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The Eight Stages of Wedding Planning, According to Me

19 February 2017
* May or may not have happened irl *

1: Sweet sweet fantasy, baby

You just got engaged, and everything is possible.

Peonies, peonies everywhere.
Brunch reception, a la Gossip Girl.
Haute couture wedding gown.
The Vitamin String quartet.
Fireworks, and a chocolate fountain.
Monogrammed table linen.
And a little bit of DIY (thank you, Pinterest), because every wedding needs a ~personal~ touch.

2: The Wedding Forum Wormhole

You subscribe to every single echo chamber bridal forum known to man. This is your life now, for the next twelve months. You get very useful tips, like what aspects of the wedding to invest on.

Invest on the coordinator, as they will make or break your wedding.
Invest on the food, because that is all the guests will remember.
Invest on the rings, because you don't scrimp on jewelry you will wear forever. Or until your fifth wedding anniversary when you decide to upgrade, but you don't know that yet.
Invest on the photos, because that is all you get to keep in the end. Apart from the rings.
Invest on the bridal gown, because, let's face it, it sets the overall tone of the wedding.
Invest on the bridal car, because the dress, which sets the tone of the wedding, needs a grand entrance.
Invest on the entourage dresses, because if they look cheap, you look cheap.
Invest on the music, because it sets the tone of the wedding. Not as much as the bridal gown, but still. The gown might need some help.
Invest on the flowers, because nothing ruins the tone of the wedding more so than horrible flowers. I mean, your dress worked so hard!
Invest on the makeup artist, because duh.
Invest on the band, because that is all the guests will remember. Wait, that was the food. But they will also remember this. THEY REMEMBER EVERYTHING.

You know what you can scrimp on? Your food, for the next twelve months, so you can trim your weight down to that time when people thought you were either anorexic or on drugs.

3: Reality Hits

You start tallying the costs and realize that the only way you could afford it is if you can somehow get rid of that one extra zero at the end. You consider selling your kidney. Your church can only fit half your guests. You've been dieting for a month and you've only lost half a pound. Maybe if you manage to sell your kidney you lose half a pound more, but no prospects so far. Also, apparently kidneys were not as expensive as you thought.

4: Bargaining

You decide you don't really care about the flowers, after all. Peonies schmonies. And the guests don't keep souvenirs, do they? As long as they're well-fed... You forego the photo albums (who keeps physical albums these days, anyway?) and the prenup video, so you can save your entourage from having to wear ill-fitting infinity dresses. Your girls love you, but not that much. And string quartet? Psssh, your guests can entertain themselves.

There are still no takers for your kidney, so the designer wedding dress would have to go as well.

5: Decisions, decisions

After weeks of research, you have finally picked out a photographer. No really, this one is it. But wait, this other photographer is getting a lot of praises in two of the seventy-five bridal forums. Maybe you should consider him. Oh look, the first one just got featured in a bridal blog. You really should book him before someone snaps him up. You send him an email. He does not reply! It's already been, what, five long minutes? Why won't he reply? Maybe he's already booked! You were too late! You should have booked him months ago, when he was 0.001% less popular! What were you thinking, "sleeping on it"?!? That other photographer's not as good. In fact he's crap. Okay he's not crap, but still. Why did you have to get married in December? Everyone's getting married in December. There's too much competition! Maybe you should change your wedding date. Someone contacted you about your kidney, so maybe it's alright to let go of your downpayment... Oh look, he replied. Still available. Yay.
{Repeat 20x}

6: Ctrl+Z

You have booked all your suppliers, and you're 100% convinced you've made the wrong decision for every single one. You spend the coming weeks stalking the works of other suppliers and hating yourself for the hasty decision-making. One Friday night as you scroll through your instagram feed you find the ~perfect~ photo. This is it, you think. This is what I should have booked in the first place. You start rehearsing your script to explain to your groom why you're losing thousands of pesos in downpayment (and why it's a good idea), until you check the photo owner. It's your original supplier.
{Repeat 20x}

7: @#$%^*$!!!

Your wedding dress is too plain. Yes, you said you wanted a plain dress. But this is too plain.
Your tell your stylist you want copper details, and he shows up with a gold sequined runner.
You don't have an arrhae. Also you don't know what an arrhae is, exactly.
You fly home over the weekend for a very important "seminar" that you need for the license. When you get to city hall, the person conducting the seminar is... elsewhere, so they decide it's not that important and give you the license anyway
Your coordinator still thinks your theme is rustic, even if your peg board says MODERN in big bold letters.
Your mother tells you she only has 40 guests and then sends you a list of 80 people, not including +1's.
A tropical cyclone forms and threatens to make landfall a few days before your wedding. Your caterer calls to tell you they might not be able to put up tents because the wind is too strong.
Your maid of honor's dress does not fit, and she blames you because you keep inviting her to eat out.
You have your nails done under horrible lighting and what looked like a gorgeous taupe in the salon was actually the color of poop.
You have absolutely no idea what to do for your first dance.
No one has RSVPed, but you knew that already. No one RSVPs.

You start looking forward to the day after your wedding.

8: #TeamNoSleep

You only have two hours of sleep because you spent the entire night wrapping presents for your entourage (as it turns out, furoshiki is not as easy as the YouTube videos make it out to be). You open your hotel room doors and let the makeup team in. Ten seconds later and you're in front of the church, veil flapping in the wind, clutching a hastily put-together bouquet because your florist got confused and sent you the wrong one. Your photo and video team are desperately trying to keep people out of the shot, your coordinator is furiously whispering on her headset, and all you can do is breathe.
The church doors open.
Your groom is ugly crying.

Totally worth it.

Chasing Lights

03 February 2017
It's hard not to fall in love with Iceland.
I could not think of a more perfect place to usher in the new year, and our new life as a married couple as well. ^^

Granted, the dead of winter is not the most ideal honeymoon weather - we had so many layers on we couldn't even manage a hug - but we did end up utterly, utterly smitten.

We stayed in this really neat little concept hotel called Reykjavik Lights. I have been all about concept hotels lately and this one, with its Scandinavian decor and rain showers (which I am also a sucker for), is a clear favorite. Not the most convenient, though, as it's a bit far from the city center, but most of the time we were on tours so it was not too big of an issue.

We wanted to keep our itinerary relaxed and maybe just a tad bit lazy (it is our honeymoon, after all) so apart from a couple of pre-bookings we mostly just played it by ear. Icelandic weather is notorious for being unpredictable, so it also was nice to have the flexibility to move things about. Most tours can be booked on short notice, anyway, and they pick you up directly from the hotel; it's all very convenient, really.

Our favorite trips were with GeoIceland. They operate relatively small tour groups, the guides are fun and knowledgeable, and the buses are clean and roomy. They also provided crampons to keep us from slipping on the icy footpaths (people were slipping and sliding and just getting completely wiped out everywhere we went, so these were lifesavers).

A definite highlight of this trip was the Sólheimajökull glacier walk.
Anything that involves glaciers, really, is a sure win for me, but my goodness! It was absolutely breathtaking. I could probably stand there for hours, just taking in the majesty of it all. Pictures don't do it justice, words don't do it justice.

Now to address the elephant in the room: we did see the Northern Lights! It took us three tries, and hours upon hours of shivering in the bitter cold until the universe finally decided we were worthy. We have actually given up at that point, having waited for hours to no avail, and everyone was already asleep as the bus made its way back to Reykjavik. And then without warning all the lights on the bus suddenly turned on, accompanied by shouts of "Lights! Lights! We have lights!" and immediately every single person on the bus sprang into action and made a mad dash outside. Unfortunately what was promising to be a spectacular show was overrun by clouds in no time, but we'd have to be content with what felt like a mere glimpse.

I do wish someone told me it was prettier in photos than in real life. At one point I was convinced my camera was making things up because it would register this pretty green stripe when all I can see is gray. It's almost like cheating, except I don't know how I'm doing it.

The Blue Lagoon is one big giant tourist trap - it's near the airport, it sells ridiculously overpriced products, and, in a country with no shortage of jaw-dropping, disgustingly beautiful natural wonders, is completely manmade. I am also not the biggest fan of hot springs, or frolicking in the water in general. And yet every single moment I spent here, I loved.

A steamy hot outdoor pool in subzero temperatures is not exactly my idea of relaxation, but I am so happy to have been proven wrong. Worth the initial panic of having to shower naked in an open-plan cubicle with complete strangers (years and years of Catholic schooling have lasting effects, see).

I can't wait to go back.

Þetta reddast

05 January 2017
It's 2 am in Reykjavik, and I am wide awake because yesterday I fell asleep early in the afternoon while trying to figure out where to have dinner (which as you can probably tell, did not come to fruition). There's a storm brewing outside, Abe is happily snoring under the sheets, and I have a steaming cup of coffee on my bedside table. I figure it's as good a time as any to inject some life back into this blog.

There is this Icelandic expression, Þetta reddast, which means "things will work out okay". I cannot think of a better way to describe the year I've just had.

I spent a good chunk of 2016 adjusting to life in Yokohama. Moving here was an attempt to push myself out of my comfort zone - I did not know a single soul in our Japan office (or so I thought - as it turns out I had a bunch of ex-colleagues in another department), and to be honest I had very little grasp of what the job entailed. All I knew was it was going to be an uphill climb, and all I had was enough faith in myself that I am capable enough to do what needs to be done.

Now that the assignment is over I can only be thankful that I seized the opportunity when it presented itself. Not only did I gain valuable experience, but Yokohama is also a wonderful, wonderful place to live in. Whenever I would make my way towards the apartment, even after a particularly long day at work, I would find myself smiling and thanking my lucky stars for bringing me here. See? It all worked out in the end.

Japan will probably never be home, but it will always have a special place in my heart, and I'm sure it won't be long before I find my way back here again.

And then there was December.

I did not want to be the crazy bride who could only talk about her wedding, but during the weeks leading to it there was little else on my mind. Truth be told it consumed a lot more of my energy than I would've liked. There were important things - legal and church papers, the guestlist - and there were superficial things - my nail polish color, the type of embossing on the invites - but they were things that have to be attended to nonetheless. It was exhausting, the number of decisions that had to be made, and I would be lying if I said I didn't entertain the possibility of eloping just to get it done and over with.

There were a billion things that could go wrong - and a few things that actually did go wrong - but at the end of the day, I only needed to get one thing right. And that I did.

Hello, 2017.
We're ready for you.

Just Japan Things: Terrace House

11 October 2016
Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City has just recently concluded and my Tuesdays have never been the same since.

I've been trying to get people to watch this show, often times to no avail, and I kind of understand why. It's a reality show, which the world is trying to collectively move on from, plus it's in Japanese so it's not something you can watch passively. I myself had to be prodded by Netflix for months before I gave it a try, and when I finally did I didn't make it past the first episode before I moved on to something else. When I have finally exhausted all my other options, I gave it another whirl, and I was up until 3 or 4 in the morning and I had work the following day. Unbeknownst to me, Abe was also up at the same time, because I ordered begged him to please please please watch just one episode so he has an idea what I'd most likely be yammering about in the days to come, and he ended up watching the entire first season and hating me for having access to the next one.

Terrace House is a local TV show that was picked up by Netflix. The first season is available in most countries as far as I can tell, and second one should be available soon. So the premise is you have three boys and three girls and they live together in one house. Yes, you can roll your eyes because heaven knows I did.

What separates it from every other reality show ever is that everyone's life outside the house still goes one as it normally would - they still go to work, their families and friends can visit, and they even get to watch their own episodes as they air. And, it's Japanese. They just do things differently.

Like birthday party conversations.

And "everyday" grub.

And professions that are popular with women.

Terrace House Tip #1: Hairdresser > Jock. Yep. 

Also, people keep waking everyone up, and no one gets mad. Like they don't even shout or anything.
I mean, he's buried under the covers for crying out loud. Is that what you look like when you're up?!?

Some things remain the same across all cultures, though.

The show also includes a regular commentary from a very entertaining group of local celebrities (seriously, at certain points they're the ones that actually keep the show going), which provides even more wonderful insight.

Terrace House Tip #2: Keep that voice nice and deep. 

Terrace House Tip #3: Never ever tell people you're hungry. 

But seriously, though. Keep that voice deep.

Like real low and deep.

Maybe even consider vocal chord surgery?

Seriously, just give it a go. If you stick with it long enough you shall be rewarded with an episode where a guy bursts into tears because everyone else ate his meat. It's glorious, I tell you.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

22 September 2016
Reposting (and rephrasing), because I accidentally deleted the last one while editing a typo. That's what happens when you place your mouse which controls the Macbook beside the trackpad that controls the Mac, and your mother who is visiting Japan for a week really, really, really wants to watch her telenovelas and you have been awake since five in the morning (having four real adults in the house means being all showered and breakfast-ed by the time my first alarm of twenty goes off).

So anyway, the point is: (1) I lost weight, and (2) I lost the minimalist battle (but not the war). The latter sort of because of the former but not entirely so.

2015 was when I hit my peak weight, and I felt and looked like a fucking mascot. When I would meet friends I haven't seen in a while, they'd always tell me I look "different". When you gain a few pounds people don't usually hesitate to tell you so (it's practically the traditional Pinoy greeting, isn't it?), but when it's a lot, then it becomes awkward. Hence, "different".

I was fine with it at first; full-fat food, after all, is glorious. But when I started getting depressed whenever I look in the mirror and felt myself cringing when looking at my photos, I knew it was time to make some changes.

For a week (and only a week - it's tedious work), I counted calories to figure out how much I am overeating (answer: a lot). From there it was all a matter of making better choices. Actually no, scratch that. I just stopped making really bad choices. Like giant cup ramen (500 kcal - that's two quarter pounders!). Or an entire bag of Lay's (1200 kcal, or my entire daily allowance). So essentially what I'm saying is I just started eating like a normal human person. Also, no more extra rice. It's sad but there is more rice to be had tomorrow, and there is no need to attempt to inhale all I could possibly can in one meal.

Admittedly the progress was slow, but it was at least steady. I am still nowhere near the level of skinny-ness I would like to achieve, but at least I can look at myself in the mirror with less and less horror each day. And when I board the train, I am no longer afraid that people might give up their seats for me because they think I'm pregnant.

Spot the difference

To be honest I feel like the weight loss is noticeable to no one but me (and Abe too, but that's because he has to :p), but at least the weighing scale and my pants agree. I went down two sizes, and that was when the shopping fast was broken, so to speak. I used to have a section at the back of my closet reserved for clothes I will wear "when I finally lose ten pounds", but I threw them all out when I started going "minimalist". And now I have to go and buy the exact same (-sized) clothes. The irony of it all is not lost on me.

Once I started shopping I found myself unable to resume the fast. "But I also need new tops, because it's summer." "But my favorite dresses are now too loose and must be replaced." "But I want new lipstick."

And so here we are. Sometimes I ask myself if maybe, maybe this isn't for me. Maybe I should just start accepting the fact that I am a hoarder and just, you know, buy more storage. But last week I pulled out my makeup drawer, feeling totally guilty because of the aforementioned new lipstick. But as I started pulling items out in an attempt to edit, I realized I have, despite the setbacks, managed to significantly whittle down my collection, and at no point did I ever feel like I did not have enough. So I guess I've been making progress after all. ^^
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