Thursday, March 25, 2010

Slacker Heart

I had my annual executive check-up at St. Luke's a couple of weeks ago. I loved it bcoz (1) there was a snack bar in the wellness center so I just ate up while waiting for the next procedure; (2) the whole place was newly renovated and even the equipment looked spanking new; (3) the staff were very efficient and friendly (except the butt doctor who did my procto-whatever, who seemed cold and uncaring, but I couldn't really blame her, with the sheer number of butts she has to be poking on a daily basis); (4) there were flowers in every room – and none of them were plastic (I just had to text Randy that he should come and get off on all the fresh flowers in St. Lukes).

At the end of the day, however, I was tired and just a little bit dazed bcoz it had been a whole day of wearing these stupid lab gowns and taking off my undies and being pressed against this machine and that, and being poked all over my body. It was all very undignified and just a little bit demeaning, but I guess it's one of those things we just have to do.

So anyway there were some findings in my check-up, one of which was 'marked sinus bradychardia with sinus arrhythmia'. And of course if you are confronted with something as serious-sounding as that you begin to panic for your dear life. Doctors do the same old thing that lawyers do, I think – complicate things and make them sound scary so the client would come back to you and pay up just to be reassured that, when translated in layman's terms, it's not as bad as it sounds in legalese. That's how we earn our keep, I guess.

The cardio is a nice, old man who asks trivialities about the richest family in the country when he finds out where I work. He explains that the problem with my heart is it's beating too slowly – 47 beats per minute as opposed to the regular count of 60. He prescribes a 24-hour Holter monitor for me to rule out a heart block which he says could be causing the slowdown in my heartbeat. It's this contraption the size of a car radio which is hooked on my waist with a belt strap and connected to my entire chest with a complicated tangle of wires and rubber things glued on to my skin. It's like being in Pinoy Big Brother the way I have to be wearing the thing with me all the time and everywhere I go.

I'm supposed to go thru my daily routine and all the usual activities I do – except bath or shower or anything that would get my chest wet. I'm required to list down all my major activities for the 24 hours that I'm hooked in the Holter monitor in this record book. I had to record it every time I ate or went to the CR, the whole works. The instructions specifically say 'including sexual intercourse'. Ha ha ha. As if any sane person can feel anything remotely sexy while strapped in the thing. I didn't know doctors also had a sense of humor.

What I hated most about the whole ordeal was the recording part. Bcoz it made me conscious of the kind of brilliant things I do with my time. For example, I played hula hoops and danced to Lady Gaga tunes with my kids that afternoon, but I felt embarrassed recording that, so instead I wrote, 'played with kids'. And then after dinner, I had chocolates, so I wrote that down. But then I was still hungry so I was eating ice cream again after a couple of minutes. I had a whole big bag of Cheetos too while I watched a movie before going to sleep. And I didn't want to have to put all of those down in writing, all those instances that I was eating and eating. It was embarrassing. Ok, so I'm a glutton ... but not for punishment (haha). I also didn't want the doctor to begin checking me up for cholesterol or weight problems or whatever, on top of my slow heartbeat problems. So in the end, I took the liberty of editing what activities I recorded. I told Ches, if my being not completely honest in this record book spells the difference between my life and death, then I'd rather die with my dignity intact. (Haha. Famous last words.)

So anyway, I got the Holter monitor findings today and consulted with my cardio. No heart block, thank you, Lord. The cardio gives me the usual spiel about the right diet, exercise, regular check-up, seeing a doctor right away if I feel any pain, etc. (It's the physician version of a lawyer talking to his client about basic things like human rights, due process, freedom of stipulation in contracts, etc. Hahaha.)

I ask him what was wrong with my heart that was making it beat so slowly. He says maybe my heart is taking it easy, not exerting too much effort and getting itself too worked up. He says that it's ok, that based on my tests, my heart is not weak or sick, that maybe it's just lazy.

Hahaha. I could've told the good doctor that from the beginning and saved myself the hassle and torment of the Holter monitor. I could've confessed to him that every organ in my body, every limb and every bone, is lazy.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I clearly remember Pops telling me that I should speak to my kids as tho they were adults and not engage in baby talk with them. So I did, and Ches did too, and our kids turned up pretty well in the speech department, I think (unlike moi who did not talk until I was three years old). Yoshi began talking intelligibly a little after two years, and he called his milk 'notnot' and my bikinin top 'boobs', and said cute stuff like 'insidemada' (ensaymada) and 'pomorrow' (tomorrow).

Bootsie, on the other hand, could be understood even by other people way before his 2nd birthday and has a language all his own. He calls a certain curtain rod 'Nash' after a baby next door. He likes to say 'Dondex' and 'Durney durney' (sometimes 'Burney Burney') and 'Echebar echebar' in various degrees of excitement. I ask Yoshi what these all mean and Yoshi just says, 'It means he's happy, Mom', in this exasperated tone you would use when explaining something very basic to a slow child. (Fine, whatever. Duh.)

Boots gets most of these crazy stuff from his kuya, actually. Yoshi taught Boots to say 'Stop drumming, drummers!' (It took me a while to figure out they were talking about the drummer in this condo beside our house, who likes to be banging the thing way into the night. Ok, I am slow.) Boots also learned from kuya to slap his tummy over and over while chanting, 'Tummy tummy kers! Tummy tummy kers!' How crazy is that? And then sometimes Yoshi will be so engrossed with his PSP but then all of a sudden jumps up and shouts, 'Avengers!' and Bootsie who is likewise engaged in his own activity also jumps up and shouts, 'Avengers!' Like it's contagious or something.

At around the same age when Yoshi wanted something we always prompted him, what's the magic word? And he always gamely replied: magic word please! Ha ha. Bootsie's magic word version is 'And thank you and please!" Ha ha. Why can't they just say please like normal people?

Yoshi also likes to order his little brother around. He makes Bootsie say nosebleed stuff like 'beauty and power' and Bootsie promptly replies with something that sounds a lot like 'bitin and cupboard'. Yoshi also likes to remind Boots to speak in Engish and Bootsie obediently rattles off all the English words he can manage: 'um ... elephant! school! table! ..." Hahaha. My boys are such riots.

Boots' security Kitty pillow has one particular corner that's his favorite. While he's bottlefeeding or even in his sleep, he would turn the pillow around till he gets to that corner and would lovingly stroke it to his little heart's content. We call this corner Monsieur Bonjour (don't ask me why). One time Boots burst out crying and wailing, 'Kuya, wag mong i-bite si Monsieur Bonjour!' and poor Ate Ann could not understand what the fight was all about until Yoshi introduced her to Monsieur Bonjour.

Boots' right thumb - which he has been sucking on since babyhood and now looks all callused and sharp as a deadly weapon – we call Tender Juicy. Bcoz that's exactly how to describe it after Bootsie has been sucking on it too long – it gets all tender and juicy. (We're gross, I know.)

Bootsie also does not just say 'ayoko'; it's always 'ayoko, matamis, maalat!'. So when Ches and I call from the office and ask to talk to him, we hear him say in the background, 'ayoko, matamis, maalat!'. Or when Ches calls him when it's time to brush his teeth, it's the same reply: 'ayoko, matamis, maalat!'

When he wants to know the time, he asks, 'Anong 11 na?' And when he wants to know what flavor something is before he eats it, he asks, 'Anong strawberry to?' See, it's so easy to get lost with Bootsie if you didn't understand the Greek lingo he speaks. Which is another reason why I try to be really nice to the nannies - so they'll stick around and I won't have to get new ones and explain all these crazy quirks one by one.

Needless to say, Yoshi likes to tell on Boots for whatever little misdemeanor his brother is up to, and our standard reply is, 'It's ok. He's just a baby'. So then Bootsie got the message and twisted it to his advantage. If he peed on the floor, for example, or threw a book under the bed, and we scolded him, he would apologize and absolve himself in the same breath: 'Sorry, Mommy. Sorry, Daddy. It's ok. I'm just a baby.' Hahaha.

Which explains why I hardly watch TV anymore (except for Mike Enriquez in 24 Oras over dinner). Who needs TV when I get round-the-clock, laugh-out-loud live entertainment from my three boys?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

No need to be so details

(I wrote this for, the website of Babette's new English tutorials racket. When she first asked me to be a guest blogger, I told her: Wait lang, pa-derma muna ako. Ha ha. As if guest on a TV show. She asked us to write about any topic, and it's a proof of my love and respect for her that I managed to refrain from writing about sex or something. Ha ha. This is for Babs, the grammar Nazi girl, even if she does not agree that my favorite boss is a hottie and thinks he is 'kasing-itim ng siko'. Ha ha ha.)

I learned a lot from my bosses. In the law office, I had a boss who was a walking Strunk and White. He would call us to his room at night when he reviewed our legal opinions, and we would sit beside him as he mangled our work way into midnight. He didn't seem to particularly care whether our legal advice was accurate or thorough or could possibly send the whole firm to jail; he seemed only to care that we should write in flawless English. He taught us all the usual Strunk and White rules on avoiding big words, making our sentences concise, usage of semicolons, the works.

On top of these, however, he also had these rules that I honestly thought he just made up in his anal moments, but when I Googled them up, he was actually right. One example: use 'on behalf of' when you mean 'as agent of', and use 'in behalf of' when you mean 'for the benefit of'. Hence, on behalf of my equally clueless batch mates in the law office, I would like to thank our boss, the grammar Nazi, for slaving over all our legal documents, in behalf of our clients who undoubtedly could not care less whether our commas were properly placed.

From another boss I learned the difference between 'currently' and 'presently'. I had no idea there was even any difference, and raised my eyebrows when she crossed out the 'presently' in my draft and inserted 'currently'. (I can't explain it, but I seemed to be always in a fighting mode with this woman, always provoking her to fire me on the spot.) I surfed the Net and found that she was, in fact, correct. 'Currently' means 'right now' or 'in the present time' while 'presently' means 'soon to happen' or 'in a moment'. So, I'm currently hoping to learn something truly useful from a boss, other than hair-splitting grammar rules, one that will presently bring me loads of moolah.

My favorite boss of all time (mainly bcoz he's so hot, altho I seem to be the only one who thinks so) taught me to put 'place' before 'time' in a sentence. I think we were working on the agenda for a board meeting, when he told me that the place of the meeting should precede the date. In all fairness to me, I knew it all along and was doing it right; I just didn't know there were formal rules on it. (Place, manner, time is the correct order, apparently.) This time I didn't need to go to the Web; I just took his word for it. I have such a high regard for this guy that if he leaves even a single paragraph intact in a 10-page document that I ask him to review, I go and treat my office friends to lunch.

Now Boss No. 4 is a different breed altogether. He is, without a doubt, a brilliant man. He is, in fact, a multi-awarded business whiz and a well-loved icon in the company who has this talent of owning the stage when he makes a presentation – but his English often leaves me scratching my head in utter bewilderment. He asks me stuff like, “Have you meet so-and-so? Have you meet him?” and “Do we need to reply this?” He has many more of these laugh-out-loud comments, but my all-time favorite is: “No need to be so details”. From this boss I learned How to Murder the English Language.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Simple Joys

Let's just say things have not been so hot lately. I guess, no matter how old you are, it's always jarring when you see for yourself how nasty some people can get. So you just have to pick yourself up from the fall and move on hopefully to a place where people might be a little bit easier to live with.

Thank God that we can always still find something to be happy about, even in the dreariest days.

1. New babies. In the same week that I got the news that made me feel bad, I also learned that Mailyn and Gem were pregnant. Mailyn is an old friend from UP and QT and whose elder daughter is already 8 years old and who told me they have been trying for a baby for 3 years. I'm so happy for her. Gem is the wife of Dex, one of my friends from MWC, and they have also been wanting to conceive since they got married over two years ago. This is what babies do, I guess. They put things in perspective and make you see that the most important thing is - still - life.

2. Old friends. I told some friends who happened to call or text or email about my latest career-related dramas, and their responses were comforting if a bit quirky. Thom was excited at the possibility of me going back to the Ayala group. (Hahaha. So forward-looking.) Regie: At least naka-Superduo ka. (Whadawhack?!) Rhoel: Kulang ka lang sa inom. (So we proceed to go on a night out and are treated to Rhoel's one-man entertainment extravaganza and the only thing I drink is coffee but I end up telling the most obscene stories, anyway. Groan.) Jon calls several times to check up on me and make sure I don't do one of my usual drastic, stupid things. (I will love Jon forever.) Babette drops by the house and gives me this cutie nail file painted with flowers and with the words: Chocolates and shoes take away the blues. (Babs so knows me by heart.) However, I think it is Nico, who's this big shot in some call center, who offers the most comforting text: You can always take calls in my company. Hahaha.

3. Staying connected. We've been socially busy since the start of the year, thanks to so many friends who never run out of events to invite us to. There was Polo's Fun Ranch party, Calee's Shakey's party, Ate Mercy's despedida at Ayala Technohub, our Guesstures party with Paula, Thom, Ray and Joy, and a separate one with the PMS kids, Korean dinner with my Kdrama junkie friends, dinner with Gay, several visits from Beavis and family, and Randy too (bcoz he's working on a house renovation in the neighborhood). I love being able to stay in touch with friends. They are always on my to-do list.

4. The Ate in the post office. In January I finally got to send Kaye the Francis M and Pacquiao and other Pinoy paraphernalia I have been collecting for her since last year. We went to the post office on a Saturday, and the only person around was this Ate who taught me how to separate the CD from the rest so I wouldn't have to pay so much, and let me off with a lower rate even when the weight was a bit in excess, and even taped the package to her own satisfaction. I loved that Ate. She single-handedly restored my faith back in government service. Now there's somebody who understands what being a public servant is all about.

5. Yoshi's classics. It was a Sunday morning and we were all still in bed, playing around like we love to do on lazy weekends. Yoshi picks his PSP up and turns it on so I say: It's too early to be playing your PSP. His reply: Hay naku, it's too early to be having a mommy. Hahaha.

6. Bootsie's Eheads phase. I don't know exactly what brought it on again. It could be the Eheads songs (among 60 million other songs) that Justin loaded into Yoshi's PSP and which Yosh would play at night. Or it could be the Final Set disc that he put on one time for his own entertainment. In any case, Bootsie now knows the lyrics to Ang Huling El Bimbo like he does Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Sometimes his first words when he wakes up, before he is even out of bed, are: Kamukha mo si Paraluman ... He also likes Torpedo, Overdrive, Sembreak, Toyang, Aling Nena and Shirley. Yosh wants me to film Boots while he's doing his El Bimbo bit and put his video on Youtube. It's a good idea in an ideal world where your kids follow your instructions, especially when you're holding a camera.

7. Ate's riot texts. Ate texted a few weeks back, to say that she bought Ches an RL pajama set. Initially she didn't wanna buy it bcoz she was only a sister-in-law, and I should be buying my husband RL pjs. But then she thought he's a good daddy to her nephews and is married to her sister who's a bitch, so he deserved the RL pjs. Hahaha. Ches cannot stop laughing when I show him the text. I show it to Regina, too, who says, your sister knows you well. Haha.

8. Weekend movies. I'm happy to be updated in my movies. I'd stay up late after the boys go to sleep on weekends and watch to my heart's content. I've seen the Oscar contenders (The Hurt Locker, The Blind Side and Up In the Air are my favorites) and this small, quiet film Brothers, and an Australian indie type, Beautiful Kate. I also saw Funny People. Since Reign Over Me, I've been looking at Adam Sandler in a new light and realize he's made some pretty good films.

9. Books forever. I've always preferred books to movies bcoz you can open and close them anytime or go back to a previous part without the ceremony of having to plug an appliance and press a button. This year I've read Lucky, Alice Sebold's memoir about her rape in college. It's as stunning as her first work, The Lovely Bones. I also read The Giant's House, this strange, sad love story between a librarian and a boy who couldn't stop growing. I also liked Jodi Picoult's Change of Heart. I love The Green Mile feel to it, and the way she puts so much research into her work.

10. The St. Jude school buses. Or at least the ones with the wide snouts. There's something about them that's so nostalgic, like they're straight out of a 50s movie. We usually get to Malacanang around the time that they're getting out of the school gates, and Ches nudges me from my morning nap, and I sit up and squeal at the sight of them all lined up and moving slowly. It's one of those silly things that bring me joy for some reason I can never explain.

11. Chicharon from the GSIS canteen. It's not one of those annoying all-skin, empty-tasting chicharon everywhere. Every piece has a huge meat part that tastes so good especially when dipped in the brown vinegar that I like. It's really bad, I know it, but I just can't stop eating it anyway and every week I ask Ches to get me some from the canteen.

12. Simple but true. Ches was looking for shoes in Wade one time, when we saw this young couple also trying out pairs. The guy was asking the girl's opinion on these shoes he had on, and she said: "I like it. Simple but true. Pang-boy next door". Regina and I were barely able to hold our laughter. On another pair, the girl said: "I-try mong itakbo". (The guy did not jog in place, to his immense credit.) So while Ches was trying on all these shoes, Regina and I made comments like, "I like it. Sugar and spice and everything nice" or, "That looks nice. Pang-loverboy". Ches thinks the guy noticed what we were up to, but the girl seemed oblivious to it all. Hahaha. I love it when I meet a female who is ever more infuriating than me.

13. My MCLE hero. It was one of those interminable, insufferable MCLE classes where every lawyer in attendance works on his pleading or contract, reads a novel or the newspaper, play with his phone or laptop, anything other than listen to the lecturer. And then all of a sudden somebody blurted out, 'Ayun o!' We all looked around to see where it came from and found this big guy at the back who was without a doubt asleep and shouting in his dream. And that's not the end of it. In the afternoon session he was still asleep and contentedly, loudly moaning 'Haaayyy..." several times. He cracked us all up and livened up our MCLE class. And in his deep,happy sleep, he didn't even know it.

14. The afternoon breeze. My favorite part of the weekend is when we take naps in the afternoon and the breeze is strong enough that we don't even have to use the fan and the leaves make this soothing, rustling sound that lull us to sleep. It takes me back to my summer vacations in the province where life was so much easier and simpler and having people you love beside you in bed was all you needed to be happy.