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A book about the guys who poofed (chapter 10, rough draft)

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DARREN

I met you at a college frat party (whose Greek name I will not divulge for all intended purposes.) A friend (whose name I will also not divulge for the sanctity of my friendship with him,) from an Asian organization I’m a member of, is also a member of that fraternity. Said friend invited me and some of our college friends to said party. It was on a Friday night, and although frat parties, or parties in general weren’t my thing, I went anyway because they said it was going to be fun, and epic, and legendary, and free booze. Ah. The conviction of words. Irresistible. They had me at free booze.

That night started with me getting drunk and then challenging everyone at the pool table to play bets against me, and to make the game more fun, I suggested that everyone play with their left hands. With everyone’s alcohol consumption at the time, everyone just agreed. I won every bet. 80 dollars, four games straight. No one questioned my skill in playing lefty. Everyone just thought that everyone were drunk, and that I just got lucky. Even after I stopped playing, the bets and the games continued on. No one realized what really happened. No one noticed. Except you.

I was counting my winnings in a corner, my red cup already empty, when you came and told me that I was very cheeky. Of course I knew what you were talking about, but I had to pretend I had no idea what you meant. You said I was good at acting drunk too. Maybe you were right. Maybe I was. Or not. It wasn’t that I was good at playing drunk. I just know my alcohol limit and I stop even before I reach that limit. Plus, it’s a hell lot more fun to be the only sober person in a crazy ass party. The joy of seeing my friends’ faces tomorrow when I recount what went down tonight? Priceless.

I asked if you were a brother, and you said that you’ve only been invited. I told you that it was such a coincidence because I was only invited too. And you said that I didn’t look like I would be a fraternity member unless wearing a dress was a very good disguise. I laughed, and you did too. But what you didn’t know is that I was laughing a lot longer than usual because I was having this monologue inside my head.

Is he flirting with me? Should I be flirting back? Ok, he’s kinda cute, no, really cute. Stop staring at his green eyes. Look somewhere else. His nose. His nose, cute, pointy. And only a couple centimeters away from me. Step back. Step back, Jess, your breath smells like draft! You’re gonna kill him! And his lips, thin, and delicate, and very kissable. Goatee, hmmm. I never liked facial hair, but I’m kinda digging that. Stop it, what are you doing, Jess? You’re not that kind of girl. You don’t wanna do this. You think you do, but you really don’t. Listen to me. Don’t listen to me. Where is Mona Lisa? Talking with some random dude at 2 o’clock. Where is Adam? Squashed in some girl’s face at 9 o’clock. OK, I think I’m good. Jess, you’re good. You’re alright. Pat on the back. You’re fine. You’re 21 and you can ‘fuckin do this. Laugh. Smile. Just don’t forget to breathe.

“Everything OK?” you asked.

“‘Course!” I mean, I can’t really tell you that I was just consulting myself for a good minute there, right? I mean, that will probably turn you off. Not that I want to turn you on, or anything! But that will give you the impression that I’m this crazy, mad, person, and I’m not. Like, really, I’m not. Seriously.

Throughout the next hour, you told me that you’re a forestry major and that it’s already your last semester. You said you’d probably take a good time off mountain trekking all over Asia before you start looking for a proper job to pay off your loans. I asked which mountain you would want to climb first, and you said that you still haven’t really planned that far. I don’t know if you were just bullshitting me at that time. I told you that I’m a junior and that I want to become a best-selling author. You asked what I would write about, and I said that I haven’t really thought about it yet. “Maybe you?” And you laughed and probably thought that I was just bullshitting at that time. I was impressed that we managed to talk about stuff even though we were really struggling with the music blasting in the background. It didn’t help that there were a few freshmen throwing up just a few meters away from where we stood.

“You want to go somewhere?” You asked. I can’t remember now if you were whispering it to my ear, or screaming it out loud against my earlobe.

I took a deep, liberating breath. “Do you want to walk me back to the dorm?”

I pulled Mona and Adam by their sleeves and told them that I had too much to drink, and that I’m too tired, and that I’m just gonna walk back home by myself and go to sleep. But I lied. I was a sneaking, cheeky liar. Because in front of the frat house was you, waiting for me to get out so you can walk me home. 

The closer we got to my dorm, the faster my heartbeat became. So, now what? Like, do I just invite you in? Is that how it goes? But, I guess, at 1 o’clock in the morning, my foot was a lot faster than my brain, because we were already inside the room even before I could decide if I want to let you in. 

You saw a burned copy of 300 on top of Mona’s desk. You asked me if I’ve already seen the movie. And I embarrassingly admitted that I haven’t yet. Your mouth fell open in disbelief. 

“How can you do this? We’re spartans! This is Sparta!” You said but I was convinced it was the alcohol talking.

“I was supposed to, but then I had to be dragged to this frat party, didn’t I? I said in defense.

“Then there’s only one thing left to do.” And with that, you put the disc in the player.

We sat comfortably on my couch, well, Mona’s couch, technically. You started putting your arm over my shoulder even before the opening credits appeared. And I laughed a tiny bit inside because I see this happening in movies all the time. My eyes were glued to the TV screen. I was trying too hard to focus on what was really happening in Sparta. I watched in earnest as King Leonides and his 300 men reached the Gates of Thermopylae. But I never found out what happened after. You probably don’t remember that scene either, because by then, your tongue was already tied to mine. It was wonderful and awful at the same time. Wonderful because you’re the best kisser I ever kissed. Well, there was only one before you and we all know how that first kiss went down. The point is that I have a point of comparison now. I could tell that this was a way better kiss than my first kiss. Either that, or I just had too much beer to drink. I like to think that you were really a better kiss. The only reason it was awful was because you tasted like alcohol. I’m sure I did too, and you didn’t mind.

We kissed long, intense, pressing kisses. And I knew that sooner, you would want to move a little bit further. So, I asked you if it was OK that we just kiss and cuddle that night. You didn’t have to know that I have never slept with anyone before, and that I wouldn’t want my first sex to be with someone I just happen to have bumped into at a frat party, no offense. I didn’t have to tell you because that’s way too much information for someone I just met right before midnight.

If it would make you feel any better though, that was a really hard call to make. You looked really attractive, and we were both already a bit too drunk, and aggressively kissing. You were already there, solid on the couch! But I couldn’t do it. I can’t be that girl. I can’t be some girl you would tell your roommates about. At least not yet. And definitely not with a bloodbath of 300 men happening in the background.

I was expecting that you would put your shoes back on and immediately leave. I was ready for you to go berserk and slam the door to my face because that’s what usually happens in the movies. I really didn’t mind if you left. At least we don’t have to deal with the awkwardness of saying goodbye to each other in the morning. At least I wouldn’t have to explain my disappearing act to Mona when she gets home because you’ll be long gone before then. So, you got up, turned the TV off, and sat back on the couch again.

Ok, what just happened? Because you’re supposed to be heading straight out the door like two seconds ago!

Then you pulled your iPod out of your pocket and wrapped yourself around me to a tune. I only want one night, cause I’ve seen a bad light. Light. Li–ght. Li–i–ight. And that song just kept playing in repeat as we snuggled and kissed each other softly until we both fell asleep.

The next morning, or afternoon, I really can’t remember the time now, we woke up to the ring of your phone. Of all the days your roommate can lock himself out, it had to be today. You gave me one short kiss and then you were out the door. So much for the anticipated awkwardness. 

“Wait!” I just had to stop you. 

“Did I forget anything?”

“Your name.” 

“What?”

“You forgot to tell me your name!”

“Darren.” You said really quick before racing off again.

“Aren’t you even going to ask mine?” I called out in the corridor before you could go too far.

“I already know. Adam told me, Jess!” And with that, you were gone.

Forever Goodbye by The Mostar Diving Club was the song you played last night. I didn’t think that it was going to be forever goodbye for us too, but I never saw you again. We didn’t exchange numbers, and I don’t know your last name to find you on facebook. Not that I would search for you there. I never ran into you in campus. We were never in the same bus together. Our paths just never crossed for the rest of that semester. For the rest of your last semester. What I know is that you know Adam, and that you know my name even before you knew that I was left-handed. You know where I lived unless you were too drunk to remember. But you certainly weren’t too drunk to remember my name. So, I figured, you would have found me if you really wanted to find me. I never told Adam or even asked him about you. I think it was because I was already happy with what we had, and where we left things off. It had a good start and a good finish. And we didn’t need to do more only to mess it up in the end.

I wasn’t just some girl. I was the girl who got away. And you, weren’t just some random dude. You were the guy who also got away. Wherever you are Darren, if you’re reading this, I hope you were able to climb those mountains, the way I was able to write about you now.

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A book about the guys who poofed (chapter 8, rough draft)

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THEODORE

Whenever I see the Orion’s belt in the night sky–those three equally spaced diamonds that flicker in the dark, I think of you. I think of what we could have had.

Isn’t that constellation the very foundation of whatever it was that we had? It was something distinctly ours.

Two years in East Lansing and I haven’t met anyone I could actually really be interested in. My roommate, Mona Lisa, told me it was because I’m quirky and I haven’t met someone with the same amount of quirkiness.

I think Mona Lisa was just delivering some general pep talk shit that works with most people in general. It was the kind of comment that will make you think hmmmmm. You don’t necessarily agree with it, but you also don’t necessarily disagree with it.

I didn’t think we share the same amount of quirkiness, Theodore. But I liked you nonetheless. It was the beginning of the spring semester in 2006 when I started watching you. It creeped me out. My brain discombobulates every time I looked at you. Why are you watching this guy, Jess? Why do you want to know him? Who is he? Why this guy and not someone else?

See, Theo, you really baffled me. You’re not someone I would typically find attractive. I mean you’re alright, more than alright, but you’re not my type. Still, I find my eyes glued to your direction like that dried up chewing gum under your chair. Don’t ask me how I knew that there are three chewing gum stuck under your armrest–two pinks, and one white–because it will make me sound creepier.

I guess this creepiness started after you finished your presentation in our writing transcultural contexts class. Your topic was about travel, migration, and exile. You focused on the different reasons people are prompted to travel, and shared travel experiences of your own. You spoke about how you think you would have been a completely different person had your parents not migrated from Athens. And you spoke about the Greek community you grew up with in Detroit, and how it shaped you to who you are today. You spoke about how humbling it was to be in Delhi, and how your volunteer work in Ethiopia changed you as a person.

You had me at Delhi, Theo. I didn’t know you then, but all of a sudden I just wanted to fly kites with you in India. I wanted to know you. I wanted to know more about you. There was a seeping interest growing inside my stomach that at that moment, I was convinced I want to travel with you. I want to migrate with you. I want to exile with you.

So, when the class finished, I pulled myself together and went straight to you. Our first conversation orbited around Gandhi and mughlai cuisine. You told me how you appreciate the aroma and distinct taste of spices in tandoori and biryani, but this was just a stream of gibberish passing from one ear to another. In my head, I was already thinking that mild to spicy is what I wanted out of you and me. I asked if you wanted to have coffee so you can tell me more. That coffee agreement started a series of afternoon coffees we had that semester. And from one coffee to another, we moved to having dinners together. You liked talking and I liked listening to you. I liked how the words that came out of your mouth swirled and fluttered the butterflies inside me.

One evening, as you walked me back to McDonel hall, you looked at the sky and pointed out three stars.

“I never paid attention to stars before,” I told you unapologetically. And that’s when you told me about the hunter and his belt. 

“I didn’t know you’re into constellations.” I said.

“I’m not, but I can relate to Orion a lot.” You telling me about a Greek god, and me looking at the stars–it sounded romantic and mysterious then. It felt like we were Jack and Rose watching the stars so vast and endless but so small. This was back in our university days, Theo, so everything felt tremendous and dramatic and related to pop culture at the time. But that scene in Titanic never made it to the big screen. It was cut. Deleted. Just the way you edited me out of your life.

The next day, while we were having our usual afternoon coffee, I told you that I like you. You said that you like me too, but you don’t see me like that. I asked how you see me, and you said that you see me as your reliable, chubby friend. You said you enjoy my company, but that’s what it was. It was only coffee, and dinner, and talking, and nothing more.

Reliable. Chubby. Friend. You denied me romantic affection because I was overweight. Because I did not fit your criteria of bombshell body for a girlfriend. Your choice of words said a lot about me at the time–that I was bigger and rounder than average, and did not fit the conventional definition of beautiful. It says a lot about you too–that you might appear genuine on the outside, but you’re shallow and superficial to the core.

You avoided me, Theo, like a plague. You stopped hanging out with me, you stopped talking to me even when we are in the same discussion group. You pretended that I’m invisible even when we’re standing next to each other in the elevator. Did you think that I can’t handle rejection? Or that you’re making it easier for me when you ignore me? The rejection, I can handle. But you acting like a total jerk is what I can’t.

A few weeks after I told you that I like you, I heard a girl, one of our classmates, the same girl who sits next to you in our creative workshops class, talk to a friend about flying kites with her Orion next fall.  

You know what, Theo? I liked you, I really liked you because you seem so original. It took a while to realize that you’re just a knock off. Orion’s belt? Delhi kite festival? Take it back, Theodore. Take it back. It’s all yours.

 

Table for Two (Chapter 25)

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In this very rare occasion, I want to share my personal favorite in my first book Table for Two. For everyone else who has read it, let me know which part in the story is your personal favorite.

Twenty-five part one 

The closer I get to the coffee shop, the smaller my steps become. My body becomes frigid and I can’t breathe.

What if he yells at me?

I know I owe him an apology. I’ll tell him I’m sorry, and then I’ll leave. Or if he wants to humiliate me, fine. I’ll take it.

It’s what I deserve. After all.

I swallow. I take a couple steps forward, then push the glass door of the coffee shop. At once I see him towering the rest of the people even when he is sitting quietly in a corner.

I freeze, not knowing what to do.

Should I wave?

What if he’s still angry?

It is too late when I realize that his eyes have ever so slowly fallen upon mine.

Neither of us moves.

What now?

And to my surprise, his lips curl to a smile.

The same nervous smile.

“Hi,” I say, trying to stay calm as I get closer to his table.

“Hi,” he says softly in a voice that sounds free of anger or hate. “I was in Palo Alto the whole week and I wasn’t able to check my emails. Sorry, I missed your previous invitation.”

“Oh, no.” I say as I sway my hand left and right, nervously. “Don’t think about it.”

So, it’s not that he hates me or anything.

I heave a sigh.

“So, how are you?” I ask to break the silence.

“Just a little busy with the coming anniversary.” He says briefly and we both fall back to awkward silence.

“So, how’s your friend’s knees?” he asks that I almost fell to the floor.

I grip the arm of the chair tighter.

“She’s—she’s getting better.” I lie.

Instantly, his forehead creases to a frown.

God, now I really give him enough reason to hate me.

I shut my eyes as I see his lips twitch to snarl.

“That’s good to know. Tell her I wish her well.” I hear Evan say in his calm voice.

I open my eyes and bite my lip in surprise.

Something’s not right. He’s supposed to blame me, shout at me, call me names, but instead, he sits in front of me, looking at my face.

“I think I have to get back to work now.” He says finally as he stands up to leave.

What’s wrong with him?

I’d rather he yells at me and hate me than see him leave without a word.

“You know I’m lying.” I say flatly.

He looks at me and instantly I know he sees right through me.

The crease in his forehead, gone.

He smiles his nervous smile, but says nothing and turns around.

“No, wait, Evan.” I say before he can take his second step. “I’m sorry I lied. I never wanted to. It’s just so complicated.”

And before I can even stop myself from speaking, I hear myself telling Evan everything—Beth, Gian, my torrid affair.

“Why are you telling me all these?” He asks in a serious tone after I delivered my long speech.

Oh god, I don’t know.

“I just know I don’t want to lie to you.” I say honestly.

“Are you really happy?” He asks, looking concerned.

“I am—”

I should be.

“But someone will get hurt eventually. It can be her, it can be you. You’ll never know.” Evan cuts in.

Gian has changed.

“It will only be a matter of time before he breaks up with Beth.” I say in confidence.

“What if he doesn’t?”

“He will.”

“Well, I wish you happiness then, Juni.” He says, sending my stomach to another lurch.

“I wish you the same,” I say as I reach for his hand. “Thanks for listening. I really don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I feel lighter now that I told you everything.”

“Remember what I told you?” he asks smiling. “You always try to be honest, just like the day I met you.”

I can feel myself blushing.

“Thanks. So I guess I’ll see you in the coming anniversary?” I say, changing the topic before I turn pink.

“Yes, or maybe sooner will be better. If you need me for anything just call me.” He says sincerely.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” I say finally before we part.

I’m about to take my first step back to the office, but somehow my body unconsciously turns toward Evan’s direction, hoping for all hopes to meet his eyes.

Instead, I see Evan’s back as he strides to the opposite direction.

Turn around, Evan. Look at me just once.

But he keeps walking until he disappears from the crowded street.

For a moment, I freeze on the sidewalk wondering why, what, and how. And before I know it, I’m left alone, standing still, amidst the crowd in motion.

Twenty-five part two

“Welcome back to the Philippines, Sir!” I hear my people greet me a warm welcome after my weeklong vacation in California.

I have to admit one week is not enough to take her out of my head.

Why did she have to lie to me?

Why?

I’m sure she has a reason, but what?

Dear Juni,

Would you like to have coffee at three? I’ll be at Starbucks in Dela Rosa. See you, I hope.

Evan.

The closer I get to the coffee shop, the bigger my steps become.

Will she be there?

Unfortunately, she isn’t. I open the door to an empty coffee shop. Everything starts to sink so low.

She won’t show up. Why would she when she’s already so happy with that guy?

She won’t show up. So, why else do I bother to look at everyone coming in at the shop?

Maybe there’s a slight chance I’ll see her—or not!

As I sit at the corner table, I can’t help but remember her wide grins. We were having such a great time until after that phone call.

It changed everything.

Suddenly, the door swings open, and I see her as she sweeps the room to look for me.

I swallow, not knowing what to do.

And slowly, her eyes found mine.

Relax, Evan. Relax.

Smile.

“Hi,” she says as she makes her way to my table.

“Hi,” I say, trying to hide the nervousness in my voice.

She’s right in front of me and I’m not exactly sure what I want to say or do.

“I was in Palo Alto the whole week and I wasn’t able to check my emails. Sorry, I missed your previous invitation.”

“Oh, no.” She says quickly as she sways her hand left and right. “Don’t think about it.”

I nod—not knowing what else to say.

“So, how are you?” I hear her ask while I’m trying to figure out what to say.

“Just a little busy with the coming anniversary.” I say, and once again, there is silence.

“So, how’s your friend’s knees?” I just had to ask.

“She’s—she’s getting better.” I hear her whisper.

Why does she have to make up this story?

“That’s good to know. Tell her I wish her well.” I say as direct as I can.

Shoot.

“I think I have to get back to work now.” I say as I stand up to leave.

What am I even thinking?

She doesn’t like, me, what else am I doing here?

I must be crazy.

“You know I’m lying.” She says flatly.

I look at her instantly and she is looking at me, as though she can read my thoughts exactly.

That look in her eyes, I can’t explain it. It’s so different—so blank and grey.

Turn around and walk away, Evan. That’s what you should do.

“No, wait, Evan.” She called before I can take another step. “I’m sorry I lied. I never wanted to. It’s just so complicated.”

And before I can even take another step, I hear Juni telling me everything—Beth, Gian, her torrid affair.

“Why are you telling me all these?” I ask point blank.

“I just know I don’t want to lie to you.” Juni says, making everything greyer as it can possibly get.

“Are you really happy?” I ask. I just had to know that she is, and if she is, I wouldn’t bother her, ever.

“I am—”

Boom! That is a complete blow.

But what is Juni thinking? That two-timing bastard is just selfish and all he cares about is himself.

“But someone will get hurt eventually. It can be her, it can be you. You’ll never know.”

“It will only be a matter of time before he breaks up with Beth.” She says in confidence.

What is wrong with you Juni? Why don’t you get it?

“What if he doesn’t?” I ask trying to make her realize that that guy is such a douche bag!

“He will.” She says so confidently that it feels like someone just stabbed me.

“Well, I wish you happiness then, Juni.” I say and I mean it.

“I wish you the same,” she says back. “Thanks for listening. I really don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I feel lighter now that I told you everything.”

Why does she know all the right words to say?

“Remember what I told you? You always try to be honest, just like the day I met you.”

“Thanks. So I guess I’ll see you in the coming anniversary?” she asks, changing the topic as though she hasn’t already blushed red.

“Yes, or maybe sooner will be better. If you need me for anything just call me.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” She says finally before we part.

I’m about to take my first step back to the office, but somehow my body unconsciously turns toward Juni’s direction, hoping for all hopes to meet her round eyes.

Instead, I see her back as she faces the opposite direction.

Turn around, Juni. Look at me just once.

But she never looked around, until the crowd blocked her from my view.

I can’t understand how, or why, or even what. And before I know it, I find myself walking alone, feeling empty amidst the crowd in speed motion.

80 things (simple and bizarre) that make me happy

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  1. The smell of petrol stations
  2. That immediate feeling after holding a pee for so long
  3. The smell when I walk pass by Cinnabon
  4. Finding a soundtrack on google just after hearing it on tv
  5. Downloading that soundtrack I found on google after hearing it on tv
  6. Throwing a stone on the sea and it bounces more than three times
  7. That fresh pop I hear when I pull the thingy from a soda can
  8. That feeling of not knowing exactly what I want until I look in the fridge and finding that last slice of cake
  9. That feeling after I just remembered what I was meant to say four days ago
  10. Finding money in my dirty laundry
  11. Tipping my bag of potato chips for that very last crumb
  12. Feta cheese
  13. Beating my high score in Temple Run
  14. Looking at old photos and realizing changes (and maturity?) through the years
  15. Looking in my closet and finding something nice to wear within the minute
  16. Cigarette break after a two-hour meeting
  17. That precise second after typing in the last punctuation of a 1,200-word article assignment
  18. The feeling of cold water on my skin after a humid day
  19. Air conditioning
  20. A good book to read (currently reading Fifty Shades of Grey)
  21. Getting free frozen yogurt at my usual place for no reason at all
  22. The way my old jeans fit after it’s fresh out the dryer
  23. Crossing the street without actually getting run over by a micro bus
  24. Getting home at two in the morning and finding that the gates were left open (the people in the building I live in usually lock me out)
  25. Free wireless
  26. Unexpectedly seeing old friends
  27. Going on unplanned rendezvous with old friends I saw unexpectedly
  28. An eight-hour uninterrupted, deep sleep
  29. The smell of fresh, newly washed bed sheets
  30. Throwing myself on a huge bean bag just after a long day at work
  31. Lego Technic
  32. Dancing salsa with a really good dancer
  33. Dancing bachata with a really good dancer
  34. Dancing kizomba with a really good dancer
  35. Snickers bar
  36. Finding my keys just where I left it
  37. That rare occasion when I push the button of the elevator and it’s already there
  38. Waking up before my alarm (usually never happens!)
  39. Using all the different shampoos and soaps in someone else’s bathroom (Katie, I seriously hope you’re not reading this!)
  40. People changing the charcoal of my shisha without having to ask them
  41. The goodbye wave from my front door to the people in the car after they just dropped me home
  42. Getting my ID checked when I’m way past 21
  43. Wearing flipflops when I shouldn’t be wearing flipflops
  44. The first scoop out of a Nutella jar
  45. Rain on a really hot, summer day
  46. Sun light on a really cold, winter day
  47. Getting in a cab and realizing that the ac actually works!
  48. Rice cooked to perfection
  49. Watching a movie I saw eight times before and realizing I have no idea how the movie ends
  50. Watching a movie for the very first time and knowing exactly how it’s going to end
  51. Trying those free food samples in shopping centers and grocery stores that I have no intention of buying
  52. That second when I finally figure out how the hotel shower faucet works
  53. My old, and ripped sleeping shirt that I refuse to throw away even after nine years
  54. Realizing that my old, ripped sleeping shirt still fits even after nine years
  55. Tortillas and blue cheese dips
  56. Going to a salsa party without cigarettes and finding at least one person who smokes the exact, same brand
  57. Stealing a cigarette from that person who smokes the exact, same brand at a salsa party when I ran out of cigarettes
  58. Leaving my lighter on the table and realizing that no one took it
  59. Managing to squeeze out that last toothpaste for one last brush
  60. The way my hair looks like when I wake up in the morning
  61. Finding things I didn’t even know I lost
  62. Perfectly popped pop corns out of the microwave
  63. Remembering who said what
  64. Staying up super late knowing that the next day is my holiday
  65. Cleaning up, doing the laundry, turning the TV on, choosing what clothes to wear, all in the last 30 seconds of waiting for the microwave to finish
  66. That moment when I’m finally the one next in line
  67. The after gym pain
  68. When I ask people to add mint on my coffee and they do it for free
  69. My phone ringing and realizing that the call is in no way work-related
  70. All you can eat sushi buffet!
  71. That relieving feeling just right after I sneezed
  72. Knowing at breakfast time what I’ll be having for dinner
  73. Sleeping in on my holiday
  74. Staying out on my holiday
  75. When a pen and paper magically appears when I’m on the phone and the person on the other end requires me to write things down
  76. My call being answered on the first ring
  77. Reading the first page of a newly bought book
  78. Going to a record shop to look for new releases to download later
  79. Birthdays
  80. Buying three things for the price of one

Five Revelations at 25

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You are wearing Quarter Life Crisis on your sleeves

This is the part of being 25 you are so good at. Trying to make the puzzle pieces fit, trying to figure out what you want, trying to reach your goals, trying to change, trying to lay out a plan, trying to make a difference for the greater good (or, often than not, for your own good.) Everything is all about trying, isn’t it?

Everything at 25 seems like a mystery that it usually doesn’t make any sense. You sleep at night feeling so jumpy and happy, but you wake up the next day with an extremely troublesome feeling that springs from nowhere. Well, let me tell you where that sick-to-the-stomach feeling comes from. One word. Uncertainty. Because last night, you went to bed knowing that you have a plan, believing that your life is just where you want it to be, but today you wake up realizing that you have no idea where exactly you really want it to be. That’s what quarter-life crisis does, it hits you on the forehead with a big bang.

This is the year when you are bombarded with so many questions that you’ve lost all the energy to come up with even one answer. People asks you all the time: “when are you getting married?” and you just want to punch them in the face for asking the wrong question.

Your friends from a younger age group keep asking you for advice about life, career, and relationships. They ask you “how you do it” and you smile and give them encouraging words of wisdom, or more specifically, you tell them the most impressive answer you can come up with because that is what they expect from you. But hell, what they don’t know is that, at 25, you really have no idea if you’re doing things right.

The best advice I can tell you right now is not to worry too much about all these uncertainties. You screwed up? You’re not good enough? You failed? You got rejected? That’s alright! You’re 25!

You are definitely smarter, but certainly not wiser

Congratulations! This is the point in your life where you can show everyone that you have quick-witted intelligence. Finally, you have a career you can humble-brag about at social gatherings, you have control over your life, you have a steady income at your disposal, you are responsible for what you eat, and you can be so proud that you know how to take care of yourself, damn it!

However, this is still not the point where you have enough experience, knowledge, and good judgment. And I know this for the fact that you still go to the clubs, or the bars in the hopes of hooking up with someone. I told you, you still lack better judgment!

But hey, 25 is the year where there is no such thing as age-appropriate. It’s not like the movies where you can say it’s PG or R18. No, 25 is a much complex age than these ratings. It is the time when you are just always somewhere in between. You’re in the middle of too naive and too mature, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

25 is the year when you can make mistakes and be given a free jail-card pass. It is the year when you are still young enough to smoke hash while listening to Armin van Buuren on the background, but you are old enough to invest in something worthwhile, like planning a 4-day holiday, watching the news, reading a decent book (and by decent I don’t mean the Twilight saga!)

You are not invincible

But you can certainly try. You are the young, ambitious, adventurous beast that you imagine you are, until that Friday you decided to stay home than go on an all-night out with your friends. From a packet of Marlboro reds a day, you now cut down to ten sticks because of the heaviness you started feeling.

Do not mistake this as being boring, you are just realizing that you need an eight hour sleep and give your lungs a break to stay in good shape.

At 25, you want it all–a social life in hyper motion, a career that pays really well, a relationship minus the drama. You want to make the world a better place, you try to understand the complications of human relationships, you try to engage into political issues, you try to make sense out of nonsense, and you try to find beauty in ugly. You fear. You hope.

When you’re 25 everything about yourself is in your control. There are no more puppet strings pulling you left and right. You can decide for yourself. No one is going to tell you what to do, and even if you are told what to do, the decision is still yours to make. That’s the thing though, being in control means being responsible for everything that you do. You have to put an effort to look after yourself. Eat well, go to work on time, read, play video games, stop playing video games, attend your meetings, do not forget to take a shower. Where your life is heading at 25 is your choice because you are the driver, I can only hope that you will take the best possible route.

You are not on the same page as your friends

Let’s go back to the good, old university days. Remember those friends you spent an all-nighter with for that last final exam? Yeah. They’re also the same friends you had to drag home when they got too wasted to even remember who they are. Where are they now? Do you still talk to them? Or have you settled in just looking at their facebook updates without really saying hi?

At 25, you will start feeling as though you are not on the same wavelength as your old friends. It seems that maturity kicks in on different time zones. Some people grow up much faster than others, and it just so happens that you feel slightly older than some people you know. Or vice versa.

It’s like all of a sudden, you are not in sync with your friends anymore. Your priorities are different from theirs. Your lifestyle and theirs don’t match anymore. The gap between you and the people you used to spend so much time with is becoming palpable every hour.

You look at their Facebook pages and you wonder who this person is. I’m pretty sure they’re doing the same thing–lurking at your wall posts and almost failing to recognize who you are. Unlike before where you always use final exams or alcohol as an excuse to bond, you find no reason to talk to each other anymore.

Maybe they still prefer spending Saturday in a bad state of hungover and you don’t want that anymore. Or you prefer spending Saturday drunk and they don’t want that anymore.

You lose touch with your friends sometimes. It’s sad, but it happens. Maybe you’ll meet new friends who are on the same page as you, just keep hoping that the same thing will happen to your old friends too. But 25 is a really cheeky year, it’s an age of transformation and growing on so many different levels and at different timelines, so who knows? Maybe at one point, you and your old friends will be back on the same track again.

You are just getting started

Back when you were 20, everyone seems to ask you “where do you see yourself five years from now?” Remember how you used to look out in your future and see nothing but an empty space? Well, gone are those days of looking for an answer, because you have your answer, right here, right now. 25 is all about defining who you are. For the first time, you are aware of who you are–what you are capable of doing and not doing.

The things you are good at? You marvel in it. The things that you are not so good at? You make a way to be good at it. For once, you are not distracted with the petty dramas of everyday life. You are not the 19 year old kid who locks himself/herself in the room for being rejected. You know how to move on. You learned that there is more to life than torturing yourself for your shortcomings.

You are still far from where you want to be, but you take comfort in knowing that you are actually doing something to get there. Emphasis on ‘actually’. You are starting to understand that disappointments and failures are bound to happen, but that won’t let you down. If anything, it will keep you going because that’s what 25 year olds do–prove the world they’re wrong about you–that you are much better than the world assumes you to be.

If you’re 25 and your ideals and expectations seem to be going the wrong direction; if you feel like you have your life mapped out only to find yourself in a maze; if you can feel straight up happy and spiral down to sad in a span of 10 minutes, if you are confident, delusional, humble, arrogant, ideal, optimistic, pessimistic, confused, sleepy, lazy, giddy, carefree, silly, untroubled, troubled, high, drunk, overjoyed, content, discontent all in the same day, don’t fret. You’re doing 25 right!

So, if you’re 25, this is the time for you to make all your rules and break them. Go high, go low. Be sane, be insane, be a little bit of both, or somewhere in between.

And just in case you missed it when they made the big announcement on national TV, life starts at 25! So, celebrate, embrace it, live in that moment because you can. You’re only 25 once, might as well make it a hell of a good one!