On the way back home to New York

Written on the plane going home to New York
Minutes after take off at 5″50 PM Paris Time

The sun had set even before we boarded the plane.  I am watching a blue and red ribbon across the horizon as the sun starts to fade.  I saw the Eiffel Tower resplendent in its lights as the plane flew over Paris.  I whispered “Au Revoir..” — then I felt like Douglas MacArthur declaring “I shall return.”

It’s an almost 8-hr flight to JFK, so I’ve started doing some catch up with my blogging.  I have just under a thousand snapshots I will sift through, upload, print and make a scrapbook of.  I even managed to take some Christmas-card worthy shots of the Champs Elysees aglow with its trees all lit up and of myself in the Galleries Lafayette with its giant Christmas tree towering above me.

I left Paris wishing I could stay, but I missed Angel more.  Besides, Paris will always be there, and even as we went the sightseeing rounds this visit, we already started planning the next with Angel in tow.

I didn’t get as many postcards as I did the last time but I still got quite a bunch.  This time, though, I already knew where to get them cheap, and which ones I liked.  I sent Angel some 14 postcards to tell him about this trip.  Mostly, I kept repeating over and over again how his Papa and Mama missed him. 

I didn’t get to visit all the places I had planned on, but what I managed to cross off my ideal itinerary for this trip has more than made up for those that I missed.

We saw Mona Lisa reigning supreme in her new court in a newly-renovated Salle at the Denong Wing of the Louvre. And as I mentioned beofre, Alan and I had both visited the same Salle before although on separate occasions,m and this time, we explored the other two salles, Richelieu and Sully together.

We got a one-day Batobus pass and enjoyed seeing Paris via the Seine river.  We went back to the Eiffel Tower, this time falling in line to go up to the second level and taking breathtaking pictures of the city below us.

Then we proceeded to the Musee D’ Orsay where we beheld the treasure trove of Impressionist Art and saw for ourselves the originals of masterpieces we had seen reproduced da thousand times in books, notecards, calendars and othe rmementos.  Degas, renoir, Manet, Denis (who had a special exhibition running through to January), my favorite Van Gogh, just to name a few.

We walked the halls and grounds of Versailles and were overwhelmed b y the artistry, opulence and grandeur of the rich history of France.

On my own, I did make it to Chartres which enabled me to explore France’s largest cathedral.  I regret that I came for the afternoon only and hence ran out of time to do more than just a quick tour of this quaint town.  I was totally charmed by the village-like atmosphere which was a far cry from the hustle and bustle of “gay Paris”.  I am definitely going back, and next time, it will be with Alan.

I also managed to find the Chapel of our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and stumbled into another one of Paris’ shopping havens, Le Bon Marche.  But the most rewarding part of that portion of my vacation was actually catcing the midday mass.  I must confess that I don’t go to mass regularly, but when I pray, I DO pray. I feel blessed to have come at the right time.

I was able to do some shopping at the OPERA area but my biggest thrill was seeing the Christmas decor and getting those shots by the giant Christmas tree at Galleries Lafayette.  (People must’ve thought me either pathetic or amusing as I held my camera at arm’s length with the lens tilted up to catch the tree in the shot.  But I did manage to get some good ones!)

One of the biggest bonuses of this trip was meeting up with Jeannie and her son, Adrian.  Jeannie and I met through my blog and I am so grateful to her for her hospitality over dinner at L’Alsace.

Although I had originally planned to spend a day at La Marias as suggested by Darryl, I had a shopping mistake which necessitated an exchange so I had to go back to Printemps to get my correct shoe size.  I did get to Hotel De Ville and BHV, but I had to hurry on back to Champs Elysees to get my things ready for the trip back home.  So next time I am in Paris, La Marais, as well as Musee Rodin, will be on top of my list.

As long as this entry may be, it’s actually the cliffnotes version.  The travelogue will be posted in full at Pinay Francophile.  The posts on my personal reflection on this recent trip will be cross posted here.  It was, after all, the Pinay New Yorker who went to Paris.  But the trip itself needs to be where it belongs — over at Pinay Francophile.

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Way behind blogging, but enjoying Paris

I haven’t had time to write a post here, not even longhand — but I hope to catch up soon.. (which may mean after I get back to New York on Wednesday evening.)  I left my laptop at home so I’m depending on breaks between Alan’s going online and I have been squatting here blogging via his new laptop.  (Bigger screen than mine but a DELL all the same.) 

We enjoyed our first trip up the Eiffel yesterday.  We went there last year but didn’t go up — this time, though, we did.  Breathtaking and definitely worth it is all I can say.

We also managed to visit and roam the Orsay.  The collection is breathtaking, and the only thing that detracted from the experience (although in a very miniscule way) was the knowledge that Van Gogh’s (in)famous “Starry, starry night” was at the MoMA.  (Yehey for that one!)  Still, seeing works by Degas, Renoir, and the ongoing special exhibition of Maurice Denis was breathtaking. It makes one feel small and so young in a world of such great classics!

Off to Versailles, hopefully, today.. pictures, soon.  And oh, please don’t forget Jan Nieto!

I can't believe I'm back

We arrived at just past 8AM.. after getting our luggage, we walked out of the airport and looked for the ATM machine.  (Random tip as Jayred would say: do not exchange dollars at the foreign exchange booth.  The ATM transaction/currency charge is still cheaper than the fee at the ForEx counter.)  It was a long flight aggravated by more than an hour’s delay on the way here.. but I am finally back in Paris!  (Read about my post on the trip to the way here at Pinay Francophile.)

We took a cab from Charles de Gaulle airport to the Hotel Westminster at Rue de la Paix (cost Euro 47).  The trip to the hotel brought me back to my first trip from the airport to the city proper.  It was to the other hotel, the Hotel Warwick Champs-Elysees that I went to then (where I’ll be for the second half of my week), and while I missed out on the grand greeting of seeing the Arc d’Triomph and going around it, we slowly found ourselves driving through Malasherbes and later the Opera area — and finally to this quaint row of hotels and jewellers.  (Next door to the Hotel Westminster is a Cartier shop.)

It has been more than a year but I’m here.  It’s almost midnight as I’m posting this so I’ll save the details for later.. All I can say is bonsoir, Paris!

Off to Paris I go

I’m torn between spending more time with the little tyke here in bed as his Dad is trying to put him to sleep just minutes before 9PM, and finally packing in earnest.  (Okay, I ‘fess up — I haven’t really done much beyond think about what I’m actually bringing.. maybe put them aside.)

There’s a rib roast waiting for me to rub with the garlic and rosemary marinade on the kitchen counter.  We decided not to do the traiditional turkey this year because there isn’t really that big a party.  The stepson decided to go to his Mom’s.. so it’s just the two Lolas, Angel, Alan and myself.

I’ve made up my mind about my reading list and will be putting together my wardrobe later.  It isn’t really much except that we have a friend taking us out — and the last time (to his silent horror I’m sure), I wasn’t appropriately dressed when he brought us to 1776, an Asian fusion fine dining restaurant.  The food was excellent, the company was superb, but I wanted to do a mala-Flash exit when we stood up to leave.  I was fortunate that the coat room was behind a curtain, so I didn’t have to stumble all over myself trying to put my coat back on.  (I need to verify the name of the restaurant because my Paris mementos are in the attic.. I even visited their website but I cannot find the restaurant..)

It appears that it’s been raining in Paris, too — I know that translates to even colder temperatures, and while the temperatures vary from 50-60 degrees in the next few days, I’m sure it feels much colder.  I’m iffy about footwear.  I will bring my rubber shoes which took me around Paris the last time (if I can find it in the attic, that is..), and perhaps one of two boots.  Oh, and not to forget the pumps for the dinner date!  (I go by the simple rule that even the most casual or simple outfit can become more elegant with the right pair of shoes.)  The coat is a tricky choice because I don’t want to be encumbered with a longer wool coat when I trudge through Versailles or go on my adventure to Chartres.. the only solution I can think of is to bring my fuschia (yes, as in flaming pink!) wool coat for the dinner date, and then a knee length pangharabas for the usual wanderings.  (Right now it’s a toss up between a black fleece and berber coat or my beige hooded toggle coat.)

Perplexed readers must be wondering why I’m taking so much time thinking about this aspect of my wardrobe.  It’s not so much to make a fashion statement, but cold is really C-O-L-D in caps and bold at that this time of the year when you have to spend a lot of time outdoors.  I’ve already negotiated with Alan for one of the bigger sweaters I had gifted him several Christmases ago.  He’s not fond of turtle necks, but I need that to keep the asthma away, and I want something longer than my usual sweater so that it goes down to my hips and keeps my derriere warm. =)  I am sure Jher can relate to this after his trip to Mongolia, and that’s nothing compared to the usually snowless or barely snowed upon Paris.

Time to start packing.. for real this time!


Tired, tired, tired..

Sometimes looking forward to a holiday can make an otherwise normal day exhausting, if only because you feel stressed to tie up all loose ends before taking your vacation.  I’m all set to leave for Paris this Thursday — well, kind of.. Nope, I haven’t really started packing but I’ve started putting my things together. 

It was also a busy day.  I didn’t realize I was leaving the boss at a very hectic time in the calendar year, not that knowing that would’ve stopped me from planning this Paris trip.. so I’m working double time to make sure he has everything that I need while I’m away.  I’m supposed to have a back up but she is waiting to give birth any day now, and we will probably not even be able to say goodbye anymore given that she is due to go on maternity leave soon.  She’s also been less than dependable in most respects so I don’t have that level of confidence to believe she can take care of the boss in my absence.

Fortunately, it seemed everything fell into place and I’m almost good to go.  I actually did a whole binder for him — prepared his itineraries, even wrote up some of the blurbs in the reports he needed to submit, and I sent him off with the admonition not to eat too much turkey because he has to keep trim to keep up with his newfound passion: running.

He’s actually a good boss.. after a year of being together (yes, I have been with him a year!), I have a better sense of his moods and his limits.  He’s great but he’s human — so he has his quirks.  Like I distinctly remember him telling me last week that I should just not show up for work on Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) – I can take the day off, and it wasn’t a day off to be counted.  Tonight he tells me I should just disappear around noon time, meaning I was expected to show up in the morning.  I know he’s over 50 but I think next time I’m going to get that all down in writing. LOL.. I’m not complaining.. a day or half a day, that’s a big deal, considering most people will leave at 3PM if they report for work tomorrow at all.

Gobble.. gobble..

My first book release at bookcrossing.com

I wrote about bookcrossing.com not too long ago and I finally did my first book release last night — THE MERMAID CHAIR.  (See journal entry here.)  I announced the drop off an hour before I left the office and came to a Starbucks full of tourists and those who were on their way home.  It was a convenient drop off because it was by the corner where I wait for the express bus to my part of Queens.

I cassually walked in through the back entrance and lay the book on the condiments section. I didn’t linger.  I walked away and I’ve been monitoring if the book has been picked up.  I am no lining up the books I will be releasing into the wild in Paris this time.  I want to see which books are picked up by people who actually will take the time to tell us the book has been picked up.

It’s really all very simple — there is a unique Book Crossing ID number on the book which will allow you to access its original journal entry on the site.  You can then leave a comment for the person who released it so they know you have found it.  It’s your choice to re-release the book into the wild or keep it.  We also have the option to get release alerts and there are a ton being released in New York — it’s just that they’re in the most uncanny places and difficult for me to run after.  But one day soon, I hope to catch one.

Bakit ngayong ka lang


Here’s the latest update from Fountainhedd:

Performance night saw Jan doing his own Mini-Movie on being a two-timing husband, in prep. to sing Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang by Ogie Alcasid. Judges, including guest judge Lea Salonga said his notes were perfect, but bashed him for his stage movements. She said that he was allegedly awkaward – which isn’t really the case, esp. on TV. Pilita said I still love you anyway. Ryan said that upon talks with some music teachers- Jan is the most improved. Perfect notes na say. ( I say Boo to Lea – she did pronounce on air that she KNOWS Gian!)
Lea reiterated the awkward comment, but commented on perfect singing for Corner of the Sky. She said Gian was best! Ha-Ha
Eliminations night – the 3 people called to the Bottom 3- Pow, Miguel and Jan. Again, Jan? Jan was first called to the safe spot. Then it was Miguel and Pow. Pow said she would go back to doing gigs if she were to be eliminated. Well, she should go back, because a tearful Pow was eliminated that night.
The Eliminations Night saw all 5 Idols singing Circle of Life, with the San Miguel Chorale (?) and San Miguel Philharmonic. Later on, Lea sang Tomorrow.
We move to next week were 4 Idols will be singing Big Band Hits. Jan will be singing Somewhere Beyond the Sea and The Way You Look Tonight.
Wheeew. Another Bottom 3 night. –


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If I could write a novel…

There is a thought I’ve been playing around in my head which, I have a feeling, will remain a thought.  Sometimes I wish I actually had the gift of words and the ability to weave a story so I can write a novel about the story of my Mother-in-law’s heartaches.  Not just to extol her accomplishments and recognize her sacrifices, but because I feel her story is worth writing, and should be known by two children whom she loved like her own grandchildren but who were taken away from her by their parents.

I wonder what their parents tell them when they look for their Lola Celia.  Did they tell them she died?  Did they tell them she is living somewhere far away now?  They are just 5 and 4 years old.. as my mother-in-law once blurted out, they will probably forget about her because they are young.  The thought must’ve hurt her a lot.  She had poured the last five years of her life taking care of them everyday.  As if it was not enough that someone she raised as her own daughter disowned her, with that came the exit from her life of two of her precious grandchildren.

I know that as special as Angel is to her, he cannot take the place of his two “cousins”.  And although the stepson is always going to be the apo closest to her heart, the loss of the two little girls is something that has pained her heart no end.

So I wish I could write that novel and get it published.  Then one day when the girls are of age and their grandmother would’ve said goodbye to this world for good, I could just give them the book and they can read and hopefully remember their beloved Lola.  We have enough pictures to show them and jog their memory, but at best, that will just serve to remind them of the Lola who loved them so much — it will not help them make up for lost time after they were taken away from her.

It’s just a thought.. but I’m not holding my breath it will ever be real.  But I can try, and when the right time comes, then they can read about their Lola..and maybe they will remember how it was to be loved by this woman with a heart of gold.  And they will know that the world as they knew it changed drastically one day as spring was about to come because of circumstances that led to the outpouring of hate that had been repressed — because there was a mother who didn’t feel a need to tell her daughter she was adopted.

Forget about all her sacrifices — she was told a parent does those things without expecting anything in return.  That she should not expect to be thanked or be recognized or at least be given due respect for having sheltered her then college-age adopted daughter and her boyfriend — allowing them to live in together under her own roof just so she can make sure the adopted daughter finished college.  Or forget that she sewed the gowns for the whole entourage for that daughter’s wedding and embellished what would have otherwise been a plain wedding gown, turning it into a Maria Clara masterpiece.  And she should not expect to be thanked for having taken cared of her grandchildren all these years despite the fact that when the first was born, she had just hit 70 years of age.

Parenthood, as I am beginning to realize, is an unending story of giving.  And yes, we do it without expecting anything in return.  Yet it does not mean that we do not expect at least the love to be returned=.  For after all, as parents, we try to give it unselfishly and without fail.  We try.  My mother-in-law has her own faults — perhaps it was her unselfish giving that nurtured that kind of mentality in her adopted daughter — without asking for anything in return, she gave and gave and gave.  She gave of her time and money unselfishly, even to the very last.  And all she has now are framed pictures of her precious grandchildren, and the pain of losing a child as if she had died.  She used to tell my Mom, “Masakit pala ang mamatayan ng anak.” 

It’s a story worth telling.  Perhaps one day.. the story will find itself alive in print, and the right eyes will read them and know the truth.

All agog about Paris

I’m starting to pack — and I’m making a mental check list of the things to bring.  I will be packing in earnest beginning tonight.  It’s not that I have a ton to bring, it’s precisely because I want to pack efficiently that I am planning the things I will be packing.

I’m definitely bringing my cheese cutting board (I have a small one measuring just a tad bigger than 5×7 which fits snuggly into a slot in my picnic basket), and some cheese spreaders.  I want to do a picnic lunch for Versailles, and while I cannot bring my picnic basket, I can bring the gear.  Since having a baby, I’ve found it useful to have a plastic spoon in my purse — because most utensils in the restaurant are too big for Angel to use, and it’s the sterile-obsessed mom in me.  I’ll bring a couple of picnic utensils just so I’m ready.  I need to grab some Ziploc, too, to put the liquid toiletries we will be bringing and it helps to put food in..

During the Feb 2005 visit to Paris, most of the fruit left in the suite compliments of the hotel were left untouched, and I just felt bad that I didn’t think of bagging it until my last day to give to the beggars lining the Champs Elysees.  I also put in some bread, butter and jam from the room service breakfast we had.. and it was a good thing I had some toiletries packed in a ziploc bag which did nicely for a discreet doggie bag.  The young lady I gave my goodies to was just so surprised and soon she hied off to a park bench on the sidewalk and two or three other young ladies came to her and they shared the food.

I want to bring my own personal stash of travel size tissue packs and ample sanitizers.  Although Paris is a city resplendent with beauty and culture, their toilets leave much to be desired.  I can proudly say that even in the New York Public Library which the homeless go to for their own personal necessities, the restrooms are clean and always stocked with ample toilet paper.  The museums of New York boast of ultra clean toilets as well.  One of the worst toilets I came across were at the Louvre where the cleaners were probably overwhelmed by the sheer number of guests going in and out of the building, but if the MoMA can do it, why can’t the Louvre?

Alan’s been teasing me that I am very excited.. and I proudly proclaimed I am.. =)  And yes, I’m not hiding the fact that I’m getting to Paris on mileage, and that means I’m paying just $60 for my round trip ticket to Paris.  My hotel is free thanks to my husband’s employment, and I’m planning the trip to make it cost efficient as well.

The only sad point in all this is that I will be away from my baby for a whole week.. but time flies by so fast.  Alan was just telling him earlier that the next time we go to Paris, we will take him with us.