Monday, April 30, 2012

Travelling With Ate

Ate calls me The Malditaness to my face. As in: 'All of you three boys are sleeping on the carpet while The Malditaness gets the bed all to herself?!' Or: 'Hay naku, Ches, you're too nice! Ikaw na nga naglaba, ikaw pa nagtutupi. And The Malditaness is just there blogging!!!' Hahaha.

What Ate doesn't know is that Ches and I also have a codename for her: The Travel Nazi. Hahaha. She says her officemates could not believe that we were able to do so much in the 24 days we were in the US, and that they said most Americans take 20 years or even a lifetime to visit all the places we went to. She calls them: losers. Hahaha.

She was like the mommy character in The Glass Menagerie who would cheerfully wake her kids up every morning with 'Rise and shine!' Ches and I certainly wanted to make the most out of our stay, but there were days we told her to slow down, that we don't have to be hopping from one place to another every single day. The two boys, for their part, were vocal about their preference to just stay home and play with the iPad (Yoshi) or watch Disney Junior (Boots). But noooo, Ate will have none of that, bcoz she says staying in is an utter waste of our plane fare. Hence, our fully packed itinerary. The only time she ever let up was the Sunday before our Monday flight, and I think that was only bcoz (1) we needed to pack, and (2) a storm was raging. She had planned to take us to Newport in Rhode Island that day, and I'm pretty sure if the weather was only better we definitely would've gone, luggage be damned. Hahaha.

If not for The Travel Nazi, tho, how else would we have been able to see all those sights and be enriched by all our experiences in the US? Actually, in the first place, we wouldn't even have gone to the US if not for her. And gee, what a major production number she made of it. She planned every single detail, paid for all our hotels and transpo, rented a big van to fit us all for the duration of our stay, treated us to all our meals (except for the rare times she let me or Ches foot the bill), bought us goodies when we went shopping, in addition to those that she already had waiting for us when we got there. She lent me all her funky coats and boots and her Hello Kitty everything, pointed out funny signs and trivia that she knows I would consider blog material, took our 60 million family and honeymoon pix. She played the Easter Bunny, too!

She even made us breakfast (Boots misses her smiley fries and dinosaur chicken nuggets, while Yoshi misses her mac and cheese wedges and White Castle cheeseburgers), and fully stocked her freezer and pantry with our favorites (60 million drinks and sweets for the boys, all kinds of sausages for Ches, and Haagen Dazs, Friday's quesadillas, chips, nuts, Almond Roca, and Lindt truffles for me). She (and Bryan) took the boys to the Rockefeller Center and bought them Legos, and rode the ferris wheel with them at Toys R Us, while we watched Wicked in Broadway. She also took them to see Mirror Mirror while Ches and I did our shopping. She even offered to babysit so Ches and I can have dinner out or whatever, but we were usually all travelled out by the time she was done with us that we never had the energy to take her up on it. Hahaha.

She calls me The Malditaness, but to Ches she is eternally kind and sweet. Hahaha. She was the same with Kaye. Of course, it needs no stating that she LOVES Yoshi and Boots like her own. Omigosh, the three of them are just so in love and caught up in each other that I don't even have to do any of my usual mommy worrying and I can just step back and pretend to be travelling solo. Hahaha.

What a journey it has been - and all courtesy of The Travel Nazi. Thank you, Ate. We love you.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

American Beauty

Bcoz of jet lag, we are Suddenly The Morning People, we the family notorious for sleeping in till noon on weekends and holidays. In the Cape, Ate would wake up early to find us having already raided her pantry and freezer since dawn. Haha. It's the same when we got back home. We'd be asleep by 8pm (Boots sometimes as early as 4) and up by 3AM. I play a game of Who's Awake Earlier Today with Babette, who herself had just gotten back from LA. She usually wins by 30 minutes. Haha.

Jet lag is not so bad, tho, if you have all these wonderful memories to wallow in in your sleeplessness.

I remember all the beautiful houses all around Massachusetts - mostly white, with clapboards, shingled roofs, shutters, bricks, chimneys, porches, wreaths on the door, flower boxes, mailboxes, white picket fences. Most of them have the American flag proudly waving on the front door. The first time I noticed this was on our way to Sutton in our DC road trip. I asked Ate what the occasion was, why all the flags. Ate goes, 'Nothing. They're just patriotic. Duh.' Hahaha.

I took 60 million pictures of these houses. I have visions of myself walking hand in hand with Randy and doing an endless tour of these beauties.

I remember the flowers - cherry blossoms, apple blossoms, dogwoods, daffodils, tulips, magnolias. I was such The Flower Whore in this trip, having my pix taken in every nice flower patch I saw. Haha. Bryan understands tho, bcoz he has had to put up with Ate yelling 'stop the car!' when they're driving along somewhere, and he gets all worried about what the problem might be, when it turns out she just wants a pix with some flowers they passed by. Hahaha. We are sisters, no doubt.

I remember the New England food. My favorites were the seafoods, chowder, and the Cape Cod potato chips.

Ate took pictures of me downing chowder after chowder in the Cape.

My first one the very night we got there at Ninety-Nine.

My second one the following day at Not Your Average Joe's.

My second favorite at Marshland.

My runaway favorite at Captain Parker's.

(Captain Parker's is one of the best restos in the Cape. It has received countless awards for its chowder.)

I had 60 million other chowders between Ninety-Nine and Captain Parker's. I LOVED it. I think I'm going to refrain from ordering chowder here for a while tho, bcoz it will probably just end up being a letdown compared to what I had in the Cape. Sigh.

Best of all, I remember all the lovely people we met along the way. All the friendly people in the Cape, from the bus drivers who were always waving and smiling at us, the waitresses and staff in the groceries and stores who chatted us up. (We always stood out bcoz the Cape is mostly made up of whites, and Ate says the only Asians are academic types in the marine science labs.) The elegant lady in Boston who wanted to know where I got my ruffled, multi-colored skirt. (She looked disappointed when I gave her the answer, I guess bcoz there is no way she's coming all the way to the Philippines just to buy a skirt from Kamiseta. Hahaha.) There was Ray, the burly building administrator at our hotel in DC who let me use his computer in his office for as long and as often as I wanted bcoz I couldn't access my USB from the business center. (Ate insists he was just hitting on me. Hahaha.)

New Yorkers have a bad rep for being rude, loud, and frenetic. And I actually saw all that for myself. Hahaha. The waitresses and cashiers didn't smile much less chat, the vendors sounded impatient and short-tempered, and everyone else seemed to be in one big friggin hurry to get somewhere. (Maybe to hang out at the bleachers in Times Square? Hahaha.) They are also the most colorful people I met in our trip tho. I think the people of New York is best summed up by what one tour guide said about this resto in Greenwich: it's an Italian resto that also specializes in Asian fusion food and is owned by Israelis. Something like that. Hahaha.

We had a quite a mix from our cab drivers alone - from the middle-aged Asian female who took us to Broadway, the Bangladeshi who tried to make a born-again Christian out of Ches in our ride from the 9-11 memorial to Central Park, and the Latin American who talked on the phone in his native language the whole time he was driving us from Dylan's to the Sanrio store.

Then there were all our tour guides in the hop on-hop off bus. The first we had was Phyllis, a black lady who used to work at the World Trade Center, smart and who knew it. I liked her not only for all the little trivia that she shared with us thruout the tour, but also bcoz she was so self-assured and sounded like she was not going to take crap from anyone. She had none of that I'm-a-slave-at-your-beck-and-call-madam subservient tone that I detest among people in the service industry.

I also liked the other black guy with the deadpan humor. He said the best country singer ever is ... Jessica Simpson. And the best concert ever held at Madison Square Garden was the one of ... Bon Jovi. And he pointed to a lady on the street holding a Dash shopping bag. He said, 'Dash is owned by Kim Kardashian. If you're looking for class, look no further than Kim Kardashian.' HAHAHA. Such a winner. He also made us sing Macho Man while driving thru Greenwhich, where The Village People are from, and The Way You Look Tonight as we passed New Jersey across the shore, in honor of Frank Sinatra who came from there. So fun. He was exactly who we needed to be with on a hot day in New York.

My favorite tour guide is a toss-up between the black guy and Eva, who did our Brooklyn night tour. She came to NY from Amsterdam with just $50 and a Plan B to dress up and pose like Virgin Mary in front of one of the cathedrals. She ended up doing just that and was surprised to be earning good money, at $10 an hour, from passers-by, but then the police came. Hahaha. She is blond and lanky and reminded me of Gwyneth Paltrow.

I don't even like Gwyneth Paltrow, but I liked Eva bcoz she was so fun and a bit on the wild side. She made us scream at the top of our lungs when we passed bridges and tunnels and half-naked black guys playing basketball in Brooklyn (the last bit being the best part of the tour according to her). She said she was reprimanded by the tour company bcoz she talked about sex, religion, and politics during her tours - and she goes, 'what else can you talk about?' Hahaha. She had this funny European accent that made her 'a' sound like 'u', so you can imagine how naughty it was when she said stuff like 'this area used to be a fuctory', or 'a little known fuct about New York is that ...'. Hahaha.

At the end of the tour she gave a quiz on all the trivia about the skyscrapers and the history of NY and all of that, and no one could answer, but when she asked about all the stories she shared about herself, we all clearly remembered. Which I think just goes to show that when we travel, it's not so much the facts that we remember, but the people.

There was also the group of shirtless black acrobats who were doing their number in the park just as we had gotten off the ferry from Staten Island. They did this stand-up comedy routine between their dance moves and stunts that had Kaye and me getting tummy aches from laughing too hard.

The finale involved jumping over a group of people in the audience, and the leader said, 'Of course, our show would not be complete without an Asian guy'. And he goes on to pick a Chinese-looking dude who just happened to be from ... New York. Hahaha. So he was disqualified, and the next Asian guy chosen was none other than ... Chestnuts. Yes! He was harrased like gay comedians do to guys in the comedy bars here, to the point of having his butt spanked by the leader. Bryan told Ches, 'Now that's your claim to fame. Not many male Asians can say they've been spanked by a black guy'. Hahaha.

There was also the street musician who serenaded us with Lupang Hinirang and Dahil Sa Yo while we were lined up to see the Statue of Liberty. How cool is that?

We met a Filipino in NY, of course. He was a young gay who got our orders in the food court where we had lunch in Staten Island. I wasn't sure he was Pinoy but Kaye was and she spoke to him in Tagalog. He giggled and said, 'Minsan hindi ko inaamin na Pinoy ako, sinasabi ko I'm from Thailand, kaya lang yung mga Filipino sinasagot ako ng: weeeeeh?!' Hahaha. Mabuhay ang mga bading na Pinoy sa New York!

My favorite New Yorker, tho, is The Limo Guy. Limos are one of Bootsie's obsessions and there were so many in NY and he clapped and squealed everytime we saw one. On our way to catch our ferry for the harbor cruise, there was a black limo parked right on the street, and so Bootsie posed happily and we all clicked away with our cameras.

The Asian chauffeur, probably seeing our collective excitement, went out ... and actually let Bootsie in the limo. Omg. He had heaven written all over his little face.

Thank you, Asian New Yorker Limo Guy, from all of us, for making our little baby's limo dreams come true.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What I Learned From Our US Trip

1. That plain old 'hello' is so boring

2. That you can never say 'thank you' enough

3. ... and you can never be too spicy

4. That one nation's vomit is another one's wardrobe

5. ... while another person's waste can be someone else's sustenance

6. That money may not be able to buy happiness

7. ... unless it's the oven-roasted, or deep-fried, high-cholesterol kind

8. That there's no problem short of a nuclear war that a good salon cannot solve

9. That there's payback time for all your food-tripping (groan)

10. ... but you can always just get a bigger dress

11. ... or try alternative forms of exercise (flying off the handle = so me)

12. That being an asshole is not such a bad thing if you're from Massachusetts

13. ... bcoz of all the nice beaches

14. ... especially in the Cape =)

15. That the important thing in life is love

16. ... and chocolates

17. ... and literature and loyal friends (even if furry)

18. ... but the most important thing is first to be alive

19. That you need to get off your butt and make the most out of life

20. ... in other words, carpe diem

21. ... bcoz life is too short for mediocrity

22. That whining sometimes doesn't work

23. ... and it can even cost you

24. ... but if you must whine, do it right away!

25. That having too many friends is not always a good thing

26. ... and virtual friends are particularly lame

27. ... and the best kind of friends is still the old kind

28. That the worst combination is presumptuous + dumb

29. That a girl has every right to be selectively nasty

30. ... or just choose not to care

31. ... but even mean girls have a sweet side (if you're lucky)

32. That there is always ice cream to look forward to

33. That monogamy does not have to mean monotony, and chatting makes a marriage

34. That McDo can offer tips on what to look for in a man

35. That you must remember not to do unto another butt cheek what you do not want done unto yours

36. ... such as sharing your bodily fluids

37. That exam woes are universal (even Hahvahd kids have them)

38. That you can face any weather with the right attitude

39. That there can only be one wise choice this year

40. That we shouldn't put God in a box

41. That we never really learn

42. That it's not just shit that happens

43. And that whatever you do, don't ~!@#$! annoy the chef!!!