I was prepping a mango a few weeks ago for writing break snacking, slicing it into thirds, the way it was taught to me, the way my family cuts mangoes: take the fruit in your hand, hold it firmly, and slice above the pit, starting from where the stalk was. Slice as close to the pit as you can, smoothly, steadily, careful not to injure your fingers. Do the same on the other side. Into the fridge the fruit goes for a few minutes; in the tropical heat of my beloved Philippines, cold sliced mangoes were one of the the best treats.

I’d been taking a break while I figured out how to structure a final project due quite soon. The mango kept distracting me, the flavours and the smells and the textures overwhelming me with memories until I had to pause for a moment, and write to let it out.

I was, I think, fifteen or so. Hanging out with one of my favourite cousins at my grandparents’ place in Pontevedra, Negros Occidental, sorely tempted by the spread of mangoes lola had set aside to sell later, row upon row of fruit lit up by the languid late afternoon sun, the smell of ripe mangoes, lush and intoxicating, hanging heavy in the Philippine summer air. We snuck one out and ran, overflowing with giggles, to the grove of trees in the back of the house, hiding behind a punso. We murmured our tabi-tabis, peeled open that mango, small but beautifully ripe, taking turns biting into it, sticky golden juice running down our chins and seeping into our skins, forever stained into our memories.

Oh my lord, I cannot wait to go home and eat mangoes in the sun again.

Happy 5th Anniversary, Mikaius!

It’s five years since the day we went on our first date, on what I didn’t know would be the last first date of my life.

We still say “I love you” every day, constantly, consistently, punctuating giggles and belly laughs and burps with love. A few years ago, I expressed worry, and maybe a little fear, that maybe us saying it at the rate we did would dilute what it means to say “I love you.”

You were never worried about that. Love for you just was, bubbling out like a spring, flowing endlessly every day.

And it felt safe, mahal ko, to love you like that, too.

Happy fifth anniversary, my love. You are a gift I’m endlessly grateful for, every day we’re together. Thank you for all the hard work you’ve put into us. For all the dates you planned. For leaning into it and enjoying how wild it is that we found each other at 22.

I can’t wait to be old with you, and in the meantime, I absolutely love that we’re growing old together.

(Photo credits: Rachel Evangeline Chiong. Find her on Instagram @rachelsauruscrankthatfocus!)

2018: The Year of Sunday Rest

If you make your way to the far side of the Toronto Necropolis, you will find a bench bearing a simple and deeply evocative inscription: “He was my Sunday rest.” It’s a sentiment that has so deeply resonated with me and personally revealed much about the way I think about love and affection.

I am currently agnostic, but I was raised religious. The part of my family that raised my brother and I while our mother was working abroad was Pentecostal. For me, the term “Sunday rest” holds layers upon layers of meanings, stacked together like a mille crêpe, holding up my life’s deepest traumas and deepest joys. It has been quite the exhausting effort to reconcile these two, and I only very occasionally take a closer look at that part of my life. There is a harsh contrast between how much I valued my faith and my church community when I was in my pre-teens up until my early twenties, and the sudden traumatic break from organised religion around the time that I moved to Canada. “Sunday rest” has many complicated nuances for me, as far as ideas go, but it also encompasses fond memories bathed in the warm glow of nostalgia: of my old church, bustling family meals during holidays, community events and celebrations.

Despite said trauma, I also still associate the feeling of “Sunday rest” with what is good and beautiful in life. I recently attended the book launch for Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos and Canadian Imaginaries, an anthology published and co-edited by three Filipino academics in Canada: Robert Diaz, Marissa Largo, and Fritz Pino. Robert is one of my supervisors, and of the experience of the launch, I told him, “it felt like going to church.” The space at 401 Richmond was celebratory and wonderfully supportive, and I was teary-eyed for most of it.

More recently in my adult life, though, “Sunday rest” has come to mean quiet time for myself, intended to be used as preparation for the coming week. As I get older, it has become more obvious that I am a person who thrives within routine: having a pattern in life allows me to keep my anxieties at bay enough for me to function, and hopefully function well. The importance of maintaining my Sundays as prep days, especially as I come into the last few months of my masters, cannot be overstated. Ideally, Sundays are when I organise myself into the person I aim to be at work, whilst nursing a giant mug of coffee or tea. Here are some of the things I always want to be able to do for myself on Sundays:

  • Planning: I absolutely adore the combination of a Monday-start weekly planner and a daily agenda. I prefer having calendars that begin on Mondays, as it lets me have a clear break from “plan day Sunday” to “begin the workweek Monday.” I am fully crediting Passion Planner’s Undated Monday Compact for sparking the realisation that this is how my brain functions optimally – thanks, guys! Towards the last quarter of 2017, I found myself gravitating towards and eventually exclusively using my giant collegiate notebooks to set up my weekly task lists. The right side is where I have all the to-dos by category, while the left side is for additional notes throughout the week. Recognising (rather belatedly in my academic career, hah!) that this is what works and that I should steer into it, I intend to keep using this system, at least until I finish this degree. To complement this, I downloaded the Business Calendar for Android on my LG G5, an app which allows me to (a) have the agenda view as a widget and (b) not have to carry the giant notebook everywhere I go.
My giant collegiate notebook, which is serving me nicely as a planner!
  • Meal prep: I have been raised on the idea of meal prep from when I was a child! In the Philippines, almost everybody brings baon to school and work – baon is the Filipino word for “packed meal,” and it is so ubiquitous that food containers (Tupperware and the like), are called “baunan”, i.e., something you put your baon in. It is so satisfying to put away my baon for the week stacked neatly in the fridge, ready for me to pick it up and go. Last year I prepped a lot of simple roasted chicken thighs and steamed rice, but this year I need to incorporate more veg in there. Roasted asparagus is nice and easy, as are mushrooms and cauliflower.
  • Coffee: I have found my Contigo travel mug so useful that I bought two more and gave them away as Christmas presents. Mikaius bought me mine at Shoppers Drug Mart, but it is also available on Amazon! I was pretty skeptical when I first used it, thinking that my coffee couldn’t possibly stay hot for nine hours as is claimed on their description page. Imagine my shock (and pain) when I arrived at my 10am class after a two hour commute, popped the top open, took a sip, and promptly burned my tongue on near-boiling coffee. I have since learned to have “make coffee” be the first thing on my morning routine list as soon as I wake up and even before I shower, pour it into my travel mug as soon as it’s done, and leave the top open as I go about my daily prep. This way, my coffee is still hot when I get to class or to my office, but has cooled down enough to enjoy!

Together, meal prep and making my own coffee have allowed me to free up some wiggle room in my budget so that I can give to organisations I believe in and love. While I’m not donating life-changing amounts of money (let’s not forget that I’m a grad student with student loans looking at me from beyond my graduation day lol), I am able to save my coffee-and-lunch money and allocate it towards donations. Two that I’m currently giving to are Just A Story Pod through their Patreon, and Kapisanan Philippine Centre through the 13 for 13 #SupportK campaign. My usual order of a burrito bowl at Sid’s Café is $11 (!!!) but if I shop at the local FreshCo or Price Chopper, that is about a week’s worth of hot lunches for me, if not more. Similarly, a coffee at Tim Horton’s or Second Cup goes for $2, but buying a pack of coffee is $7 at my local Winners and a carton of milk $4 at the grocery store, which lasts me for about an entire month.

  • Reading: I have really tried to incorporate reading into my personal calendar by doing the Stephen King reading challenge, a name which is turning out to be a misnomer as it is more of a “reading Stephen King’s books and watching the movies and miniseries inspired by those books” challenge. Maybe I should change the hashtag to #experiencingtheKing instead? More to consider as I head into the new year! I’m currently on the last story of Night Shift, which I was initially reading via an ebook until a friend gifted me a thrift store copy of the book for our annual Friendsmas! The copy he gave me is the paperback edition with the bandaged hand as a cover, which is one of my favourite tales in the collection. Thank you lots, A!
  • Art and culture: Over 2018, I want to indulge my love of museums and art galleries more often. For Christmas, I asked my family for memberships to the Royal Ontario Museum and to the Art Gallery of Ontario! I’m very excited to see where this goes, as both of these institutions are within walking distance of campus, and I have always loved spending time there – even after seven years of living in Toronto and many dates taking place at the AGO and the ROM, there’s always something new to discover.

Coming up now on 2018 and looking back, 2017 was rough. I was recovering from my *dad’s death, but had not quite come back from the abyss yet. I was in very wild depressive cycles, and my anxiety has never been so terrifying. But, 2017 was also filled with little triumphs and joys: I lived by myself, for the first time ever, and the experience taught me that I absolutely can take care of myself. It makes me feel better for future me, knowing that I can handle living alone and all the responsibility that entails.

I have also been sending out applications to fellowships and submitting my writing to various places, collecting rejections along the way rather like how some people string up Christmas cards over the mantel. I wasn’t too stringent about my submissions in 2017, and more than once whipped up an application two days before the submission date – which is not how my mind works at all and so I screwed myself in the process, ugh. I’d like to believe that I’m wiser now, for that experience, and will continue to work on my writing. I would like to submit not just more, but more polished.

Having said all that, I want 2018 to be my year of Sunday rest. I want to invest time in myself – to work on the skills that I want to be better at in order to get to the career that I want, to submit my work for publication, to actually build my portfolio (which I have, but, you know, it isn’t as clean and beautiful as I would like it to be), to take more photos, to learn to be comfortable in my skin. I think that most of all, I want to learn how to truly love myself, which is proving to be a difficult task. I have had to train my brain to understand that I don’t need to be perfect. The anxiety in the lead-up towards submissions and meetings when I am overwhelmed in obsessive thoughts has actually negatively impacted me and the work that I produce.

As a daily visual reminder, I put some stickers on my laptop that are imperfectly overlapping just to remind myself that it is okay, that it will be okay, that I am okay.

Starkanine is actually killing me with the placement, but I want to remind myself that it’s okay to not have a perfectly planned layout for these stickers.

Being in my late 20s, I am especially cognisant of the fact that I am effectively already in my thirties, and so before time actually catches up with me, I need to be prepared. I want thirty-year-old me to look back at twenty-seven year old me and think, she did well. As this year ends, and as I interrogate more closely why I’m doing what I do, I want to look at myself in the mirror and have a clear vision of what I need to work on to be my best self. That’s rather abstract, I know, so I set myself five goals for this coming year, and I want to be able to tick off this list by the time December 2018 rolls around. Here are my resolutions:

(1) I want to collect rejections. I don’t mean to say that I will submit applications to be rejected, but I wanted a way to think about submitting grant applications and poetry and other things without the inevitable rejection letters being too hurtful. I want to take this year as an opportunity to learn how to write better applications, and how to be more effective at the many different kinds of writing that I had not tried my hand at before.

(2) I want to go to the Philippines, once, before I fully emotionally commit to a life as an immigrant. My family has something planned, but we’ve not had a good track record in doing it – myself especially! I have been intending to go home for a few weeks since 2015, but then graduate school happened and I wasn’t able to leave. I think that I need to be home one more time before fully accepting that while I will always consider myself to be Bacolodnon, home as I know it is no longer there. I cannot plant roots where I am not.

(3) I want to decide if I am to pursue a PhD or not. I jumped into my masters straight from my undergrad, without a break, and knowing now what was to happen in 2015, I would have been much better off had I taken a year off. I was so absent my first year due to grief that I didn’t get to make friends or interact more with my colleagues, and I dearly regret that. I want to be certain that a PhD is what I want to commit my life to, before I write my applications.

(4) I want to learn how to make bread. I’m already starting this! I made a basic white bread last week and Mikaius really enjoyed it, so that was fantastic. It does feel good to be baking again, honestly, and bread is something I had always been slightly afraid of. What is the wizardry of yeast? Why are people so obsessed with bread? I don’t know, but I have a bunch of recipes lined up and I can’t wait to learn more about it!

(5) I would like to be more productive with this blog! Instead of writing when I feel like it, I have created a schedule, a calendars, and planned activities. From around October 2017 onwards I started jotting down ideas for 2018, and I now have a pretty good chunk of the next calendar year planned out. Blogging has been a constant for me since I was in high school, but I think 2018 will be a good year to see if I want to take it towards something more involved than memory-keeping.

And with that, thank you for hanging around and reading this. May your holidays be full of warmth and feel-good moments. See you next year!


Turning 27

Top, COS | Skirt, Banana Republic, thrifted

I turned 27 yesterday! Mikaius planned a lovely day for us, with the trip to the Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters exhibit at the AGO bookended by food – thank you, my love, for the effort that you put into this date!


Breakfast was at Yonge and Wellesley, at a restaurant called The Coach House Restaurant. We’ve eaten here before and had a grand old time, so we decided to come back. Mikaius had pancakes (super fluffy and delicious, by the way) with sausage and bacon and a milkshake to wash it all down, and I had the spinach and feta omelette with a cup of coffee. A wonderful and hearty start to my birthday!


We then walked to campus to visit the Trinity College Annual Book Sale, and on our way there, this adorable little ladybug decided to hang out with us for a little while. It particularly enjoyed Mikaius’ Misfits patch.

I got myself my first Ian Fleming book, an unabridged 1959 edition of From Russia with Love – it’s this exact one, although I only paid $3 for my copy! I’m going to hold off from reading it until December, but I’m pretty excited.


Afterwards, we hit up the Krispy Kreme at the Kensington Market for a snack: a Pepperoni Pull-apart, a Pumpkin Spice donut, an Original Glazed donut, and a Triple Chocolate Frozzé that we couldn’t finish because it was so thick. We had to walk around Blue Banana for a bit to try and shake things down, we were so full of food.

We made our way to the AGO for the exhibit, fairly buzzing with excitement. IT WAS SO COOL. Photos will honestly not do it justice, so I only selected a few to show here, but I was so glad that this was what he had chosen to take me out to for my birthday. I adore Guillermo del Toro – Pan’s Labyrinth is one of my favourite movies!


We headed out to Mo Ramyun, a short walk from the AGO, after the exhibit. Mo Ramyun is a favourite of ours, and we both tried something new: Mikaius had a bowl of the Chicken Ramyun, while I tried the Don-Gol Ramyun. Both delicious and so very filling – we had plenty of leftovers to take home.


All in all, a wonderfully relaxing day: I stayed off of my email and messages for the most part, and didn’t do any schoolwork. I’ll get back to it again tomorrow, but oh my goodness was it wonderful to not have to think about everything that I needed to submit and all my looming deadlines.

Grief, one year later.

Writing this now, in the year following his death, I am discovering that the ferocity of grief that comes to define your life after someone you love passes away can be terrifying. It takes so little for the angry sobbing to begin, and the incidents that cause the pent-up grief to crackle through my shields are, more than anything, mundane. Those incidents render me utterly helpless with weeping. Once it was the sight of a car that looked like the Jeep he used to drive. Another time it was when I glanced up from stir-frying bok choy and saw the photo of his that I’d stuck to my fridge door. There was a particularly harsh moment last year when I smelled Filipino food in the air and I started crying because I’d never taste his cooking again.

I walked out after the first few songs at his viewing, unwilling to look at the people, at the body that wasn’t him anymore, at the flowers that were flanking the fucking coffin. He was wearing something that I knew he would never have chosen for himself, and the anger that swept through me over the choice of clothing for a dead man’s body is like nothing that I have ever felt before or since. It felt like madness. Perhaps it was.

I did my weeping downstairs in the chapel, alone and angry. I tried to keep the pain contained, but it was, and still is, too unwieldy to hold in any container. It spilled out in my tears, and in the words flying out of my mouth as I tried to cope with the enormity of this loss. I flung my anger and my grief at nobody and at everybody, and it stained everything it touched. My brother found me a few minutes later, and he stood behind me, letting me be. Ultimately, Luis was who calmed me down.

The funeral was horrifying. There is nothing like having to bury a man while the sky is blue, a man who stepped up in every sense of the word to be your father. The sky was blue, my friend. That was a cruel joke. Couldn’t it have been raining? Couldn’t the sky be an expression of my grief? That was the cruelest thing, I think, that it was such a beautiful, ordinary day.

I will never set foot in that cemetery ever again. I can’t do it.

The week he died, I barricaded myself in my apartment, rolling around in my grief. I don’t remember what I ate. I don’t remember what I did. I remember attempting to plow through my readings. I remember seriously considering jumping onto the train tracks at Wellesley Station, and to be honest, up until quite recently it was constantly in the back of my mind. The week he died, I didn’t wash my hair for seven days; when I finally did because I had to attend classes, my hair was so thick with grease I had to shampoo twice before I got a lather.

I remember Mikaius practically living at my place – washing my dishes, doing my laundry, keeping me company. I remember Yvonne sending me an entire package of chocolate from Berlin – “to help fight the Dementors,” she wrote, in a card so full of kindness and love my heart broke even more. I remember friends sending me messages – and I remember vividly how it felt to not want to be physically touched and to not want to see anybody, but to feel secure in the knowledge that if I wanted company, I only needed to call. If you were one of the people who sent me love and light, I want you to know that I screencapped your message. They’re all in a folder buried somewhere deep in my phone, little flotation devices that I hold on to whenever I feel like drowning.

I feel so cheated, I honestly do. I feel cheated of a future we were supposed to have with him: all the missed birthdays, the graduations, long summer days roadtripping to one of the many apple orchards and pumpkin patches within an hour or two of the city. I miss him, painfully so. I still instinctively scan the parking lot for his damn Jeep whenever I’m at Mom’s.

All this to say that I wish he was still here, and there’s a lot I would give up in a heartbeat to have him back.


Summer Series, #02

I love that twisty ring on my middle finger – found it for $1.99 at a Value Village and I’ve been wearing it daily ever since.

After tinkering with my summer schedule a fair bit over this past weekend and finally figuring out how much time to devote to each of my activities (in theory, at least), I’ve decided to move the Summer Series 2017 to Mondays, as opposed to writing them for Fridays. I have too many deadlines that fall on Fridays, and with a reading course I really would like to dig into, it made more sense to schedule these posts for Monday.

See, this is where my new Passion Planner would come in handy, for keeping track of all my scheduled deadlines – can you tell how excited I am to finally get my hands on that thing?

Speaking of scheduled things – one habit that I have finally ingrained in myself as an adult human being is washing my face twice a day! It took me so long to set it up as a habit, and I’m a little ashamed of myself for only having done it this year. I started in January with a very simple routine: in the mornings, washing with a very gentle cleanser, then a toner, then moisturizer with SPF; and in the evenings, washing with a scrubbier cleanser, the toner again, and a heavier moisturizer. I’m not sure if my face has really improved, to be honest, and I’m too chicken to try out new moisturizers and cleansers, but for now it works! Nowadays, my breakouts only really happen around my period or when I go more than two weeks without swapping out my pillowcases.

When I was a young kid, I was under the impression that all adults who had hit their twenties suddenly became responsible and serious adults, and now that I’m **twenty-six, I feel so lost and uncertain about where I’m headed. Having a handle on a skin care routine makes me feel a little bit less lost, to be honest. I know that it’s a small thing, but the way things have been going, I’ll take all the little victories I can and enjoy them.

I look forward to getting more expensive facial care products in the future when I’m a more adult-y adult doing adult things, but for now, drugstore products it is!





Summer Series, #01

Up on the hill at the Evergreen Brickworks during a short day hike.

After an arduous and emotional hiatus, it feels so good to have the time and energy to expend on writing for myself again. I know I say it every single time, but I’ll say it again: it’s been too long. 

To celebrate my goal of making it out of my first year of grad studies in one piece, I took the plunge after months of fretting and ordered an Undated Compact Passion Planner for myself. I know, it’s hilarious, I see it too: a planner ordering a planner as a present to herself for completing year one of Planning school. But, this present actually works for me because I am also the type of individual who thrives on routine, and I genuinely think that my planners have come to be a necessary form of self-care. I already have a 2016-2017 planner from which I purchased last summer in prep for grad school, but my use of it has evolved: from actively using it to plan my months, I’ve since been using it as a remembrance book where I make collages of movie tickets, business cards of food places I love, and other small paper mementos. Looking back, I realised that this change occured becase while fantastic, the planner is gigantic. I eventually realised it was not functioning the way that I needed a planner to work, as I carry it around everyday in my bag and hardcover + spiral bound was not making my life easier.

I think that what I’m hoping for in purchasing the Passion Planner is to be able to use it as a tool, to help me engage with my introspection in a more guided manner instead of wallowing and drowning in it like I have recently been (like I still am). This past year has been incredibly difficult – and not because grad classes were poorly-taught, or because my professors were not supportive, but because I mentally checked out midway in October 2016. Someone I loved died four days before my 26th birthday last year… and I have not been taking it well. This death plunged me into a state where I had no desire to apply for graduate scholarships or for additional funding, or even go looking for summer internships. I still don’t have an internship lined up, but I am applying left and right and front and back. We’ll see how it goes.

I need to map out a life path for myself this summer and gain some semblance of control over my life, as I feel as though I am currently careening out of control and trying so desperately to stay on this road. So here I am, excitedly and rather impatiently awaiting the delivery of my Passion Planner, and while I am fully cognizant of the fact that a planner will not solve all of my problems, I’m hoping that the act of planning my summer out will at least lessen the anxiety and antsiness that comes with feeling very helpless when looking into the abyss.

Montréal Mayhem Part 1

We went on a short trip to Montréal!

Mikaius and I had been planning to go on a short weekend trip for a while now, and we finally managed to book the dates for the first week of May. School had officially ended – I embark on my graduate school journey this September – and we were excited to have a short break, especially since he has summer classes beginning the second week of May.

There was a short discussion about whether to take the ViaRail or Megabus, but our decision was made by the discovery that going by train would take 4 hours, while going by bus would take 6. And also that the two hour was really not worth it when you consider that the train ride would cost us hundreds of dollars, while the bus far was only $83 for us both, including reserved seats at the very front row.

Mikaius’ Mom very generously drove us up to Scarborough Town Centre, where we were an hour early for the bus and we waited… and waited.. and waited. Shivering the entire time, because we were a tad underdressed for the weather. Seriously, Toronto, this flip-flopping isn’t fun anymore!

I thoroughly enjoyed that bus ride, and the day was cloudy enough that my photosensitive eyes didn’t require me to wear my sunglasses for the entire trip. Reserving seats 3 and 4 (second level, first row) was probably one of the best decisions we made on this trip, because you could see everything. It was fascinating to me how the landscape and architecture started changing before my eyes as we got further and further away from Toronto. And it was all beautiful! We passed by at least four small towns I would gladly settle down in if I could find work there. You really can’t take the small-city-feels out of this girl: Bacolod City has a population of 511,820 (as of the 2010 census), while Toronto has 2,615,060.

When we got to Montréal, we found out that the Airbnb we were staying at was in close proximity to all of the things we wanted to explore, and we ended up not even buying passes to the Metro. We spent our first night in with an order of chicken tenders from Coq-O-Coq, which was just a few blocks away from our lovely apartment.

The next morning was perfect for walking – bright, warm, and sunny – so Mikaius made the call that it was the day we were going to the Old Port. We decided to walk, since it was a short 45-minutes away by foot from our place. Fortified by breakfast sandwiches from Tim’s (which Mikaius said was “inherently more fancy” since the transactions were conducted in Quebecois French), we began our exploration! Our route took us along rue Sainte-Catherine and straight to the Vieux-Port de Montreal. There weren’t very many people around yet, so we were able to enjoy ourselves, taking our time and walking from one end to the other, ooh-ing and aaah-ing at the different sights. We found a sweet little spot, Muru Crêpe, where we decided to have a late lunch. Their crêpes were delicious, and after we had gone back to Toronto, I found myself wishing that we’d eaten there at least once more. Dinner was a club roll and buffalo poutine from Dunn’s Famous, and while I wasn’t wild about the dry-ish club roll, I did love the poutine!

We ended the day at home, watching M*A*S*H, feeling so incredibly lucky to be spending a couple of days together on a really enjoyable trip.


Sundate: Trinity Bellwoods

This past Sunday, Mikaius took me out on a walking date, which is my favourite kind of date. The sun was shining, it was a warm +22, and Torontonians were out in full force enjoying the first really good day of spring. It felt like summer.

First on the list was the Sunday Antique Market at St. Lawrence Market, at the Esplanade. I had so much fun, I forgot to take photos. The vendors were selling all kinds of interesting stuff, ranging from Canadiana, old postcards, jewellery, knives, to vintage TMNT and The Beatles action figures still in their packaging. It was a madhouse, but the kind of organized chaos that I truly enjoy. I fell in love with this obscenely large costume ring — a chunky gold number featuring a lovely purple gemstone and two CZs that I’m pretty sure are glued in. It was a fantastically gaudy number, and Mikaius, seeing how much I enjoyed the bauble and because (oh rare moment) it fit me perfectly, bought it for me.

Mikaius then decides to present the ring to me at the crosswalk, going down on one knee and saying, “Will you do me the honour of being my wife?” I had such a visceral negative reaction to this that Mikaius laughed his ass off and decided to hold the idea of a public proposal over my head for the rest of our lives. What made this even more hilarious is that (a) he and I are already engaged, and I was actually wearing my ring that day, and (b) I had thought that I would love a public proposal… but obviously I don’t.

Anyway, after lunch at A&W, we went to The Paper Place, which is one of my favourite stores in the city, and shopped around for wedding inspiration. We’ve decided on a “rustic winter vaguely Christmas” theme, which is going to be interesting as neither of us are religious, but my family is church-going. Weeeeelp. We found this gorgeous paper for invitations that he fell in love with – Tairei Ginfuri, cream speckled with silver – because it reminds him of mithril

We had also brought The Well Tempered Heart for me and Prisoner of Azkaban for him so that if we found a sunny spot we could sit down and read, and when we were done browsing we crossed the street to Trinity Bellwoods Park. It was bustling with people and dogs (there are areas in the park that are designated leash-free zones), and we had a grand time pointing out all the fluffy puppies that had come out to play. The tree we chose to sit under also had a nice comfortable curve, and instead of reading his book, Mikaius took a nap. He said that it was the most restful nap he’d taken in a long time, and it was probably made even better by the fact that the winter semester was over.

He then treated us to ice cream cones for the walk back to Bathurst Station (twist cones for us both, chocolate-dipped for him!), and that concluded a lovely day. The day didn’t end there, not really, we  watched The Prisoner of Azkaban as soon as we got home, but sunshine and warmth in Toronto means that summertime is just around the corner, and I cannot wait to see what it brings.

It’s our third anniversary!

Mikaius and I quietly celebrated our third year of being together this February, and what an absolutely fantastic three years it has been! I spent the months leading up to our anniversary racking my brains, wondering what to get him that he would both love and use daily. Since he started reading the Harry Potter series last year (he even wrote a post about The Philosopher’s Stone!), I decided to get a metal bookmark stamped with a personalized message.

I’m so proud of how I managed to sneak an opinion out of him regarding what material he preferred: I pretended that I was getting a gift for a close friend of ours and showed him the sample photos that Anice Jewellery sent me of their bookmarks, asking him which one he would prefer if he were the giftee. He picked the brass-toned one and off-handedly said, “If I was commissioning one for myself, I would add a little brass feather on the end of the cord.” Bingo! The only question left unanswered then was, “What the hell should be stamped on it?”

Very helpfully, and again, unknowingly, Mikaius gave me the answer to that, too. He has been trying to learn Tagalog for about a year now, and so he’s picked up on the basics (pero, alam ko, gutom na ako, hindi, oo). Because he’s trying to keep the words fresh in his memory, he oftentimes speaks to me in a mix of Tagalog and English. He also has a slight tendency to misuse some of the words since (a) he’s still learning, and (b) Tagalog is a very situational language.

One day after we had been talking about Star Wars, the following exchange ensued:
Dani: “Love kita.”
Mikaius: “Sige.”

Tagalog speakers will know that sige was used incorrectly here, but since he had initially learned the word as “okay,” we both cracked up and moved on. That little moment stuck with me, especially since it echoes Han and Leia’s iconic “I love you”/”I know” exchange. I think you know where I’m going with this: that short conversation was what ended up on Mikaius’ bookmark, and you can see it in the header photo for this post. That, and I made sure to include the little brass feather that he wanted.

I am proud to report that the bookmark was both a success and a surprise, but less proud to report that I actually gave it to him three weeks early. Don’t judge me, he was having a bad day, the bookmark was in my bag, and the look on his face was so worth it. Mikaius loves it, and I am the queen of gifts!

The end result is a beautiful, sturdy bookmark, perfect for constant use. I can’t quite capture how great it looks in person, as the colour is deeper and the letters stand out well.

On the day of our anniversary, we met up after class to go to St. Lawrence Market. Neither of us had ever been and since we both love adventures, especially ones that involve food and walks, it was the perfect date.

The food was excellent! Between us, we had: (1) a peameal bacon sandwich on crusty bread from Carousel Bakery, one of those things that you just have to try as a Torontonian, (2) spicy Portuguese chicken with corn bread from Churrasco at St. Lawrence, because we’re always in the mood for some chicken, and (3) Apple-Cinnamon Cheesecake from Eve’s Temptations as neither of us can resist a good cheesecake. Oh. Dear. Lord. I begin to drool when I think about that day. I think my favourite thing of what we tried that night was the cheesecake, but oh boy — that peameal bacon was succulent and flavourful, and paired great with the crusty bread, and that chicken, woof. The chicken was moist and tender, and the sauce that comes with it was so goddamned delicious that Mikaius slathered it onto the peameal bacon sandwich as well. The ginger ale we had to wash the food down with was the best palate cleanser ever.


We capped the night with Kung Fu Panda 3 at the Rainbow Cinemas fronting the Market, and it was a nice, quiet note to end our date on. How was the movie, you ask? It was beautiful. I marvelled at how good the animation was in that movie, and was often looking back at Mikaius with this incredulous look on my face going, “Did you see that?”

One of the lines that I really enjoyed came from Mr. Ping, Po’s Dad, as he spoke to Li Shan, Po’s biological Dad: “I was worried you’d steal Po from me. That was crazy. Having you in Po’s life doesn’t mean less for me. It means more for Po.” My heart. I was constantly on the verge of crying, and was enjoying myself so much I didn’t even really care that the lady in front of me was effectively blocking half of the screen with her hair.
Here we are, three years later, still madly in love. I’m going to end this post with this:

Dear Mikaius,

It’s been three years since the first date that went from 10AM to 10PM, when we kept suggesting things to do after the museum because neither of us wanted the day to end. Three crazy, wonderful, happy years. I hope we can have all of our years together, adventuring like lovestruck fools, because you’re my happy ending. 

To the prettiest man I’ll ever lay eyes on, happy 3rd anniversary, mahal ko💕💕