Happy Birthday, Kuya..I know you are resting in peace

Most people think I’m the eldest in a brood of four.  I’m actually the second child of 5, because I have an elder brother who died at birth.  Four years my senior, my parents had named him Silvano.  Tomorrow would’ve been his 44th birthday.

All I have of Kuya are the pictures showing him in his tiny white casket.  One picture shows my Dad looking down at him in grief.  He would’ve been a very handsome boy.  He had the fine features of my brother Abril but more doll-like.

There was a very vivid dream from a long time ago where I “saw” Kuya alive.. all grown up, older than me, walking what looked like a college campus stairwell, talking to me.  I had cried while talking to him because I knew he was dead, but there he was, in front of me.  I don’t remember the circumstances in my world then, or when exactly that was — I just remember the feeling.  It has never left me.

It reaffirmed a bond I had really never forgotten although he was never physically a part of my world. 

Sometimes I can’t help but think how different my world would’ve been if he had been around.  I wouldn’t have had to take up the cudgels of being the eldest child.  I would’ve had someone to “fear” or be wary of, so many what ifs that will forever be just points to speculate about.

I never knew him yet feel I know him so well.  Happy 44th birthday, Kuya..

Scrap, scrap, scrap

I have been so busy scrapping I haven’t been blogging.  I usually work on my layouts during my spare time and uploading them until I see the clock striking midnight.  Talk about being inspired!  

I am probably 15% along the way to finishing my Paris Scrapbook.  I just realized today that I now have over 40 layouts since I started doing digital scrapbook layouts last week of July (of which a mere 4 pages are Paris related.  I haven’t uploaded the rest yet.) That’s not bad considering I am averaging 1 a day (although I work on around 2-4 a day in reality).   I’ve been trying to maximize the 4-layout maximum for the RAKScraps.com of which I am an active member of.  I am not even attempting to create my own scrapbook kits — just creating the layouts is eating up all my free time.

I discovered another Scrapping site which is full of freebies for digital scrappers who prefer to get their stuff free like me — check out ScrapArtist.com.  Both RAKScraps and ScrapArtist require registration for you to be able to utilize their freebie privileges, but it’s definitely worth it.

My reading has been “frozen” because I keep forgetting the book in the office.   (So I took it earlier and put it in my laptop bag so that I won’t forget it this time..)  I have been staring at MY LIFE (Bill Clinton) sitting on the edge of my breakfast counter for a week now.  I know, I know.. I will open it tonight and read the preface or foreword at least.  John Grisham  has a new release coming out soon entitled THE INNOCENT MAN.  This is supposedly his first non-fiction book so it should be interesting.  Slated for a Fall 2006 release, I can’t wait to get my copy and read his latest.

The constant rain has been a dampener.  My Mom made an observation that it is only here that she has seen such a fine mist instead of our usual ambon.  You can actually see and feel it but  you’re not really getting wet.  We’ve been having a lot of that lately and I’m gearing up for the supposed after effects of a storm getting near us.

We’ll probably just stay home.  It’s really too soon to plan anything.  Meanwhile, I’ve spent the majority of my evening scrapping away (again).  I’m just so into it these days, it’s addicting.  Much like writing helps you to express yourself and put your thoughts into words — scrapbooking is helping give vent to my creativity.  And there will always be projects and more projects…

A grey day

The storm isn’t quite here in New York yet but it’s been raining.  So it was another gloomy day.  The bad weather notwithstanding, I’m doing better.

I got some interesting comments which were touching and hilarious at the same time.  Someone suggested I have my thyroid checked but the reference to feeling low was more emotional than physical, and yes, I knew what was dragging me down.  Thank you for the concern..

I got a pleasant surprise in the mail from K of Hong Kong. A new postcard to add to my collection, and this from a blogfriend.  I’m also exchanging postcards with Owen but I haven’t had the chance to drop it off at the post office.  I don’t want to just put it in a mailbox lest it get drenched with rain or wet from moisture.  Anyone else interested to receive a postcard from New York?  E-mail me your mailing address.

Feeling low

It’s one of those days when I don’t feel right about anything at all.  I woke up to a very dark morning, having hardly slept at all the night before.  There was a heaviness in my heart which to this moment is just too much for me to articulate.  I feel exhausted and drained..  I cannot even write about it.

I keep thinking that if a book about my life were to be written, this would count as one of my “lows” during one of the happier times of my life.  Ironic.

I guess it validates what people say that you just cannot have it all.  I used to console myself that perhaps I ought to be content and happy with the good in my life and just take the negative and swallow it.  But now I wonder if that is a healthy attitude considering it has led to so much pent up anger and frustration in me.

I’m a very emotional person and i very rarely hide what’s going on in my mind.  So you can practically see through me when something is wrong.  It’s also very hard for me to hold back my anger which usually leads to my undoing but then, I’m only human.  

So I’ve preoccupied myself with my scrapbook projects.  It reminds me of happy moments I hope to relive again. 

Ulan ng ulan

It hasn’t really rained cats and dogs.. but it has been a gloomy and grey day.  We went to mass, had brunch at Cheesecake Factory, went around the mall and were forced to go home before doing any more errands because of the bad weather.  We didn’t want to bring Angel around when it was raining intermittently — and we knew the Lolas were tired.

I napped a little but the boy has been resisting his afternoon nap.  Mom finally turned on the TV at 5PM to tune in to the JEWEL IN THE PALACE MARATHON on AZN.  She had already watched this previously the last time she was here, so she knew about the series even before it started showing in Manila.  Here in New York, she doesn’t mind reading the subtitles because the series is shown in Korean.

I’ve been busy scrapbooking.  I just completed the Rivendell album Friday, and today I uploaded my first three layouts of my Paris Scrapbook which you will find in my Pinay Francophile blog.  If I can average 2 layouts per day, there is a chance all the pictures of my Feb 2005 trip will be layouted before I leave for Paris again in November.  It’s still a plan but just thinking about it really excites me.  I guess it means I’m not going to the West Coast for our high school reunion in Los Angeles.  With only a handful of days left in my vacation bank, I’m being very choosy about which days I take.  I don’t get additional days until January and while I don’t have plans of staying in Paris long, as it stands, I will eat up at least 3 days’ vacation, being that we intend to leave the evening of Thanksgiving Thursday.  (The red-eye gets us to paris early morning.. and I intend to go home ahead of Alan the Wednesday following — the flight leaving Charles de Gaulle at 5:50 gets here sometime late evening.)

Mom and I had decided on Sinigang na Baboy for dinner today but she wanted to get some beef to add to it.  Problem is, I haven’t done the grocery yet and my chauffer is snoring in the bedroom, taking his powernap.  We will do the grocery for sure.  It’s open til late anyway.  I just hate interrupting Alan’s nap during the weekends when he gets to rest all he wants.

The cool air brought on by the rains is a relief.  It’s pretty chilly outside actually.  That’s most welcome after the heat wave the previous weeks.

Saturday at home

True to form, Angel woke me up at 7:30 asking for breakfast.  So I plodded out of the room carrying him and set him down by the hallway to do my morning rituals.  Mom was already up and started cooking Angel’s oatmeal even before Angel could kiss her good morning.  I stretched out on the newly bought futton for the stepson.  (He’s elsewhere this weekend, so I could do as I please..)

The sun hasn’t come out in full force all day.  There’s a carpet of grey up in the sky.  For a change, it’s not hot and it’s actually a little chilly even.  After lunch (a smorgasbord of leftovers and recycled food is what I called it), Angel and I lay down on the futton and we took our afternoon nap embracing each other.  So I didn’t mind that my right arm felt tired after cradling his head all that time.  That was precious.  Angel has this endearing habit of crouching close to whoever it is is nearest him when he falls asleep. 

Merienda time.  I fished out one of the mini-tikoys my friend Elvie had sent as pabaon when I left Manila in May.  We had frozen it to extend its shelf life so to speak.  Ube flavored tikoy!  Yummy!!

I passed up on a barbecue at one of Alan’s friends from the office here in Astoria because I just wasn’t feeling up to it after that long nap in bed.  My body wasn’t quite in gear, and besides, I didn’t want to keep mom up late tonight.  It also gives me a chance to spend quality time with Angel. Here he is playing with his cars and Thomas engine replicas on the sofa next to me while watching one of his Thomas the Tank Engine DVDs.

I just asked him if it was okay to turn off the DVD since he is playing anyway.  He gave me a look and asked “Friends?” — then picked up his favorite cars and walked to his sofa and is now watching the movie intently.  And I thought I could get one over the boy. LOL.. Apparently not.

I’m going to tidy up the room and reorganize part of my wardrobe.  Then I’m working on my Paris scrapbook.. finally!  Dinner?  I’m thinking I’ll make some adobo but then I remembered I have chicken I have been telling my mom I’ll be making into Quesadillas.  Tonight’s the night I guess — Chicken Quesadilla it will be.  They still have one or two viands before we’re home free on the leftovers.. =)  My mom cannot bear to just throw them away.  She and my mother-in-law are usually a tag team in taking care of that.  That’s my Mom!

Thunderstorms in New York

Kumukulog.. kumikidlat.  Fortunately, Angel is “insulated” from all the action outside by the hum of the airconditioner.  Besides, he’s a very sound sleeper.  The only thing is that he often stirs in the middle of the night for some reason and seems to get up and fuss, but then he goes right back to sleep.

Alan had a night out with friends so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t be pouring hard when he walks from the parking lot to our house.  Even with an umbrella, this kind of downpour will get him all drenched before he can get to our place.

It’s just after lunch in Manila, and it’s early morning in Paris.  New York is still very much alive, and I’m sure Manhattan is still awake.  It is, literally, the city that never sleeps.

I’ve finally started reading BLINK again, from the beginning, and will hopefully finish the book soon because Alan wants to read it, too.  Since I find it rather surprising that he is interested to read the book, I want to give him the book before he loses interest again.  (Even our reading is “conjugal” in a weird way — I do the reading and I tell him what the book is all about.)

I spent a lot of time on my scrapbook tonight, trying to create alphas or alphabet graphics which I can contribute to the scrapbook online group I’m most active at among the different groups I’m with, RAKScraps.com (RAK actually stands for “Random Acts of Kindness”).  I also have new  scrapbook layouts uploaded from our Winetasting and Picnic at Rivendell as I had written about here in my blog.  (You can view them here.)  I’ve so far finished two mini-albums and will hopefully get to work on the Paris layouts this weekend.

That has been a long drawn out project.. and I’m just going to start over.  I need to write about the lessons I’ve learned in my one year as a newbie scrapper.

But it’s the weekend.. and it’s 2AM.. I have to hit the sack now.  The little tyke snoring ever so lightly beside me will wake up in around 5 hours asking for breakfast and he will not take no for an answer.. =) 

The matter of Education

School here in New York will be starting after the Labor Day Weekend of September 4.  Most schools open on September 5, so we are being flooded with advertisements for school supplies and the latest school fasion.  This was always one of my favorite parts of the year while I was growing up.  I loved to see the piles and piles of notebooks in different brands and of various types in National Bookstore.  I couldn’t wait to see what the new binders would look like.  I personally preferred Corona for the notebooks and Merit for the binders.  (I did catch Mead, but not until much, much later.)  I so enjoyed looking at the ballpen displays and and then I would decide whether or not I would stick with Pilot or try something new.  In my childhood, there was always the big decision about schoolbags.  When Sanrio invaded Manila back in the late 70s, it was whether it would be Hello Kitty or Little Twin Stars.  And what about the new pencil case?  Would it be double sided?  Metal?  And the lunchbox?  Were you one of those who used to bring lunch in that fully insulated black lunch case which truly kept the food warm?

I am still at least 2 years away from going the school supply route here with Angel.  But I remember those days like it was yesterday.  I still get a different thrill walking past the school supply rows of Target these days.  (Yan  ang kababawan ko.. )

I managed pretty well in school although I was never really an honor student.  I did manage to land in the honor class every year until the end of high school.  There was the challenge posed by the sciences but I hurdled them after giving it my best effort.  All throughout my academic sojourn, I was never really pressured by my parents to excel.  All they asked for was that I do good and pass (which I sometimes didn’t fulfill in Math) — and I sometimes heard a thing or two about my extra-curricular activities in school where I was a major player.

In college, I had a slight problem choosing my university.  I wanted to go to De La Salle University in Taft Avenue (primarily because the trimester approach, then newly introduced, appealed to me, plus my crush and other friends from the opposite sex were all going there, being La Sallites themselves).  That idea, though, was quickly shot down by my Dad, who, unbenknownst to me, had always harbored this hidden dream to have me go to UP.  So even if I didn’t get into UP Diliman, I managed to land in UP Manila (my second campus choice), blocks away from DLSU where he said it would be too difficult to have me brought to school everyday due to the traffic brought on by the LRT construction.

My oveprotective parents, though, made sure I kept a schedule to their liking, so I couldn’t take summer classes or schedule subjects too late at night.  This eventually led to my undoing because there were subjects in the latter part of the course which were taught by professors who had other dayjobs.  And so after extending, I eventually found myself on the brink of law school.  Law school was my choice.  I always said I was in college only because I couldn’t go straight to law school.

My parents were supportive of my decision to keep studying, and as my previous post about taking the Bar stated, they have always been behind me through to the end.

While they never really pressured me into anything I wasn’t keen on doing, they were there breathing down my neck when my grades dipped or didn’t quite meet the mark.  They kept a watchful eye on me as I ran for the student council and engaged in other extra-curricular activities.  I basically decided the route I would take, although I arrived at that decision with their guidance.

Even while in law school, I started supporting myself partially by working part time for an 100.3 RJFM, a job I sought out because it was literally walking distance to the Ateneo campus on HV De La Costa during the pre-Rockwell years.  After leaving RJ, I landed a job based on a colleague’s recommendation in DWRR, then an all-female DJ station under the banner “Radio Romance”, but the only hitch was they wanted me to do the graveyard shift.  While I was thrilled to be jumping to a major radio station, my mom sternly reminded me I was trying to get through law school.  So that fizzled out.

I never thought that I would be studying and working at the same time.  But certain life-changing events in my life forced me to seek ways and means to help me survive the financial and academic demands of law school.  I have no regrets or bitterness about it — I think this personal challenge helped me to become a stronger and better person.  I was fortunate enough to have been to the better schools which enabled me to get good jobs.  Still, if you ask me, I would’ve preferred to concentrate on studying without the distraction of work.  

These days I am hoping my own son will have that fervor about making something of himself as he trudges through school.  It’s an altogether different school system — and there are even more choices than were available to me.  My parents were simple people — I didn’t have a father who was a doctor, or a Mom who had her own career.  I was literally what you would call an  anak ng jueteng.  Yet they shaped my ambition by giving me all the opportunities to make something of myself.  I will be forever grateful that they gave me a good education that saw me advance through life in better ways than most.

Now that I am a parent myself and raising a son in a totally different system alien to me, I have so many qualms and fears about how I will do in guiding my boy through this formative stage in his life.  I am doing my research, I am trying to study my options.  All throughout, I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will not be too controlling to the point of hindering his personal growth.  At the same time, I want to be there for him to help  him through the demands of growing up in this very demanding world he will be living in.  I want to be able to nurture his talents to help him find his strengths and help him cope with his weaknesses.

It’s twice as tough being that I grew up in a totally different environment from the one he and I are living in now. I have taken a chance on my future casting my lot on a big gamble — uprooting myself from family, career and home to start one of my own.  For some reason, it’s not as easy for me to gamble on my son’s future.  I’m not over-worrying, I’m just thinking out loud.  After all, the answers will not come if you do not ask the right questions.

That’s just the Mommy part of me — grappling with the apprehensions of the intellectual side of my personality.

My One Week of Solitude

At the end of my workday, I go to Philippine Star’s online edition and read up on the latest news about Manila.  I often skim through the top stories, stop awhile in the Opinion section, visit the Entertainment nook and then go to the other sections if I have the time.  To do the latter means I have a lot of time to kill and today was one of those days when I had the luxury of visiting the Travel section (which I normally don’t).  My usual last stop is the Arts and Culture section, and only after Tuesdays when Tito Butch Dalisay’s column (the preceding link will take you to his blog), PENMAN, would’ve seen print.  I scoured the sidebar on the right where I found Joy Virata’s article, ONE WEEK OF SOLITUDE where she wrote:

Every year I try to do something different, or to live out, for just a little while, an impossible dream. Many years ago I used to enroll in dance classes in New York in the summer so that I could walk down Broadway pretending I was a Broadway actress. x x x  I’ve taken a five-day train ride alone across the United States for no reason except that it would be something different to do. I’ve gone to Ireland with the bit of Irish blood I possess providing the excuse to link with a past I created from old photographs.

This year, between visits to a son, a daughter, a sister and a couple of nieces, I decided to take a week off all by myself and make like a writer. I rationalized that the reason I couldn’t get the great Filipino novel (or even a short story) off the ground was that I needed to be in some beautiful, secluded place, free from distractions, so that I could discover my creative genius.  x x x

I think you should read the rest of the article to enjoy Ms. Virata’s writing to the fullest.  But I am not writing about her here to regale you about her as a writer but rather, I wanted to reflect on what she wrote about.  Reading about her adventure in Colorado made me sit back and think about what I would want to do if I had a week all to myself.  Of course I do that half-heartedly because even before I can make up my mind about what I would want to do, I start thinking of Angel and how that would mean being away from him.  I cannot even be away from Alan for a number of days without feeling his absence and having it affect my day.  (I still cannot sleep soundly when he is not in the room with me.)  But the fact that I cannot, in reality, doesn’t mean I cannot “go away” even if in thought only.

So I’ve gotten to thinking what, rather than where, my one week of solitude will be.

I see myself in some small town — enjoying the local life, just lazily enjoying and exploring.  Would it be here in the United States?France? or perhaps even some barrio in the Philippines?  The thought of just lazing away and relaxing, is enough to recharge me.  I think of sitting at the local cafe and just watching people go by.  Of exploring quaint little shops that embody the local character.  Of talking with the people and getting to know life as they live it.  Taking tons of pictures for my scrapbook.  Watching the sunset over the horizon, be it on a mountain range, or out on the seashore.  Writing letters and poems if the inspiration eventually finds me again. 

One week.. just me, myself and I.