What’s Making Me Happy? Week 2. The Follow Through.

I’ve been watching basketball since I was 5 years old and I still clearly remember the first game I watched on TV with my dad and uncle. I also had a brief stint as a player back in high school when I honestly thought I was going to be the first Filipino WNBA player. I kid you not.

Our high school team was not a very serious one. It was more of an after school activity and we competed less than 5x a year. We had a coach and regular practices but I swear, they were more about building our friendship and updating each other about gossip. We still had to run suicides though. I did watch a lot of basketball so even if we did not really get scientific and intense about our plays, I knew the basic things (and I mean very basic) that I should do whenever I’m on the floor:

  1. Always look for the open man/woman.
  2. Always box-out. Rebounding wins games.
  3. Never jump without knowing where to pass. You’ll most likely still land with the ball and you will get called for a travel.
  4. Always follow through when taking a jump shot. Always. Follow through.

Following through a shot has always been something I’ve been conscious of. I owe this to watching so many NBA Jam or NBA Action episodes. One of those shows, I cannot remember exactly which one now, has an opening montage that shows Ray Allen’s shot and follow through. It was such a beauty and I always stop whenever I see it. I’ve always thought it was the perfect definition of a beautiful basketball movement. I still do actually. I realized soon enough that the way Ray Allen held his hand after throwing his shot has its purpose. It helps you develop a good and consistent shooting form. It also helps keep your hand from jerking backward and leaving your shot short. There was one also summer before high school that I spent shooting a crumpled paper into a custom painted ceramic mug (it was a grade school home economics project). I lived in a house with a small parking space and basketball courts were quite far and if I ever go there, they were mostly dominated by men and it’s just very weird as an 11/12 year old girl to push my way. The ceramic mug was the best chance for me to “play” basketball at that time. Every time I threw a crumpled paper, I made sure I kept my follow through and soon I was shooting consistently. If I forgot or got lazy, I knew the moment the crumpled paper left my hand that it will not fall through.

You might be wondering why I’m talking about follow through.

This post is my follow through. I promised that I will write more and on a more regular basis so this post is quite critical. If I don’t write this entry, I know that I will continue to keep off writing and I will end up with another hopeful entry with nothing to follow after. So yes, I am holding my follow through with this post.

Now on to things that made me happy the last two weeks. If you missed my first post, every week I am writing about things that make me happy, which takes inspiration from NPR’s Pop Culture Happy podcast.

Bath Bombs

I just discovered bath bombs last week and I am totally in love with them. I will digress a bit in the next part but bear with me and I will go back to bath bombs, I promise.

It’s funny that I am writing about this because if you search bath bombs on Google, the results will show the official website of Lush Cosmetics, online make-up/skincare stores and blogs. I’ll get this out of the way now: I am not a skincare or a cosmetics expert. AT ALL. If there is a spectrum where the other end is being an expert on these topics, I will be way on the other end of that spectrum. And then add another 1,000 miles between that end and another 1,000 miles more. That’s where you will find me. My skincare routine includes: facial wash, toner, moisturizer and occasional sunscreen. For my body it’s really any brand of lotion I get from the supermarket. Nothing fancy at all. I also do not know how to apply make-up which is really strange because I work in the corporate world which, although unspoken of, does require occasions and events where I need to look a little bit cleaner than usual. I am probably one of the very few women who goes to such events with just a lipstick and foundation on my face. It is also important to note that my attitude towards baths is more of a chore and a necessary action I begrudgingly do, rather than one of enjoyment and relaxation. The point is, I am not an expert on skincare nor cosmetics but because I feel so strongly about my recent discovery of Bath Bombs, I am actually compelled to go and touch this subject.

Now going back, as promised. I discovered bath bombs because I follow a Facebook page that has been posting 15 seconds of videos about how it’s made and how it looks like. (The official Lush Youtube actually has the full videos if you’re interested). I have been seeing these posts quite often recently and I found it to be nice and intriguing. I liked looking at the videos but then I will forget about it. The place I live in now has a bath tub and I use it every now and then but not regularly because as mentioned earlier, I am not a bath fan. When I do use it, I acknowledge that it’s relaxing but I always feel that the experience is lacking. I see in movies and TV shows how people love going home to a warm bath but I was just indifferent to it so I thought maybe I was doing it wrong. When I encountered the bath bomb videos again, I had an “Aha!” moment and thought maybe this will solve all my bath tub experience issues. (Yes, I do realize how stupid that last sentence sounded). I then went on Google to see where I can buy one and the very next day I was in a Lush Cosmetics store being totally overwhelmed by all the skincare products I never knew I needed in my life. I was hypnotized for a moment. The store just smelled so nice, and was so relaxing and for a moment I was willing to buy every expensive item there including a body conditioner (What!?).

Before I lost my mind though, I focused and went to the overwhelming central display of bath products. The staff carefully explained to me about the four bath products that they have: Bath Bombs, Bath Oils, Bubble Bars and Clay. I ended up buying a bath bomb and a bubble bar. I have not used the Bubble Bar yet but I am pretty sure it will not fail me as well because the bath bomb “blew” me away.

Bath bombs was invented by Mo Constantine, one of the Lush co-founders in 1989. Her main objective when she invented it was to treat the beautiful skin with butters and essential oils, and also as important is to create “a unique bathing experience filled with wonderful and vibrant color” as written on their official website. A bath bomb is made of bicarbonate of soda, citric, color and fragrance. The ingredients are said to be mostly natural, and they are assembled by hand. There is a good Buzzfeed article that details what a bath bomb factory looks like. When I got the item from the store, I literally picked it up from the display and was just wrapped in a thin paper after paying for it. No other box or packaging. This is not accidental. Mark Constantine, husband of Mo and other Lush founder, said in an article back in 2007 that they really do away with packaging. “The reason it smells so strong is that if you are going to take all the packaging off cosmetics, you can smell it,”. When I dropped the bomb on my tub, it fizzled and created a creamy and colorful look. It was like magic. At least for me. When I was raving about it to my friend she casually responded “Ah, just like Berroca, but for baths right?” Admittedly, I would have never thought of that description because that makes it less magical but that quite encapsulates how bath bombs work. I chose one of the simplest bath bombs in the store, made up of orange and yellow colors, but some of them actually have things coming out of it, like hearts, glitter and even petals! Mind blown! The moment I fell in love was when halfway to my bath, I felt how soft my skin was because of the oils and just how beautiful the whole set-up was. I felt like I finally found that missing piece in my bathing experience. Bath bombs are awesome if I have not made it clear yet at this point.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Read by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Karen Olivo

I read Junot Diaz’ The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao novel a couple of years ago and I consider it to be one of my favorite books. It’s a best-selling book and have gotten a lot the important awards in the literary world including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction among others. It’s story is about Dominican, Oscar De Leon, who is a fat dude who struggles with so many things from when he was a kid until adulthood. He’s obsessed with science fiction and comic books which makes him uncool in the story. I’ve always thought that he lived at the wrong period because nowadays, his type are now considered to be the cool kids. I know this is fiction but this fact makes his story sadder for me. The novel also gives out a good description of Dominican Republic and the lives people lived under a dictatorship. I really liked how the novel shifts back and forth from being a very personal story to having historical facts, all while being narrated casually by a third person.

Now, about the audiobook. Lin-Manuel Miranda is probably one of the greatest humans in the world and has been a huge pop culture force ever since Hamilton: The American Broadway Musical has been launched. I am a huge fan. I even have Lin’s tweets on notification. When I came across a tweet saying that there is an audiobook version of Oscar Wao read by him, I totally freaked out. I cannot believe that one of my favorite novels is being read by one of my favorite people. I was beyond excited.

Having Lin read this novel just makes it all the more special and just hearing him using his Spanish accent is just a beautiful thing I cannot have enough of. Karen Olivo, an award-winning Broadway actress who is now playing Angelica Schuyler in the Chicago production of Hamilton shares the reading responsibilities with Lin. She reads with so much emotion and every word she reads now weigh a ton more meaning than when I was just reading it on paper by myself. I am not yet done with this audiobook, but Karen starts reading in the chapter that Lola, Oscar’s sister, Lola narrates and she gives Lola so much more character because of the way she reads.

Audiobooks are usually a hit and miss for me, and although I have an Audible subscription I usually reserve it for Non-Fiction books but this one is just too good.

I have a few more things that are making me happy that I wanted to write about but this post has unexpectedly gone way too long and so I will reserve the other items for my next post. I have to keep my follow through, after all.