Where did 2022 go?

Every year, I begin a list of things I hope to accomplish or do in the the coming year, with periodic updates in between. So today I was looking for “22 for 2022,” and I couldn’t find it. I could’ve sworn I would have a draft at least, but even that eluded me. Wow.

The last year seems to have breezed by not just quickly, but unremarkably. How could I have skipped that altogether! It doesn’t help that I cannot seem to get WordPress to load properly on the laptop, and midweek next week when I return to the city might end up a tad too late.

So here I am tapping away on my phone, in the app. I want to write a post to end the year right, and hopefully begin the next properly.

I don’t have a new year’s eve party to host or go to— my left hand still has 4 fingers elegantly bandaged after I had a cooking mishap last Wednesday. I purposely chose to stay home and just greet 2023 quietly. (The son is with his dad but will be with me tomorrow.). I wasn’t that excited about the new year in the weeks leading up to it, so much so, that I just made my dinner reservation for tomorrow with the son, before I started this post. And I’m still iffy about the steakhouse I chose.

I saw a blanket of fog outside when I picked up two deliveries that came in the afternoon. I was almost tempted to grab the phone and walk around to take some footage, but the prospect of dressing up in the heavy and puffy winter coat and donning the boots was enough to convince me to stay put. I told myself, I had more than enough footage I still need to edit to bother with adding more.

I am too lazy to cook so I ordered some Thai food from a neighborhood reliable. It’s been a while since I ordered out— mealtimes have been simpler since the son went off to college, but I’ve been cooking since he returned for the winter break 2 weeks ago. I thought I’d celebrate the year’s end with a dinner treat to maybe inspire more writing. My planned videos for this weekend were all thwarted by the cooking accident, and the only thing that shows promise is maybe, the podcast.

Yes, I’m finally pushing through with the plan, but kicking off the effort with an audio version of the posts I write here. The idea for the podcast had come together during the pandemic, and I regret how I’ve sat on it for the longest time. The avatar, show title (Conversations with Pinay New Yorker) and the intro and extro soundtrack had long been available and set. And now I’m seriously rethinking the title given what I am planning to do. Shall I shift to “PinayNewYorker says”..? Should I change that to “Just thinking online,” a category that I use here on the blog, or should I stick with the original title?

I’ll give myself the first week to decide. This might yet end up the first episode of the podcast. Meanwhile, I hope that we all have an even better 2023 ahead, whatever our plans and dreams may be.

Manhattan streets

When you find the words

I started writing poetry at age 7.  They were the kind of sing song poems that had a set cadence to them that meant each line was approximately the same length and the last words rhymed.  I had scribbled down my first poems in pencil in an old diary which was quite the find for me back then.  I think that was when I started my love affair with paper.  I liked notebooks and journals and I liked to write on them.

There were times when I could churn out one piece after another.  And there were times when I would experience a dry spell.  Like the last 15 years.

I wrote back when there were no computers to encode them in yet.  But I was always diligent about keeping my pieces, published (in the school paper) and not– and through the several trips I’ve taken home, I’ve managed to bring them here.  So I have the words of the younger Dinna scribbled in my own hand here.

Words have always been a bestfriend.  I am used to giving formal definitions based on how I use and know the word.  I guess you can see where the writing comes from.  I can say something formally or simply.  In law school, I learned how to structure a story so that the retelling of something I had read could be better explained.  So all those complicated cases were easily and well-digested into the facts/issue/decision blocks that we had to put them into.  Verbally, I could explain it so it would not be as complicated as it was written.

But poetry or prose was a totally different thing.  I didn’t want to call them poetry because I didn’t feel they deserved that categorization.  I wrote prayers as well, so I had a series of prayers I called “Prayer in Prose.”  I wrote scripts for speech choirs, and I wrote songs.  I penned our graduation song and corps song in the the Citizens Army Training Corps back in high school, and one of my dreams had always been to join the MetroPop.  Never happened — but that was a dream I nurtured in my heart for the longest time.

I would sit and just feel it flow.  Back when I was conscious about rhyming, I would think hard to make the lines sound melodic.  As I grew older, I became a free spirit in terms of writing and found myself writing more spontaneously than before, not caring so much about rhyming or rhythm itself.  It was a different form of release and while I did not write to be published, I found great fulfillment in writing and being able to show emotion in the words I wrote.  Even now, when I come across something I had written, I hear a different ‘me’ speaking through those lines.  It is a revelation and at the same time a way of reminding myself of who I was and who I am now,

For some reason, the creative juices stopped  flowing when I moved to New York 15 years ago.  The last poem I wrote I had written just before I left Manila in 2000.  Not for lack of trying, but somehow the inspiration never quite hit me.  I had enough emotion, both happy and sad, regular and extremes, but the words just didn’t come.  Where it would flow like there was a mill in my head just churning out the words, there was just absolute silence.

Until a week ago.

I had this line that kept stabbing at my brain for days on end.  I wrote a stanza.  It showed promise.  Then I sat down and read the lines to me and it didn’t sound good.  So I rewrote it from scratch, and in no time, the whole poem was done.  As I ended the poem, I found myself amazed that finally, I found the words again.

And it wasn’t a giddy happy poem, or a heart-wrenching piece.  It was more “middle-of-the-road” or “off-road” even.

It came out at the start as seemingly a poem with sad notes.  And then you get to the middle where you see that there is that realization that there has been so much gained, that even if lost, I would still come out the winner.  That from the start of the poem until the end, I was claiming victory — no matter what happened.

I typed up the poem and sent it to four friends.  Two who knew my work from way back — friends from high school who both knew the words I had written, because they had, at one time or another, been the subject and recipient of my poetry.  A third person who had exchanged poetry with me and who would know what the words I wrote meant.  And another, I sent the poem to, because she knew what the lines meant to me as I wrote them in the here and now.

I feel as if I had unlocked the gates which had been barred shut for more than a decade.  I haven’t tried writing again although I know that if I did, I would be able to write with more ease.  I don’t really consider the poem finished — even though I think it’s more than good enough as it is.  It is to me, a new beginning.  I am writing again — and I am so floored by that thought.  I think of it and utter the words and I can’t help but beam with pride.  Something has been set free.  My spirit is soaring again.

But I’m not ready to share it with the world.  It is more than enough that I have written poetry again.  There are feelings that are too private to shout out — even when the stop has been pulled and you feel it all gushing out of you and part of you just wants to share it with the universe.  This one needs some working on, and I feel myself enveloped with that trepidation to claim this is worth sharing.  “I’m shy,” as a friend often teases me.  Ha!

Our brains and our hearts work in very mysterious ways.  Like the masters have their artistic blanks — when they just cannot create — sometimes we just lose the words.  Then we find them again.  I’m just glad to be reacquainting myself with the words that had helped me sing a long, long time ago — be it sad or happy tunes.. It’s just another part or me I welcome back.

Between here and there

I don’t like that this is beginning to look like a Friday Five blog.  I’m really looking to post more often, and I do look at the dashboard and go in, but I have been lazy to write and attempt putting together a blogpost.  There are a ton of pictures to share — you can see my Instagram feed constantly being updated.  I guess it seems that the inspiration to write comes in short bursts — long enough for me to write a blurb or to tweet, but not quite to complete a coherent blog post.

A lot has been happening on my side of the world.  Manila alone has a half dozen topics in draft mode somewhere in my brain.  The thing is that it’s been a struggle pulling out those thoughts into actual words that can make up a story I can tell here.  It’s like a never-ending loop playing in my head, but not quite making enough sense for me to connect everything with a beginning and an end in words.  I am trying.

Do I sound like I’m whining again?  Maybe I am.  Monday sees us greeting June hello and that means we’re almost at the halfway point of 2015.   Where did the time go?  And yet I find myself at a good juncture and I am actually okay with how time has flown from January to June — well, in most respects.
They call this the #AvenueOfTheAmericas.  #myny #mynyc #myNewYork #NewYorkCity #NewYork #manhattan #SixthAvenue #blackandwhite #midtown #streetscene

Life is the way it is — it isn’t perfect.  There are many things which I wish weren’t the way they were, and yet I choose to dwell on the things that have somehow surprised me and fell pleasantly on my lap and somehow threw a burst of color and sprinkles and magic dust all around.  (I’m not on any medication, thank you.  It’s just the way I see things tonight.. how do you describe it..  With bursts of color.. and magic dust, yes.  Go imagine..)

Maybe it’s because New York is finally warmer… (Hit 80something today, yay!  Even with a threat of a storm hanging over our heads despite a defiant sun trying to make it through the thick canopy of grey clouds above us!)  I can finally say this is MY kind of weather.=)

Manhattan in spring

Not quite Manila but close enough.

I like this kind of weather — when the sun can unleash all its power and bathe the city with its warmth and heat and I’d feel alright — sweat and all.  When the parks and the streets are blooming all around me!  Such color, such life.. it seems to be reminding us all that life is a never-ending cycle — what dies in the fall and lays bare in the winter comes back to life in the spring.
Spring in bloom

I’m trying to continue with the journey to happy, and the biggest dilemma I have about that right now is to cut or not to cut my hair.  (I am so torn.)  I was fortunate enough to have had the chance to get it cut by Alex Carbonell over at BenchFix in Greenbelt 5, and everyone loved it!  I usually trim again after 4 weeks and it’s been 4 weeks since, but I have gotten at least 3 compliments just this week which makes me think that I can hang on to the hair just a bit longer.  Maybe another week?

I have gotten back to art journaling (yay, again!) — and that part, I am very, very happy about.

UntitledI had stopped writing and drawing in my altered book for two months now — more or less– and I’ve stopped trying to catch up and have just picked up from what’s current.  My altered book should be good for another month or two and I will have to begin a new one.  I can’t wait..

The altered book looks all worn but I will redo its binding and create a cover for it.  I am hoping to do the same size for the next one.. It feels good to be able to continue with the project and see the book almost altered to the end, and soon, will be all filled with my journaling.  It’s been quite a learning experience for me, and it continues to evolve each time I go back to it.  One thing that hasn’t changed is its spontaneity.  I go back to working on the book when the inspiration hits me.

And I’ve had a lot of creative inspiration lately.  I’m trying to do freeform crochet, I’m creating jewelry pieces and I’ve been trying to color my photographs to add some drama or change its whole composition to transform it.

Hopefully that inspiration will transform to more posts here — soon.  Almost the weekend, folks!

How are you?

(I had drafted this post yesterday morning and had erased and rewritten the post after midnight earlier but the time stamp and order here got messed up… So I’m reposting.)

There are days when a simple question, heartfelt and not conversational — a genuine inquiry into how you are doing — can make a whole difference as you end what has been a challenging day. BFF Do wrote that simple query in a short e-mail from work.  She is 16 hours ahead of me.  We can hardly “catch” each other on regular weekends.

Mental telepathy, I told her.  But I was too tired to answer the question.  She understood.  It’s like a question that seeks to reassure.  I am truly blessed.

I really should be sleeping.  I have an early start tomorrow as the boy has a unit test.  We did our review tonight, but it doesn’t hurt to do more practice.  Plus, we will walk to school together.  I’m on solo duty again.  I cooked chicken for my mother-in-law, cooled it down and put it in individual containers and stashed them in my fridge.  I even managed to bake a polymer clay experiment which needs a whole lot of work but which was productive because I know now where I need to do a work around.

And tomorrow is another day. 

I hope I find the strength not to butt heads with those who are not worth the trouble at work.  It is, after all, just work.  I hope tomorrow will be sunnier.  I am not optimistic that will be the case, but hey, I might wish the sun back. 

A happy thought — sunshine.  =)

And more sunshine… just got a text from my sister.. “Love you, too, sis..”  I can never have too much love.  Today I am being showered by it.  And like I wrote this morning, I have constantly felt “His” presence — through it all, He was there with me.  Maybe that’s why I’m still up. 

Thank you, Lord, for another day.

Your Presence in my day

Another DayI just missed two buses and I am certain one of them was what I needed to get to work. It doesn’t help that they hit the bus stop when I was still too far away that it wouldn’t have mattered if I broke into a sprint to catch them. I let it go. I was praying.

“Lord, help us to feel YOUR presence in our day today.”

I had to pause after that line when I realized that we often get caught up in our day-to-day existence and everything becomes routine and we forget He is there with us. I prayed that others feel His presence, too. At a time when many feel alone in their struggles or when help from the usual sources doesn’t appear to be forthcoming, we often forget the one presence that is guaranteed — come what may. I say that because I believe. I, too, have to remind myself to acknowledge He is there, as I sometimes fall prey to forgetting or taking it forgranted that He is.

More so during those times when I feel anger or desperation crawling out of me, I just close my eyes, breathe deeply, utter a prayer or a silent cry for help — and I let it go. When no one else can hear me cry out, I know He does.

Another Monday, another week — the world seems a little more peaceful today. At least from my point of view, that is. The sun seems to be feeling lazy and has been hiding behind the rain clouds. Perhaps it’s because I started the day feeling assured I am not alone. Despite the grey, I see the sunshine even when I can’t feel it on my face.

I know He is here with me as He is there with you, holding your hand, Sis.

Midnight inspiration

I don’t know why is it that when I am about to pull the covers over me and close my eyes to end another day, a slew of thoughts start racing through my mind and I find myself here.

I had a long and tiring day.  The 30 Days of Blogging Prompts is done.. (jumping up and down for joy).  Tomorrow, I ship off the Book of Treasures. 

I’m thinking my time tonight might be better utilized e-mailing some friends but I decide I’m too tired to do that.  Besides, it’s Friday.  Well, almost.  (In 3 minutes?)

I’m looking forward to something new on Saturday — a day trip I’m taking by myself  with some like minded souls.  I’d rather write about it after the trip, though.  I thought I’d do something just for me — we really should indulge ourselves every now and again.  I figured I deserved the break, and more importantly, a new experience.

Eyes no longer cooperating.. have to go hit the sack.  Another weekend!

A bit of inspiration: Sabsy, public school teacher

My forays into Facebook these days are very brief. I have also been slowly weeding out whose updates I see. It’s painstaking but I have been doing it one by one, a little at a time.

I was going in and out of FB today when I came upon this video a friend posted, and I’d like to share it with you for a bit of inspiration. Unfortunately, it’s in Tagalog, so those who are not native speakers will not understand this very moving and inspiring story of a privileged lady who has been educated in the best institutions in the country but who chose to serve by being a public school teacher.

A modern day hero who makes me think of what I would be if I weren’t where I was today. It makes one want to be just like her. While we can’t all be as brave or capable, we can all take something from her story. I wish I could take her words of advice and wisdom to the young minds she is molding and send it across the universe so that the young may find their own inspiration.

It gives one hope for a country many have given up on. It reminds me of my young medical student friend, Ahmad, and how in his own way, he is trying to be like Sabrina “Sabsy” Ongkiko.

Take a moment to listen and watch…

Sunny but cold Monday

Our temperatures dropped and did they drop over the weekend, so much so that tourists hoping to go around wearing shorts will surely double back to their hotels and change to something warmer.  Still light coat weather, but definitely not a “t-shirt and shorts” kind of New York. 

I left the house without eating breakfast as I was in a rush, and although I don’t normally walk out of the building to grab a bagel once I’ve settled up on my perch 41 storeys above street-level, but today, I just had to have a(nother) bagel and walk down I did.

Today is Columbus Day and school’s out (so my little guy is home busy with my laptop), but not all companies observe the holiday so I’m at work.  Which is just fine.  The weekend saw me anxiously thinking my way around a situation at work where one of my boss’s direct reports is constantly trying to throw me under the bus.  Subtlety is not one of his strongest suites, and I’m beginning to think the point is to make it known that he’s not a happy camper.  Neither am I.  I normally would sweep this under the rug and shrug it off, but this one stuck with me all weekend, and it’s just not worth going back to next weekend.. I was thinking about it while I was washing the dishes.. painting my Altered Book backgrounds.. doing my Artist Trading Cards.  Well, that and a host of other thoughts.

While I had a fun time being productive with my Altered Book (more or less 20 pages painted!) and finishing up 5 ATCs for swapping, sometimes I hate that my mind quiets down just enough to let heavy thoughts come in.  Like I think about the bestfriend I used to talk to practically all our waking hours but who I haven’t spoken with for the last three months or so.. one day she nonchallantly blurts out that I have always been known to be one who couldn’t keep a secret.  I am not mad but that put a chasm between us that I think is best left alone for now.  Like I told her then, there are too many years between us for me to go back to each one and account for my slip ups.  I didn’t realize that hurt was so deep — given the way she let it out.  So I apologized for all of them, and then stepped back.

I thought about the other friend who told me that I didn’t have to do anything –that things would fall into place — and how now, even if they didn’t fall into place the way I thought they would, they did.  Where that thought would normally elicit relief or a smile, that thought still jabs at my heart for my own failings.  Sometimes we literally stumble and fall and just cannot get up.  And eventually we accept that there are things that we never get up from.  There are transgressions that you pay for to your last breath.

I think about work.. and then I remember a recruiter called me last Friday.  =)  That thought made me smile.  And this morning I saw an e-mail from one of my young friends in  Manila — someone I bumped into quite by accident when I saw his blog after googling something for a translation.  The young have so much to share and inspire us with.  Like this young man who continues to try and go against the odds — now a freshman in the College of Medicine back in UP Manila.  He looks to me for sisterly advice but he doesn’t know his own day-to-day triumphs serve as an inspiration to me as I remember those days I braved law school against all odds.  Sometimes when we are reminded of our past struggles, we find renewed strength in remembering how we overcame then as we go about our day-to-day living now.

I miss my Mom.   I always do — but sometimes I miss her more than normal.  Like now.

Time for me to get back to work.  Another day.. another week..

Desiderata in my Art Journal

I knew I had written about this poem before and you can click here for the original post written in 2006 where the full text of the poem appears.

Sometimes, one of the problems that stump art journalers (is there even such a word?) is what to write on something you had drawn or done.  I’ve been into trees lately (again, thanks to the folks at IUOMA) and although I’ve only done two postcards so far (and not feeling confident enough to trade away as it is), I decided I’d do a tree on one of my existing watercolor backgrounds.  But what to write?

I don’t know why after days and days of trying to decide on an apt quote to use, I finally decided I would do Desiderata on the piece.  I’ll write about that separately when it’s all done, but I rendered the poem in plain block print with certain phrases/sentences in bolder, bigger letters.  I feel like I did accomplish something in finally getting that done.  Now I’m trying to decide if I will do the journaling on the side or within the leaves of the tree.  (Decisions, decisions.)  So it isn’t quite done just yet.

ALTERED BOOK MULTI PAGE Meanwhile, I did something different with my altered book which was an idea that came to me after I painted another tw0-page layout.  I executed it last night and can’t wait to do what I intend to do with the cut up pages, but I’ve decided to lay the groundwork for the backgrounds first and then work on individual entries and prompts from there.  I wanted to create a multi-page layout which ends up with four sections on the right side of the page.  It would contain a four-section or four-letter word which would be spelled out on each “quarter” of the right side.  (I’ve started a new page on MY ALTERED BOOK where I will talk more about what I’ve been doing with the book in detail.) I’m quite happy with how things turned out and have moved on to my next experiment which is painting watercolor on book paper.    It just feels like I’m making strides..  You would have thought I was some crazy woman caressing the acrylic painted leaves of the altered book this morning on the bus.  The pages that have been painted or coated with acrylic paint on both sides have an almost fabric/thin tarp feel.  I almost don’t want to write on it for fear of ruining it! HA!

Scribblings and Cling stampWell, almost.  I did start on the page behind the cover and started to just scribble things after using a cling stamp.  No pressure in filling the blank squares up.  I’m just writing this way and that, scribbling the first thing that comes to mind about this altered book.

The day started rather gloomily with rain, but it did a complete turnaround by noon.  It became scorching hot outside so I opted to stay indoors.  I did come wearing my rain boots this morning and I’m thinking I’m better off going home with regular shoes.  (I hope I am not speaking too soon!)  It looks like the skies have cleared.

Can you believe August officially ends by Friday?  Where did the year go?  Before you know it, autumn will be here.  That didn’t quite hit me until I visited one of the blogs I bumped into because of Art Journal Every Day links on Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s page.  Go visit gingerblue and get to know the art of Chel.  I don’t usually blog hop these days, and when I do, I have a set of younger bloggers I go and visit, but I am continually awed by the talent that oozes from the inspiring art journal entries that submit links to Julie’s page.  So once in a while I’ll leave a comment, and sometimes I get a note back.  (I totally don’t mind if I don’t.  I know how busy life gets.)  So Chel wrote back and I wrote another comment.  (This is going to be an ongoing thing, I am sure.)  But it is always good to acknowledge inspiration from those who give it to you.

I won’t be able to do it today but she’s definitely landing in my BLOG TRAILS.