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It was back to school for me in the teaching department today. New kids and new rules — I’m actually looking forward to a great semester ahead. It’s just annoying that I have to wake up at 5:30AM twice every week. Well at least, I get the best of the best parking space.

Second Half 2012 Review

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My journal (yes I still prefer to write down memories, even though my handwriting sucks) — This Journal Will Actually Change Someone’s Life!!! — in its final page asks me: “It’s the end of the year, how are you? […] What are the lessons that you’ve learned from this year?” I never dreamed of arriving at that page. I never imagined letting go of 2012. The past year has been a wonderful ride.

So, this is how the second half of the second year of the second decade of the first century of the third millennium went for me:

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July (up to early August) was all about my very own Despedida Series. Simple dinners (with or without alcohol) with friends and families who really matter. Thanks to them I was able to mark the end of a journey and the start of a new one last 2012. I will always be grateful and I long for the day I can hang out with all of them again.

August

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The longest day in my life last 2012 (literally and figuratively) happened last August 7 — when I finally bade good-bye to the Philippines for the United States. I tried to stop being emotional but in the end I was unsuccessful. But up above the skies, as I saw the clouds change in patterns and directions as we moved from one time zone to another, I suddenly felt excited. My dreams in life are now taking shape. I feel some sadness though, as part of that dream I left in the Philippines. I hope that five years will just prove to be a short amount of time — I can’t wait to share my experiences with her already. Anyway, before school officially started I was able to spend a week with my maternal relatives in Virginia and for a whole day with fellow Filipinos in Niagara Falls, NY.

September

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September allowed me to explore of West New York, my playground for the next five years or so. My general observation: I really need a car to go around here. But compared to New York City, I like the suburbs more — there’s still a city element but it’s clean and green everywhere. Last September, I officially started my work as an instructor. In my three years of being part of the working class, I must say that this is the job I like the most. I have finally found what I really wanted to do.

October

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The going gets tough as I say hello to sleepless nights again deep into mid-semester. At times where I might just snap, I attempt to make myself busy with extra-curricular activities. Weird for a graduate student huh, especially if dissertation is soon to haunt him. But not me. While I still have to explore more organizations in school, making kids smile during the National Chemistry Week at the Buffalo Museum of Science was enough. Seeing happy faces of children and children-at-heart makes my heart happy as well — especially if they’re happy about the wonders of science lol.

November

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There are things which happened in November I am not proud of and I’d just keep to myself. For the fun part, I had my first Thanksgiving (American) experience. For a Filipino like me who celebrates a five-month long Christmas season, I have to admit that I did not really feel the spirit at first. But after last-minute plans which involved me suddenly spending my five-day break in Virginia Beach, I suddenly learned to appreciate it. It feels great that whether here or in the Philippines, I have people who I can go to in my ups and downs.

December

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My twenty-fourth birthday was actually uneventful and nothing that I ever hoped for. I had to wake up early to proctor an exam, check an Everest of papers, and so on. But looking back, I have actually received my birthday gift even before my actual natal day. I enjoyed this semester firstly with my students — all forty-seven of them. They have been my best teachers in this foreign land. I will really miss them. For Christmas, I did not really get much material stuff but I got to spend the Yuletide with my fellow Filipino friends in Connecticut and New York. Of course, Christmas to us Filipinos means quality bonding time, aside from lots of food that is.

It was one heck of a ride and it was one of the best years ever. As much as I am afraid to let go, I am equally excited to start yet another 365-day trip around the world. Bring it.

24th Wishlist

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It’s been a while since I have written here, I even barely noticed it’s December already. Time sure flies when you’re having and not having fun. But most of the times, I had haha.

As much as last year was to me, my 24th is a special one. For the first time, I am spending it away from my home country — kind of positive since I am young and I am yet to travel the entire globe. However I will also be spending it far from the warm embraces of my loved ones and relatives. I am just grateful that this year has been wonderfully amazing for me. I don’t believe in astrology at all but it was predicted we Dragons will have a terrible year this year of the dragon. Well guess who didn’t. Haha.

Anyway, my wishlist for this year is way simpler and way shorter than the previous ones I’ve had. (Or wait simple probably does not apply to the last two haha.)

  1. Ginebra San Miguel 2013 calendar. The one with Georgina Wilson in it. The moment I saw it, I knew it. She’s very very hot she can melt all the snow here. Priority gift, friends in the Philippines heeeelp!
  2. This Journal Will Actually Change Someone’s Life!!! 2013 planner. My choice of journal/planner for the past three years. Now that I am not in the Philippines, I have no means to get this anymore (without it becoming extra expensive no thanks to courier costs). (Except for some of my friends who are going home, so can anyone help me here?)
  3. Nike Ateneo 5-peat championship shirt. Medium. Or probably not this one, since I cannot really wear it next year if the 6-peat becomes a reality right haha? A Nike Ateneo jacket would be lovely then. Or an Ateneo medium-sized shirt from Get Blued.
  4. A very witty book. Surprise me.
  5. Round-trip ticket to and from the Philippines. I have Filipinos say that Christmas and New Year here are kinda sad and flat (sorry America). While I will be spending the Yuletide with my relatives in Milwaukee, a plane ticket grants me permission to set up those half-a-mile long Judas belts which are illegal here (whyyyyyy!).
  6. A hot date for my birthday. Hmmm, this time I think this is not similar to last year. Insert smiley and sad face.

So this is the first birthday I get to spend in the United States. It’s a wonderful and lonely feeling. But with all the positive vibes and blessings 2012 has brought me, the ghosts of 2011 are now totally gone. All my loneliness and homesickness evaporate into thin air.

Awesome August

The eighth month of the second year of the second decade of the third millennium has gone and will never be back again (yes, even with a time machine). However, I will never forget August 2012 until the I kick the bucket. This 31-day period has seen me transition to a new phase of my life. If you will allow me.

Last week of July and first week of August (and a few other weeks before that)

So last February 14, I received this admission letter from New York, inviting me to work on my PhD degree at the Empire State itself. Aside from free tuition, I get to teach chemistry college kids. Who would say no to that. So by March, I replied an affirmative and by late April to early July, I collected all necessary documents. I started counting down the days happily.

Now here’s the bitter part of countdowns — when you are about to leave something for another, you realize that it actually starts to pain you as the day continues to expire. I felt this the most the weekend (August 4-5) before I left the Philippines. I invited my groups of friends to separate despedida dinners, all of which ended with a teardrop coming out of my tear duct. Enough of the drama now. I am thankful that I am able to spend, as Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen put it, good times with my friends and family. I won’t be here in New York without your love and support.

The despedidas were awesome, the food were awesome, my loved ones are awesome. Till we all meet again!

Second week of August

August 7 was literally the longest day of my life, everyone travelling from the South Pacific to the Mediterranean knows that. But like all days of the year, it eventually ended. From Manila, Philippines to Tokyo, Japan to New York City, New York, USA and finally to Washington DC, USA, I have finally landed in the Land of the Free.

Surprise — I HAD NO JETLAG. Now I can say that along with my Dad (yes, he’s very proud that he has traveled the world and not in a single instance did he have a jet lag).

You may ask what I was doing in DC when I’m supposed to go to NY instead? Before school officially began, I decided to spend a week with my maternal relatives in VA first. It was a very good summer break indeed. Highlights were our trip to the whole District of Columbia area and Hampton Roads.

Third week of August

I found myself back in the skies of North America again as I flew from Virginia to Pennsylvania and back to New York last August 14. That was also the day I got to experience the chilling winds of the second biggest city in NY.

But hey, school’s not yet started. So why not a trip to say, Niagara Falls?

I’m so happy that while aboard The Maid of the Mist, I got to meet my ex-blockmate Kim. She’s a PhD Chemistry hopeful too, in Texas. I want to visit that place too, so yes this is just the first of our many meet-ups.

So, Ateneans (and young nerd Pinoys in general) are dominating the United States. Watch out, America. Hahaha!

Fourth week of August

Fall semester (it’s weird that they call it “Fall semester” when it begins at the dying days of summer and into the early days of winter — I mean why not just “First semester?”) officially began with International Students’ Orientation. That includes me and my cool Panamanian roommate, Albis (MA Architecture). I love that SUNY-Buffalo is a school of large cultural diversity — it’s so fun getting to discover new people from various country. And I am so not done yet. Proud to be a global Pinoy New Yorker!

And there was our American Chemical Society exams, more processing of documents, and so on. Oh, did I say I got a new toy (Samsung Galaxy S3)? So I am now in Instagram (along with a million Filipinos on iPhone) so add me: troyalivio.

SUNY-Buffalo (or UB) is such a big school that it’s already September and I can still get lost.

Fifth week of August

Now school has officially started. I’m carrying nine graduate units plus six teaching units. But the good side of it: I only have two hours per week office hours (true story). I’m living the Fil-American dream.

However no pictures for this week. I need to concentrate on my studies, right?

Around a month has passed. Fifty-nine months more. It is going to be awesome. I love you, America!

First Half 2012 Review

Every second quarter of the year, there is this question in This Journal Will Actually Change Someone’s Life!!! (my choice of planner) which I always try to answer seriously — “Are you having a ‘mid-year crisis’ or are things still going well for you?” Last year, I found it challenging to answer this, half-probably because I found almost-zero action the entire 2011. It was during the latter half of the previous year that I discovered that I am simply on a very long Lenten season.

I used to do some yearly reviews, then some quarterly reviews. For 2012, I am going to do it by half. I can see two phases of my life during this second year of the second decade of the third millennium. Two transition states (using the language of chemistry) for me to take place at exactly during where the first half of the year meets the second.

January

January this leap year began on a Sunday, which aside from signalling that 2012 will have many Friday the thirteenths, also means that classes resume from Christmas break extra early. At the graduate level, it’s not really an issue, especially if you’re a doctorand cramming to get your dissertation defended before marching rites. I was cramming two gradschool applications during this month too — I seemed to know no other word in the English dictionary aside from “busy.” I grew worried everyday, thinking my chances would be low. Thankfully, my course allowed me to explore vacation spots around the country with the “for academic purposes” excuse. During the last year of January, I went to Talim Bay in Batangas for Aquatic Ecology class. Sea urchins look fascinating from a diver’s perspective. And yes, the seeds of Enhalus acoroides are so delectable.

February

Academic requirements continued to pile up but nonetheless, February was still a win month for me. I got the best Valentine’s Day ever this year. Not anything cheesy, but let’s just say I became one step closer towards the realization of my dreams. At first I had my doubts but then again I took the leap. And the dive was awesome. I now look forward to opening this new chapter of my adult life.

March

More summer trips for March as this time my Masters classes took me to Iloilo and Guimaras. Good food, good view, good company. I was not really able to travel the whole 2011 seeing as how determined I was then to ensure that 2012 will be my year. Imagine my joy when finally my two bare feet felt the salty waters of the ocean again. Imagine my joy looking at the vastness of the plains, the setting of the tropical sun behind blue seas, the smiling faces of fellow scientist-friends. The last weeks of March proved to be academically demanding though, but with the right mix of people, it was actually a fun ride. Too bad that the said month actually marked my final minutes inside the classrooms of UP Diliman, as during mid-March, I said “yes” to my new love interest already. Those rude awakenings though will always have a special place in my heart.

April

April also began on a Sunday, and not just any Sunday, it’s Palm Sunday! By God’s glory and wonder, I started the Holy Week and the month literally on top of the world — at Mt. Pulag. At six degrees Centigrade, my body slowly learned to adapt to what will soon be an actually comfortable temperature. Good friends and good drinks. It felt like I’ve figuratively conquered the world! The start of the second quarter of the year also commenced the processing of documents I need by August. I’m actually still processing them, they seem not to end! Oh well. Down Mt. Pulag, I had my high school barkada join me during those laughing moments, now that all of us are about to enter our own quarter-life crises.

May

No trips for May, but I got a very important sticker which green-lights my life journey this August. Praise God. The countdown to the last 100 day officially began with the said good news. On other aspects, I attended another science conference, after being dormant for 14 months. I bade a temporary farewell to full-time employment as well, to give my body and soul some well-deserved break. May was just about bonding with my Masters batchmates and touching lives of two of my college kids. I did not say au revoir to part-time employment after all, right?

June

Finally, complete time for myself, family and friends. Time to go home and smell the flowers. I missed my bed in Bulacan so I made love to it during mid-June. But for every “welcome back,” there is always a “so long.” I officially said good bye to Katipunan (and La Vista) during the first week. It has been my home-away-from-home for the past seven years. Free as a bird, I went Northward to re-explore La Union and Benguet with my nephew. Good times. However, as much as I missed my bed in Bulacan, my bed in Cebu sent me a text message, saying she’s very jealous. I did not hesitate at all and flew fast to her embrace. The process made me able to meet up with my paternal relatives whom I’ve last seen last 2010. (And some of them I last saw way back when I was a toddler.)

I remember something on TV saying that this Year of the Dragon won’t be the year for us dragons. Well guess what, I don’t believe in zodiacs, astrology, and all those whatevers. I am the architect of my own future. I am thrilled for what the latter half of the year has for me. At the same time, I am scared but equipped with my dreams and desires, I am ready.