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Saturday, December 27, 2008

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Grown Up Dear Santa Letter

Dear Santa,

I never believed you existed. You see, I'm Pinoy. We do not have you or the idea of you until we were colonized by the Americans. Even then, I couldn't believe in you. Here is why I thought you could not be real:

1. You go down the chimney to leave your presents. We never lived in a house that had a chimney.
2. You ride a sleigh that flying reindeer pull across the sky. No known species of reindeer can fly.
3. You deliver all the gifts on Christmas Eve. Well, in the Philippines we stay up all night on Christmas Eve. We never see/hear you come.
4. I've been deliberately bad some years, and I still get presents at Christmas.

I'm seeing a lot of your movies again lately. It seems to me that if you are real, you only go to the US. Maybe if you spent less time hanging out at the malls or the street corners outside of the malls in the US, you would have more time delivering your presents and not cram all of it in one night. Don't you think that makes sense?

There's more than 2 billion children all over the world. Take away the ones who've been naughty, and you might still have about a billion. With that many children to shop for, you must get the presents mixed up a lot. I have personally received gifts I never asked for and therefore, didn't like.

Now that I'm all grown up, I don't think there's anything I want that I can't buy for myself. Nope, what I want can't be bought. So what's the sense asking you, right? It's not something that you can wrap up and a put a ribbon on. It's not something you can stuff in a Christmas stocking.

But still, it's worth one more try. Dear Santa, I'm in the US this Christmas. If you only have time to get around here, then maybe you can squeeze me in. I've been bad this year, but I've been good too, so maybe we can just call it quits? And say I've been OK?

Hope you'll have time to check your email for this letter. Maybe you should get yourself a Blackberry this year...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Remembering Coffee

I sometimes have to fight the temptation to move all my other writings from The Coffee Chronicles to this blog. But let's leave to coffee what is meant for coffee rantings, and to Bum-ism what is to Bum-ism.

Feel free to take a peek, though, at my earlier attempts at personal discovery.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

SPELL B-O-R-E-D

We have attended at least one Pinoy Christmas party every weekend for the last 3 weeks. SN1 makes us go to these parties because, well since we (Ma and I) have no lives here, we get to live hers too.

She means well. This is not one of her spur-of-the-moment outings that benefit only her. There is nothing else to do at home anyway, and the weekends are the only time we get to go out. But, I guess, what SN1 doesn't realize is (and this is, by no means, her fault at all) that I do not do well in unfamiliar social functions. Read: "If it's not a party with my firends, I don't enjoy it."

The party tonight was extra painful. It was a party for the local SFC (Singles for Christ) members. And if there are 2 things I do not talk to strangers about, it's my personal life and religion. Especially if Ma is there (
Cabin Fever to the Infinite Power for reference).

There was this one girl in particular who decided to adopt me as a charity case. As soon as she found out from SN1 and Ma that I was in my 30's, single and not dating, she zeroed in on me to talk about not losing hope. GAG!

How can she just walk up to me and immediately assume that I was losing hope? What, if any, kind of sign did I send off in the 10 minutes that she's known me to say that I needed a pep talk about the current status of my personal life? And why would she think that she had any authority to talk to me about it? I don't even listen to my friends!

She, on the other hand, starts talking about her ex-boyfriend; that they broke up almost a year ago; that he is now engaged; that he sent her a text message just last week; that she thinks he's a loser; that she's grateful they didn't end up together; that she is now asking God for a sign; and that she has a list of what she wanted from Him. All that in 5 minutes!

I so wanted to walk out on her, but I did not want to embarrass either of us. I thought I was saved when our hostess' father joined our conversation (if you can call it that). But he started talking about (drum roll please)... religion. Oooooooooooooooh no. This was going to be a long night.

I was lodged between them -- the obsessive Single for Christ and the stubbornly opinionated hostess' father -- for a good part of an hour before I could think of an excuse to get up and leave. Some guests arrived -- with booze! Aaaaaah....salvation. From that moment on, I held on to my paper cup like a drowning person held on to a log. I did not put it down. I nursed each drink. I drank constantly so I didn't have to talk to anybody.

To entertain myself, I sat down in front of the TV (which was on mute) and tried to understand the dialogue by reading the actors' lips. It was very challenging. There was maybe 30 minutes left to the movie when they turned the TV off to play games. During this time, I amused myself with BIL's iTouch. I updated my
facebook and friendster accounts, checked my email, looked at some pictures, music, videos, finished half a bottle of wine, stayed in the toilet until someone else had to use it.

It was no one's fault this time that I did not enjoy the party. SFC girl certainly tried her best to make me feel welcome -- a little too much, though. The rest of them invited me to join the games, but I declined. I just wasn't comfortable around these people. We had nothing in common. We had nothing to talk about. I was the only outsider in the group, and I had no clue who or what they were talking about. And I didn't care anyway.

I have always had a fairly small circle of friends, and lately I haven't been very good at making new ones. These friends that I have are the same people I go out of my way to see whenever I'm home. These are the people I can bare my heart and soul to. With these people I have no problems talking about religion or politics, even if they are my least favorite subjects. Because with these people I can be funny. I can be honest. I can be sarcastic. I can be rude. I can be crass. I can be myself.

I miss you people!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cabin Fever to the Infinite Power

For the last 10 years, I have been living on my own away from home. Back in college I stayed at various dorms during my first 2 years before eventually moving into an apartment of my own in junior year.

Since then I have moved to several other fairly-decent apartments, sh*tty room rentals, cheap condos, and small houses . Except for maybe a total of 2 years when I had to move back in to Ma's house (on and off) for a variety of reasons, I have pretty much lived on my own. And I loved it, for the sole reason that I get to not live with Ma.

My relationship with Ma is difficult to explain and even more difficult to understand. Believe me I have tried both, with no luck. Very simply said, I don't like her. No, that's not such a bad thing. "Not like" is not as harsh as other negative emotions like, let's say "hate", "abhor", "detest". It's more of a NON-feeling. You get the point.

When, one time, I tried to explain the dyamics of my relationship with Ma to BIL, this is how I phrased it: "If I didn't know her, I wouldn't be her friend." Imagine having a roommate whose habits, whose noises, annoy you. Imagine having a roommate who does not respect your privacy, barges into your room anytime she wants, reads your mail, goes through your stuff, and does not apologize for it. Imagine being stuck with that roommate forever. That's how it is living with Ma.

I was glad to be out of the house and living on my own. When I was living in Manila I would drop in for Sunday lunch or dinner occasionally. The good thing is I can always leave when I want, so we don't get to the awkward portions when we start to annoy each other. When I moved out of the city, I would call occasionally and our relationship got a little better. At least we were always civil to each other, owing to the fact that we never see each other anyway.

Now, here in the US, we are snowed in. SN1 is out of town for the whole week, and BIL is at work all day. There is no car. The train station is too far away to walk to (and in this weather?). There is no one else to see anyway; I know no one here. I am holed up in the house day in and day out...with Ma.

I looked up cabin fever in the dictionary, and there was a picture of us! Its symptoms include restlessness (CHECK), irritability (CHECK), and excessive sleeping (aaaaaaaaaaand CHECK). I have taken to eating my meals in front of the computer here in the basement just so I can avoid sitting down at the dining table with her, and saying nothing. I duck into the bathroom when I hear her come out of her room. I have resorted to taking longer walks with Scooter (in the snow!) so she's done watching the evening news when we get back.

SN1 is due back home tonight. I hope she's not too tired to go out. Please, please, please let us go out tonight, and tomorrow, and the day after that. It's funny how having SN1 around seems a lot more fun now in light of being stuck here with Ma. I know when she gets home, SN1 and I will definitely think of something to fight about. But for now, she is my only hope against going insane!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Finding Anais

To salvage what was left of my Sunday (see previous entry), I decided to go with BIL to the airport to drop off SN1. I knew we were going through Chicago, and I was waiting for a "new found friend" to call me if we were having coffee. So I wanted to be "in the neighborhood" when he did. But he didn't.

Anyway, BIL and I went driving/walking around the city. Given it was not the best weather to walk around in, but it's not going to get better anytime soon. And I have been asking him where I could find old and used books. So we took this time to do a little in-law bonding, and he took me to some of the places he knew in town.

In the car, on the way over, he had lined up 3 places for us to check out:
North Ave, Evanston and somewhere else I forgot. We hit Myopic Books on North Ave. first, and we hit the jackpot!

As soon as we entered the door, I was in heaven... book heaven. When I imagine myself opening a bookstore/library/reading room/coffee place, this is what I see. I want to own one of these joints just so I could live in it, and read until my eyes pop out!

Right inside the door there's a display case which features some of their rare collections. On this night, they were featuring burlesque literature and coffee table books. On the counter top, a lot of loose old photos are on display along with a new book they were promoting entitled "
Who We Were, A Snapshot History of America". Obviously it was a photo-historical account of American life as recorded on film. Ergo, the photo display on the countertop. And if I really wanted to get it, I could have had all the authors sign a copy because they were all there that night. (Note to self: should I have gotten one anyway, just for the signatures? hmmm.)

One look at the whole store and I said out loud: "I could stay here all night". Even with its size, it was not intimidating nor imposing. It was what it was -- a 3-storey building of floor-to-ceiling shelves filled to overflowing with books. The shelves could not contain all of the books they had that all available space has been used for storage: table tops, the floor (except for a tiny strip to walk on), chairs, on top of the refrigerator, by the display windows, everywhere. I was in heaven!





If all of that wasn't beautiful enough, they mostly carry used books. Anyone who knows me knows that I do not buy brand new books. I find that old books have so much more personality. The personal history of the book adds to its value and its story, I think. I find it interesting whenever I see notes on the margins from someone who has already read the book before me. I get a glimps of what they were thinking while reading the exact same lines I was/would.

Browsing through the many titles, some of which I cannot see because they are too high up (too bad), I noticed there are many odds and ends tacked to the shelves that kind of re-inforce the book sections I was browsing through. By the MUSIC section I saw an old Metallica concert ticket from 2006; along the shelves of GEEK, there was a punched-out data card circa 1970's. It was so much like the stuff in
FOUND!, it almost gave me goose bumps.


A little FOUND! piece of my own -- an erotic bookmark tucked
between the pages of my newest Nin acquisition with a
very apt title.

When I walked in the door, I knew exactly who I was looking for. But like the last of a favorite chocolate, I wanted to save her for last. I took my time starting on the top floor, going through all the fiction books, through the classics of Dante Alighieri to the more modern take of Anthony Hecht. Then skipping the ground floor to look at the biographies and suspense/horror books in the basement.

An hour and some change later, because I had nothing else to look at and nothing else could hold my interest as much as what I came here for, I came back up to the ground floor. I ran my finger on the edge of the shleves as I passed, making my way to the "N" authors. I read each title and author on the spine of each book carefully, savoring the suspense (and maybe the disappointment, IF I don't find her). Finally, at the very bottom shelf, the first 7 books on my left read:
ANAIS NIN. I found her!

My first introduction to Anais Nin was when I picked up an interesting looking book, quite innocently enough -- *wink* -- at a very small used books tiangge back in college. It was a nondescript book, just a little bigger than a standard Post-It note. There were several of those small books, with black covers and stark writing for titles and I was intrigued. It turned out to be a series of excerpted works from her diaries --
erotic diaries.

To a college kid, erotic literature was just fancy porn. My dorm roomies and I had a laugh over it, but I was intrigued to find out that most of her work was published post-humously because they were too randy for her time. Learning that she started writing in the early 20's made me all the more impressed by how bold she was to write about her sensual experiences as honestly as she did.

Then a movie entitled Erotica: The Diary of Anais Nin came out. But for the life of me, I could not find it on
imbd or anywhere else. (I swear it exists; I have a clipping of a movie review back home.) She was primarily a diarist, writing more for herself than for anything else. Much of her writing for public consumption came later, and this was still separate from her personal journals. I must have been drawn to her because of this. I, too, have kept journals since I was young. And reading about her made me realize that I had so much to learn about writing.

My journal entries have always been so shallow. Even knowing that they are private and no one will ever read them without my permission, I hold back. So when I re-read some of my entries, I get confused with vague allusions, and forgotten codes that I used. I am, by no measure, heading the same path that Anais Nin took. I can never be as great, and I do not aspire it.

I only hope to find myself in my writing, the same way I found her in that bookstore.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pink Salmon Sinigang to Save the Sunday

It's lunch on a sunny Sunday -- a welcome break from all the snow this whole week. My sister is home from a week-long business trip, and is due to fly out again this afternoon for Oklahoma. To make the most out of her weekend at home, she had the whole morning planned out. Only none of us knew it.

First was church at St. John's, where we were late coming in because we stayed up late last night watching movie after movie (again part of my sister's grand make-the-most-out-of-my-weekend-home scheme). At ten this morning, she was hurrying everyone out the door to try and catch the 11:00 mass. To escape her ire on this sunny Sunday morning and because she convinced me that we were coming back home after church anyway, I decided to leave my purse at home.

After the mass, and on the way back to the car, my sister announced she was dropping by her office to pick up some stuff for her trip. That was fine. After leaving her office, she casually tells everyone on board (me, Ma and her new husband) that we were going to the nearby winery to sample the wines. I was excited to go -- imagine getting loaded on a Sunday before breakfast! Woohoo! My sister was genius!

But it was too good to be true. Everyone who wanted to taste or purchase the wines was asked to show an ID. Of course, I didn't have mine. I left it in my purse at home -- where we were supposed to go straight back after mass, according to my sister. My gracious new brother in law offered to drive and get my purse, but I didn't want to impose. I let them go taste and buy their wine while I wandered around the winery looking at old pictures on the wall, reading old newspaper articles and moping.

Of course, my sister just thought of going to the winery at the spur of the moment, not bothering to check whether we all had IDs or not. It didn't matter that I would not enjoy this little outing, so long as she "made the most out of her weekend at home". Like she's not coming back...ever. Hello! she lives here; I don't. Meaning, it didn't matter how long she goes away for, she can always come here. I do not want to sound ungrateful to her, what with her paying for this trip and all. But this is testament to her self-centeredness.

She does not always think of other people when she makes decisions. Like today. She decides for all of us to come to this winery. When we get there, and they (her and her husband) have already started sampling the wines, she remembers her husband has to drive home and promptly tells him to stop drinking. She then hands me his drink and orders me to finish it. I who was not supposed to drink at the club because I had no ID, because my sister (who is telling me to drink now) also told me (earlier in the day) to leave my purse at home because we were coming... straight... home... anyway.

We are just railroaded with her bossiness all the time. Which reminded me of last night when we called the other sister back home in Manila, who reported that she was unable to drop off the wedding CDs at home because no one was there, and that all the other stuff were still in the box. Sister no. 1 hounded her and hounded her on why she did not drop off the CDs. Was I the only one in the room understanding that THERE WAS NO ONE HOME? I could hear Sister no. 2 on the phone, all worked up and trying to explain the phenomenon of "The Undelivered CDs" to sister no.1 and I can hear the frustration in her voice. I know why Sister No. 1 was so upset -- because she just wanted all the rest of our family and friends back home to see her wedding. Because, of course, everything was about HER! Now I am starting to remember why I hate her. And it makes me so relieved to know she will be on out of town trips so much of the time that I am here.

One hour, 7 drinks and 5 bottles of wine to take home later we were sitting down to a lunch of pink salmon head sinigang. It's very luxurious, I know to make sinigang out of pink salmon, but it tasted so much like home, it made me feel better! That and knowing that my sister was airport-bound again in 2 more hours, and will be gone for the rest of the week was enough to salvage what is left of this Sunday.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hey Jealousy

So here I am on a Monday morning, typing away in my sister's basement, listening to Christmas songs. I still have 7 more weeks here in the US, and I can't wait to go home.

Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful to be here. I have seen some amazing sights, and done some shopping. What I cannot take any more of is all this wedding chatter between my sisters. At first, it was exciting, talking about their wedding plans and their husbands-to-be. It gave us a chance to get closer and to get to know our soon-to-be in-laws. But after a while, it becomes painfully obvious that I am the only one not planning my wedding. I have no stories to share of how I met (fill in the blank). I have no one to call at night, or buy Christmas presents for back home.

Now, 1 week after my older sister's wedding, the excitement is wearing off. My younger sister has left to go back home, and me and Ma are starting to get into each other's skin again. Everything is back to normal, only we are 7,000 miles away from home. Now more than ever, I miss my friends. They would understand this jealousy, and will gladly talk about it -- about me. Here, my jealousy seems out of place and unjustified. And the fact that it is unacknowledged makes it all the more real and unbearable.

Here, surrounded by old couples and newly-weds, my alone-ness is magnified. It mocks me. Here, where I am holed up in the basement, snowed in, with no where to go, and no means to go there anyway, I cannot escape.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Scoot's Cute!


I am in love!

I met Scooter last Saturday when we arrived here from Manila. But I have seen his picture about 2 years earlier when my sister sent us her annual Christmas photo. It was not until last Saturday that we were formally introduced.

When we got inside the house, this big black ball of fur came bounding down the stairs, and started sniffing us. He looked at me and I was hooked!

He's friendly and smart, and very mild-tempered. He's not fussy and is so adorable. He likes getting attention and knows how to ask for it, too. When my sisters and I were catching up on Sunday morning, he hung around and rested his chin on the bed, making those small pleading sounds. He did not let up until we noticed him and gave him permission to join us in bed.

He's funny that way. He is not imposing. He will not dare join you on the bed or the couch unless you give him permission. And until you do he whimpers and makes sad faces that make you just give in. He is lovable!

I'm the one who takes him for his walks now. He reminds me when it's time, if I forget. He knows we're going if he sees me start putting on all my cold weather gear by the hall closet. And he patiently waits for me to finish piling on a sweater, a coat, gloves, a bonnet and ear muffs.

At night when I watch TV, he walks around me in circles until he finds his spot and then snuggles really close. He loves taking pictures. And he loves getting belly rubs. I know I'm spoiling him. And I think I'm going to miss him more than I will my sister when it's time for me to leave.


A Handful of Jeopardy Answers

In all the years I worked for a BPO, I succeeded in convincing myself that either: (1) there are no holidays -- in the sense that I had to work them; or (2) there are too many holidays (Pinoy and US).

As part of culture training, we started celebrating the US holidays more than the Filipino ones back at the site. This was a way to educate our employees on how to better itneract with the American customers. Part of this culturation program included appropriate greetings and responses, more small talk topics, etc. It was safe to say that I knew and understood every US holiday there is on any given calendar. I had to; it was part of my job.

I could tell you how the holiday started, where it originated, how they celebrate it now, and when. I thought knowing all that was enough to understand them. Operative word: THOUGHT.

Now I know I did not know anything, but a handful of
Jeopardy! answers. It would be impossible to understand any of these holidays unless you lived it. You cannot know how they celebrate it unless you celebrate with them. The history and custom of celebration becomes less significant every time because it constantly evolves.

I am excited to say that this year, I will have the chance to really understand Thanksgiving. In 2 more days I will celebrate my very first (and probably my only) Thanksgiving the traditional American way. My sister has everything planned: we will have turkey, and cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

Other relatives wanted to use the Thanksgiving festivities as an excuse to throw a Pinoy fiesta -- with dinuguan at puto, cake, and arroz caldo. Nothing says NOT Thanksgiving more than that! Thank goodness my sister won this argument over my Tito. See? Another thing to be thankful for.

Also, as is the custom, we will go to at least 1 major retail store for the big after-Thanksgiving sale on Friday.
Lalay has been constantly reminding us to get up early on Friday. She wants to be at the store doors by 5am. I thought she was kidding! Do retailers really open at 5? Even for sale day? And the answer to my question would be a YES.

The biggest stores in town -- Best Buy, Walgreens, Walmart, Target, etc. -- would be lined with campers on the sidewalk as early as Thanksgiving night. The malls will be packed to overflowing, and parking spaces will be hard to come by. It's going to be chaos at its worst, but we will be right smack in the middle of it all. And I can't wait!

They say that the best teacher is experience. I agree. By this time next week, I can proudly say that I know what Thanksgiving is really all about.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Last Note from Here

And so it is. I am writing in my notes from my hometown, Manila, for the last time this year.

I have left so many times before, but I keep coming back. Back home.

As I leave again, I leave behind my failures. I leave behind my stupid mistakes and bad judgment. I leave behind memories with friends. Memories of all-night videoke marathons. Endless catch-ups and our very own private fiestas.

By the time I create my next entry, I would have turned a new page... to a new chapter. Again.

I hope to fill the new pages of my life with as much joy and sadness as this year had brought me. For without the tears, happiness is not as sweet. Without grief, there are no good times to look forward to. Only more hardships to dread.

Life will unfold as it wants. I can not control it, but I will have to live it. So this is my last note from here:

Live life. As it is. As you are.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Counting Down My Manila Days

I am down to my last 5 days in Manila, counting today. By this time on Saturday I would be getting off a plane in Seoul, Korea to catch another flight to Chicago, IL.

My
older sister is finally getting married! She, together with her fiance, has made the wise decision to hold the wedding ceremonies at around the same time as Thanksgiving this year so friends and relatives from all over the state/country/world only need to fly in once and celebrate Thanksgiving, their wedding, and a family reunion all at once.

Our year-long preparations for this trip is almost over. It started with my sister's vacation here in June 2007 when they told Ma of their plans to get married. As soon as we knew, we made arrangements to get our US visas. Ma, May (my younger sister) and I went about our own ways to request for birth/marriage/employment/bank certificates (whichever applies). We made the appointment at the embassy, and waited for our scheduled interview. All this time, Ma prayed every novena she knew and went to all the Christmas masses just so her wish could be granted.

On the appointed date and time, I flew in from Cebu to stand in line outside the embassy, anxious and a little scared just like the many others trying their luck to get to the US. This was the point of no return. We will do our best, and the rest is up to the fates. Ma's prayers must have worked; we all 3 got visas good for 10 years!

Now the hardest part is over, and all we had to do was wait until we were ready to go. That time is almost here. Just one more workweek, then we are outta here! I guess it's a blessing in disguise that I am not working right now. If I were, I would only be able to stay for 15 days. That meant I would be spending Christmas here alone. But as it turns out, I can stay as long as I want (until my funds run out, that is) because I have no job to come back to. Whoever thought being out of work was a good thing?

So now that I am free of corporate responsibilities, Ma and I have decided to spend Christmas AND New Year's over there. After all, who knows when we can go back to visit?

So for now, I am still dreaming of a white Christmas. In another month, I would actually be living it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Note to Self Part 1

Finally! After being back for over a month now, I got to catch up with my Foyer Fifol.

I was excited to hear the news about Jiggs opening a bar. I always wanted to have a "place", you know. Somewhere you can hang out at with friends, and stay until after closing time. Someplace where you will always be welcome, where you will always find a familiar face, "...where everybody knows your name..." Sorry, couldn't help it.

Only problem is, as always, it's way out there in QC. I live in the South, about a 2-hour commute away if you don't have a car, which on Saturday night was the case with me. Or you can cut down travel time if you take the MRT (by maybe 30 minutes), or a cab (but will cost you more). So you see my dilemma. I now have a "place", but it is so far away from where I live that it poses too many hassles:

1 - i have to get an early start for dinner (travel time takes 2 hours, remember?)
2 - i have to brave the traffic from South to North (all along EDSA or C5. Either way, traffic's a b*tch!)
3 - i can bring the car, but that means i shouldn't drink... too much (and what's the point then?)
4 - if i don't bring the car, then i will be dependent on the good graces of my friends (?) to drive me home. If they're not feeling gracious, that's another 250-cab ride at an ungodly hour
5 - i can't get drunk (see numbers 3 and 4), which kind of negates the purpose of coming to the bar

hhhmmmm..... dilema, dilemma.

But I was there last Saturday to show my support, and break my sober streak. Yes, I had to leave the house 2 hours before the time on the invite. And yes I had to take public transportation, and endure all the exciting things that come with it: cheap music, loud passengers, heavy traffic and stale air from the air-conditioning.

I also got to congratulate Jiggs on opening his dream bar. I saw my college buddies again after 6 months. We re-hashed all the old stories. We told the same jokes. We made fun of the same people. We made new memories.

So my note to self: a 2-hour commute in heavy traffic is worth seeing your friends for. will do again... and again...and again. RIDE n ROLL!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Movie Mania

It has been a while since the Vanilla and I saw a good movie. We were starting to weekend-mushy-movie-date when we were sort of interrupted when I was "shipped out" 2 years ago. And now that I am back, all our sabik-ness came pouring out.

We made a date to see the latest Nicholas Sparks romance,
Nights in Rodanthe. This movie had all the makings of becoming a favorite in both mine and the Vanilla's books. It starred 2 of our most liked actors: Richard Gere (who in the Vanilla's words, is still ma-pogi at his age), and Diane Lane, who is Gere's equal in achieving the art of aging gracefully; it was one of those "aaaaw!" movies; and it was set in the most amazing beach house in the world -- it sits right at the edge of the water!

I don't want to give away the ending for those who have not seen it yet, and I do not intend to write a review here. So I will not give a synopsis, but talk about the experience instead. All I will say about the movie is that it did not disappoint. It might have upset some people *wink wink*, but it did not disappoint.

The movie was a reward. If the Vanilla was a good girl and went to the dentist's, then we will go see a movie. "It's okay, don't be scurrrred." And don't be embarrassed either. I know a lot of grown-ups who have never gotten over their fear of the dentist, or at least the dentist's drill. It's one of life's unpleasant necessities that we have to accept. Good girl!

On our merry way to Festival Mall, and somewhere in the heap of the multiple conversations we usually have going at the same time, we kind of admitted to liking Troy Bolton, a.k.a. Zac Efron, and the rest of the
HSM gang! *kiliiiiig moment!!!*

I know, I know, it sounds so juvenile. But it's sooooooo refreshing to see a teen movie that has no sex, no violence, no drugs, and just kiligy-cute actors re-living high school! I have to admit, too, that I have seen all 3 movies now. Staying at the Pungkin Patch for a few months means watching the Disney Channel. I was surprised that I enjoyed HSM as much as I did. So it was inevitable that we had marked HSM3's opening on our calendars. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to see it with the pungkins, seeing as I was back here in Manila when it opened.

The Vanilla was gracious enough to see it with me, even if she's already seen it. We timed our screenings perfectly so we'd come out of Nights just in time for HSM3's opening credits. Ingenious, too, that we went to the feel-happy-kind-of-sad movie first before the feel-really-good movie so we wouldn't be leaving the movie house in tears. Ooops, did I just give away the ending to Nights in Rodanthe?

Vanilla, I have a reminder for you: "Keep ticket for inspection." And so we're back!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vanilla, Vanilla

To use the words from one of our Motown hits over the weekend: "[Vanilla, Vanilla], I keep coming back to [Vanilla]..."

Ok, so I switched the words. But I meant to say the same thing. I do keep coming back to Vanilla.

I have always liked vanilla -- as an ice cream flavor, as a base-note for colognes and perfumes, as flavoring for gourmet dishes. Vanilla reminds me of what home should feel like. It conjures a picture of a comfortable stuffed armchair, a good book, a hot cup of cocoa, and a rainy day. It warms me up inside, and makes me feel that indescribable feeling in the pit of my stomach when I am utterly and absolutely...happy.

It's the way I feel when I wake up in the morning, and give myself a long liesurely stretch -- like a cat -- savoring that heady, and semi-woozy feeling in the head when I come out of it. It's that feeling of laughing out loud until you are doubled over in a ball, with tears streaming down your cheeks and holding on to that stitch on your side.

This is the ultimate feel-good feeling. It's the exact same feeling I have when I spend time with Vanilla. To add to my list of favorites, Vanilla is now a favorite friend, too. I feel at home with her. I feel like myself with her -- no pretensions, no excuses, no justifications for who or what I am.

I made a good choice. Pat on the back for me :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Stretching the Altis

Yesterday was the Mrs. Salves' bebe's christening, and of course, we had to go. Even if it meant driving all the way to Pampanga.

It was one looooong road trip starting from ParaƱaque to Pampanga in the morning, then passing ParaƱaque again all the way to Tagaytay on the way back while playing (and dancing and singing to) motown/funk/OPM disco tunes all the way.

Why? Because it was a Sunday! And we were driving a rental. You know how a rental is -- the new-car scent that hits you when you open the door for the first time, the slippy-slidy feel of your fabric-clad bum on the new leather seat, the cold whiff of air from the air-conditioners, that no-bump ride courtesy of a brand new suspension, and the secure feeling of no break-downs/overheats/other fill-in-the-blank car troubles.

Alright, so the scent wasn't so new-car-ish; and the seats weren't leather, and I'm not even sure if it's the suspension that makes the ride smooth (hehe). But you have to admit, laughing out loud with close friends, making fools of yourselves by staging on the spot mini concerts, and the unlimited kwentos you had to catch up on is one of the best ways to spend an idle Sunday, and makes a 9-hour drive worth it! Well, plus the fact that I didn't have to do the driving :)

And our quote(s) for the day: "Do not sarwa! NEEEEEH!"

This is me, just posing with the car. No, I did't drive. But I did most of the singing and dancing :)

With the Vanilla, waiting for dinner to be served @ Leslie's in Tagaytay. (Stole this picture from her, because this is sooo much better than the one I previously posted here)

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Trouble with Blogs...

...is that it's a compromise.

The blog is the modern version of a diary or a journal. The electronic world has taken over this very personal experience and art of writing. There are various reasons why a person would want to keep one. Most people want to keep a record of their history, maybe as a legacy. Some would like to preserve their memories, and relive them over and over again. While others keep them as a collection of life lessons to be handed down to their children or children's children, and so on (if the lessons of that time are still relevant).

Whatever the reason is, journal and diary entries are very personal and, most of the time, private. This is where the dilemma of publishing your thoughts in a blog comes in.

Between a journal and a blog, a blog is more convenient. Typing on a keyboard is so much easier than handwriting your words. And they look so much better with those fancy fonts you use -- a far cry from your chicken scratch.

A blog can be anonymous. Yes, your writing can be called up with just a few strokes of keyword combinations, but you can always hide behind a pseudonym (or pseudo-name, as Id like to call it) and fictional names of your characters. Not like a journal lying around can be traced directly to... you.

A blog is handy. You can pull out a new page and make a new entry virtually anywhere you are. You don't have to lug it around in your bookbag, and you don't need to carry a pen with you everywhere.

So why should this be a difficult choice? Because for all the same reasons as above, for all the convenience it brings, a blog is so blatantly "out there". Once you put your thoughts, your ideas and your feelings into an entry, they become public knowledge. Would you really put your most intimate secrets and most important opinions on a public site? Without getting paid for either?

What is the use of keeping an online chronicle if you hold back, anyway? So the way I see it, you do not hold back. And the fact that you don't hold back should be justified by either (a) because you are being paid for your writings, or (b) because you, as a diarist, have no sense of privacy or no respect for the art of writing at all.

I am neither. That is why I still keep a journal and a pen on a night table by my bed everynight.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

This Time Last Year...

I gave up coffee and cigarettes
I hate to say it hasn’t helped me yet
I thought my problems would just dissipate
And all my pain would be in yesterday

I poured my booze all down the kitchen drain
And watched my bad habits get flushed away
I thought that that would keep my head on straight
And all my pain would be in yesterday

But it’s true
I’m still blue
But I finally know what to do
I must quit, I must quit you

I thought that if I didn’t go and play
The sadness would get bored and go away
I thought that if I didn’t go astray
That all my pain would be in yesterday

But it’s true
I’m still blue
But I finally know what to do
I must quit, I must quit you

I sold my guitar and my piano
I thought that it was these that kept me low
I thought if only I could try and change
That all my pain would be in yesterday

But it’s true
I’m still blue
But I finally know what to do
I must quit, I must quit you
I must quit, I must quit you

- Michelle Featherstone

Monday, October 13, 2008

Nadia's Note

Thanks!



Friday, September 19, 2008

Stay. Still. Stay.

We moved.
You moved me;
You moved in me.

We moved.
But once stilled
We saw we have moved apart.

And move again, we try
to bridge the distance
we have forged between us.

Do you move me now to stay away?
Stay still.
Still, stay.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ode to the Corporati

To all the Mahs, goils, ates, atengs, dudettes...

Today she's been working, she's been talking,
she's been smoking, but it'll be alright,
Cos tonight we'll go dancing, we'll go laughing,
we'll get car sick, and it'll be okay like everyone says,
it'll be alright and ever so nice,
We're going out tonight, out and about tonight.

Oh, whatever makes her happy on a Saturday night,
Oh whatever makes her happy, whatever makes it alright.

Today she's been sat there, sat there in a black chair,
office furniture, but it'll be alright,
Cos tonight we'll go drinking we'll do silly things,
and never let the winter in,
And it'll be okay like everyone says, it'll be alright and ever so nice,
We're going out tonight, out and about tonight.

Oh, whatever makes her happy on a Saturday night,
Oh, whatever makes her happy, whatever makes it alright.

we'll go to peepshows and freak shows,
we'll go to discos, casinos,
we'll go where people go and let go

oh whatever makes her happy on a Saturday night...

-suede

Here's to the Saturday nights we shared, we missed, we look forward to!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Just Another (Bum) Day

In the last month, I have traded in the nomadic lifestyle for one that is more settled -- but a bum life nonetheless.

I have been living with my cousin and her two kids in a big-ish house along the side of the road in a not-so-obsure city in the south. And in the one month i was here, I have established a routine, which still allows for on-the-spot trips to the beach and random activities in between.

After 5 years of working nights, I wake up at 5 in the morning now -- just before the rooster crows, mind you -- and I sleep all night. I get up with my pungkins to cook their baon for school. We eat breakfast together while we talk about what they're going to do in school for the day. At 6:15, I drive them to school and then I head off to either the school oval or to the city wharf for my morning walk-jog.

I don't think I have lost a lot of weight yet, but doing something physical on a regular basis has re-energized me. The short-term benefits aren't so bad anyway. I force myself to go for an hour (at least), or until the sun gets too hot, whichever comes first. And in that hour I enjoy the fresh air, the scenery, and the company of strangers.

Then... I am free again. To go where I want, to do what I want. Sometimes on my way back home, I make a beeline for the beach and stay until I cannot bear the heat of the midday sun anymore. Other times, I take the truck back home, then hop onto a bike. I then ride until I get lost or until my legs are stiff. It's fun, it's scary, it's so liberating.

Or when I get too lazy to do any of the above, I just spend the whole day at an internet cafe to write about those days. Like today.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Straight Out of A Suitcase

In the last 2 years I have packed up my life and moved at least 5 times.

First, I moved out of my Ma's house into a one-room rental that used to be the maid's quarters at my ex-boyfriend's aunt's house. It was convenient -- for us. but was really not practical, even with the low rent. It was farther from the office than Ma's, and it was way too small.

So I moved into a 1-bedroom condo unit which was 10 minutes away from the office. I loved it! The only problem was the lack of parking spaces for guests, which I didn't mind at all. It's not like I get a lot of visitors, anyway.

Finally, I felt I had my own space -- private, sacred. I was so excited to fill it up with furniture. I got as far as getting a dining table-cum-space divider, 2 bar stools, a DVD/book rack and a divine couch before I had to give up my small heaven to move to Bacolod. I had the condo for a grand total of 3 months.

So off to Bacolod, where I stayed in 3 different places -- an apartment, a 2-room house, and a studio. All in all, a total of 16 months. Next stop, Cebu -- where I opted for a fully-furnished flat so I didn't have to go through the hassle (and expense) of buying new stuff again only to dispose of them after a year... or so.

Everytime I move I find that I have to leave some things behind. It's inevitable. There's just no room in the suitcase, not enough balikbayan boxes. There were too much stuff, stuff I can live without, stuff that are unimportant, or stuff that I would rather sell or give away.

At the time, I didn't mind getting rid of them. But then I would get to my new place, and would suddenly need to re-read that book I left with a friend; or find that I had left behind my flat iron (which ironically enough, does not come with my newly-"furnished" pad); or finally find that perfect dress to match my white go-go boots that I threw out.

It's the same every time. I can't fit all of my life in my suitcases, and I have to pick which memories, which dreams, which life lessons I take with me. Pick which ones to leave behind, to give away, or to toss out.

I wonder if, with every move, I shed a layer of me with the rest of my stuff -- all the emotions and memories that come with it. I wonder if, in my attempt to avoid "excess baggage", I am ridding myself of things that I might eventually miss, and will be unable to recover or replace. I wonder what, at the end of my journey, will be left of me then.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Slow Burn

Drawn to you
I come closer and closer;
Your warmth is inviting.

By my nearness
You grow brighter and brighter;
Your light is beckoning.

Out of control
I fall deeper and deeper;
Your fire is consuming.

8/20/08

Monday, September 1, 2008

Here-a-bum, There-a-bum...

So I am starting a new blog... to commemorate my new (economic/employment/social) status -- a bum.

"Bum" has such a negative connotation. The word itself sounds senseless. Curt, terse, hollow, empty. Much like an afterthought.

The word apparently first appeared in a German-American context, from the word bummler, which means "to go slowly" or "to waste time".

How very apt. For in that case, I am proud to carry the title of a "bum" for the last 3 months -- a beach-bum for some of the time. I believe I have lived out the definition very well. For that is what I have been doing (or is it "not doing"?) all this time. I have learned to slow me down. I have wasted a lot of time, albeit my own.

There is no regret here for during those times that I went slow, it was to wait for the sun to rise from beyond the sea. It was to wait for the fishing boats to come to shore so we can get the freshest catch of the day for lunch. It was in excahnge of long walks or bike rides to the beach, and not hurry back home even with the evening catching up on me. I spent hours, and sometimes whole days, picking weeds in the garden or re-arranging the furniture. I would do nothing else for the rest of the day. And that's okay.

There is a certain dignity to being a bum, to not being constrained by time, to throwing out plans and not controlling things. Some people might see that statement as an excuse for living a life without obligations, without responsibilities. But to leave a person with his own thoughts is a dangerous thing.
Being a bum invites more oppportunity to question one's life. Being a bum forces one to face the most diffcult judgment from her/himself. In the space of forever and timelessness, one's failures are magnified and successes are diminished. Isolation can be so easily mistaken for loneliness, and silence for emptiness.

In my next entries, I will share more of what I did (not), felt, thought, imagined, dreamed, dreaded, anticipated, and actually experienced. Some will be long and boring, others very dramatic; there may be a sprinkling of poetry or idle prose. Maybe, just maybe, some wisdom thrown in. But mostly just random notes...