Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Central Park

One thing New York never runs out of are performers. They are all over the place - the subways, the buses, the street corners, at the tourist attractions and the parks. And the city has all kinds - clowns, jugglers, people painted to look like statues and of course, the Naked Cowboy who struts around Times Square in his briefs, cowboy hat and guitar even in the dead of winter.

At Central Park, they converge in any open area where they can attract a ready and willing audience and it makes the New York experience so much more special. This was a few weeks ago when I strolled with my friend Wally and her brother near Bethesda Fountain.


My Tita Nina emailed me a set of pictures today. Two were of the hummingbirds that I saw when I was at their house in Phoenix when I came to visit in March. I wanted so badly to take a picture of the tiny bird but it seems I had become mesmerized by the awesome sight as it hovered over a flower to take its nectar. All through the rest of my vacation I kept wishing I had taken a picture of the bird.

Today she sent me the pictures she had taken and then told me that the same bird had built a nest in the ficus tree near her kitchen. She had two eggs in the nest, she reported further.

When I emailed her back I briefed her on the many changes that had been happening in my life since we last talked in her kitchen over fresh pasta she had cooked. She's very religious and when I told her about my multi-facetted romantic dilemma, she gifted me with a small statue of St. Joseph which she said should help guide me to find who would be right man for me.

We promised to stay in touch in the email. She would update me on the progress of the nesting hummingbird and I will keep her updated on my romantic situation.

She had a postscript though: she said she just adored the Italian.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Pink Week

It had been a very hectic week winding down to Memorial Day. My friend Dennis flew in from LA on Wednesday morning and except for a tiny glitch (I went to pick him up at La Guardia but he arrived in JFK), his four day stay had been a great reunion for us.

Dennis and I were friends back in Manila when I already suspected that he was gay but he did not really come out of the closet until he was in LA and since then I have always referred to him as the Will to my Grace.

He quickly adapted to my New York lifestyle (i.e. a lot of walking, short stops at the many parks in the city, hopping on and off the subway and the buses). On his first day we strolled around Soho to Chelsea’s Christopher Street where we walked to the pier that protruded to the Hudson River and provided a view of the east end of New Jersey and in the distance, Lady Liberty and Ellis Island. We sat in the grass and walked the sunset dip into the horizon and then walked some more to check out the bars in the area before heading up to midtown.

The sunset along the Hudson River

He quickly studied the subway and bus system and except for the first night when he needed to take him to his kind of places, he was pretty much on his on after.

Columbus Circle view from Time Warner

I have become a bar denizen when I came to New York. Often with my friends (deters harassment from other people who think you are there to be picked up) we would go to the bars after work to enjoy some drinks and each other’s company outside of the office. Bars are places where you can talk in loud voices and not worry that you are annoying the hell out of the people in the next table because most likely they are having a rowdy conversation as well.

I however had trepidations about stepping into a gay bar. I was expecting a lot of sexuality flowing into the room similar to the bold New York bachelorette parties I had attended. I also worried about being the only female in the room but my apprehensions were put to rest when Dennis and I found ourselves settling into the bar stools at ‘Toolbox’ on the Upper East Side and the group of men next to me quickly complimented me on my earrings. It was great to be complimented knowing they had nothing to gain by falsely flattering me. Soon we found ourselves drawn into their conversation as I introduced Dennis and explained that he had been in town only 12 hours. I couldn’t believe that I was surrounded by gorgeous, intelligent, successful New York men who were absolutely not interested in me. It was so ironic! I felt like the piece of steak sitting in the buffet for vegetarians!

On Thursday evening, we were in the Chelsea area surveying the late night party scene. The area is where the more popular clubs are located: Spirits, Crobar, Bed and the male-only Scores bring in a lot of traffic especially after 11PM. Dennis’ research would take us however to another club I had never heard of before – Eagle. I was shocked when we finally made it to the roof (females are not allowed in the private rooms, the same thing with ‘Toolbox’) because everyone were wearing leather with metal rivets and it was absolutely a scene out of an S&M website. The men who populated the club were big bulky men who towered over us and who probably arrived on board massive Harley Davidson bikes. In contrast, the guys at Toolbox were your regular everyday kind of guys who were dressed more like ‘normal’. Probably realizing that I stuck out like a sore thumb in the leather-bound scene of Eagle, he assured me that he would manage well on his own if I wanted to leave. It was a very gracious exit strategy I couldn’t refuse.

For the rest of his stay, I took him to the usual tourist haunts of the city in the daytime while he pursued the night scene on his own. And on Sunday, with barely 3 hours of sleep, we heard mass at St. Patrick’s before having brunch and then we headed to Grand Central Station where he took the bus back to the airport and to L.A.

I have always thought I already knew the city like the back of my hands. Having Dennis in the city had me becoming more familiar with another part of the city that I had not had the chance to adventure before. Suffice to say it had been a weirdly fun and wild week painting the town pink.

Blogger's note: Had to keep the site wholesome so I am sharing mostly pictures from our daytime jaunts.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Leaving Manhattan

I should move to Park Slope in Brooklyn. The architecture is splendid and the rent is cheaper than Manhattan. There are ood restaurants in the area, though not as varied in choices. For the price of what I am paying for rent right now, I should be in a huge one bedroom if I moved to Park Slope. And still it would be just half an hour away from the city on the subway.

Heck, I’d be home in half an hour if I walked from work right now! From my apartment I am 15 minutes away on the bus and about 10 minutes if I took the subway.

But Park Slope has the promise of a bigger apartment -real living space with separate entertaining space from sleeping space. But who would I be entertaining? Who would want to come to my apartment if I lived in Brooklyn?

In Manhattan I could just walk and be blocks away from the grocery, the library, Central Park, the movies and everything else. And of course, freshdirect.com delivers in the city. Living in Manhattan means I can stay out until past midnight and be a cab-ride away from home. How much would it cost to take the cab home to Park Slope? And the idea that I would have to cross the Brooklyn Bridge to go home is frightening. They found someone floating on the East River last week - they say he fell from the Brooklyn Bridge...tsk, tsk, tsk.

Everything happens in Manhattan. Someone once told me that there were just two ways you could feel about New York City – either you loved it or you hated it. I am one of the many millions who fell in love with it the first time I came to visit in 1995 and have returned many times before finally pursuing my dream four years ago. Now I am living my dream.

How many people are fortunate enough to have the chance to say that they are living their dream? I am and sometimes I still pinch myself when I am walking down Fifth Avenue or when I am enjoying a quiet afternoon in the park. It's surreal - I used to just daydream about this and then here I am - a true blue Manhattanite who can direct you to the best hotdogs in town (Gray's Papaya on the West Side) or the most romantic dinner restaurant in the city (Le Bernardin in midtown).

Maybe I might leave Manhattan eventually. Maybe when it becomes the main deal breaker to which a major decision will lie and I will know if the trade-off would be worthwhile. For now however, in this jungle of metal and glass when sirens blare and where it never sleeps, this is where I belong. This is the city that embraces me and which makes plays a major role in the story of life that I continue to write everyday.

Park Slope is tempting but maybe another day. Gramercy I heard, has the same breathtaking architecture. And it comes with a park as well, albeit smaller...

Monday, May 15, 2006


The walls in the room seem to draw too close.
Stop, I would beg because I can hardly breathe but then no one hears me, not the walls nor those around me.

I wonder if I had mouthed the words or did I just think about it.
And when I try to cry, my eyes stay dry.
They have had too much tears pour that there isn’t anymore to give.
I know how you feel.
No you don’t, idiot. You don’t know how I feel. You don’t know what is going on.
Don’t even give me fucking sad eyes to sympathize.
I have had too much of that growing up and I can’t stand that anymore.
Nothing helps.
Not talking, not crying.
Not even eating seems to matter now; nor shopping.
Inspiration has walked away and so has my soul.
I have no soul. It has walked away.

Things will not change.
Utterances, mere words.
Distance changes everything.
You console yourself by thinking it doesn’t.
But deep inside you know it does.
Distance takes away much more than spatial relativity.
Distance takes away the taste and the smells.

It strips away the warmth and exposes the cold.

The noises are too loud.
Sirens, the traffic, the people who want to sympathize.
People who want to give advise, people who want to be a part of me.
Too loud. Too fucking loud.
I just want silence.
I want to be left alone.
I need the delete button somewhere.
Everything has a delete button and I need it now.
Where is it?
Or maybe the off switch to a lamp that seems to burn forever.
I need to switch everything off and go back to darkness.

And silence.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother, Daughter, Mother (a re-run)

Note: On the occassion of Mother's Day I am re-publishing my entry of 15 January 2005. Happy Mother's Day to all the mommies:


Mothers and daughters have the most complex relationship in the universe. It could be because each is a part of each other that is why they have too much in common and yet so different from each other. It is a relationship that starts out as a very dependent one for us. From the womb to the first months after birth, the mother is the single individual in the whole universe whose voice, smell and heartbeat we are familiar with. It is a familiarity that provides comfort when she is near. It is a dependency resulting from the need for survival and the total lack of self-sufficiency. As independence slowly sets in, we learn to crawl, to walk, to run, to talk and to talk back, we -the child, slowly wean from mother.

Mothers, however, never see this time coming. The natural tendency to nurture and well, mother, goes beyond elementary days and high school and college and it just never stops. Mothers are life-organizers, worriers, and whose joys are the simplest when it comes from their children. The littlest things that could be taken for granted, when it comes from a child to the mother is amplified in value. And when you love someone this much, hurt is also easier to inflict.

Mother and daughter relationships are also the more dramatic ones in the family. Mine, was anyway, when I was growing up because I had always been very close to my mother and so our peaks and lows were often extremes. Since my father would be away to work most of the day my mother took on the role of disciplinarian. It was when the children had done something beyond petty that it was brought to my dad's attention (ask Francis who'd break into tears the second my dad summons for him). I guess, their logic was that because my dad was hardly home it was unfair to have him getting angry with the kids when he was.

Growing up, my mom was my best best friend and still is. She was the one who told me I was pretty when I didn't believe I was. She cheered me on and gave me confidence when I couldn't source my own. I confidently told her about boys (and still do) I was seeing and shared my heartbreaks with her. Looking back at it I realize it was wrong because long after I had forgotten about whatever sob story I had with an ex my mom still remembered and she'd have a totally negative view of anyone who has made me cry.

There was also a time when I totally hated everything my mom did. She smothered me, had more opinions about my affairs than I did and wanted to run my life. Until I had Nicole.

Nothing makes you rediscover the wisdom and expertise of your mother until you have your own child. She knew everything about pregnancy, giving birth and taking the baby home. She gave Nicole her first bath because I was afraid to hold her or drown her as she looked so fragile. I mean, I could have managed to give her a bath on my own if she could have waited until she could sit up. But mom said it wouldn't be healthy and I believed her.

Now that little baby is 20 years old. When I left Manila 3 years ago, she was the Assumptionista who couldn't even cross the street or take public transportation (and I am not kidding). In 2002 and again last year she traveled to NY on her own. Now a college student who has the regal bearing of a confident, intellligent and charming young woman, I cannot help but watch her and adore her and wonder how I had raised her so well. Of course I would take the full credit for all of these positive traits! :-)

When I was home in December, the reversals of our roles are once again emphasized as she would often be the mom and I, the child. She would scold me when she disapproved of whatever I was up to. She seems more knowledgeable about life and its complexities than I did when I was 20, considering the fact I already had her when I was her age. When my mom and I get the chance to talk and she is not within earshot, we'd often laugh about how she is more mom to me than I am to her. And I am proud of it. I am unabashedly proud of being mom to her. She pursues her dreams and though sometimes has the usual hesitations, she manages to win every battle that comes along her way. She takes her loses with a shrug, maybe a little humor, though I know some of them have left her with heartbreak but many times wiser. She has a quiet strength, and exhibits the charm she definitely got from me.

Someone had told me that, "daughters are what their mothers are". I know I will be, or probably am already, what my mom was but Nicole is different. She is what she is - mostly what I have always wanted to be. I dream she will have a life that is full of dreams that will come true and one that will be easier than mine but not less exciting.

When I grow up I want to be just like her.