In my prayers

I had started writing a post over the weekend on a totally different topic when, after three paragraphs or blocks, I decided to hit delete and start again from scratch. I’m listening to Himig Heswita as I’m drafting this — and I guess that’s what sort of brought me to a more spiritual slant. (Eternally grateful to the Jesuits for their gift of knowledge in law school and music.)

Sometimes I think about writing and as much as I am dying to put the words to paper, I resist and postpone it for when I can sit and focus on it. That usually means it never gets written — because time has been precious and hard to find. Even blogging has been quite the struggle for me. I have always said how I wish I could write (and read) more. There just isn’t enough time to write all that I want to say.

Just like today. I wanted to write about a conversation over sushi and sashimi last Friday, and how I left that luncheon not just with a happy tummy. I walked back to my perch with a heart that was full. I am struggling with the words to put that together in a coherent post for now— so it’ll have to wait another day.

Then I remembered the husband and wife T and T and prayers. (Reminder to self: letter to T and T. Or even just T. )

Today I write about prayer. I start praying when I walk out the door, as I make my way to the bus stop (which is approximately 6 minutes away) at a leisurely pace. What do I pray for? I reaffirm my faith with The Creed, and then I follow a simple combination of prayers. I used to pray the rosary as I walked and ended it on the bus, but my prayer life has not been as devoted as that in years. Walking out the door with the son has also meant postponing the prayer for when I walk into the church on 43rd, because I end up talking him through what the day will be like. There are times when I put the earphones on and I start listening to the God Minute and I tell him I’m praying, in which case we walk in silence to the bus stop.

Still, I feel like I could pray more and do it with more heart.

Praying

I walk into Church and I stand at the back, mass or no mass. Like I wrote in a post not too long ago, I have a list of friends and relatives with health or emotional challenges I pray for by name. The cousin afflicted with cancer.. my bus driver friend with the tumors that they can’t operate on but which he gets treatment for each month. My siblings, and of course my mom. The mom of a friend who is also undergoing treatment. The grieving bestie at work who recently lost her Dad and has her medical issues. A friend back home who lost his grown son last year. My grade school friend who is trying to overcome cancer. A friend I never met and who found me through this space, fighting cancer for years now. A fellow postcard collector who is battling cancer in a land so far away from home. (I have postcards to write and send!) The friend of a brother trying to live through being HIV positive back home..

So no, I don’t pray to win the lotto — I am too busy trying to remember the ones that need to be on my list. I do pray that I be a good person each day — even if I know I don’t always succeed. I pray for a good day at work.. and then I have a very short list of two people I ask Him to keep safe here on this side of the world, besides my number one guy, the son. I pray that He bring the right people into my world— and to keep those who are not meant to stay, away from me. I pray for those praying in Church with me that very moment..

Sometimes, I do an express version of the list when I’m running really late. I start walking out before I get to the end of my petitions. I figure He would understand. I make the sign of the cross and walk out to start my day. And there are times when I just stand there in silence, not saying anything at all. I am just there — present.

I always remember to be grateful. One of the many retreats I attended in my younger years at St. Paul told us that praying is not just all about asking. It is also about thanking Him. And I thank Him for each and every day.

Last night, as I slept, I spoke in prayer to my older brother who died at birth. My life would be so much different had he lived to be the head of the family now. Four years my senior, he would’ve taken on the cudgels of making the decisions and of moving our brood this way or that. I never knew him growing up, but he would visit me in my dreams where he manifested as this person or other, but I was always aware he was not in the land of the living and he was who he was. And I always cried each time, more so when he hugged me. I was tossing and turning and doing my usual evening prayers. I called out to my “Kuya” (older brother or male relative), I whispered I was good and could handle my troubles for now, and I told him I wanted him to help my sister first. She needed him more than I did. I asked that he let her feel his embrace. Finally, I asked him not to visit me in my dreams because I would end up crying again like I always do. I know he heard me.

Prayer, really, is a matter of faith. And I have always been grateful that I was able to discover it early on in life. It has kept my footing steady when I would have otherwise stumbled and fell. It has helped me get up those moments when I lost my balance. It has kept me going through the good and the bad times.

So today I pray that He keep my heart steady.. and that He doesn’t let go of my hand. Amen.

On Motherhood and all the love I never thought I could muster in my heart

My journey to motherhood wasn’t easy. I tried getting pregnant at age 35, after marrying at age 34. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to wait, but my then husband and I had agreed we would only try for a baby after (1) I was gainfully employed and (2), we had a place of our own.

It took us just under two years to get both done. Two miscarriages preceded my full pregnancy, so it was a roller coaster ride seeing it to fruition. When I finally made it past the first trimester, I did all I could to make sure this one made it through to delivery. I even refused an amniocentesis for fear that the pin prick puncture of the amniotic sac would lead to a miscarriage. And more importantly, we told our obstetrician even if we found out there was something wrong with our baby, we would still see it to full term.

Eighteen years ago today, I was induced to deliver and finally held my infant son in my arms after 15 minutes of active labor. After delivering a 9.5 lb., 21.5 inch baby, I became my obstetrician’s poster child for normal delivery. It wasn’t easy battling the gestational diabetes and all the other complications of a late pregnancy, but determination and prayers got me to the finish line with no issues.

The boy is now 18 years — a legal adult in some parts although New York pegs the age of majority as 21. He is a grown man now, almost a full head taller than me, with fingers longer by almost an inch when we hold our palms face to face.

He still calls out “I love you, Mum” from out of nowhere, and would sometimes knock at my door as I’m about to sleep and ask for a hug, bending down to rest his head on my chest. When I walk in the door at the end of the day, he calls out and asks if I need help, meeting me at the door of the stairs to carry my bags up the steps.

We’ve gotten into a somewhat funny dynamic of him calling me when he thinks I would be on the bus already, asking where I am at, and what time I will be home. I have kiddingly asked him if he’s my dad with the tone he takes..

There was one night I went out, and I found him dozing off in the living room when I came home at past 2am. I asked him why he didn’t go and sleep in his room, and he meekly said he was waiting for me.

While all is not perfect in our world— he is a teenager, after all — I’ve been lucky to have raised a caring and sensitive child who has respect for his elders. Sometimes I find him pushing the envelope, but when I push back, he knows better than to nudge again. More importantly, during those moments when he knows he was in the wrong or that he had offended me, he knows to say sorry and make things right.

Sometimes, I look at him when he’s deep into a game or as he strums his guitar, or as he eats the dinner I cooked with such gusto — and I can’t help but feel a sense of pride in seeing this human being in front of me. And the love I feel is just beyond words.

My world has always revolved around him — so much so that I chose to stay here in the US instead of going back home when my marriage fell apart. When we were finally uncoupled, the world I rebuilt had him at the center of it all. And he still is. It’s just that he is entering into a new phase of his life— stepping out into the real world and pursuing his dreams. And that impending departure has me reevaluating things and the way I see the future.

I’m trying not to hold on to him too tightly to pull him back— because I know I cannot do that. So as much as that is a day I fear, I know I love him enough to let him go and conquer the world on his own. And while I would give anything to be right there with him every step of the way, I know that the best I can really do is just be here, ready to help when he calls out for me.

I have always told him no matter what he chooses, I will find a way to get him there. And yes, even if that means he ventures farther out and further away from me, I will even hold his hand to show him the way.

One of the moms whose reflections on Mother’s Day today resonated with me reminded us that a mother’s love knows no end— and time and again I have known that to be true. It may be the toughest job in the world, and for all the heartaches and obstacles that came my way, I would do it all over again to have this light in my life. Without skipping a heartbeat, I would say yes to going through it all, all over again.

This Mother’s Day was his birthday. And like I tell him, his coming into my life was the best Mother’s Day gift — ever.

Motherhood

On Facebook, I wrote:

“Happy birthday to my one and only forever love, who came into my world 18 years ago. I am blessed every single day with your love and presence in my life. I am always here for you and will just be here ready to support you every step of the way. Know that mama loves you always— even when you talk to me like you’re my Dad, asking me what time I’m going to be home(!).

And don’t forget our acceptance speech when the time comes for you to go up that stage— a reminder that at age 17, I told you never to underestimate your abilities and say you will probably not do anything great enough. You have already surprised us at this young age, what more when you go out there to conquer the world. Happy birthday, Anak. Love you more… always.. in all ways.”

On Pause

I’ve been busy working on my closet today.. sorting the scarves, putting away the winter wear, thinking of what to keep, donate, and throw away. I’m not quite at the “what sparks joy” question yet— that’ll be later for the more difficult decisions. I decided to take a break and write.

The last couple of days have been difficult as a mistake I made more than a week ago caught up with me. To put it mildly, I was caught with my foot in my mouth. While I’m tempted to write about it and pour my heart out here like always, I think I’ll do it differently this time. I’m drafting THAT post and leaving it in my draft folder, with a reminder to return to it six months from now, and write about it then.

Joy, grief, remorse and relief on pause.

It’s still very much a work in progress, and much as I’d like to get to the “end of the story” sooner than later, I feel a need to let this one write its own ending before I write about it. I’m still processing it and getting to that point where I can say I am back in a good place. There are happy thoughts associated with this whole business after all. I’ll wait for that time when I can write it on a more positive note.

On PauseIt hasn’t been all that difficult, truth be told. There have been realizations, sighs of relief, and a general sense of moving forward. Friends have been supportive and yet not short on calling me out where it was needed. The universe, the friends and even the Big Guy up there seemed to be saying the same thing: this wasn’t yours, so move on. I am trying.

Things that happened in the last 24 hours have served to remind me how lucky and blessed I am. In the midst of moping and whining about my loss, I realized others are going through so much more. I suddenly felt selfish for focusing on my heartache. Perhaps it was a way for the universe to course correct — or simply put, remind me that it just wasn’t meant to be. And at the same time, the universe showed me that I am still whole and continually blessed.

Let’s see where I am in six months when I unpause.

I do wish I could pause the memories from coming when I’ve found my footing. Thankfully, there aren’t that many to count as yet. That is a relief. Each day has brought me a step closer to “okay”. I’m using emoticons again, for a start. And keeping my heart in check, reminding myself, “Accept it.” In time..

When the tide changes

My body clock has been off lately. Last Wednesday, despite having slept closer to 2am, I was up just after 5. Thursday, after sleeping a few minutes after midnight, my body beat my alarm clock by around a half hour. Still, I didn’t want to get up. It was one of those days where I wanted to just curl up under the sheets and stay in bed. But I knew I had to get ready for another workday.

Deep sigh.

My heart was heavy instead of the slight giddiness I woke up with the last couple of weeks. Something I asked a friend has caused some trouble that I am afraid I cannot now undo.

So the tide has changed. I somehow found myself caught up in my own undoing, saying and doing something that has caused this huge shift in my world. (I literally had to pause and absorb that statement.)

Don’t you just hate it when you do or say something that you wish you could rewind to before it happened, and just edit it out of your day? I’ve been there many times. I wished so hard that the universe would straighten it out, but there’s no denying the shift has occurred.

I never thought the sudden absence of the emojis in the usual texts would change the color of the conversation in such broad strokes. From black to white… from warm to cold… and that was that.

So I just stand on the shore with my feet sunken in the sand. I watch the waves splash at me and pull the sand away from my feet as I sink deeper. But I stay put and fight it. I’m waiting for the tides to switch back — holding on for as long as I can and closing my eyes wishing for that to happen. But it doesn’t. The universe is unmoved.

Someday, I’ll walk away and not look back. And perhaps then, I’d be able to say I’m okay. For now, I’m not. That’s just me being honest about it. I am praying for the grace to accept what has come to pass and to be able to move on knowing it wasn’t meant to be.

Changing tides

On turning 56 and other updates

I meant to write this post on the weekend I turned 56, but too many things have been happening that I haven’t caught a breath since, and it’s been more than 20 days.

Turning 56

It feels good to be 56. I see the wrinkles on my face and the wisps of white popping up in my temples and other unexpected places, but I can deal with all that. It’s called aging gracefully. I know I don’t look my age and I always say it’s Asian skin. (Thanks to the melanin!). It might also be because I’ve learned to embrace the passing of the years with acceptance, and a desire to enjoy life as best I can. I am in a happy place, even if a million dollars would make me happier. I could shed not just a few pounds, too, but I’ll take the pound or two that just loves me so much it refuses to leave me.

My not so little guy is actually a man now, getting ready to conquer the world and leave his mum’s protective embrace. Give me a little more time to come to terms with that as I watch him enjoy every meal I cook, or as he hugs me tenderly from out of the blue. And well trained that he is, he still calls out “I love you, mum” in the middle of his video game, guitar playing, or whatever he may be busy with. How he has grown.. how he has changed and stayed the same. If there is one proud accomplishment I can lay claim to, it’s raising this wonderful human being. Motherhood has made the passage of time easier to contend with when you see the heart in this human being you gave birth to. He is always his mother’s son— whether he’s here beside me or somewhere else being his own person. I will let go.. in time.. not just yet. So he plays the guitar and I sing “Yesterday”.. it’s our song not because of the lyric or what the song says, but simply because we can actually pull off a performance from start to finish and be proud of it. (Waiting for him to learn the other songs within my range..)

The son gifted me with two new books I requested. One was a book by former President Obama and Bruce Springsteen which, although I wasn’t a fan, was a bibliophile’s dream acquisition even if unsigned. And there was the paperback of one of my forever favorite authors, John Grisham, Rouge Lawyer. Reading has been such a welcome escape. He still owed me the dedication and birthday card. I have always been very sentimental with the birthday cards, more so from those who need to go out of their way to get one, and write from the heart. For those revealing words, I am truly grateful. And the Starbucks mug from England is a welcome addition to my collection. I always feel special when people remember I am a collector and bring me a mug home from their travels

So I laugh harder and louder. I greet everyone with a genuine optimism and joy — like I really mean the “good” when I said “Good morning.” I had a real smile on my face instead of the usual half-smile that went with the perfunctory greeting. I’m trying to learn more about hockey and trying to understand the men in ice skates and what they are all trying to do. I hang tight with the sudden u-turns but let my heart swing with the car— I don’t fight it. I try to set the pace with a gentle tug as a reminder that I take smaller strides and I don’t walk as fast. I listen but weigh the words— I watch from the distance, almost afraid to take it for what it is. In many ways, this golden girl has been jaded many times over, but not jaded enough not to enjoy the moment. There are just those moments that are meant to be savored as part of “now”, without regard for what comes tomorrow. I am happy.

Life, in general, has been busy. I feel like I am watching my days unfolding in very unexpected ways— and I’m discovering new things that have sparked joy. It was ironic that one of the best birthday presents I received actually came from someone who didn’t even know it was my birthday. It was very spontaneous and honest and raw. Who knew? Sometimes those little surprises that the universe springs upon us are the most impactful.

I feel like the universe is steering me in a certain direction that I am wary of heading towards, because of the choices that need to be made. I have always been open to the many possibilities that are out there, and I have learned to keep expectations and standards reasonable. I will take joy in any shape or form it comes in, and relish it while it is there for the taking. All I know is that I am listening to and watching how the universe is unfolding.

It was a happy birthday. I am smiling even now as I look forward to more surprises from the universe, like the ones that have come my way and have been a warm hug to my heart. I close my eyes and say a prayer of thanks. As a favorite verse says, “I know He hears. I see His sign, the ancient promise of His love.”

I give thanks. I sit in silence and listen. I just take it all in with gratitude and appreciation for all the good in my life. They have given me the strength to face the challenges and the pain with a firmer resolve to make it to another day.

I find myself in that point in my life where I’m thinking of the future. Perhaps it’s Angelo’s leaving for college. Perhaps it’s just that I have put off so many things for so long that they have caught up with me. And I’m wondering if decisions made before should be reconsidered and thought out again. In time.

Those Unexpected Encounters

I have been blogging for 18-19 years now— having started when blogs started to blossom. I had an “online journal” before the blog and I think I managed to move some of my earlier posts to my new space. I did start on another platform, and I eventually moved a majority of my blog.com posts to WordPress when I made my home here.

Through the years, I’ve “met” people who bumped into my corner of the blogosphere and said hello. I have received countless emails from the lawyer wannabes with their questions and reactions to my posts here. (That’s the reason those posts have their own page in the navigation bar on top.). Some have since become lawyers, thanking me after many years and telling me they made it. My heart is full.

There are those whose blogs became favorite stops for me — and who, although we have not met, feel like old friends as we follow each other on social media. (Paging the Two Jeromes)

I know I’m not killing it readership-wise, but I’m happy having my space here, being able to write what I want. No pressure. Full artistic freedom. The interaction with my readers being an added and very heartwarming plus.

I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet some of the people who have read my blabbering here. Thrice. And I count those three readers now as friends.

The first was Jeanne who I bumped into in my then PinayFRANCOPHILE blog which no longer exists. She was a Filipina living in Paris with her son, and we managed to meet in Paris during my second visit there in 2004. We lost touch for a bit but reconnected on Instagram a few years ago and manage to take a peek into each other’s lives through our posts. (Thank you, social media!)

Second was Lou from the Midwest who used to have a blog on Multiply where I maintained a mirror site. We met each other when she visited New York, and then again when Angelo and I were in Chicago for a cousin’s wedding. She and I and have tried to keep in touch via email. I have a standing invitation to see her next time in Baguio where she now lives. Knowing how she’s just a hop, skip and a jump away from my pledge of a pilgrimage to Manaoag each time I’m in the Philippines, I can’t wait for the next time I get to fly home and maybe sit down for a quick lunch with her, even if I have a standing invitation to stay a night or two. I am aiming low to keep expectations at bay, but can’t wait.

The third is Elaine, a fellow New Yorker who I first met when she was pregnant with her first child 7 years ago, and who is a very dear friend now even if we don’t get to see each other often. She originally found me by doing a random search for Filipinos in New York — and the results point to my spot right here. (Go and try..) Sure, life does get in the way and sometimes there are long silences in between our almost everyday connecting when we do manage — but like I told her this weekend when we finally got to grab lunch and spend a few hours together, friendships take a lot of work, and I appreciate that she’s been there through all these years.

With Elaine last Friday

I don’t really think aboutwho is reading when I write the words that make up the posts I publish. I do know there is someone reading — and it’s a conversation between the writer and the reader, even if I don’t hear your reaction to the things I write. And when I do get a comment which is few and far between, I get the affirmation that there is someone out there who somehow was able to relate to what I said. And there, the conversation begins.

Those who have been reading my posts here from way back have a sense of how my life has changed through the years. I have always worked hard to be truthful and honest, without giving too much away. (You will hardly see a photo of me in my posts, for one..) As someone told me, the stories bring them “there” — wherever it is I’m at.

I am grateful for the friends I have found. From what started as just my ramblings, I have reaped the rewards of friends who have stepped out of the imaginary pages of my space here, giving more than I would have ever thought possible just by putting my thoughts and feelings into words. Unexpected encounters in a most unexpected space — for which I am eternally grateful. Who would have thought..

There are several others who had floated in and drifted away just as quietly as they walked in. Those encounters, no matter how brief, validated my presence here. Just like in real life where we meet people and see some of them leave — some for good, and some for a brief spell only to come back again, ready to give us that hug when we meet up. Those who have found my world in words here have done the same. Some continue to read no matter how far apart my posts may be, and some have moved on — and that’s okay. I enjoy and cherish what’s here now — and I am always grateful for whatever I had, but never regretting that which I don’t have anymore.

So if you have the time to send me a note, you can either leave a comment here, or drop me a line at pinaynewyorker @ gmail dot com. Let’s get a conversation going..

Journaling in 2022

My Art Journal 2022

I returned to Art journaling in 2020 as a means of keeping my head straight in the thick of the pandemic. I let the juices flow and did sections instead of filling out the pages chronologically. Although I have yet to bind the different sections together and there are some unfinished layouts, in my mind and in my heart, those pages encapsulate what my year was all about. For all the challenges that the opening salvo of covid dealt us, I know I came out with more than what I lost that year.

I began 2021 by working on the first layouts starting with the fold out pages of the year which I traditionally do. And that was that. The year flew by and no art journaling for me. While I’m not too happy with that, all I can say is “Life happens.” And it did.

Towards the end of 2021, I heard from a friend from far away who is nevertheless always close at heart. Many years my junior, she and I shared a passion for art, jewelry making and postcards. She is one of the few people on my very short list who I try to see whenever I land in Manila. Long story short, she proposed a journal exchange. Many years ago, I left Manila with a mini journal from her which is now tattered and all worn because I used to carry it in my purse. I was more than willing to do this with her.

So that makes for two journals I will be working on this year.

For my main personal journal, I have decided I will keep my 5″ x 7.5″ page format from 2020. As one of the more challenging tasks was deciding on the format, I think I’ll keep to the recycled folder or card stock I used, more so since I’ve drifted more towards painting my backgrounds. And it was simple enough to cut other paper to size to fit in it. Settled. Like I did in 2020 where I did a summary of 2019 at the start, I will use the 2021 fold out for this purpose.

My shared journal 2022For my shared journal, I’ve decided to use this handmade paper and journal from Nepal which I have several of. I absolutely fell in love with this journal when I stumbled upon it at Barnes & Noble. I liked it so much that I bought 2-3 more besides the one I had started a gratitude journal on many years ago. (Which I actually rediscovered when I was looking for my spares..). So the idea is she’s writing on a journal I will reply to later, and I am starting mine. I will leave space or pages for her to write on later, after we exchange journals– whenever that may be. It’s like a conversation in our heads on paper, with a longer response time intended. And the next time we meet or sooner, we exchange journals again.
My shared journal
Journaling is a very personal thing to me because there, I can chronicle my day and my feelings and thoughts freely. I have often gone back to my questions and musings at a later time, usually finding a different and better insight into either what I had gone through or what I am going through. It’s a journey in words and images.

I’m starting the year with a determined effort to set aside time and focus to actually get back to this — and I’m hopeful that I will be able to do more than I did in 2021.

Off to Austin and Back

I wrote this piece the first weekend of November as my son and I headed to Austin, while on the plane taking us there. As always, life took me over, and I’m at least three posts behind — all about this trip. It was a good way to go back to a semblance of normalcy after almost two years of being in the Covid bubble.

On our way to Austin

(November 6, Saturday) We’re two hours into our flight from New York to Austin, and while I am dying for some shut eye, I can’t sleep. I brought a magazine and a book to read, and a postcard swap list I need to work on over the weekend. I’ve so far read 2 articles in the magazine which is a feat — considering my magazines usually go unread. I read a couple of chapters of the book. I’ve checked the swap list and just need to send out the pairings. I will do that when I land or maybe when I return to New York.

We’re heading to Texas to attend a wedding on Monday. It’s a small party and I have known the groom since he was a baby. And the best part of it is, I have the 17 year old son with me. We are both sooooo excited!

It’s our first flight together since the pandemic began. The airport was abuzz with people and the lines were long but moving. American Airlines has a self check in system that is new to me, but I found it rather efficient. I have not flown domestically since 2012 when I went to a cousin’s wedding in Chicago. I was with the son then, as well.

Bag drop off was slow but it was tolerable. I maximized my one free bag and we carried the rest. We’re in Texas for only 4 days. One night will be in Austin the city, and the last two in Marble Falls where the reception will be held. I’m guessing it’s their version of Tagaytay or the Hamptons, so I’m looking forward to a bit of exploring. I had ordered a free copy of the Austin Visitor Guide which arrived in the nick of time. And I just remembered I left it at home, of course.

On our way to Austin

I thought I had my packing plan in place. Still, I ended up doing it the night before. I wanted to choose my outfits for the walk around town, but even that ended up being done last minute. The only thing that was predetermined was my outfit for the wedding. Dress, check. Shoes, check. Jacket for the Uber low temps of Austin nights, check. Sparkly gold bling platform peep toe slippers, check. Fancy satin scarf, check. Purse, check. The only thing I really bought for this wedding was the jacket and the purse. Everything else was already in my closet.

Just another one of the many things that made everything fall into place. I was meant to attend this wedding even if it was being held on a Monday, with the chapel and the reception an hour away from each other. How can I say no when the universe was screaming “Go!”

The flight was unbelievably reasonably priced. It was also relatively short so covid fears aside, I figured I’d survive wearing the mask for the three hours or so I’d be up in the air. Besides, I could always take a drink if I needed a break. (We were actually served snacks.). The hotel in the city was understandably pricey, but the hotel close to the reception (as recommended by the bride) was reasonable.. All systems go. It looks like the bigger chunk of the expense will be transportation between the city to the next town, and then to the chapel and the reception on the day of the wedding. I can take a local taxi for the reception back to the hotel, then one last big fare to the airport. See, I don’t drive. But figuring all that on Uber, car service, etc., vs. what I would’ve spent on a car rental, I’m not really off by much. (That’s me justifying to myself.).

On our way to Austin

The last plane ride I took was my Manila- Legazpi – Manila – Sydney Manila vacation in July of 2019. It feels like a lifetime away, more so as the homesickness creeps up on me, followed by a deep frustration over the quarantine requirements in Manila. I have stopped trying to look at what is possible in the near term. I am trying to assuage the pining for home by thinking of December 2022. That way, any opportunity to travel like this one, comes as a gift.

It seems that planning for a vacation to any other country or state is going to be easier, so trips like this one provide a welcome break from the cabin fever of covid.

The scene at the airport was almost normal in terms of the crowd, but most people were complying with fully wearing their masks— a mask was required everywhere. Some people took it off while waiting at the gate, and some had it over their mouth but not over third nose which I personally find so irritating. But on the plane itself, there was even an announcement to make sure to wear your mask even as you sleep so they wouldn’t have to wake you up. So far so good.. but then again, the flight is only half full. (I have situated myself in my own three seat row across from the son.)

——

(November 9, Tuesday) On the way home on a Tuesday evening flight from Austin to Néw York. The plane is barely half full. I tried to situate the son across the aisle in his own row, but he naughtily defied my seat plan. Yes, he’s next to me.

I am leaving Austin with happy memories of a vacation spent with my soon-to-be college boy. There was no ditching me to hang out with his friends this weekend. He was stuck with me. We tried some homegrown faves in the two places we visited, and the last meal we had in Marble Falls has changed the way he looks at barbecue ribs forever.

On our way to Austin

The wedding was heartwarming and touching. I am glad I decided to go and be there for the new Mr. and Mrs. Lim. I suddenly felt old as I realized how the baby now has a baby himself now, and was taking that big leap at his bit of forever.

As for me, I feel as though the universe just reminded me life goes on. And it did. And I’m glad I ventured out and took the chance to have a fun weekend with my boy. Happy memories aplenty!

Saturday Brunch in Manhattan

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This previous weekend, I had made plans to have brunch in the city and I knew where I wanted to go. Fell in line to be seated, and this being the first time I’ve gone to dine in the city since the new vaccination requirement, I saw firsthand how it’s now a thing in Manhattan. Proof of vaccination, please. I flashed my excelsior app which I had just added to my apple wallet this month. Done. I was told to take my seat to wait for my table to be ready.

Saturday Brunch at Angelina Paris NYC

The group behind us chose to forego dining here because of that— it seems one or two of their party had yet to be vaccinated. There’s actually a move to reverse this mandate, with some restaurateurs alleging their business is being singled out to enforce this requirement, at the risk of losing potential customers who cannot meet it.

I personally feel that everyone has a right to know who is and who is not vaccinated, because not being vaccinated is a potential risk to those of us who are. While I respect this as a personal choice one is free to make, I think I have a right to know if I’m sitting next to or in the same space as someone who isn’t. To paraphrase French President Emmanuel Macron, it’s about time that those of you who are not vaccinated stay home, while those of us who are can move with more freedom. Of course, this is not to say that we move around without the mandated precautions of masking (now required in many establishments although optional in some), and maintaining social distancing.

We cannot let our guard down just because we have been vaccinated. We all must exercise caution and continue to safeguard ourselves and our family against the dangers of covid.

A 30 minute wait? I have had my mind set on brunch here for a while, more so since I’ve always only taken pastries to bring home. Today, I’m going to sit and have brunch.

Menu options give you two breakfast packages and a brunch option with choices, and of course there is always the alternative to go a la carte. I wanted to enjoy the Angelina Paris experience, so I went for the brunch.

Brunch Menu, August 2022

I’m not really a breakfast person. I used to skip eating breakfast, but I’ve come to realize that my body tends to binge when deprived, so smaller, more sensible meals made better sense for someone like me. When home, I am happy having avocado toast and coffee. I’ve developed a liking to simply mashed avocado seasoned ever so slightly with a dash of pepper and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Saturday Brunch at Angelina Paris NYC

Today, it’s Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon for me. The other options were spinach and feta, avocado or Canadian Bacon. I tend to gravitate towards salmon to go with poached eggs, which to me, is the better pairing for a flash of flavor. I’m glad I made that choice.

Saturday Brunch at Angelina Paris NYC

Can I just say I’ve never seen such perfectly poached eggs that look like they were shelled and boiled? They were so divine to slice into and the over easy yolk oozed out and melded so well with the Hollandaise sauce. The homemade smoked salmon sitting atop a crunchy toast was just heavenly..

Saturday Brunch at Angelina Paris NYC

My nutritionist is trying to make me rethink eating by making me stick to a set of foods that would be healthier rather than being calorie conscious. It’s worked for me mostly, except when I deliberately indulge in my devilish treats. Today’s brunch is half and half of that, and I’m not apologizing! It’s affirming when the one you dine with tends to order the same thing you order..

Brunch was capped by a White Chocolate Praline Crepe with pistachios, raspberries and Chantilly (whipped cream).

Saturday Brunch at Angelina Paris NYC

The flavors just melded together with a flavorful sauce that wasn’t overpoweringly tart nor sweet. Perfect to cleanse the palate of the hints of smoked salmon that lingered after. I must warn you that this might be too big a meal for people who prefer to eat light. If you ask me, it was just heavy enough to satisfy.

Saturday Brunch at Angelina Paris NYC

Besides, I tell myself, I’ve been pretty good for the most part. I saw French Toast on the a la carte menu which is what I will have next time I stop by for brunch. Looking forward to that in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, I can’t really pass up on picking up a treat or two for the next day’s breakfast.

Take home

Monday Musings on a Tuesday.. yet again

Monday musings in paper and ink

DISCLAIMER: Clicking on the links in this post might actually result in a commission for the Pinay New Yorker.

I’m trying to give it more effort to actually write. The last post took all of almost 4 weeks to see the light of day, because I kept editing it and changing the flow. Over the weekend, I finally told myself I had to get on with the writing. So back to Monday Musings for a start – and sadly, I’m into Tuesday. Such is life. But on with the blurbs. (I try to make these mini-posts on a hodge podge of topics or thoughts currently front and center for me at the start of the week.)

Back to the stones. I have been making a mental note to actually set aside time to start creating again. In the last 4 weeks, I’ve made 2 sales which is a sad number given any retail outlet like my online shop – but what baffles me is the fact that the sales actually happened. This, even if I haven’t been doing any marketing push, let alone add new pieces to the shop. Is it a sign? I can only imagine how my numbers could be so much better if I focused on the shop. Recalibrating, I am going to be more determined to actually get more done with the shop beginning today. Starting with this post.

Earlier this year, I actually made a more determined effort to start getting myself organized. I went through my supplies and sorted my gemstones, pearls and findings. I almost succeeded not getting any additional supplies, except that I came across some rather eye catching accessories in my favorite retail outlets which called out to me. I saw them transformed into something else, given the chance to add my own touch to it. But they have been untouched.

Discovering China’s direct suppliers was a thing for a while, until my return to postcards came and totally threw my plans off. But I’m trying to get back on track. This is one of those times when I know I need to pay heed to the signals from the universe and actually strike while the iron is starting to fire up – just to get it to “hot”.

Reading again has been quite refreshing, and I am well on my way to hit my 6-book target for the year. I am still trying to get my posts on my very eventful Fourth of July weekend together, but one of the most concrete accomplishments that outing actually produced was a renewed fervor to read more. My two friends, Gedd and Jelaine, are actually voracious readers who shared with me an interesting mix of fiction and non-fiction favorites. As a result, I’m almost halfway through Stephen King’s “11-22-63” on Audible, and continuing to read the English translation of El Filibusterismo – yes, the one we were required to read in high school in Filipino. (This is the translation by Soledad Lacson-Locsin).  I am trying to line up my next reads, and as it is, I only need to finish this two and a third to make my yearly quota of six. I’m beyond happy that this part of my 21 for 2021 goal is on track to be completed for the first time in so many years.

For those who have all the time in the world to read, 6 might seem like a very puny goal for the year – but being that I’ve failed to meet that bare minimum the last couple of years, this is a feat as it is.

I’m making masks again. While we have been given the leeway to forego masks at work if you’re a vaccinated employee, the resurgence of the Delta variant and the newer Lambda variant makes me think that masks are not totally out of the Covid scene. As of today, 49 of 50 states are seeing an uptick in cases. I have been wont to take off the mask when outdoors and yes, sometimes, on the bus, but have become more careful in indoor settings or even outdoors when there is a lot more people traffic. Even as I walk out in the open for my daily routine, I carry a mask in one hand and promptly put it on when I see people approaching from the opposite direction. I am not taking any chances and the direction to wear or not to wear masks is up in the air for now. I had precut fabric that was ready to be sewn, and they are now ready to be finished for wearing in the coming days.

Writing those letters finally. I had thought I’d get to this sooner, but I’ve written three letters over the weekend and about to write my fourth. My son was asking why I was writing and not emailing or texting instead – well, it’s not quite the same. So there are letters heading out to surprise some people with something to read and hold for a change. I’m all for the advances of technology, but there are times when old fashioned letters can be more meaningful than that email you get on your laptop or phone.

When a hello from the past is a warm hug to the heart. Once upon a time, I came across a young medical student who was back in Manila, and who became a very good friend. We corresponded and followed each other’s blogs and shared bits and pieces of our lives. We lost touch, but I tried to keep track of him by looking at his social media feed. The medical student became a doctor and went back to his hometown in the hinterlands of Sulu. He wanted to serve his people in a place where sometimes, it would take hours of walking to get medical help. What could be more noble? He could have opted for a more financially rewarding career in a city hospital or in private practice, but he went home to serve his people. And from out of the blue, I receive a heartwarming email from him. The doctor is now married and still among his people. My heart is smiling as I write this. Some people enrich our lives just by living theirs – such as my young doctor friend. More about him and this special friendship another time.

Proud to be Pinoy: Thank you, Hidilyn Diaz! (Proud to be Filipino) Finally, a gold for the Philippines. I am proud of Hidilyn and the honor that she has brought to us Filipinos. It may be one gold which is dwarfed by the many chalked up by other countries, but for us, that is a major achievement that will forever be etched in our minds and hearts. What a way to start the week! Truly an inspiring athlete who stirs so much emotion for us Pinoys.