Friday, August 27, 2004

Forever 35

Another birthday is fast approaching. I’m trying to cushion the impact by pre-empting any of my friends from arranging a surprise party. Today as I checked my calendar and realized that I would be pretty booked much of that week and the next few weeks with my parent’s visit so I had emailed everyone in the guise of coordinating for a joint birthday celebration for Jorge (4th) and Kristine (16th) and I.

I think I’m going anti-birthday this year. On all my egroup calendars I have deleted the reminders to my birthday. I figure if people don’t remember and I don’t get greeted then maybe I’ll not age another year in 2004. The sweet Italian friend has mailed me my gift already and hopefully, it’ll reach me in time. I know what it is anyways, since I had asked for it – a baseball cap from the Athens Olympics where he visited last weekend (despite nearly dying from a Macedonian dental surgery).

I can still remember when my birthday was such a big thing and was something to look forward to. Until I was probably in high school, I had a yearly celebration in one form or another. Birthday parties at home when I was growing up when my mom prepared all the food where I’m sure would have included either pancit or spaghetti – long noodles for long life. Then later on, to just give me money to celebrate with my friends at a venue of our own choosing. I remember most was that my dad always had a special gift for me. It was as though raising me and spending for my party wasn’t enough, I think it was every year that he had something for me – a watch, a bracelet, a ring or something to mark the occasion.

When I was already working and developed more mature romantic relationships (yeah, if there is such a thing) I remember being surprised with violins and a birthday cake on what was planned to be a quiet dinner. Last year I had a surprise birthday party which leaked back to me a week before but it had been fun just the same, sipping apple martini and sharing slices of pizza.

As the calendar shreds pages and years and I get older, I become more and more hesitant to celebrate. What is there to celebrate anyway? Things are pretty much the same way as it had been since last year. A few more poundage perhaps but that is certainly no reason to celebrate. The past year of my life would probably account for the most un-eventful in my lifetime. Though I have shifted jobs (same organization, new department and new location) the impact isn’t so life-changing or mind-altering; a boyfriend who is almost virtual; a Manhattan apartment that I hardly enjoy since I’m out all the time – even the weekends. I have spent so much money on traveling this year I barely have any savings.

Why do people celebrate birthdays anyway? It’s the day you are born so what’s the big deal? Do we celebrate because we succeeded to survive another year? So what’s the logic why some people still commemorate a dead person’s birthday? Pretty much in the same manner that wedding anniversaries are celebrated. Why? Do people celebrate their tenacity to have lasted another year with their spouse? Isn't that a sad sad thing? Or is it just a reason to wax sentimental and earn a gift at the same time? Or to pick a fight if the other forgets to remember the date. IT IS JUST A DATE!

I’m all for getting older and wiser (which still doubts me if I have) but at this stage I think I’ve ran out of reasons to celebrate because I’ve become more perplexed about the rituals of life and living. I am sure it has something to do with processing my thoughts about what I want my life to be about. Is it just going to be this, what I had been doing all my life? Is it always going to be about other people and how they influence my life. I am certain of one thing: I want to break away from the norms of what I have created and gotten used to. I would like to shape my life to be what I think I would want it to be when I am old.

Certainly and surely I would like to settle down. Commitment-phobic as I may always seem to sound, deep inside I fear growing old by myself. I would like to have someone there with me in the sunset of my years and preferably one who had been there a while with whom I can reminisce while sitting out on the balcony of our home looking over a lake or the sea on moonlit nights. It is a dream and it requires a reconditioning of my current mindset. For a long time I have thought about my future and assumed that growing old alone isn't so bad. I have had many insights into the married life of my friends and more and more it has cemented my opinion that no man is worth marrying.

On the other hand, I have also witnessed the life of an aunt who has chosen not to be in a relationship and to grew old by herself. It may not be for her but as an outsider looking in, I found a very empty, sad and alarming picture. Something I now fear I would fate myself into if I continued to set high standards and expected too much. Maybe relationships require a compromise. Maybe I'm at that stage when I can settle for mediocre rather than none. I still need to reflect on those thoughts. Frankly I think it is a pathetic reason to marry. But to have found a friend who loves me, tolerates me and who I can love back and tolerate I guess is a blessing enough that I have continued to overlook.

I look around me and realize that I still haven't reached that stage when I can think of myself as one who has lived life and earned its lessons. I am, however more accepting of the fact that life planning must begin now for the years that lie ahead of me and that involves a lot of changes, a lot of breaking away from the strings that had held me off.

I will still laugh as loud as I can, skip and hop when I am happy, charge through life with passion and acknowledge that tears cleanses the soul when so required. I will look at the mirror and stop comparing myself with everyone and know that I am my own person, unique and endearing to the ones who matter regardless of my faults and misgivings.

Another birthday and I'm aware it is coming. I have accepted the fact that I am not getting any younger but I still refuse to celebrate it because I will forever remain 35 as long as I can.

Did you think this entry was going to change anything? Ahhhh, you still don't know me well enough.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Si Maey, si Bechay at Ako

I am sitting on my living room floor with a boxful of photographs searching for images of Maey, Bechay and myself back in college when we were called Kulasas, when life was simpler and love was intense and the world was a promise. It had been a very long time since we had gotten together. Many reasons have come and gone and somehow re-connecting now, I suppose we are just joyed with the fact that we can renew a friendship from where we left off.

I have no more idea of where and how we started to become friends. Most probably it was in the small office of the school newspaper, the Scholastican where I was doing news, Maey was in Features and Bechay was in Artworks. The blurred beginning however gives way to much clarity of our years together even after we had left school. Love stories, weddings, break-ups and the cycle of our lives kept our lives intertwined like the eternal soap opera.

There is absolutely nothing I can remember about college that didn't have a memory of the three of us. The way we harassed the male AND female professors like typical colegialas, playing hookey at the start of the semester and going off to the mall to watch movies or just hanging out at Tia Maria's and getting drunk at 3 in the afternoon. I remember troubled days that often accompanied the growing up years when running up to our parents for help seemed juvenile and so it seemed that going solo on the burden of love affairs gone wrong or everything else seemed the inevitable. I would find solace on the mezzanine of the school's liberal arts building, in an office that was more often used for hanging out than brainstorming for newspaper editions. And just when you think you would be there alone, either Bechay or Maey would always be there. Like we were somehow connected and drawn to the same place at the same time.

Our concentric circle of friends grew, drawing in other characters in a cast of hundreds that eventually would pass us by year after year. Yet we stayed close. My memories of our friendship include a religious retreat in Baguio where I have a picture of Bechay expertly rolling that sweet-smelling smokes to share amongst 15 roomates. And then when we returned to the final reflection of the night when the nuns made us think back to sad situations with the intent of making us repent and cry, I was peaking on my reaction to my smokes and was giggling hysterically. That was when they swore not to involve me again in anything 'natural' or 'unnatural' in terms of smoking.

Once upon a time I did smoke in their company. I remember buying Marlboro Lights and lighting up now and then inside the Scholastican office. Not much for the thrill of smoking but more for the thrill of going against the rules. I remember the editors and writers of the paper when I was a junior where we marked the end of the schoolyear by bringing in alcolohic beverages into the office and then getting tipsy and literally crawling to our next class on the 4th floor.

I remember how I would accompany Bechay to the faculty room to stalk her favorite prof whom we nicknamed Lucky. As how they were all 'tita' to Nicole and at one time when everyone had her baby picture in their wallet including their boyfriends.

Nicole eventually became Maey's flower girl in her wedding to Pedro. And now that Nicole is almost turning 20, we - Maey, Bechay and I are once again emailing/chatting or talking on the phone. Maey found me on the internet a few months ago while she and Bechay had always stayed in touch. Bechay is now in Canada. Maey has 7 year old Asha and Bechay has 7 year old Alec.

This morning, after chatting with Maey, I dialled Bechay's number and spent the next 45 minutes catching up with her. Despite the more than 10 years that had lapsed since we last spoke to each other it seems it had just been a thick fog that had clouded our bridges. We were the same - the same laughter, the same naughtiness, same Bechay and same me. Whatever reasons we may have had to have somehow pulled apart from each other many years ago, the reasons are now dimmed and the bright sunshine is shining upon our friendship again.

I plan to see Maey in December when I go home and looking forward to kissing Asha and joking with Pedro again. I am sure I will be teased about old love stories but I am also sure it will be a great reunion. For the meantime, I have a reunion much sooner to look forward to - the possibility of meeting up with Bechay in Montreal when I visit next month with my parents.

I went to mass early today and said a special prayer of thanks for the many beautiful memories of my life that I had been fortunate to have had that come rolling back to me when the days seem empty and the search for meaning is once again answered even without a question. Family and old friends who know me well and who love me for what I am... another of life's greatest gifts.

La dolce vita...

Friday, August 20, 2004

Intermission



I came across this cartoon clip on Apartment Therapy. Cute, huh? Fortunately I belong to an organization which had not required me to take up such violent moves. Today for example, had a great day just laughing off someone's email that detailed IT connectivity to the user's dick top (I am sure he meant desk top). This guy signs his emails with his name, usually ending it with PH.D and treats everyone with impassioned arrogance. I cal it karma. Or like what my friend Renee might prefer to think: in the end, it was all a Freudian slip.

Things had been pretty quiet on the home/work/love front. I do have a lot of drafts waiting to be published but needing to re-read them first to figure out if it makes sense - lest I be told again that I am getting 'sabog'.

Will enjoy the weekend for the meantime.....so should you. Get out and stop vegetating in front of the computer!

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Let the dreams begin!

I watched with a friend last night the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. We were like kids hypnotized by the program's special effects, fireworks and over-all magic. My Italian friend will travel to the games on its final weekend and I had him promise to get me a baseball cap as a souvinir. And to think, he did not even plan to go in March because he was worried it would be too crowded and inconveniences often accompany such events. But since he is just a border away from Athens, it is a great idea and he is going.

Rockefeller Center is simmering with the Olympic fever. NBC, which is the sole local TV channel with full coverage of the games has studios based here anyways and they had sent their banner announcers: Katie Couric, Matt Lauer and Al Rouker to Athens to anchor the telecasts. At the lounge downstairs, there was a full display of the winning design for the proposed Olympic Village when New York City makes a bid as the venue for the 2012 games. I finished my Auntie Anne's sour cream and onion pretzel (which I couldn't figure if it was going to be breakfast or lunch), my friend and I inspected the display and watched the ads with Jerry Seinfeld and Billie Crystal intended to jumpstart the enthusiasm for New York's bid. All of these images and ads can be seen and downloaded at NYC2012's website.


The Olympics in New York. And why not?

The Olympics is a venue for the gathering of all countries for fair competition. Look at New York City and it is already an Olympic village! This is probably the most culturally diverse urban setting in the whole world. The competitive spirit is definitely alive - just try catching a cab during rainy rush hours (just as in Seinfeld's ad and mostly based on my own personal experience, too). This is probably the only place in the world where people on foot get to their destinations faster than those on wheels. And if you're familiar with Manhattan, you'll know that walking (sometimes resembling marathon lengths) is definitely the sport for everyone.


We already have the efficient transport system in place - have you tried getting into the 7 trains in September? I have sworn not to do that again after my exprience last year when the packed train caused me to be too intimate with a fellow passenger. He was standing in front of me and I was right underneath his arm face to face with his bare sweaty armpits since he was wearing tanks. And it was sweltering. Ew! And that's just when the US Tennis Open is ongoing in Flushing Meadows in Queens! Imagine when the Olympics comes and about 10 million people descend into this corner of the globe. And talking about descending into New York, wow, can you imagine Times Square accommodating any more into the crowd! Drop a needle and I'm sure it will not hit ground.


I'm just ranting but you know what? It would be great to have the Olympics come to New York. I'd love to be part of that history in this lifetime. And while people will be trying to come to the city and see the games, I'd be at an advantage because I'm here already!

The best idea hit me though: I'd sublet my apartment and then take a vacation in Bermuda. So soon as New York wins the bid - and I am confident we will, give me a call and bid me a fee for my unit. I might throw in the free orange juice and bagels with cream cheese for your breakfast.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Unbearable Lightness

The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in the love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man's body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life's most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.

Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.

What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?

The Unbearable Lightness of Being - by Milan Kundera

I have always been weighed down by the realities of my existence. I have embraced my mistakes and my consequences and felt unburdened with its acknowledgement. I could never turn a blind eye to the painful truths and facing them head on often enables me to size up my nemesis and plan my strategy against a foreseen enemy.

Like a tree that has grown sturdy with the spreading of its roots into the earth, I feel as though I stand on an open hill often solitary facing the extreme elements. I have bent to the will of the relentless wind, wilted under the heat of a searing sun and then drowned by the torment of the tropical typhoon, shivering, yearning for the warmth that almost always eventually came.

This is my existence and I have accepted it. Today I long to be lifted to weightlessness. I stretch my arms to my side and feel the summer breeze to my face and wish instead that I had been something else - a bird that can soar to freedom. A free gliding bag of air and feathers that can circle the skies, challenge the sun and know no boundaries to life.

I will lift my face to the white fluffs of clouds and feel the dampness of the chilly atmosphere as I am elevated to heights undescribeable that knees that would often weaken remained strong and stretched and yearning for further lift. I would cross the vastness blue of the ocean and observe the world from up above. I would soar higher than a red balloon that has escaped the hands of a little child and feel the bounce of wind against the rocks near the beach.

Freedom, lightness and weightlessness. Right now, I yearn for that. I will stretch my arms and lifted my face and felt the stare of the moon on my face. I will be engulfed by the light or the darkness, whichever it should be tonight, and I will never again feel the ground beneath my tired feet.

Tonight, I will choose lightness. Let me be free, let me be insignificant.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Amnesia, the Weather and South Beach

There are many ways of looking at life. You can focus on the bad things and succeed in convincing yourself that you were born to this world as the eternal victim and as the receiving basket of life's ill will. Or you can opt to develop selective amnesia and let everything else slip away into limbo except the ones that make you feel good and happy.

I think I have masterfully developed one that suits me just fine: remembering the lessons that are worth keeping and the memories that make me grateful for a life well lived and then shred into tiny pieces the ones that would bring back a pinch to my heart.

Not a very long time ago I have loved someone. I thought it was for real. It was your dreamy kind of love affair that is all rosy and poetic. It was very real and despite its complications, I wanted it and I thought it was what he wanted too. In its imperfections I had fantasized settling down and voluntarily giving-up much of what meant a lot to me at the time in exchange for the commitment with who seemed to me as the 'perfect imperfect man'. Well, to make a long story short, he wasn't. He had a moment when the moon was full and his life wasn't going into the direction he had wanted it to and so he decided that he didn't deserve all the good things that seemed to go his way and that he was better off dis-engaging from the high now before it hit a higher altitude when his fall would have become more painful.

And so as a repercussion of him letting go the ropes to a shared dream, I had fallen without a net into the terra firma of reality that not all that is good is what it seems. Geez, I am getting too old for these fairy tale expections, you must be uttering. But no one who falls in love believes that endings will come. Much as they will speak of endless doom, I know in the back of their heads their wish is for eternal 'amore'.

We did not communicate much after that, Mr. Premature Ejector and I. Until recently when we had to exchange some information about a transaction for a friend and he had casually mentioned some personal trouble that he was going through in his life. My fingers have a life of their own when it is faced with the keyboard. My thoughts flow through the electricity of my veins and just tap away words into the email messages without much ponderance. I clicked back at the Sent box after and reviewed what I had sent and in my usual style I had asked with genuine concern the basic who, what, why and how of the situation. I am sure my twisted being tearfully wanted to reach out and come to his aid and willed things to be right for him again.

Just then the other person in my split personality took over and gave me a violent whack across my head. I return to the present tense and lo and behold remember how miserable this person made me feel for about a week (the maximum I allow myself to wallow in any kind of negativity) a long long time ago. And I am amazed how much a sucker I must be to sympathize with him at a moment of tragedy when he had brought me so much pain and not even felt any remorse for it. DUH?!

He emailed me back and as expected, his story oozed with self pity and the words wept with much drama.

I read the message once and revived the pain he had brought to my life at a time when I gave so much for nothing in return and then hit the delete button. I am growing up. I am now refusing to acknowledge the junk mails in my life.


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Weather in New York is always as unpredictable and as extreme as the New Yorker. It gets glacial in the winter, humid and tormenting in the summer and then the in-betweens fall during the spring and the autumn. When it rains you get drenched for days - inhumane as how it was once described by a woman on the bus when the heavens opened up and a steady downpour began. In my mind I wanted to transport her to the Philippines at the height of its typhoon season when trees would be uprooted, corrugated roofing sheets flew like UFO's and heavy rain fell steadily for hours as though being poured from a heavenly bucket.

Last week we had three days of high heat and humidity but considering it is the middle of the summer, it was still mild. So far we have not had any temperature soaring in the 90's and the weekends had always been perfect. It is funny though that one day you can be sweating as you walk to your bus stop and then the next shielding yourself from wind and rain and then suddenly find yourself in a perfect morning with a light breeze, sunshine and cloudless skies.


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I have gone on a low-carb diet with the hopes of losing weight in time for Kristine's wedding. I wanted to fit perfectly in a body hugging low-cut dress (which I haven't bought until I can be sure I had won the right to wear one). Des and Kristine joined me in the endeavor and so we each bought the codigo for the purse of the can and cannot's to the South Beach Diet. Kristine went as far as cleaning out her ref at home and returning to the grocery to buy only those in the 'can' list.

We did it alright, went on the diet for about 2 days and then the weekend came and it was all over. Kristine had celebrated Zaza's birthday and it was downhill from there. Des' weekend was about going out with Andrea and her friends and that saw the low-carb objective fizzle out. I went to dinner Friday night with Michael at Penang Grill on 84th and 2nd and cheated with brown rice. The next day I had lunch with Ludette at Saigon Grill and just stopped pretending that I was still low-barbing.

I know, I know, the best way to lose weight and firm up is to exercise and eat in moderation. I still yearn for the sugar rush in the morning so I still can't get started without my juice (I don't drink coffee and Peter, my officemate, has resorted to calling me a freak for it), eat a normal lunch and then skip dinner altogether. It is not healthy but I have never really gotten hungry after 6PM unless I am within smelling distance of some savory dish to refresh my salivary gland and my brain about this thing called dinner.

When your body goes through minute episodes of starvation, it sends your system into recovery and slows down the metabolism, I had been forewarned. But if I eat three square meals a day it all goes to my thighs and my middle portion. And frankly that is the last thing I want since that would mean I'd have to get new skirts and pants and that my tops would fit me like a lumpia!

Someone I know just had breast augmentation. I asked Francis about liposuction and I got a blunt 'tang-ina' in return. He has always been an advocate for the 'if it's not broken, don't fix it' mindset. Eat right and exercise, he spat back on the chat with a sting. "Ouch" is how I responded, keeping in mind how much pain it is to return to a routine of gym exercises when I had been remiss for more than.... three years. I have not stepped into a gym since coming to New York. I used to work out regularly back when I was still working in Makati because it was so near Assumption College and so after I brought Nicole to school I had nowhere else to go til it was a decent time to show up for work.

I cleaned out my ref a few weeks ago but now realized I have just re-filled it with the stuff I had thrown out before: bottled soda, regardless it is diet or C2 (the low carb version), sorbet (makes me feel less guilty than ice cream), bread - despite the fact it is English muffin which pretends to be low carb, low fat and low whatever.

I need a bike but with a walk-up apartment on the 3rd floor it is more likely that I'd buy the thing, haul it up and not have the motivation to bring it down again. Maybe I'll just go to Central Park, rent a bike and pedal around the park.

While contemplating and analyzing this, I just wasted my time and it is now almost midnight on a Saturday. Hohum....I will think about it again tomorrow. And maybe if I keep thinking about it I just might fool my body into believing it is exercising and dieting and lose some pounds along the way.


The Gratitude of A Link

My blog, this site, is personal to me. It is something I turn to to vent my rants and exhaust my whining. I have shared it with friends and family and it is a venue to my creativity or the lack of it and simply the fulfillment of the dream that I would be able to think, write and communicate.

It is the simplication of what I used to do previously with my web site which I updated every quarter because of the extensive HTML editing I needed to master. This blog makes it all easy with the click of a button.

My counter had been useful in monitoring the hits my pages get. Unfortunately for this single New Yorker, these pages get more hits than I (MWHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!). But I am extremely grateful specially to those who have bookmarked me and who have returned for whatever reason they might have in peering through my written thoughts and reflections.

I rarely check the referring pages to my counter but the one time that I did I discovered that I had been linked twice from other sites without my knowledge. I am blushing trying to grasp with gratitude your words of praise. Thank you so much that you find my work entertaining. I find them entertaining too, when I can comprehend what I am trying to send through them.

But please email me when you add my link to your page so I can link you back. I'm not really very fond of searching for new blogs in the world wide web basically because I do not know how. Much as I wonder where the time goes when I am online I really do not get to accomplish much other than browse through the personals using Ylang-ylang's account or answer emails or manage my pictures online. That already is too much of a chore for a few hours online after work.

At work, these days, I just work. Yeah, really!