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.

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!