Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Puppy Love

I've been seriously considering getting a new roomie. A puppy to come home to everyday sounds really great. A pup that jumps with joy when it sees me, loves me unconditionally and one that I can share my secrets with and not fear it will in the future be used against me :-)

I'm not so sure if I can settle for a much older dog at the kennel or the pound. I am tempted to think that I could but since I am literally going to be just a new pup owner I think the safest thing is to get a new pup. I think it'll be great to be in a situation where we are both learning about each other from scratch (pun intended).

Back home in Manila we have always had dogs but I can't claim full ownership for them. My mom usually is their master because she groomed, bathed and fed them. I just play. I'm not so sure either about how well I can manage with a new responsibility. I fear this will affect my tendency to just drop things and leave for somewhere, and might even have consequences to my social life. Doggie needs to be walked every morning (there goes sleeping late) and at the end of the day (limited night outs or will have to go home first). And walking the dog in Manhattan means picking up puppy's poop when it is done with its duty (I am way too squeamish). When it gets ill I'd have to nurse it back to health which I do not mind. Neither do I mind the bathing and grooming part. Or the playing with it in the park part and the having it sleep on my bed part.

Still I need to step back from the want picture a bit and think about it more thoroughly before I bring home a new puppy. As for breed, I am sure of one thing: my studio apartment dictates it would have to be small. Not mousey tiny small but just small. Our Spock at home was a Silky Terrier. My friends have Westies (below) and Yorkies (above) or similarly small dogs which I find similarly manageable in temperament and care required.

Of course, my friends have also suggested that I get a cat instead, noting it is less complicated as a dog. Well, I'd hate the fact that kitty it won't come to me when I call it. Trust me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Going for a Tune-Up

I have a full medical check-up scheduled for tomorrow at NYU Hospital. And it is freaking me out. Nothing makes me more anxious than getting updates about how my body is keeping up with the beating I give it. Yeah, I know that every bit of bad thing I do my body takes a toll. That piece of grilled ‘liempo’ and that chunky bagoong that accompanied my mom’s mouthwatering kare-kare all were justified when I was vacationing for the holidays. Those chocolates at the office were great, too and so I've had more than a handful. In reality it doesn’t take a genius to know that there is also payback for such indulgence. And talking about indulgences, I still will not eat vegetables.

Like everyone else I know, hey, I don’t want to live forever. My vanity dictates that the time to go is before everything gives in to gravity and when all life has been sucked out of me that I am half the person I am– wrinkled, grey and incoherent. But in my journey through that stage of life, I certainly wish that I can enjoy a quality of life that would be with at the very least some hint of dignity. I hope not to die of some lingering illness when I lose bits of myself piece by piece like a jigsaw puzzle. I don’t want to be drooling, hooked up to machines and slowly wasting away. THAT is not the way I want to go. Though there certainly is no good way to go, I’d wish to peacefully leave life in my sleep.

Heredity has the odds against me though. From both sides of my family I am opt to get something bad. Name it we have it - high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, cancer. But in true Filipino fashion I can always shrug, chuckled and utter: bahala na.

At my age, I’ve outlived a husband, grandparents and some uncles and aunts, maybe even some cousins. My parents continue to have good health except for the usual aches and pains and only because they have consciously opted to stay active with their lifestyle. I don’t smoke, only drink socially and when I am home in New York try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I have recently discovered the power of yoga and mediation to steer me away from stress and anxiety to which I am prone to. I walk around the city a lot in the weekends, run the treadmill at the gym and around Central Park's Reservoir when the weather is good or play tennis in the spring and summer. I try to make sure that I maintain a diet that is about moderation – not deprivation.

I know it is never enough but I really can't promise that I can do more because that would seem too obsessive – when every waking minute is spent on trying to be healthy. When I get lazy I will stay in the apartment the whole day or take the bus for a mere few blocks just because. Some nights I might stay out until the early morning partying with friends but it not something I do all the time. A few lapses now and then. Right now I do what I have to do with the best in mind.

Tomorrow I will know the verdict on how I’ve done with myself so far. Too bad I only have one body and there is “start over” button to re-do all the bad I’ve done to it in the past. Moving forward I hope I can be kinder to it, though. It’s the only one I’ll ever have anyway.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

In the Mail

As you may noticed I have been cheating on my blog the past few entries. Blame the holidays and being busy while home in the Philippines (and sick as well) and then the bloody jetlag that's bogged me down for the past week now (yes, I didn't sleep til 5AM this morning).

So Happy New Year's to all, from this blogger on her first real entry for the year.

I am now back home in my Manhattan apartment, sitting in front of the computer and listening to the red-carpetless rendition of the Golden Globe Awards on TV. Outside it has started to rain, a prelude to the expected snow. I do not hear the pitter patter of the raindrops as I so enjoyed back home at my parent's house. The rain in Manhattan is soundless except for the splashing of the car tyres on the avenue below my window as they drive past. I do not hear the raindrops tip tap the roof above because there is no roof above - just more apartments same sized as mine though probably messier.

I tidied up my apartment today. Finally I have unpacked and have stashed the luggage in my closet again, filled with my spring and summer clothes for re-unpacking when this season is done. And then the sweaters will trade places with the light cotton blouses.

I also had time to run through the huge red bag that the postman have left on my doorstep on Thursday evening. Prior to leaving for Manila, I have made an online request to USPS to put my maill on hold and for them to re-deliver on the day of my return.

The bag was filled with Christmas catalogs from Bloomingdale's, Banana Republic, West Elm and Victoria's Secret. I browsed through them with interest though most of the coupons were now expired so there goes any more plans for shopping (add the fact that I need to financially recover from the trip!). There were also copies of my magazine subscriptions which I realized i wouldn't have time to read through til March. And then the bills : grateful that I was able to put on hold likewise most of my utilities - cable, internet, phone, Netflix and the gym membership so I wouldn't be billed when I wouldn't be using them. And then of course, Christmas cards.

As early as Thanksgiving I usually have filled out and addressed the cards I plan to be sending out. It minimizes the stress of the rush right before departure. Last December I dropped them in the mailbox on the afternoon right before I took the cab to their airport. Most of them made it to their destinations. Only one came back - I never know why Bu's cards never made it to Guam regardless if I send it to her PO box or her home address. Did you move?

I got a handful of cards, mostly with pictures. I liked that. It was great to see friends, not just cards. I tried to recall the name of my friend's brood and have had 75% success rate. It was great to see that everyone was alright, everyone looked good.

One more important thing came in my belated bulk mail: Remy's wedding invitation which I have missed because she had it while I was in Manila. Well, I promised her instead that I will make up for the absence - when we have her baby shower.

Soon I hope???

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bandang Pinoy

Filipinos love music. Our ancestors had music for planting rice and for harvesting. In more modern times, our parties are not truly Filipino unless you have karaoke singing or in-line dancing. The more grandiose celebrations are marked by ballroom dancing pre-packaged with the DI or the dance instructor. Kahit pa madami na ang napapatay sa pagkanta ng "And now the end is near....." tuloy pa din ang kantahan sabay sa pagtagay ng Tanduay! Hahaha....

To me, however, nothing is more genuinely Filipino than the music of the banda.

Every Christmastime around our town, the bands go out every night to serenade homes or do baton twirling exhibitions. When Nicole came home in the weekend she was literally greeted at the door with drums and trumpets and her quick surprised reaction was a gasp and an utter that it was so 'probinsianic' to which we all laughed.

The first video is the performance of the drum and lyre band with baton twirling young girls in whose future I see a successful career in Japan. The other is of the drum and bugle band which started their performance with a birthday song for my mom.

I enjoy playing the movies over and over, almost envying how the young girls find so much joy in what they do and somehow feel their enthusiasm for their twirling. Ahhh, the simple life....!

I hope you enjoy the movie bits!

A Crackin' and Poppin' Welcome

More videos from New Year's Eve at home. And yes, I hid behind Francis' van when my dad lit up that firecracker that was going at it for about 2 minutes.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Welcoming 2008

Yeah, it almost always feels like you are in the middle of Baghdad when midnight strikes on New Year's.

I will upload and share more videos from the holidays. Stay tuned.

Holidays 2007

I am back in New York, arriving early Monday evening into an almost springlike weather in the city. Wow, thanks, Manhattan, for the "warm" welcome!

Being New York based for most of the year sure doesn't help anymore when I come return home for the holidays. Every year it just seems to be worse for me in terms of adjusting to the climate change. Yeah, it must be age catching up with me but I refuse to admit that so scratch that idea. Of the 3 and a half weeks I was home, I had a bad asthma attack for a week and then an unstable stomach for another. The asthma was quickly relieved with prescriptions from Francis with some changes required by the chief family doctor, our mom. The stomach situation lasted a bit longer because I refused to take any medication, hoping it would help me lose some weight. Yeah right, even that didn't help with all the bingeing for the holidays. Not when we were jumping from one buffet lunch to another!

Being home early for the holidays made decorating my parent's house a major assignment. I have always loved doing it, though and it seems nothing lets you face up to the reality of the season than stringing 10 sets of lights onto a giant 8-foot tree and ending that task with a dizzy spell. So this year, I decided to use two small trees (picture above)! They looked lovely, don't you think so, lit up in green and another in red! And the best thing was, not much labor required removing the decors and lights after the holidays - I did it sitting down!

And then there was all the food! First there was noche buena for Christmas, media noche to welcome the New Year's and then my parent's wedding anniversary on the 5th of January. Through the holidays we went through a 15 pound turkey, an 8 pound ham, fruit salad, macaroni salad, paella, morcon, Nicole's lasagna, and the traditional calandracas soup for the New Year's. Food was a favorite gift in the Philippines and most friends dropped by to say hello with a tray of either a viand, a cake or some other goodies.

There was of course always time to meet up with friends, catching up with stories. I always am ask why I go home every year. I always say that it is in the hope that I could catch up on the lives of people I love what I miss in the 11 months that I am away. This year I realized that was not possible. People move on, people change and maybe in the few weeks that I am home they are able to give me a glimpse of what life is about but whatever I have missed I can no longer gain back. In a way this is the painful reality of being based abroad - that the longer I pursue life in New York, I more I become disconnected from that life I have in Manila. And there is no way I can pursue a parallel life. One just gets left behind as the one moves forward. No one waits for you.

Most of things that I have associated with the holidays have stayed the same though - the group of kids who sing Christmas songs with their homemade instruments made of flattened bottle caps and drums from empty cans, the reverberating PA system of the Catholic church broadcasting the Simbang Gabi mass at 4AM and the karaoke parties of the neighbors. Well, somehow it is nice to know that some things back home hasn't changed.