Monday, May 29, 2006

Not So Cheap Thrills


We went to Enchanted Kingdom last weekend. It was a company outing thing, but the original sked coincided with a typhoon and the second one with some IT crisis in the office, so I told Thom, let’s just go and forget about everyone else. We had our tickets, anyway.

Yosh had so much fun as usual. Ches called us The Screamers bcoz we would be the first two to open our mouths and wail at the top of our lungs when most everyone else is just sitting there and even looking bored in the ride. I screamed in a mixture of dread and delight but Yosh seems to actually enjoy the sheer sensation of being as loud as he can without his parents telling him to be quiet. He probably thinks too that it’s a requisite part of the whole thing bcoz he’d shout even at the most tame rides like this egg thing that just went round and round in circles and these little dinosaurs flying low.

He rode everywhere he’s allowed. While in line he’d tug at my arm and say, “Let’s go na! Come on!” and after the ride he’d say “One more! One more!” I can see that he inherited my virtue of patience. It’s for his benefit alone that we ride the stupid Swan Lake thing where you get into this giant swan and pedal and use a lever to get around the water. It’s not as easy as it sounds. The crazy swan seemed to have a mind of its own and went everywhere in the opposite direction of where we wanted it to go and bumped against every imaginable island and boat or whatever. And we never even went beyond like three meters from the starting line. Ches was frantically shouting instructions from the sidelines and then gave up and just looked terribly amused, along with the rest of the small group that was watching, plus the other boat riders, and the crew … ok, everyone. Ann was just pedaling away and giggling, Yosh between us looked confused (he probably had a feeling this wasn’t how the ride was supposed to turn out) while I was baking under the sun and majorly pissed. Hel-lo. I went there to be enchanted, not to be exhausted from all the pedaling and mocked by everyone in sight. Grrr.

Ches dared me to conquer my fear of heights for the day and ride the Flying Fiesta, where you go round and round from a high of like 30 feet or something, definitely higher than treetops and rooftops. It was sheer madness. The one thing that got me thru it was Ches beside me and holding my hand. This teen queen had the gall to say after the ride, “Yun lang?”, when I practically died from fright. I could’ve clobbered her, I swear. Oh but it was nothing compared to the Space Shuttle. It was the Scariest Two Minutes of My and Ches’ Life. No amount of hand-holding could’ve saved me from this one. I only went thru it bcoz I was already there strapped to my seat and I couldn’t have stopped it after that first unbelievable loop even if I wanted to. In the one second I opened my eyes all I could see was the white of the sky. The only good thing about it was that it was a short and sudden death, so that at the end of it it’s like you won’t even know what hit you. I felt invincible after that ride. Like I could even take the bar exams again. Or go thru another Lamaze childbirth.

Ches and I also rode Anchors Away after that and it gave me the thrill I was looking for in the ferris wheel, of having your insides turned over and under and every which way but the right one. But I guess everything would pale in comparison and would be anticlimactic after the Space Shuttle. Ches said that the twists were scarier than the Space Mountain in Disney even if the latter is a darker and longer ride.

It was the most exercise my vocal chords and innards had to go thru in one day. It makes you wonder, why do people do these things when no one is pointing a gun on their heads and making them do it? To prove that they have the balls to do something like it? Oh, but I’m the girl who went thru 14 hours of labor and no anesthesia. I feel that I have nothing more to prove in the guts and glory department. I guess it’s really just for the cheap thrill of it, altho why anyone would call it cheap when it feels like your very own life is hanging on the line (and literally too) is beyond me.

Friday, May 26, 2006

My Heroes

My Heroes

1. People who are nice to you when they don’t have to. The villain in MI3 says something like, you can judge a person’s character by how well he treats other people whom he doesn’t have to treat well at all. Which is why I love this boss that I have who’s always so warm and affectionate, always putting a personal touch to his emails and texts like, take care or I hope you have a pleasant day ahead or have a good weekend or something like that. It’s like he’s really concerned about my well-being and is not just communicating with me to give me work. And he doesn’t have to do that at all. He doesn’t even have to say hi to me. (Of course it helps that this particular boss is a hottie. Old and married and a daddy but a hottie notheless.)

2. People with strength and principle. I happened to meet up with a batchmate from law school in my MCLE classes. I learned that she has left her law office and has filed a complaint against the partners who were making her do something illegal not to mention unethical involving a labor arbiter. The firm has offered her like one million to get her to withdraw the case and she has declined (so far). I don’t know how it’s going to end but for now I really admire this girl for being so brave going up against an entire law office, against a whole way of doing things in the legal profession. It’s people like her who make me believe maybe there’s hope for lawyers, after all.

3. Blooper girls. I rode the MRT to Ayala Triangle one office day and sat across this girl who looked perfectly put-together, make-up and all. She was wearing a skirt with some strings and when she stood up the strings got stuck on the leg of her seatmate and her skirt came falling down like halfway thru her leg, exposing everything including her beige panties. I know it’s mean to rejoice over other people’s misfortunes, but I’m sorry, things like these really make feel better about myself and reassure me that I don’t have a monopoly on bloopers (even if it seems like that 6 out 7 days in a week).

4. The people who planted the flame trees all over the office compound. I counted nine on the facade alone. At this time of the year you can hardly see any leaves, everywhere it’s just red and orange, on the trees and the ground below, so vibrant and all for free. It’s like an unexpected gift from God, these flame trees, as if he’s reminding you, you’re alive, life is beautiful, smile.

5. Characters. I don’t mean those who dress weird and talk loud to grab everyone’s attention. Just people who are happy to be different, not scared to go against the norm, in terms of how they look at things, how they express themselves. Colorful people you meet and won’t soon forget bcoz they stand out and do not just blend in. Nico once said that a non-conformist is not necessarily one who’s unlike everyone else; it’s more of someone who doesn’t really care what everyone else thinks. (This was during one of Nico’s few lucid intervals.)

In my former law office, we had an accountant who was otherwise normal and staid the whole year, but who really went out of her way to dress up in our themed Christmas parties. One year she came as a Millennium Lady Bug, and another year she was Cruella de Ville. Rhoel surmised that it was her one time in the year to let loose and get wild. People were practically lining up to have pictures taken beside her, as tho she were some Disney attraction. She became then, in that one time of the year, figuratively and literally, A Character.

6. People who are contented with what they have and are happy where they are. I know this guy who operates the elevator in the SEC. At every stop he’d say, “Ikatlong palapag na po” or “Unang palapag na po. Salamat po.” I admire his grace and good humor (not to mention his eloquence in Filipino). I’m sure it’s not his lifelong dream to be an elevator operator but the fact that he is doesn’t make him bitter or cranky as I’m sure the rest of us would be if we have to spend our days going up and down the same building and never really getting anywhere.

7. Hubbies who are startlingly sweet and endlessly patient. When we brought Yosh to the St. Luke’s ER on Mothers’ Day bcoz of a persistent fever, there was an old lady who was sick on a nearby bed. Her husband was lovingly brushing her hair away from her face and whispering to her. I couldn’t quite hear what he was saying but I could make out that he was telling her to hold on and that he’s there for her. It was really touching.

Me, I love it when Ches patiently (albeit grudgingly) picks the grey hairs on top of my head just before we go to sleep and brushes my hair too until it dries up. The best part is when I wake up the next morning and my hair is all nice and smooth and it gives me the confidence to shamelessly flirt with the bright young hotties in the office. Joke.

Really, Ches would be perfect if only he had the charms, accent and income of Hugh Grant. Ooops. This could be the final straw for him to make good his long-standing threat of putting up his own blog site, which he will supposedly call the.anti.funfeistyfemale.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Rain

I feel happy when it rains. I even wrote a story (anonymously, of course) entitled “Rain” in Sinag, about how the rain, for all it can do, cannot hide your tears when you’re crying over your male best buddy who sees you as nothing more than a pesky little sister, or some such mushy plot like that. (My friends who had tragic love affairs (or so they claimed) lapped it up.) And my favorite OPM song of all time is Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka, which beautifully compares a consuming passion for a loved one with the unstoppable power of the rain. I used to barge into Rhoel’s room all the time and play his Basil Valdez CD of the song, and while at it do an impromptu interpretative dance of Kastilyong Buhangin. Which rarely amused him, needless to say. He’d usually just give out this exasperated sigh without even looking up from his PC. (I promised not to do it anymore to get him out of resigning, but I guess it was too late. Hay.)

I love the anticipation of something big just before the sky opens up, when everyone scurries around to take down blankets and stuff hanging from the clothesline, shut windows, bring out emergency lamps and batteries for the radio on particularly stormy occasions. And I love how the rain gives you the perfect excuse to be lazy, curled up in front of the TV or with a good, long book, updating your diary, going over old letters or scrapbooks or some other totally useless activity. You can even sleep the whole day, there being nothing much you can do and with the weather being so conducive and all. For me one of life’s greatest pleasures is slurping a steaming bowl of noodles while the rain beats down hard on the roof. It makes me realize how lucky I am to be so cozy while everything outside is being so harsh and unbearable. (Instant noodles are my favorite. They’re not very demanding, just add boiling water, and they taste so good, anyway. Even undomestic goddesses like me cannot possibly mess up instant noodles.)

Oh, but I do realize there are people who have a harder time at it when it rains, especially those who live out on the streets or whose livelihood consists of selling in the streets. My heart goes out to balut vendors who have to go around selling the thing on dripping, howling nights when they should be lying down on a dry bed somewhere, and little kids selling sampaguitas on wet, early mornings when the rest of us cannot even get out of bed. As soon as I get rich I’d buy all their wares and tell them to go to sleep.

When we were kids spending our vacations in Pangasinan, the summer rains were always a source of great fun and adventure for us. We would play in the rain for as long as our little shivering bodies would allow us (or until our strict Lolo called us in), picking fruits from the backyard and climbing over neighbors’ fences. My little brother invariably ended up with a dog bite on his leg or arm. Don’t ask me why.

I guess for grown-ups the rain evokes not so much happiness as melancholy and even grief. And it really does look like the sky is crying down buckets. But I look it as a sort of cleansing, so that at the end of it, everything looks new and fresh, like you are reborn and can start from scratch.

There’s an immensely sad song in Les Miz that goes, “I don’t feel any pain, a little fall of rain can hardly hurt me now, You’re here and that’s all I need to know … and rain will make the flowers grow”.

Rain makes the flowers grow. What more can you ask from it?

Monday, May 15, 2006

10 Things I Never Knew Until I Became the Queen Mum


I have always loved kids. I love their refreshing candor, unique ability to take immense delight in the simplest things, and all the free tight hugs and wet, slobbering kisses. Unfortunately, my experience with kids was limited to babysitting my nephews and nieces and neighbors a few days a year during summer and Christmas. I never had to live with them on a regular basis, and when I did, it was a surprise (not always pleasant) to learn that kids are ..., well, human beings with complex characters and mind-boggling quirks. Some of the stuff I learned:

1. They learn what they want to, when they want to. Yoshi has long been an expert in colors. He loves to name all the colors that he sees around him. We've been wanting him to move on to alphabets and numbers and stuff, and when we're not making him he can actually recite them already, but try and make him and he goes, “A...B...schwang...schweng...” Or “One...two..trung...trang...” He seriously speaks this nonsense, I swear. I guess it’s his way of telling us he’s not ready to move on and is content with knowing colors for now. Even if it’s the only thing he knows. Groan.

2. They wield a certain power that is way bigger than their three feet frame. Ches wants to catch the NBA. I wanna see the latest indie film DVD from Quiapo. The littlest man in the house clamors for Barney. Guess who we end up watching? The purple dinosaur. And it's not even an issue of spoiling your child. It's often a simple matter of giving in to preempt a never-ending tantrum and affording yourself some peace and quiet after a long day at work.

3. They actually grasp the concept of profundities like obsession, love and romance. Yosh is fond of declaring, “Obsessed ako sa shampoos, toothpastes, CDs...” He touched my hair one time and asked, “Ganda mommy ko. You have boyfriend in the office?” Maybe I should be preparing for the sex questions next.

4. They can use what you teach them against you. Ann always tells Yosh not to touch his food with his hands. So when Ginger the cat scurried thru the room straight to the kitchen table and Ann picked him up Yosh screamed, “Wag mo touch si Ginger, Ate! Use your spoon!”

5. They are awfully quick to pick up new words. Yosh picked berries from a plant in our garden one time, and I told him to throw them out bcoz they were poisonous. When we got inside, he made a Lego tower, offered it to me and said, “I have a gift for you, Mommy. It's poisonous!”

Or, in relation to #1, you can spend the whole day trying to teach kids to say their names and ages, and all they say is “My name is schwang schweng. I'm trung trang years old.” But try and let slip with one expletive under your breath, and they magically hear it loud and clear and spend the rest of the day sing-songing, “F-ck! F-ck!” or “Sh-t! Sh-t!”

What is it with kids and speed anyway? In the span of time that it takes you to blink an eye they have poured the entire contents of their Moo into your bowl of noodles or torn their nth picture book to shreds. It’s like black magic or something.

6. They're pretty creative even at their early age. They can think up the most colorful excuses out of a sticky situation and the most devious ways to get what they want. So when it's time to brush their teeth, they're going to say, “Sleepy na ko e”, or “Sira wong (read: yung) toothbrush ko”. Or, “Daddy, I love you. Drink ako Coke. Konti lang para hindi ka galit.”

7. They have a clear sense of what they want in life. One day it could be to wear only clothing with Buzz Lightyear in them. Or to listen only to Sam Milby or Sandara Park(s)(?) songs. (At any given time while he's playing you'll hear Yosh singing to himself, “Oh why don't you smile my only star, shine my baby, smile my only star”, or the immortal “In or out, am I in or out?”, or her latest, “Ang ganda ko, feel na feel ang long hair ko!” Aaargh. Is it too early to disown this guy?)

And sometimes they'll even act like they're six feet tall and order their own parents, “No talk!” or “No dance, Mommy!” So much.

8. They're loyal to those they hold dear. So you can take them to Disneyland where they meet Mickey and Winnie and Mulan in the flesh, and guess who they look for? Barney. And you can take them to see a show of dancing sea lions and whales and dolphins, and guess who they call out for? Barney. And you can nurse them till your breasts turn black and blue and guess who they want sleep with? Not you. The purple dinosaur.

9. They can make total strangers fall in love with them at first sight. Which explains why Yoshi ended up getting free Disney stickers from the Chinese store girl who probably couldn't even understand a word he was babbling about. And why he got a free chocolate-chip cookie from the woman in Chocolate Kiss, when all he did was stand and peer at the glass of cakes.

Why doesn't anyone ever fall in love with me like that? I smile a lot. I will even dance for a free cookie. Dang.

10. They can teach us a thing or two about appreciating what God has blessed us with. There is one thing that Yoshi never fails to do after he's stripped down for his bath: he goes around the house, butt-naked and squealing in delight, “May titi ako! May titi ako!”

And when you come to think of it, it really is a great blessing you should be thankful for at every opportunity. Can you imagine looking down and finding it is no longer there? Disaster.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Text Mania

I was in a Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Class class last week. It's this thing that requires all lawyers in the country to sit thru 36 hours of updates on laws and jurisprudence and whatever.

I so hate being with lawyer types. (Not my lawyer-friends, but then I don't really see them as lawyers, only friends.) I hate the way they always seem to speak so loudly, using words like “heretofore” and “aforesaid” and stuff like that, arguing every minor point to death, splitting hairs, dropping names and generally acting so full of themselves and like they know it all. I especially loathe those who call each other "Attorney" or "compaƱera" and "compaƱero". Oh, please. As if they haven't heard enough lawyer jokes to realize that we are not the most beloved creatures of this universe. Hel-lo. Some people can be so dense, I swear (even if they managed to pass the firggin bar).

I realized that the only people who took these classes seriously (taking down notes and participating in the discussion and nodding in all the right places) were probably the same people who did the exact things in law school. Some bring pleadings to edit, contracts to re-draft, others bring newspapers and even novels. Me, I text. I text everyone and anyone at all. I love how with just one press of your fingertips you can get in touch with your relatives in some exotic location abroad or your long-missed old friends. And when they happen to text back you can move on from there, set up a get-together if possible and be like you were never separated by time and distance. It's all so convenient and affordable. As Yosh is fond of saying, sa Globe, posible. (He's well-trained. He picked the right commercial to mimic, the Ayala-owned telecom, a sister company, instead of the competition. Or, come to think of it, the competition doesn't really have a catchy line.)

I remember one birthday in college when Ches and I were supposed to meet after spending the sem break in the province. There was a strong typhoon and the phone lines were down (or maybe we didn't even have phones then) and we had no way of communicating with each other on whether we were still pushing thru with the date or not. It's comforting to know that, with the advances in technology, we may never have to be out of touch with our loved ones ever again.

Oh, but there's a downside to it too. (As in everything.) I've kept boxes and boxes of all the letters I've ever received from my friends, everything from Post-It notes to novel type ten-pagers. I take out the boxes when the mood hits me and go thru the letters all over again, even reading the juicy parts out loud for Chester's benefit. We never cease to be entertained by Don's poetic attempts, or Kai's lengthy dramas, Gay's various code names for her numerous crushes, and the 60 million times that Nico writes to borrow money from me. I was thinking, we probably would've never written to each other if text was already the in thing then, we'd likely have just texted. And that would have been such a loss. Yeah, you can store memories in your heart and all that, but, as Rommel says, nothing beats a hand-written note. It shows you that this person went out of his way to take out a pen and paper and to think of some words to write down for you ... even if they just happen to be along the lines of "I'm dead broke so please lend me some of your allowance". (I love you, Nico!)

So in the next class, I'll be bringing nice stationeries along with my trusty celphone, and will be spending the day writing letters in between texting. Brilliant idea.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A three-day weekend is just enough time


1.to finish off Joshlyn Jackson's Gods of Alabama, which was funny and quirky and makes me want to watch Sweet Home Alabama again.

2.re-visit my two thick scrapbooks that I started way back in high school and realize with a kind of pleasant surprise that the things that move me are still the same - flowers, Pope John Paul II, notes from my dearest friends, bittersweet love stories from Youngblood, even Hugh Grant. I guess some things will never change.

3.shop for long-overdue curtains for the house, and while at it summon all my willpower not to splurge my entire salary in the home department. I can spend the whole day just looking at all the lovely plates and bedsheets and picture frames and towels (another of my obsessions). It's a Breakfast at Tiffany's kind of thing for me. It's like seeing all my playing house dreams come true.

4.deal with my big boss's 60 million texts. It used to irritate me when she did that over weekends but I've realized that she just wants it out of her hands before she forgets and I'm not really expected to work on it right then and there. So now I just reply with 60 million okays and get back to whatever it is I'm doing (or not doing).

5.have our pix taken with the UP sunflowers. I don't have the heart to coerce Yosh into his Barney costume tho coz it's friggin hot and Ches will probably kill me already.

6.take Yosh for his Hepa-A booster and learn from his pedia that he has the ideal weight for 6-year-olds. And he's not even three. Groan.

7.fix Yoshi's pix. His albums practically fill up an entire closet. Ten years from now when people ask me what I've done with the money I've earned from all my lawyering, I can show them the albums.

8.go on a road trip to Cavite and Batangas courtesy of our loyal and learned driver, er, father. The highlights of the trip were the open-air altar in the Our Lady of Fatima Church in Binakayan, the castle in Lemery, lunch at Diner's in Tagaytay, and, of course, halo-halo in Digman. I love these family events where I can just wear my sunglasses and sit in a corner and not even have to talk to anyone, not even have to share whatever I'm eating with anyone (in other words, be a complete bitch as my loving hubby would say) and no one's going to throw me out anyway and even give me my favorite chicken part and refill my soup bowl.

9.watch Some Kind of Wonderful and Sixteen Candles. Ches wondered why the sudden high school nostalgia attack. I just love these coming-of-age, unrequited love and ugly duckling kind of mushy stories (usually starring one of the Brat Pack) that take me back to Sweet Dreams and that time in my life when my most major concern was boys. Our favorite in high school was St. Elmo's Fire and until now my closest friends call me Jules, after Demi Moore's character who was - you guessed it - a complete bitch. I also love The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. They don’t make this kind of movies anymore. 10 Things I Hate About You was fun but I guess it's different when you're watching a high school movie from the point of view of a twentysomething yuppie.

10.start on Nick Hornby's How to be Good. He's living up to all the hype so far. I hate it when they disappoint.