Thursday, September 27, 2007


In more ways than one, we have a lot to thank the internet for -- the dawn of an era! It has indeed made our lives a thousand times easier and more convenient, and at the same time, it has given birth to a multitude of ideas and tossed in more spices to our already flavorful lives. It has spurred enterprises and industries that were once only a figment of our imaginations, and it also left no rhyme or reason for us to lose touch with our pasts and our presents.

The nascent of networking tools such as Friendster and Facebook has certainly added new meaning to "keeping in touch." The million-dollar ideas were met with resounding success. These networks provide numerous ways to catch up with lost friends without having to make that awkward phone call or to keep in touch with comrades literally by lifting a single finger (to click on that mouse).

I admit that I have sold out to these fads and trends. It makes stalking all the more fun and easier -- especially for incredibly nosy people like me. However, flipping through the pages of these so-called electronic yearbooks have caused me tremendous longing to revisit certain patches of my life. As I look at the long lists of people that are somehow (allegedly) connected to me, I acquire this sad realization that people in our lives come and go like waves crashing in and out of the shores. There are people that have been confined only during certain years in my life, and once I move on to the next few years, they're as good as gone, unfortunately. They are stowed away in a little treasure box in my head that is labeled "Memories [enter year here]." And as I open new chapters in my life, more characters come flitting in and only God knows how long they will last. If it were entirely up to me, I would never wish it to be like this. I would love to simply accumulate friends and never have to lose touch with any of them.

I can almost feel bittersweet smiles playing on my face whenever I decide to take one of these trips down memory lane and revisit the people that have walked through my life at least once. Many of them have moved on with their own lives and have picked up new friends, new partners, new hobbies, new activities -- basically, they have started a life that no longer includes me just like how I started a life far away from them. But remembering the lives that we shared once upon a time provokes a yearning of sorts inside me that wants it all over again. Those days, no doubt, have been happy as we frolic about in innocence and grandeur as we anticipate what the future brings. And the future is now here. Surely we would have never believed it would end up like this if the Oracle of Delphi allowed us to take a peep into our own futures back then.

Funny, isn't it, how life can offer so many different forks in the road for us to take? As from childhood, the people that we meet are more or less from the same starting point as us, and as we go on running the marathon of life, we find ourselves going towards different finish lines. Some I cannot believe have ended up where they are and it leads me to question what we had in common back then that actually bound us together. Whilst others, I cannot help but feel a spark of jealousy because they seem genuinely happy -- the same kind of serenity and glory that I wish for myself. And others, I feel a pang of curiosity as to how it is to be them for just one day.

We carve our own roads and we meet other racers in the process -- some we stick with and some we leave at the curbs, and if we're lucky, we get to meet them again at one point later on. Several miles I have run and I still get surprised how I ended up where I am today with the various turns that I have taken. And as I retrace the roads I've once gone on, I get brought back to memories of those I was running with and I can only wish that they have all found the right roads to take. Unfortunately, the only way for us to find out whether or not we've made the right choices is when we reach the finish line.

Out of the various elements making up my intricate networks, I can count using only my ten fingers those who have stuck running with me. Of course, not all of them run side by side with me, but they all run within a comfortable distance -- near enough for me to get guidance when I'm feeling lost but far enough for me to have the proper space that I need. And for these people I exalt and thank the Lord.

It's no big secret that crossroad friends make up quite a chunk of my life especially with my constant hopping around. I am very fortunate for they always impart a little something with me during every encounter. And every single one counts. For without them, I will have no memories. Even if that's all they remain to be -- memories -- it is still enough to be thankful about. I leave the question up to fate as why they all have to be crossroad friends instead of lifelong friends. But whomever is watching from up above, I have faith that He knows what He's doing. Maybe one day I'll find out. Maybe one day, they will reappear in my life.

For now, my crossroad friends are immortalized with the aid of the Internet. And my bosom friends -- they are immortalized in my heart. (You know who you are. And you know I love you)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rat Race

Regardless of how many internal debates I've had in my head, it will always come up that though money doesn't make the world go round, it does contribute quite a bit to its push and rotation. In other words, we can convince ourselves as much as we can that being rich is overrated but we will always deduce that it sure does have its perks. In the garden of good and evil that we call earth, money is the serpent that tempts people to cross certain paths that are not meant to be crossed. At the same time, money is also the goodness that is endowed in order to go about everyday life -- and then some.

Unfortunately, money could never be the forbidden fruit as it does not grow on trees. How we wish of even the remotest possibility that it does though. Money is earned through hard work, drive and motivation though some would say that adding passion, integrity and loyalty can go a long way. We devote about one-third of our lives to garner a decent living and enslave ourselves to people that are willing to part with money in exchange of our services. Some are not so lucky and work half their lives -- and still not get enough.

With work being a significant part of our lives, it has evolved into a lifestyle or a life undertaking that has been lavishly dubbed as a career. A career has been transformed into a social indicator that determines which circle we move in and which ladder to climb. It has become a symbol of one's life and order that it progressed to become a title next to a name, a label used to be judged with, and a reputation of sorts. As kids, we have always been trained to think of future career aspects. What do you want to be when you grow up? As teen-agers, the prodding to narrow down career choices continues. What major do you wish you take in college? As young adults, the recognition that the end of the waiting line is near. Find a job that will open more doors for your career.

As full-fledged grown-ups, just how important does a career mean? Thanks to the media, the hype of having a career has gotten worse. There are television shows, books, movies, even songs, that get rolled out every single day that zero in on people whose stories revolve around what they do for a living. I can name about twenty shows about lawyers from the top of my head -- even more involving doctors. Movies feature high-flying men in suits all the time and make their worlds sound so glamorous despite the debauchery and profligacy of certain industries. One's monetary worth is tacked against his or her profession and career it seems like. By simply asking "so, what do you do?" one can jump to about a thousand conclusions about the person -- hitting at least five hundred correct ones. Through this, stereotypes are either enhanced or defied.

A job, on the other hand, is.... what? How does a job differ from a career? I never really understood. The social stigma of having a job instead of a career seems to be quite heavy. Nonetheless, both generate money that is the needed for everyday living -- a fine reason to have either one. I have heard many who say that a job is something done for the sake of obtaining a paycheck whereas a career is something more meaningful and fulfilling. Is it only I who find it funny that many a times, a career becomes a job purely because we find ourselves caring more and more about the paycheck attached to it? At least we can quit jobs when it stops being fun -- but quitting a career? When we change careers, do we also change a part of ourselves simply because of all the emotional and mental investments we have made to our previous choices? Do we lose a piece of ourselves too?

Why has the focus on gaining careers become such a huge ordeal? What's wrong with simply having jobs? Why must we only hone one particular skill instead of gaining experiences that we can learn many things from? And most importantly, why must we only choose one craft to master and stick with it through and through? What happens if we exceed our allowed timetable to think about a career? Do we succumb to the consequences of a potential mistake?

People who do not fit the bill of having a career get unjustly punished by society. So what if one chooses to not have a career? Our professions do not necessarily dictate whom we are and what we can do. A partner in a law firm is not much different from a construction worker that frames houses. Both cash a check at the end of the pay period, and both need food on the table and a roof over their heads. The same goes with a college professor and a barista in a coffee shop. Or an accountant and a doctor. Or a garbage man and a telemarketer. We are whom we make ourselves to be and what we do for a living is only a speck of it. We cannot be judged by what we do because that will be similar to judging books by its covers. The world is a place that contests our survival skills and our methods of coping amid struggles. We all have different methods of surviving and coping -- as long as we all get to where we want, sometimes it is all that matters.

A job. A career. To-may-to. To-mah-to. At the end of the day, it is always about what makes us happy whilst trying to survive.

As I have said, in the garden of good and evil, money can either be the goodness that paradise brings or the serpent that brings vileness to it. Either we be content on what we have or sell ourselves to the devil for more. It's all a matter of choice. It's all up to us.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ladies In Waiting

I am one of the lucky few who were raised in a household that included my maternal grandmother. She is quite an influential figure in my life and will always adore her for what she had taught me. My Lola is the embodiment of how it is to be a true lady.

As my mother never gave up a full-time job amid giving birth to three rowdy children, we were often left in my Lola's care whilst growing up. And with me being the youngest, I was favored the most -- given the best part of the chicken, having the most sweets piled up on my bowl, minor gifts sneaked here and there, and I lapped it all up with no shame. I would often watch her daily regiment in amusement as she moved with womanly grace in everything she did. She would meticulously primp herself to beauty everyday even if she were just staying home. Her curls were always intact, carefully dyed of a natural brown color, and her lips sealed with a pink shade of lipstick and perfume daintily dabbled on her neck. As she was a skilled mistress, her clothes always fit her perfectly in styles that she knew only flattered her curves.

My Lola is also a very pious lady. She maintained a strict prayer scheduled scattered throughout the day, some of which she let me join. Every morning she would wake up at five and say her morning prayers, to be followed by the Angelus at noon, the three-o'clock habit in the afternoon, the Angelus again and then her evening prayers. When her health still permitted her, she also attended mass every morning at the crack of dawn. The way she held her rosary beads and prayer books were so fragile as if she were holding the Baby Jesus in her hands instead. The way she turned the pages so slowly and how her lips moved without sound as she read the litanies -- somehow, I found it mesmerizing. She did everything in such grace and disposition that I thought, how could God possibly deny her of her prayers?

After my nanny left at seven years old (as I was deemed to old to have one), my Lola took over in caring for me. She taught me how to bathe myself thoroughly showing me how to prepare the sponge and the basin, and she meticulously helped me every morning to get into my school uniform (not to mention drag me out of bed with great difficulty), and always inspected my final outcome from my socks all the way up to my hair band. She taught me how to be a girl.

As my grandmother was born early into the first half of last century, it is just to be expected that she is a typically conservative one. I remember having a male friend over to the house a few years ago as I needed his help to sort out my ailing computer. And upon knowing that I let him up to my room, she raged in fury that we stay in the living room where we can be in plain site. My mother simply laughed at the gesture when I informed her of it that same night and begged me to understand that my Lola is indeed from a different time. During her time, women were to serve their husbands, to keep house and to maintain her feminine dignity and integrity. My Lola having worked as a secretary in the American Airbase back during the American rule in the Philippines was already deemed quite radical.

My mother, though not as hardcore as her mother, is still quite conservative I find. She would laboriously attempt to teach my sister and I a thing or two about the kitchen and cooking whilst growing up as she would constantly chide us "How will your future mother-in-law like you if you can't even cook a chicken stew properly?" My sister and I, of course, rolling our eyes until they were practically at the back of our skulls.

Here I am now, a quarter of a century old, and not entirely sure if I passed the tests of womanhood. Though I display traits of an independent coming-of-age girl, I know deep inside that I will be unable to shake off what I learned from two of the most remarkable women in my lives. Given how the world works nowadays, I still consider myself relatively conservative in my stances. I may shame my mother for never cooking (unless desperate) and wearing non-collared shirts to church, and my Lola for continuing to bicker with the opposite sex, but I'd like to show them one day that they didn't fail me. I still hold some dignity in being a woman and the need to be respected as one -- just in my own subdued ways. I still hold in high regard the modesty and integrity, cleanliness in body and surroundings, and of course, grace in actions and movements (as much as I can, at least). As I need to be consistent with the times and the unfolding liberties presented to women, I must use my best judgment as to when it's okay to be bold and forthcoming without sacrificing my merits as a woman (and without being accused of being a feminist either!).

I may enjoy the independence that my Lola and mother didn't have when they were my age, but I would like to think that I am still bound by a moral code of ethics that come with being a lady. The term "conservative" seems to change every generation and its meaning gets lighter and lighter. I fear to know what my daughters will say of me when it's their time to whinge about their uptight mother that don't let them wear skirts with lengths within five inches of their thighs! And I do not look forward to going back to my mother to get advice as to keep said daughters from running out with the boys at age eleven wearing these skirts.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday's Best

Though I'm an avid promoter of academia and higher education, I would have to admit that the best lessons in life are not learned in school.

A few things that I picked up today:

- Being a family is more than sharing the same DNA with each other. It’s about working in a team.

- Friendships and relationships aren’t necessarily very different. Both require the same amount of effort to keep maintained… and both ought to be equally treated in terms of importance.

- It just takes one special someone to make you laugh and it’ll do a whole world of difference to your day.

- Saying "please" can sometimes go a long way without you realizing it. It makes one wonder how such a simple and effortless word could be so widely absent in life.

- Throw away your pride and always mind your position.

- Even though the breakthrough of mobile phones and the Internet has got to be the best thing since the invention of Tim Tams, I’ve got to admit that it has ruined quite a few things for us… like uninterrupted conversations, luxurious lounging times, etc. Instead of making our lives easier and things more convenient, it just gives us more excuse to work a little bit more because technology would deliver us more vacancies in our time.

- Organic and non-organic lettuce actually taste the same.

- You never know when you’ll get your second wind so hold that coffee.

- Courage and confidence are always good to possess but too much of those would just lead you to trouble. Moderation is always key. Never swallow more than what you can chew (regardless of precedent).

- It’s best to usually work in worst case scenarios. Although hoping for the best doesn't hurt.

- Always under-promise and over-deliver.

It was indeed a long Sunday today... it was all good though.

Cheers! (yes, that would be me in the wake of a VERY early morning hang-over)


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Inside My Head

* For those who have dared to join me in my life's journey (of constant banter)

When I started this blog, I had no idea how long I will write on it for. I've had journals, diaries and other blogs -- I started recording my sentiments at the tender age of six. However, it was a habit that I've possessed on and off much like an unpredictable switch. I thought that I only wrote when I was being a tad too emotional or simply bored. I would persistently promise myself that I will make writing a consistent habit -- sort of like committing myself to a marriage and a lifestyle. In my head, I knew that I would break that promise one time or another for whatever reason.

The biggest difference with this blog and the rest that I've had before (including hand-written journals) is you, dear reader. You. Simply you. You keep me going and you keep me inspired. Even when I'm downright exhausted from the daily rituals of everyday life, I push myself to write because I want you to keep me and my thoughts as your companion. It may not be much, but I try to make it as soulful and honest as possible with the hopes that maybe it would be good enough for you to stay.

Admittedly, this has been the most open journal that I've had. I'm quite a private person (mysterious, no, just private) and it takes a lot for me to bare out my mind. It took a few reluctant key strokes on my battered yet trusty laptop to compose pieces that I never thought I would have the cheek to publish even anonymously. They were my private thoughts, mine and mine alone. What business did I have displaying it for the world to see? I felt somewhat narcissistic thinking that anyone at all would be remotely interested in what I had to say. After all, what did I know? I know just as much as the next Tom, Dick and Harry, no?

Then you came along. You started leaving a few words of sweetness just after reading what I wrote and even came back for more helpings afterwards! Oh the joy! They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? I think not. It is when someone like you comes back to see if I have more to say. Surely I have disappointed you somehow one time or another -- maybe because of the lack of posts, or the quality of writing, or the dullness of the topic. I apologize, though it is saddening that we can't always please though we aim for it. I am only glad and eternally thankful that you still haven't lost faith.

For those times when I seem terribly detached and impersonal, I'm sorry. I have never meant it to be so. I truly wish that I be allowed more time for interaction and the exchange of ideas. It has always been my intent to do so, I swear, but I just never have the time. I should put in more effort, I know, but a part of me just wants to keep my regiment of churning out pieces that I thought you may enjoy. Hoping that maybe, it will make up somehow for my negligence.

I started out very cautious about my writing. I didn't want to give out too much and neither did I want to tread of touchy waters. I was so scared that I may seem too opinionated or even arrogant. God, I hope not. Truly, that is the last thing I would want. Gradually, however, I have learned to trust you. I have learned to slowly let loose and allow you to get to know me. I had no idea how good it would feel... like a little baby chick let out of its shell. I simply fear that I may start boring you with the daily accounts of my life. It's difficult to help it though because I pick up inspiration from them... but I promise to keep the mundane bits to a minimum level.

With all this banter, and all that I have written on this blog, I want you to know that it's all for you. I fooled myself for a long time thinking that I was writing for myself... but really, I am writing for you. Because you know me more than anyone else that I know. I never thought it would feel so great to write for someone else other than myself. You keep me going and you keep me alive. And I draw my biggest inspirations from you.

I love hearing your thoughts and your anecdotes. You have no idea how many times I re-read what you have written as your nuggets of life and wisdom is something that I learn from as well. Whenever I hear that 'ping' from my email, I say a silent prayer that it would be you leaving me a few words and telling me that you're still there. I yearn to hear your stories and I long for your thoughts.

Thank you for always being there, dear reader, as you have changed my life in paramount ways. I do hope you roll with the punches with me as I go through a bumpy ride. I invite you to leave me some ideas and thoughts that you may want me to write about. As I said, you are my biggest inspiration. You are my muse -- the best kind that anyone could ever have. I cannot thank you enough.

Ever so sincerely,
Your Princess

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Learning Curves

The most beautiful person that I have ever laid my eyes on worked in this tea shop that my brother and I frequented on lazy autumn Sunday afternoons several years ago. Her hair strands fell into dark curls and framed her fair face. And she spoke in a rhythm that only hummingbirds could replicate. Her eyes were enchanting, almost alluring with its enigmatic pull. I don't know what it is about her that I found so blissfully grand as she is probably just as common as I and the next girl. My brother would often tease me that I had a girl-crush on her though he fully knows my wild attraction for the male species. Beauty has no gender, I retorted.

Growing up, I have always been just a little too something -- a little too tall, a little too pale, a little too fat, a little too ungraceful, a little too awkward. I never knew how to place myself because I was always just a little too much. I never thought of myself as pretty or beautiful as those words only belonged to the thin, slender and elegant. And I always had short hair. It would get snipped the minute the length touched my chin. I somehow acquired the idea that only those girls with long hair could be called beautiful and deserved happy endings. As a matter of fact, all the princesses and damsels in fairytales had long hair. This was how I preferred Snow White over the others. She had short black hair and not ostensibly beautiful; nonetheless ended up with Prince Charming. Maybe, just maybe, the norm could be broken.

I bloomed, as they say, later on in life. Perhaps a tad too late, because I didn't know what to do with myself. My hair grew for the first time as I needed something to protect my neck from the biting Bostonian winters. I couldn't afford the regular maintenance of a bob so I had to learn to like my long hair. I shed the baby fat due to the absence of a regular meal structure, and I got rid of the acne plaguing my skin, many thanks to advanced medicine. Braces came off and the insides of my mouth boasted of a perfect set of teeth capped with porcelain. I slowly managed my independence, grew a spine and all of a sudden, owned my own opinions. Well, I always have but this time, I actually feel no reluctance in letting them known. For a long time, I was a work under progress.

I knew when I was growing up that I wasn't a pretty face and though I had curves, they weren't the right ones. I banked on my intellect, my caustic personality and my wit to charm people. I thought that maybe, if I continued to be funny, I wouldn't have to worry about people not liking me. After all, didn't everyone love laughing? The only catch is that people would have to get to know me first before they can decide whether they liked me or not. I operated like this for many years.

Springtime in my life finally came through when I noticed for the first time that a guy was sizing me up. I was in a restaurant with my friends when I saw him looking over. I looked behind me to make sure he wasn't looking at anyone else. I felt terribly self-conscious and it's almost shameful that I didn't know what to do. I did what I thought best, absolutely nothing. The butterflies in the stomach stayed though and I felt a warm glow on my cheeks. So this was how it must feel being on the other side of the fence. It felt bloody great.

The next few years flew by and I had to learn to take care of myself -- I was a woman now (and how odd it felt to think that). I looked to my older sister and other friends to learn the ropes. Make-up, hair, skin care, perfumes, nails, any more? I found the regiment quite exhausting but I was told that was unfortunately necessary. And I obliged. I thought, this must be how insecurities are born.

However, I slowly realized that I didn't like having to fuss over physical beauty. Exhausting, isn't it? For some people, it came easier than others. I was one of those others. My hair never looked endearingly tousled when I wake up in the morning, my skin was never perfect enough for me to walk out my door without make-up, and my nails always looked like claws without a manicure. Why couldn't being funny and clever be enough? Why couldn't being an enjoyable companion do the trick? And why did we all have to feel the need to get people's validations that we are indeed attractive enough to be seen with them?

I decided that I liked it more that people were drawn to me because of how I am rather than how I looked. That gave me a better sense of affirmation that I'm on the right track. I focused more on being myself than creating an intricate exterior. I wanted to believe that I had enough inner radiance to take care of the front. Admittedly, I still don't know if I do up until this day, but my change in outlook increased my confidence and boosted my self-esteem. I realized which parts in life essentially mattered -- and which of them are the most beautiful. My sister's words always resonated in my head, "If you think you're beautiful, other people will think so as well." Mind over matter.

Nobody isn't perfect and life isn't ideal, no big secrets right there. But instead of focusing on making things perfect, it may be worth our whiles to actually look at the imperfections and see how they actually make us more perfect than we think. And looking closely, we will see that we are all masterpieces of unique artworks and designs.

To that lady whom I think is of pure beauty, I thank you for making me realize that it's possible to be gorgeous wearing an apron, with disheveled hair, and smudged mascara. And that true beauty cannot be bought over the counters (though they do help sometimes).

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Cabin Fever

As much as I love travelling, the one thing I hate the most is the transporting process -- ie. the airplane ride. So there I was, recently boarded the Boeing 747 that will fly me from the indelible London Heathrow airport to my layover in the Bangkok airport. As I walked down the crowded aisle, I was praying hard that the empty space near the cranky nine-month old infant a couple of seats away and the chatty couple seated right next to it wasn't mine. Unfortunately, the label adorned up top unmistakably had the same 37C embossed on my boarding pass. Well, at least I got my aisle seat.

As I stowed my Crumpler messenger bag on the overhead, found solace on my iPod, fastened my seatbelt and comfortably sank on my chair after trying numerous positions, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

"Excuse me, miss," the guy-half of the chatty couple next to me said. "I was wondering if you can let me pass to go to the loo."

I instantly knew it was going to be the longest ten hours of my life.

Trying my best not to sigh loudly, I basically undid everything that allowed me to reach the most comfort to let this guy out. But of course, I cannot just quite settle back in because the guy would have to come back. Oh how I wished he could teleport instead. Predictably, the guy took forever. And just when he got back, his girl friend decided that she wanted to go as well. Great. Just eff-in great!

Because I resorted to getting the cheapo flight, I had to settle for having to travel at a horrible hour. I tend to favor red eye flights as it allows me to pass the time away by dozing off and minimizing wasted travel time. This time, however, I got stuck travelling in the dead of noon in exchange for skimping on five hundred dollars -- effectively meaning that I will be unable to sleep. And to add icing to the cake, I will lose about six hours due to the time difference, and will land on Asian soil at six in the morning the next day. Make way for Princess Zombie. I, for one, could never make it on artificial nights.

As the aircraft finally took off, I tried drowning out all the noise around me and opted for a "night cap" of whiskey and coke. I looked back on the past week and how lovely it had been. I was able to spend time with my most favorite people in the world in one of the best places on earth. My siblings have flown from various parts of the world to join me in a week-long soul searching expedition.

It wasn't my first time in London, but I've always looked forward to each visit. There's something about it that is both haunting and enchanting -- it's like something old and familiar that never wastes away in your memory. Oh how we laughed while stuffing ourselves silly with fatty and greasy food (arguably the best kind of food there is) as if time and distance never got between us. Driving down unfamiliar paths in the countryside brought new experiences and sights to our city-slick attitudes and urbane conventions. And walking up those elaborate pavements whilst taking pictures as if its about to go out of style -- highly embarrassing, yes, but eternally blissful. I was once again allowed to be the person I once was. Where had I been?

My thoughts were rudely interrupted by the grumpy middle-aged man on the seat in front of me as his backseat reclined without warning almost hitting me squarely on the nose. The chatty couple next to me decided to go on their thirtieth bathroom break in two hours -- after consuming several rounds of gin and tonic that only fuelled their insanity. The meal cart arrived adorned with bad food and excessively processed nibbles. Being thirty three thousand feed up in the air, did I really need more salt in my already dehydrated body?

I felt my body relax. This plane trip from hell was perhaps called for as the yin has to somehow start overtaking the yang of my journey. I was constantly on top of the wheel for the past week. I knew it wasn't going to last and that the wheel would have to start going down one way or another. The plane ride was the pivotal point of it all... I was on the way back to painful reality. But pay no mind as I pocketed enough positive energy from my trip to bring on.

My mission was definitely accomplished. Indeed, it was something that I needed and had unknowingly been longing for. My siblings and I have retreated to our respective corners of the globe and god knows when we'll be able to do it again. Until then, I can only go back on my memories with a soft smile playing on my lips.

"Excuse me," the girl-half of the couple next to me said as she slurred through her words, her breath stinking of cheap gin. Her eyes were half-closed. "I need to go to the loo. I think I'm going to be sick."

It left me wondering if the five hundred dollars that I saved was worth it.