A Happy Place Apart

Sunset over Manhattan - Can't ever grow tired of this view.  The Empire State Building as the setting sun illuminates it in the colors of fall. #sunset #nyc #Manhattan #mynyc #autumninnewyork #theempirestatebuilding #sunsetovermanhattanI am finally back on Instagram and back to snapping shots of my home city!  Although it’s a tad bit disappointing that I wasn’t upgraded to the coveted iPhone 6 just yet — there’s a company freeze on the upgrades — I suppose, at least until the big bosses get theirs.  I’m not complaining.  I’m just glad to have my main cell phone number back on line, although arranging the apps and icons on my various screens is still in progress and keeping me on the verge of a vertigo attack.

Sometimes, I get lucky.  The shot above was actually just one of those I took after walking to the other side of my floor, and I discovered a new trick to prevent the reflection of the interior lights from bouncing off of the glass window.  I simply stuck the phone to the glass, as in on top of it, as if it were a filter in front of the actual phone camera.  Voila!

Posted on my Instagram feed 2 weeks ago before the other iPhone changed hands, this picture was reposted by the official @empirestatebldg Instagram account and was liked more than 2400+ times on that page and garnered me at least a dozen additional “followers”.  Of course, I was honored.  Again, sometimes, I get lucky.

Yet another reason to smile.  Another little note to tuck into that bucket of “happy”.

My sister wrote me a rather pointed inquiry on my state of heart with a single sentence e-mail.  (“Are you okay, sis?,” she wrote.)  She has a knack for emphasis by decluttering her message and going straight to the point.  I’d usually just call her back but it was late last night and I thought I’d give her something to read.

Yes, I’m okay.  I’ve just been very busy of late, but I am doing okay and trying to concentrate on “happy” thoughts and bits and pieces that bring me to that happy place.  I’ve come to discover that there are actually a lot of things to tuck into my little virtual scrapbook in my heart — the one I go to when I feel the need to try and lift my spirits up.  It’s where all the reminders of “good” and “okay” are — in simple thoughts, lines, memories and snapshots.

You know how you would often remember bits and pieces of a conversation, or scenes framed by a certain event or moment in your mind.  It could be words you read somewhere — perhaps a magazine, an e-mail or a written message handed to you.  It might be the taste of something you had, a movie you keep wanting to watch over and over again, or a line in a song.  And even in this place of “happy” thoughts there are buckets for the different things that bring you there, from the ordinary to those special ones that bring you to a happy place apart.

Four words that have stuck with me through most of the past week and a half — “A Happy Place Apart”.   You want to keep going there but then you want to save it for when you need it most so that you can savor the smile, the warmth of that thought, of remembering things, or laughing over something you laughed about not too long ago.  And it actually works.  It brings me to that happy place apart from all the other happy places I have tucked in my heart.

It is that happy place apart that makes me say, yes, I’m okay.  Because in the midst of it all, I have a lot to be thankful for.  I have a lot to smile about.  I have a lot to remain hopeful for.  I’d be hard pressed to justify sulking or moping, or even asking “Why me?”.

It might be knowing I got featured by THE @empirestatebldg account, and I got congratulated by people I don’t even know from Adam.  Or the thought of indulging in a piece of my chocolate treat from Lilac at Grand Central Market, the uber sinful milk chocolate caramel nut bar.  (Seriously thinking of stopping by this morning despite the fact it will mean a major detour in the commute into the city, and a major dent on the diet, at that!)  It might be about happily anticipating some books I ordered in connection with an online History course I enrolled in recently.  (That’s another blog post altogether.)  It might be simply writing or pinging one of my three siblings across the oceans for a conversation.

And sometimes you hear something random like the latest news and it reminds you of something connected.  Even that can bring you to that happy place.

Another weekend for all of us — another weekend for more happy thoughts — and in case there’s a shortage of that, there will be that happy place apart tucked somewhere in my heart.

Taking care of Me

I’ve had a productive day.  I just finished spending the afternoon working on two pairs of pants… soaked my feet in bath salts, but had to stop short of giving myself a pedicure as I can’t find a pusher.  (For the nails..)  I have the living room all to myself.  Before I start working on dinner, I thought I’d write.

It’s a beautiful day in New York today.  Just said hello to my bestfriend, Fe.  She’s off to breakfast now, though. =)  (SHAMELESS PLUG: Atty. Fe Siton now writes a weekly column for Inquirer’s BANDERA, “Ibandera ang Batas” which comes out every Friday.  Do watch out for her.)

Answered a couple and wrote some e-mails.  I love that technology keeps us all connected, but nothing beats a phonecall or even snailmail.  I love receiving letters and holding what I read in my hands.  These days only Fe writes that way anymore. =)  Everyone, it seems, or most everyone is just a text or an e-mail away.

Even my Globe OFW Sim has been quiet except for the occasional rave or rant from Fe.  My sister texts me straight on my US phone, and most of my friends in Manila who are on Blackberry do BBM (Blackberry messenger — Reminder to self: BBM Toks.)  My closest friend on my GLOBE sim is Globe itself who doesn’t let up with all the promos which I don’t think I’m qualified for anyway because I’m on “roam”.  Duh..  Text me something please!

There is the occasional Facebook or Gmail chat.  Still, most days, things are quiet.  Maybe it’s the timeline.. maybe it’s just work.  It’s Saturday here and I’m already thinking about Monday.

Meanwhile, I’m taking care of me.

After lunch with the boys in Minado, I walked over to Utrecht (Art Store) in the same strip mall and found certain shades of Sculpey Polymer Clay on sale for 77cents apiece!  Take note, though, that NOT all Sculpey is on sale — only a number of shades and they were all practically gone by the time I got there.  Still, 77 cents on 8 2-oz blocks is still a bargain.  Other colors are priced just under $2.  (Still  a good buy…)  I love browsing this art store even if I am no artist.  I’d love to know what the different paints are for — acrylics, oil, watercolor (I work with) and pastels (which I am trying to work with..).  All that paper!  (Me and my thing for paper again…)  I would’ve gotten some molding compound (my favorite liquid mold, OOMOO is available here but not at Michael’s) but they weren’t on sale and I still have quite a stash.

Bought myself a few tools — a flat iron for the hair because my hair is in a rather unwieldy shape because I’m growing it.  Got a haircut a week ago which was great, but because the longer hair hits a wave, it looks “bulky” and funny to me.  It’s still short but not quite as short or trimmed tightly as I have been used to, so the mornings find me spending a bit more time to look decent.  It doesn’t help when it’s humid outside, too, because then it takes three times the effort, no thanks to my wavy hair.  So I thought I’d help myself with a flat iron — a first time for me, so wish me luck.  (I think I remember how the stylist used it when she fixed my hair after the cut.. Well, I think. LOL)

Found this utterly gorgeous polish I saw last week, but which I thought I’d get this week, and get it I did.  It’s “LIVE YOUR LIFE” by Nicole by OPI.  (Talk about message marketing..)  It’s a pretty concoction of light pink glitter in various shades in a clear polish with flecks of little pink hearts.  Cute, huh?  (It’s the girl in me…)  Sometimes bits of color like that can really perk me up even if it’s going to be on my toenails which are mostly hidden in closed shoes during the week. (Or I might take out my sandals and slippers for the commute this week if it doesn’t rain.)

And I’m finally sitting down on my workstool and creating something for myself.  I’ve put the shop on vacation for now and am concentrating on creating pieces I can wear.  I got a strand of beautiful mother-of-pearls the size of M&M Peanuts in very elegant shades of white, yellow and sand beige, and I was hoping to make a choker out of it but I am having a tough time stringing the pearls correctly.  Stringing, if you must know, is something I’m still learning but I haven’t quite given up on it.  I’m getting the hang of making the knot fall where I want it to, but I still end up messing things up every third or fourth bead.  Sigh… practice, practice, practice — I tell myself.

And I’ve been writing.  I even almost wrote prose again.  =)  Well, got a line or two out then the idea went pfffftttt…. Sigh… I haven’t written prose since I got here twelve years ago.  I don’t even try anymore.  Maybe I’ll start encoding my “ancient poetry” written in my younger years.  (My oldest having been written in 1979…the others I had lost..)  I brought them here to New York scribbled on notebooks and compilations of paper one time I came home from Manila — and I have promised I would start encoding them before I “lost” them.  I just haven’t quite started because there is a ton of them.  There was a time in my teens when I wrote more than one poem a day for quite a stretch.  Imagine.. four liners to  four stanzas long and longer .. I seem to have run out of juice after I drifted off to college.. adulthood got the best of my creative streak where poetry was concerned and seems to have put an end to it.

I’m trying to take better care of me.  I’m reading more and trying to consciously spend more time doing the things I like to do a few minutes everyday — one of which is spending time here.  I’ve also been good with the vitamins per my doctor’s admonition.  Little things that I keep forgetting, so I finally put a reminder on the blackberry every night.  I’m trying to enjoy the little things and putting them all in a small bucket of  “happy”.  It’s like stringing together old jokes that were once funny and are funny again when I play them over in my head.. funnier still when replayed one after another.

I just remembered there’s week-old cake in the fridge — I think I’m going to have some.  (Might microwave it to make it a little moist again.)

Meanwhile, I will go back to Winterfell and King’s Landing as I try to get on with Book III of a Song of Fire and Ice, “A Storm of Swords.  ”  And there’s the pearl stringing to redo…

Shifting Gears and Friday

I’ve been trying to pick up with my “me” stuff again, from my art journaling, snail mail writing, reading, to my crafts.  (I can’t believe I haven’t touched my tools since I got back from Manila, and I need to seriously get moving with the hybrid scrapbooking to make more cards. )

So I’ve been busy working on my first Art Journal entry for the year — teaser provided to my left — and I think with this 50% done, I can proceed to my next pieces before the weekend is out.  This is actually a background piece I had done long ago  (sometime third quarter 2011) which got tucked away with two other spreads.  One, I had actually decided to totally discard (topic/subject matter was no longer relevant to me), and the other, I’ll work with one of these days.  I might scale back yet again to smaller pieces, or maybe work on sections.  The thing with sections is the flow of the work is not consistent.  Or maybe I’ll just see where it goes.  I’m thinking words. Or I might yet do something ambitious and attempt a scroll (!) one of these days.  (Ambitious!)

I was looking out the window 41 storeys above Bryant Park the other day and I vowed to myself I will make regular trips to Central Park this year to document the changing of the seasons.  I haven’t been there in ages!  Winter has been rather fickle-minded this year — with spring seeming to rear it’s head in for a peek one moment, and then winter coming back with a vengeance the next.

Why do I take on so many projects when there are only so many hours in a day?  I don’t pretend to do them all at the same time.  I find pockets of vacant periods in my day and do something I like for a change.  It helps me get back in touch with “me”, and in turn helps me to tune in to my world as I know it now with better clarity.  (Like it helps me decide what’s for dinner faster than when I find myself torn between this and that dish.)

I love weekends because I look forward to Friday nights.  It’s a special time for me to just be me and do things that mean something to me.  I don’t go anywhere special — I stay home.  I pick the things that I fancy at that particular Friday night and zoom in on that for the rest of the evening.  I am able to savor watching my favorite shows on TV without anyone hijacking the remote and then stay up to the wee hours of the morning just relaxing.  If I’m lucky, I even catch my bestfriend, Fe, online.  (Such a treat!)

My Friday started a little late today — midnight.  Here I am returning to this unfinished blogpost trying to pick up from where I left off.

My heart, though, is somewhere in mid-air.  I haven’t quite decided what I’m doing tonight, and my “night” is halfway through.

Do you ever have one of those conversations about a subject matter that drifts off to another totally unrelated topic which somehow gets injected into the flow of words — you say something — the person you’re talking to reacts, and while the reaction was innocent, you catch something that makes you stop and think, “hmmmm.”  There was a pause somewhere there, then a change of topics and it makes you wonder what caused the sudden shift in gears.  You try not to think about it because it was off topic — but the unease lingers.  “Hmmmmm…” you say again.

I’m just trying to intellectualize things too much like my friend, perhaps.  Then it occurs to me that my innocent remark, said half jokingly, might have awakened a panic reaction that I had not anticipated.  (“Hmmmmmm” again..and now I feel silly.)

Fridays are supposed to be simple.  Fridays are supposed to be fun.  I’ve had some fun tonight.  Time to get the weekend going.  Let me get back to zentangling and my “hmmmm” moment might disappear into the darkness.

My weekend has begun officially with the midnight hour tolling here in the big apple.  I’m listening to this rare rendition of “Can We Still Be Friends” by the great Todd Rundgren and Darryl Hall which I recently discovered where else — on YouTube.  Been listening to it over and over again for the last half hour.  Used to be my song for a long-time ago ex boyfriend who, I  believe, to this day, can’t quite seem to get this song’s message and why it was my song for him.  Alas, we’re no longer friends.

It’s worth a listen to, so let me leave you with this find: