Friday, July 30, 2004

Buhay NuYok

Monday: My friend, who goes by the pseudonym YlangYlang lent me the password to her account in a popular personals site. She and I have had lengthy conversations about her adventures online and since she hardly uses the account anymore, she invited me to 'browse' and enjoy.

The previous weekend had been a busy one. I had scheduled myself to attend to the inevitable this Monday evening: CONFRONT THE LAUNDRY!!!

Soon as I logged on, however, I was hooked. I browsed and was entertained for hours. Funny, though, I found more of the guys who advertised under 'Men Looking for Men' more interesting. And believe me, it is so unfair to womankind that the smartest, the most fit, the more intelligent and more perfect men are gay. You don't believe me? Try getting caught in the midst of New York's Annual Gay Parade and you will see what I mean.

Almost midnight with David Letterman blabbering his Top 10 List, I am still online and emailing my favorite gay friend, JC in the West Coast with curses about why women are left to 'scraping the bottom of the bucket' when it comes to choices because we are left with the gay-rejects. And then those who claim to be straight end up advertising as bi-curious, seeking adventures beyond the normal.

My laundry will have to wait for tomorrow.

Tuesday: I emailed 6 of our friends and try to organize a surprise lunch or dinner for Ludette who would be having her birthday on Saturday, the 31st. Everyone emails me back with the best time for them and many concede it would have to be over lunch. And we wanted to be sure it would be before Friday when Des leaves for LA.

At lunch after Ludette hurries off to return to her office, Cedric makes the firm decision that the surprise party for Ludette would have to be over dinner since lunch was just too impossible to enjoy with everyone trying to make it back to their desks. We agree. Kristine also suggests that lest we be the surprised ones to realize the celebrant has made plans, better inform Ludette also of the dinner.

I watched the Democratic convention coverage and was captivated by this senate seat contender from Illinois whose name is Barak Obama. He has the charisma of JFK and the eloquence of Bill Clinton. I found myself cheering the newbie with a 'YES!' when I am not even a voter in this country.

Laundry still undone. Ho-hum....

Wednesday: The non-surprise pre-birthday celebration was for dinner tonight. After the usual delays, we were finally on our way to the El Quijote, a Spanish restaurant Ludette picked herself, on 23rd between 7th and 8th Avenue. I had paella marinara and it was great. The serving was much too big too, so that despite the fact I had shared the portion with Cedric and Jorge, there was still a lot of left-over in the end.

We laughed so hard that Paola and I both suffered from headaches. My group, which in Tagalog would be my barkada are all crazy when we get together. I had brought along of course my camera and we had great pictures of the get-together. We often made Cedric and Jorge as the butt of our jokes.
On the way back to the east side of town, this building came into view. It was pink and it was beautiful.

When I got home, the laundry greeted me...still undone. ALso got the chance to catch the tail end of the Democratic convention. Teresa Heinz Kerry worked with the United Nations prior to marrying the catsup millionaire.

Thursday: Met up with my aunt after work and had Filipino dinner at Krystal's on 1st Avenue and 14th Street. She wanted to have the pancit but I told her she should try the tapsilog (Tapa which is marinated beef served with fried rice and 2 fried eggs). Also had Sarsi. Still wanted to have dessert (choices: biko, banana fritter, meringue or halohalo) but was too full. Where else can you be this Filipino and be so far away from the Philippines?

Got home, watched Kerry on C-Span (yup, I am that NERDY) and then talked to a friend on the phone for an hour trying to figure out why we weren't spending Friday together.

Friday: Someone treated for brunch at work today. At 10AM, donuts, bagels, cream cheese, coffee and orange juice overflowed at the conference room. I was planning to skip lunch but since we headed off to one of my favorite lunch places in Manhattan, I couldn't help it but had something light instead. On the way back to work, we decided to get ice cream and ended up not being able to finish it which officemates Peter and Waly try to help me with and still not succeed. At 4:30 PM, instead of the customary Friday wine and cheese, Peter goes out and gets beer and pizza.

I go home to try to escape the humidity. Checked the basement and no one was doing their laundry. I had to do this NOW!

Went online and caught some friends on YM. John, in his usual mental state messed up the otherwise regular YM conference with his jabs. Vergel and Kiko and I were helpless so just decided to join him in creating a most crazy session online.

Eventually had to quit though because Joel was on his way to my apartment to get the keys to his apartment from me.

Great day but most unbelievable of all: two week's worth of laundry had been washed and ironed. Whew! Now if only I can keep the hamper empty...then I would stink of course...

Saturday: Ludette's birthday and we will be at the Tavern on the Green on the West Side for some dancing.

The Memory of Trees

JULY 26: I have two potted plants that sit on my window ledge. One is a ficus 'wiandi' which I bought when I first started working in New York. I bought it as a fake bonsai in Chinatown and kept it in my office on the desk under my reading lamp. And I was told that whenever I traveled away on vacation, someone very thoughtful came by in the afternoons to water it from a small plastic cup. Now that bonsai is two feet tall and definitely will not be mistaken for a bonsai. I also have a variegated Arboricola (Schefflera) or what we call five fingers, which Wennie had gifted me with when I first moved into myapartment in Manhattan. She said it was a goodluck plant and so far it has worked wonders with me.

Tonight as I came home and lifted my window to ventilate my room (and skip the air-conditioning) the rain began pouring outside. I looked at my potted plants and decided to give them a feel of the rain for once. I lifted the screen and put them out onto the floor of the fire escape.

Then as I returned to my desk next to he window and worked on my notebook, I glanced outside and watched as my plants were getting their first rain-bath since my ownership. When the raindrops fell on them, the small leaves fluttered and then they had what seemed like this dance of joy.

I was watching this for a while and remembered how the trees outside my window back home in the Philippines did the same whenever it rained after a long and punishing summer. And how like this moment in Manhattan, I had sat on my desk and would get distracted from what I was doing to watch the trees embrace the heavenly outpouring as a reprieve from some punishing ordeal.

One thing about living in Manhattan or in any city for that matter is that you do not have life with trees. The cosmospolitan life is about being surrounded by cement, concrete, glass and steel. Only now and again there would be pockets of green. My apartment faces a small park with trees lining up the avenue that I hardly notice except in the autumn when it turns bright red and fall or in the spring when they start to green again. Also because it is across a wide four lane avenue.

I am used to being enveloped by lots of trees. At home I would be woken from my weekend sleep by the loud singing of the maya (housewren) birds. When I lived in a condo in Makati with Nicole, the old Greenbelt Park was right across from us.

Tonight, I realized I missed all that. I try to compensate for the lack with the few fluttering leaves of my potted greenery and though I appreciated their trying, leaves a pinch of homesickness.

I remembered my grandfather's old house with trees that grew tall and wild that I imagined the possibility of swinging from tree to tree (ala Tarzan and Jane) to get from one end of the property to the other. Or how the sound of the wind through the coconut leaves lulled us to siesta in the summer afternoons. I remembered driving up weekly to UP Diliman to bring my sister Gigi and her suppliesto the dormitories and passing underneath ancient canopies of narra and acacia trees and how that resembled the promenade in Central Park's Mall. I missed the mazañita trees that dotted our neighbor's yard and which I hadclear view from my bedroom window. How it would get heavy with the tiny apples in the summer and how we would shake the branches so the ripe ones would fall to the ground.

I remembered getting lost in Mindoro Island while wandering too far from the farm and finding myself along the shore of the beaches confronted by strange naked trees with exposed roots. They were a frightening sight but I stood there hypnotized, not scared. Amazingly, even in their most unusual shape trees still brought me calm and for me still was beautiful.

I loved how the caballero trees (fire trees) turned bright red orange in June. I once said that if I were to die and live again I'd want to be resurrected as a caballero tree.

When I was 10 I had a crush on a boy named Noel Ramos and we rode the school bus together to go home. I remember flaming fire trees in Sangley Point and the bright yellow school bus and "One Day in Your Life" playing on the radio.

Now I feel nostalgic. And it's raining. I miss trees.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Thoughts on Flight

A gull passed close to my office window and took me by surprise. It is late in the afternoon, almost evening and most of the workers on my wing of the office have called it a day. The daring white bird (obese as the typical New Yorker) flaps too close to the window that I notice it's staring back at me and jolts me from a monotonous day of work on the computer and causes me to stare out from 27 floors into the borough of Queens and East River. I move close to the giant windows but not too close though, I have acrophobia.

A fear of being away from terra firma - what if in the next life I returned as a bird? Would I still carry this horrible fear with me and live as a flightless bird, like an emu? Or would I be a hilarious pigeon on Union Square, feeding on dole outs and walking around everyday. But to be a gull or a magnificent eagle and take into flight high above the earth…would that make make my knees shake? Now I wonder, do birds have knees? If they didn’t, what shook when they were scared? I’ve seen my pet parrot Janet shiver after I trained the hose on her when I was 5. I doubt though if it was because of fear. My grandfather thought I had given the poor green bird pneumonia after because it kept sneezing. But she never seemed to be scared of anything, not even when I stared at it for hours trying to hatch a nasty plot to terrorize it like any bored 5 year old would.

It’ll be great to be a great bird of flight though. Then I’d be able to travel and not have to spend hours searching for cheap tickets online. And not have to worry where to stay and how to go about for food. No change of clothes or underwear (eeew!) so no luggage to drag along. I can probably crash some other local bird’s nest if I came visiting. Build my own? I’d be transient so what for? And the idea of migrating south for the winter really suits me. I’d not have to bear winter yearly like I have no choice. I’d fly south or west or anywhere as I pleased. If I were any other kind of bird, not the gulls nor the pigeons though for I see them year round on Battery Park City and South Street Seaport. So maybe I’ll be any other bird that flies low but not too low that I’d crash and get splattered on the windshields of the SUVs speeding on the Henry Hudson Parkway or the Palisades.

I'd want a really nice, colorful plume. Like a peacock. I'd loved to be a peacock - not really flying but just being pretty all day, if I were a male. A male bird with pretty feathers and a weird name - that's way too queer an idea for me. Scrap that one. Let's go back to overcoming fears of flying and being airborne and an icon of strength like the hawk or the eagle.

What about being a yellow bird who walks around playing with kids? Big Bird from Sesame Street is so much what my childhood is all about. I'd love to spend day to day playing with children, holding their hand and teaching them the alphabet and nursery rhymes. Playing hopscoth or hide-and-seek. But I'd be too big to hide anywhere. And I'd have an awkward nest next door to a grouch named Oscar.

The greatest thing about being a bird though is not so much about being pretty or eating small meals and taking flight without a ticket. It would be not having to do your laundry.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Sunday Morning at the Park

this is an audio post - click to play The sound of the carillon at my east  midtown church. (pardon the de-lata-istic sound. it's the best audioblogger seem capable of...)

We were expecting the first rainy weekend since spring started. This year had been very pleasant at the East Coast. Friday was soaked and forecasters warned that the weekend would be soggy. On Saturday morning we woke to a drizzle, a 'spill over' from the night's outpouring. Towards lunch however, Mr. Sunshine had began to peek through the clouds. Peek it did the rest of day and the tears from the heavens had ceased. And then on Sunday, it was cooler at mid-60's and very very pleasant. There was sunshine everywhere and the birds chirped their greetings to the brightness.
I go to mass in Midtown in a church that faces a beautiful park with benches underneath a canopy of tall trees. Fifteen minutes before mass begins, the carillon bells sound off a beautiful harmony that will surely warm even the coldest heart. It is a rhythm of joy, of hope and the sound of faith.
I always come early, not just to have enough time to give thanksgiving for the blessings I continue to receive but to embrace the beauty of the city which now I feel embraces me back. I would sit on the bench, perhaps catch up on some calls to dear friends or distant relatives. Or just watch the people walk their dogs, push their kids in strollers, stroll, jog or like me, watch with appreciation the beauty of a bright summer morning on the East Side. I would close my eyes and listen to the splash of the water in the fountains or the flap of the wings of the pigeons who would fly around in circles to re-converge in the same spot again, feasting on the donations of bread crumbs generously thrown to them by young children or the elderly from their wheelchairs.
This is for me one of the pictures of what perfection is: a beautiful Sunday morning where the city takes a back seat to the fast pace of life. When attention is shifted to the more important aspects of life: relaxing, devoting time to love, the family, the self and ... the dog. And I can't help but ask how this can be all possible if not for the stroke of the brush of a great all-knowing being who comes in many names: God, Jehovah, Allah, Christ. I had been posed questions by many cynical minds and I always find myself unwilling to go into a confrontation based on what I believe in and my respect for what they have faith in or not. If they can only see what I can and then maybe the sunshine this Sunday would also bring them enlightenement.
Life is beautiful.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The First Week

I formally started with the new department this week. I'm still in the same organization but now I am with one where the scope of the work is less 'universally concerned'.

I can't help but create parallelism between starting a first job with starting a new romance.

When you come in to work in the morning you try to look perfect, on time and impressive. Parang when you're on the first few dates, di ba? When you try not to be late, arrive with each strand of hair in place, freshly applied lipstick and with a fresh spritz of cologne.

The first work assignments, you try doubly hard to submit something in perfection. You double check your work many times to make sure it makes sense, it fits the rules of correspondence of the organization and that the fonts, spaces are as prescribed. First date, you make sure you ordered something that wasn't sloppy to eat or too spicy that your nasal passages are dripping through the meal. You are are more conscious of how you chew your food and sipping your drink.

Puro pa-impress ba. You smile a lot, pay attention to how you look, how you deal with people, admit to your mistakes easily. It's a matter of being the perfect person.

Tignan natin next week....!

Mailbag ATBP

So, does it really work? On my blog entry a few weeks ago I asked if a relationship will work if there were no commitments, expectations or accountability weighing it down. A clarification though, it's not all about sex. A relationship when there is a reciprocity of respect, understanding, mutual and genuine love for each other. So what makes it from every other relationship around the corner? The exclusivity, the commitment and the responsibility for the relationship is present but not one that is insisted by the other.

I want a relationship where I will make myself available for someone when I want to. Call me and say hello but don't make a big drama if I am not able to answer the phone. And I will call back when I want to talk to you. Don't make me seek excuses why I wasn't where I was expected to be at a time you wanted me there. I am a grown girl, let me be responsible for myself. And from my end: I had always been democratic with my relationships. Do as you feel as long as you know your limitations and the lines that cut right and wrong. Kuha mo, dear?

That blog entry got a lot of replies and I am still waiting for some but this needs to be written already.

Ana agrees and observes that it is our pre-occupation and over-obsession with the future that gets in the way of us enjoying what we have on our life in the present tense. And what eventually dooms a relationship are the high expectations we have from each other which when not met eventually leaves us hurting and bitter. And then the relationship is never how it started.

The relationships that withstand many years of bliss are the ones where both have short term memories when it comes to each other's shortcomings. I am no romance authority myself but I can tell you that when I start hearing couples dig each other's past faults in front of their friends I can just feel the bite of suppressed anger in the air. Regardless if they pretend they are doing this in good humor.

On a man's point of a view, Joseph agrees that this is the perfect set-up. Unfortunately, unless he was meaning to find another man to have the relationship with, there seems to be no one else willing to stay on this framework for a relationship very long. Of course when you're just starting a romance all women will sy they're perfectly OK with no pressure. That they're fine with a light romance, and they are not stalkers. Then he concludes all women end up to be the same: scheming, dramatic, manipulative and fiery (sige nga girls, react!). He even went as far as daring me to answer honestly as I could if I would be able to keep a relationship at this 'non-complicated' level. Ah, ummm, ahhhh.... (but I have a special love for this guy).

Bu brings it to the cultural level. She concludes that perhaps it might work with some people but for Pinays, we want the assurance. It is because commitment nurtures thats what makes it the relationship worth it. It feels good to have someone assure us that they love us despite and inspite of us.

Mas emotional nga ba ang mga Pinoy? I will reply by telling you that the Pinoy man has more drama.  Some Europeans and Americans are more upfront, more daring with showing their affection without fear of rejection. I mean, my boyfriend is actually shy but when he was stilll courting he put on all the works when he knew (or thought) I wasn't even interested. To him, he'd woo and if he lost then he'll just move on. He is emotional sans the drama. We don't have to create conflicts to spice up what we have. Syempre di niya alam kung anong ginagawa ko dito sa New York hehehehe.

He of course refused to comment on the whole scenario other than emphasize that a real relationship required long-term everything which is synonymous to commitment. For him, if it is the real thing then both of you plan for your individual lives taking the other into account.  To him, that goes to the minutest details such as the renewal of the lease of my apartment or his work. I let him do that and assume he finds amusement/entertainment in it.

A man's point of view is always surprising, though. Casually discussing it, a friend who refuses to be named said he'd play it light for a while until he's sure that he has found a girl who'd be good enough to meet mom and then usually he'd be the one to insist on exclusivity. And this all-American guy also wants to set the rules. No, a girl should have the freedom to do what she wants to do with her life socially but he expects her to be responsible enough to at least let him know if she'd be home or out. Part of the respect is concern for each other's feelings and sensitivity to each other's insecurities. A point well taken.

Rose's email was more dismissive. "With your deadma moods and yung irap mo," I'm sure you keep the boys at bay. And then she recounts this hand-sama guy from work before who emailed me anonymously for weeks and I was so overhelmed and flattered. I found out eventually and I let him have his fun by not reacting. I freaked out however when one day I realized he had put my drive on share mode and that he was accessing my files from his station! And I had been unforgiving. Now ask me how that fits in to this topic and I'll tell you, I'm rambling again.

I guess there is no surefire formula for a perfect relationship. Each couple have their own scenarios that work best for them. Commitment is part and parcel of a long term relationship.  It is tedious and it is hard work but it shouldn't be a jail sentence. If the relationship is about fulfilling demands imposed by one or both then it is less fun and less worthwhile to live for. It should be acceptability of the fact that the other is not perfect and that no one can fit into the mold of perfection we had set for an ideal partner. There is no such thing as an ideal partner. Even princes and princesses outside of the fairytales we grew up with all turn out to be frogs eventually (look at Charles!).

If you ask me, I still wish there was a way to prolong that initial thrill of a new relationship. I think enjoy the dating period so much when there is so much kilig, so much romance. I like it when you're trying to outdo each other in being pleasant and perfect. I like courtship and how the man will put you on a pedestal and almost say YES to all that you ask for. When men aren't so comfortable yet that they automatically switch the TV to their favorite games without regard for my TV watching preference.

Seems the life of this period of walking on air and having your head in the clouds is max 6 months. Except with a Pinoy where it is shorter (hehehehe). I wish women, including mysellf would stop obsessing about men's intentions and stop over-analyzing their statements and actions (oh, yes...umamin, we do that!!!).  That way we don't put so much twist on the simple acts of romance or double up on a benign snotty statement made out of context from a bad mood totally unrelated and undirected to us.

Relationships that get comfortable in time however have the feel of coming home to something warm and familiar. Like an old favorite shirt that you just keep wearing kasi it feels good. I actually also like being myself, not having to put on a mask of perfection. Like hanging out with each other in silence, me working on my blog and he finishing work on his own notebook in the same room. To glance at each other once in a while to acknowledge each other's presence and then continue with what you are doing. This is the kind of quality time that is in the peripheral of a long term commitment but beyond the courtship.

So what now? Does it work? The initial feel-good felling becomes addictive and you end up  wanting more. It evolves and in the long term becomes the standard run of the mill relationship with all the bad and good packaged with it. The downside is it also makes you possessive - in wanting to keep this 'good' to yourself. That is where the evils are born. But it is human, like what Bu also observed. The non-committal premise is the excuse of the person who is not sure if what she has is what she wants. When the certainty sets in, old new rules are installed.

A relationship will always have commitment, responsibility and accountability regardless if it is romantic, of a parent and a child, a worker and his job or me and this blog.

Life...parang buhay. Haaaay....

Saturday, July 17, 2004

The Last Smile

Secrets unravelling I have not sought to share, I might fall.
Will you be there to catch me?
I seek solace in the hope that I will not think of you
But I did today after I woke and my world smelled of you.
Cannot, should not.
I laughed and it was for real.
Shouldn't. Musn't.


Friday, July 16, 2004

Blogger is Great!

Hey, first they added more templates and now they even give you options to change your font style and colors!

Isn't this great?!

Now I have the option to make my entries look like a circus if I wanted them to....

If only there were smileys though c",)

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Rants about a Date Gone Wrong

Have I told you I hate being set up on blind dates? I should say that again so it comes out quite clearly to the whatever impaired: I DO NOT LIKE BLIND DATES. I have had my share in college when I literally blind dated my way around Manila and even ended up dating my officemate's brother but didn't realize it until we were on our way home and he had asked me where I worked. Worst, I ended up being blind-dated to two best friends (separate occasions, of course) set-up by two different friends. My dating history is a comedy and sometimes a tragedy so now, I just avoid the mishaps by not meeting up with a stranger some friends think would be 'good for me'.

Until Friday. He is a friend of a friend and he had been calling me at work for a while. Then he wanted to meet up. He seemed an intelligent nice guy so fine and well, I told him to meet up with me at a friend's birthday celeb at a bar near work. And he arrived. Outlandish, but pleasantly conversational so he sort of eased his way into my crowd. Then he started to dominate the conversation and did the name dropping thing. His uncle is the manager to this and this big rock band. Our friend Cheoma has the most beautiful voice and can do Whitney Houston a-capella perfectly. He said she should get in touch with the uncle. Then he and another friend eased into conversation about soccer. Oh, Mr. Perfect Date’s brother is in the whatever soccer league and blah-blah-blah. I hate braggarts. They do not impress me. So after an hour and a half I knew my night was doomed but I had to keep it moving so we left the party and had dinner at the top of a glass enclosed tower with great views of the city.

It would have been the perfect romantic setting except that my mood was further pulled south when he started me with the norms of where to pick up my glass of water and how to have my duck cooked. I am always polite, friends will tell you that no matter how inconsiderate/rude you can be I will try to be diplomatic by smiling and shutting up. Even when the most appropriate reaction in a given situation would be to scratch your eyes out and scream 4-letter words at you in a language you have never heard of before.

Messing with my duck however was too much. “You can have your duck rare when you order it but I want mine medium well,” I fake a smile back. I don’t why but around this time he starts to move the votive from the center of the table to the far right corner, away from my reach. In the end he liked my duck more and his salmon less and finished off what I couldn’t. Aaarrrgh!

Night drags on and finally I tell him it is time to call it a night. He wanted to bring me home. Awww… nope, I say, I’m a big girl, I’ve cabbed my way around the city before at later hours or earlier mornings. At 10:30 PM, this is way too safe a time for me yet. I smile but in my head I hope he could read that I just wanted to be AWAY!!!

He insists so he takes me home and he elaborates on the convenience of being in east midtown and reconsidering moving closer to the Beekman Place instead of my neighborhood in the higher numbered streets. For my sanity I take note that is EXACTLY what I do not want to do.

Saturday morning I went off with a Lucia who had just returned from a trip and decided to hang out at Chinatown. He called my mobile. I waited until the voicemail picked up. He just wanted to say ‘hi’ and was requesting for a return call. When I got home I also had a message in my machine from him also requesting for a return call.

In the modern age of dating, whether you return calls or not is your choice. I have learned that the closest you have to being turned down without the pangs of rejection biting into you is by not getting a call back or some cases, an email back. And it is also the escapist way of wiggling out of a potentially ominous situation of extended misery. And I hoped that I’d not hear/see or have him near me again.

Last night he called me on my mobile again. I had the voice mail pick up and of course, did not return the call again. Then again this morning, an email from him. Geeez, I think he needs enlightenment. Get it over and move on. Find someone who likes their duck cooked rare or who orders bread without seeds. Someone who doesn’t mind if you notice everything about them including how many sips of the champagne she’s been having at the party. I hate being monitored for my lapses on etiquette and propriety. Just as much as I hate having to explain myself why I don’t like to return your calls or your emails. I think I have that right to talk to or email only those I enjoy talking to or emailing. Please leave me alone!!!

Friday, July 09, 2004

The Colour of My Love

The greatest pain in the world is to love someone so much that being away from him is like living a life with your heart taken from your chest. There is emptiness in the all the world, nothing resembling the same appreciation for every small beauty I used to adore. When I listen to myself laugh and realize that it echoes in the emptiness of a lonely soul. I stare back across the table and listen to someone who is worldly and intelligent but I long for you and our conversations. I miss being engulfed in your overwhelming passion for all that you love and believe in. I miss the simplicity and humbleness that makes a man bigger than life.

In the beauty of a glass enclosed tower that overlooks a city of lights and the streets we used to walk I long to escape and run and hopefully find myself back into that place where we shared so much so selfishly - away from friends and the rest of humankind. Days when we would shut out the world and live in a bubble where there is just you and manco così tanto, il mio amore.

I'll paint my mood in shades of blue
Paint my soul to be with you
I'll sketch your lips in shaded tones
Draw your mouth to my own

I'll draw your arms around my waist
Then all doubt I shall erase
I'll paint the rain that softly lands on your wind-blown hair

I'll trace a hand to wipe your tears
A look to calm your fears
A silhouette of dark and light
While we hold each other oh so tight

I'll paint a sun to warm your heart
Swearing that we'll never part
That's the colour of my love

I'll paint the truth
Show how I feel
Try to make you completely real
I'll use a brush so light and fine
To draw you close and make you mine

I'll paint a sun to warm your heart
Swearing that we'll NEVER EVER part
That's the colour of my love

I'll draw the years all passing by
So much to learn so much to try

And with this ring our lives will start
Swearing that we'll never part
I offer what you cannot buy
Devoted love until we die

The song is by Celine Dion.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Ephemeral Allusions

Can you really start a genuine relationship on the premise of mutual pleasure without long-term possibilities? It is unconventional but maybe a relationship has a better chance of taking off when it is not saddled with the unwanted weight of commitment and responsibilities. The hint of romance can be contained in the prologue of a candlelit dinner or a walk in the rain and then followed by romping between the sheets and sweet nothings without the discussions of the future.

It is not cold and heartless when you think about it especially when both parties carry on with the prescribed courtesies of not asking too much personal questions. Just the basic, I guess: are you straight, disease-free and drug-free? None of the “I am this perfect so want me” kind of garbage that is tiring when you are in between relationships and is obliging your friends’ sympathy with pathetic blind dates or when you are "just browsing what is on the buffet table of life".

Women, generally tend to seek for a man who has financial security, emotional stability and who is responsible enough to do their own laundry and cook their own dinner. So speaking from a general consensus based on my and my friends’ experiences, a first-time date which should have been fun and enjoyable becomes a secret agent’s saga of uncovering facts about the man. Does he earn enough to pay for the house with the pool, the big lawn and the 3 cars? Does he like kids? Is he emotionally supportive? Will he like my mom? Will my mom like him? Does he know which fork to pick up so that he isn’t a social disaster? If he opens doors now, will keep doing so 20 years from now? Does he look good? Dress well? Smell good? Not a slob, doesn’t snore, etcetera. Geeez…. And it is just the first 5 minutes before the appetizer is served!

The set-up could seem worth its weight in the personal ads but what if you have two un-attached people who are uncertain about the details of what they want for the future but who are open to many possibilities? Wouldn’t that create the ideal recipe for a friendship? And somehow, after you have developed a friendship if the chemistry is right then it has the possibility to segue into something more permanent and could start planning for next week…

It is sans the drama that so constantly accompanies the run-of-the-mill romances. Definitely all relationships start out on a seemingly one-way trip to cloud 9 but after expectations, demands, promises and the un-breaking of promises start to weave an ugly mess, then the hurtful exchanges – verbal, uttered or merely gestured all cause the sharp guillotine to drop on that dreamy future you had pined for. Wounds may heal but they always will leave a scar. Plates hurled can be dodged but not the onslaught of sharp insensitive utterances that cuts deep into your heart and much later, in the silence echoes in your head.

I have often pondered on the idea of a romance where the objective of both parties is the indulgence in the present perfect. Certainly not on the level of abusive dependency but one that is mutually beneficial and non-claustrophobic to both parties. Where the excitement of a novelty doesn’t run dry because the unraveling about each other is slow and so the mystery is sustained. No demands from each other of exclusivity so each one is forever trying to impress the other so that you can continue to guarantee your value vis a vis possible competition. An eternal if not extended courtship.

That idea shows how flighty you are”, the boyfriend sighs. Only because he insists that I grow up and that is by making all my plans long-term: a mortgage, trust investment, pension fund and the M word. I had to sit down when the room began to spin just thinking of his ideas.

I want to know your take on the issue. Email me your thoughts and we will delve on it some more in a continuation to this entry. Really…

Monday, July 05, 2004

4th of July Fireworks

4th of July Sunday seemed ideal for just one thing: lounging around the apartment shuttling between Angelo and my bed. I left my DVDs with Kristine so I ended up watching the 'Blues Clues Talks' DVD I will be sending to Gabbie shortly. We had planned to meet up at 42nd Street to view the fireworks from the East River but we were all tired and after exchanging calls in the afternoon, it was obvious I was watching it from the most comfortable location: my couch in front of the TV.

At 7PM, a friend called me up to remind me he was in the city and inevitably we were to see it as originally planned. Bugtong hininga... I jumped into the shower and pulled some hangers from the closet and half an hour later I am on the bus going midtown.

It was just 8PM when we got a view of the stage from the 27th floor of the UN Building, in a friend's office. Three barges were stationed in front of 37th Street with the bright Macy's lights to advertise who owned and was sponsoring this fireworks show. Ships had water sprouting into the air as a preliminary show. The tip of Roosevelt Island was packed with spectators and so was FDR Drive below. Boats, cruises and yacths were anchored as well for the show. Across the river, the Queens side also allowed for the audience and I am sure, it goes all the way to Brooklyn side.

At exactly 9:30PM, it began. Although we didn't have a radio to listen to which would have synchronized with the firworks show, the music from one of the boats below which was probably on the PA system was much audible despite the muffled booms.

The show lasted for thirty minutes and they say that this was the best in many years. Downtown, the celebration was even brighter around the Statue of Liberty and meaningful as it will soon reopen to tourists, the first time since September 11 tragedies.

The last 5 minutes of the show, I had put my camera to film mode and caught the finale with simultaneous bursts of colors to various heights. My friend was as speechless as I was. We were like kids in awe but we took a lot of pictures which we knew we would enjoy watching again. And when the last note of the music ended with a final blast of fire onto the crispy July air then silence was drowned by applause from the very grateful crowd and the horns of the boats on the river sounded. And then the human traffic began to disperse.

FDR Drive Post-Fireworks Show

It was great night afterall...

Cape May Weekend

The initial plan was to go to Montreal. Logistics-wise that spelled IMPOSSIBLE for 5 friends to make in time with all the travel requirements. Then two weeks before 4th of July weekend we decided to move it to Cape Cod. Car was rented, but the search for a place to stay was fruitless. Seemed everyone had decided to go spend the weekend there. Absolutely no vacancies in any bed and breakfasts that we could afford and then the scariest part of it all was the likelihood we would be caught in the midst of the exodus of Manhattanites out of the city. A 4 hour drive taking about 6 hours was too much. And so Kristine came up with a great idea: Cape May.

Jorge changed plans to go instead to Vermont for some horseback riding so it was Desiree, Kristine and her fiance James and I who found ourselves en route to the southernmost tip of New Jersey on Saturday morning. No other day seemed more perfect to go anywhere. The sun was out, bright and accompanying a cool breeze without the humidity that the forecasters had warned.

Cape May was at the very end of the Garden State Parkway and after a two and a half hour drive punctuated with a lot of giggling and exchange of stories about politics, international policy and gossip, the first sign of Cape May came into view: yachts on the bay.

Along the promenade of Beach Avenue, we had a view of the stretch of sand that was lined with umbrellas, sunworshippers and fit tanned men playing beach baseball (delicious!).

The crowd along Cape May Beach

We brunched on pancakes and omelettes and then searched for a bike rental place. We ended up strolling the town on foot, visiting the galleries and I, the cathedral by the sea and taking pictures. We found a small store that had a Christmas theme year round and hearing it play Christmas carols in July was really awesome.

Cathedral by the Sea

The town reminded me of Cold Spring, New York. Houses were painted in bright colors, sometimes in refreshing pastels. One house, which became one of our favorites was called the sugarplum house where everything was painted in purple from the picket fences to the shutters to the stairs and balustrade. It was way too gorgeous (though I doubt if I'd paint my own house as such, really).

Sugarplum House

James was the perfect patient driver to us, the only thorn among the roses who sacrificed his plan to sidetrack to Atlantic City post-Cape May. He had to relent to the women's request to divert to an outlet near Six Flags where for an hour and a half we did enough damage to our charge cards. But what makes women happy but shopping anyway?

And so after having consulted our checklist of things to do while in Cape May:

*play on beach CHECK
*walk on Promenade CHECK
*eat seafoods CHECK (we stuffed overselves at the Lobster House)
*buy souvinirs CHECK (Desiree and her mask will attest to this)
*ride bike (ooops, we didn't do this one)

We finally came to the culminating item on our agenda: the Cape May lighthouse at the Cape May Harbor. The regal looking structure could be seen from the main road and coming closer to it was breathtaking. For a bunch of people who are either to lazy to climb a long twisting stairway to the top of the structure however or way too fearful of heights to have any appreciate for the view, we ended up having our pictures taken on the ground with it as a backdrop.

Cape May Lighthouse

Perfect weather stayed through with us until the end of the day. A perfect day indeed to be with great friends in a beautiful picturesque town with great food, lots of laughter and lots of fun.

That is what long weekends should always be about.

Friendship Abuse

There are friendships that should go into the record of worsts. And much as I had been very lucky with most of the friendships I have made in my lifetime, there are a few that would put a dent into your trust psyche and inevitably have you categorizing some people as similar or potential tragedies.

Filipinos are a very helpful lot of people. It is the bayanihan spirit, which is actually the old custom of helping someone move his house by literally carrying his whole house on your shoulders and moving it to another location. Ok, chill, back then Filipino homes were made of wood and so it wasn't that heavy. But still it required the coordination and voluntary spirit of many men to lift and move the house while the women helped each other to prepare the lunch for the group.

That sense of helpfulness is carried onto the present time. Filipinos would not think twice about helping another compatriot in times of need.

Here in the US you come to a city with hardly knowing anyone except one or two people from back home. They introduce you to more friends and then the concentric circle of acquaintances grow. Unfortunately, it is also this system of friend building that eventually leads you to friendship abuse.

I can own up to some tragic friendships. Regretfully it has burned me to now become wary about helping out. People who come into the US in a confused disorganized state of getting settled. After you have helped them out and they get settled, they push the limit of your hospitality until you break a friendship. And then they move on with their lives without even a glance back of gratitude. That is probably the best way, somehow because you'd not want to be involved with their business again closer than a twenty foot pole.

In my case, I realized after much discussion with other friends that this 'friend' wasn't even that friendly with me when I was still in Manila. One instance, even, Dennis reminds me, we saw her at the parking lot as she was coming in for the day and she did not even acknowledge us with a 'hi' or 'hello'. So wasn't it so suspicious that coming to the US she would get in touch with me? Well, in hindsight, these are the lessons I have come to earn well. She lived with us for free, ate our food and joined us in our parties as though she was part of the family. When she was certain she would be on her way to job security with her employer, her true colors began to show by bringing in an uninvited relative to live with us expecting that no costs should be shared at all, as though this newcomer would not be eating, breaking down the bathroom fixtures and causing discomfort with her presence.

There are even more stories from other friends. Women who have been welcomed into homes only to leave with your husbands or boyfriends in tow. Or your jewelries or unpaid loans. I guess I had been luckier. Now whenever someone from home arrives with hopes of staying over with you and realizing their dreams of success in the land of milk and honey, all they get from me is a genuine wish of goodluck and an offer to tour them around the city. But please don't stay with me - I have a small studio which Angelo and I share. In peace. And we'd like to keep it that way.