Monday, September 19, 2005

The Bald Eagle

A few weeks ago Kathryn Eisman at NBC’s ‘Today in New York’ talked about the male version of the Brazilian wax. It caught the attention of a lot of girlfriends. It is about time, some of us cheered after having been plucked, shaved and waxed all our lives. For our own vanity – the eyebrows need to stay neat and arched; the legs had to look smooth and feel soft to make us feel sexy. The armpits and the bikini areas were trimmed more for hygiene and odor control.

While we struggled through these rituals of our femininity, most of the males only needed to brush and bathe and they were done. Sometimes I think they assume it is even acceptable for nose hairs to stick out and blend with the moustache and beard. And facial shaving - sometimes the five o-clock shadow is sexy but oftentimes the rough growth cause us pimples when they rub too close to our faces.

HA! Finally, the great equalizer has arrived – the SUNGA! I tried to blog about it but often digressed to sensitive issues on the first 3 drafts! So I asked Jong to help out...

This way to his blog.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

My Life as a Bum

Since Wednesday I had been staying up late, going online at crazy hours of the morning, staying in bed until the sun is up and have given up heels and suits to denims and sneakers. Since Wednesday I had been enjoying life as a non-working New York denizen. I LOVE IT!!!

Non-essential staff had been advised to file for vacation during the span of high level plenary meetings at Headquarters to prevent further straining security details. So we classified ourselves as non-essential and planned ahead for an extended weekend with my family in New York - my friends.

It had been a wonderful lazy long weekend. No running after the clock to make it to the office by 8:30AM, no meetings to attend, no correspondences that need to be read and acted on.

The Italian and I rendezvoused online at 2AM EST every night and I don’t slide between the covers until it is 4AM. I played tennis with Wally at NYSC facilities at Boerum Place in Brooklyn in the mornings with my hair in a ponytail and with hardly any makeup on and it was liberating. In the afternoon we went malling at Atlantic Avenue where there were neither lines at the cash registers nor crowds at the fitting rooms. On Thursday we took the subway to Queens after our game where she treated me to buffet-style Filipino food at Woodside then we headed to her apartment where we romped with her playful dog, Tobby. On Friday after having eat-all-you-can sushi lunch (yummmy!)with my aunt at Minado in midtown, I met up with Renee to shoe shop at DSW (I got two pairs of high heel strappy sandals which is a crazy decision since it will be autumn soon) and then visited the apartment she and her fiance were renovating at Stuy-Town. On Saturday morning I met up with friends to run the Reservoir and then binged on omelettes and waffles at Yura at the Upper East Side for brunch. I spent Sunday away from Manhattan after brunch with Lucia and enjoyed the final weekend of the summer before autumn officially marks its start on 22 September.

There wouldn't have been a better way to spend the last glorious days of summer. La dolce vita…

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Alpha and Omega

The beginning and the end.

My last entry reflected on the end of life that despite a personal message that I had advanced to assure friends and readers that all was fine with me, I am still amazed that many had taken time to email and make sure I was really alright (I am, I promise).

This morning as I screwed up my sleeping hours and ending up being wide awake at 2AM, Mayan IM'd me of a new entry in her blog that she had been excitedly working on beyond midnight. Wonderful news, great milestones....see for yourself.

Congratulations, my dear friend!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A non-Elegy and Rossetti

Each generation is marked by an event that it considers is a milestone. To my grandparents it was the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii; to my parents, it was when a young American president was assassinated in Texas; to a majority of those that belong to my generation it would be 9/11, New York City. It is a point in our lives that make us halt the routine of our daily lives and contemplate on our mortality.

On a perfect sunny September morning, with the accompaniment of a lone violist, the names of those who periled in the attacks were recited by relatives along with personal messages of love and yearning. Then in a pool at the footprint of the towers, roses were floated, prayers said and again, the tears. Grief, renewed.

I wonder - do we do these rituals to comfort the living? Would this kind of remembering be what those who have died wanted? And do they hear our messages of love, smell the flowers that we bring to their graves and hear us ask for forgiveness after they have gone?

Death is the only certainty about life. When it is my time to face my final curtain, I hope it will be quick. I always ask for good health when I pray because I fear burdening those I love about taking care of me as I slowly and painfully slip out of dignity and of life. I don’t want a major production to draw my life to a close. My siblings know that my wish is to be cremated and so I shall be, with my ashes returned to the earth. Throw them to the sea so that there is not one place to remember me if there should be reason to.

And on remembering: remember me as how I laughed, how I have loved with all my heart until there was nothing more to give; for trying to give as much as I could and not with the value of what I could give.

I don’t want tears - for any reason. Not for forgiveness because most likely I would have already forgotten, if not forgiven. I do not carry bad thoughts with me – my secret to a happy life. So that given, your thoughtlessness and evil ways is your burden alone and not mine. No tears for remembering either because I have lived a wonderful life. I have, at this point, had more dreams come true than I ever imagined possible and whatever else the future holds would be icing to the cake.

I don’t want eulogies nor tributes. I don’t want people talking about me as though I was dead. I would like to leave as though I was the breeze, having passed through, bringing a moment of pleasant comfort and then gone.

I have a favorite poem by Christina Rossetti, one I have memorized even when I was young, that seems apt with this entry:

“When I am dead my dearest, sing no sad songs for me
Plant thou no roses
at my head, nor shady cypress tree.
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet
And if thou wilt, remember
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows
I shall not feel the rain,
I shall not hear the nightingale
sing on, as if in pain;
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember
Haply I may forget”

P.S. I am healthy, I am happy, I am not depressed and am NOT even with a hint of sadness. This entry is just a reflection about death so don’t email me with concern, no?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Seeking Home

As the summer segues softly into autumn, Christmas draws near and soon I will once again be on my way home.

Home is a strange confusing word. This week, the Italian and I exchanged questions about where home really is. He has labeled us ‘emigrants’ - residents of a foreign country. To be an emigrant in this country sounds more long-term than my intention at any given time. I have no plans to live in New York long-term. I asked him then where home should be. Is it where you trod at the end of the day? Is it where you have the title of the property to your name even if you are never there? Or is it where you were born and raised and where most of your family still lives?

Home for me was a house on the street that bore my grandfather’s name in the country and city where I was born. This is where my father grew up and where my mother moved when they married. It was where I was raised and where my siblings and I learned about life and where we witnessed many joys and tragedies. It is where the neighbors who have remained for generations have watched me take my first steps, learn to ride a bicycle and then to drive a car. They will remember my laughter, I hope, much more than the mischievous life that I have led.

Yet when I go home for the holidays, I spend a full week trying to adjust to being ‘home’. The familiar faces that come to greet me outside on my return are marked with the years that have passed by. And even before I am used to ‘being home’, after New Year’s it is time to pack again and to go ‘home’ - to New York.

When I look out the window of the plane and the familiar skyscrapers of Manhattan come into view I am often overwhelmed by the comfort of the familiar. This is where I have my home for the rest of the year - a small studio that gouges almost half my salary every month. This is where I am queen and slave. This is where I have done most of my ‘growing up’ in my lifetime regardless I have only been here 3 years. This is my residence, my corner in the sky and the single location on earth where I find comfort when the entire world is wrong. These walls have seen me at my happiest and my confidante to the tragedies I have kept a secret to everyone else. It is privy to my frustrations and knows more about me than myself.

I have planned to live in my life in as many places possible, like the gypsy I have always dreamed to be. There will be many more places that will bear the label home for me, eventually. So far I have lived in Asia, in the US and later, possibly to Europe. Maybe if I am lucky, I would still have the chance to establish another home, albeit temporary, in South Africa before I finally call it a life and sign off.

There is joy in overcoming the challenges of setting up a new life - of reinventing yourself to adapt to a new culture and world, of changing from stranger to native, of getting familiar with its flavors, hum its music and speak its language like it is your own. Today I received a handwritten note from the Italian scribbled in the language of true romance that took me a full day to translate with genuine interest to learn to speak and understand it.

Home doesn't have to be a single location I guess. If you are lucky, it could be many places that would have significant meaning to your life. Places that have helped shape you as a person and have molded you to be who you are.

"Let the world change you and you can change the world."
by Ernesto Guevara de la Serna (1928-1967)