Brexit Through the Gift Shop

I kind of expected to come back home swathed in the Union Jack from head to toe,  but the only things that really caught my fancy were Harry Potter themed. Which is weird, because I’m not that big a Potterhead. Still, I’m pleased.

Platform 9 3/4 is the place to go for anything Potter-themed. There are wands to be had, stuffed owls, sweaters, shirts, scarves, toques, satchels, keyrings, socks and sweets, including Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. It’d be an absolute delight if it wasn’t swarming with people. Because it really is in King’s Cross Station, it’s a mecca for the fandom, and who hasn’t heard of Platform 9 3/4? There’s even a trolley that’s half disappeared into the wall where excited youngsters can have a photo snapped for a price. The queue is crazy. I don’t know if there are off peak hours, but we were there in the morning and it was already packed. (No, I didn’t pay for a photo, much to your relief.)

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I got this one for free. Wait, wrong platform…
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Here you go. Sorry, random Indian couple. The crazy queue I was talking about is to the right.

The House of MinaLima on 26 Greek Street in Soho is the place to go if you don’t want to be caught in a swarm of excited youngsters or do the (pricey) WB Studio Tour. It’s a shop run by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, the graphic artists behind all eight HP movies along with the newest one, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The windows are currently styled to look like Honeydukes Sweet Shop and there are Hogwarts acceptance letters all over the steps and floor. With four floors in total, the ground floor is the main shop where you can buy the actual goods. The other floors are purely for spectacle and Instagram. The second floor has copies of The Daily Prophet and The Quibbler (complete with giveaway spectrespecs) strewn about willy nilly, while the third floor boasts a huge Marauder’s Map underneath your feet and proclamations from Umbridge are on all the walls. The fourth is inspired by the Fantastic Beasts movie. It’s kitschy and bright and fun. Best of all,Read More »

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Reykjavik

Dear Elly G,

It’s the ascent that gets me. Every time. That feeling when the giant metal tube you’re in careens down the runway and takes off, leaving your stomach somewhere between the earth and the sky and it feels like a lifetime of being at a 45-degree angle, just climbing. It’s always a while before I can breathe easy again.

Sometimes it’s easy. It’s smooth and uneventful, the plane cutting through clouds without resistance. Sometimes it’s hard. The ascent is choppy, like riding a skiff over rough waves, and I find myself wondering if that view of the city will be my last, wondering if maaaayyyybe I should’ve kept my shoes on in case the plane loses its battle with gravity and we plunge into the sea and I need to frog swim in the Arctic Ocean to save my life or at least prolong it, if only by a few minutes by finding a floating piece of wreckage and I won’t be able to do that if my feet are the first to go.

But I like ascents. I like the thrill. Humans weren’t meant to fly, and each time we take off, it almost feels like having a middle finger extended at the great wide cosmos: look at me now, Dad! I really should knock on wood thrice, because it feels like I’m mocking the fates. Unfortunately, there is nothing wooden to be found on the Airbus. I might try and find a catalogue to knock on, I suppose that will work. Paper coming from wood and all that.

There is a guy on this plane who seems to love that there is absolutely no wood to be found. A thinks he’s on something, very likely little purple party pills, because he keeps going up and down the aisles, just running his hands over everything. Everything. It’s weird. And gross – does he even realize how germy the interior of an airplane can be? He’s not running his hands over the passengers, at least. He’s doing it on all the surfaces of the plane he can touch, including the covers of the overhead luggage compartments. I’ve decided he’s some sort of shaman, blessing the plane’s interior with good juju. Between you and me, A is more likely to be right than I am, though.

Speaking of wood, we touched down in Reykjavik and the terminal is almost all wood. It’s warm, and cozy in that minimalist sort of Scandinavian way, all interesting angles and curves and mood lighting. I wasted no time heading for the mini grocery they had going on, to score some skyr. Passed a few displays of interesting salt. “Lava salt,” and all that, but I tasted it and it doesn’t taste like anything other than salt. Lies! I do have my eye on the cutest little figurine. It’s of a fat Viking, and it makes me happy to see it. We’re stopping over in Iceland again on the way back from England, so I’m sleeping on it for now. I didn’t get to buy the skyr, there were problems with my card or something. I’m hoping this is not a theme for when we get to England, because it is going to be annoying going around with le cash in le pockets. I have nightmares of a Dickensian London, with the Artful Dodger going around picking pockets willy nilly. Listen to me, sounding all first world Visa paywave and shit.

I could be a morning person in Iceland. It’s about 6:45 AM in Reyjkjavik, and it’s still black as night. We left at eight in the morning with no sunrise to be seen. I didn’t do a lot of reading up on Iceland, because it’s just a transit stop on the way to jolly old London, so that is going to have to be remedied.

NaNoWriNo, or a litany of excuses on why I’m chickening out this early in the game

November is it, I told myself. National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo.

I would sit down and pound out 50K words in thirty days. I would be in a lovely online community of writers all working toward the same goal, I would finally finish something I’ve been working on for what feels like ages. So why am I wasting my time decidedly not doing what I told myself I should be doing?

I’m a pantser.

In industry parlance, a pantser is someone who writes by the seat of their pants, writes when it becomes impossible not to, when the scenarios and the words come out of nowhere and need to break free. That’s when pantsers sit at the keyboard, make that  cursor move and the blank page fill. It’s akin to running to the bathroom and unloading whatever is in my gut. When I feel that familiar twist in my brain, when that bolt of lightning hits, everything seems as clear as day. The words knit themselves together  and it’s all I can do to capture them and write them down before they’re gone. Because that’s the underside to being a pantser. That wonderful fugue doesn’t last. It eventually dissipates, like mist clearing on a sunny day. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. There’s no specific trigger, which is why my stuff is sporadic and very often makes no sense.

Forcing the fugue is difficult, and again akin to sitting on the pot and waiting for things to come out. I’ve done it a few times. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn’t. It’s painful and frustrating, and what comes out is almost always unsatisfying.

It isn’t that I don’t know where I’m going when it comes to telling a story,  but plotters do much better when it comes to finishing a work. They have an outline, they come in prepared, they follow their own structure and ultimately come out with a finished work. I’ve tried to make myself one, but I just can’t seem to do it. The rigidity of it gets too tedious for me, although I really should find a balance between enjoying the journey and reaching the destination.

I’m a compulsive self-editor.

This is not a good thing, as many writers will tell you. The best way to write is to ignore the impulse to edit as you go, to  keep going until you run out of breath, to shoot now and ask questions later. Editing is a thing that should be done when everything is over, and I am aware of this as I write, but the urge to tweak the phrasing here and a comma there is almost impossible to ignore. So I get caught in an infinity loop of going over and over paragraphs, sweeping for issues until I lose my original train of thought. (I’m doing it right now!)

I’m superstitious.

I have a thing about pre-empting things. It may not make sense to most, but I believe if I’m working towards something, have a goal that I intend to reach or a project I want to come out with, talking about it will jinx it. It sounds ridiculous as I write it, but I just can’t seem to shake that feeling. It’s the way I work, which is why I tend to announce things once they’re nearing completion or are already achieved.

One of the first requirements of NaNoWrimo is announcing your novel, giving it a working title and a brief synopsis. Sure, no one is going to read it, and no one gives a shit, but I do. I broke the no jinx rule with one project I’m working on – talked about it, shared it, and it’s stagnated. I feel I talked about it too much and blame myself for oversharing. Officially announcing on NaNoWriMo not only breaks my no-jinx rule, it ups the pressure of actually finishing something I’m not sure I can even finish.

Not even started, and I’m already stumped.

I work better alone.

I chase Le Hubs out of my work space (which happens to be the bedroom) because I can’t write if he’s around. Remember Invisible Boy, the kid who becomes invisible as long as no one is watching? That’s me. I can’t write if someone I know is in the same room.

I’ve written in the library and this particularly lovely coffee shop along Broadview which sort of worked, because I was surrounded by strangers doing their own thing, but I find the best places to write are the ones where I am surrounded by absolutely no one. Writing is like tennis – a solitary experience. It’s just you and your keyboard and the untapped reserves of your own imagination, your opponent a blank page that needs to be filled.

NaNoWriMo is filled with a community of passionate writers who want to fulfill the same goal. It’s nice to be with people of the same bent, but sometimes knowing about the progress they make frustrates me. It makes me ask myself why I’m not making the same progress, why my own word count isn’t as high, why I’m not closer to the end of my work.

It makes me feel petty and small (not something I enjoy being) and it’s the opposite of what the community is intended to be, which is uplifting and encouraging. I know. I make myself sound sad, anti-social and maybe even borderline mad. Yes, sometimes I am all of those. Still, I have no problems sharing once it’s done, but until then I think it’s best I keep to myself.

Look at that, a thousand words and none of them on a NaNoWriMo project. I still really want to do it. A part of me wants to use this month to just flush out everything inside, like a mental colon cleanse. I’d  come out on the other side refreshed and ready to edit. Or I won’t, and I’ll spend the next few months beating my head on the wall out of frustration. I guess time will tell.

 

Featured Image from Bat Fan Diaries

Night of the Living Undead

I wish I was one of those people who stayed attractive even when fat. Curves in the right places, a tiny face. But nope. We’re talking Judy Ann at her worst. And it sucks.

It sucks when Halloween comes around. On one of the very rare instances when wearing costumes in public is socially acceptable, sometimes it feels like the go-to costume is a variation on a sexy professional. Sexy nurse. Sexy firefighter. Sexy maid. Sexy nun. Sexy zombie. It wouldn’t do to just be professional, it has to be sexy because it isn’t Halloween unless your ass cheeks are hanging out.

Hallow – J.K. Rowling aside – means holy, and the hallow in Halloween has long passed its sell-by date. There’s nothing sacred about running around in stilettos, wearing thigh-high fishnets and a sexy nun costume but hey, we’re only young once. I’m not hating. Between you and me, that Halloween would totally be my Halloween if I weighed at least twenty pounds less and had a waist.  But it isn’t. So I end up looking like this.

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I’d decided if I couldn’t have my ass cheeks hanging out, I could at least make a statement, the statement being work sometimes feels like a penal colony so I felt like dressing the part. Which apparently made an impact, because the next year they decided to have a theme, and the theme was…

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Hairless Whisper

1/12/17

Dear Elly G,

The difference between a Brazilian done in Toronto and a Brazilian done in Dumaguete spans leagues.

The former takes approximately ten minutes. It’s quick, clinical, precise and expensive, barely even giving me any time to register the loss of body hair.

The latter starts with the aesthetician handing me a bathrobe, a towel and a small bar of soap. (“Ma’am, wash first?”) You know you’re in the Philippines when you need a clean vagina before the waxer even deals with you. That’s how we are. We brush our teeth before seeing the dentist. We wash our vajayjays before getting a wax. My usual suki  admitted to seeing her share of tampon strings. She would never think of asking her clients to wash themselves. I can only imagine the judgment meted out by a Filipina waxer if someone dared to come in for a wax while on her period.

She had me staring at the ceiling for the better part of an hour wondering what my labia must look like to someone who had a spotlight pointed at my crotch and was aggressively parting it every which way, hunting down stray pubes with a tweezer. (“Ma’am, pwede i-puller?”) No one has ever paid that much attention to my nether regions. Not A. Not my gynecologist. Not even I.

Also, so much aggressive rubbing! Each time she spread a bit of wax and applied the strip, she would apply pressure and rub like there was no tomorrow, ensuring the wax stuck to the strip so she could remove as much hair as was humanely possible. I wasn’t quite sure if I was supposed to orgasm. I wanted to ask her if anyone ever had, but concentrated on biting back my laughter and holding in a fart instead.

The best part was when I had to part my buttcheeks. Never underestimate the weirdness of parting your own buttcheeks while a total stranger plucks it clean of hair because there are some parts that wax can’t reach. I’m assuming there are some parts that wax can’t reach, anyway. All for the low price of PhP 550! Sulit na sulit.

 

Yours in hairlessness,
Nikka

 

PS: Traffic here is awful.

PPS: A motorcab had a sign on its rear that read “Ang mulusot pisot” in big blue letters.

Dreaming in Four Sequences

They say everyone dreams. Some say we’re living a waking dream. Whatever real life is, it’s nowhere close to the weirdness I just slept through. Most dreams fade like smoke when you wake, but not this time. This is what I get for having Lucky Me pancit canton and powering through The Walking Dead before bed.

In my first dream, I was in a group of men, women and kids having to fight another group for territory. Or something. I wasn’t clear on the whys and wherefores, but they sent us women out first because we were “expendable.”

I was armed with a pencil. Mongol No. 2, bright yellow and freshly sharpened. I stabbed someone with it and gained pliers, the heavy wrenchy sort. I must’ve brained someone with it because I then gained a gun. Meanwhile, someone was peeling the face off of someone else with a cleaver. (This was not a good dream.) Then my brother, whom I was protecting, got wounded and I woke up.

It’s just one of those scenes that seems so intense it wakes you, and you lie there for a second because you’ve jerked out of REM sleep so fast you need a minute to recalibrate your whereabouts. Anyway, I lay back down and immediately got into the next one, where I was in a theatre. Wasn’t sure if I was with Le Hubs, but I knew I was watching something with Whoopi Goldberg of all people.

As dreams do, the whole theatre scene segued into having really amazing sexy times in a glade straight out of a Midsummer Night’s Dream with the love of my life, who is not Whoopi Goldberg, and the glade turned out to be an island which we eventually left. I could run on water, while he could swim really fast.

And then we were underwater hiding from some psycho young girl who had come into the room to get a doll we had gone there for. I left Le Hubs –  who at this point was no longer Le Hubs, he was the vampire guy from Twilight – to hide under the table, while I snatched the doll and trapped psycho girl in some magic net.

It turned out that psycho young girl was a vengeful ghost and the doll was her anchor to this world. How I figured this out, I had no idea but I grabbed the doll, surfaced into some sort of attic (wtf?) and just as she’d escaped my magic net (again, wtf) I smashed the doll, it broke, and she disappeared. Then I woke up again.

Before last night, the weirdest dream I can recall having was treading water someplace that looked very like the Manjuyod sand bar while alligators swam just beneath my feet.

Who needs horror movies, shrooms, or the clown from It? I don’t often recall my dreams, and I can see why – if that’s what’s going on in my subconscious, I’m better off not knowing.

 

Image from TinyFry.com