Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Butterfly

My sister is 3 years younger than I and is the complete opposite of me.

She is the first and only Filipina woman who is a member of the United States Parachute Association (USPA) - so yes, she jumps out of planes solo with a chute and a pink helmet, she is licensed to fly small planes, she has travelled around the world as a stewardess for Philippine Airlines and prefers to live in a real house (rooms, deck, view) in the mountains of Washington state.

I, of course am the one who can't even step out onto the third floor fire escape landing of my apartment (which she uses as a balcony when my sister is staying with me) or enjoy the view from my 24th floor office. I hate planes and it is that part of travelling that is my pet peeve...and airports. Well, eventually I would love to have a real house also but I can't imagine giving up my city life. I think I am the perpetual city girl.

And so when I brought up the idea of getting a tattoo, she had given me the final nudge that had sent me off the cliff!

My friend at work and I began discussing body art about two months ago. I have always wanted to get a real tattoo. For the past two summers I have had henna painting done on my wrist of a chain of flowers or any other design that my friend might feel like painting on me. The drawings stayed on my skin for a week and a half at most.

By mid September, my friend have had his tattoo done - a tribal design encircling his bicep. He had just returned from London and was expecting that I would get mine done by my birthday so when he returned and I had no tattoo to show off he had began to joke that I have chickened out.

So when my sister came to visit me, aside from enjoying a weekend of indulging in a culinary orgy - splurging to enjoy only the best restaurants in the city, we decided to have me get my tattoo.

"Do I really want to do this?" I asked her as we were walking toward Bowery in the lower East Side.

"It's my birthday gift to you so when you begin to regret it you can always say it was because I made you do it," was her cheerful reply. Typical her.

So we walked in and were shown the many varied designs that we could have drawn on our skin. I had picked my design already - something I had found online and had always wanted on my right shoulder. What surprised me was, while we were confirming my appointment for my tattoo, Gigi also picked a design which she wanted on her left shoulder - a sanskrit phrase which read: thunder, lightning and hurricane.

After 20 minutes for mine to get done and a half hour for hers, we walked out in the New York evening painted and proud.

I have more recently read that butterflies are the most common tattoos. Mine has no special meaning. It wasn't about freedom or being the social butterfly that everyone tends to call me. I just wanted a tattoo and I wanted one that was nice, clean, simple with a hint of my favorite tinge of blue. Voila! While researching for the right one, I found it online!

Two weeks later, my butterfly with the blue wings has healed and it sits proudly on my right shoulder blade. I still adore it and I know it is sexy. I have showed it off at work and has even inspired a co-worker to get one!

This is soooo cool!

My birthday gift from Gigi

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Fear of Flying

Why do you constantly talk about death in your blog entries? Is it an obsession or a fear?

That was from a reader’s email which took a while for me to reply to.

Well, I know that the journey of life will all lead toward that destination; it is the journey to the destination that troubles me.

Since we do not know how long before we are faced with our final curtain call, I often wonder if I will be able to do as much with my life before I go. How long do I have – can I take the scenic route or should I move to the freeway? I always say that while I can, I would like to see great new places, meet interesting people, do things I have never done before. I’d certainly like to live long enough to make my parents proud after all the trouble I had given them while I was growing up!

I do not want to be that person who grew old wondering what they had done with their life other than be angry about everything or fret about a life they don’t enjoy. I don’t sit still and wish things would happen – I want to make things happen. And yet sometimes I feel like I am still missing out on so much.

If I can will it, I would certainly wish some criteria be met before I go:

  1. That I outlive my parents. When I was very young, my mom made me a promise I will not forget. It was probably while I was being reprimanded for some stupid behavior, she said that “The most unbearable thing for a parent is to bury a child. No parent can live through that kind of pain emotionally unscathed.” I made her a promise that I would try. I have so far lived to my end of the bargain.
  2. That I would live to see my daughter would be happily settled in life. Not necessarily married but settled – finding her niche in the world as I think I have. But I will let her be the judge of what she will choose in life and knowing her, I am sure she’d make better choices in life than her mother who always wore her heart on her sleeve.
  3. That I would NOT die of a lingering illness. I have little tolerance for pain and even smaller patience to endure its accompanying travesty and drama.
  4. and finally, if it isn’t asking too much, that it would at a time when I can say I have done everything I wanted to do and am ready to go.

Ok, so I fear death and its uncertainty. Why? I don’t know what it is about and when it will strike. I fear death because I do not know what is out there. Will there be pearly gates to greet us after we heave our last breath? A beam of light to take us to the beyond and then live an after life being serenaded by cherubs with harps? I certainly hope so otherwise all the efforts to be a good person seem pointless. I need my reward for not shooting down my teacher in high school when I wanted to. I want my reward for restraining myself from telling a constantly angry and complaining friend to “GET A LIFE!” I want my reward for just doing what the nuns in convent school insisted was good behavior even when I thought it shouldn’t apply in real life because not everyone tries as much to conform to such standards of morality. Ah, wait… gee, I did not listen to the nuns. BUT I DO NOT WANT TO BE PUNISHED FOR THAT TINY ERROR IN JUDGEMENT!...even if I still err in judgment on that part now and then.

I think part of my obsession about death in my entries is not about the dark, sad and morbid thoughts. It is more about humoring myself and assuring myself that it is OK to go, when it is time to go. I just hope God listens and let me enjoy some more before he switches off the lights because this is one great party of a life he has certainly given me!

The thing about death and dying is that it is pretty much about flying. Until you can jump off the edge of a building and flap your arms and float on air, you don't know what flying is about. And unfortunately, no one who has tried the jump ever came out with a book telling about the experience either.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Making Strides for Breast Cancer 2006

My first ACS Making Strides for Breast Cancer was in 2002 and I haven't missed an event since.

In the past 4 years hence, my friends and I have helped with our donations to fund programs toward the research for a cure for breast cancer, assistance in educating women about the disease and extending patient services.

Breast cancer can afflict anyone, regardless of race, economic or educational background, religion or even gender. Based on statistics posted on the ACS website, approximately 213,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the US alone. It continues to be one of the leading causes of death throughout the world but early diagnosis and cure has in the more recent years led to improving the odds.

Like last year, I will dedicate this 5 mile walk to my friend Vanj Khu and other close friends who have had close calls with Breast Cancer and have lived to tell the tale.

The ACS Making Strides for Breast Cancer will be on Sunday, 15 October 2006 in Central Park, New York City.

Unlike last year though when I had been more organized about this and had started requesting for donations a full 3 months ahead, I am hoping that this late start would minimize the procrastination and that you'd send your donations immediately! :-) Let's see how that will work!!!

You can either donate online or send me your donations personally. Either way, you will receive an email confirmation that the donation has been received by the American Cancer Society. And if you're in a walking mood that day, you can also join me and the rest of the UNITED NATIONS team on Sunday!

Those in the Philippines, please extend your donations to “I Can Serve” through this site:

Thank you all for your help!

My Donation Page: