Keeping the conversation going

Friday Sunset illuminating my favorite Chrysler Building.  I can stare at this elegant building all day.  #Friday #sunset #midtown #midtowneast #midtowncityscape #mynyc #mynewyork #chryslerbuildingI started writing this post Saturday morning when I was a little off, having stayed up the previous night talking to the folks on the other side of the world back home — catching up.  That’s one thing I like about Fridays — I need not worry about the following day being another work day — although there are week nights when the tolling of midnight doesn’t really matter and I find myself sleeping later than I should.  Going on 15 years now living on the other side of the world, I’ve gotten good at finding ways and means to keep the conversation going despite the distance.  The time difference can be a problem but it just means adjusting to the fact that the sun being up here means it’s evening or morning back home.  So it’s late night for me or for them — the point is, you stop thinking of timezones.

Still, I marvel at how communicating in our every day lives has gotten much easier with all the many forms of pinging someone even halfway around the world.  And yet there are many instances in our every day lives when we fail to keep the lines open, and something drops.  When things trail off and then there’s silence.

Sometimes it’s easy to reopen the lines.  There are people in our lives who can come and go without us feeling their absence.  You know, those friends who can be “absent” for months on end and yet when they return, it’s as if you just spoke with them yesterday.  And there are those who just fade away.  It’s strange that I used to think that was sad.  These days, it’s just life, that’s all.  I’ve had former friends who went that route.  Just one or two.  One, I didn’t really care about.  (Crazy Korean woman married to a friend of the hubby.)  The other I had known much longer, and from whom I had expected more — but then again, not everyone can live up to our expectations, just as not everything turns out the way we want them to.

I’ve come to realize that those who keep the conversation going are the ones worth keeping.  Friendship, or any relationship for that matter, requires work.  You cannot just stay quiet or just say there’s always next time or I’ll say hello, eventually.  Maybe I’m also at fault for thinking that way about some friends.  Wake up call, it is.  Or not.  Some people we care about, others we don’t.

Some conversations we can keep going, others we don’t really care about.  In either case, it’s a deliberate effort — it doesn’t just happen.  As Randy Crawford used to sing.. “One hello… is how it starts..”

Hello from New York.


The little things that surprise you

I should be in bed.  I should be asleep.  Instead, I’m listening to jazz music and writing here.  (Oh, and i have a receipt to print out for tomorrow… but again, I’m here.)

I tried to look at my blog dashboard Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday.  I just looked, I didn’t type anything up.  And yet there were  a ton of things to write about.  I just didn’t have the energy nor the time.  Blame it on work.  (I know, right? Such a distraction!)

But tonight I vowed I would write, before all the inspiration and thoughts disappear into the ethernet and I am rendered stumped for a blog post again.
All bundled up and ready to brave the cold tonight, and looking out the window at a stunning view of Midtown Manhattan.  #coldautumn #nyc #midtown #midtowneast #midtowncityscape  #midtownmanhattan  #bundledup

It was another long day Thursday, and I was looking forward to a break at the end of the day but everything went awry at the last minute.  So all thoughts of leaving early and taking a leisurely stroll through the line of shops in Bryant Park had to be set aside to take care of some last minute tech glitches.  Problem was solved soon enough, but it was too late to do anything more beyond wait for the bus and get on it.

All bundled up with extra layers of clothing, I was ready to brave the cold.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  Everybody seems to think the snow was here in Manhattan, but it was way upstate.  Still, we’re all grateful for the concern.  (My brother, Abril, actually sent me a message asking how we were doing against the cold front.  Cold, I told him.. then I saw the snow up in Buffalo and figured that’s what the rest of the world is seeing.  That’s practically like Bicol and Manila, so no, we’re cold but we’re not covered with snow.)

All week long, I’ve been hit by little surprises that made me smile.  From a note from BFF Donna in Australia, to a very cheerful greeting from my “half boss”, the President of our Asian operations  (a Brit who is based in Oz) telling me something looks different when he saw me — and although he couldn’t place it, he said it looked good.  Two things, I told him — I’ve lost weight, and the hair is a lighter color.    (He’s not quite my boss because I only help him when he’s here in New York — the real boss in my world is actually a Chief something something as I describe him.)  BFF Fe showered me with her wisdom all week long — the universe has spoken.

A friend who I hadn’t heard from for two weeks suddenly called just to say hi.  We were hoping to catch up but missed each other due to meetings.  Another who usually wouldn’t e-mail has e-mailed twice.  (Mental telepathy?)  And it turns out my courtyard neighbor is close cousins with a friend from my college days — and he has visited twice and I have never even seen him.  I pinged him on Messenger this morning while his cousin-in-law was seated next to me on the bus, and he was also so blown away by the fact that I actually know one of his closest relatives.

Little things that made me smile, and now as I look back on it, I find myself smiling an even bigger smile remembering.  That’s what happy thoughts do to us — they provide us the wall to lean on when we feel spent, defeated or on the verge of breaking down.  Or what give us a dose of optimism when we are buried in work or other worries.  Those little surprises that we would otherwise ignore individually, when summed up together gives us a better picture of how things aren’t all that bad, even when we feel like the cold is sapping us of much needed energy and optimism.

Take them for what they are instead of over thinking them — and you might yet be pleasantly surprised to see the week hasn’t been that bad at all.

 

 

 


Monday Musings – bits and pieces here and there

I tried — rather unsuccessfully — to do another Daily Prompt post yesterday.  There are times when a topic appeals to me, but no matter how I try, I cannot pull a coherent post together.  For the most part, it’s because I kept trying to censor myself and not be too obvious.  And so I just gave up and decided all the subterfuge was defeating the very purpose of writing.  I don’t think that post will ever see the light of day.

Moving on..

My head is pounding and no amount of painkillers seem to be helping.  I’m buried in work and not even Robert Palmer seems to help.  He’s singing in the background on ultra-low volume, but I can hear the percussions very clearly.  (I still mourn his loss.)  I am almost counting the minutes to the time I can leave work, but the prospect of braving the cold makes me ambivalent about that.  Then again, it would be nice to take a nap between Manhattan and home..

When I can’t quite write longer than a paragraph or two on a Monday, I collate all those scattered thoughts into one single piece I’ve started calling Monday Musings.. here’s this week’s.

Cannelloni —  pray tell me, Jonathan, I don’t remember what that’s about.  Those who know me know Jonathan is my friend of thirty-something years from pre-law in UP Manila, and one of those who inspired me to pursue the dream of becoming a lawyer as he jumped into law school a year ahead of me.  He is also one of my dearest friends who knows me to the core, and is my personal attorney.  (Pro bono, or compensated with love and affection.)  I had copied a status thread where you were supposed to leave a comment if you were my friend and just one word — a single word – as to how we met.

Jonathan wrote “Cannelloni”.   It wasn’t so much what he wrote but that he wrote — and I felt the tears welling up.  I took a deep breath and just smiled.   I used to love Cannelloni — I believe from Angelino’s, a rather famous Italian restaurant in Makati and Greenhills from the 80s.  And I can’t remember, for the life of me, what one of my favorite dishes has to do with how he and I met.  We were from different cliques in the university but I ended up being the only girl in the group — everyone’s younger sister — the one who drank a soda whenever they ordered another round of beer.  I still can’t remember… (Note to self: Write and ask..)

nyc2008Starbucks mugs — to display or not to display..  I have been collecting Starbucks mugs (and only Starbucks, please) for 14 years now, and I have been meaning to re-arrange them and display them again.  (I just need to rewrap them in clear plastic to prevent them from collecting dust and grime.)  Events in the last 12 months had made me rethink that, almost to the point of making me think of packing them up and storing them away.  I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say I’m maybe 20 mugs behind photographing the collection, but I never really stopped adding new ones.  And of course, friends who knew about my collection brought me additions to the set from places as far as Dubai and India, and Alan had brought me one from Jordan during the last business trip to Iran which, unfortunately, hasn’t been invaded by our favorite brew.  My siblings sent me Tagaytay and Cebu.  (And I think Bohol.. not sure..)  What to do..

 

 

 


Daily Prompt: Good Tidings

DAILY PROMPT: “Present-day you” meets “10-years-ago you” for coffee. Share with your younger self the most challenging thing, the most rewarding thing, and the most fun thing they have to look forward to.

It’s cold this Saturday but I’m warm and toasty at home.  The sun is shining outside but then I know that’s a pretty deceiving scene considering I need a sweater indoors.  I’ve always been a “hot climate” person.  After all, that’s what I had been raised in back home.

I had to take care of a few things for work this morning but found myself drifting here before handling any of the more serious things in life like my online class, maybe my art journal (finally on the multi-page layout I’ve been dying to start working on) and homework.  (Not mine..)

DSCF8166Ten years ago, I was a new mother, marveling at this wonderful boy I was given in May.. I had already gone back to work, my mother was here helping me take care of my bundle of joy, and everything was DIFFERENT now that I had that other life depending upon me.  Not just as a food source (I breastfed him until he was 2), but because I had another reason for existence.  I had someone else to take care of, and that was all that mattered.

That would be quite an experience seeing me then even as it is an experience thinking back now after all that has happened.  Were the guys at The Daily Post thinking of me, I wonder, when they thought up of this prompt?  Of course not!  But another one of those prompts from the universe that is just so apt.  (Or as we would say in the vernacular, “swak na swak!” LOL)

I would sit across from the me 10 years ago who would be ordering a Skinny Decaf Cafe Au Lait.  Present day me would be holding a cup of the latest sweet drink concoction, still skinny, but no longer Decaf.  In an espresso store, I’d ask for a double shot.  The me 10 years ago would have very short hair, thinner than I was now (the effects of having had to diet to keep my gestational diabetes during pregnancy at bay).  I’d look tired but I’d be glowing… happy in a naive sort of way — but not harassed or haggard like most new mothers were.  She would have a bigger smile than me, but my smile would come from deeper within than hers would.  So shall we…

THE MOST CHALLENGING THING in your life will come nine years going forward — although you will think the worst would have come a year earlier.  Lesson learned: Don’t ever think the worst has come to pass just because you thought your whole world fell apart at one juncture in your life.  That might just not be the big explosion you thought it was — something worse might come along.

There will be some very painful lessons learned, but you will survive them a better person.  That little boy you now cradle in your arms will be your anchor, and his love and devotion will hold you up.  Hang on to that.. that is all you need and that is what will pull you through.

Do not ever doubt your strength.  Your first challenge made you think you were not as strong as you thought you were.  The second will prove to you that you are far more resilient and stronger than you ever thought possible.  You will be surprised by your capacity for hate and forgiveness at the same time — and you will see you were wrong to think you weren’t as big a person as you actually are.  Embrace who you are and never doubt yourself!

Trust your instincts and try not to give everyone so much benefit of the doubt.  That will be your undoing.  If your suspicions are aroused by some act or thing or other, act on it immediately.  Do not sweep it under the rug.  Sadly, those people who you thought were better than you are a notch below in reality.  You give people too much credit.  You should give YOURSELF more.  Hang on to that and you might have an easier time weathering the storm than I did.  But the good news is, you WILL make it through.

THE MOST REWARDING THING that will ever come your way just entered your life.  That little guy will love you like no other.  His devotion to you will be the envy of even his father.  All the love you give and pour into that little person will come back to you in immeasurable amounts and unending waves.  He is worth all the sacrifice you will ever find yourself making and I know you will never hesitate to put him first above everything and everyone else, even your own happiness.

At the end of it all, when the chaos quiets down, you will find that he is your best reward and the best thing that ever happened to you.  And no matter that there will be times when you doubt that you are being a good mother, you will know later on that you gave it your 200%.  You are a good mother and will always be one — and the best part of it is he knows it.

Ten years from now, you will realize that his entry into your world changed your life in more ways than you ever thought, not always for the better — but those changes were beyond your control.  Not everyone and everything looks at his arrival the same way, and do not get angry with yourself for not having seen things unfold sooner.  Everything happened for a reason, and the universe has a funny way of unveiling the truth.  When that happens, hang on to the one truth that will forever hold you up — that young life that you gave birth to is the best thing that has happened to you.  And that will make up for whatever else comes to try and steal the thunder from that gift.

THE MOST FUN THING you have to look forward to will be going to places you never thought you will ever go to.. Paris twice (with a side trip to Chartres on your own!), Brussels and Brugge, Orlando almost every other year with your little guy.. and don’t worry about missing ‘home’ because you will go home almost every year in the next 10 years.

In the grand scheme of things, you will have a good life in the next ten years.  Even at its worst, the fact that you know where to run and what to do will make it look like just another one of those bumps in life, though in reality the earth swallowed you up and you almost drowned.

Never let go of who you are.  Do not let the conventions of life force you to change who and what you are inside.  Do not let others mold you to be a person that isn’t true to your real self.  Do not wait for ten years to pass before you find yourself again — hang on to it because it is what will pull you through when others try to take your and your son’s happiness away.  You’d be surprised at how tough a fighter you can be — but then you should already know you are a formidable opponent in any field — more so where your son’s happiness and future are concerned.

I’d be lying if I said you won’t have any regrets 10 years from now — because there will be many.  But once all is said and done, you will still say you would have done it the same way if given the chance for a do-over.  That little boy is all that matters.  You wouldn’t be where I am today if others were not as heartless and selfish — I wouldn’t be smiling from across the table reassuring you you will be fine — if you weren’t able to overcome all that heartache and disappointment that came your way.  Just remember when they do that even those who hurt you will bring something better into your life later on.  Their selfishness will make you appreciate things in life a little differently, and will steer you in a different direction that isn’t all that bad after all.

Welcome the new things that come into your life.  Hang on to the fearless person you have always been — even as those around you try to put YOU in shackles.  You are one strong woman and you will see that work to your advantage at the worst of times.  You will make it — because you are stronger than everyone thinks you are — stronger than even you think YOU are.


Central Park and My Little Guy

Central Park on Veteran's Day 2014

I had vowed to come back this year to Central Park to document the scenes of fall.  I was here around this time last year, exploring its pathways and hidden gems — also with my little guy — one time Alan had friends in town.  I hate that I don’t get to visit as often, considering that its Midtown “edge” on 59th is actually near my “nest” in Manhattan.  Fifteen years a New Yorker and I have yet to explore beyond the 80s.  (Getting there.)

Central Park on Veteran's Day 2014

It wasn’t quite the scenery I had been lucky to capture in 2009, but it was as breathtaking nevertheless.  The leaves hadn’t quite all fallen, blanketing the grass with the gorgeous colors of fall.  Not yet.  So maybe I will come back next week when that would have happened.

The beautiful thing about autumn is how the colors can change from day to day and the landscape dramatically transforms overnight.  The color palette will be different in a day or two, and this whole scene will become a totally different canvas.

Central Park on Veteran's Day 2014

He loves exploring Central Park.  I used to keep him close by, holding his hand all the time.  These days, I have to keep up or I will get left behind.  Even in Manhattan, he looks around to check who can see when he cozies up to Mommy.  (My friends might see, he would say.)  He walks ahead of me now, sometimes way too far ahead, and I still worry.  (I had always admonished him to be within sight, and not too far ahead lest someone grab him and Mommy might end up a basket case..)
Central Park on Veteran's Day, Autumn 2014

The rock formations fascinate him no end, that’s why I wore my rugged boots to make sure that I could climb with him.  And climb we did!  (Three hours of this around the Park and by the time we reached the American Museum of Natural History by noon, I felt like I had done my workout for the day.)
centralparkvetsday05

I sometimes find myself telling him to stop growing up too fast — as if that would slow the growth and keep him from getting smarter and taller… It’s a mom’s plea to the universe to just keep him a child a little longer — so I can still keep him close and cuddle him like a baby on my lap.  The taller he gets, the farther he can go away — and grow away — and as a mom, I want to keep him the way he is just a little longer.  He’s already up to my nose at 10 years old.  In another year or so, he will be as tall if not taller than me.

centralparkvetsday01

His favorite spot is not any of the fountains or bridges or the numerous playgrounds that dot the expanse of the park.  It’s this rolling stream flowing through a natural jungle gym of rocks called The Gorge from which the Gill flows into the Ramble.

centralparkvetsday03

He takes in everything with an insatiable curiosity — and no matter how many times we go and explore the park, it always has the appeal of a real adventure for him each and every time.
Central Park on Veteran's Day - Fall 2014
These days, it’s not as easy to make him pose for pictures anymore.  Remember when your little one would so readily strike a pose and smile when you whipped out your camera?  Even selfies take a little effort now — although the protests are not quite beyond mommy’s coaxing just yet.  I usually get a good shot or two out of every half dozen which isn’t so bad.  The threat of more pictures without a decent smile in the next one usually does it.  Soon, I will have to blackmail him or use motherly persuasion (translated: threats) to get him to agree to be photographed… (Selfie tip if using an iPhone – use your headset volume switch as a remote for your camera.  It does work!)

Central Park Veteran's Day - Fall 2014Lugging my DSLR-like camera, the blackberry and the iPhone, I still wish I had taken more pictures.  I just want to capture everything about him.. well, there’s always the next time my little guy and I go explore Central Park.


Daily Prompt: Ready, Set, Done!

Daily Prompt: Our ten-minute free-write is back for another round! Tap away on whatever comes to mind, no filters attached. (Feel free to edit later, or just publish as-is).

A note from Pinay New Yorker: For the past couple of months, my posts here have been very spontaneous and I have not been participating in any of the things going on at The Daily Post, a community of bloggers on this platform.  A quick search shows that my last attempt at being a part of their Daily Prompts was in April yet with this post.  It can only mean that either I have been so prolific and not wanting for any blog prompts, or I have been too lazy to try and write with a set standard or parameters.  (That’s the rebel in me.)  In any case, I have been trying to “get back” to writing with the community, and looks like this will get me somewhere — this time.  So the clock has been set — 10 minutes… let’s see what we come up with.

I just downed two tablets of pain relievers because I have a nasty headache rearing its ugly head somewhere at the back of my brain.  It isn’t quite there yet, but I know it’s coming.  Give me my meds!

It’s been a rather quiet morning — although not for want of anything to do, but more because the boss is away.  There is a lot I need to catch up on, and I’m trying to tick things off my list.  The end of the year is always busy for us, until we all go on holiday.

This year is different because I know I’m not going home, “Home” being 10,000 miles away where Christmas begins in September and ends with the Feast of the Three Kings second week of January.  (Yes, we have the longest Christmas season ever.)  I have started thinking of my Christmas card which I have made every year — well, except for last year.

Pause.  There are times when I get stumped and this is one of those times. 

Looking back to last year, except for the fact that I surrounded myself with the love of family and friends back in Manila, it wasn’t much of a Christmas for me.  Part of me was being torn by anger and hate, and part of me was being crushed by a life-changing disappointment.  Yet at that time, I found the greatest strength in the people who have always been there for me.  The same people who have rejoiced with me when I found myself in a good place held my hand and saw me through the worst of times.  My annual holiday card was the last thing I was thinking of.

This year, my holiday card will be one of the things I want to bring back.  Yes, I will make it again.  I don’t know yet what design or which way I will go.. what colors or what symbols I will put in.  Do I do mixed media or a plain photo card?  And it hits me that I have Thanksgiving to worry about first. 

And again, I go back to last year’s.  There wasn’t much to be thankful for… and I didn’t even bother to cook.  We had a good thanksgiving lunch, though, at a fancy place up in Long Island.  I think I’m going to go that route again.  (Makes my life easier.. and easy is always better.)

I don’t like that I don’t have Manila to look forward to this Christmas, but I’m fine with that.  Part of my “journey back” in the last year has been to try and regain my footing, which, I think I’ve had some success with.  I am more upbeat about the holidays this year than I was in 2013, and that, in itself is a good thing. 

Life goes on, they say.. and I’ve gone through the last 12 months with a better understanding of that phrase.  I’m here, am I not?  And here is where I am staying.

 


A love like no other

Everyone who knows me knows my world revolves around this little guy who has been the love of my life for the last 10 years. From the moment he came out into this world, my life was changed forever. Although I would discover later that it had changed even more than I had perceived, and it appears that his entry into my life had caused a drastic change in other parts of my world I didn’t even see, I would not trade his being a part of my life for anything else. No matter what challenges I have faced or am facing, knowing I have him in my life changes the face of the game.  I look at him and I know I’m in a good place.

I pride myself in teaching him to be outwardly affectionate and expressive of what he feels.  It’s not always easy and he is not the same way with everyone else, but that has given me precious rewards like a poster with scribblings of various declarations of love for his Mommy.
Love like no other

So forget that he missed out on a word or two — I get the point.  Unfortunately, my son didn’t inherit my penmanship but I’m not complaining.  And for my son to know my birth date and birth year shows my History professor-to-be has a knack for dates like I used to at his age.  (Dates and phone numbers were easy for me, just don’t make me do Math please.)
Love like no other

Naturally, the Dad was jealous as can be, but the boy told him there was only one poster board.  (We shall scramble for another.)

Love like no other

I like these little surprises he springs on me — for no reason at all, except that he thought of it one afternoon.  I wish I could frame the entire poster but it was half a sheet.  So I took snapshots instead and might frame one of these.  I have a knack for keeping his scribblings and projects — and even at just 10, he marvels at my memory box which contains a lock of his hair, his belly button stump, his first onesie, and all that stuff.   When I can, I incorporate his works into my art journal.

Precious words from the 10-year-old who lights up my world and warms my heart.  Forever, son. #motherhood #motherandson #dinnagon #angelogon #love #anak

A friend on Facebook commented the above was so eloquently said.  I couldn’t have phrased it better.  I am proud that my son’s heart has the eloquence to show what it feels — and I am heartened as that bodes well for him when he grows up.  That’s a precious gift that I hope I can continue to nurture.  One day, he will love others — and I want him to be able to express that love the same way he has expressed his love for his current “love of his life — his Mommy.”

Children come into our lives and we are never the same again.  After two miscarriages, I was almost ready to accept that I would not be given that precious gift until he came.  My pregnancy was very challenging with gestational diabetes and all, but when he came out into this world, I forgot about all those challenges and focused on this new life I gave birth to.

He is the reason I am still around, and hope to be around for years to come.  I look at him and I see that I have been blessed.  Forget about the heartaches and the disappointments — he makes it all worth it.  He alone makes the negative seem trivial compared to all the joy he exudes and the love he gives.  I reach out to touch him and I feel an overwhelming reassurance that everything will be okay.  I know his love is like no other.

 


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