Chocolate and memories of holidays back home

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4APreface: The post below was created a week or so ago while trying to dictate my thoughts to my phone as I walked. I know I should’ve edited it sooner to retain the flow of thought, but it was Christmas week which was busy for everyone. I tried not to edit the actual content too much because I also wanted to see how I composed the post in this fashion.

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I always found myself composing blog posts in my head as I walked, forming sentences in my head. At least one blog post idea pops up, and then when I get home, I forget or I sometimes lose the motivation to write. I simply get overwhelmed by all the other things I need to do.

The last couple of days, I found myself inspired to write again. There are times I find myself unable to write for long periods of time which can get very frustrating when I look at what I have and have not written down. There is a sense of loss for the thoughts that didn’t find their way here.

So I’m trying to write more, even just short blurbs that I can expand later on. When I walk, I usually have music blasting in my ears from my phone. Lately, it’s been the music from the Netflix show Emily in Paris that has kept me company. I usually walk from an hour and 15 minutes to as long as two hours- depending on the combination of walking and jogging that I do.

Much to my surprise, I have managed to walk every single day for the last six months, and always at least 10,000 steps for the last 133 days as of December 26. That’s really a big accomplishment for someone like me who has never really exerted effort to exercise or do any physical activity in my entire life.

It’s really all about taking better care of myself given my age and my health history. Both my parents are diabetics. I remember when I used to be too lazy to even use my gym membership at work. These days, I can’t believe that there are days when I fear that the weather outside would prevent me from going on my walk. So yes, I have walked in the rain and not so much in the snow, but after a snow storm.

I have taken to walking in the evenings lately because work has been rather hectic the last couple of weeks. I actually like it better at night. I don’t have to worry about having to put on the sunblock. Vanity, I know. Secondly, there’s less people walking around or driving around. It doesn’t mean that there’s totally no one around, but there’s just less people traffic.

It’s the weekend before Christmas and I’m trying to get all my Christmas cards written, stamped and sent. I’ve done a whole lot better compared to last year. I was actually sending out Christmas cards on Christmas Day. This time, I had all my Christmas cards ready weeks ahead, but of course life and work took precedence. I had wanted to prepare some packages to send out to friends, but ended up postponing that.

I’ve always been very big on Christmas. It’s actually my favorite holiday. It’s not so much the giving of presents or the traditions that have embodied the holiday for me, but more because it signifies a new beginning. Christmas is the birth of Christ and like all births, symbolizes a fresh start. Personally, I find it a very joyous occasion. No matter what challenges I may be facing or may have faced in the months preceding it, Christmas is always a happy time.

It’s also one of the times that I miss home the most where it is twice as Christmasy than it is here in New York City.

Tsokolate

The other day, I made some hot chocolate from cocoa I had brought home from my last trip to Manila in 2019. Cooking the Christmas chocolate has always been a task my father used to be responsible for. I remember him requiring certain special butter to add to the mix, and he had a wooden mixer to make the tsokolate frothy and thicker. He would put the handle between his palms and shake it while submerged in the hot concoction. The chocolate always had to be a certain consistency with just the right amount of butter and evaporated milk added to it. This was a staple for the Christmas Eve feast, and in the Christmas morning breakfast we serve our guests the next day.

We’d usually have it with some sweet ham, sliced from a whole leg and that sharp Edam cheese. I close my eyes and I am there again. It was sweet and rich and just such a decadent drink of merry and joy.

I miss Papa. He has been gone years now, but every time I have some of this local cocoa, I am back with him again. It makes me pine for holidays in Manila with the rest of the family.

And those snapshots of christmases past run like a montage in my head as I walk, or when I catch a whiff of the tsokolate as I hold the cup up to my lips to take a sip.

“Me” Day on a Covid holiday

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AI don’t get to go around much anymore, and everything has changed so much that things just don’t feel like they used to. Manhattan is still there but with a different “flavor”. Although I work there and used to be there five days a week, I only really got to explore and enjoy the city during those days I got to go around leisurely. Those would be the days I went in specifically to go around and do errands or take visiting friends or family to see the sights. Thursday was an errand: a doctor’s appointment.

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Like most others, I try to get the usual annual appointments done before the end of the year. I should really do better than that and try for earlier, but insurance will usually not take the appointment until after 12 months from the previous one. (It is supposed to be “annual”.). It went rather quickly with an hour’s wait only– I guess the ladies held their babies in and no one went into labor, so my gynecologist sauntered in pretty much on time. Hooray!

I wanted to get the steps in so I walked from 34th and Madison towards Bryant Park on Fifth and 42nd. It was a cold but beautiful day but I dressed for the weather and had my mask on. I was all set.

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The steps to the New York Public Library are usually full of people seated on them enjoying the sunshine. Famous for movies like “Sex In the City” (venue of Carrie Bradshaw’s non-wedding) and “The Day After” (where Toby McGuire and company holed up until they could be rescued). To me it was an early discovery way back when I had just arrived in New York in 2000. I would pass the time here between exploring the city and heading home. One day when they let us back in, I will write a post taking me back to that time. For now, no visit to this corner of Manhattan is complete without stopping by to take a picture.

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The rows upon rows of park tables and benches were mostly empty. Used to be abuzz with locals and tourists, any time of day. One would usually have to walk the length and breadth of the park to find an empty table, or wait for those seemingly about to finish their meal and scoot on over when they stood up to leave. Not this day. Or the previous or coming days.

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I am hoping they will put up a bigger Christmas tree like in previous years. This clump of regular sized Christmas trees are usually replaced at a later date with a beautiful Christmas tree, a mini version of the one in Rockefeller Center, although it’s not exactly a small tree. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if this is all we get this year.

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To make way for social distancing, only a third of the shops were allowed to sell in this year’s winter village. My favorite cheese house wasn’t there, so I went for my other favorite: the Crepe Cafe. This is one of the original food outlets that has been here every year.

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I always order the Banana Nutella Almond crepe here, and this was lunch for the day. I found my space on the periphery by the 40th street side, sat down and took off my mask. There were only a handful of food outlets allowed to open, and the pop up indoor restaurant was not put up this time around.

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Sitting down and looking around, Bryant Park felt more like a Sunday than the Thursday it usually was. People were walking around and there was a smattering of others trying to enjoy lunch like I was doing, but a very thin crowd it was. But I enjoyed the quiet.. and just taking in a beautiful day enjoying a favorite treat.

So much has changed in our lives since the pandemic began. Any semblance of normalcy is a breath of fresh air in our now masked existence. Literally. I have actually gotten used to going around with a mask, being that I actually do my usual hour and a half walk/jog with a mask on.

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The children’s carousel was still there. At least the kids still get to have their fun, even if at half capacity. When the weather gets too cold, this beauty will be shrouded and covered until things warm up again.

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The rink is alive with a six foot barrier to keep those watching on the sidelines safely distanced from the railing that some of the skaters hang on to. There are still tables and chairs around the rink, but socially distanced.

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The temperatures have held to decent “cold” and we really haven’t had snow yet, so my favorite Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain is staying pretty without a load of ice just yet. Truth is, it’s quite a sight when you see it laden with ice and still flowing. They cannot shut the pipes or it might burst, so they keep it flowing even in the cold of winter.

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We’re all trying our best to cope. The Bryant Park Cafe run by Bryant Park Grill has put up these dining huts and the park has a few available for groups like the one on the right. (not sure that’s the proper term). For the ones provided by the park, a notice is put up after the space has been sanitized. It’s just sad that the Governor has just shut down indoor dining and outdoor dining might follow next. At the very least, it is good to know that there is this option.

I walked uptown to view the Rockefeller Center but I will save that post for a possible part II of this post.. before I headed back to my bus stop, I had to decide which treat I would go home with. The line to Angelina Paris NYC was too long and I just didn’t feel like taking the chance even when social distancing. So I opted to grab some of my other happy food over at Magnolia Bakery.

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I miss those days when I could just walk down from my perch at work and grab a cup from the branch in the Grand Central food court. I went to the one on Sixth Avenue. These days, the lines that used to snake around the corner are no longer there, but they are still making their special cupcakes, cakes, cookies and yes, their heavenly banana pudding. I walked in before leaving the Rockefeller Center and found that they now have the banana pudding by the cashier. I was lucky to grab some red velvet banana pudding (a specialty flavor), and a second tub of their old time original. (Calories be damned! Lol)

I did the rest of my errands — stopped by Whole Foods near 42nd Street to grab some steaks and ground beef for my big guy, and headed home. Like always, it was nice to be able to spend an afternoon in a leisurely fashion for some “me” time. It’s a different kind of Manhattan now– and a different way of going about the things we had gotten used to before the pandemic broke out. While things have improved from the second quarter when everything shut down, we are far from normal.

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The threat of things going from bad to worse is hanging over our heads at the moment. It makes it all the more imperative to enjoy life while we can– without forgetting the new limitations and requirements of being socially responsible while we do it. (Masks on, please..). Life goes on, indeed. Even if not in the same way we used to go about it.

A different kind of holiday season

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4ADecember has always been my favorite time of the year — no matter where I am, and even if memories of Christmases in Manila make me miss home all the more. Christmas in New York is a little less festive because we don’t all do Christmas– depending on one’s faith, it might be a Hanukkah .. or Kwanza..

Last Thursday, I was in the city for a doctor’s appointment and I decided I would go around and visit the usual places which were the festive manifestations of the holiday. This year, the lions adorning the front of the New York Public Library, Patience and Fortitude, have their customary Christmas wreaths, but are now masked.

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I wanted to check out the shops at the winter village in Bryant Park behind the library and found out that only a third of the usual number of stores and food outlets have been given space to allow for social distancing.

This side of the park right behind the library used to have two rows of shops facing each other but now have been left empty.

No booths on this side of Bryant Park this year

The seasonal restaurant is not up this year, and the skating rink facilities are all outdoor so there is no longer any enclosed waiting/changing station. What few shops that set up still bring us the holiday spirit, but it isn’t quite as festive as years past.

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The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is now cordoned off and the nearest you can get is at least 10 feet away through a directional path, where security personnel and denominated circles on the ground let you make your way closer to the tree.

The crowds were visibly thinner and there was a horde of security and police present.

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Even going through the main walkway where the angels with their trumpets blaring lead you towards the front view, allowing you to see the tree with the statue of a Prometheus under it as the skaters glide on the rink are now controlled and directed. Which is good given the current state we are in.

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The usual decorations have sprouted up again but the crowds aren’t there. Although that makes taking pictures a whole lot easier, a visibly thinner audience around all this display of the holidays makes it less festive than we have been used to. But that is life now as we know it.

In a state of siege

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AIt’s Sunday and I’ve done half my step quota for the day, walking/jogging on my way to pick up a 5lb tub of peanut butter. (That’s another post altogether..). I gave myself the luxury of sleeping in this morning, in large part due to waiting up for the 16 year old who went to a friend’s house to watch the boxing match last night. I thought I’d pick up brunch at the Paris Baguette along the way and sit and just enjoy a moment of quiet.

I needed a “me moment” because I know this coming week will be busy at work. I picked up my treats, went to sit at what appeared to be a safely distanced table in the dining area and picked up my phone to read. It was a choice between the New York Times app and my email prompts regarding new reads from fellow bloggers who are among a handful I follow. I chose the latter.

I’ve always enjoyed visiting other blogs when I get the chance — it’s like a silent and extended conversation in my mind. It’s a source of inspiration and helps me to ground my thinking in general. These are the thoughts of people who actually find the same release I do in putting my words down into a corner of the web. I know how it feels — I can relate. I only wish I could do it more often. Alas, there are not enough hours in a day.. and there are a dozen things I wish I could do more regularly but have no time.

I read Island Traveler’s post where he asks the question: What Happens if U.S. Run Out of Hospital Beds and Medical Staff by Christmas? For the first time in a long time, I read a blog post from start to finish, actually tried to leave a comment but somehow didn’t make it through, and was moved enough to write about it here in my corner of the web.

Island Traveler is a blog by a fellow Filipino who had stumbled into me and thus started one of those silent conversations. He is a health care worker on the other side of the country. He has enthralled me with his photography and very profound photo essays. This time, though, he moved me just as another denizen of this great United States of America which, like most of the world, is currently in crisis because of the pandemic.

I felt a need to reply in a longer fashion here because I feel what he is saying. Literally.

Earlier during the infancy of this crisis, New York was the epicenter of fear, panic and death. We froze with the realization that we were being overwhelmed by a force that we had to race against. We applauded our front liners who faced the crisis head on. We appealed for federal assistance and help from the medical professionals from other states and they came. We all came together as a community to grieve the dead who had to be kept in refrigerated vans, with funeral homes backed up.

I watched the news almost the whole time I was awake, as I saw families with medical professionals going into their houses through windows and the basement or garage, and sacrificing not hugging or kissing their children for days on end, afraid they would bring home the virus to them. There were lots of tears for the patients who were dying faster than they could be attended to, and tears of fear for the scarce personal protective equipment they needed. There was burnout and frustration. There still is.

While life is anything BUT normal these days, we managed to get a hold of the situation. The ambulances that came to our aid with their first responders have gone home. The nurses and doctors who volunteered their time and expertise have since returned to their states– and are now battling the virus there. The behemoth Javits Center which was converted into a hospital was hardly even used– but we braced for the surge. It came– just not in the magnitude we were warned it would, because people listened out of fear.

Work and school shifted to home. We learned to plan our resources to cope with disappearing items from the grocery shelves. And while the virus hasn’t totally disappeared from New York, we lived and continue to live with the shadow of the pandemic hanging over our heads. Which is why I find it sad and worrying that many parts of the country continue to be in denial of the dangers of the novel Corona virus.

There was a very striking news interview a couple of days ago of a hospital worker who was in tears, relaying that even in their deathbed, some of those afflicted didn’t believe the Corona virus was real.

There are many who are still raging against the restrictions imposed by states that are now buckling under the pressure of dealing with this crisis. They equate the mandate to wear a mask as an impingement on their personal freedom. I say you wear a mask out of a need for personal protection and as a manifestation of respect for others.

The numbers have not started going down for the country. We are already being warned as a nation that a second wave is coming. That warning is really for places like New York where there was an upsurge and then a decline– but not a total eradication of the problem. The truth of it is, many places continue to be in crisis– where patients are overwhelming the system. What second wave? They are still in the thick of the onslaught of this unseen killer. Even outside the United States, other countries are beginning to feel the effects of an echo of the crisis.

We are a world under siege. And despite the promise of a vaccine or improved cures in the horizon, thousands are continuing to be afflicted and are dying every day. As individuals, we have to come to terms with the reality that although we may be unaffected, many others are not. Whether or not we know someone who has died of the disease, there are many others who are affected by it in their day to day lives.

We’ve had some scares but have managed to steer clear of getting sick ourselves. Negative tests are not a guarantee of safety, and are not a reason to relax our guard. As a non-medical worker or other frontline participant, I feel it’s my responsibility to help ease the burden by doing my part in trying to stay healthy. As we all should.

I say do more than applaud them.. show your respect by doing your part. Even just wearing your mask will help, no matter how inconsequential you might think it to be.

Autumn In New York

Getting back into the swing of things

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AIt’s been ages since I was here.. I know. My bad. Life has totally taken me over (favorite excuse).. and yes, we are still far from normal.

While a very small percentage of people at work returned to the office, including my boss, I continue to work from home. I was fortunate that she insisted the commute to and from work was not worth the risk, plus there was the boy who I opted to do full remote learning for. I just gave her the option to call me in if the need ever arose. The numbers are rising again, and while we had hoped to inch our way towards “normal” in the weeks to come, there is a threat of another lockdown or shutdown or shelter in place hanging over our heads. So much for returning to normal.

The truth is, I had sort of resigned myself to the fact that this is now our new normal. Masks every time we go out. Social distancing. Washing hands the minute we get home. Having a container of hand sanitizer in our pockets all the time. No more shaking hands or hugging. Being careful what we touch and how we touch things.

I just wrote the second half of this post and it just disappeared on me with a stroke of my finger. When things like that happen, I attribute it to the simple conclusion that whatever I had written wasn’t meant to be published. I can try again, but it’s late.

New York City schools just announced that everyone will do remote learning beginning tomorrow due to the rising numbers in positive cases. I’m not really affected because my son has been fully remote from the start of the school year. The long commute and the transfer it would take was too much of a worry in terms of the possibility of exposure to the virus, so he has been learning remotely. I’m lucky that at 16, I can easily leave him at home if I were forced to return to work. But I am even luckier that I don’t have to and I continue to work from home. Working parents of younger kids are not as flexible because there would be the issue of childcare while they try to put food on the table.

Another day ended in the time of Corona..

Autumn in New York

Sundays be like

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AWeekends have not changed much when you think about spending it at home. It’s when you think about how much has changed about how you spent your weekends before the lockdown and after everything changed that it catches up with you. Life in New York has somewhat returned to something close to normal, but we are watching the numbers closely and hoping the uptick in new cases will be confined to certain areas and eventually stemmed.

I like spending my Sundays quietly and lazily. Unless something was planned beforehand, I don’t even go by the clock… I do things when I want to do it. I set up a breakfast treat and brewed some coffee, sat and ate leisurely while thinking about the things I want to accomplish today. No chores. Just things that need to get done but I won’t kill myself over not doing them. The week, even if working from home, is busy and hectic enough, framed by work schedules and task that need to be done.
Sunday Breakfast

I had things to do Saturday that ended up with me too exhausted to do anything much. I had taken the beads out of my supplies stash to make a few necklaces and bracelets for my sister. I didn’t get anywhere last night so I’m hoping to create a few pieces today. The request was for labradorites and jaspers, and some dyed jade had arrived over the weekend.

Sometimes I need to handle the beads a while before inspiration hits. It will come if it comes.

The weekend this weekend

It’s almost 2am and I’m just getting ready for bed, and for some reason, i decided I would write a post before I tried to bring myself to lala land. So if this turns out to be an incoherent attempt, blame it on the late hour.

It’s been a busy week. I’ve tried to start sewing again several times with no success. I am hoping I get to do some tomorrow. The art journal has been receiving lots of attention these days and I’m actually very happy at how that’s turning out because I am already thinking of next year’s journal.

I decided to take my daily walk later today, with the goal in mind of grabbing dinner along the way. It was chilly but not freezing cold. I walked with the determination of a woman craving a treat, and while I did get my grilled octopus and managed a bed of homemade Caesar salad to put it on when I got home, I think I overdid the dessert. Buyer’s remorse. Too late, I know, but I felt I deserved it. My diet app would tell me I’m being so emotional (with a “baby” at the end, to boot!) but I will live. I will try to be good for the rest of the weekend. Indulging myself last weekend resulted in gaining back some of the weight I had shed, but I’ve lost enough not to panic over it. Besides, I’ve started shedding it again.

Grilled Octopus over Caesar Salad at home

I’ve managed to walk 10,000 steps minimum everyday for the last couple of weeks– seeming out inclines and making sure I walk to a fast beat. (Donna Summer’s “Heaven knows” being the current favorite. ) I’ve counted the steps between two points in various configurations that I can easily plot which direction I should go to make my daily goal. I have been surprised at how close distances actually are between home and places I used to ride a cab to– not realizing they were actually walkable.

I like weekend walks because I’m not pressed for time like I am during the week. Whether I walk before officially starting my work day, or sneaking in a stretch during my lunch break, I don’t quite have the same freedom to walk as much as I want without worrying about the time. So tomorrow and Sunday are what I would call “adventure walks”.

But for now, it’s time to lay my head down on my pillow and drift off to dreamland. I am just so glad the weekend is finally here.

Feedback on feedback: You made my day, Lawyer Wannabe

I had just ended a video call with the family back home when I started scrolling through my email, still lying on the couch Sunday morning. It’s a bit nippy out there but I’ve made my mind up to head out a little later than usual so I can walk to this Asian grocery 5.000 steps away to get some moon cake. (And the store didn’t carry any!). This is me, trying to stick to my Noomin’ and planning for a special treat later today. My excuse: it’s seasonal.. (yeah, yeah..).

And this is what greeted me as I refreshed my inbox, which totally beats any special treat I was thinking of earlier. Talk about a major pick me up, and a heartwarming reminder of one of the reasons this topic is always near and dear to my heart. This email is being shared unedited, save for the omission of the identity of the writer.

Ateneo only has two classes at most (and maybe I’m wrong now because it’s been ages–) and in any case, it is easy to identify someone even by mere initials.. so here goes…

“Dear Pinay New Yorker,

Hello there. Four years ago, I wrote to you because I was worried about getting into Ateneo Law as a waitlisted applicant or as a student who wasn’t a graduate of Ateneo in college. I honestly don’t remember which of the two. I do remember being extremely insecure about my credentials and that I was anxious about not fitting in. You were kind enough to indulge my concerns and you gave me valuable advice.
I remember that  we exchanged a few emails (aside from addressing my concerns on your website). You even invited me to lunch since you were visiting the Philippines. I don’t remember what happened next but I do know that you really helped me when I needed it.  This wasn’t the email address I used because the goal was to keep myself anonymous. Unfortunately, I can’t find the email thread now.
I just wanted to randomly send you a thank you note for helping a stranger out. Just to let you know, I will be graduating from Ateneo this year. I wouldn’t have made it here without you so thanks again! ☺
Sincerely,
(Name withheld for privacy)”

Touched. Speechless. Grateful.

Related posts on the topic of law school and the pursuit of a legal education based on my personal experience can be found in this section: Lawyer Wannabe

Drop me a line at pinaynewyorker@gmail.com

Monday Musings: Exploring my neighborhood

Monday musings in paper and ink

I’m trying to make up my mind about where I should categorize this post. In many respects, it belongs to “Monday Musings,” a staple here for quite some time now, and at the same time, it also belongs under my “New York Corona Diaries.” I will settle on the former. I would like to get on with writing about an idea that struck me this morning as I was on my morning power walk before it totally gets lost in the Ethernet.

Noomin’. For the last two months, I’ve been on Noom and dieting and exercising like I had never done before. The dieting was much easier than most other diets I had been on, but that is not to say there wasn’t any effort. The fact that I’ve consistently walked every day except for one day when the rain wouldn’t let up, and that I have topped 10,000 steps EVERYDAY for the last month is a personal achievement for me. See, I was one person who always said you’d have to pay me to make me exercise. I was totally averse to any form of physical exertion. I was just plain lazy.

So although my actual weight is a state secret — I will share that I have lost 15 pounds the last 60 days. I know I would’ve lost more had I not indulged in a treat or two (or three) during this whole course, but I’m not going to beat myself up over this. The point is that I have lost THAT much — in a healthy way that didn’t see any adverse effects like hair loss or rashes or some other reaction that I had suffered with other diets. And so far, it looks like this is a lifestyle change that I can actually live with. This one is working for me.

But today is not the day when I will share with you my favorite recipes from the diet or the learnings from the new eating habits I’ve acquired. I want to talk about how my daily walks have brought me around my neighborhood and made me explore it and see things in a new light.

Reacquainting myself with Mother Nature’s domain. I have lived in this neighborhood for the last 18 years, and yet, I had never gone that deep into the hiking trails in the forest that makes up part of Alley Pond Park. I have always stuck around the periphery, but never really went into the forest.

In My Neighborhood

I had never even fully explored the path around the main park which I had viewed from the street hundreds of times.. until I found myself there maybe after the second week I had started walking. I walked the circular path around and round the main field, but I soon tired of it. I didn’t want to have to walk with my mask on 100% of the time, and so I strayed away and walked the outer periphery on the other side.

In My Neighborhood

I preferred to walk solitary so that I could pull my mask down when no one was around, and I’d pull it back up out of respect to the people I came across. I would even walk off the sidewalk just to keep my social distance — again, out of respect.

I discovered places in the park where people seemed to be so familiar — and I had to pull out Google Maps to bring myself to the right side of the park I wanted to emerge from.

In My Neighborhood

Fortunately there was enough pedestrian traffic deep in the forest that I felt I was never too far from anyone to hear a call for help, should I trip or fall.

Most days, I will walk around the park — not in it. My days are structured around work, so I am not wont to aimlessly wander and explore. Most of the time, I turn on some fast beat dance music to walk to, so that I can make good time. I walk fast, but cannot run. Even with my renewed endurance for physical exertion, I know better than to push myself and punish my feet without further priming. These two gems carry a lot of weight day in and day out and the last thing I want is to suffer some injury because I wasn’t careful. I need to be at my laptop by 9am and logged on to work. Although I can respond to emails on my phone, I don’t want to end up tripping or falling because I dared to text while walking. (Although I must confess, I do.)

I’ve managed to count the steps around and know which routes to take to rack up the numbers I need. I still end up doing it at just over an hour, but I am pretty happy at this pace.

I have come to appreciate my neighborhood more. I’ve actually walked early in the morning, under the searing heat of the midday sun and during the night one particularly busy day. The landscape changes depending on the time of day, and I see and hear things differently now, from the many nights I would find myself walking home from the bus to my doorstep.

In My Neighborhood

I’ve walked to a favorite bakeshop maybe 10-15 minutes away by car, only to discover that it took only 5,000 steps — barely. So when I walked back, I had to make up for what I owed to make 10,000 going around my block.

I have come to realize that exercise will not kill me. I may not be doing much, but given that a 45 minute work out used to be such a dreadful thought, being able to walk for hours on end like I did in Central Park a few weeks back is a feat. It’s a personal accomplishment that I now feel anxiety when I see that it’s going to rain when I look at the weather app. So I’ve taken to walking with a small sling bag with an umbrella — just in case.

I feel good that I don’t get as winded walking fast, and I can actually look at the uphill incline without worry or fear. I actually enjoy the walk and look forward to it in the mornings.

We remember, once again

Every year, when this day comes around, I remember where I was and all that happened 19 years ago.

Last Friday, I wrote on Instagram across my accounts:

“One week after, we returned. I was there when it happened, on the other side of Wall Street, closer to the water. I saw paper flying everywhere when I got out of the subway not knowing the first plane had hit. I went to work and started getting the calls from other states and even from Manila, asking if I was okay. Then I heard the explosion of the second tower getting hit. I saw the rolling plumes of dust and smoke when the first tower collapsed. And then the second. We couldn’t see across the street as the building disappeared in the thick dust. I waited for hours before deciding to walk home with some coworkers. Dead pigeons littered the streets, overwhelmed by the soot. I finally came upon a working subway station around 14th street and I took the subway back to Queens. So many lives lost in what was a senseless attack. #gothamchickwasthere #weremember911 #gothamchicksays

Downtown one week after