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. and

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 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.