Friday, December 26, 2008

Possibilities

There is quote by Dag Hammarksjold, late United Nations Secretary-General that I have written on a post-it and stuck on my desk where I can see it every day:


"Never measure the height of a mountain, until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was."


It will serve as my mantra for 2009.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Christmas to me starts on Thanksgiving Day when I dutifully take out the Christmas cards, review and update my address book and then start writing my messages.  On a regular year, these cards would be sent out just before I leave for my flight to Manila.  This year, when I opted out of a long holiday trip, the timelines are more relaxed.

And as Christmas day comes closer, the social calendar gets busy.  Holiday parties at work, dinner dates with friends and friends of friends - people who become my family away from my own.

Funny how this year I thought I had everything and everyone covered but this week I still ended up doing some frantic last minute shopping, mostly for kids.  There were a lot of great deals, though which makes me worry that these stores would have now way of surviving if this early they are selling off their wares at less than 50% off - rates you'd often see in January.  K-B Toys is closing, my favorite noodle house on 88th is closed and there will be fewer Circuit City stores without the one on 86th.  These are the signs of the times and it is worrying.  But with the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack playing in the ipod stuck to my ears, I finished all gift-giving endeavors and sat down to cheerfully wrap everything with the expertise I learned from watching the staff at Rustan's and Shoemart in Manila.

On Christmas Day I will host lunch and I have finalized my menu : roasted cornish hens will be my main dish (mini turkeys?!?).  We will also be hosting post-Christmas dinner on Friday night at my friend's house in NJ but to minimize the stress, we are ordering the whole meal for that one.

I am excited about this Christmas.  I have the fresh fragrant tree in my apartment lit up in bright colors and giving me my worst asthma attack in my lifetime (who else can be allergic to Christmas trees???). There was snow for a while but my hopes of a white Christmas was just shot down by the forecast of rain on the 25th.  And most of all, I am excited about kicking back and just relaxing and taking things easy.  No stress, no drama.

I wish you all a very very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year in 2009, from my family in the Philippines and myself, with all our love.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Today was Day 1 of Winter 2008.  Since two days before, on Friday we've had four inches of snow in the city which eventually turns to slush and ice in some areas where it doesn't melt soon enough.  The good side is that it feels Christmasy - the trees are dusted with white and add the effects of the crisp chill in the air, and the ambiance created by the shop windows, the carols that are sung everywhere and the cheerfulness and joy that seem to radiate from everyone.

I am hoping for a white Christmas which I have been told is very rare.  Regardless, with snow or without, I am looking forward to next week where I will host drinks and dinner with friends and lunch with some family members.  My apartment is decked for the holidays and I have gifts under the tree that is giving me some nasty allergies.

A New York Christmas for me is as rare as a white Christmas maybe but perhaps this year I will have both, if the spirit of Christmas will make dreams come true.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree...


On Sunday morning while the arctic winds blew across the tri-state with much gusto unseen before, I stood with in the middle of a farm in New Jersey to pick out my Christmas tree. And before me they stood - rows and rows of Douglases, Balsams, Nobles, Grands and Canaan firs. And then the spruces. After much comparing (about a half hour of mental technical evaluation) I set my mind on getting a Norway spruce. And then settled on a Colorado blue spruce because I liked the green-gray color (not really blue I think). But then I liked the denseness of the foliage of the Douglas fir and compared to the other trees we saw, it didn't have the 'bald spots'. But then I stood there and couldn't make up my mind and for the meantime, my companion was now grumpy because he noted he has started to grow a beard while I was making up my mind.

Two hours later, both hungry we decided that this was a decision that couldn't be rushed (and then he rolls his eyes). Maybe, I debated, for the same price I could get an artifical tree instead and be more earth friendly. Earth-friendly, my friend debated, did not apply to the use of plastic trees. I reiterated however that my choice did not involve the death of a real tree and that my artificial tree could actually resurrect for the many future Christmases ahead. Not necessarily in my apartment though since I was more like imagining of putting it in storage (and future use) at my office.

And so we took a break to clear my mind and to warm our tummies. Over bowls of nice steamy Chinese noodle soups, we deliberated once more which tree would suit my apartment most. I wanted a tall slim one so that it wouldn't take much floor space. I wanted at least a 7-foot tall tree because I had 12-foot high ceilings.

"Your qualifications sound more like a boyfriend checklist rather than a tree", he was shaking his head. I paused and re-examined the brief of my requirements: tall, slim, full foliage with no bald spots, a nice fragrant smell, and most important - longetivity, that it would last through New Year's eve 2009.

=)


Pictures (left): parts of the garland that decorates the entrance to my apartment. Yes, I am decorating in blue and white theme this year. And those are snowflakes!!!

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Dashing through the snow

The first snowfall of 2008 found me finishing off my Christmas shopping and yes, 3 weeks before D-day, I am done (fingers crossed).  With the  financial crunch I have resolved to change my gift giving strategy.  And a lot of people will also be getting Christmas cards this year and a lot of warm kind wishes. The boxes of Papyrus Christmas cards are now out and waiting to be addressed, stamped and sent off.

I am not making any long travel this season although plans are in the offing to spend the stretch from Christmas to New Year's in New Hampshire and then to have some tropical sun.  I am also insisting on hosting Christmas dinner at home in my apartment, though, something I have not done in a while.  Yes, the masochist in me cannot wait to draw up the menu and then to work the stove and the oven to come up with a wonderful meal.  Of course there is nothing more satisfying than consuming my delicious meal with friends and great wine.

It is wintry and Christmas is in the air.  The carols are played everywhere you go in the city and shop windows are again so beautiful.  Of course, tourists in the city have multipled in numbers so that pedestrian traffic in the high tourist areas are almost impossible - reason I stay away from them.

Excited, and definitely looking forward to a white Christmas.  I ouldn't even mind a blizzard on Christmas! LOL

Monday, November 24, 2008

Gratitude

Thanksgiving week. A time in the calendar when regardless if you have the turkey or understand the history of the American holiday, it a moment to pause to give gratitude for the blessings for the year passed.

Looking back and at the same time joyfully looking forward to what is to come, it has been not just good but quite great.  Today I started with my new job assignment (albeit temporary).  A job in a new very different industry which will challenge me to learn a lot of new things, meet a lot of new people and to provide that much needed break from what I have been doing for more than the past four years. 

There is so much nudging from a dear friend to study - anything, he insists, just pursue something to development myself.  And I gave in in a big way... but I think eventually I will be overwhelmed with my upcoming French classes at the UN starting in January (I did Spanish for 3 semesters then gave up...let's see how far I will do with French).  I am pushing myself to go back to school in the Spring 2009 schoolyear.  I am also reviewing for a crucial internal exam at the UN which will mark great developments for my career.

And then there are the friends that make up my family in New York who provide me with moral support and unconditional love.  I am grateful that my parents are in good health and whose love and understanding are boundless.  I am grateful for the four months that Nicole kept me company when she came to stay in New York - a rare chance to catch up on the many years we were apart.  I am grateful in general for family that keep me grounded and who make making the most out of my life worth it.

I am grateful for the loves of my life who accept me for all that I am - in the bad and in the good, in the best and the worst of times.  The loves who do not draw curtains when we decide that things did not work the way we wished it would. 

And then there are many more to list but they know who they are. 

Gratitude that I feel should not only extend to people but to the many experiences I had to go through the past months that has helped shape the kind of person that I am now and in the years ahead of me.  I am grateful that even at this stage in my life I have come to be less stubborn about the rules of life and that I have come to believe that every single FINAL decision I may have made in the past I can still change. Simply because that is life.

I hope you also pause to give gratitude to life.  Happy Thanksgiving all!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Lost

My friend Erin and his other BFF (me being the other one - or I will stir rat poison into his blueberry parfait) did this video as their entry to Coldplay's Lost contest.  The child wonder in the starring role is Erin and Jill's adorable son Edison who seriously thinks he is The Hulk.

I am posting it for your viewing pleasure but if you have a youtube account and would like yo view the other entries in the contest then you can go to : http://www.youtube.com/user/ColdplayTV

Or you can also view it directly from Coldplay's website: http://www.coldplay.com/newsdetail.php?id=189


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

From the Mailbox

Now and then from my mailbox an email jumps on me with a surprise.  Yesterday, it was from someone I've never met but with whom I've communicated with through emails and who I got to know through her own blog.

She has shared her thoughts on my blog entry about love and hoping and wanting to be 'the chosen one'.  And though she didn't know me personally, she said she'd pray that I would finally find 'Mr. Right". It was dated 5 November 2005.  Yes, I do keep all my emails with exception of the spam.

Yesterday, her email sounded more contemplative. She shared with me that she has been diagnosed recently with Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, a form of breast cancer which begins in the breast milk ducts. The other kind of breast cancer is called lobular which originates from the glands that produces the milk (Source: The Mayo Clinic )

Her type of breast cancer is the more common type, which affects more than 70 percent of all breast cancers.  She told me that she had a lumpectomy and had to go through radiation, chemotherapy, of course, continuous medication. This despite confirmation that her lymph nodes were clear because her kind of cancer is very aggressive.

Zarah is based in Los Angeles.  She is married and has two very young sons.  Through this very tough times, she has the love of her men to keep her optimistic for the future.  She has blog but she hasn't updated much recently so maybe with your urging she might choose to share her stories, too.  Her blog, Thoughts on Parade provides us a glimpse on the life of a woman who writes about her life no more different from our lives.  She talks about her loves, her sorrows, she shares her past and her hopes and her dreams.  In many ways, she is us.

Tough times that call for a lot of moral support - meaningful even from strangers.  It calls for prayers, lots and lots of prayers, thoughtful emails to wish her well and just simple gestures to let her know she is not alone.

Her email: zarah_dizon@yahoo.com.

The Pink Ribbon Day

Every year, one Sunday in October I walk 5 miles for breast cancer research.  It is a cause I believe in.  Why, I've been asked many times specifically breast cancer?  My answer: I would support the research for cure for all kinds of cancer having lost so many loved ones to the disease but in choosing one I would concentrate my efforts on, I have chosen breast cancer because.. yes, I love my girls.  They are firm, rounded with nice deep cleavage despite only being a 'B' cup and most of all, they are all naturally mine. BUT I will go further in describing them for another entry.

Ask any woman and they will mostly tell you that their breasts are their most loved part of their body - albeit it be small, mid-sized or humungous. We start to grow them when we stop being children and start our journey toward womanhood. As mothers, our body changes to accommodate the new life growing inside of us and then the breasts starts to produce nourishment for the baby.  And there is nothing else on earth - natural or man-made that can equal the nourishment that the mother's breast milk gives to the young baby.

I have chosen to pour my efforts into breast cancer research and the funding for the improvement of the quality of life for cancer patients.  It doesn't mean I care for the cause to cure other kinds of cancer less.  I do and more than that, I wish I could find enough resources as well to research and find a cure for epilepsy as well and for many kinds of bad addictions that diminishes a person's self control over their own body. If I had enough resources I'd go out there and put money into improving the well-being of poverty stricken children who lack the basic needs of life.  I'f I had the resources I'd build shelters for the children who become victims of families that are broken by drug addiction and criminality and of abuse.

But because I only have enough to get by on my own (and sometimes yes, not even enough for that), I believe that the little things that I can do mean a lot because if I can spread this passion to everyone lucky enough to have a little bit then all our little efforts put together makes for a lot.

So I made $250 in donations this year - online and in checks.  Friends sent amounts ranging from $50 to $10 which are but a drop in the ocean of funds required for beating the battle for breast cancer research but together, in my name we have a bucket's worth.

This is my way of giving back the gratitude for all the blessings that I receive. This year it is to be grateful for another bill of good health for myself and my family, a job that I truly love and for great and loyal friends who are there when I need them.  For all of these and all of them, I will proudly wear my pink ribbon every chance I get.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Birthday Gift

I was digging through old files for my school records.  As expected, when you begin such an exercise you are bound to re-discover some old treasures.  I did.  Like old hand-made cards and lots of notes and letters  One that struck me as most touching was a poem from my sister.  On 17 October in 1998, her birthday, she wrote poems to everyone in the family (Nicole reminded me).  For me she wrote:

For thirty one years
I've watched your every step.
Wondering how you stood your ground,
When I could have only wept.

You thought you were in my shadow,
That's what once you've said.
And I've questioned ever since,
how you couldn't see the truth instead.

If you look back then you'd see,
It has aways been your shadow,
   where else would I want to be?
The words became familiar.  The love, so much more.

Happy birthday to you, sis!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bono is in the House

My friend Erin is almost making a joke so you never know when to believe him. So this afternoon when he sent me an IM message that read:
"Bono...here...now" I didn't know what to think. Of course, I knew Bono was in HQ for a series of meetings and discussions for the UN Millenium Development Goals. So I got up walked to his desk but he wasn't there.

I heard the raucous outside our offices however, where the auditorium was and true enough, the U2 lead singer was standing there with Sir Bob Geldof just mingling with the gathering crowd.

Much as I was star struck, I had the presence of mind to run fast as a lightning rod back to my desk to grab my camera (which I just happened to have with me, I wonder why...) and then rushed back to take pictures. Everyone who saw me dashing from point to point flashing questioning glances behind me but knew well enough that if I am in an excited mood such as that then there is something going on.

Yes, it was a 'beautiful day'....
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Wedding of the Century

My beautiful friend Paola got married last weekend in upstate New York. The weather was perfect - the sun was out and yet the air was crisp with an autumn feel.

The ceremony was held on the garden which was dotted with topiaries of pink, red gerbera daisies. In the background was the Hudson River, reflecting the afternoon sun in the final weekend of the summer. In the distance a speedboat and some jet skies rippled the otherwise calm waters but far enough so that their raucous did not disturb the solemnity of the wedding ceremony. Even as a lengthy freight train snaked through the edges of the mountain on the other side of the river.

After the ceremony there was an open bar with various tapas to allow the guests to mingle and congratulate the newly weds and then just as the sun began to set, tiki torches guided everyone to the wedding tent where there was a lot of dancing, feasting, drinking and just a lot of good time.

The newlyweds honeymooned after in Fiji and will be back in NY after 3 weeks.

Congratulations Paola and John!
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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Blogging on the Emmy's

I wanted Piven to win and yes of course, he did.  And he has a Broadways show??? Let me google...OK, he's doing Mamet's Speed-the-Plow. I have no idea what the show will be about but what comes to mind is Sex in the City's Smith dropping his pants on stage.

Groban just did a medley of TV show themes.  Impressive.  I loved South Park most.

Kirk Ellis just won as best director for John Adams TV movie and just as he was speaking about 'men who can articulate in full sentences..." or something like that obviously geared toward something political and it was cut.

Outstanding reality show...don't tell me American Idol will win. Gag gag gag.....OK, Amazing Race won. No, I do not watch that.  Some friends I know do but not as dedicatedly/devotedly as "Lost"....I wonder why they bring the whole show emsamble  on stage.  Limited speech time... not everyone will be able to speak. 

Sally Field.  Oh I like her in "Brothers and Sisters".  I hope she wins again....she's presenting Outstanding Mini-Series.  John Adams wins again... well they have 23 nominations so they will win some more =)  Tom Hanks receives the trophy from Sally Fields and they take a slice from "Forrest Gump".  As expected, Hanks also hints on something political... yeah, he's for Obama. 

The commercials are terrible... I wish I can fast forward but I am watching real-time.  So I am swtching between surfing the net and watching.  Sort of catching up on Facebook updates and then realizing I haven't read any of my friends' blogs for a while. 

Thereza just updated about driving into the city tomorrow with the GA. Heck, I'm not even thinking about how to deal with my morning. Savoring the Sunday night of alone-ness.

Outstanding lead actor in a series... I'm hoping for Kevin Spacey in Recount...Giamatti wins for Paul Adams...as expected.  Agreeing with him that in America (or the Philippines for that matter) anyone can be President.

Candice Bergen present best lead actor in a comedy series.  Lee Pace for Pulshing Daisies is my vote. Oh well, Alec Balwin wins....he doesn't make a political punch.

Ugly Betty presents best actress in a mini series.  Make it Sally Field....I really like her. And the show...but Glenn Close wins.. I'm jinxing even the Emmys dammit. She goes on and on even when the cue for her to wrap up.

Still thinking about what to wear to work tomorrow. 

In memoriam...

Seeing Keifer Sutherland after a year's absence.  Did I miss "24"? Hmmm... I guess when you get used to being without it then it doesn't matter.  Sadly.

Brooke Shields and Ferguson. "Hand on my ass respecting" lands flat. 

Lead acctress in comedy series....my vote is for Tina Fey.  Yesss....she wins. I didn't jinx that one. I was also hoping for Applegate.

Jimmy Kimmel is presenting outstanding host for a reality show. I'm anti-reality show so no care.  So Survivor host won.  I guess he wanted voted out =)

Now finally will see the news.  I just realize I missed the last game of the Yankees at the old stadium.  And guess what... I also did ot tape it.  Dammit.

Realized I might also miss out Entourage episode so bye Emmy's...

Another evening by myself.... 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

One Fine Day

I remember almost being 7 years old and counting down the nights before my birthday with building excitement. So how did it get to that kind of a birthday to spending it just like any other day? Well, I have to get the donuts for the office (which started with a just a dozen four years and now 4 dozen to feed ALMOST everyone). My birthday still feels like a milestone but more with a grunt and a sigh kind (argh…older…) that is neither celebratory nor troubling nor even amusing.

But do not get me wrong. This is a great age to be in. I have a life of my own that I truly love – the independence and the satisfaction of tackling and resolving my own problems, and most of all, the freedom to have finally gotten to know me and coming to terms with loving me as I am - inspite and despite of myself.

So now I am no longer the little lost girl I've always been but definitely not yet the woman who has reached her destination. Yet it doesn’t mean I can’t squeal in delight when I am happy, sob uncontrollably when I am sad or throw a fit when I am angry. Emotions can be reined but as myself, I remain the person who wears her heart on her sleeve. I subscribe to doing things unconventionally and according to what I have learned from the school called life. I eat what I want but try harder to reach for the stuff that are good for me but yes, I allow myself to indulge once in a while because life is too short to be rigid about anything. I have stopped being too tough with myself – I take things as they come and shrug when things go wrong. It is what it is and if it doesn’t kill me, it’ll build up as part of an experience. And yes, it is a definite statement that I do not like vegetables. I'm grateful that I am not dependent on any artificial means to be normal, to sleep, be happy or to stay calm. My only vice remain to be shoes, clothes, bags and scarves (too vain?). I love that at this moment, I cherish my life as it is – in all its simplicity and spontaneity yet without its complications.

Birthdays come every year and sometimes way too quickly, too. As a child, birthdays to me meant parties, balloons, gifts and new dresses. I can get my share of parties, balloons, gifts and new dresses any day so the significance of my birthdays have been diminished to milestones. And yet, like all milestone they are circled on the calendar and have to be acknowledged by a pause for gratitude of another year gone and the hope for another year ahead that would be filled with similarly joyous and remarkable moments. Just another day, indeed but one that I wouldn’t want to miss.

In 1998 while we traveled back home from spending three weeks touring the continental US, we flew out of New York on 17th September and was scheduled to arrive Manila on 19th September. It was the only time in my life I skipped a birthday if you can call it that.

Happy birthday to me   c",)

Friday, September 05, 2008

US Open Day 10

Day 10 of the US Open started really hot. We sat under the sun, smeared heavily with sunscreen and peering beneath the shadows of our wide brim hats. Th sun in the final days of summer was persistent! Through the day I think I wished for snow more than once. Seriously too much sun for a day!

But the games were exciting, starting with the women's singles quarterfinal game between Italian Flavia Penetta and Russian Dinara Safina. Later in the afternoon was the major duel in the men's singles quarterfinals was between Andy Murray of the UK and Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina. Between five sets of games, we were able to check out the practice courts and watched like typical fans while Roger Federer and the night session's main attraction - Mardy Fish and Rafael Nadal swing their best. And still, there was enough time to return to the Murray-delPotro game to catch the final set where the British won over the underdog favorite.

While the players took breaks betweem sets, dance music filled the Arthur Ashe stadium which was meant to keep the crowd entertained. While many danced and waved to te beat, a great many other had a purpose in mind - to attract the cameras that roamed the crowds for images to flash on the two huge jumbo screens that flank the stadium. A sample view below:



Aug08._0802.AVI


It was an extended play. The night sessions were scheduled to start at 7:00 PM. But the morning sessions did not end until about 8:30 PM. As the daytime crowd exited the stadium, the crowd that gathered waited eagerly for their chance to watch their own showdowns. The Williams sisters took the first round of the evening followed Nadal and Fish, which incidentally did not finish until 2:00 AM the next day - about the time I was deep into dreamland.

There is one thing about tennis and well, just about any sport when you bring it to New York. We are able to transform them all to Yankee game-alikes. Compared to Wimbledon where the crowds obey the whistle that signals the audience to quiet down, New Yorkers cheer, jeer and boo or clap thier hearts out for their sports heroes. And we always find someone to cheer for: either the New Yorker to give him the boost of home-court advantage or the underdog. Yes, in some cases they come in without a particular favorite player and just decide when they get there. And yes, they are very very loud. Too loud that they have irked the kinds of Serbian Novak Djakovic who in turn raised the irked of the local audience for not being 'sport'. Oh well, welcome to New York! =)

Aug08._0802.AVI
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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fire Island

On the final weekend of the summer, we tried to pack as much into the day's agenda as possible.... a sure sign of separation anxiety. The US open tickets are bought for next week but it seems it just isn't complete until Labor Day weekend brings us to the beach.

Of course the beaches in New York are nothing at all like the beaches of the Philippines where I grew up. For one thing, even in the peak of the summer, the water is definitely not tropical. It is cold to my standards when on the average in the summer is 60 to 68 degrees. And it is "bring your own shade" as there are no coconut trees or picnic huts to provide relief from the summer sun. And so many people who join the exodus to the beaches take with them beach umbrellas and other paraphernalia (beach seats, beach towels or blankets to sit on, frizzbee, dog, cat, kids...list goes on).

I've adapted very well to th is style of summer living. For one thing, I can confidently walk on the beach without fear of stepping on dog poo because it is just not an acceptable kind of behavior to let dogs run loose as though they are in the wild. Or as though you bought the beach shore yesterday. There are likewise no fears that I'd step on broken glass because people are considerate to clean up when they leave. Unless you go to New Jersey beaches (news article here) there is absolutely little chance you will encounter hazardous waste - medical, industrial or anything similar.

And the fun thing about it all - going to one of the best beach shores on the eastern seaboard involved no driving. We hopped on the Long Island train, hopped onto a waiting cab and then transfered to a ferry and then is whisked away from the urban chaos. The peace and tranquility was great for the day - watching a docile deer wandering into the clearing of a meandering boardwalk was probably the highlight of our day though. Or maybe it was just sitting on the sand and listening to the lapping of the waves against the shores. Or maybe it was the sum of all of it all.

It was a beautiful day.
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Friday, August 29, 2008

Hope and Change

Four years ago, I briefly blogged about this political newcomer that had the "the charisma of JFK and the eloquence of Bill Clinton" (blog entry here).  Last night he went on stage in Denver to accept the nomination of the Democratic Party.  His speech was awe inspiring.  I was captivated and was moved by its simplicity.  It is the blueprint of a new America.  A new road map to bring the country back to glory.  It is about hope and about change. 


"Change happens -- change happens because the American people demand it, because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time."


I look back to my country and remember how many times we have demanded change.  And hoped endlessly for the salvation of good leadership. We have yearned for a miracle of the gift of a selfless public servant who will work for the country and its people and not personal enrichment.  As a people, Filipinos have not been indolent. We have worked hard to bring back democracy and to bring our economy back on the right track.  But we have been cursed with a breed of politicians who lack decency.


I realize that hope is not an endless resource.   In a country that had worked hard and hoped so much for change, when hopelessness prevails the people just give up and walk away.  In my case and some others that I know... we have walked far - very far away. 


And still from far away we hope for change.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

At the US Open

We spent much of last Sunday watching the stellar tennis celebrities practise at Flushing Meadows.  It has been a while since I've watched or played any tennis.  So bad that the only players I really know are was able to ID in the chaos was James Blake (tall, dark, gorgeous) and Rafa Nadal (Tall, dark and Spanish).  But the logic we decided to maintain was to keep shooting pics of the players and then just identify them later when we start to follow the tournament games on TV.  True enough, Nicole's tennis friends pretty much knew everyone. 

Nicole has uploaded many of the pictures in her new collaborative blog, En Route (is it called a CLOG?).  I have some videos to share.  Have fun!


The playful fountains at Flushing Meadows



Rafael Nadal practicing.

I have great pics of James Blake uploaded on my Facebook account. Aren't you on Facebook yet???

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Vacation???

I'm suppose to be on vacation. Seriously.  Instead I am checking emails, receiving phone calls and my Blackberry is abuzz with activity.  And so in between enjoying the last few days of the summer, I am also catching up with work. 

This is what technology does to you - it keeps you connected.  Sometimes to the things you'd really prefer to be disconnected.

Sorry... I needed to rant.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Movie at the Park

On Monday, 18 August, it seemed like the whole population of the city converged in Bryant Park to see a movie.  The movie was the last of the HBO Summer Film Festival series, the 1978 blockbuster Superman which introduced to the world the dashing Christopher Reeve. And so it was the afternoon when my friend noted, 10 billion people filled the park.

Our friend Jill and Erin organized the little picnic/park hang out to share with us their son's favorite movie.  Two year old Edison was perfectly outfitted with his Superman costume when we arrived after work. They had come to the park as early as 2PM to secure our little prime spot in the middle of midtown.  Incidentally, so did most everyone else who shared in our momentary piece of real estate.

While Edison made friends with the whole neighborhood, the adults feasted on cheese, crackers, burritos and for dessert, Jill's homemade peanut butter chocolate brownies - yummy and sinful.  All around us, the catering service everywhere varied from boxes of pizza to chips and dips and even the more suburban bucket of KFC.  Some sipped wine and beer while a majority simply clung to the satisfaction of a sip of bottled water.  Others, like the big group who had sat a few yards from us consumed so much pot it literally filled the air with the acrid smell, generously sharing it with us in the form of second hand smoke. No wonder everyone was in a subdued, peaceful and 'happy' mood.

As the sun set the movie started.  People were cheering and clapping for the memorable scenes and when the villains made their appearance they were promptly booed.  Edison's eyes lit up gleefully when his favorite scenes came on.  He stayed up through the film despite the film running way past his bedtime.

Halfway through the movie, the screen went dim and there was a brief 5 minutes before the movie resumed.  In the intermission, people stood up to stretch their legs and booed the interruption.  Others used the break to call their friends stranded outside of the lawn to encourage them to find their way into the crowds. It was amazing how crowded it was - people were literally sitting shoulder to shoulder and yet the mood was very convivial, as though each knew each other somehow and this is what, for me, makes New York so New York.

To entertain Edison during the apparent engineering malfunction, Edison's dad Erin decided to throw and hold him up into the air - costume, cape and all.  The crowd quickly reacted to the substitute caped hero in their midst and playfully began cheering and clapping.  Random flashes of cameras everywhere pierced through the semi-darkness and a party spirit surrounded us.  Edison was oblivious to all that was going on around him but the joy of being bounced high in the air by his dad certainly echoed in his laughter. Meanwhile,  everyone continued to clap and cheer and the mood was lively. It was the perfect intermission entertainment for the crowd which eventually quietly settled again when the movie resumed on the big screen.

It was a great evening that was so uniquely and endemic to New York.  It is also probably the closest we can get to the more suburban drive-in movie.  We all had a grand time and by the time we joined the masses in the exodus out of the park, the experience was priceless.  A truly memorable part of summer in this beautiful city.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Calorie Counting

With Nicole staying with me, the meals at home take a whole new perspective.  My health nut of a child grazes on salads with lean dressings and warns me about anything unhealthy that I may intend to devour.  She watches what she eats as obsessively as I make sure everything around me is tidy, organized and sanitized.  While I enjoy cooking the meals most times, last night she ventured into her first cooking adventure.  With very little supervision she whipped up a very good version of linguine with Alfredo sauce.  It was delish!!!

We both have the same little guilty pleasure from a single food group which is top on our own pyramid - ice cream.  Regardless how carefully we have picked out our food from our lunch or dinner menu it only takes one to invite and we can never turn each other down.  We love them all - all flavors of pinkberry with any topping, tasti-d-lite with candy sprinkles or with choco chips, Ben and Jerry's variety of flavors (although I will kill for the Cherry Garcia), the gelatos at little Italy or Grom's or the concoctions at Stone Creamy. 

So what do you think we do on an evening when we are both bored, munching on leftovers for dinner because we are too lazy to cook and not hungry enough to be motivated to order in?  We scan McDonald's menu for their nutritional information.  This, after Nicole have read in the New York Magazine that some of them actually cheat on what they publish in terms of calories. 

This is wickedly devastating and eye-opening to the avid drive-in fanatic out there:

McDonalds:

Deluxe Breakfast (Large Size Biscuit) w/o Syrup & Margarine 15.3 oz (434 g)
Calories  1150
Sodium:  2260
Chicken McNuggets® (10 piece) 5.6 oz (159 g)
Calories  460
Sodium 1000
Chicken Selects® Premium Breast Strips (5 pc) 7.7 oz (219 g)
Calories 660
Sodium 1680

OMIGOSH!!!! Although I've never had it (because breakfast for me is Gatorade and dry Honeynut Cheerios) a Deluxe Breakfast from McDonald's would comprise my FULL caloric daily requirement and waaaay more than the daily sodium I need for a week!!!!

What about you?  What are you putting into your mouth????

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dragonfly


"........tutubi, tutubi...

....wag kang pahuli .... sa batang makulit....."


Yeah I changed it a bit to suit my purpose.
Who said makulit ako?


Monday, July 28, 2008

My Alibi

The summer.

That's my alibi for no new posts since ... oh, I don't know when.  I've lost count.  I could go back to my website and check... but that's too much work.

It's the summer.  People take it easy.  Everything goes slow.  Slower than when it is cold.  Unless you're a bear then you get waaay slower in the winter.  But unless you have dealt with New York City in the summer then you don't know what and why in God's great name people NEED to slow down when you're baking in a heat index of 99 degrees.

Nicole is also here and so I am rediscovering motherhood.  I enjoy meeting up with her at the end of the day and listening to her ideas and her plans and taking in her insights.  I'm amazed at this wonderful child I have brought to earth and yet who has grown up to become her own true person.  Yes, so totally different from me - thank God!

We roam the city a lot, enjoy the sights, relax at the park and really try to watch as many movies as we can.  It is really a lot fun having her around these days.  Well, the fact that I don't need to change her nappies anymore every now and then makes it much much better.  =)

Kristina is also here, spending two weeks in New York and so we have been going out on shopping sprees almost daily.  We chat about stuff that girls chat about - the boys, relationships, life and the gossip that make it all spicy.  

There are also a lot of stuff that goes on day to day - follow me on twitter to discover.  And then there is God's gift to humankind - Facebook.  Facebook connects me to all my friends.  To all those I value as friends.  We share videos, pictures, poke each other on a daily basis ... or every hour, share really funny YouTube videos we discover while we are at work (during lunch breaks...if I may add but you will not believe me anyway).  I may write on your wall today and say something really nasty or make a funny comment on your update or upload and then I can be quiet again for another two months.  But you know we are connected... it says so on the lower left hand side of the Facebook main page.  So if you're my friend and you're still not in my Facebook then add me.  That way you don't have to wait for the very rare days when I have ABSOLUTELY nothing and that updating my blog is the only thing I can do and YET..the blabber is all nonsense.

Enjoy the rest of your summer all... pretty soon it's tall boots and sweater season again!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Facebook Addiction

This evening the new Facebook layout came out and much as I enjoyed working out all the tabs and re-organizing the whole page/s, it was freakin' insane that seems no one else were able to view their new layout version.  Not Nicole who was sitting across from me at home.



So what is the criteria for whose profiles get the new layout first?



I don't really care... am just enjoying mine - hehehe!



Has yours updated?
Have you added me to your friends?

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Coming

I'm baaack!  The over protective mom, that is.  Nicole is now en route to New York and I've called her three times already in the last two hours prior to boarding in Manila.  Nope, this is not her first time to travel alone.  She has in fact been traveling abroad alone since she was 16 years old.  But I cannot help it, mommie me just tends to take over whenever she comes to within a certain radius. 

I've been urging her to meet people her age when she comes.  That way she doesn't have to hang out so much with me and yet she insists she just wants to be on her own - to rest her mind, she says again.  Work had been stressful the past year when she had been juggling the work ideally for two or even three people.  She's on vacation and yet she will be doing some work on her company's website.  She complains but I know she enjoys what she does.  Well, welcome to the world of the working class!

The next few weeks it'll be pretty crowded in my Manhattan apartment but in a nice way.  Now I'd not even mind if she decides to stay just a tad longer than planned.

Can't wait to be Nicole's mommie again =)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Pride Parade 2008

My Sundays are often sedate.  Last Sunday though it was insane with the Euro Cup 08 Finals between Spain and Germany (which Spain won 1-0) and then there was the Pride Parade that marched along Fifth Avenue.  Having spent Saturday in New Jersey, we got into the city late in the morning and decided to wait in front of the New York Public Library. 


I was the first in my spot under the shade and isolated from the passing pedestrians by newspaper boxes and so it was peaceful for a while.  And then just as the parade was moving down 42nd Street, a Chinese girl slid beside me and decided to play Ms. Congeniality of the Pride Parade 2008.  She was waving to everyone as though she knew then from last night.  I wouldn't have been annoyed by her perkiness except that for about 60% of my pictures the image of a finger, her hand or her whole arm were caught into my frame.  As I was zooming to shoot a photo of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Patterson, she began to jump up and down screaming at the top of her lungs: Michael! Michael! Yes, it was very very annoying.

One hour after the parade started, I had another man standing behind me with a camera with realy long lens.  And since he was a short rude man, he positioned his camera right behind my ears and had hit the side of my head several times when he was taking his shots.  Having had enough of the madness and with the rain clouds now rolling down, I decided to leave.  It was timely as half an hour later it seemed the heavens just broke open and released a dam of water onto the city. 

I have no idea how the parade managed with the deluge but there was a moment at Kinsale bar while sipping my mojito when I wondered what if I had stayed behind to see and maybe photograph how the rain would have souped up an otherwise joyful annual party on Manhattan streets. But then I would have missed Spain's winning goal on the 33rd minute of the game. 

Then I conclude that everything just has a reason...  =)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Virtual Birth Control

I have this new little guilty pleasure - TV shows that assures me that I have made the right decision to raise just one child. And grateful - totally grateful that I started parenthood at the age I did (oh, I wouldn't advise it to anyone else though!). Now that she is 23, in what seems to be selective amnesia, all I remember are the rosy wonderful memories of her childhood.  Watching TV these days therefore and being quite entertained by the day to day travails of a family with two sets of multiples (Jon and Kate Plus Eight) and the adventures of the British Super Nanny I guess the fun comes  from the realization I have survived the toughest (yet most rewarding) times of motherhood.




I would TiVo the episodes of Jon and Kate and when I can't sleep, would play one or two episodes until whatever was keeping me awake I would forget. The two year old sextuplets are just adorable - six little people already with their own personalities.  Sometimes the camera catches little moments that I, the attentive viewer would catch - any one of the siblings helping Aaden with his eyeglasses after a nap. Or her a how when a little squabble they would hug and tell each other "I love you".  It's how siblings are naturally, I guess. They'd kill each other but they cannot love anyone else in the world as much as they feel for each other.  Siblings, my mom would describe us, are "a piece of each other".



Supernanny and another show, however, The Baby Borrowers are what I call virtual birth control.  British Nanny Jo Frost is the child whisperer.  She comes to the rescue of family who are plagued by extremely difficult children.  Sometimes I find myself horrified that the children the show features are acting as themselves and I am relieved that I have the option never to go through that possible route in life again. Some kids would yell and be disrespectful, be suffering from computer or video addiction or are just not used to recognizing the authority of a parent.  In most cases you realize that problem children are the products of poor parenting more than anything else.  Inconsistency seems to be the most common culprit and so Super Nanny has to intervene and to stop the parents from rescuing their children when they are being accountable for their actions. 



Admittedly I have never seen an episode of The Baby Borrowers but the concept is to borrow small kids for teenaged couples who think they are "grown up enough" to start a family and to put them to the test.  It is a very interesting concept but I will have to put a report on it on another entry.  Otherwise I'd just be bluffling.



Jon and Kate Gosselin and their brood are on TLC, The Supernanny is on NBC and The Baby Borrowers is on NBC.  Watch one or all and I assure you that it'll make you reach for safety precautions next time you are romping between the sheets!  =)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My New York Summer

I love summer. But not as much as how I love New York in the summer.

The Hudson River is a parade of sailboats and ferries, kayaks and jet skis. Central Park’s sheep meadow transforms into a giant sun worshiping haven with sparsely clad city denizens sprawled on its vastness. The baseball diamonds, the basketball and tennis courts and the playgrounds are bursting with activity. Riverside Park is filled with skaters, runners and bikers and it seems the city is once more so alive.

I love that Sundays mean passing by the Gourmet Garage to get some baguettes and boursin cheese, a bottle of water and some juice and then heading for Central Park with the Times and a picnic blanket where the rest of the day would most likely be spent. I love that the street fairs become a regular weekend jaunt and the best way to figure out where they are camped is to see where traffic is snarled. I love that the fashion statement is beautiful with summer eyelet dresses, sleeveless blouses, flirty light skirts and shoulder-baring halters. I love that it is a city that lavishes everyone with compliments on the way they look, the dress they wear or the color of their polish. I love that everyone in the city during the summer has a smile on their face.

I love that I can wear my shades again – ALL of them. I love that I can wear lip gloss and get away without lipstick during the daytime because well, lipstick is just too heavy for summer.

I love that all my weekends are filled with activities all through September but especially in July when Nicole will be coming to visit. I love that every weekend I will stuff my face with the hamburgers and hotdogs and ribs that my friends will grill on the barbeque and that every time at the end of the day I will feel guilty because I know I’ve just gained 1,000 pounds. And then by the time we say goodbye we are excitedly making plans on who will bring the margaritas next week.

I love that there is daylight until 9PM and that it just encourages for more to get accomplished - strolls, shopping, movies, and just simply hanging out on the bench at the pocket park at Tudor City during lunch time.

And when the heat and humidity builds up, I love that I can come home to my micro-apartment of a home and chill in front of a humming air conditioning unit. And that later in the evening, as if nature’s way of balancing things out, with the roll of thunder and a flash of lightning, the city will be drenched in a summer storm to clean out all the built up remnants of our festivities and then by morning, all will be perfect again.

Yes, I love that New York is perfect despite all its faults. It is perfect.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Forza Azzurri!!!!!

Hellllo summer! (atbp)

Helllo summer!

Read that in the same purring tone as Carrie Bradshaw was cooing to a pair of Blahniks from the display window.

Today is the first full day of summer 2008. Two weeks ago, though we already went through our first heat wave which by definition is more than 3 days of temperatures above 90 degrees. I was not ruffled. Note that I come from the land of the eternal heat wave – the islands of the Philippines. I have mastered the art of staying cool in the hottest and most humid of days – a bottle of almost slushy frozen Gatorade AM. Hey, did you hear what the American Dental Association (ADA) has said about sports drinks and tooth decay? What they did not say in the study though was that these kids that were in the study are not as obsessive as I am about brushing my teeth. I brush my teeth so often and so thoroughly that my dentist has changed my toothbrush to soft bristles and has ordered me to keep it down to at most six times a day. Don’t ask how often I REALLY brush.

My landlord has sent my lease renewal early this month. Year and after year at about this time I contact my friends to contact their real estate friends because I always think that I am ready to stop paying rent and to buy my own place. Woohoo! Imagine me: getting my own mortgage, paying for home insurance, doing my own plumbing and all that grown up stuff. But year after year I would see one condo or coop unit after another and even some houses, I always end up unconvinced. Much as it is very tempting to live in a space that is more than 500 sq. ft., to have a real garden, maybe even a terrace where I can host my own barbeques in the summer I always end up sending back my landlord my lease renewal. A long-term commitment in just another form – that is truly overwhelming.

And the biggest reason of all, of course, is that none of the real estate options that I can afford is within the island of Manhattan. Though I’m sure there would be one or two apartments within New York, NY that is within my bank-approved budget, the value per square foot is not the same. In the end, it is a choice of buying a 650 sq ft one bedroom in the city versus a 1,200 sq ft in Hoboken, New Jersey. Trust me, nothing brings me joy than writing New York, NY on my address line. And so I mailed my lease renewal yesterday. I have a lease for another two years.

What I did instead was refurnish my apartment again. I posted on craigslist my sofa, my dining table and immediately sold them. I am still contemplating about the desk. Like Carrie Bradshaw in ‘Sex and the City’ I do believe that the desk brings luck. So far this desk I’ve owned for six years have brought me a lot of inspiration in my writing – not just my blog but some other personal and unpublished stuff. Maybe this one I will keep.

While searching for new furniture I feel in love with a luxurious mocha microsuede sectional sofa with chaise from The Door Furniture. After taking down the measurements, I came home and measured out space in the apartment and realized it would fit. I of course had intended to consolidate sitting and dining purpose with a big sectional unit. The decision however was vetoed by an interior designer friend. I was convinced to settle for something smaller and more suitable to the dimensions of my apartment. That is why I’m home today on a perfect summer Saturday afternoon – I am waiting for my new furniture to be delivered.

Two months ago the ex-boyfriend brought me two orchid plants. No real occasion but I think he mentioned he was giving me another chance to green my thumb after I instantly killed a pot of orchids he bought me last year. Well, proudly, the two orchids have survived and though most of the flowers have dropped, seems there is a promise there somewhere.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pigeon Holes


Oftentimes, living in New York City feels like this, roughly a pigeon house.

To say that New York City apartments are small is an overstated understatement. My own apartment is my little pigeon hole. Regardless, it has been home for so long that I cannot imagine being anywhere else. It is the antithesis of how I have lived since childhood. My parent’s house is so big that whenever relatives or very close friends from abroad came home they often roomed and boarded with us.

There are four units per floor in my building and it is five stories high. Most of the occupants are either single or couples. I think. I hardly see anyone of them anyway. They are young with the mean age probably being in the mid-30s and I know most by face except for a few with whom I may have exchanged some pleasantries once in a while.

The guy who lives on the ground floor is a serial dater and I know that he loves to cook for his lady loves and that he owns a motorcycle. He has posted several times on the common bulletin board an appeal to those living upstairs not to throw their cigarette butts onto his garden. I am assuming he is obsessive neurotic. He seems quite nice though so I wonder why he has never settled down. Oh yes, this is New York. No one settles.

Next door to me is a Japanese girl who has very heavy footsteps despite her diminutive size. On my first year in the apartment, my boyfriend surprised me with my first fresh Christmas tree – the fresh fir smell, bright ornaments, blinking lights and shedding needles included. It was a thoughtful gift but when I was leaving for my yearly holiday home, I knocked on her door and asked her is she was interested to take over ownership. She was joyful and together we dragged the whole tree to her apartment. It became all hers to enjoy, and then eventually to clear the post-holiday carcass and all the way down two flights of steps.
I know she had a boyfriend for a while and often spent night with him in his apartment. She’d come home, walk around the apartment a lot in her heels and then leave around 10PM. Lately, I’ve noticed she has been staying in and would even leave in the morning about the same time I am. I guess they’ve split up.

A few months ago my boyfriend got to know the lady who lives upstairs from me. She had let him into the building when he still did not have a key to my apartment and realizing he would need to wait for me outside on the corridor (he assumed I was out with friends), offered him access to the fire escape stairs from her window. When I saw her in the laundry area in the basement a few days ago, she asked me about him and casually mentioned that she hardly sees him in the building anymore (eh, he has his own flat). The protocol on how to deal with nosy neighbors is diplomacy; usually because you never know when you might need them eventually. On knowing this, my man's ego is of course feeling 9 feet tall. I have made sure he has keys though.

Across the hall every morning I’d hear the woman talking on the phone in Hebrew so I know she is Jewish. Next door to her is a Latino man who has just moved in, very quiet who came with just a suitcase and is just slowly furnishing. Upstairs in one of the apartments is another bachelor – tall and dapper. The rest are just faces.

I think it is plain luck that with such a tight living condition, my neighbors are people who are respectful and courteous. We are a peaceful bunch and whoever tries to change that eventually move out sooner than later. It is a nice place to hang your hat at the end of the day. Albeit a small one. But no, these characters that share the same address as I (except for the door number) are not my family. We are just land here to peck and nap.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ready, Set, Summer!

It was not a really bad winter season but like the tropical girl that I am, I am just glad that we have reached that mark in the calendar that unofficially says we are almost in summer mode.
The beaches in the New York - New Jersey coasts are open, the exodus to the Hamptons has resumed and yes, the sailors are roaming the streets of the city again - it is Memorial Day weekend!

It is a three-day weekend and I have promised to tune out of the internet for the length of it. A promise I had not been very good at keeping since although the puter had been offline for a while, my Blackberry is pretty much connected to what matters to me - emails and Facebook, included. =)

I have spent the first days of the weekend in the city, enjoying the mild weather and mingling last night with a batch of vacationing friends of friends. It is of course a welcome break from the intensity and insanity of work from which I have fulfilled my promise to completely disconnect.

Tonight I fly out of the city for three days of genuine beach vacation and will be back hopefully by Wednesday evening - if complicated flights eventually work. Til then I have lined up some stories to upload at timed intervals (yes, it is a new Blogger feature!!! woopee!!!).

Til then, enjoy the promise of the summer and better days.



(Pictures are from my Cape May album at Flickr)

Friday, May 16, 2008

My Life in a Vacuum, The Next Blogs

It has happened. Someone has finally come forward to hit me on back of my head to make me realize that my blog entries have become BLAH. A fact I have already come to know, of course.

“….what the f*** happened to your writing style? You used to be able to express your rants and raves so well it dragged your reader to the flow of your emotions. …” he wrote.

True. So what happened? I guess with the realization that a lot of people now go back to my blog to see what is going on in my life I have become more self-conscious. I have never really intended to make my blog a newsletter of my love life or the eventual lack thereof. Neither do I feel comfortable having people close to me read my thoughts and realize what is going on with my relationships with friends or family or even the romantic type. These are many things that of course I have hoped I can share through my blog because I can verbally compose them very well. Yet I try to be sensitive to those who can be directly affected by such entries. I’m sure eventually people will come to be more conscious when they are around me because they know I will blog about it. Trust me, I try to scare my first dates with warnings that “I will write about this on my blog tomorrow….” and it is a guarantee that they will label me as that “psychotic chick”. Always behind my back, of course, because I tend to never see them again =)

“….a good blogger must live in a vacuum….” Al3x have twittered.

I agree. The best blog entries are those that can put ink onto paper as thoughts flow. Unfortunately, my life is not a vacuum. Being Filipino, I come from a people that tend to be very onion skinned about criticisms or unsolicited advise. Friends and friends of friends do visit my blog occasionally. Sigh, same with my family and even at this age, I do subscribe to a certain level of approval from them because yes, that is what we do because it is in our culture.

So fine, I will try to be less conscious of what I write and try not to self-sensor myself so much. That is as much as I can promise. Let's try to make it more interesting then....

With that, I hope you stick with me for some of the next few entries that will bring you back onto reflections of my life and what goes around me. And yes, part of making it interesting is dragging some of you into it.

I hope you continue to keep me informed about how you feel my next few entries are measuring up. And I’m a big girl, I can take the best criticisms.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What I Did Last Weekend

And so I decided to take four days away from work to "just breathe". No vacation plans, no out-of-town trips but just to have some time to step back and perhaps become a bit more introspective. My boyfriend also says it is a chance to recoup the value of my flat’s rent by staying in it.

What I learned in keeping myself company with myself (and some few odd hours with the boy-toy):

1. I love cereal. Without milk. I take Cheerios with me in a small ziplock bag everywhere - while watching a DVD of “The Kingdom” or to take to “Sarah Marshall” so I wouldn’t get tempted to get popcorn. On Saturday I found myself snacking on the tiny circle puffs while watching my man attempt to kill himself in his sport. Incidentally, I realized that every other toddler watching their dads from their strollers also had a bag of cheerios to nibble on. Fantastic, I have new peers.

2. I have a very short attention span when it comes to TV shows. Colbert Report works for me because it has segments like Sesame Street. Those series marathons I used to enjoy? Only when I watch them with someone I guess.

3. I get distracted easily and can be VERY obsessive. On Friday night I emptied out the kitchen shelves to get it organized. About the same time I also emptied out the living room shelves to rearrange the books. For the length of the weekend, we had books, magazines, files, DVDs, condiments, vases, and picture frames on the floor. Well, the bright side of it - I can now say I have actually read MOST of my travel magazines and I have shredded files older than 2 years. And yes, my pictures in boxes are now chronologically arranged and I have refilled the bottles in the spice rack which is now alphabetized. Ditto with the DVDs and CDs.

4. I get cabin fever when I am in the apartment longer than 4 hours (except at night to sleep). I can’t sit stay indoors the whole day just watching TV or reading magazines – I get nauseous.

5. I am a lousy spring cleaner. I also emptied out my closet with the objective of purging any part of my wardrobe that has been around longer than 3 years. I did come up with a few paper bags that went to Goodwill but most of my favorites (some of which I haven’t worn for a while for various reasons) still ended up back in their hangers and their old spot in the closet.

6. I will die if the world’s internets ceased. Although I disconnected my modem to make sure I would not compulsively check work email for the length of the long weekend, whenever my blackberry vibrated and blinked, I was on it. My adorable little Blackberry has my Facebook, Yahoo Go!, my MSN messenger and yep, Google. And though it has internet access work mail is not compatible with my phone’s software and neither is work email forwarded to my personal email.

7. That left to my own boredom I can come up with a lot of lists, most of which now seem mundane. I keep them stuck on the fridge door though, just in case their logic comes back to me. One though, I decided to post online for your entertainment :)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

When the pope came to town

So the pope is in town. He came to the UN and spoke to the staff urging them that there will be a spot in heaven for them for the work they do. I did not go because nothing turns me into an insane mad woman than two hours wait on a security line.

I received a lot of pictures from those who went though. And even if I have a ticket for the mass at Yankee stadium today, I am apt to stay away still. Not for any anti-pope sentiments or anything but I just don't want to spend half my whole weekend at the stadium when I can comfortably see it in HD at home.

Regardless my detachment to the papal excitement though, it feels like there is no place in Manhattan you can go without bumping into his entourage. On my way home Friday, a motorcade of black limos flanked by NYPD big bikers crossed as my path as they were leaving Park East Synagogue.

I saw the pope and I think he even waved at me.

Sent via my BlackBerry

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Hosting Dinner, Manhattan Style

A friend told me Friday night that he missed how we used to host friends at my tiny apartment for dinner. I agreed. Good, he replied and informed me that we were hosting dinner at my apartment the following night.

He wasn't kidding. Matter of fact, he had already gotten into my freshdirect account and arranged to get some groceries delivered to my apartment Saturday morning. He smiled and reported that as soon as I was done with my coffee, we were off to pick up a couple of bottles of wine and even offered to go with me to Chinatown the next day where he knew I bought most of my vegetables, seafood and fruits.

It wasn't really a frenzy of activities. Mostly about making sure everything everything arrived on time and that the apartment was tidied up to welcome company.

By 8 o'clock Saturday night four of his friends and us sat around my dining table sipping wine, nibbling on cheese and tapas while exchanging stories about travels and babies and friendships. Dinner was a cheat - freshdirect's rack of lamb was heavenly plus a side of my very own tossed salad with mandarin oranges and walnuts. And of course for dessert, my signature fresh figs cooked in port wine and syrup and then topped with vanilla ice cream which his friends said was to die for. And yes, it is my very own recipe.

It was an evening of laughter and catching up with each other's lives. Maybe some gossiping too, of those who weren't in attendance. Afterwards, we ended the night with some Guitar Hero competition. No karaoke this time.

Instant dinner, long-time friends. Perfect weekend.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Return of Strappy Sandals

It is finally spring in the city. Or shall I say, it is spring again.

After a while life's rituals are simply matched and marked by the coming and goings of the seasons. When the climate hovers over milder temperatures and when flowers burst in colors in Central Park, when there are tiny promises of green on trees, soon to sprout and to fill the avenues with foliage again then you just know that nature has made a curtain call to the harsh frigid winds and a welcome to the return of life and all that it symbolizes.

Routines mark each transition of the passing seasons. Last weekend I began to deliver my coats and sweaters to the drycleaners prior to packing it away. I took inventory of my spring skirts and blouses and light cardigans. And then there are my favorite slingbacks and strappy heels and the joy that I will once more show off my pedicured toes. Bright red toes. Pinks, peaches, yellows, greens and cream will mark my wardrobe this season.

I think this is what I like most about living in the East Coast. You have greater appreciation for the first time you take out last year's skin baring sandals in mild weather but cherish the chance to show off tall heely leather boots again when the mercury drops or those comfy flip flops when the summer comes around. The old becomes new again. The rituals become a cycle but one that you look forward to - the tulip bulbs sitting on my window now, the barbeques in the summer, the dreamy walks amidst falling leaves in the autumn and the joy of playing out on a blizzard in the winter.

Life is what you make it, I have come to believe. When you can appreciate what comes your way and see the glass half full then you do not need those rose colored lenses. Spring can be with you year-round.

Life is how you live it, how you want to see it. Live life with color. Not just in the spring.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Boston, A New Perspective

Boston and Washington, DC are both about 3 and a half hours driving distance from Manhattan. Both have therefore become the easy getaway whenever there is a long weekend or when an out-of-town guest comes to visit. I'd already had my Washington DC overload a few years ago when I'd drive south almost every other month. Similarly, with a friend half-based in Boston, the New England city has become as familiar to me lately as the back of my hand.

So when Dennis was making plans for his NYC visit for the Holy Week and asked where else we could spend a few days, my choices for him were the usual: Washington DC or Boston. He asked me which of the two was more fun and definitely, Boston. And so against all the superstitions we grew up with about traveling on Good Friday, we headed early in the day north of the I-95 and was in New England a little after lunch.

Dennis is fun to be with. H is not that kind of travel companion who is gungho about everything. He took on the role of the Boston tourist and suddenly, I was seeing the city in a different perspective.

He was ready for the city hike that he has associated with me by aearing more sensible shoes than he usually would. We checked into our lovely hotel along the Historic Trail, dropped our packpacks and then headed off to enjoy the city through our camera lens. He pretty much left to pick out our itinerary but he efficiently became my living compass (since pretty much like my gay-dar, my internal compass is also a bit screwed up). Off we trekked off to nearby Faneuil Hall where I had my favorite lobster roll which I have been craving for since we have decided on the Boston trip. Since he has allergies to anything shellfish, Dennis picked out a salmon kebob that was just heavenly.

From there we walked around, literally following the red line on the sidewalk to cover as much of the old town as possible, snapping away photographs of cemeteries, churches, state houses and buildings with breathtaking architecture.

Boston is the oldest city in the United States. It has such rich history which I have put together in my previous trips and transfering the information to a friend, I was fascinated about how much I knew about the largest city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Dennis, of course knew how to twist the situation to make it even more interesting. Remembering fairly well how much of a fraidy cat I am, he highlights the fact that we were staying in the oldest hotel in the United States. Though it is currently going through renovations, the fact that it sits across an old church and the first cemetery in the city, he spins a story that through some wars, the hotel might have become a temporary hospital to house the wounded. Thus, he notes, that there might have been many people have died within its walls. And then drew up images of ghosts running down the hotel corridors at night... I rolled my eyes but of course was freaked out.

By the time night time have set, we had pretty much walked around and photographed many of Boston's must-sees. We of course needed to experience the true character of Boston and nothing fulfills that more than sitting in one of the many Irish bars that dot the city. We did some bar hopping before heading back to the hotel to call it a day.

In previous trips as we drove along the river and across to get to Cambridge where my friend has a house, I have always wanted to stop and snap away pictures of college crews rowing down Charles River. I was charmed by the beauty of canoes, kayaks, boats and sculls that were its usual attractions. So now braving the early morning chill, I sneaked out, jumped into a cab and found myself standing on the esplanade and staring at an empty waterway. What the heck???

The winds, which had been relentless since the day was the only companion I had on the Charles River shores. And some brave joggers who must have been wondering what I was doing there with my camera, as was I. I still took more pictures of the view - the Alewife-bound T ripped through the silence and rolled across the Longfellow Bridge. The MIT towered in the northwest and some ducks paddled through the icy waters aong the shore.

On our way back to New York while we exchanged cameras and viewed each others pictures, we looked toward the direction of the Charles River and saw it once more dotted with college crews rowing kayaks and sculls in practice. I rolled my eyes and Dennis laughed. Apparently, I was brave enough to go out in the cold to go to the river but the college boys waited for the sun to at least lift the mercury a bit.

Still, I enjoyed Boston like I have never before. And saw it in another perspective.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I Got Sunshine

It rained hard overnight and for the first time I actually HEARD rain pouring outside of my window. The wind howled too - in a scary familiar way, like how I used to remember Signal number 5 typhoons in Manila. But I was in the safety of my apartment, tucked warmly beneath my down blanket and surrounded by puffy almost cloud-like pillows.

This morning at 6AM, I got up and walked to the computer and typed an email to my boss informing her that I wasn't coming to work. I was taking a personal day off. HA! You heard that right - a personal day off. With 2.5 sick days still unused and which I am bound to lose at the end of the month I realized I had the luxury to take a day off and it would be today. Not apt to lie about being sick either, a personal day off seemed most acceptable.

And so what is a personal day? Usually what we call a day off from work to attend to urgent personal matters. Today it will be defined as when I can type an entry to my blog at 830AM, climb back to bed and read my book 'eat pray love' and maybe later, when the skies clear - have a bit of walk at the park.

It may be grey outside and the humidity will wreck havoc on my hair if I step out now. I will not be troubled. Today is a day when I will do what I want when I feel like it. And if all I want to do today is just curl in bed with a book and hot chocolate that's not so bad either. And the best thing is, I don't have to pretend to be recovering from being sick tomorrow when I come back to work. Not like how some people do it. :-)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Life of Travel

Page by page, I cannot help but feel envious of the life Elizabeth Gilbert is living in her bestselling book, "eat pray love". Not so much, of course the collapse of a marriage or the fleeting relationships after. That drama I have found on my own to live time and again and the drama never ceases to amuse me regardless how I try to avoid them.

Elizabeth Gilbert then decides to pack her things and to live away for a year - four months each in Italy, in India and in Bali, Indonesia. Her life in Rome - that could as well be my life. Studying a new language, meeting new people and bring introduced to a new life. A chance to reinvent myself - again, as I'd like to think that I did leave behind the old me in Manila and has developed myself into a person - more tolerant in such a way that only a Manhattanite can be, more relaxed, more broad-minded.

Back to a life in Rome - I'd love to eat gelato everyday at 1030AM, be lost in the liquid eyes of a stranger who speaks in such a romantic language I do not understand, be dined and wined and be wooed. In a city that is dotted with many fountains I'd love to be like Elizabeth and have a favorite fountain or two. I'd love to read Italian newspapers even if it takes me a day to translate one because afterall, there is no reason to rush. I'd love to drive along the Amalfi coast on a convertible with the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. I'd love to wake up and not give a damn about what suit to wear to work or have to meet deadlines. I'd love to have the freedom not to deal with people I'd really not deal with. I'd love to have a life that I own. Like Elizabeth Gilbert, I have succeeded in knowing that I do not want to live how everyone else lives their lives. Thankfully there is that freedom of an option.

This afternoon in a phone call the Italian we exchanged plans for the year. I had planned to see him in Ukraine when he got an assignment there in December 2007. He called me while I was in Manila and invited me for a visit. I have researched like an insane woman for flights, places to see and things to do. I learned about the museums and the nightclubs on the beach and imagined a nightlife of parties that stretches until the sunrise. I targeted a visit in the spring but typical of plans with the Italian, nothing is ever final. In January, he was sent back to Italy by his administration, from where he was calling me from tonight.

If he doesn't get another assignment abroad, he told me he planned to take 6 months off starting in October and then to travel the world. I told him if he was still in Italy in the spring then I might reconsider meeting up with him either in Rome or in Spain where our friend Jorge has a standing invitation to me for a visit. Ibiza, he spoke thoughtfully and I think we had the same thoughts of beach and paradise. And if not in Europe, he promised we will see each other in New York this year.

If I had a chance, I'd take a leave off life for year myself and just go away. Go somewhere and just rediscover life in another space, another time, live life like I am starting all over again. If I had a chance, I'd live the pages of Ms. Gilbert's adventure word per word.

This year hopes to have a chance for travel. A good year is promised while a life of a dream still remains.