Mar 31, 2015

Haircut Epiphanies and the What-Nots

Mar 31, 2015
Undercut pixie that makes you feel like you could take on the world.
I stood upright in front of a full-length mirror with an overwhelming feeling that was both strange and unfamiliar I hardly recognize the face as my own. It was the longest time I've ever gazed at myself without flinching. I ran my hand through the silky undercut stubble of my pixie hair once more and disorientation seemed to finally wear off. With a round hairbrush, I combed back my hair on top to reveal the razored section in all its stubbly glory. I looked at it for several more minutes, staring at myself from different angles before I allow myself to trust my own judgment of what I'm seeing and with some hesitance, I admit, I love the way I look. Never mind the high cheekbones, defined jaw, enormous head and nose that seemingly covers 75% of my face because the insufferable voice of Amy March in my head saying, “Your one beauty!” for years was finally silenced. I am enamored with this version of me who looks bolder, sort of hardcore and daring than I’ve ever been, almost a perfect pixie cut synthesis of Scarlett Johansson and Pink if I may say so myself. {Cue feels} {Insert face with stuck-out tongue and tightly-closed eyes emoji}

After almost five years of rocking a pixie cut, I considered growing my hair long again but that was until a dear friend sparked the idea to go for a pixie ala-Scarlett Johansson {Oscars 2015}. Being open to trying new {wholesome} things and so willing to add a little variety into my life, I thought, why the heck not! And so I did and now, I don’t even know if I’ll ever want long hair again. There’s a sort of transformative power that comes from this do as it matches my insides way better. They say there’s some kind of epiphany that happens when you get a new haircut, if that is the case then mine would be: my one claim to prettiness doesn’t solely rely on my hair anymore and how I look does not necessarily change who I am and what's inside.

Last week, I went to get my undercut re-buzzed, this time by a barber, using a clipper with a #2 attachment. I run my hand through the stubble of my pixie hair again and thought, next time, I’ll surely go for #1.


Mar 24, 2015

A Fond Adieu

Mar 24, 2015

These kids though.

Miss Anie! Miss Anie!” exclaimed the several students approaching me all at once, folders and pens in their hands.

I gave them ‘the look’ and without further prompting, the kids formed a line and one by one, clearance forms were being handed to me. I cramped my fingers up, clenched a pen and in slanted cursive, I signed my initials, N.G.O, that looked everything less than a scribble.

Last day of school always takes me back to the beginning of the academic year and wave of nostalgia sweeps over me without delay. Emotions, pure and almost naïve, were all too distinct and though the classic INTP in me safely packed it away, it was there and it was strong.

I look back at the stressful moments this school year with great fondness and thought about the many ‘firsts’ I had the opportunity to do while in a non-teaching post, one that toughened my skin as an individual and allowed me to grow as an educator. It was a challenging ride no doubt, but it was also something I truly relished; the highs, the lows and everything in between. Already, my mind is thinking about the next academic year, getting thrilled at the thought of new learning and new plans but somewhere along that great anticipation, there’s a hint of sadness because just like every single year, last day of school also involves a lot of goodbyes. 

There’s an assumption that teachers can’t seem to wait to kick their students out the door fast enough as soon as March rolls around so we can finally plunge in to our two months off for summer and hit the beach. If people only knew.

Of course we are ready to let our students go but not because we want to get rid of them. We are ready to let them go because we know that they are more than ready to meet the next challenge ahead of them. This goes out to our preschool and elementary graduates who are set to move to bigger schools next academic year and to our effervescent, over-the-top animated, dear 10th graders who will embark on a quest called college. We will stand behind a podium on Friday to call out their names, watch them receive their diplomas and walk out of our lives. It hurts to see one chapter ends but at the same time, it is exciting to see a new one starts because it should. I’d be worried if it didn’t. I just hope that somewhere, deep inside, they will carry the things they learned in HFLC when they were put in an environment in which they have to practice respect, obedience, solidarity, perseverance, excellence, kindness, among others. I pray that all those moments we insisted on empathy, commitment, teamwork and passion would forever be engraved in their hearts. And if they can pass the very same values to the next person who comes along in their life someday, what an awesome thing would that be.

The school will miss all of them. More surprisingly, I WILL SURELY MISS ALL OF THEM.

Feb 14, 2015

What My Niece Made Me Realized

Feb 14, 2015

Sunday night began with a very late dinner in bed, Sofia The First: The Floating Palace playing on my Mac. Lori and I were already on our ‘night mode’, pink and purple tees and pajama pants that fit us just right. I promised my 2-year old niece that she could jump on the bed as much as she’d like come nighttime but she was already petered-out. We just got home from the hospital where my sister-in-law gave birth to a 6lb, 3oz and 20 inches long adorable infant via c-section. Dear Lori is now an Ate {Filipino word for big sister} to her baby brother, Trevor. He is a tiny, delicate, spitting image of his big sister whose arrival had every one of us floating all week.

My new darling nephew, Trevor

As planned, Lori spent the few days at home while my sister-in-law recovers from the dreaded c-section. It was our first overnight stay together and sure, I babysit her all the time but I felt a particular kind of terror that ensues from the thought of caring for her overnight. It was her first time to be away with her parents and with all the changes that are happening since the arrival of her baby brother, Lori is extra clingy and a little needy, so babysitting gets a tad complicated. 

One fine morning when a chill breeze was blowing, I took Lori to school, her little soft hand wrapped tightly in mine.

You seem quite set for motherhood!” remarked the school canteen keeper cheerily as Lori and I headed for a table near the counter.

I took a deep breath. I would’ve just shrug and give a totally noncommittal response but instead, I let out a confused laugh. One of those laughs you get when you just had a ‘what-the-heck’ moment. I let out a confused laugh because I can’t think of a good response to that comment. I let out a confused laugh because for the very first time, I was just realizing how abstract my perception of freedom is. I always knew motherhood equates responsibility and responsibility that great scares me. Three full days with Lori got me into super aunt mode that included extensive dancing {needy toddler gotta sleep!}, Sofia The First marathon, bath time drama trouble-shooting, homemade play-dough-making, deep negotiations at meal time and nap time, storytelling, endless pretend play, among other things and suddenly, simple quiet moments became all that I yearn for. This solidified my belief in the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. I thought of the freedom that comes with singleness and how I unreservedly relish it and how I like the idea of doing anything I want at my own pace. But for a moment, for a brief moment, I thought that very freedom was being suffocated by such responsibility. There’s a level of maternal instinct in me that automatically kicks into gear somehow when I’m surrounded with kids, but at that instant, I found myself second-guessing my thoughts on motherhood and weighing it over my perception of freedom.

It's... wait for it... Auntie Anie and Papaya Pie day! Bom, bom, bom!
Stop overthinking!” my friend would tell me.

If anything, get a husband first!” her lively satirical wit still rings on the edge of my aural range. Of course she was right. I’m just too introspective for my own good.

Wednesday night, Lori finally went home to be with her parents. That evening, I’ve rehashed in my head the first sights of each mornings I had with my niece and felt happier to see her breathing comfortably and sleeping peacefully on my side during those times. I managed to keep her alive night after night and all seems well with the world. I‘ve always been a very involved aunt when it comes to my nieces and nephews and seeing the raw side of aunthood - the good, bad, ugly and lovely, is a perspective-changer. A child changes your life and your perception of freedom as well. Someday, I'd like to see myself settling down in life with a home I like, kids I’ll love and a spouse I’ll adore. From where I'm at, it seems to be the scariest part of growing up as the freedom that I’ve grown to enjoy now would certainly be limited. Yet, I wouldn’t trade all that possibilities for anything else, especially not with my trivial view of freedom.

That night, I collapse into bed, curled around the fluffy warmth of my pillows, feeling happily exhausted and drifted off to sleep in a jiffy.

Oct 28, 2014

Single And Relatively 30

Oct 28, 2014
Photo by Howard Kingsnorth
Ding” pops the Facebook chat box.

Hi Ma’am Best!” Sab narrates. It was from our dear friend, Shey, who’s currently in Dubai.

How’s your love life?” Shey went to ask without so much as a slight prelude.

Next question please!” Sab jokingly replied, feeling rather nonplussed.

At my Ma's birthday dinner, while having a mouth-watering meal that includes grilled tilapia, kimchi fried rice and ensaladang talong, Sab and I found ourselves deep in conversation about our singleness and how we feel like we’ve reached the point where our lack of a relationship was less of a blessing and more of a concern to others, specially to our sweet and dear friends who seemingly look forward to the day a guy would finally sweep us off our freakin’ feet {big shout out to Shey who we crazily love & miss every single darn day!}

For some reasons, 2014 was marked by several conversations like that one. As singles, Sab and I had been constantly asked why we’re single, mostly by someone who isn’t and more often than not, our single status is usually met with shock. Never mind that you’re rocking a non-teaching post this year or that you’re actually co-writing a book because these days, relationship status seems like the quintessential thing that can happen to you once you roll in your 30’s. We may be wrong but we sure as hell get that a lot from other people. These stereotypes, misconceptions and pressures attached to being single and relatively 30 leave us feeling quite frankly, meh. A teenage girl, who thinks of me as someone creative, fierce and eloquent also think I’m missing out on life because I’m single. Imagine that. Surely, someone creative, fierce and eloquent, not to mention funny, could inevitably find someone to settle with, right? Until then, not to sound like a conceited being, I know I am my own best company… for now. I mean, I have four older sisters in their mid 30’s who are all singles for Pete’s sake! There's really no point of panicking. As to why we’re single? Perhaps because we never forwarded those chain messages in 2008, that or, we take marriage seriously, or maybe we're used to being on our own? Ha!

Of course, I am a woman after all and like most women, I pondered about romance and that someone who would make my heart goes giddy up. I also thought about marriage and have fantasies of who would be in my own wedding party and picket-fenced house overlooking narrow brick paved streets. Heck, I already picked out names for my future kids, Peri and Wayne, haha! I'm all for Destiny’s Child’s song ‘Cater 2 U’ and I totally believe there’s nothing anti-feminist about wanting to cater to the person you love. But, you see, I am at the season of my life where I fully embrace being single. It’s neither lonely nor isolated. It’s not a kind of revolutionary concept but a SEASON. At times, a bad bout of PMS would tell me otherwise but of all the crazy things I would never allow myself to do when the ‘feels’ overwhelm me, is to find a boyfriend just because. I strongly believe that I can’t and won’t settle until it’s RIGHT and that, when I get there, it'll be for a life time. I just want to be able to bring home a bearded young man with amazing skills on a Mac computer that will be able to firmly shake my parents hands, look them in the eye and say “Nice to Meet you Mr. and Mrs. Ordillo,” without wetting himself. If that makes me sound I'm picky, well, there you go. 

Just like my dear Mameh used to tell me, 'EVERYTHING IN TIME'.

Jul 21, 2014

In Defense of My Pixie Cut

Jul 21, 2014
Drawing powers from the crimson color I swiped over my pout
After having had hair that ranged from long to super long, I kissed my usual floppy ponytail {that swings behind my head} goodbye in 2010. The one thing that USED to make me feel quite ultimately a girl… my long, straight, might I add, silky, darn hair. This led to four years of various pixie cut inspirations, pliable molding clay/hair styling wax experiments and at one point, tears whilst learning to let go of the cloak of hair that once protect me. These days, it’s just my cheekbones against the world and I’m perfectly okay with it. For someone who has had short hair for a while, I think I’ve heard almost every awkward, sometimes crazy notions/comments there are in regards to this pixie do. Among which:

Silly Notion #5: People mistake you for a boy 
Yup. That one evening I took the jeepney with my co-teachers on the way to the mall. I was wearing a casual denim capris, collared white tee and a pair of sneakers when I saw this woman seated in front of us staring straight at me in utter bewilderment like 'is she or is she not'. Then I started talking to one of my co-teachers to assure her I'm a girl and that, I think, settled everything. I Think. This happened once or twice and couldn't be more grateful for breasts and dresses and hoop earrings and make-up and my source of utter sassiness; RED LIPSTICK.

Silly Notion #4: Pixie cut doesn’t look feminine 
Because we all grew up surrounded by images that equate long hair with femininity but it only takes the right cut and styling to prove this notion wrong. Some days, I’d throw in a short dress/black tights combo and I’m good to go. Most days though, I just wear confidence like an invisible crown and work it like I'm supposed to. I guess I'm in the habit of challenging the idea of traditional femininity every now and then.

Silly Notion #3: ‘But men like long hair
You don’t say? {Insert sarcasm here}. Because, I don’t know, anything that I do with my looks should always please men? HECK. NO. If long hair is what you’re into, move along, dude. Move. Along.

Silly Notion #2: Chopping off your hair as an expression of a significant life change
Overtime, I grew tired of telling people it wasn’t so. When people say this to me, I just smile at them politely because I lack the energy to explain myself. But for the record, I chopped off my hair because I just wanted to. It can’t get any simpler than that. No, I didn’t go through a rough break up, nor did I ever want to liberate myself from something and I seriously didn’t go through a life phase of some sort. I cut my hair short because I just wanted to, the same way you want a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and cocoa powder on a rainy morning.

Silly Notion #1: Some assumes you’re a lesbian
Perhaps the silliest of all. There's this unfortunate stereotype about women with short hair and their sexual orientation in our culture today. I honestly didn't know that not having a boyfriend and sporting a pixie cut is all it takes to make the team. Let me tell you this one thing though, just because you’re short hair doesn’t mean you’re attracted to women already. Some are, and well, that’s really their choice but I truly know myself. I admit that there are some people who have the itch to ask me this, in spite of me being a pastor's kid and a devout Christian. So, allow me to clear the air once and for all, I'M STRAIGHT. I’m very much attracted to men... with scruffy beards in particular, preferably with Napoleon’s brain, who finds time to read a sensible book {but really, any guy who can leave his handprint on my heart is fine by me too}. I’m tragically heterosexual like that even though you think my pixie cut says otherwise.

Jun 30, 2014

For When You Are An Introvert

Jun 30, 2014
Me in real life
You don’t talk much, do you?” asked one of the three girls I’m bunking in with for the night.

I was seventeen, just three months in college and already out on a mandatory study trip in Manila and Cavite respectively, for a class I wasn’t even too keen about.

I flashed an awkward smile. Inside my head, I thought of home and how I yearned to be in a comfortable space to myself or with the heartening presence of either my small circle of close friends or family. Instead, I was in a company of people I barely know, in an environment with an excess of stimulation. A deep sense of frustration in me followed.

She doesn’t talk much” said the girl once more, this time turning to the other 2 in our quad-sharing hotel room.

That, coming from someone who only had been with me in the same room for not less than 3 minutes, I thought it was a rather one-dimensional remark. Without having the impulse to defend myself, I sat on my side of the bed, fiddling with my cell phone {a Siemens A36!}, pre-Facebook/Twitter era.

You know, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for...” she said matter-of-factly.

If we were on some sort of suspense film, I was the most likely person inside the room that might come flying out of left field with a dark sneaky plot, violent even, and get everyone without warning. After all, it’s always the quiet ones, isn’t it?

… we have no slightest clue what’s going on inside that head” the assuming girl continued.

Great, now she thinks I’m some kind of a psycho or something?” I thought to myself, still fiddling with my phone as I held back a chuckle. Inside, I knew that was my cue. So, onto my feet I stood, put my phone inside the patch pocket of my jeans, quite set to give this girl a piece of my mind, when a knock on the door stopped me even before I had the chance to speak. One of the girls rushed to open it and outside, my friend, Mina stood, all bright and breezy.

NATHANIE!” she called excitedly.

I already talked to Mrs. Yanga. You’re bunking in with me!” delight was in her voice.

In that moment, relief washed over me. In haste, I gathered all my things, went with Mina and didn’t look back.

I always knew right from the beginning that I’m an introvert, what I didn’t know was, there’s nothing wrong with being one. I used to tell my teenage self that maybe if I look people in the eye, then maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t think I’m an anti-social or snobby. I mean, I can’t expect people to reach out to me if I won’t reach out to them, right? But, what if interaction, for the sake of interaction, is a lot less appealing for me and that genuine connection matters than mere social pleasantries? This made college a very challenging undertaking for me. I felt like I was being forced out of the turtle shell of my mind in to an extrovert-infested pool of a new social scene and being frowned upon when I can’t seem to keep up with all those ‘ice breaker games’ and ‘getting to know you’ activities.

Fast-forward to present and I still get those kinds of notions from other people, to be labeled as someone who isn’t nice or isn’t friendly is just that easy. It takes a little while for me to befriend someone but it doesn’t mean I’m socially inept or that I hate people. I do like people and I like socializing but in different ways extroverts do and when I come to a point where I’ve stretch my social stamina, I look forward to restoring my energy by basking in solitude: at home, on my bed with either a book on my hand or my trusty MacBook on my lap, reading blogs and articles that appeal to me. On the surface, I may appear reserved and seemingly indifferent with those around me, but that’s just my natural instinct telling me to focus, listen and process things internally, making mental notes as to what stirs people’s mind. In my soul, I can be fun to be around too, easily amused and a bit crazy as anybody else. I think it's silly for someone to tell me to overcome introversion. Like, how do you even do that? All I could ever do is to be as transparent as I can be about my introversion, in hope that some people could be more understanding towards my, as I was told, seemingly peculiar traits and at the same time, connect with my fellow introverts {and pursue world domination! Kidding!}. Over the course of time, I managed to cope in situations that entail extroverted behavior while still remaining true to myself. I'm confident in my introvertness and I feel fine for being one.
Aniemazing © 2014