Summer Blooms


We have a very patient gardener in our midst in my co-op community who fills up this tiny patch of land around her unit with gorgeous flowers every summer.  I snapped these shots with my Blackberry Bold this morning as I waited for the car to pull out of our garage.


It seems the heat has let up some and it was even a bit chilly when I walked out of the house today.   With the last day of July here, we’re getting ready for fall.
Summer201303Well, maybe not quite.  I’d like to enjoy these colorful blooms just a wee bit longer.
Not yet, anyway. Give or take a few more weeks.  I went around my favorite Bryant Park last week to take pictures of the blooms there but have yet to transfer my digital photos to my PC for uploading.  Those flowers have their own story to tell.

Daily Prompt: State of “Me” Post (SOMP – or My Year Thus Far)

Daily Prompt: Write up a mid-year “State of My Year” post.

First of all, this is NOT inspired nor related to P-Noy’s State of the Nation Address which has been front and center in Manila.  The Daily Post put this up as it’s latest and greatest daily prompt and I thought I’d give it a shot.


I’ve been too busy to write of late.  This is my third draft of a blog post (all three different topics) and I am  hoping it sees the light of day.  (Or of the blogsphere.). The current state of “Me” is “all over the place,” but in a good kind of way.

Today sees us officially halfway through the year, and although I don’t have any monumental news or milestones to report, I think I’ve done pretty good so far.  I can definitely say I’m in a better place today compared to the same time period last year.  But with the challenges that 2012 threw my way, anything past those very trying times qualifies as progress. 

Of course there are always things we wish we did more of, or things I wish I had accomplished by now — little milestones or goals I had hoped to chalk up in my to-do list, but one of the lessons of the last year year is that lowering one’s expectations or not having any expectations at all is a big help in managing one’s outlook in life.

I’m happy to report that I finally finished Inferno: A Novel (Robert Langdon) by Dan Brown, and while I am tempted to write a blog post about the infamous mention of Manila in this novel, I’d rather hold off.  I’m just happy to be able to list one book read at least although I wish I had the time and the energy to read more.  I’m trying to get back to Grisham’s The Associate which hasn’t been quite the page turner so I’ve been going in an out to read it for a couple of months now.  I still have a few e-books I really must get to soon, but I’m hoping to do that in the coming weeks.  To make it easier, I’ve gotten back to my good old Kindle which has been easier to lug around. 

Craft-wise, I’m taking things easy and trying to pace myself better.  I am doing a project at a time and no longer stress about projects that have not gotten off the ground.  They will when they will.  Much as I had enjoyed Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s Art Journal Every Day and my Altered Book project, I have put these on hold for now.  I am trying to get my own “Journal on a Journey” on it’s way and hope to send out these journals before the year is out.

I’m back to polymer clay and enjoying it.  I have been enjoying trying new things and researching and learning more about this medium and hope to come up with pieces to wear and sell soon.  It helped that I had committed to make my niece, Andreanna Lux’s first birthday souvenir.  (Read more about it here.)

On the business front, my attempts to revive my store, GothamChick on Etsy have been moving at a snail’s pace, and I’m trying to gear up for the holidays by focusing more on repopulating my listings and hopefully creating more.  (Emphasis on “HOPEFULLY”.)

As for the state of this space on the blogsphere, I’m happy that I’m posting more regularly but hope to post more often.  I wish I could get comfortable with just posting a picture with a blurb, but just as I am very outspoken, it’s  a little difficult to just leave it at that.

Phew.  That sounded like quite a list but the truth of the matter is, I’m just happy I’m here.  I’m happy that I have what I have.  I count my blessings just by looking at Angelo and hugging him, or by looking up at the sky as I walk out of the house to start yet another day of toil.   Every day is a blessing whether it’s scorching hot, gloomily grey, or just gorgeous.

My year so far, to my mind, has been good.  Nothing fantabulously great — nothing outstanding.  “Good” is a good place to be.  I’ve learned not to gripe or rant about the negative, because doing so would only magnify them and bring forth feelings not worth dwelling on.

It’s quieter.  It’s simpler.  The first 7 months of the year continue to be a time of growth and realization for me.  One thing I like is that it’s helped me to get to know myself better. 

Last year, I came to terms with many of my failings and shortcomings.  I realized and accepted the many things I couldn’t do, and I saw those parts of “me” that I wasn’t.  Some people walked out of my life — and I chose to make myself scarce from some.  I’ve learned that there is really no holding on to people — the choice to come and go is always theirs to make, not mine.  The only thing I really have control over is my own presence — so there were doors I walked out of, quietly.

I’m in a better place because these days, I can go back to a painful memory and push it into a far corner instead of allowing it to take me over.  I don’t torture myself as much anymore because I’ve learned to lump the good and the bad and just tuck them away.  I used to be deluded into thinking that you pick the good and keep it and discard the bad.  But the truth of the matter is, they are intertwined.  One eventually leads to the other.  I flip a switch in my brain and I pull a black screen — much like those transition screens or slides we see signalling an end.

I am slowly coming to terms with my mortality.  For the first time, a birthday hit me and I felt the years fall to the ground and the reality hit me that I am getting older.  Not that it’s a bad thing.  I just didn’t quite feel myself pegged to an age until I hit 47.  “Life is short” has taken on a new meaning which hasn’t pushed me one way or the other, but which now looms overhead when I think about the things I want and hope to do.  It hasn’t quite pushed me to do a bucket list — stepping back has meant going with the flow and just enjoying life as it comes.  Lists tend to grab me by the neck and instead of motivating me, gives me a source of frustration.  At my age, I can do with less of that.

I know that I will close the year an even better person than I started it.  Notwithstanding the fact that I started at rock bottom, I know I could’ve stayed there and wallowed, but I chose not to.

Things have fallen into place, and I know this is my place because “here” is where I’ve chosen to be.

Between sighs

We finally got a reprieve from the heat today. I actually noticed a cooler breeze last night which was a refreshing change from the otherwise oppressive heat of the previous weeks. It was even chilly this morning. Nature has its way of balancing things as always.

My rain boots proved to be unnecessary but I hate walking home in the rain with the extra aggravation of literally walking with cold feet.

My mood seems to be in synch with the gloomy weather these days. I don’t know if it’s my late father’s birthday coming upon us or his death anniversary around the corner, or the finality of saying goodbye to Donna again who leaves our side of the world tonight to go back down under. July is not an upbeat month. So I try harder to make it upbeat — I think of my favorite niece, Julia’s birthday… And summer which, despite its punishing heat, is my favorite season because it’s the closest New York will ever come to mimicking the hot days back in Manila. I think of July as being past midway through the year which means December cannot be far behind.

They said that if you think happy thoughts and try to make a list of blessings in your life, you will actually be able to fight the sadness.

And there’s just avoiding wallowing in the negative. I thought about writing about Papa but thinking of his birthday and passing in one linear thought is just too much for my heart to bear. Even just glossing it over now is hard. The grieving never really stops or ends. We just learn to cope better.


Baltimore on a cloudy day

Storm clouds over Baltimore

Saying goodbye to family is never a matter of hi and goodbye, so we ended up having lunch together which was a fitting way to end the gathering of the Gonzalez cousins.  It was short but fun, and it is always heartwarming to see Angelo getting to know his Uncles and cousins on either side.

It was well after lunch by the time we headed for Baltimore, and highway traffic caused us further delays.  When we finally drove up to the inner harbor, the clouds were threatening rain.


The boys went to Ripley’s Believe it or Not which I easily wiggled out of as I preferred to go window shopping rather than visit an exhibit I had seen more than once before in other parts of the country.  Angelo enjoyed it, primarily because Bumble Bee greeted him right at the entrance.
Grey skies over the Inner Harbor

We capped the day with a fancy dinner at Phillip’s Seafood and then headed on our way back to New York.  It was midnight by the time we got home and two days after, I am still exhausted.  I haven’t quite caught up with sleep yet, but I’m trying to keep going.

Dinner at Phillip's in Baltimore, MD

Summer isn’t quite done yet, so we’re making plans about what we will be doing in the coming days.  Another month to go!

Road trip: Fairfax, VA and Baltimore, MD tomorrow

We’re in the thick of summer and while we had hoped to do more, work and other priorities have forced us to scale down on trips. But we’re always open to doing something spontaneous like driving cousin G to cousin D’s place from New York to DC. It’s always good to see family even if only one night.

So I’m writing this in the kitchen in between treats and savories ranging from barbecued spare ribs to ceviche and kilawin. It’s my nephew, Chris’, graduation party, and the house is overflowing with his mom’s and dad’s friends. I’ve done the round of introductions to guests, photographed, uploaded and tagged people, and now I’m taking it easy just trying to sneak a post here.


It’s a typical Filipino party with drinks and food aplenty. Laughter and reminiscing included. I can’t even remember when was the last time I heard “Hard Core Poetry”. (And I’m sure a lot of people younger than 40 will have a hard time placing the song.). Even I had to pause a while to try and remember the title of the song. “This is a song, not necessarily sweet…”. I guess my year or so in a radio station playing these songs sort of helped.

Yummy cupcakes by Charmaine

I’m stuffed. There’s finger turon a few inches away. I’m saying no to the alcohol, though, because we’re going to try and make it to Harbor Place in Baltimore tomorrow. The pancit got me full. And there was laughter going all around.
It has been over a decade since I last went to Baltimore. We want to show him the submarine and the lighthouse by the pier. Another day to look forward to then we drive back to New York.


Yesterday was the last day that Donna and I saw each other in New York, as she and her family are getting ready to fly out to Las Vegas before heading back Down Under to Sydney next week. it was a simple spend-the-day-together kind of day, and while I would’ve loved to spend more time with Donna, she was feeling under the weather, so I brought her all the way to NJ via the Path train and doubled back by late afternoon.

Donna is one of my dearest friends from high school.  Although we met in high school, we only became close halfway through, sometime in my junior year.  We also ended up in different universities, but this didn’t prevent us from visiting each other in our respective campuses.  Our lives had its ups and downs just as our friendship did — and her departure for Australia and then my subsequent move to New York even brought us farther, but there is something about real friendship that keeps it alive through time and space.

We spent the day Midtown and at the end of the day, I brought her all the way to New Jersey via the PATH train, and then I doubled back after I had safely deposited her to Tita Doy who graciously fetched her at the train station.  It was a lonely ride back.  I’ve had several of those rides after I brought Mom or Ofie to the airport during their prior visits to New York.  I’m trying not to dwell on it, but there’s no denying it.

I ended up downtown where I chose to be adventurous and look for the express bus stop which I found on Park Place.  I used to know the twists and turns of this part of Manhattan, back when I worked for a non-profit on Wall Street in 2001.  The landscape has changed and continues to change.  It is the same that it is not.

I looked up and saw this stark contrast of the new and the old, side by side.  One day soon it there will be a building in front of these two concrete giants.  There is a construction site from my vantage point which is still in its early stages.  Perhaps next year, when I go back (IF I find myself there again, that is,), I will see the new building rising.

I was exhausted by the time I got home.  I know it wasn’t just the physical exhaustion exacerbated by the summer heat.  My heart has a way of taking my body over when there is a dark cloud hanging over me.  I’ll get over it.

Donna will always just be heart beat away.


A grilled cheese for lunch kind of day

Lunch today: Grilled cheese from 'wichcraftI love grilled cheese and make a mean one back home.  I butter up the outside and do it on the stove top for lack of a sandwich press which you really don’t need if you’re trying to be self-sufficient.  Sometimes I do it more for the butter (more so when I have the President unsalted butter I always watch out for in the gourmet grocery refrigerated shelf, or Anchor butter which the Filipino store sometimes surprises me with!), but who doesn’t like the feel of crispy bread and melty cheese?  I don’t know if it was the muggy weather or just a plain old craving for some comfort food, but I made a deliberate attempt to go to the “‘wichcraft” kiosk over at Bryant Park before heading back up to the office.  (Check out their menu here.)

I had stepped out to get more glass crystals for a bracelet I’m making for my BFF Donna.  It’s nice to be creating again after a long break from it.  I am trying to do more of this but life has been busy.  (I know, it’s getting to be such a tired excuse.)  It’s just that I end up so exhausted at the end of the day that I usually find myself vegetating on the sofa or just lying down and browsing on the iPad.   I still end up sleeping on or just after midnight, but I don’t get to do as much anymore.  Deadlines and Donna’s departure next week, though, have forced me to go and sit at my craft corner and get crafting.  If I don’t make it, there’s Global Priority Mail courtesy of the USPS.

Donna is leaving.. again.  The last time we saw each other was 5 years ago.  We wistfully said to each other it shouldn’t be 5 years until we see each other again.  We agreed to celebrate our 50th birthday together in the Philippines, sometime between my April birthday and her June birthday.   That would be such a treat…  While it would be nice to think of visiting her down under, if I’m going to go that far, I might as well meet her in Manila.

The sun never fully came out.  It’s supposed to set soon but it hasn’t even shone as brightly as it had the past few days.  Storms threaten in the horizon but hey, we can all use the water and the cooler temps.

Daily Prompt: Nomad?

DAILY PROMPT:  If you could live a nomadic life, would you? Where would you go? How would you decide? What would life be like without a “home base”?

In my early adult life, I had a thing for taking long rides in public airconditioned buses — and no matter how excited I was to get to where I was going, I had a silent wish for the bus ride never to end.  Forget the mandatory pit stops, I just wanted the bus to keep going on and on and never reach its destination so I wouldn’t have to get off it.

These days, the longest trips I take are on planes across the oceans to make it to Manila.  But that doesn’t count as far as living a nomadic existence.

Again, when I was much younger, there was a rebellious side of me which had me imagining landing some place hidden and far away and just “disappearing” into the crowd, blending in with the towns’ folk.  Maybe even living under an assumed name, and going about life as if I was meant to be there.  Not in the city, not in the midst of the action.

The fantasy didn’t quite take for long because I would be the first to admit, disappearing into the crowd is not very easy for me.  Not here, where the darker color of my skin already screams “outsider”.  Not back in the Philippines where I am not the darker but the fairer-skinned stranger.  I cannot even try to blend into the crowds in Divisoria and not know that the people see me as a likely target for over pricing or for some other such ploy, even if my Tagalog is twang-less and fluid.

If I were to hit the road, though, I know I’d be able to take care of myself.  My skills would get me a job, be it at the diner, at the office or some other place.  I adapt well.  But gone are the days when fantasies like those crossed my mind, because living such a nomadic existence would mean hitting the road on my own.  And immediately, I’m hit by the fact that that will never happen because I cannot bear to be apart from the little boy who holds my hand and who calls me in the middle of the day to tell me he misses me.

I would always be drawn back home.  It would be nice to dream of a never-ending journey from place to place, but that will never happen for as long as my little boy is home.  And I cannot take him with me on this adventure.  By the time I can, I’d probably be too old to try.

Anonymity appeals to me.  Just being the woman renting the house or the room from some place else no one knows where.  But anonymity and motherhood don’t mix.  My feet will always take me home, no matter where my dayderams take me.

I dream of maybe doing that in my twilight years.  When I know that saying goodbye to this life is all but a matter of time.  I’d love to live in a place where no one knows the title attached to my name, or that I had once lived in the greatest city in the world.  I’d like to be just “Tita Dinna” to everyone.  The old lady who putters around her house crafting, and who disappears every once in a while to visit her son who lives in a far away place, without knowing where that might be.  Not a nomad, just a stranger in a place where people wouldn’t bother to know who or what I used to be.

It’s a nice dream to think of venturing out into the world out there — for as long as the money came, there would be another bus trip to take.  It would be nice to move from place to place.  Travelling through this great land or through my homeland from end to end.  There was a time when I reached the farthest places I never thought I’d visit in the Philippines — but there is so much more to see.  I’ve never been to Banaue, and I’ve never been farther than Iligan in the south. And even then, I was always in the city.  Never in the barrio.  It is always difficult to disappear into the provinces because of the language distinction.  I’m not too good with the dialects.  And again, the color of my skin and my general features will give me away and make me literally stick out like a sore thumb.

In my dreams, I roam.  Only in my dreams.

Pinay New Yorker in China… ?

It befuddles me why a Chinese company would want to register my domain name in China when they probably have no idea what the name means, or if they do, they have no association with the name itself.

I received an email a few days back from a domain registry company in China asking me if this company was related to me as they were seeking approval for the registration of the .cn domain name.  I didn’t even get flattered by the inquiry — I was miffed.  And no, I don’t think I should get flattered, because although I am but a peep here, I have taken cared of the name and have renewed the domain name year in and year out because I have laid claim to it by building it here.

And then this…

Today I got another e-mail, this time from the company itself (which I refuse to name here because I don’t want to help advertise them) saying whether or not I protest, they will go ahead and register it because it is important to their business.  Which again, I cannot understand, because how can they be related to something Filipina and New Yorker.  I am taking offense that they want to be associated with the name.  So what would happen is when an internet search is initiated for Pinay New Yorker, the search results would show them in the list of hits along with my URL.

I feel like I’m being used.  And what can be so darn important about Pinay New Yorker to a company in China?

Daily Prompt: The Road I didn’t choose to travel

Manhattan Slkyline at 6:39pm Saturday, July 6DAILY PROMPT: Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded.

It’s uncanny how I can probably pick five things to write about given the topic above, but not all of them are apt for publication.  Some things are just too personal.

But the big “what if” I can think of which I can easily write about, I would say, would have to be my decision to leave Manila in 2000 to start a family here in New York.  It meant leaving my family, friends and career behind to take my chances here in the so-called land of milk and honey.  It was a big step for me because I had never thought about living here in the US ever — and I was not exactly in a bad place where I was career-wise back then. It was a life choice that had to be made, and that could not be postponed.

I remember weeks before my scheduled departure, the Regional President of the company I worked for had called me in and asked me to postpone my departure for a few months so I could assist in some projects, but my papers were in. How can I justify postponing getting married if the intention was to leave in the end?  He did not tell me that they were already given a deadline by the head office and were making a last pitch to keep the company in the Philippines.

In the end, staying wouldn’t have made a difference, and my decision to leave turned out to be a wise one. My company was bought by the company I left to join them. There would have been a lot of bad blood and retribution.

I hadn’t stopped to think about what my life would’ve been had I not left Manila in 2000 until this blog prompt made me stop to think about it.

So where would I be if I had stayed in Manila insread of making the jump to New York?  After 13 years here in New York, that will need a lot of  “predicting” and “surmising”.  Life would have been very different from what I know now.  I would be a totally different person in many respects and still the same one I was 13 years ago before I left.

The biggest difference would be I wouldn’t have my son — perhaps I’d have a child or two, too, but it wouldn’t be my Angelo.   I wouldn’t be as close as I am to my child or children as I would have help raising them with a nanny.  Here, I know every inch of his body and every nuance of his personality.  Ours is a very close relationship that I think is unique to where we are situated.  Here, I get to hug him and hold him and serve him every meal he has at home.   We hold hands when we’re outside the house and he cherishes me as much as I cherish him.  Now that I’ve been a mother for 9 years, I know that that role has defined me and my life choices at this point in time.

I wouldn’t be as I am into crafts and personal art because life in Manila woldn’t have made the same space for such personal pursuits.  Maybe I would be blogging, too, but more for monetization and not with such a personal slant as this.  I’d probably be writing professionally under my own byline which had been my dream after I wrote all those press releases for the companies I worked for.

I would still be in Corporate Communications or public relations perhaps but in a different slant — instead of being a client being serviced, perhaps a company servicing the client again like I did when I started out in the field.

All these what ifs that lead to nowhere in reality.  The point is I chose to go where I went, and I am here now.  We often find ourselves dwelling on what ifs but I have not had the chance to look at this big question until now because I really have had no reason to.

I treat my life choices as defining moments that shaped me into the person I am now.   I have learned to go with the flow and to make the most of what I’ve been given and what I have.  Age has a way of mellowing us down and stopping us from making otherwise impulsive moves we might have been prone to take if we were younger.  When life treats me well, I give thanks.  When I am defeated, I just bow my head down and close my eyes.

Life has been good.  God has been good to me.  I have been blessed in many respects.  I have always been one to look on the good and count my blessings rather than dwell on my failures.  Although I have not always succeeded more so with my biggest failings, I keep trying.  I have not given up and will not give up.

I have gone too far to do that.  So I keep plodding on… on the road that I chose to travel.