9. Spend a day drawing only red things.
28. Write a letter to someone you admire.
I don’t mean to be cliche-ish but I didn’t want to rack my brain about some popular person among my list of people I admire. I wanted to make this entry personal and real, and when it came to that, I didn’t have to think about it too long.
I know I don’t write you anymore, simply because as I have grown older and I see you growing older yourself, missing you has become even more difficult. Sometimes I want to write you a note, but I’m afraid that you might end up teary-eyed, because I often do at the thought of how I wish I was there with you.
I have always been a great fan of yours for your strength and resolve to become a better you. You never let your lack of formal education or your circumstances thwart you desire to make life better for us. You always put us first, no matter what. You are my role model as a mother to my son, and as a woman of strength and unwavering resolve. I know that much of who I am today is because of you.
From the faith in God that you instilled in me to your willpower and strength to overcome that I find in my heart now, you continue to be a beacon for me and my siblings.
Every time I see you, you seem to age more and more. And I get reminded by the fact that there will come a time when even that will be a memory. Even now as I write this, I feel a tightening in my chest. When I take care of my mother-in-law here, I wish it was you I was taking care of. I long for our chats in Bicolano — I think mine has gotten rusty for lack of practice.
I miss you, Mom. I wish you could be here to keep me strong. But even in thought alone, you keep me strong. I see you and remember all that you had gone through and all that you had conquered and I find hope that yes, I can do the same. You kept that optimism alive in our hearts by showing us by example that hope is never-ending.
I love you, Mama.
44. Put postcards of art pieces/painting on the inside of your kitchen cupboard doors, so you can see them everyday (but not become deaf to them.)
77. Create instructions for a simple everyday task.
Every morning, I crank up our espresso machine which is a Nespresso coffeemaker. Here are the instructions:
* Make sure that the water receptacle has enough water to make the number of cups you will be making. I usually fill it halfway through at least if not a little more.
* Put the espresso pellet in the slot and close the cover.
* Put your cup under the spout.
* Choose the amount of espresso you want the machine to spew out.
93. Write your own definition of one of the following concepts, sitting, waiting, sleeping (without using the actual word.)
It’s the action of closing your eyes, whether you are seated or lying down on your bed, and you let yourself drift off to rest and let your body recharge. You disconnect and let yourself flow out into a “nothingness” where your conscious mind slowly fades away to black.
2. Write a letter to yourself in the future.
Dear Dinna —
I think it’s a good time for me to write the future me at this point where I have been going through so many personal changes, and I am rediscovering my potential and failings all at the same time. I used to think that at 47, I would have figured everything out. It turns out, though, that learning and discovery, more so about one’s self, is a never-ending process. I know now that I will never be the whole of who I really am until I reach the end of my existence — whenever that may be.
I hope that you will find yourself standing up tall again one day. When your shame and guilt and pain would have been assuaged by the passage of time.
Perhaps it will happen in the next few months, the next year, or not for a couple of years more — but even now as I bow my head down in the process of healing, I remain hopeful it will happen. That it will come. And you’d be able to go above and beyond the challenges that you have faced.
There will come a time when you might feel strong enough again. You’ve done pretty well in the face of life’s challenges. Others would have surrendered and just chosen the easy way out by embracing a personality totally not their own. But you have never been one to give in to denial.
You used to be stronger… you can be strong again.
94. List 10 of your habits.
1. I unplug my phones charging on the bedside as I get up and take them to the breakfast counter with me.
2. I weigh myself before taking anything for breakfast.
3. I always have to make a stop at the little girl’s room before I leave the house or before I leave the office.
4. I say my prayers as I walk out the door on my way to the bus stop.
5. I always kiss Angelo goodbye before I step out the door, or on those days when I get the chance to drop him off, I hug him tight and kiss him before he starts his day in school.
6. I paint my face in the bus or in the car on the way to work.
7. I make it a point to greet every security person and receptionist I pass on my way to my desk on the top floor of our building.
8. I take off my rings and other jewelry as I walk into the house after work.
9. I have to drink a glass of water before I retire for the day.
10. I plug my phone (which is my alarm clock, too) and charge it by the bedside.
37. List all the places you have lived in.
Unlike some people who have lived from place to place, you can count the places I’ve lived in one hand.
1. I was born and lived out my toddler years in a lowel level rental (silong) in the town proper of San Juan. My parents were still starting out back then, and it was a tiny but cozy place good enough for a growing family like ours. We had a tiny living room that led into a dining room, and then you had to walk a few steps up to our bedroom which housed my parents, my sister and any guests who slept over. It was in a noisy part right off of what we considered the main street in town, “N. Domingo”.
2. By the time I was four, my youngest brother was born and my parents bought what would be our family home for the next 43 years. It was still in the same town, still off of a street branching out from N. Domingo, but now in a residential area. It was a huge house which had its own maid’s quarters, and although there was a guest room, my siblings and I grew up sharing one bedroom. When we hit our teens, my brother got the other room but on the same floor. It was a spacious home which saw many parties and celebrations. We just recently moved out after giving it up.
3. When I first arrived here in New York in 2000, we were renting a two-bedroom apartment in Floral Park, another part of Queens. We were evicted by the draconian landlord who insisted my arrival violated the terms of the lease for the two-bedroom unit besides the state practice that each bedroom was habitable by two people. My mother-in-law had shared the apartment with my then fiance and I would’ve simply been the third occupant. I liked it because it was near some stores, and easily commutable, but it was far from the city. I wasn’t working yet so that was sort of a bummer. I could only go so far and had to rely on Alan to take me to and from the city. I only spent a few months here until we found our own place after we got married.
4. Around half a year from my arrival, we moved into another first floor one-bedroom unit in a very nice area of Queens called Bayside, which is on the other side of the same community where I am now. (I am still in Bayside.) Those were learning years for me as I discovered I could cook, thanks to the Barnes & Noble behind our apartment row where I would spend afternoons to copy recipes, then I would walk over to the Waldbaums next door to do my groceries. We stayed at this apartment until we had saved enough for a down payment on our own home.
5. When we finally found our place, we knew it would be in the same area where we last rented, but on the other side. We liked the cultural mix of the area (Asian and Jewish mix) and the school zone was a prized factor in driving real estate values up. We have been here for the last 11 years, and we’re not going anywhere. I like the community and how it makes one feel you are in an enclave away from the buzz of the city, and yet you are not too far away. I can’t see myself living elsewhere except the city perhaps which is unlikely.
39. Write about your relationship with your washing machine.
We live in a co-op which, although not a high-rise and instead is a courtyard style group of houses, so we don’t have a washing machine in our unit. Instead we share a laundry room with the community which is exclusive to the tenants and owners like us who live in there.
So why would I choose this prompt given the so many other prompts in this list of a hundred? You’ll find it even stranger considering I’m not the one tasked to do our laundry on a regular basis. I simply fold. I chose this prompt because I’ve always been fascinated about how I can get hypnotized by the actions and motions of a washing machine as the water spurts in, and the clothes inside get wet… and the detergent starts bubbling up, and the clothes spin in a faster cycle… and over and over it happens, and I sit there and watch.
I would normally pull a chair and just sit in front of the machine where our clothes are. I wouldn’t even think of pulling the blackberry or the iPad or a book or magazine. I have to watch.
I guess you can say I am somehow enamored by these spinning machines. Perhaps it’s a preoccupation with things that are round.. or go round and round. I have never tried to figure it out until now. But I like watching washing machines — I have great respect for them.
43. Recall your favorite childhood game.
I grew up in the Philippines where I was sometimes allowed to play out in the streets with the kids from the neighborhood, but most of my “play time” was spent before and after school in an all-girls Catholic school. We had what we called a “Social Hall” which was one whole wing of the four-sided building which was meant to be an assembly hall for the students by grade level.
It was a long hall although with low ceilings, with an elevated platform on one end where the nuns used to address us. In the mornings before school started, the length of the hall was empty with the seats stacked neatly on the far side.
It was perfect for a game called Patintero where the players were divided into two groups. The team, usually a group of 4 girls each, were assigned “levels” to guard or defend, with one player allowed to go parallel and cross the levels but only in the center. This was always the first player defending the first line.
The point for the “offensive” team was to cross to the back and then return to the front without being touched or tagged by the team defending the “lines”.
At the start, everyone in the offensive splits themselves between the left and right sides, considering the first level defender can only defend a side at a time. The strategy was for the second level defender to stop anyone who went through and so on and so forth. If any member of the defending team touches you as you cross but not after you have crossed, you were called “out” of the game. Depending on how good the strategy of the team is, most teams would “distribute” themselves over the various levels and allow one to go back and score a point.
You could only move forward or sideways but never back to a level you had passed. The teams switched when the offensive team gets all tagged out, or the last untagged player makes it back to “home base”.
We enjoyed playing this game every morning before the flag ceremony, much to the chagrin of our teachers and the nuns. As it involved a lot of running, we ended up all dishevelled even before the school day had begun for us, and it was deemed too boyish a game, unfit for young ladies as we were being molded to be.
But it was a lot of fun, and it made for many sweaty but fun mornings before we tackled the serious business of school. I miss those days and look back to them with very fond memories.