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Together with the Les Miserables hype, my latest man-crush is Hugh Jackman. And one movie I’ve always wanted to watch ever since I saw its trailer way back 2006, is The Prestige. I’m not sure why it took me so long to finally watch it, but the film is utterly genius. Of course, it’s directed by Christopher Nolan (think Inception and the latest Batman franchise), so at the very start I know it will not disappoint.

The movie’s main theme is obsession, and how far one would go, how much one is willing to sacrifice for one’s goals, dreams or in this case, the art of magic’s sake.

Much like The Dark Knight Rises where I got scared nearing the climax, I actually looked up the ending of Prestige in wikipedia because I’m too scared not to know. Hehe But it’s really good. I think if I see it in HBO, I’ll probably watch it again, and relive the good parts.

On donating blood

Last Thursday, I found out that I can't (or may never) donate blood. Not that I have a tattoo, or an infectious disease, sure I passed all that. But when the nurse was taking turns tapping and pinching my arms a couple of times trying to find the vein; reminds me of my APE last year when all of the present nurses/attendants tried the injections on me searching for that "mahiyaing ugat". Alas, the nurse said that I can't donate blood as the needle will be too thick for my thin and elusive veins... And thus the roles we can never be due to things we can't control. Where one can't be a stewardess because of height limits. Or a beauty pageant contestant. Or a policeman. Where one can't be a blood donor due to thin veins.

No more secrets

It was supposedly a really good week. I started the week right, two dinners with two of “my persons” in two awesome places, and a lunch with a good old officemate before the week ended. There’s nothing I could have really asked for, the week would have ended and I'll still be happy.

But alas, I had my first break in a streak of goods, something happened between Friday lunch out and my time off.

It’s best not to get too close with your secrets. It’s best not to let them define you, because once they got out of your limits, there’s no turning back.

The world turned and changed, and it was sad.

New Year is one of my favorite days of the year. It might be helpful to start with admitting that I’m a very hopeful person. I’m quite optimistic, although I also consider myself a realist. I believe of a bright future and happy days ahead of me, if I will them to, and with the right mindset. And I think New Year brings us that. It gives us hope, and a whole fresh start of a year. It’s a day when people become optimists even for just a while.

I stopped making resolutions, I think, back in 2010. At the start of that year, I’ve made a list of resolutions and promises I set to keep and make a habit, but it was fruitless, and made me believe on the jinx of New Year’s resolutions.

So now I make yearly goals instead. Measurable, attainable and time-bound goals I challenge myself with.

Here’s a list of the things I want to accomplish for the year, for a Big High Ten 2013.

10. Pass 2 actuarial exams. 

I work as an actuarial analyst in the insurance industry. My work has the privilege (and sometimes burden Hehe) of taking exams every season. Passing actuarial exams speeds up career growth, with better chances of promotion and gives a corresponding salary increase depending on exam difficulty. Too good eh?

But actually passing them isn’t at all butter. In my experience, I should study for 4 months minimum for an exam, sacrificing almost all galas. I even gave up a Cebu-Bohol trip last year for this.

This year, I’m hoping to pass 2 exams, without being too nerdy and a hermit. I think this is pretty doable if I manage my time wisely. I already did a study schedule for the next months for my exam in May, and I had actually started on a few chapters.

9. Attend a creative writing seminar.

Math found me first, as it is my first love. But writing is something I always go back to. It is the one thing I would always love to do. This year, I’d like to improve my writing by actually investing on it. That is, attend a creative writing seminar. May it be a week, a couple of days or even just an afternoon, I want to take that first step in enhancing my writing skills.

8. Blog at least 50 posts.

A forever personal worry is that ‘I don’t write as much as I want to’. May it be blogging or just plainly writing scribbles. Thinking about it now, it’s pretty attainable; I already ditched my journal this year, so I can write blog posts instead of journal entries. And if I do that weekly, with 52 weeks in a calendar year, I can cross #8 step-by-step.

One thing also, is I would like to write for myself. And not thinking if it’ll get hits, or be read by people, although I must admit it would be fancy if it’ll actually happen.

7. Win a writing contest/competition.

Last year, I won three writing contests. Not that I’m a contest addict (oh wait, I am), but winning something because I wrote well is one of the great joys of 2012. Plus it encourages me to write and practice on my craft more.

6. Learn how to swim.

This is something I should have done last year. I actually have a fear of water, and being in the ocean with no one/nothing to hold to is one of my worst fears. This year, I hope to conquer my ultimate fear and be able to swim. And with a white-water rafting adventure on October, I think I'm forced to do this. Aja!

5. Learn driving.

This one also is something I should have done last year. I’m turning 25 this April, and I hope to enroll in a driving class, or else kulitin si Papa na turuan ako ulit! I’m planning to apply for a student’s driver’s license at the first quarter. Aja aja!

4. Develop a new hobby (cooking!).

Jey and I are craving for a new hobby, and not just spend weekends alternating watching movies and eating out. Soooo, as one of our “couple” goals for the year, we WILL learn how to cook. Special mentions are adobo, pesto and cream dory. Yumyum!

3. Investment portfolio goal = minimum of 60% profit.

Last April, I took my first step to financial freedom: equities investment. It had been eight months of discovering and learning stocks trading by experience and so far I have a good at-least-10% return. 

This year, I hope to make more sound investment decisions by frequenting stock forums and reading more about it. Hopefully, I could attain my 60% profit by end of the year. (60% more from the actual money I invested.) Plus, elections are coming so I’m a little optimistic.

2. Read 12 novels. 

I love reading books. It’s just that they take a lot of time amidst all my other priorities. This year, I hope to read one novel every month, or 12 novels. I figured I could do it on the evenings half-hour before I go to sleep, or when I need some escape (and not that Temple Run game

To be honest, 12 books is not so much of a challenge for me. Last year, I targeted 20 but only finished 18, but I think it's a pretty good sum. I would like to limit my love for books to just 12 novels because I want to be picky and only read what would actually interest me. And of course, I have a lot of things to do this year what with this loooong list. 

For January, I’ve already read 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. And I’m eyeing Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler on Feb.

1. And finally, like a prized trophy, three awesome trips!

With cherries on top. 

It started in 2011 with Sagada, Boracay and Caramoan. And continued in 2012 with Pulag Benguet, Pico de Loro and Puerto Princesa.

And I'm not planning to break that 3-year streak of three awesome trips in the near future. Hence, for 2013, I've got HK-Macau in March, CDO in October, and somewhere else. Haha I know there'll be one more but it isn't planned yet.


And so those are my goals for 2013. I will blog when I cross out one, so I can actually monitor my progress. All I know is whether all these goals are fulfilled or not by the next New Year, I'm sure I'm in for a big adventure. 

The third week of January had been very good and quite fulfilling. 

I finally was able to watch Life of Pi and found it quite a good adaptation (similar to how Perks of Being a Wallflower fare with the book). I wasn't bored in the film unlike in the novel, which I stretched reading for a couple of months. After watching the movie, I reread the ending, the one where Pi reveals the second story, this time the one without the animals. I didn't realized it the first time but the second story was very morbid and animalistic. I understood better the need for the story with the tiger after I reread the ending. It's just sad that the movie's ending didn't give that idea. 

"I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye." - Life of Pi
“It is true that those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterwards, even unto our names.”  - Yann Martel, Life of Pi

This week, I found another evidence that 2013 will be a great year. We're going to HK-Macau this March! My sister will present a paper in a university conference in HK and since I wanted to go to Disneyland, I immediately tagged along. What with almost just one month left to save for the trip. Hehe

Simple joys for the week include year planning with Jey (a little late since he was postponing it deliberately) and date and reunions with old friends from high school and college. 

Also, I finished 1Q84! After more than a month long. 

"It's just that you're about to do something out of the ordinary. And after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before. But don't let appearances fool you. There's always only one reality." - 1Q84

It's indeed helpful to be steered back to reality, especially when some crazy (maybe fun, but still crazy) things happen. Think Inception too. 

And to cap off a good week, my sisters and I will be watching Les Miserables! I'll see you, Hugh Jackman! =)

Free Starbucks planner FTW!

Months before 2012 ended, I thought of collecting stickers for that fancy ever-famous coffee shop planner. I was really never a Starbucks fan even now. I'm not really sure what got to me, maybe just for a change. Or maybe because I already have four stickers out of the 17 collectibles, and I have a whole lot of weekends to go to spare in a coffee shop. 

But nearing the end of the year, I didn't really see myself spending the rest of my weekends being so starbucks-y and seemingly rich so i give up on the idea. Besides I already have notebooks for the year that I would love to use as a journal. 

But on the first workday of the year, a friend/colleague who frequent the coffee shop and already has the coffee shop planner, gave me her card which is only short of three stickers. And since I was never really the kind to turn down free stuff Haha. Tada! Yey to a free starbucks planner for 2013 :)

On writing again and again and again

I think my number 1 problem on my love-hate hobby that is writing, is I don't really write. At least not as often as I want to. But this week, I did a first big step and actually write. :)

It was for a small competition I found in the internet. I'm not even optimistic it will win to be honest. Thinking about it now, I don't really like what I wrote but since I'm not going to be hard on myself this year (or at least I won't start this year doing just that), I'm just happy that I actually did sit down and write. It was a first big step for me right now. 

and Mmmbops

You have so many relationships in this lifeOnly one or two will last

All in all, I have 12 big and small goals for the year. I have saved the last slot in case I think of something along the way. And I think the last one would prove to be the hardest.

On my part, it's a little shameful to admit that I feel I only made good relationships until college. Sure enough, I have best friends I've known for more than a decade, high school friends I would love to keep coming back to, and college/orgmates I could have the best laughs with. But honestly nothing came after 2009. All of my relationships fall flat to those that came before.

It's lonely to think about it sometimes but a new good friend in this new life is maybe just the one thing I need to be happy. I don't know. I sometimes feel that I'm setting the bar too high, and that in a lifetime, I should be glad to have five good friends I can keep for years. 

Basta. That's my 13th goal for 2013. Plant a seed.

Because one thing had always remained a personal cliché every yearend: a New Year blog!  

In 2012, I – 

1.   Climbed Mt. Pulag, and Mt. Pico de Loro. And decided later on not to do mountain climbing in the near future. Hehe; 

2.   Celebrated three years with J. And I can say more stable and happier, with lesser tantrum-fights;

3.   Invested on important things like life insurance and nice things like a good tablet, plus setup an equities portfolio towards a (hands fencing my line of sight) vision; 

4.   Became a registered voter, together with the whole Macadangdang-Pazcoguin clan; 

5.   Spent an overdue 3-day vacation in Palawan with best friends of 11 years. Probably one of the happiest days of the year.

At the start of the year 2012, I was overly optimistic. I felt time and the best resources are in my hands and that I can do anything if I just will them to happen. But nearing the last month of the year, I feel somewhat disappointed. I felt that I haven’t really crossed out a lot of things that I wanted and planned to do. And with less than a month to go, I can only feel helpless on my situation. 

Come final days of 2012, I got to cross out a very important thing I could have done a year ago. Although one year too late, crossing it out gave me a sense of relief. Alas, something tangibly good finally came out of the year. And several days before that, I heard a news that might, might actually get me a few steps closer to one of my short-term goals. 

And thus the root of something I wanted to teach myself this 2013: to not be too hard on myself. True enough, I take time to smell the flowers and enjoy regular moments with the people I love to be with. But I want to not be too hard on myself on an entirely different level: that after I’ve done all the things that I could have done on my part, I must learn to let it go, and not sulk in one corner until I got what I wanted.

Because there are plans we make for ourselves, and there are plans that the universe make for us. And sometimes, like it or not, these plans don’t really coincide. I think the best thing to do for ourselves when that happens, although hard, is to let go.

In 2012, I learned a lot of my capabilities, strengths and talents. I received recognition on things I only thought I'm good at. In turn, I got scared at one point and succumbed to old habits, which is familiar and homey. To put it, I didn't took the risk. Of course, nothing compares with the thrill of experiencing new things and I knew once I made the decision that I would regret it then and there. But I am a "security" girl ever since I can remember... So I didn't took the leap of faith, instead I first built a net.

I think that’s the most important thing I learned last year. And that made me feel confident that I will at least have a good year this 2013. At best, this year is no way but up. 

(So I will not forget all year round) Take risks.

In one of the songs I grew up as a kid, there’s a line that goes, “You’ll never miss the water until it’s gone”. I know that last year I had a lot of opportunities to practice and envision this, but seriously I never wish to forget this again in every moment I’ll live if possible. Sincerely, I don’t want to miss the water anymore.

I want to be in the moment that I'm in. Not the moment five minutes prior, not the moment five minutes after. Especially for those once in a lifetime opportunities, I want to live and feel the now at the exact moment it is happening. Take it, breathe it.

Now for a tall ordered year... 

Here’s to words I'm yet to write, songs I'll cry out on videoke nights, jollibee moments with friends, dull weeknights for seasonal exams, fifty-two coffee frappes, new people I'm yet to meet, wonderful places to travel and a whole lot of 2013 magic.

Cheers to a sparkling new year to us all. :)