Saturday, December 26, 2009

Year Ender 2009

Hello blogsphere…I am back. Or trying to get back.

Belated Happy Holiday greetings to all. It has been a while, admitedlly, and I will give you the lamest excuse in the book for my extended absence. Work. That’s as lame as it gets but also as truthful.

In May I returned to the Capital Master Plan of the UN after a brief stint with the Pension Fund. Since then I have been immersed in the logistic of relocating more than 5,000 staff members of the organization out of headquarters and into swing space offices. The objective of the relocation is to empty UNHQ and then to gut-renovate the tower and the conference building.

The past six months has been a blur. Meetings, planning, reports and floor plans and more meetings. I have become familiar with a whole gamut of architectural and engineering terms than I cared to. I have walked construction sites and stood my ground as an equal in the team albeit in high heels. My job description is brief: hold the client’s hand to make sure they ease into the move process and eventually the new space seamlessly. I liase between the client side and the construction side and like everything else that strays and stays in the middle of the road I have often suffered the consequences of being run over by incoming traffic. But I love my job. I love that at the end of the day there is a quantitative way of measuring my accomplishments. I love that it utilizes the creative side of my brain to tackle problems and that I am able to liase with different kinds of people. It is, I have said many times, a daily job interview. People see what I do and how well or badly I perform.

There are two more weekends to my crucial moves and it involves working on two holiday weekends: Christmas and New Year’s weekend. The reason as well that I am in New York for the holidays and now with family in Manila as I always am. After this task is done I will move on to other things. I am unsure if it will be as exciting as what I have done so far but this has really become a feather to my cap.

One thing I haven’t been amiss had been the properly space breaks to travel and have some r&r. In August I hied off to a surprise vacation to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. The sun and sea was refreshing although through most of the three-day trip I stayed in touch with the office on the emails and on phone calls. But it was still a wonderful break and even had found time to go around St. Croix and St. John islands.

In September I went home to Manila and spent two weeks with family. It was a soaked vacation with the skies clearing only enough to allow us a three-day vacation in Bohol. Two mega-typhoons hit the country and caused many deaths. Through many reschedules and the stressful event management, we were also able to celebrate the birthdays of my niece Gabbie (7 years old) and nephew Liam (5 years old).

In November, I met up with Kristina to see her new home in Guatemala. It was a quick weekend but it was still a wonderful break. I get to know Max, her loveable Golden Retriever pup. We drove around Guatemala City and did girl things – decorate her apartment, do shopping and doll up with spa medicures and massages. We also took a day trip to La Antigua, an old town in the valley framed by ancient mythical mountains – an old town which provided me with many beautiful pictures coming back.

Autumn has passed and soon it is winter in New York. My Canon and I have become best friends – recording each changing of the season since thesummer. A friend from college, Tess Domingo and I were reunited by Facebook and she has come to visit me in the city twice. We did Halloween in NY together donning our costumes and ending up joining the East Village parade.

Christmas was spent with friends. I have rediscovered my partygirl self with new friends I have made at the UN through my relocation groups. The holiday parties were often continued to the bars and I’ve never been good with my alcohol so I would always end up the hungover person in the early meeting the next day. Christmas lunch was at my favorite restaurant in NYC – Spice Market. For New Year’s, we plan to be at the Gramercy Travern, my other favorite spot.

2009 had beena wonderful year to me. I have had met great people, made new friends and just had a fun time everyday. I have had some unique adventures that makes for some great memories. I have made some great reconnections through Facebook and Twitter. I have rediscovered my camera. I have become more at ease in my own skin. I have become more forgetful of others’ shortcomings which is way better than not being forgiving. I am in a good place.

2010. Are you also in anticipation of the New Year as I am?

I hope that work will take me into more adventures – to doing new things each day. I hope to keep some valuable friends close. My obsessive-compulsive self wants to keep those with much drama a tad distant. I hope my family stays healthy and that everyone stays happy. I hope to be able to return to Guatemala and plan a trip to Europe and later, to spend the holidays with my family in Manila because I miss being the one to cook the turkey. I would love to stay long enough to go to the beach and maybe yes, bring a friend from NY over.

I hope for a lot of things. But I hope that my journeys continue to bring me new things, new friends, new discoveries. I am not good with static. I’ve never been. I’ve always believed that life is too short and it is what we make it out to be. My life is and always will be bigger than life itself.

Happy holidays all and see you in 2010!

New York City, 7:20 PM

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Changes

It is now autumn in NY. The air has a crisp feel to it and sometimes even the light jacket is not enough to keep me warm because I tend to get cold quickly.

Where did the summer go? I wouldn't know. I have been wondering as well. Most of June and July was rained out and then we had a nice August. I was out for two weeks in September and when I came back - voila! Autumn.

I love the season though it has always been a melancholy time for me, the tropical girl who feels most comfortable in warm weather.

Being in Manila for two weeks however I had my chance to feel summer at its most summery mode. It was heat and humidity to the max. Humidity so dense you often feel like you can slice it with a knife. But did I hate it? Suffucatingly accepted it, of course but sitting outside my parents house always had some light breeze which was comforting.

So the trip. I ate tons of seafood and refused to eat anything I knew I would be able to get in New York which made my mom quip that I was now Jewish - refusing most pork dishes offered to me. Nope, I still haven't converted to eating any vegetables except for the okra and the kangkong which I do not count as vegetables. I try harder to mask this dislike when in front of my 7 year old niece and 5 year old nephew though. I didn't want to set any bad examples.

I had the chance to spend 4 weeks on the white sands of Panglao Island in Bohol with my parents and Nicole. These 4 days makes about the only 4 days in my 2 weeks in he Philippines when we were not inundated by a major typhoon. Did I tell you that in the two weeks I was home I had brought in two mega typhoons as well? Not the usual flooding, mind you but the kind that ruins lives, drowns pets and people and is broadcast on international TV. No, my family didn't get affected. My parents' house is so well constructed we were oblivious to the calamity until the Blackberry broke the news to me with an email from another continent.

So it is now autumn and not too far away would be the first snow. I am still unsure how and where I will likely spend the holidays. Probably stay in NY. I have said that Christmas in Manila is so chaotic and traveling during the holidays is a mad experience. But then all my family is there. I'd miss my mom's cooking and though I have put up the Christmas decorations up at home already, the lights have not been installed yet. I have to do that too. And that justifies my coming back.

I will decide when I get the plane fare quote. More later, peeps.

M

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Best Birthday Gift EVER

My daughter Nicole's blog entry on Friday, 18 September - my birthday. It's a most wonderful gift - one that is priceless, most touching and yes, it made me tear up.


Her Blog : En Route

Friday, September 18, 2009

My mother, the New Yorker

My mother, the New Yorker, is a project manager at the United Nations. It was from her that I inherited my insane knack for organization and documentation. Like her, systems for things are automatically generated my head, making multi-tasking ever so effortless and even amusing, as often laughed about by my own peers.

You can be anything that you want, as long as you put your heart into it, she told me one time, when she found me fear-stricken in the face of a challenge much larger than myself. They would be the exact same words that she would repeat at every significant milestone of my young adult life—while I hesitantly filled out college applications, my confidence faltering on the day of my debut as a CAT Platoon Leader, even as I reviewed for an applicant’s exam at the United Nations. I celebrated my various successes with her, since she was the driving force behind it all--my acceptance into two of the top universities in the country, a great year of high school CAT, tennis competitions, my college graduation, my published works and of course, the day that I passed the UN exam.

The very pillars of my determination and strength stem from this woman. She instilled in me a strong sense of independence and self-reliance; to move forward with life with a resolve so unyielding that I honestly believe I could end up anywhere I wanted in the world through my own hard work and determination.

As a child I would often spend school nights in her room, watching late night television and occasionally stealing glances at her, sitting with her back against the headboard, her focus unwavering as she filled page after page of her journal. An editor-in-chief in college, she passed on to me her passion to write, as I would remember holding onto a copy of the Scholastica opinion page at the young age of 7, not quite aware of the social issues apparent in her opinion columns, but proud nevertheless because I knew, by instinct perhaps, that they were significant.

She introduced me to poetry, explaining to me the magic of metaphors and ironies. My bedtime literature, through her guidance, consisted of passages written by poetry giants Elizabeth Barrett Browning and E.E. Cummings. By the time I was 10 I had already began dutifully chronicling the daily activities of my typical life as a fifth grader and experimenting with the 5-7-5 structure of haikus (both of which, again, were inspired by her). It is because of her that I have always been, and will always be, a writer.

Aside from being my mother, she is also my friend. My fondest memories of visiting New York year after year were, the simplest (and sometimes odd) things such as stalking tennis players on the grounds of the US Open, craving for ice cream or frozen yogurt on a chilly autumn day, heading to Central Park on a lazy Sunday morning with a copy of the New York Times and a container of fruit in tow, swapping stories about the discoveries I made during my aimless walks around the city and her busy day at the office, overeager trips to Ikea in Elizabeth….. General Chao Chicken, Shanghai Grill grilled pork chops, mushroom risotto…

Despite the times that we didn’t see eye to eye when it came to certain life decisions (especially mine), I knew, with the same certainty with which I regarded my life-long career as a writer, that I would always be her little baby, her only child, and that the challenges and successes of life would not be as fulfilling without her being an arms-length away for me to talk to or send a Facebook message to.

I live for every challenge that I continue to take on, knowing that somehow, I still make her proud by being the best that I can be in everything that I do.

Happy 25th birthday, Mom! With all your counting backwards over the years, we have now become the same age (hehe).

I love you.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer Updates

I just remembered that I have a blog and even more shocking is that, dear goodness, it has been more than a month since I have made an entry. I don't know if I should be disapponted with myself or impressed that I actually seem to have a semblance of a life that I have no time to write. Either way, it seems surprising because I have never had such big gaps between entries til now.

So what have I been up?

I returned to my old office at the start of May after a temporary assignment doing something different for 5 months. I came back to the Capital Master Plan, my home base at the UN since August 2004 to help with relocation. It is a new job with bigger responsibilities that reverts me to an old pay which I cannot really call a demotion but financially, yes, it does create a crater.

Initially it was tough coming back because I loved what I was doing in the temporary assignment. I handled multiple responsibilities and it was a totally different industry (financial management) and there was so much to learn. And having a boyfriend who is in the same friend, suddenly we had something else in common. I call my adjustment to coming back "tough" because there was already that residual resentment that I was losing money to go back but also because it was frustrating catching up with what I had missed for 5 months and literally being on my own to catch up on the information and resources. The advantage was that the crew have literally remained the same so I knew who to come up to for information. There were still challenges of course and for about two weeks it felt like the world was going in fast forward and I was moving in slow motion. I was taking in current information which researching the background on it so that the exhaustive exercise left me only questioning the rationale behind this "great return".

A month and half later, I can say I am more confident as I walk into meetings and deal with our clients and interact with consultants. My days are a whirlwind of meetings, though and most evenings find me logging onto my Citrix mobile office to catch up with emails and reports that have deadlines. It is a life that the United Nations try not to encourage because I would like to think that the organization respects their staff members' personal time. But if I limited my life to a 9-to-5 schedule then I would have a lot of backlog. But that is also me being me. I love working and the dignity and respect that it brings. I may rant a lot sometimes when the stress gets overwhelming and it feels like the walls are caving in but I do love that I have a job I love.

My name is Mavic and yes, I am a Facebook addict.

I am not making work as an excuse for my absenteeism online. I am a regular on Facebook which seem to have replaced all my email accounts. Seriously, I get more relevant emails on my Facebook mailbox than any of my personal email accounts which usually supply my daily dose of junkmail. I think the only reason I keep my Blackberry is because I have Facebook there. I poke and email and post updates from the Blackberry more often than the computer. In between emails and during commutes, I am on my phone's Facebook, connecting with friends. And the funny thing about Facebook is that I have found so many friends from all over the world who I thought I have lost forever.

I have also become absorbed in a new hobby: photography. Last weekend, I finally sold my recently bought DSLR camera, a Canon XSi. I have posted it twice on craigslist and twice after agreeing with an interested buyer on the price I ended up not being able to make the meet-up and exchange because I was caught in meetings. My Phoenix-based photographer friend was in town to do an engagement shoot and introduced me to a friend who is just getting interested on an upgrade from a point and shoot and so I got cash for my glass.

I have rediscovered photography after being a point-and-shoot person for about 20 years. I did photography in college and shortly after, when I had a beautiful baby daughter. My daughter literally grew up with my film camera and she loved being photographed so much that as soon as she would see me holding my camera she would do a quick head tilt and give mommie a toothy smile. This was the age of film and I may have used hundreds of rolls on her. On special events like her birthdays and trips, I remember bringing about 4 to 5 rolls of film for developing.

I had a very trepidacious return to the new old hobby, concerned that I have forgotten the fundamentals. I attended many free photography trainings at New York City's ultimate photographer's heaven, B&H Photo and Video store. I met Scout Tufankjian, a Brooklyn based photographer who followed and captured great moments during President's election campaign. She was in the same panel as other women who have made a name for themselves in the field: Arlene Collins , Barbara Bordnick , Jill Enfield , Kate Engelbrecht , Michelle Bogre. I also met Paul Mobley who talked about portraiture and thereafter corresponded with him regarding recommendations on equipment. I guess I am lucky to be in a city where all of these resources are availble literally for free.

So like I said, I sold the entry-level camera and now I am looking into upgrading into another camera and being more educated with the different lenses I have an idea of my equipment set-up. I need to save for it though so I am currently without a camera (except for the Blackberry) for the first time in my life since I was 12. Yes, I got my first camera when I was 12 when I inherited my grandfather's trusty Minolta.

So what else...it is the summer, I have friends sifting in and out of New York City and so my social life has picked up. What about you, my dears, what have you been up to?

I leave you with more photographs from an excursion at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens a few weeks ago.




Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spring 2009: Slideshow

Spring, as you can probably already tell, is my favorite season. That, despite the well, side effects (achoo!!!). But it is so much an analogy of how life is - a cycle of dying and life. After the frigid hybernated life int he winter, the world comes back to life in this season. It is sensory overload: the sun is brightly shining, the bursting of all hues and vibrancy of colours, the fresh smell in the air that is so uniquely ... spring.

I can't share with you all that makes this season a time when I wake everyday and say I love my life. I hope however that in a slide show you'd have a glipse of partially what I see: a perspective from my lens.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spring: A new angle

Spring along the East Coast of the continental US starts south and creeps slowly northwards. And so on the weekend before Holy Week, the man-friend and I met up in Washington DC for a stroll beneath the canopies of fluffy dreamy blooms of the cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin. The air was still nippy and the wind made it no less cozier but sitting beneath the trees with a picnic basket feels as well as bidding goodbye to the long winter.

A month after the DC trip, New York City is starting to bloom as well. Last weekend in a walk at the park revealed cherry blossoms in their pre-bloom stage. Most of the trees were still covered in buds which I calculated would not be in peak stage until another to weeks. Still, warmer weekends bring people out and same with the cameras.

These days my walks are more about rehashing my photography skills with a new DSLR in tow. My Canon and I have now become inseparable and my weekends and travel plans are all worked around when to capture the best images. And as I get consults from the pros (Paul Mobley in New York and the very patient Jim Paredes via Facebook!), I am now resolved that my next purchase will be a new lens that will cost me a cool $1k and it will involve fewer wardrobe/shoes sales and probably skipping a few meals. I have never believed in lens envy until I stepped out one morning to shoot pictures at the Easter Bonnet Parade on 5th Avenue only to be surrounded by Canon cameras with lenses from the high-end L- line. I have learned to pinpoint them from a distance - the familiar white barrels of the zooms and the thick red ring circling the lens made me drool with envy. It almost made me scream: that gorgeous guy in the corner is my boyfriend and I will trade for an EF-24-105 F/4L IS!!!

My next photo shoot is going to be the Brooklyn Botanical when the flowers are in full bloom. Hopefully, in a few days:



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Through my lens


It is still about the pictures - me and my camera walking and enjoying the world in a new perspective. I am going through a refresher on my photography and have been lucky to access to free seminars in the city from great teachers and great photographers. I have learned a lot - stuff I think I took up in FOTOGRA back in De La Salle when I was young and stupid and did not pay attention so much. But now I am taking notes and experimenting. Aperture, speed and ISO are the main objects of my training.


I love landscapes and architecture and so I am learning to improve my angles and perpectives. I try my hand at macros but it doesn't interest me so much as the Paul Mobley forte - portraits. I became so obsessed that I literally scared my friends away after shooting them ala-paparazzo. I have ventured into some random shots only to discover that my camera settings were off after someone played around with my zoom lens.

Still while I shoot I have this voice that keeps reverberating in head, "find your own style, one that is your signature," that was a Mobley-ism. He taught us the rules and then encourage us to break the rules. "If you followed all the rules then you are just like everyone else," the voice comes to me in my sleep - haunting me.

I shoot my photos and try freeform, free-style. Friends have started to notice and I have shared a very few to a small circle of people. I am building up the confidence to shoot again. And hopefully soon, I will find my style.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Net Overload

My computer screen is abuzz with activity. I am on board Tweetdeck which allows simultaneous updates of my Twitter account, including messages from friends, @replies and those sent in direct mail. To the extreme right side of the screen are my Facebook updates. I switch back to Safari and check out on the pictures uploaded by one of my friends...OMG, from college days. Egad ... those stupid years. But social network etiquette stops me on my heels from typing out a hasty nasty comment. i toggle privacy settings.. voila! No one else sees it, unless I comment on it. So I don't.

My pictures are being uploaded on two sites - Flickr and webshots. The albums have privacy levels. No one else sees them but I put them there for safekeeping while I clear the space in my harddrive. Some picture, it is worth is, I share with family and friends.

I get a pop-up. I have a new message on my other work email. I refresh and figure it is not worth hitting my head against the wall for. On another screen, I am updating my PHP (which is office speak for a formatted resume). I have an exit plan.

BUZZ...it is a message on my chat messenger.

But my Yahoo messenger and my MSN and my gmail are quiet. Oh, it is the buzz of my Blackberry messenger. Not my office Blackberry but my personal one. Technology is so cool...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Twitter race


There is a race on Twitter between Ashton Kutcher and CNN.

Ashton started it by daring CNN's Larry King on who makes it to 1,000,000 friends first.

Race is neck and neck and the end is near.

Follow the race: http://tinyurl.com/ch6jt2

I followed both. I'm SWITZERLAND.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Because

Most commercials that move me are about babies or old people. Images spinning 60 seconds meant to change or reinforce your opinion about a product or a service.

"You come to America. No one knows who you are or why you are here. But you know - this is where anyone from anywhere can become anything they want to be. You work hard and eventually you earn more valuable than money. You earn respect..."

It made me stop on my tracks. Powerful because so true to so many people who have come to this country with nothing but hope and determination to find a better life.

But funny that it is a car commercial - by Hyundai. As narrated, I think, by Kiefer Sutherland.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cupcake!!!

I was in a Facebook debate with my friend Bianca about which store had the best cupcake. I have always been a Magnolia Bakery fan when it comes to melt-in-your-mouth cupcakes. I love their German Chocolate cupcakes to death that I diet the whole week just to have the chance to enjoy one or two in the weekend. She however insists that CRUMBS has the best selection. I haven't tried her favorite store, until last weekend.

I jogged with a friend through the park, in the light rain and found ourselves near the corner where a new CRUMBS bakery had just opened. We decided to have coffee and make up for what calories we may have burned in the run (LOL).

CRUMBS certainly had a bigger selection - trays upon trays of mouth watering cupcakes. I took about ten minutes before I made my choice - the Lemon Sprinkles Cupcake.

It was good - what my friend Yoyen would call moment-on-your-lips-lifetime-on-your-hips kind of indulgence.

The cupcake was good - the icing, which is the main attraction of this dessert was lemony tart and sweet at the same time. The cake itself was melt in your mouth.

The difference between Magnolia and Crumbs however is that has fewer selections but they are baked in the premises so you know it is fresh from the oven you get it. Crumbs feels like a Dunkin Donuts store - where everything have just hopped off the conveyor belt for mass consumption.

I am special and so must my highly indulgent vices. I take mine fresh baked and takes a bit of hardship to acquire. Because you see, there are only two Magnolia Bakery locations in the city - the original in Soho which was the haunt for the Sex and the City girls and the newly opened store on the Upper West Side.

But heck, when the urge comes, you can get I will walk the few blocks up to CRUMBS from my office to lick some creamy lushious icing off a cupcake. =)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Samut-sari*

It is almost the end of March and this I presume will be my only entry. There goes my New Year resolution, a guarantee of 60 days is all I can commit to. I think it gets worse when I make promises. Then there is a sense of commitment to it, a sense of obligation and then I get resentful and then I rebel. Fantastic – scraping the bottom of the barrel, I find myself rebelling against myself. To blog.

So how has it been? We have stepped across the threshold to make it spring. It snowed. I brought my camera to take pictures but by the time I made it to work (I wanted to take pictures of the park across my office building) the snow had stopped and it did not stick. No winter wonderland. Camera and I came home disappointed.

I fractured my molar. Tooth Number 18th, to be more specific. I knew this day would come but I didn’t think it would so soon. I guess this is pay-off for maniacally chewing on ice every time I have an opportunity. Thereza has just recommended that I take iron supplements to minimize my odd habit which I thought was an old wive’s tale (not that she is THAT old). I researched it and lo and behold, yes, there is such a thing as pica or to be more specific in my case, ‘pagophagia’, which refers to craving and chewing ice which could be a symptom of iron deficiency anemia! (http://tinyurl.com/2xtay6)

No one knows why anemic people crave ice but wait, it could be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder, stress or a developmental disorder. (sigh) Crap.

I have been busy at work and loving it in my new position. Nothing lasts forever of course and pretty soon I have to go back to where the constant feedback from a majority has been a general demoralization of staff due to abuse of ‘breastfeeding’ rights. Go figure. If could get away with working half a day to breastfeed, dang, I’d string my boyfriend along for happier lives!

OK, I have a German Chocolate cupcake from Magnolia waiting for me. Spring is here and warmer days mean I will be indoors less and less and less. I will have however, lots of pictures to share too! I have a new Canon xsi on hand I am still getting acquainted with. We are bonding and will soon understand each other. Soon. Ergo, I will post lots of pics in case I have nothing to say.

And oh, I just found a way to cheat. I am posting ahead of this entry the 25 Random Things I put up on my Facebook page… just in case you have no access to my Facebook.

Ciao everyone and I hope you have a sneeze-free spring!

*samut-sari in Tagalog means 'variety'

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Random Things About Me

1. What’s in a name? People who know me from way back call me Mavic, Mavs or Victoria. I am called Marivic only in New York.

2. At age 20, I was already a mom and a widow. (I wouldn't recommend it to anybody but if I lived my life over again I wouldn't change a thing because Nicole is the best thing that has ever happened to me.)

3. I DO NOT like James Bond regardless who plays him.

4. I used to drive in illegal quarter-mile drag races in Manila. And I had a license by the time I was 14.

5. I am very neat in an extremely obsessive kind of way that it drives some people nuts.

6. My internets addiction is not limited to Facebook. I also Twitter incessantly. And blog occasionally.

7. In my perfect world people recognize that Facebook has an Inbox and a Wall for obvious reasons.

8. I love to chew ice.

9. I do not ballroom dance. I also can’t sing karaoke (The “End of the World” incident in Iligan is proof of it)

10. I will always have a butterfly on my shoulder.

11. I will never turn down any kind of chocolate. Or a dare.

12. I have wanted to me an international beat journalist...until I was lured into the exciting 9-to-5 corporate world and never left.

13. We've always had a piano at home (until high school) but I never learned to play. And neither did any of my siblings.

14. I am a very private person (despite what you might presume of a blogger and a Tweep and a Facebook addict). And pretty. And glam =)

15. I do not like chain mail or emails and I do not think I can say anthing more without sounding like I am tooting my own horn (which I hate when I read other people’s Random 25 Things) or revealing stuff which I was hoping I could surprise my boyfriend with so I will do 15 and tag 15 people.

And I did.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Ten Minute Ride

I was stressed and I have only been out of my apartment on a beautiful Saturday afternoon for two hours. I grabbed the cab from the corner Broadway and 79th. It swerved from the west end of the before it stopped to pick me up. The driver is an ancient pale man with a smile who greeted me good afternoon as soon as I slammed the door.

“How are you today?” is a typical New Yorker greeting to strangers. Sometimes we mean it and often it is nothing but lip service. Today I wasn’t in the mood for banter – my head was still throbbing from a painful amateur psychoanalysis over lunch with my paranoid and neurotic relative.

He smiled and adjusted his rear view mirror and said “he could find it for me”. “I’m sorry?” I asked, not paying attention to what he had just said and to what he was responding to. For a moment I thought he was on his cellphone as most cab drivers are anyway. Then he repeated the directions I had just given him and to emphasize his point, noted again that he could take me there.

In my own paranoid way, I looked up to his driver identification and read that his name was Murray Jacobs. He was making small talk, I realized. He wanted to know if it was OK for me to have him cross the park at 86th and I told him I’d trust he would know the best way to take me to my destination.

And then he told me that he had been driving a cab for the past 49 years. That’s half a century I noted. He went on to say that he was just waiting for his gold watch, which he would get next year and then he was ready to turn it in. “Maybe sell the gold watch for a million dollars,” he chuckled. Yeah, right, I laughed.

In his many years behind the wheel he told me that he had seen and heard it all. Luckily, he has had relatively a safe career. He was held up once and one time the robbers took his cab, one that he owned. I sighed, realizing the downside of his career. But he laughs it off, stating that those he lost are all material and that he was grateful that he had survived both experiences unscathed. I liked his optimism. I liked that he confided that after so many years, he has learned to trust his ‘gut feel’ about people. The boys who took his cab, he said, he knew they were no good as soon as they stepped in but it was too late.

As I arrived at my destination, I wished him well and told him I hoped 50 more years of safe driving ahead. I also hoped he would stay safe.

“What I haven’t seen yet I will see today and what I haven’t heard yet, I will hear today!” he said as he handed me my change less my fare and his tip. As he sped away, he stuck his arm out to wave goodbye to me.

My afternoon was better.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

100 Things to Do Before you Die

I have unearth this entry from my Yahoo 360 profile, something I published in September 2005.  I decided to re-publish on my blog with some updates.  The remarks in red were from 2005 and those in blue are from 2009.  Sure beats working on that 25 Random thing list....   =)

1.            Attend at least one major sporting event: the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the U.S. Open.  

2.            Throw a huge party and invite every one of your friends.

3.            Swim with a dolphin.

4.            Skydive. Gigi's forte... I have fear of heights.

5.            Have your portrait painted.

6.            Learn to speak a foreign language and make sure you use it.

7.            Go skinny-dipping at midnight in the South of France.

8.            Watch the launch of the space shuttle.

9.            Spend a whole day eating junk food without feeling guilty.

10.        Be an extra in a film.

11.        Tell someone the story of your life, sparing no details.

12.        Make love on a forest floor.

13.        Make love on a train. 

14.        Learn to rollerblade. – tried to learn but stopped just before I cut the blood supply in my friend’s arm

15.        Own a room with a view – my bedroom at home in the Philippines  had a fantastic sunset view of Manila Bay, my apartment in Manhattan faces a park… I didn’t own but certainly owned and enjoyed the view during my stay.

16.        Brew your own beer.

17.        Learn how to take a compliment.

18.        Buy a round-the-world air ticket and a rucksack, and run away.

19.        Grow a beard and leave it for at least a monthNah, this would be scary

20.        Give your mother a dozen red roses and tell her you love her. –  I try to buy  my mom flowers not just on birthdays and special days; often just because and yes, I tell her and my dad I love them as often as I can.

21.        Be a member of the audience in a TV show.

22.        Put your name down to be a passenger on the first tourist shuttle to the moon.

23.        Send a message in a bottle.

24.        Ride a camel into the desert.

25.        Get to know your neighbors.  I did this weekend when she took my laundry out of the machine without my permission.  She’s not likely to forget me – EVER.

26.        Plant a tree. – The avocado tree behind my parent’s house

27.        Learn not to say yes when you really mean no. I say no but he knows I mean yes so I get it my way just the same…true love.

28.        Write a fan letter to your all-time favorite hero or heroine.

29.        Visit the Senate and the House of Representatives to see how Congress really works.

30.        Learn to ballroom dance properly. Scheduled for winter 2006. 2009 and still hoping I will try soon.

31.        Eat jellied eels from a stall in London.

32.        Be the bossTech Pacific Philippines,  Marketing Communications Manager 1998 - 2001

33.        Fall deeply in love -- helplessly and unconditionally.  ALWAYS. There is just no other way to do it.

34.        Ride the Trans-Siberian Express across Asia.

35.        Sit on a jury.

36.        Write the novel you know you have inside you.

37.        Go to Walden Pond and read Thoreau while drifting in a canoe.

38.        Stay out all night dancing and go to work the next day without having gone home (just once). Oh, more than once – in Manila and in New York.

39.        Drink beer at Oktoberfest in Munich.

40.        Be someone's mentorI think I have – right, Jai?

41.        Shower in a waterfall.

42.        Ask for a raise.

43.        Learn to play a musical instrument with some degree of skill. Guitar Hero count?

44.        Teach someone illiterate to read.  

45.        Blow all your savings and take a flight on the Concorde. It is not flying anymore…

46.        Spend a night in a haunted house -- by yourself.  Ahhh…no way!

47.        Write down your personal mission statement, follow it, and revise it from time to time.  It is on a Post-It and pasted on my PC screen.

48.        See a lunar eclipse.

49.        Spend New Year's in an exotic location.  Home is suddenly exotic.

50.        Get passionate about a cause and spend time helping it, instead of just thinking about it.  Breast cancer research – ACS Breast Cancer Walk 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006  Also 2007 and 2008.

51.        Experience weightlessness.

52.        Sing a great song in front of an audience. Song: The End of the World, Iligan City, March 1998 (Was a great song until I sang it)

53.        Ask someone you've only just met to go on a date.

54.        Drive across America from coast to coast.

55.        Make a complete and utter fool of yourself.  ALWAYS =)

56.        Own one very expensive but absolutely wonderful business suit.

57.        Write your will.  

58.        Sleep under the stars.

59.        Take a ride on the highest roller coaster in the country. 

60.        Learn how to complain effectively -- and do it!

61.        Go wild in Rio during Carnival.

62.        Spend a whole day reading a great novel.  A lot of times, most recently, Marley and Me by John Grogan and before that, Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

63.        Forgive your parents.  There had never been reason – my parents are the best in the world.

64.        Learn to juggle with three balls.

65.        Drive the Autobahn. Maybe this October?  Maybe this year?

66.        Find a job you love.  I only do work that I love and that interests me – it’s my rule in life.

67.        Spend Christmas on the beach drinking pina coladas.

68.        Overcome your fear of failure.

69.        Raft through the Grand Canyon.

70.        Donate money and put your name on something: a college scholarship, a bench in the park.

71.        Buy your own house and then spend time making it into exactly what you want.  

72.        Grow a garden.

73.        Spend three months getting your body into optimum shape.

74.        Drive a convertible with the top down and music blaring.  Autumn 2005,  New York Palisades

75.        Accept yourself for who you are. A work in progress.  A work in progress.

76.        Learn to use a microphone and give a speech in public.

77.        Scuba dive off Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

78.        Go up in a hot-air balloon. 

79.        Attend one really huge rock concert. Summer, 2003 – Dave Matthews Band in Central Park

80.        Kiss someone you've just met on a blind date. 

81.        Be able to handle: your tax forms, Jehovah's Witnesses, your banker, telephone solicitors.

82.        Give to a charity anonymously.

83.        Lose more money than you can afford at roulette in Vegas. 

84.        Let someone feed you peeled, seedless grapes.

85.        Kiss the Blarney stone and develop the gift of gab.

86.        Fart in a crowded space.  Watch out…soon enough…

87.        Make love on the kitchen floor

88.        Go deep sea fishing and eat your catch.

89.        Create your own web site.  www.geocities.com/victoria0918 and mavic.blogspot.com

90.        Visit the Holy LandPlanned for Spring 2007, Tel Aviv & Jerusalem  Still on the drawing board….

91.        Make yourself spend a half-day at a concentration camp and swear never to forget.

92.        Run to the top of the Statue of Liberty.  Security wouldn’t allow me

93.        Create your Family Tree. Did this for my daughter when she was born…needs updating though.  I have set up the foundations for our family tree at Geni.com and relatives have expanded it.

94.        Catch a ball in the stands of a major league baseball stadium.

95.        Make a hole-in-one.

96.        Ski a double-black diamond run. Snowboard counts??? 

97.        Learn to bartend.

98.        Run a marathon.

99.        Look into your child's eyes, see yourself, and smile

100.    Reflect on your greatest weakness, and realize how it is your greatest strength. A work in progress

 

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Reinvention of Me

Ten years ago if you have asked me if I could imagine myself working and living in New York and I’d tell you - unlikely. A life away from the love and comfort of family? What would I do for work? A life without the maids and the other help I've grown accustomed to? No way.

Well, now - yes way.

On January 27, 2002 I left the life I knew in Manila and gambled on a single chip which has taken me to Los Angeles and then finally to Manhattan. The journey has been long - tough initially and definitely riddled with many hesitations along the way. For every hurdle I’d ask myself if this was worth the trouble. It is tougher when you have already built a career in your previous life and you have the comfort and love of family to look back to. I kept asking myself if this was the right decision. But I did cross the threshold and when I stepped away I pursued my new life with unequaled enthusiasm.

And yes, I did have start from zero. I had gone from managerial to clerical and then worked my way up the work hierarchy again. I thought what I was doing for work in Manila was all that I could be good at. Instead, I discovered that I could also be other things. I educated myself to become familiar with my new assignments and reinvented myself many times over – or each time I changed jobs within the organization. And I’ve never had so fun in my whole life!

And sometimes all it takes is a small step away from the comfort zone.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

25 Random Things

Three friends sent me the chain for 25 Random Things.  I've contemplated about it and what I might list down and distribute publicly.  I've read their stuff and much as I respect their taste for such form of self-expression, it is not my piece of cake.  In the same way I throw praises to my friend Jill who so far has come up with the best list.  Actually, I was thinking it my list couldn't come second to hers then it just wasn't doing at all.

However I have a list! After watching Matt Lauer on Conan O'Brien's show (DVR'd from sometime this week...).

Top 5 men who looked better after age 40:

5.  Brad Pitt
4.  George Clooney
3.  George Clooney
2. Lauer, of course
1.  Georgie boy (Clooney, who else!)

Whatever.... LOL

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Never Hard of Loving

The city is in winter mode.  The beautiful pristine snow is great when you watch it from a window - snowflakes dancing in the wind veiling everything in white.  But up close it is icy and slippery.  The arctic winds cam burn your skin and make your eyes tear.  You have to bundle up in layers and when you get anywhere indoors you are breaking out in sweat because the heaters are set in sauna temps.  Then the snow melts and there is slush everywhere and you have no decent looking pair of leather boots that doesn't have a smear of sodium chloride (or any other salt variation) stain on it.

No wonder everyone is all set to escape the winter in the northeast.  Myself included. 

"I'm glad I left New York," someone IM'd me a few days ago and I did not know how to respond.  True, winter can be a pain but I have never thought about making THAT a reason to leave my most favorite city in the world.  A self-confessed Manhattan-centrist, I have always believed that despite and inspite of what makes New York City what it is, there is still so much to love about it.

The public transportation system that will take you anywhere and everywhere at the cost of a Metrocard; the fresh markets at Union Square and other locations that provide fresh fruits, vegs and flowers no matter what the weather; Central Park - beautiful in any weather; $1 dollar books at Strand and other bookstores; $5 hotdog meals at Grey's Papaya; that fruits you can get from the vendor at the streetcorner is fresher and cheaper than what you can get from the grocers; that you can sit in some random pizza place and realize that you are sitting next to some writer/actor/singer/model/politician;  that our mayor rides the subways to go to work every day.

And talk about fancy restaurants.  Althouogh those network chefs serve their wares here, next to the more preferred local favorites that have been around for many generations.  Do people still remember Katz's and the Second Avenue Deli that is no longer on 2nd Avenue?

This city is friendly to the wallet to those who know how to get the good deals.  There is TKTS for cheap Broadway shows, matinee movies before lunchtime that charge half the full ticket, year-round pre-fixed meals from high end restaurants, museums that charge "what you can", and then of course there are the many different parades color the city year round.

Winter is a tough time, as it is spring for the pollen sensitive and summer is for those who do not enjoy the humidity.  Autumn is a tough time for me because I've always thought of the falling leaves and the dying trees quite a melancholy sight.  True, there are times when loving New York is a tough call but this is and will always be the city where I come home to.  It is the city that after a long travel, when I look out the window and see the skyscapers from my window seat, makes my heart skip a beat.  This is the New York which I love - the same New York that is the city that I share with more than a million others, most of who may feel the same as I do.

written on:  11 January 2009, New York City

Friday, January 16, 2009

This Thing called FACEBOOK

My name is Victoria and I am an addict.

A Facebook addict, that is.  I have it on my Blackberry and check now to make sure I am able to update my status when something witty comes to mind (I do not really update based on what I am doing - that would be voluntary virtual stalking, or something like that).  I'd also want to see what my friends's updates are and if anyone emails me, then I'd like to be able to read and reply even when I am not in front of the PC.  I can take pictures ont he Blackberry and upload it ASAP. I love browsing pictures of their holidays, parties or new babies.  With some friends, it is just fun to upload ages old photographs to share and laugh together about it one more time.

The one thing I haven't done with Facebook yet: change my status to state if I am in a relationship and with who.  I have seen it over and over again - when a split up eventually happens, the status is changed and then you have to deal with not just coping with the emotional turmoil but having to have people write nonesensical stuff on your wall about what is now an immensely public break-up in the dimensions of Britney and whats-his-face.  Not only that - there are pictures of your previously happy times on your albums, he is most likely one your friends so - do you unfriend each other? Ahhh, too complicated.  M. has added me and I have yet to confirm.  I choose not to venture into a Facebok relationship.

One more thing I do not do is share all my pictures to the world.  There is a feature in your friend's lists that allows you to assign each friend to a category.  I have groups of my work friends, divided on which division we worked together.  I have a Family category for pictures strictly visible to those who I probably have nothing else to hide.  This way, each friends-group category has sole access to extremely embarrasing karaoke parties or endless daily soirees to the Irish bars in another.  Most important of all I have a Limited profile where I only allow access to my status updates and some Facebook features.  These I restrict to those who I have become friends with through Twitter or other social networks but with whom I have not really develop any semblance of a real friendship.

Lately, I have become more cautious about what I put up on Facebook.  So although it is fun, I treat Facebook as a big party - you have to dress up and behave your best.  You mingle with your friends, leave messages as you come and go, share some pictures as though you carry a bragbook.  But you will not divulge too much that would eventually embarass you or your family or anyone else.

I love Facebook and it loves me back.  I love having all my friends coraled in a single web location and that we can exchange pictures, stories, videos and emails in one log-on location.

So when I invite you to a Facebook party, why not log on and see what is going on.  Usually, the music is suited to your taste and the fun is addictive.

written on:  5 January 2009, New York City

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Changing Face of UES

Somehow I forgot to bring my book this morning.  And so from the bus to and from work, I had the chance to see the changes in and around the neighborhood.  Apart from what had been obvious before the holidays - places to shop closing down, I have never realized that there had been so much changes in the span of 2 months since Nicole returned to Manila.  Tthe noodle house on 3rd and 88this no more.  Circuit City on 86th has closed as part of the bankruptcy filing of the company.  A series of stores along Second Avenue on 86th have also been bordered up: Cold Stone Creamery, Gothic Cabinets, Go Sushi.  The Laytner's Store on 86th has clearance sale and so does Pier 1 on Third Ave, making me wonder if they are also on the way to closing down.

The only good news:  the new high rise residential building on 86th and Lexington will  house a new branch of H&M which will open in Spring 2009.

A sign of the times?  Sadly, all financial forecasts state that things will not go on the uptrend until the end of the year and still, many businesses may not be able to sustain lack-luster operations til then.  And the repercussion of the negative crisis in the USA and Europe won't affect Asia's manufacturing income until the middle of the year when businesses start reducing order volumes due for fall/winter 2009 (spring and summer orders have already been placed by September 2008 when the Wall Street sh*t hit the fan). 

A grim forecast for 2009 but you have to be familiar with the old adage: hope for the best but expect the worst.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Twilight Series : Ending Spoiler

The last books I’ve read were the vampire series penned by Stephenie Meyer. It was my friend Renee who introduced me to the book when she offered me the first book, noting that it wouldn’t be my usual reading list but it was easy reading and that she enjoyed it. And that was how I got inducted into the lives of Bella Swan and her unusual love affair with Edward Cullen. I read the series of four books as though it was a single book and though did not find myself as consistently impressed as I was with the Harry Potter series, I leafed through each page eagerly to follow their adventures. By the time I reached the end of the fourth and final book (for now), I found myself at a lost. There was a vacuum in my bus ride routine. I missed Edward and Bella and even their creepy spawn Renesmee. I wouldn’t say they were great works of art but the books were, as Renee had said, simple reads. It did not require reflection which I think now and then was a good objective for a good read. Entertaining. Not necessarily educational or informative. Nothing I read I didn’t know already from previous Anne Rice reads but I found the affinity between Bella and the werewolves, specifically Jacob a bit hogwash. That Jacob would eventually be THAT close and protective towards Renesmee though was immensely disturbing on all levels.


So in case you haven’t read the Twilight series yet and have been contemplating about it, then I guess this entry is a major ending spoiler. But you ought have known that already when you read the title =).

Note: Image from www.nymag.com

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year's Day 2008

I guess you can say it was a bit cold today =)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Out with the old; In with the New! YAY!

Oh cool! A New Year's Day entry!  =)  No great fete with Blogger's write-now-publish-later-feature! *wink*

I don't think there is ever a time when people have eagerly looked forward to shed an old year.  Whew! So many close calls and I know of some people who were right in the eye of the Wall Street maelstrom. But not everything was horrible about 2008. Always preferring to see the glass as half full, I look back to 2008 with much gratitude to:
  • The four months I got to spend with Nicole when she came to visit NY.  We lazed at the park, tested restaurants, shopped, laughed at SNL political skits with Palin, cooked and watched a lot of movies! 
  • Met some important people who will somehow stay a while to comfort me in my alone-ness and listen to my rantings.
  • A new work assignment, albeit temporary that teaches me a lot of new skills, has allowed me to meet a lot of great new people. 
  • A bunch of great friends who have been around for a long time and who have become my family away from the love of my own family.
  • And most of all, the great health of my parents who find joy and laughter in everything that they come across in life - the people who taught me how to see the world in its half full perspective.
And then of course, there were the inevitable negatives that brought temporary sadness or some permanent loss.  Bullet points that would not find itself on an a blog entry but would create a vacuum in my heart and my life.
But we all move on - as life is the journey that doesn't stop for anyone.  I'm grateful and hopeful for 2009 and there is so much to look forward to: a new US president who seems more able and capable than his predecessor, a trip to Europe being planned for the summer and the company of a new love who will journey with my in my many adventures planned for the next few months.  
Happy New Year to all!