The Pinay New Yorker in Paris

All I can say is it was quite an experience — and short as it may have been (just 3 1/2 days actually), I feel like I did so much and had stayed there that long.  Ihadn’t even gotten off the flight home and I was already asking Alan when we were going back.  He said we will and we will visit other places next time, perhaps take a trip to Lyon or the South of France.

When Alan and I were planning our life together, he told me about all the things he wanted to be able to do — and I think we can chalk this up as one dream fulfilled.  Although I didn’t join him until his third trip to Paris, I know and feel it was different for him because this time, we were together.

I have thrown myself back to the grind of work here and I have had to take care of a thousand and one other errands that needed my attention.  But between calls, e-mails answered and tasks being accomplished, I kept going back to the air, the sounds and most specially the sights of the past couple of days spent in a totally other world.  Yes, we will be back.. sometime soon hopefully.

Taken at the Louvre on my first day in Paris

Catching up in Paris

It’s my second night in the City of Lights and my feet are aching.  I wrote pages and pages of entries while on the plane on the way here, and rather than pick up my story in the middle, I am going to do some catching up and try to enter the log I did by hand.

Paris has been all it’s been touted to be and more.. just be patient with my journal..

Written on the plane to Paris, 23 Feb 2005

I bought a calendar of French Impressionism which I am using as a journal for this special trip.  I picked it up more than a week ago when I saw it on the sidewalk on the way to work.  Mind you, the lady selling it on the McDonald’s across Queens Mall on Queens Plaza was rather particular about my not touching it because as she had insisted, the diary was brand new.

$6 — not bad.  I forked out the cash.  I figured it would serve me well in this 4-day trip to Paris.  I could scribble down my posts and then put them on my weblog belatedly. 

I have no idea what time it is.  The crew just served dinner and we will probably be shutting out the lights soon.  I’m actually feeling very sleepy because I woke up just after 5AM so I could spend time with Angel before I left the house.  While he would usually wake me up, this time I roused him gently and after stretching and letting out a yawn, he gave me a smile.  And as I’ve been doing every morning since he came into my life, I gave him his morning hug and told him I loved him — the first of several times I would let him know throughout the day.  He was ina cheerful mood so it wasn’t heartbreaking to leave him.  I started missing him the moment I walked out of the courtyard — to think I was only going to be away a total of 4 nights.

While Paris IS Paris, I cannot bear to be away from my little guy too long. Maybe when he’s a little bigger — Alan and I can plan on a longer vacation.  We had promised ourselves we would continue to go out on our little honeymoons, even after we had a baby, continuing to do things together as a couple.

I miss Alan, too.  I haven’t seen him in a week and a half.  By the time he and I fly back to New York, he would’ve been gone 2 weeks.  I’m sure Angel will be overjoyed to see him.

I feel tired after rushing through getting my work at the office done before I took these 2 days off.  I will go take a pitstop and get some shut eye.  I have a full row of 3 seets to stretch out on.  [Oops! Long line at the lavatory.]  It never fails.. just as I decide to go to the lavatory, half the plane does, too.  I can wait — there are so many things I want to write down.

Right now I wish I could take my make up off and give my face a change to breathe.  [Plane is experiencing some turbulence.. uh-oh..]  The problem is, my wipes are in my suitcase up in the overhead compartment.  It is rather heavy and I only managed to heave it up there because the elderly gentleman seated in the row behind me was so kind to offer to lift it up.  I am thinking I will try to do it with the mini tub of petroleum jelly I have in my bag.  Hmmmm…I don’t think that would hurt.  It would certainly help me to sleep better when I stretch out.  I will get to France just around 8AM.  There was a long queu of airplanes taking off from JFK, and soon as everyone was seated and ready for the big take off, the pilot announced we were number 20 among the planes in line to take off.  (And I thought the traffic at that time of the day would only be at the LIE!)  When the lavatory line cleared up, I picked up my petroleum jelly, headed for the john, put a thin coat on my face and wiped the goo off.. Bigh sigh of relief.. it worked.  (The petroleum jelly actually proved to be a great moisturizer.)

Waking up some time as the crew is about to serve breakfast

I meant to bring my watch but I must’ve left it behind.  I groped for the other fancy watch Alan gifted me with but which had a dirty strap I meant to replace, but it apparently needs a battery change.. I cannot open my cellphone because of the usual restriction while in flight, so I don’t have any idea what time it is.

My back and my boobies were actually what woke me up.  Lying down was torture on my bad back, and when I shifted to lying in the opposite direction and venturing on lying flat on my back even, the discomfort I felt with my engorgement was so bad I found myself completely awake.  [Lesson learned: Don’t forget to pump befor leaving on a long haul flight, more so if the flight is at the end of the day.  I imagine it wouldn’t have been so bad if I had left at the beginning of the day.]  I seem to have underestimated my milk production, although I suspect the excitement about Paris is the reason for my lapse. 

Breakfast is being served:  I’m getting a croissant — oh, so French — a cup of OJ, some strawberry/banana yoghurt and a bag of raisins.   [oops!  I have completely forgotten about the raisins!  I actually stashed that in my purse as a free snack while touring Paris..]. I am so thirsty I am actually keeping my fingers crossed they will give me diet coke.. nah, looks like it’s a choice of coffee, tea, or more OJ.  Let’s go with OJ then.. Let me grab a quick bite.

My New Phone

Back in the days when cellphones became the craze in Manila and everyone from the CEO who lugged his Startek to the messengers who were doing prepaid phones started to discover texting and the beeper died, I was never really one to pick up a cellphone just to have a cellphone. I eventually got a line in ’99 thanks to a friend who was trying to sell them. When I got here to New York, I only needed one so Alan could get in touch with me and we started off on a prepaid line. After 9/11, though, Alan decided to get me a line because he didn’t want to have me go through all the prompts just to make a call.

I switched to a GSM phone just before I left for my first (and so far only) homecoming in 2002, and I picked up a NOKIA 8930 which lit up when the phone rang, but unfortunately, was only dual band, so it didn’t work in Manila. * SIGH * I liked the phone because it was small and it was not common. Then I lost it last week. =( I kept hoping I’d find the phone or someone would return it, but with the Paris trip looming in the horizon, I decided I’d get a replacement phone.

I have long been toying with the idea of changing cellphone but I never could quite find a phone which was to my liking. This time around, it was a matter of necessity, and as much as I was a NOKIA fan, I opted this time to go with a Sony Ericsson Z550, complete with video camera. Alan kept telling me I didn’t need another digital camera since I already had a fancy one (a FUJI S3000 which I just love!) — then again, if I was changing phones, I thought the best thing would be to have one with a digital cam — to take more pictures of my Angel with!

So as much as I detested flip phones, I am now carrying one. Complete with color screen, polyphonic ringtone download capable and with a 64MG SIM Card, I’m all set. I’m actually pretty happy with my new toy. I already have a couple of pictures of Angel in it. I’m still trying to get the hang of it but it’s very user friendly. I have a picture of Angel in the start up screen and as the wallpaper when in use. I have a clip of Angel to watch over and over again in my tiny screen.

But most important of all, if I wanted to speak with my baby, I have my phone with me.

Back after the Long Weekend

Long weekends are always difficult to come back from because either there’s a ton of work waiting to be taken cared of, or the “back to work” grind has the boss (or the boss of the boss) in a bad mood.

Whatever the reason is, the boss seems to have forgotten her unending appreciation and praise for me after I had stayed til 10PM one night, and then returned to work promptly the next day to finish the task at hand. I had hoped to get my visa from the French Consulate today, but find that I cannot even step out for lunch. (She has a noon meeting and she prefers to have me get her lunch after that meeting).

It complicates my day tomorrow a tad bit, but I will go and get that for sure. I hate the thought of leaving the house earlier than I had planned but then again, it might all be for the better since it means not giving Angel time to bawl out as I walk out the door like he did this morning. My baby has gotten very clingy and seems to want to be with me at every turn. When I’m home, he wants me to be the one to feed him, dress him up and pick him up when he calls. Mom says he isn’t this fussy when I’m not around. He would cry with those big tears streaming down his cheeks, shrieking until I go to him and pick him up. And the minute I do, he stops and starts smiling like a flick of a switch.

I’m already having second thoughts baout going to Paris but at this point, visa granted, ticket purchased, Alan’s trip extended, I cannot postpone the trip for another time or day. Meanwhile, I’m loading up on pictures of Angel to take with me as I spend the weekend in the City of Lights with Alan. I’ll be back before Angel knows I’ve been gone that long.

THE GATES at Central Park

Written on the bus to Manhattan to view THE GATES at Central Park

It’s a sunny but very cold Sunday afternoon.  Alan would’ve loved to take Angel out on a nice day like this — perhaps even to Central Park to view THE GATES, but hs is still in Paris.  At first I thought I wouldn’t be able to go because I had a throbbing headache.  Fortunately, taking 2 Advil tablets took care of it and my headache was gone by the time I nursed Angel to sleep (his afternoon nap), took a shower and got dressed after lunch.  I just had to wait for Mommy to wake up from her nap.  I thought it inconsiderate to rouse her since she hardly gets to take a nap when I am at work.  I crossed my fingers she would be up in time for me to catch the sunset.

Angel woke up first and was just so adorable, smiling and playing with me, dancing on command and just trying so hard to get mom’s attention.  My mom got up at 20 after 3PM and I grabbed my camera, purse, IDs and unlimited express metro card.  I walked briskly to the stop and was on the bus on the dot.  The sunis beginning to descent.  I intend to view the gates from 5th Avenue and 60th, and I’m hoping I can get a better view of the west side when I go pick up my visa from the French Consulate on East 74th on Tuesday.  I’m hoping they will extend the duration of the exhibit, but I’m not counting on it.

I so wanted to bring Mom and Angel but this is just too cold for Mommy to bear.  I’m afraid it would be too much for Angel as well so I just left them at home.

So many people have ooohed and aaaed after a week’s unfurling, I just had to make my way there.  With the thousand and one things happening in the big apple, the forever tourist that I am beckons me to be involved.

It’s not enough we read about them — as the artists Christo and Jean-Claude said, Art is there to be experienced.  I do not pretend to be a person of high culture — I’m just living being a Pinay New Yorker — life is too short to let moments like this go.

Written on the bus on the way home to Bayside

The bus just crossed the 59th Street Bridge, and once again, Manhattan chides me for not taking a photo of its awe-inspiring skyline.  Unfortunately, I am always on the bus, and if Alan’s driving me, I have nowhere to stop.

I spent almost an hour taking photographs of THE GATES in Central Park.  I would’ve stayed longer but the sunlight was fading fast.  I saw but a portion of the park exhibition, but even with that tiny glimpse, I felt the overwhelming impact of the project.  Truly, to me, the exhibition was impactful.  While it was simple, the enormity of it all hits you once you see row upon row of the saffron-colored curtains hanging from their posts.  Personally, I found the fluid motion of the swirling cloth entracing as I walked underneath one after the other.

Parts of Central Park seemed to be “dotted”, while others were visible in a row.  The isolated groups were “cute”, but the rows were imposing. 

I’m glad I went and took a glimpse of this New York spectacle.  It was an experience I wish I could’ve shared with Alan.  It would’ve beeen nice to have had our picture taken with the gates in the background.

Pre-Dinner Thoughts on a Saturday Night

The tilapia is frying in my turbopan and mom is watching over Angel in the living room. I just walked 5 blocks and back to get my short wool coat and a pair of pants I needed for next week. I must say it has been a productive day. I had stayed indoors for the most part except for my morning errands. (Foremost of which was getting the coat and the pants to the cleaners for same day service.)

It’s literally freezing outside. The last time the TV was on the weather channel, it pegged the outside temperature at 16degrees. I just checked Yahoo News and they say it’s actually above 20 but it feels 20 outside.  I just know the wind hurts when it hits my face and I couldn’t stand going around without my gloves.

I have three pairs of pants to take care of tonight, and I promised myself I would hem their pants before the weekend was over.  I am definitely taking at least 2 of them to Paris, and I won’t spend the night before I leave sewing them.  Who knows?  I might even get the chance to crochet a rose brooch.

It’s quiet with Angel asleep but we’ve been having fun together all afternoon.  I hardly got any reading done but I don’t mind.  He looks at me impishly and then blinks his eyes to catch my attention.  When I ask for a kiss, he puts his open mouth next to my cheek giving me a wet, sloppy one which thrills me no end.

My tilapia is about done and it’s time for me to work on preparing dinner.  Mom’s done enough for the week — I try to do as much as I can when I am around.  Besides, I’m hungry.. still have to slice the tomatoes and the salted egg.  Yummy!

Knitting, Crochetting, etc.

Written the night before on the bus on the way home

I keep thinking about knitting or crocheting a scarf with one of my fancy yarns up in the attic. I am even thinking of redoing some of the scarves I had already finished to make them into scarves again using a different pattern. I want to crochet a flower brooch I can wear on my coat’s lapel in Paris, or maybe attempt a funky hat. Then I am reminded that I have to sew the hems of 3 pairs of pants, at least 2 of which I intended to bring to Paris with me. — Maybe I’ll do the brooch at list.

Doing things with my hands has always been very therapeutic for me. I find great comfort in the rhythm of creating something with my own hands. When I am in the midst of crochetting, feeling the crochet hook wind and pull the thread into the loops to create the stitches is like a dance of the fingers to the beat of a very fluid cadence. Cross stitching is like a drama in dance in slow motion as I put the needle into the aida cloth’s predetermined holes to recreate the pattern in full color on cloth.

I have to admit that there are times when just thinking about these crafts gives me a sense of relaxation even if I am only imagining what I wanted to do or remembering a project I had done sometime ago. The only thing is, fulfillment can only be found in working a project from start to finish and seeing it to completion. In time.. in time.

Weekend thoughts on a Friday

Written on the bus on the way home the Friday night before

The bus isn’t crowded so I thought I’d whip out my laptop and write my post that never was… life has been very hectic at work. Believe it or not, I left the office at 10PM last night. One of the hazards of being in HR is when there are high level terminations happening, you have to put in the hours to make it happen if you are serving a high level boss. Some people’s weekends are going to be tense as they got requests from the President & COO to come to a meeting on Monday. I hope those men and women do not get a heart attack pondering their fate between now and then.

I rode the subway staring out to nowhere. It’s almost 7PM and the bus is crawling through the 59th Street bridge. I promised mom I’d pick up dinner and I wanted to get some Thai food from TOPAZ on 56th (between 6th and 7th Ave) but just as I was about to cross the street, a very sparsely occupied QM1A drove up to the corner, so I ran and caught it in time. I guess I’m ordering Japanese then from NAGOYA on Springfield near the Horace Harding expressway.

Alan is still in Paris – speaking of which, I got a message from the French Consulate in Manhattan that my visa is ready. (Paris, here I come!) I’m very excited about this trip which Alan and I had tried to do together last year. Unfortunately, I was ill-prepared, having put too much faith in the fact that I was a greencard holder. Apparently, the so-called Schengen countries were selective about visa waiver to greencard holders like myself. (That aspect of the whole process requires a separate blog entry) Not knowing I needed 2 weeks’ processing, I had applied with a week to go before my trip, and the gentleman at the accepting window politely told me the visa would not be issued in time. $45 bucks is already a decent meal so I said, forget it.. I ended up losing $200 on a $401 fare (no thanks to American Airline’s change fee on international discounted fares) and opting instead for a trip to LA with Alan in December. (Please see my December archive for entry about that particular trip.)

Back to Alan, he and I are looking forward to a quiet weekend in what is reportedly the most romantic place on earth – – the so-called City of Lights: Paris. It’s only our second vacation without Angel, but we are trying to do our planned “couple activities” despite the fact that we now have to factor in the fact that neither one of us can bear to be away too long from the little guy.

I know I am looking forward to the long weekend although I’m sad that Alan isn’t here to spend it with us. Angel has been growing like anything! Before I know it, I’ll be running after him and we’ll be racing each other through the malls. Alan can’t wait to have Angel tag along with him as he does his errands. Already, he is so excited to bring Angel to Sesame Place when it opens in the summer.

After the long weekend we just had, I’m just glad the boss didn’t ask me to come in on Monday even if she was coming to the office for those terminations. I don’t love my work THAT much.

Besides, despite all the praise and thanks she heaped upon me, I still feel that in the end, she remembers my shortcomings more than my good points. Isn’t that always the case? I guess it is but human nature.

Starting on the wrong foot..

I walked to the bus stop praying the Rosary as I always do and walking with a heavy heart this morning.  Last night I realized I had lost my cellphone as I was looking for it to plug it to my charger.  I tried to jog my brain about when I last used it, and all I could remember was calling home to give my stepson the number to order pizza from just as I was entering the tunnel while on the subway.  I don’t recall taking it out when I got out of the subway to walk to the bus stop.  *sigh*

I feel like I lost my right leg.  Well, not that bad really.. maybe like getting a bad short haircut after keeping your hair long for ages.  (Fortunately, I have not been a victim in that sense!)  My hands are tied because I cannot as yet dicontinue service because I specifically told the French Consulate to contact me through that phone number.  I have been trying to call the phone but it was running out of battery juice yesterday — it might have even turned itself off by now.

The 14 year old has also been a challenge.  But that is not a new issue.

The office is crazier than usual and will probably get more chaotic as the day goes.  I have not had the chance to catch Angel’s dinner feedings for two weeks now and it’s beginning to get to me.  Then again, it goes with the job.  What can I do?  My mom has started asking me why I have been coming home so late.. I wish I didn’t have to but I have to go to work.  A job is a job..

Every day I devote a mystery of the Rosary to ask for help with work.. help with the boss.  Does that reflect how crazy work has been making me?  Perhaps.. if it merits mention in my daily prayers, it can only be one of two things: it means a lot to me (like the people I pray for and the thanks I send up above for the blessings I have), or it is driving me nuts and I need divine intervention to make it through.

With approximately 9 hours left of my day before I turn in at 9PM tonight, I think there is hope.  For me, there IS always hope.  That’s the Pinay in me who always believes in the concept of tomorrow being a better day.  If not tomorrow, there’s always the next day.=]

Super Mom I am not

This week’s edition of Newsweek has for it’s cover story Mommy Madness which immediately caught my attention.  While I agree that this generation of moms is super hyped on attaining perfection and doing the “mostest” and the “bestest” for their children, I consider myself a more laid back mom (and a first time mom at that!) than most others.  Perhaps it’s because I have the backing and support of my mom who is definitely your typical Filipino mom —  not exactly the modern supermoms who keep trying to be better than the mom next door.

I guess I’m rather spoiled compared to mom’s of my generation.  I was fortunate enough to have had my mom to take care of Angelo without having to sacrifice much in terms of my work and career.  While plans are afoot for me to try to strike a better balance (like keeping more reasonable hours here at work), I haven’t really been torn between home and work.  Despite the fact that I don’t have as much time as I used to have for myself to do the things that interest me, I don’t consider myself completely deprived of my personal time to devote to the things that interest me.  I still do them but just don’t do as much of them — writing, doing crafts like knitting, etc.. devoting time to my website?  (Maybe because now my weblog takes priority.. ha!)

I just give it my best, that’s all.  There’s no such thing as perfection in parenting, and my husband has made me realize that with his 14 year old son.  I intend to give it my all and keep my fingers crossed that I give Angel the best of what I can give, and that he turns out to be a good person in his adult years.