[travel] Big, Bad Wolf in Dubai, UAE

*clears dust, coughs* Hello? Anybody out here? Oh, you’re still here!

I know I said I’ll write more often but I’m a lazy writer. There’s no escaping the truth.

But if anything, I’m a dedicated reader! Recently, I went to the Big, Bad Wolf book fair here in Dubai. Dubbed as the biggest book sale in the world, it boasts more than 3 million brand-new books from children’s books to your favorite genre fiction.

Honestly, being there is overwhelming.

Here’s the thing about me: I often get sensory-overload whenever I go to malls and markets.  I find it difficult to register everything at once so I kind of check out while walking. Just imagine how it is for me walking into big bookstores! Case in point: Kinokuniya.

Similar to Big, Bad Wolf, Kinokuniya is also a Malaysian brand, only it is a chain of bookstores. (These Malaysian’s know the value of BIG and BOOKS, no? Okay, that’s my last comment about this.) The one in Dubai Mall is known to be a cavernous space and elemental beings have been lost for days inside that maze. I assure you, it’s so easy to get lost in there. I, of course, did. Every time I step into that space, I just *throws brain*. Like that. Every time. A lot of times, the experience of getting into that bookstore is just a blur for me. Blurred background, white noise. That’s it, for me.

Big, Bad Wolf was almost the same. Almost.

When you enter the hall (which is almost two continuous warehouses, emptied and filled with tables and tables of books,) you will be greeted by chaotic stands of best-sellers. Or really, Oprah’s books. Multiple copies of a Jojo Moyes title. And then you enter the land of children’s books. There are pop-ups, activity books, and your regular story types strewn everywhere. And by everywhere, I really mean EVERYWHERE. You have to understand that guests have already plowed through these I-would-only-assume-to-be–once-meticulously-organized tables. Books are of course going to be strewn everywhere. There are a lot of parents and children here. We just ignored this section, to be honest.

(I really, really lusted over the pop-up books but they’re still so god dang expensive, even with the discount.)

So my friend and I headed straight to the fiction section. My beloved YA and genre fiction. Hearts and books emoji here.

It’s a little disappointing though because most titles are not exactly my cup of tea. Which, of course, is not a problem I am going to thrust into the management of the book sale. (Dear management, you did great – all things considered.) Most of the choices in the YA books are limited to a few authors. There’s not much choice in the titles, too. If you’re expecting a Scholastic book fair-level of organization and stocking, that’s not what this book sale is.

Okay, so going into the book sale I was resolved to only spend AED 100. That’s not a lot, but remember that this is a book sale: everything is supposed to be discounted. So if I did this well, I can come out with quite a lot of books.

Presented with literal mountains and mountains of books and paired with my sensory overload, I had to buckle down and set some rules for me.

  1. I will only buy The Raven Cycle books if I find them.
  2. I will only buy Gabaldon (or The Outlander series,) if I find them.
  3. Wuthering Heights!
  4. A Fairy Tale Retelling (Of course.)
  5. A romance book (Duh.)

In the end, I only got to bring home Wuthering Heights (in a spanking cute new cover!), a retelling, and some books that held me hostage. All in all, I stuck to my AED 100 budget (which makes me so proud of myself! What a great night for self-control!) and got to take home six books. That’s not too bad.

I know my bookshelf is a mess. As Mea once said, it could very nearly have its own moment. (Moment, as in the engineering sense.)

I had to wade in three different tables to find the Wuthering Heights in that cute cover before I found it. And the thing is, I’ve been to these three tables before I found it. The book was difficult to find because of the general chaos of the place, but also I think everything just blurs through my eyes. I was thinking the whole time, “Ah, something would probably look familiar to me and then I’ll get that.” But that’s just probably how everyone is though? Like, all choices are a blur until you see something that makes sense, even when you’re not really looking for it?

One of the beef I have with the organizers though is how there are only two tables for romance books, and even then the choices are only chick lit and women’s fic, which yes, okay they are romance. But that’s horribly under-representative of the whole spectrum of romance! There’s not a lot of Historical Romance, which I expected there should be quite a lot because they are usually the mains of book sales. Not a lot of contemporary titles too. There is one Maya Banks title, so that’s a plus, I guess.

For the science fiction and fantasy tables, there are quite a few good titles too. I feel like there are at least a couple of interesting titles that will pique the attention of the discerning sci-fi aficionado. It’s a little enviable, for me as a romance reader. Also! There are sets of books offered at discounted prices! But these are the Coelho books. I wonder how it could have been if there are also sets of romance books: the Bridgertons, perhaps. This is a fucking cash cow and no one is doing anything to sell them in complete sets. Why is that, my friend?

Anywho, Big, Bad Wolf was an amazing sensory overload. I’d go again if I have the resources (dirhams.) But as a trash slowly trying to pick me up, alas. It is not meant to be for now. It has been fun, though. Obviously not a lot of pictures, because when you’re there, who has time to take pictures?


Directions: If you’re in Dubai and would like to visit this monstrous book sale, head on to Mall of the Emirates Bus Station. Take the F30 bus and alight at the Studio City stop. Walk straight ahead, past two roundabouts and an intersection then take a left. The warehouse is the first building past the parking lot. (Although I did hear F30 now stops exactly at the venue. I’m not sure! Don’t blame me if you get lost.)


[personal] one year of being an ofw!

It has officially been a year now since I left the PH! Hi UAE, happy anniversary to us! (And also second grad anniversary! Padayon, mga bagong nagsipagtapos!)

As not mentioned here on this blog, a lot has happened during that year. A LOT. Prior to this move, I have to admit I really thought it would only be unicorns and butterflies. The usual, “OFW’s have it a lot better and easier than the people back home; that going abroad is the easy way out.” I’m still waiting for that magical day to happen, to be honest with all of you.

It Doesn’t Get Easy!

Let me tell you: I’ve been out in the world for two years now, and I’m still waiting for that eureka moment when I would know and feel that everything has fallen into place, much like how it looks to my contemporaries. It doesn’t seem like it will come this year, and even next year.

And I think, it probably doesn’t work that way.

Yesterday, I received a word from one of my superiors about how they want me to incorporate some new stuff to our social media as the ones we currently have been a little repetitive. I took it as an indirect, “You’re not doing very good at your job, Claridge.” But also minding that it might be the anxiety talking.

(The anxiety will never shut up, is also one of the things I learned over the year.)

As I often do, I shared this with my friends and one of them told me, “You shouldn’t think as if you don’t have room to make mistakes. It takes years for someone to get really great at something. Mistakes and learning from them are normal. Keep at it, you’ll keep on learning, keep on growing, and one day you’ll get there.”

And I guess, that’s really true. We (I) should stop being too harsh on myself. I’m relatively young. I’ve only been a working professional for two years. I know that I’ve been doing okay with my work. Sure, I get some things wrong, but I think there is enough credit to the things I did which actually helped the business.

Principles, Schmrinciples

It’s funny ’cause I realized, in the year spent here in the UAE, the hardest part of being out here is applying the honor and excellence one has learned in college. Honor and Excellence. I should stop compromising my beliefs for the comforts of others. I know, I know. In the test of real life, I wonder if it’s a tres or a kwatro I’ve been having.

Honor and excellence, don’t forget. Always, always embody.

Yalla, Habibi

So. One year. And two more, if all goes to plan. Every day, there is the urge to pack up my bags and go home. There is that little voice whispering, “You can thrive there. You did it before, you can do it again.” But also yesterday (seems like a lot happened yesterday, doesn’t it?) I read this graduation speech given by David Sedaris to wherever college it was, and one of his advice to the graduates was to don’t go back to your hometown. Actually, part of the advice was to also not have a fallback plan as a graduating artist.

But anyway, my takeaway from it was to keep on keeping on. Work on your craft, work on your career. It may fail, you may fail, but don’t ever quit. Of course, it was a timely read that I took as a sign from the universe that the road doesn’t end here for me.

I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve made sense with this post. I just want to commemorate this day, I held out for a year. A year of three visa runs to Oman, finding work at a completely unfamiliar place, stumbling, falling, and picking myself up. I’m a little bruised up but also little stronger, I’d like to think so. (Also, one published short story! Let’s not forget that.)

Yalla, habibi. Padayon.

[personal] this is the part of the truth i am scared to tell

I’m sitting alone at a familiar yet new Starbucks shop, in the middle of a faraway area. I have 10 dirhams on my wallet and I know, I will have to scour the earth for a few more just to afford the cab ride home. (As I said, this is a far area.)

And I never thought I’d say this but I didn’t know I needed this calm familiar feel Starbucks has.

Not to glorify Starbucks, but. A lot of my writing has been here, in chains of this big cafe conglomerate. Does that make me a cliche? Maybe. But it is what it is. This place has seen me craft pages and pages of what would be my work. And writing, writing will always be a part of who I am. And at the place 6000kms away from home, I feel the most at home here.

The past weeks had been crazy. I had been my craziest the past weeks. I didn’t know how to cope with the loneliness, the anxiety, and crippling fear of never being enough, of doing something wrong, of not being wanted. This was the worst bout of anxiety I’ve ever had in my entire life and it was all because of a boy. I am a sad failure of the Bechdel test and it’s sad that I had to continue writing about him.

(An aside, or a summary for those out of the loop: When Ariana Grande sang about being into a person she couldn’t breathe, believe her. It’s as surreal as you’d think it is until you figure you needed to breathe to live.)

But maybe, if I write about him, this stupid infatuation will start to get purged out of my system. I am trying to find ways to cope, to hang on to my normal. And finally, I am starting to breathe properly again.

Last night, I scrolled through four years worth of posts in Facebook. There weren’t a lot of posts, but what was there were enough memories to anchor me to who I am (was/) during those years. Who I still am, at my essence. Maybe I just needed that grounding. Maybe I just needed a reminder of who I am. Who I plan to be. So that I can go back to the right me. Not this boy-crazy, anxious girl occupying my body right now.

Maybe I’m still not alright. It still feels like I am about to crawl back and beg for attention – that I am fighting so fucking hard. But I’ve been alone for years and I turned out okay. I chased after challenges, faking the balls to do things, and achieved a fair amount of my goals. I can do this. I can overcome this. I know this. It’s back to regular programming, nothing big. I can handle this.

I will still be unstable and crazy in the coming weeks, but at least I can feel a little clarity now.

[personal] filipino food i miss the most

(Because I’m currently snacking on some pricey siomai and milk tea, as if this were 2015 and I was in Area 2.)

The worst thing about being away is missing out on your usual food haunts. There are days when I felt like only Ate Fe’s sizzling sisig could cure me of my misery. (And yes, I acknowledge that I also had this mindset even before I moved here. #FoodIsLife) Someday, Doreen Gamboa-Fernandez will applaud me for the way I sing praises to food.

  1. Ate Fe’s Sisig. The first thing I will eat once I come back home. I swear to God, Maginhawa will be the first on my list. I will probably walk around Maginhawa-Malingap-Sikatuna area again, light a cig for all the memories I’ve had in that area. Crack open a bottle or three of Red Horse at Sarah’s or TK. Sober up at Mini-Stop with their Fried Chicken (that is way better than Jollibee’s!). Basically, relive my undergrad trash self. I miss it so much.
  2. Mang Larry’s Isaw/UP Food Crawl. Even as an undergrad, I could never keep up with the influx of new stores popping up all over the campus. There used to be a cute, rustic cafe by SOLAIR that vanished even before I graduated. Area 2 is a beast with an evolutionary rate Darwin would have been proud of. For sure though, the staples like LB shake and Mang Larry’s isaw will never be forgotten. (Also, maybe add a Snack Shack burger even though they are also fairly new to Area 2. I am old. I can still remember Area 2 with just LB and LKB.)
  3. FA Siomai and Arki Pantea. OHMYGOD. Now that I remember the Pantea, I get a mad craving for it. 😦 FA siomai with its heaps of fried garlic bits is just THE BEST. I can still remember my freshie days with my Chem 16 Cool Friends (they were all older than me) and they introduced me to All Things All Freshies Should Know About UP. They were cool.
  4. Waltermart Guiguinto’s Takoyaki. I’m pretty sure this is a franchised product, but I always forget its name. Anyway, it serves it purpose – to satisfy your takoyaki cravings, which is actually pretty niche if you think about it. I also miss Ganchan’s legit takoyaki but it’s so expensive. (It also just occurred to me that this should be a filipino food-themed post, but hey.)
  5. Gong Cha’s Earl Grey Milk Tea. 😦 When will Gong Cha open here in Dubai?


[personal]: things i’m thankful for

(I just typed ‘thankful’ as two words. I am clearly not cut out for this.)

Hello, hello. Yes, this is still not a book review. I’m sorry. So, a good fren from more than 6000 km away suggested I try to blog about things I am thankful for whenever I feel too stressed out about life. Today at work, we had a long meeting and most of it was spent talking about who gets cut out of the team’s roster. At some point, I thought to myself: This is what I sold myself, my soul, and my liberal arts degree, for. It was fucking disheartening.

Coming off from that point to list down the things I’m thankful for suddenly felt like an asshole thing to do. But hey.

  1. My Job. I am thankful for having my job secured as of March 26, 2018. I’ll never know when I’ll get the boot, but when that time comes… then it comes. But for now, I have this, this job of mine which I don’t really hate. I actually kind of enjoy it. Every day, there is something new to do, something new to tinker with, something to make me feel like I’m doing something for someone.
  2. Constant Friends. These past weeks were just pure hell. I’ve never had to deal with feelings since college and then, three months into the job and I suddenly grew this fungus on my heart what the fuck. It was good while it lasted. It was worse when it ended. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have survived any day of it without my friends who had to bear with my daily messages of pathetic woe. (It was also Peak Anxiety Episodes, so you all saved my life, actually.)
  3. New Friend. Do you know how hard it is to find a good friend at a faraway place? Like finding a needle in a haystack. I feel like one of the things that made me so miserable at my former job was because I had no one there who runs on the same frequency of crazy as I do. Finding my new friend was a miracle and at the right time, too. She’ll probably not see this anytime soon, but thanks, new friend! You helped me survive a ghosting, ulcer (literally!), and my anxiety attacks.

[personal]: hello, yes i am still alive

Hello, WordPress! It’s been… a fucking long while.

I am probably speaking to void right now, all my followers from seven (???) months back gone and happy with their lives and grandchildren, I guess. But anyway, hi void. It’s me. Adgie. Greeting you from the Land of Camels and Tall Buildings.

So a quick recap: I’ve moved (not quite) recently to Dubai to seek greener (drier, tbh) pastures. It was– an adventure. I can’t quite confidently say I’m happy after I moved, contrary to my, and other people’s, expectations. It wasn’t easy, for sure. It was – is – a Russian Roulette of emotions every day. I mean, I moved places. Doesn’t mean I left my demons at home.

Speaking of home, I intended for this first blog post post-move to be a little like my friend Ange’s blog post when she moved to Canada. Like a list of things I miss from the Philippines, which to be honest is quite a lot more than I expected. 😦

(I’m rambling, I’m so sorry. Writing for my own has never felt this relieving. It’s like opening a pressurized jar – everything is just spewing out of my mouth/fingers.)

So, yeah. The truth is, I moved because I couldn’t take living in the Philippines anymore. I was a fresh grad crippled by the mundanity of the everyday. I kept on looking for More More More out of Adult life and I felt like a failure for not seeing the worth of that life. I’ve spent years in college, looking forward to the day I can finally contribute something of significance to the world. Only when I did come out of school, I was flailing and failing miserably.

I lost hope.

It was the unsolvable traffic, the horrible train experiences every damn day, the low pay and high taxes for a job with too-long hours. I dreamed of that job for so long and it ended up as another item on my list of disappointments. (Btw, you all know about this. I’ve written about this before.)

After that first job, I made up my mind. I’m moving to Dubai, where my parents are, where transportation doesn’t feel like The Hunger Games, where the tradeoff is better. I hoped.

And then I headed off to my second job, which was fine and dandy at first. Definitely, the only place where I felt so connected with my colleagues – and still is my standard, btw. But then a lot of things happened. The work environment wasn’t all fine and dandy, after all.

(But, eventually, you learn that everywhere is never a fine and dandy place. There will always be reasons to not feel happy or comfortable. Always.)

But then, it was okay. I know I was moving soon anyway. It wasn’t a difficult decision to leave.

And then I left.

I left the country. Of course, I was looking forward to finally living the life I’ve always dreamed of. Sure, the guilt was eating me as well. Every damn day. But I thought of it as a trade-off. Something I have to bear in order for me to gain something worthy out of life. Equivalent exchange, if you will.

It wasn’t easy.

I wish I could tell you all how worth it it was to move away. To finally commute without feeling like you have to sell Satan your soul just to get where you want to go on time or within this lifetime. To earn a paycheck that pays the bills and still have a little nest egg you can look forward to on rainy days. To diversify your work environment and learn loads of new things. Yay Self-Improvement!

It’s… well, yeah. All of these things. And more.

It’s adjusting to people from literally all walks of life. People who know you from your nationality. It’s adjusting to living in cramped quarters and paying a fortune for rent. It’s a lot of new food and missing the food you’ve been familiar your whole life with. It’s looking for comfort from your friends when it feels like you’ll also fail here, 6,904 km away from home, and finding a hard time to vent, rant, cry, have a good release. It’s looking for people who would even a quarter of the way understand how your brain works and find that they have theirs wired differently from yours. (Yes, you’ve realized this from waaaaay before but now, you’re slapped in the face by this fact you’ve long ignored.) It’s being visited by your old demons and meeting new ones.

It’s difficult.

And if you ask me what I’m still doing here if it’s so difficult after all, it’s because I know I still have a lot more to learn and experience. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve traded off a life full of potential for something that feels a little lackluster. But… it also feels like I cannot contribute anything to my country at this time. Who am I, anyway? What do I have with me that can help my country? My blind ideals will get me killed for nothing. A casualty of war who died prematurely. It’s not the fight I want to fight.

I still want to come back and help. I still want to give something of myself that I know will be worthy of my country. And I still don’t have anything with me yet.

If there is something good I found abroad that I didn’t find while I was back home, it was Reason to Fight for My Country. Out here, there are lots of us Filipinos. Some will help you from the smallest of things to life-changing ones. Some will tear you down the minute you stepped on their little toes. Some lost their identity after finding another one. And I realized, for all my hate of my country while I was there, it wasn’t the hate that would drive me to fight against my fellows. It wasn’t the kind of hate that will make me call them names and treat them like trash. It’s the hate borne of frustration and helplessness.

6,204 km away from home and I found my Reason.

Okay, enough of the cheeseballs time. So, having been back again I’ll probably write more. This is really therapeutic. Thanks for the push, Mumshie. ❤ Next time, I’ll write about my brief time in Oman, More Work Things, and Other Writing Things. One at a time.

[Blitz] Easy Nights by Kristen Proby

Easy Nights
By Kristen Proby
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Category: New Adult


No one said change was easy…

Savannah Boudreaux knows what it is to hurt. To bleed. To be afraid that the man she’s promised to be true to until “death do us part” might in fact separate them far sooner than anyone had ever anticipated. But Van also knows what it is to survive. To move on. To live life to the fullest. With five brothers and sisters and a loving mother as her constant source of strength during the pain and the healing, Van realizes there is little else she needs.

But some things never change…

Benjamin Preston sat on the sidelines of the Boudreaux family for years, in love with a woman he couldn’t have. As the best friend of the Boudreaux brothers since childhood, Ben has seen both tragedies and joys in the family. And as a former MMA fighter and Krav Maga expert, Ben’s used to fighting for what he wants—and winning. His hands were tied when Savannah married her high school sweetheart not long after graduation, but now two years have passed since Ben found Savannah broken in her own home.

Sometimes what you need most has been right in front of you the whole time…

Van’s convinced that happiness isn’t in the cards for her, no matter how right it feels to be in Ben’s strong arms—and his bed. Ben is determined to win her heart and fight for her trust. He’s promised to protect her, to be her friend. But more than anything, he wants to finally make her his, and this is one fight he’s not willing to lose.

Pick up your copy of EASY NIGHTS today!

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iTunes: http://apple.co/2pkdgC5
Audible: http://adbl.co/2tJUrd2
Add to your Goodreads

And don’t miss the first standalone titles in the Boudreaux Series!

EASY LOVE-FREE for a limited time only
EASY CHARM-$.99 for a limited time only
EASY MELODY-$1.99 for a limited time only
EASY FOR KEEPS: A Boudreaux Novella


About the Author

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Kristen Proby is the author of the bestselling With Me In Seattle and Love Under the Big Sky series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong, humorous characters with a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type; fiercely protective and a bit bossy, and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves.

Kristen lives in Montana, where she enjoys coffee, chocolate and sunshine. And naps.