PLAYLIST: Moving On and Moving Up

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On May 6, 2015, I made the biggest decision of my life. I sat my boss down (figuratively; in reality, I asked her to come take a smoke break with me) and told her that I had decided to quit my job. These are not words that you speak; these are words that you hurl. As much intention as you’ve had, all those months of imagining the day that your lips, your tongue, and your teeth all manage to muster up the courage and the calmness — in perfectly equal parts — to consort with impeccable timing, and fluidly say “Thank you for everything. I  would like to work on my life now,” you are never really ready to say them. Until you finally do.

Scraping yourself out of bed, trudging to tend to something that you no longer understand, existing through the day, and coming back home with a full bank account, but with a lifeless soul and an empty heart — at some point, it will get exhausting. Sure, you stick it out to prove your strength, but you could be strong enough to break.

But then breaking isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It could mean a welcome, yet bittersweet detachment from many things: from your less sturdy pieces; from the weakest links; from the ball of your chain; from the darkest time of night to daybreak; from Walter White The Cancer Victim, to Walter White The Crime Lord.

Now with the freedom and privilege to comfortably saunter through the world, there has been an earthshaking tectonic shift within myself. It felt like five hundred years, those two months that I spent rearranged and rearranging, being thrown in all directions while keeping my feet nailed to the ground.

But it has become very clear to me that as far as an ordinary life is concerned, I am either not made for it, or I am simply disinterested. It has been a little over a month since my last working day, and it has felt like rebirth. Both my body, and the cogs in my brain have been more well-oiled and busier than they have been in a while. I’m seeing so many new things, and seeing the world with a completely new set of eyes.


Eight years ago, I went skydiving. It was an impulsive decision, as I am clearly inclined to make, but the most frightening I had done so far… or so I thought. Much like the dive that I made to drop everything to pursue living my life. The only difference between then and now is that it was at a dingy flight school in some far-flung Podunk town in the outskirts of San Francisco, with the landing field in front of me, and I was strapped on to a parachute guaranteed that I would land on my feet (I landed on my knees, kissing the ground) and an Australian instructor who jumped on my behalf. All I could see was a whirl of blues and greens, and all I could hear was the wind whizzing past my head, nothing else.

This time, I’ve jumped all by myself, all on my own accord, with no parachute to break the fall, nor landing field in sight. But I needed to get my heart racing. To stare the open sky in the face, dare myself to spring off my feet, and free-fall! I’ll be screaming the whole way, but I’ll be moving so fast, I’ll barely hear it.

I confess though, that I feel as if I might be crazy to be doing something so out-of-the-blue and unconventional. To conjure up some tall order of a dream and be crazy enough to create it with my own hands. But then again, everybody I admire is a little crazy. If quitting your job to do something completely wild and unexpected is any testimony, I very well may be. And at this point, I am more than ready to own up to my maniac of a mind — to tend to my topak and do as I dream — because I am no longer settling for anything less than that wild, sickening, stomach-churning, heart-in-my-throat feeling that I got from jumping out of a plane at 13,000 feet to fly.

I’m formulating so many plans and figuring out how to make them all work. I wake up a solid 4 hours earlier than I did when I was working, and with gusto! I’m traveling south until my skin turns brown. I’m handing out every spontaneous “Yes!” I could give, in every possible direction. I’ve had so many beautiful conversations with beautiful people whom I have neither seen nor spoken to in far too long. There may be a new romance in the works, we’ll see! I am meeting new people, placing myself in their shoes and finding how excellence can be born in the middle of nowhere. I am putting a new language in my head, and then perfecting the ones that I already know. I am filling my head with words of the authors of yore, and streetside poets, who have spoken more truth than anyone at a witness stand. Business ideas are flying off the handle, and wow, how feasible they all are!

My compass has begun to point me towards the direction of what matters. There is so much out there that I’ve been holding out on, and I am ecstatic to see, hear, touch, taste, smell, and speak to and love, all the colors, sounds, surfaces, flavors, odors, and people that I never have before.

And as the world outside starts to become clearer, the answers to questions of who I am are becoming more lucid as well. I seem to have turned into some sort of hard-ass. All those years of doing events for ABS-CBN was both humbling and empowering, but it was always someone else’s shot to call. I was someone else’s hand. But now that I am allowed the time and the space for the rest of my body to grow. I can afford to have my heart beat freely and act upon it. Sure, there are things that I am willing to apologize for, but catering to my wants and needs, and not complying to expectations are no longer on that list. I am quicker to recognize four things: What I love; what I excel in; what is good for me; and bullshit. And now that I have the cojones to establish these, and stick by my guns, I can proceed accordingly. Time to show ’em who’s boss.

I’ve said too much. On to the music. These are just a few of the tracks that I’ve been listening to, to sort of soften the blow of everything that is going on. Enjoy!

  • Alabama Shakes, “Sound and Color”
    From what will easily be my personal pick for the the best album of 2015, the carrier single of Alabama Shakes’ Sound and Color is a heartbreakingly beautiful existential piece on rediscovering life — all that is beautiful and strange about it — in an otherwise dark world. The video complements it so well.

  • Mayer Hawthorne, “In A Phantom Mood”
    LA-based Mayer and Tokyo-based Shintaro Sakamoto swapped songs and covered each other for Record Store Day 2014. Sakamoto-san brought forth a Japanese-language rendition of Mayer’s “Wine Glass Woman;” Hawthorne simultaneously released this shoulder-popping, English-translated little traitor.Detachment anthem! I had this on loop as I was picking things out of my shelves and throwing half of everything I own into boxes, just because I couldn’t stand having so much stuff anymore.Also, great for sunny, early morning drives on Roxas Boulevard. Try not to get into that infectious bass line!

Floating wherever I wanted,
Making my way down the dark streets
Leaving behind my possessions one by one
Paperback novels and comics,
My name, address, and my house keys
Video games, I threw them all away

And now, where do I go?
What do I become?
In a phantom mood

  • Alanis Morissette, “You Learn”
    Being reckless with yourself never sounded so good. To be honest, the entire Jagged Little Pill album has kept the angst inside of my both alive, and, ironically, in check, for the last 20 years. Except when I was 9 years old, I had no idea what it really meant to be Mary Jane, or witness your Catholic guilt realized, among other things. Or what “[going] down on you [in a theater]” meant, for that matter.At 28, “You Learn” has proven to be one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given. Growing up in a sheltered environment, I was always taught to play safe, because there is always some reason not to do something. But then again, growing up, I’ve always felt like a hurricane in a jar. How about, “To hell with the jar,” huh? Break everything! — your molds, your ideals, yourself! It’s the only way to live!

I recommend biting off more than you can chew to anyone
I certainly do
I recommend sticking your foot in your mouth at any time
Feel free
Throw it down (the caution blocks you from the wind)
Hold it up (to the rays)
You wait and see when the smoke clears

  • Belle and Sebastian (featuring Norah Jones), “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John”
    Inspired by the work of Lou Reed, Jack Kerouac, and John Lennon. Difficult to listen to if feelings are raw, but do it anyway because they are raw. Including this here, because whether we like it or not, whether we’re on the giving or the receiving end of it, someone and something always gets left behind.

Travel south until your skin turns warmer;
Travel south until your skin turns brown,
Put a language in your head and get on a train
And then come back to the one you love.

  • Erykah Badu, “Bag Lady”
    Pack light; leave your baggage. That mess will crowd your space, and weigh you down. You could hurt yourself.

All you must hold on to is you.

  • George Michael, “Freedom ’90”
    Sure, this one is about George Michael coming out of the closet and breaking free from what everything that he was known for — being a hotshot sex symbol to teenage girls in the 80s — but the same sentiment applies to quitting your job, figuring yourself out and being proud of it, no?

But today the way I play the game has got to change, oh yeah
Now I’m gonna get myself happy

  • Hole, “Malibu”
    …But how ironic is it that I’m taking advice from legendary trainwreck herself, Courtney Love, of all people?

Why are you so burned when you’re barely on fire?

  • Esperanza Spalding, “Precious”

But I’m not going to
Waste my precious, divine energy,
Tryin’ to explain, and being ashamed
Of what you think is wrong with me

  • FKJ (feat. Madelyn Grant), “Waiting”
    It is rare that I would allow an artist to make repeat appearances in my public playlists, but clearly, I love this guy. It was crucial to have this particular track on this playlist, because, well, a girl gets impatient, too. And when she’s done, you can bet your bottom dollar that she. Is. Done.
  • Corinne Bailey Rae, “Put Your Records On”
    I must quote Noelle Hancock, who gave up a high-paying corporate job to move to The Caribbean to scoop ice cream. Of course, her mother had given her some shit about making such a drastic change, and “wasting” her life:

    “You can’t just move to a place you’ve never even visited!” my mom protested.

    “Sometimes you just have to leap and the net will appear,” I said with more confidence than I felt.

    In hindsight, I’m not sure how and why I became an events planner. Sure, it kept me on my toes, and gave some heart-stopping adrenaline rushes. It was a thrill in itself, so perhaps that is why. But I was never a worrier. And to be an events planner, you must learn to bow down to Murphy’s Law: you would have to be able to foresee anything and everything that could possibly go wrong, and be equipped with a ready solution for every single one of them.

    But I suppose I’ve always been more optimistic than that. Maybe foolishly so, but it just isn’t in my nature to focus on the reasons why anything will go wrong instead of right. I’m taking such a big leap, protesting my realities and violently claiming full creative control of my life. Do you think I know exactly what I’m doing? Nope. But I’d rather figure it all out along the way, rather than continue to live in blind faith, numbly doing what is expected of me. It’s been terrifying, but it’s the most right I’ve felt about anything in a long time, taking this leap.I see what you did there, Ms. Rae, with your “Three Little Birds” reference. Don’t worry about a thing, because every little thing is gonna be alright!

  • Remy Shand, “The Way I Feel”
    It’s pretty obvious how thirsty I am for life these days. I’m giddy with anticipation, and dizzy with excitement with all the changes that I am making. Groove with me to this!
  • Kylie Minogue, “Spinning Around”
    This is necessary for any woman (or in the case of Ms. Minogue’s fans, boys who like to dress up as women) who is in the process of changing her life. Sure, she’s going to be a tad selfish this time, but if she isn’t going to look after herself, who else is going to?
  • Chance the Rapper, “Good Ass Intro”
    Ending this playlist with an intro!

Even better than I was the last time, baby
I’m good

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