me, I was fragile and heartbroken. I don’t even remember who the YOU I am referring to here. Liar! For all I know, it’s James Franco! Not even close.

Seriously, though… The pain of bullets? The bitter well? The echo of your drowning? She needs you, breathlessly??? What the fuck was I trying to say? hahahaha Right, I made no sense and love was all to blame. My writing was all over the place and love was to blame.



Defeat the Blerch!

Last night, I had a mature and eye-opening conversation with my dear old friend, distant wingman, and true bro, Ramon. Just like the old times in the Philippines, we had this late night talk about our debaucheries, embarrassing moments, the sexes, and philosophies in life. I am happy that I have a friend like that. Someone who can just get on my level in the conversation — be random, be serious, be black (whutt), and be plain straight and real. It helps that his body clock is in shambles and mine too that the different time zones is not even an issue.

Last night we were talking about how we were changing… in terms of alcohol consumption. He was three weeks sober (quite shocking!) and I on the other hand haven’t had alcohol in two months. My dad bought a pack of non-alcoholic Beck’s last week and tried to shove a bottle down my throat. Believe me, it was a travesty! Hell no am I drinking that. Give me real beer or give me nothing at all. I can’t believe this, but I am actually yearning for the taste of alcohol in my mouth. After my trip to Europe, I just can’t get enough of it. I miss it. My body even seeks the comfort of my old confidante, Jose Cuervo. I told Rum that I couldn’t believe everything changed so fast. After all the RAM parties, chill beer sessions, and Halloween drunkathons, what could possibly lead to this moment? We used to be better when we’re half-drunk. More fun and more free. I don’t mean the crawling-to-bed pissed drunk, but the still-conscious-but-fearless half-drunk. What happened to us?

He started running the past month, a really big change in his passive lifestyle. He decided to cut down on his carbs, something the man finds hard to give up, and I asked him Why? Why do it now? Why all this change? He just gave me a short and simple answer. “To defeat my past self”.

Sometimes, when we begin to gain this consciousness of who we are, we forget that who we are is not permanent. That we can change. That we can change who we are and how we think about ourselves.  All my life I was fat. All my life I was weak and a pushover. I was born stupid. I can never be athletic. Oh, I can never be good at anything. Just look at the past eighteen years of my life, I am a failure. We think we completely know ourselves and we think we cannot do anything about it, when all we actually need is a new pair of lenses. A different way to look at things. A chance to see ourselves in a different light. We all have potential to do better or to be more than what we think we are. We just need the big push, the inspiration, the slither of hope.

My friend’s motivation inspired me to defeat my past self. I don’t want to sulk anymore. I’m tired of feeling pathetic and as if there is no way out to my misery. I want to stop being that girl who is always worried about the future, always worried about what could and what could not happen. I want to defeat my past self.

I decided to run again. It was my slither of hope back in December and it will be again now. Aside from clearing my head, running taught me how to push myself, to take that extra breath to reach another mile, and to take charge. I want that empowering feeling again.

The link to the six-part comics below was Rum’s motivation when he started running. It is the reason that I am back on my feet, too. Check it out, it’s quite incredible. It’s called the terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long distances by The Oatmeal.

Start reading Part II: The Feeding here. >>>