Monday, February 21, 2005

Los Versos Mas Tristes

She sat on the ledge of her window, pressed her face against the glass and looked out into the rain that poured unrelenting from the heavens. Inside, she felt a hollowness deep in her chest that she couldn't explain. The tears have swelled to the proportions of the Niagara but she reins them in, refusing to allow them to flow a river down her made up cheeks. The music from her radio played loud, she hoped it would drown the screaming in her head.

She has set the rules to her game. Games she had so far refused to play but gave it a chance just once. Once never hurt anybody, she told herself. Stick to the rules and you will not get hurt. Play, not get burned. An anonymous solitaire with a hand to spare.

Hello was across a roomful of strangers amidst tea and coffee. Goodbye was not even a glance back from the subway car that moved on as she stepped out of Grand Central. A face, not even familiar, not to be seen again.

A heartbreak, she realized is how a dull pain throbs with each heartbeat. And she wasn't trying to poetic. It is real and she can feel exactly where her hurt dwells in her chest.

"I know that goodbye means nothing at all," Maroon 5 crooned from the radio, of a girl who has secrets that only one man shares. But that she was never really his, she always belonged to someone else.

She wants to belong, but he hadn't asked. Maybe he had been the right one - the one she had waited for all this time. Or maybe not.

She looks out at the city. How insignificant her thoughts to a million other people whose lives have their own hurts and pains and tears. She will survive, and she will be loved. Maybe by the right one.

For a while, allow nothing to make sense. Not even this entry.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Kung Hei Fat Choi

Take the 6 Train to Canal Street, get out of the subway and walk south towards Mott Street and at this time of the year, be warned that Chinatown is going to be more crowded than usual. It is the Chinese Lunar New Year and New York's Chinatown is in a festive mood.

As soon as you exit into the loud, busy and crowded sidewalk, you step on colorful confetti that is littered all over and you know you have just missed the dragon dance. Follow the trail of festive strips of paper and find yourself in the thick of humanity. Not just Asians but people of different breed, creed, age and race. Kids sat on the shoulders of their fathers to get a better view of marching bands and costumed Asian dancers holding flowers and bright colored flags.

The colors, small and the flavor of this corner of the city is so close to home (more like Binondo, actually) but it is here that you somehow feel like you belong when you are Asian.

Citrus fruits, flowers, popping sound of firecrackers and the loud yet muffled drumming contributed to the celebratory mood and the fulfillment of the superstitions that are practised to start the new year right. And the joyful exchanges of 'Kung Hei Fat Choi', or Happy New Year.

I went with my friend to get some steamed dumplings for lunch and then passed by the Asian store for some groceries and some hopia at the check out counter on the way out. We took the long way out of Chinatown and boarded the M15 bus to head back uptown, leaving the party behind us eating delicious lychee sorbet.

It is the year of the rooster. And I was told it will be a good year for me.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Saffron Colored Days

The project took almost a quarter of a century to be realized. A true dream come true for the artist couple of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. She is Bulgarian, he is French and they mey when her mother sat for a portrait for him. Many years later, their collaborative masterpieces include building a wall of cloth along California's Marin County coastline, dotting the hillsides of Japan and California with blue or yellow umbrellas, wrapping the grand edifice of the Reichstag in Berlin, wrapping the Pont Neuf in France and surrounding the Biscayne Bay islands in floating pink, and wrapped the trees in Switzerland.

The Gates is what they call sprinkling the vast expanse of Central Park's 23,000 miles of footpaths with bright orange archs of vinyl panels. In all, 7,500 gates measuring 16 feet high snaked its way around the park and the trails are visible since the trees were still in their winter get-up, empty branches reaching the sky with saffron curtains beneath it billowing in the wind.

The exhibit opened on the morning of Saturday, February 12th. Although my friend and I walked to Central Park early to beat the crowd, we also arrived before the fabrics could all be unfurled. And the plan to beat the crowd? Seems that was the plan too for a few hundred tourists and New Yorkers. And so we returned on a perfect Sunday morning - bright and sunny albeit a bit nippy (30 degrees plus wind chill factor). This time, the exhibit was as how it was promised by the artists, a unique exhibition of orange in the midst of green and brown.

Walking from 96th Street, we could already see the fabrics flapping and flirting with the wind from Madison Avenue. The area near the Reservoir was not crowded, there was plenty of opportunity to take pictures without being crowded. The closer we got to the south end of the park, however, the more the people converged, enjoying the free 16-day exhibit and the weather.

We walked the east side of the park , stopping a while near the Bethesda Fountain circle, the length of the Mall and viewed the Wollman Rink from the top of the hill and everywhere we looked it was square arches of flags of bright orange. It danced with the breeze and played with our view of the morning sun. The trails marched left and right and we were surrounded, almost embraced.

The exhibit is free, runs for only 16 days and is not funded by anyone nor any foundation. All expenses were shouldered by the artists, estimated at $26 million. The artists will sell prints that Christo had made of the exhibit through their website and this is how they cover the expenses.

This is my favorite weekend so far this year, waking up to saffron colored days.

Friday, February 04, 2005

What You Said You Will Do

Get rich, get married and be happy and make others happy...

I had sent my friends and blog-readers on a risk-free wishing spree (read). From an email I mass-forwarded to most everyone in my address book to the off-line IM messages on Yahoo Messenger, the question brought back an amazing volume of replies that are as varied as the people who had sent them to me.

I said I would challenge the casino jackpot on a 25 cent bet and because I will not fail, it is assumed that in my dreamworld, I would win. Then I would share my winnings with an orphanage in Manila, Philippines (the Hospicio de San Jose). Many of my friends sort of thought on the same line: helping and winning jackpots.

To help the needy is one thing my friend Irene from San Diego had always wanted to do. Charity, however requires that you have sufficient resources to fund your goodwill and since she wasn't Princess Di, the endeavor would be a challenge. If she could do it without the chance of failing, definitely she would.

From Paola, my pretty Colombian friend from work : "I will travel to under-developed places and set up something like community centers to teach poor kids to read and write plus other things depending on their educational level....I think that's what I would like to be doing, except that now, I have to worry about my own education.. and visas... and all that bs...."

Remy says she would want to win the jackpot, too but nope, she wasn't sharing it with any charity. She is, without that jackpot, already doing a lot of sharing of her resources to relatives and friends. She is the most generous and thoughtful person you can find and I have been one of the lucky beneficiary of her many gifts through the years.

Today, Dennis sent me his wish via text message to my phone: win the lotto over and over and over and over again. I texted him back, will you share your winnings? He replied almost within the same second: hell, no! And oh, he will also run for president. I forgot, however to ask if it's for a country, company or organization and which.

Bu emails me: "I'd end the war, and order all to care for each other instead; for life is too short, there shouldn't be room for fighting.." but first, I say though, let's get things straightened out between you and the attorney from our grade school egroup.

Self-enrichment goes beyond the monetary. To many, including myself, self-enrichment is synonymous with travelling and seeing the world. Teresa, another friend from work takes it to the extreme, however: "Get into a spaceship and explore the galaxies - as long as it is guaranteed that I will land back to Earth!" I joked her that there might not be too many prospective boyfriend-material outside of this hemisphere, however. Besides, I don't think my wish guarantee will be applicable outside of earth or the Milky Way.

Ludette will see the world as a ballerina. She writes me: "I would have wanted try to be a successful dancer of ballet or jazz; be graceful and share my talent with people. Of course, travel the world & perform. The good thing about being a dancer that you are always fit."

Then there are those who would dare do what they wouldn't try without the no-fail guarantee and there is nothing more high-risk than a marriage contract. Tell me about it, I am the eternal altar dodger, right?

".....a very successful marrriage with the man of my dreams.... " Desiree emails me. I have offered to set up that dream wedding on the beach for her at home in Trinidad. My preliminary concept of how it could be staged is very dreamy but when you ask her if plans were taking off any time soon, she puts up her hands and dismisses me with a, "Talk to the hand girl...". Does it mean that until she gets her wishes answered for a no-fail guarantee, she wouldn't even try? Hmmmm, let me turn the question to C. then.

Remy will also consider marriage and starting her own family. I was surprised because the last time we talked about 'permanent' relationships (last year I think) she told me that she was not yet ready. After I asked her my blog's poll question she confided that she thinks she was now ready to have her own kids, even if it means not getting married (something she can't be sure yet if she's ready). With a sure-win, no-fail clause however, yes, she wouldn't mind taking the plunge now.

And you thought it was just the guys who were afraid of commitment?

Risk-free? Renee will pursue her MBA and set up her own financial services company. I'd tell her though that she could do that very well without the guarantee and I am sure she'd be successful in both. Joseph would: "....invest all my money in a hot stock..." while Vince would open his own business.

On the crossroads of life when we had taken another turn, we wonder what the other road would have led us to. Given the chance to be successful on any given endeavor, Ludette would try venture to see what would have been. She added to her email to me: "The next thing that I would have wanted to try was to have successful business/career in fashion industry/retail. Maybe in the future I can still achieve this goal."

In the same line of making yourself happy and others at the same time, Michael gives me an answer straight from the heart: "Definitely have more girls than I am having now!". That is, of course, not his exact words but rather the censored version - the one that has the G-rating.

I have had so many replies, it's not enough to fit them all in one blog entry. With Sunday being the Superbowl I am sure I'd get more ideas when the M.O. and his friends get together. So maybe a Part II is in the offing?

Thanks all for your contributions!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

"What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"

Over the weekend, while browsing the stationery aisle at Lee's on West 57th between 7th Avenue and Broadway, I found a journal that had this on the cover:

"What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"

So many things came to mind that it made me dizzy trying to pin down one thing I wanted to do if I had the chance.

I'd get into the cockpit of a a private jet and see the world in 365 days (hoping of course that my boss, John signs my leave form!). But I will not fail so I suppose that would be part of the package! I'd want to walk the Great Wall of China, bask in the sunshine at the piazzas of Italy, immerse myself in the natural beauty of Africa, surf, snorkel and beachcomb the white sands of the Carribean, see the Great Barrier Reef, make snow angels at the North Pole, see the dunes of the Sahara, dance at the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, kiss at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and then fall in love at the Taj Mahal.

And because I wouldn't fail, I would try my hand at rock climbing (am not that agile and yes, I have fear of heights!).

I will not fail so I would drop a dollar (you know I also don't gamble - jeeez! what a boring life I live!!!) in the slot machine in Vegas and win the jackpot. I'll keep half of my winnings for me and the half will go to the Hospicio de San Jose. As a colegiala we spent 40 hours there as part of Lay Apostolate and I had seen orphaned children grasp for the meaning of family, hope for love and they had taught me how to see gratitude in the little blessings that came my way.

I sent out an email to all my friends and asked them the question: "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"

I have received a great volume of wonderful and amazing replies. I will write about it next.

Share me yours and email them to me. My email link is at the bottom left hand side of this page.