Bryant Park

BRYANT PARK has always had a special place in my heart because it was a park I frequented when I first arrived in New York, 22 years ago. In fact, I saw it before I even set eyes on Central Park. For the last 14 years or so, I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked first, right across from it, and the last 6 years, literally a hop, skip and a jump away from it.

My countless videos and photos of the park is partly what encouraged me to get on YouTube, and below are two recent clips I’ve uploaded of it. A third went up based on clips from earlier this year when the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain froze again. (That’s a video for another blogpost, but you can hop on over to my channel to view it here.)

I often find myself passing through the park when I need to get my ride from the express bus stop on its Avenue of the Americas side, and even seeing it from a distance evokes a feeling of calm and a sense of home. Within the first few weeks of my arrival here in the US, I would come to the city and stay in the park and go around while waiting for my companion going home. I also spent hours in the New York Public Library fronting it, accessing the internet through their public terminals. You used to be able to use one of their units for 30 minutes each day, as long as you had a valid ID. (Now the library has a “reading room” where you can park at one of their many tables and access the WiFi for free, but using your own device.).

So there were many days when I’d linger in front of the library or stay and sit in one of the many benches, chairs and tables in the park.

I shot my favorite video of all time of a 6 year old Angelo holding a tube of lipstick as a microphone in the park one summer day– which, to this day, warms my heart no end.

I’ve sat across a former boss during one of the toughest times of my life, who gave me one of the best advice I continue to treasure and live by. Sitting across from each other in one of those tables, she told me to make sure that whatever I do or decide in my life should be something I would be able to explain or defend in my son’s eyes.

I’ve walked arm in arm with a friend, all googly eyed, after lunch at Bryant Park Grill, and to this day, he remains a dear friend. I’ve sat in one of these benches with my best friend, Donna, the first time she visited me here in New York. So many memories through the years of relatives and friends I’ve brought to this oasis of calm in the bustling streets of Midtown Manhattan.

You can guess by now that these will not be the last videos of Bryant Park that I will take and post. I’m already excitedly awaiting the winter village and the next time the fountain freezes again.

As we YouTubers say, please don’t forget to like and subscribe!

21 for 2021: The Wrap Up

I tried to write a mid year check in sometime in July of 2021, but failed to finish the post. I’m actually glad that happened because I managed to do some major catching up in the second half of 2021. For the first time in a long while, I was able to accomplish more than what I had hoped to do at the start of the year. (Yay for me!) So here is how I fared against my list at the beginning of 2021.

1. Read six books. For the first time in the last decade, I actually made my 6 book goal and even exceeded it. I’m so proud of having listened to more than just one or two audio books, but I managed to read several to add or pick up from my personal library. It really feels good to not be putting this one in my “wish I could’ve done more” list for a change.

Read more books this year

2. Learn something new via an actual class. The language pursuit has momentarily been set aside, but not totally forgotten. I managed to go midway through an online watercolor class offered by Nikki Traikos on her website. It’s been a refreshing course for a beginner like myself — and of course, the first thing I have learned is that everything I was doing with my watercolor painting was actually wrong. I am getting there and hope to use what I learned (and am learning) in my art journal which I hope to work earnestly on in 2022.

3. Continue exercising and dieting to take better care of myself and reach my original weight goal which is currently 10 lbs lower than my post holiday weight. This has been more of a struggle but the good news is, even if I gain weight over a period of days, it hasn’t been too big of a gain to be insurmountable. I have managed to go back to my pre pandemic weight, so yes, halfway done with the 10lb goal below my post holiday weight, but still struggling to lose it.

Health concerns have made me focus not so much on the calories these days, but rather pay heed to the portions and food I actually eat to keep my numbers healthier. No alarms just yet, but at this age, it is good to be vigilant about taking care of ourselves.

4. Visit Central Park all four seasons. I am happy to report that although I failed to do all 4 seasons, I was able to explore Central Park in a more in-depth way than previous years by joining a guided hiking tour courtesy of The New York City Hiking Tours Meet Up Group last September. I regret that I didn’t get to write about it soon after I did this as summer was about to end, but I have a renewed appreciation of this behemoth of a backyard for the city that never sleeps. I saw parts of the park that I didn’t even know existed. While I will attempt a separate post on this sometime early this year, I am hoping to do more with this group when I get the chance to and when it’s warmer.

Hiking in Central Park 2021

5. Crafting: Organize my supplies and try new methods in jewelry making and personal art. Continue my Art journal. I am trying. Unfortunately, the art journal has been a side thought. I haven’t really worked on it as diligently as I worked on my 2021 journal. I ended up setting it aside which at this point is such a big disappointment. As far as the jewelry making is concerned, I did create a few pieces but they were within my safe zone, not allowing me to be more adventurous.

I am trying to get back to jewelry making, because despite my lack of focus on the shop, I’ve been racking up some sales that were totally unexpected. I can only imagine how things would go if I were more prolific in creating new pieces. Focus needed, I know.

6. Continue to find a new home for the items that I no longer have use for, but which can be of use to others. I had managed to destash so much in 2020 that I feel like I could’ve given it more effort in 2021. I ask myself if, perhaps, I have given away enough in the year prior, but the truth of it is, I have more I can actually do well to part with. So hoping I can get more done in 2022.

7. Work on the Gift of 55. Ever since I turned 50, I have tried to prepare gifts to give away to coincide with my birthday. It was a way of celebrating myself while giving to others. In connection with the lessons I learned in destashing items in 2020 as mentioned above, I had hoped to focus on something more meaningful in 2021 as I turned 55, but miserably failed. That means 55 acts of kindness to celebrate which will now be 56 for the coming year.

8. Keep writing. I think I managed to maintain a presence here although there is always that wish to write more. I am getting there. The problem is keeping the momentum going. I am trying. There’s been a better focus on writing these days, what with everything that’s been happening around me in a social and personal level. So it’s a matter of ramping up.

9. Keep writing those letters. I started writing people randomly during the last quarter of 2020. It has been a gratifying and heartwarming experience hearing from the people I’ve written. Beyond the Christmas cards, there were letters that actually made it out of my writing box. And I already have around a half dozen letters waiting to be written. I know that I will surpass my goal of writing one card or letter a month, so I am not going to put a minimum. I will just keep writing and sending those letters and cards out.

10. Get the podcast on the air. One of the projects that I got all excited about during the first months of the pandemic was getting a podcast on the air. I had the title, a friend so generously provided me with original music in different cuts to use, my niece rendered a graphic for the show and my first three shows were cast with guests that had so readily said yes. And then work and life got in the way, and I didn’t want to just broadcast haphazardly. I’m focusing on this anew in 2022 if only because I have since thought of another half dozen topics to broadcast and people to feature. It’s a project halfway to done.

11. Buff up stocks in the Etsy Shop. Like I mentioned, one thing I found rather surprising was the traffic I was getting, and the actual sales made during the pandemic. I wish I had the time and the energy to post more actively, but a newfound interest in raw materials to use for my pieces has sparked new inspiration. Still not quitting the day job, but this is definitely getting a new focus from me.

12. Sew at least one coat / jacket before spring, and another before winter. As you can see, I’m already looking at 2022. I see my sewing machine and I sigh in frustration, regretting that I have yet to finish another coat since I did one for my sewing classes at Mood University way back when. I have the materials.. I did manage to work on the cut up fabric ready to be sewn into masks. There was a time I went (a bit) crazy buying fabric on sale — and they are all neatly stacked and stored in my bins. Waiting to be sewn into something I will wear. Two pieces, minimum!

13. Fix my attic. I have a huge storage space that has stacks of boxes of stuff that need to make it to the waste bin. I’m thinking the best way is to devote an hour every month at least — in increments of 15 or 30 minutes, just to move things around. I’ve managed to do some tidying as I pulled out the Christmas tree and decorations for this year — and there is a semblance of order in one corner, but there are other corners that need touching. And I will get to that in 2022.

14. Sort my postcard collection. Going through the things that had lain hidden in boxes and bins through the years has made me rediscover postcards in my collection. I actively returned to postcard trading via some postcard groups on Facebook in 2020, and zoomed in particularly to Postcrossing Philippines, a group of Filipino postcard collectors. I’ve already started gathering the ones that really have no room in my collecting interests and have started giving them away. I received more than 200 postcards from this group alone, with problem less than a hundred from other swaps.

In some ways, this was a big distraction for me in 2021 but it also allowed me to socially interact with other collectors. It has been a time consuming aspect of my passions, though, which I hope to balance out with my other pursuits in 2022.

15. Catalogue and photograph my Starbucks Mug Collection. It came rather late but I managed to add some mugs to the collection after a trip to Maine with some friends (something noteworthy for 2021!) and a renewed interest in the holiday collection. It was a big disappointment, though, that I didn’t get to acquire the anniversary mugs that coincided with the 50th anniversary of Starbucks. (Hello, eBay, I guess.). I will try and devote time to cataloguing the collection, and am actually in the process of finding a suitable case to house even just part of what I have.

16. Put my family photos in an album. Some years back, my mother gifted me with an old style photo album from back home which I stashed in the attic. The good news is, it’s downstairs now in one of my craft bags. I just need to gather the photos and work on it.

17. Create the wall art I’ve been meaning to do the last year or so. I actually have two items I was hoping to create but beyond the main board I was hoping to put these works on, I haven’t really done anything. And this got stuck in limbo. I am seriously contemplating on whether or not I will forget about this or try to give it a go in 2022 again.

18. Finish, frame and hang a cross stitch project featuring Our Lady of Perpetual Help that I started more than 16 years ago. Long story…so I did find the original pattern but never quite got down to picking up the thread and needle again to finish this, but this is priority for me in 2022.

19. Set my affairs in order. One thing that 2020 made most of us do is make us face our mortality and the uncertainty of the future. I keep saying I will write my will and do my living will — but beyond identifying my emergency contact and giving immediate instructions to that friend, I haven’t really been able to set this down properly.

I did identify my medical proxy and just need to let that person know. With all that’s happened around us due to Covid and everything that’s still going on, my own mortality has been staring me in the face. Will to be written before my 56th birthday in April.

There you go.

I published this list with two of the 21 unwritten. I never got down to finish the list. I will try to do better with the 22 for 2022 which I will begin writing as soon as I hit publish on this one.

All in all and with everything that was going on around us, I still think 2021 wasn’t all that bad. Personally, it was a good year if you consider how my son and I managed to stay healthy throughout the year, despite health challenges suffered by other family members back home.

I returned to work in April and eased myself into a semblance of normalcy in my old perch, but in a new space. I lost the view but still have a convenient spot in the middle of Manhattan.

I have been blessed. Indeed.

Work in Progress: my altered book

I have been blessed. Indeed.

PS. This is a recurring topic I’ve tried to do every year, and previous lists have a home on a special page in this blog. Happy new year from Pinay New Yorker!

Back to Masking up

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I haven’t written about life in the time of Covid not because I had begun thinking we have gotten rid of it and slid back to “normal” as we knew it per-pandemic. I just felt I needed a break from writing about it. Plus, I fell into a lull again. But I had promised myself I will try to move forward and be more focused on the writing. So here I am.

This time, last year, we slowly started to emerge from our self imposed exile and uber vigilance against covid. New York City started to ease up as the numbers began to decline in July. This year, we see more people exercising their option not to wear masks, given that a huge chunk of the local populace has opted to be vaccinated. My son and I are both in that category, and I have the proof in my Excelsior app and vaccination card.

I volunteered to return to work beginning April, but the boss had returned weeks ahead. It was a mix of a sense of duty plus a need to ease myself into some semblance of normalcy that prompted me to go back. For months, everyone had been required to wear masks everywhere except in their own space. I was fortunate that by the time I returned, a workplace adjustment was made that made masks optional in our corporate campus if we were fully vaccinated. Of course, we still had to don the mask in common areas outside our space, as we shared the building with other tenants. (We did occupy floors 2-6 and basically had exclusive use of the elevators accessing our floors.)

In the commute, masks were required on the bus. There were days when I was the only passenger heading home. That was eerie but it felt safer for the most part, and I didn’t miss the sometimes almost full or full bus pre covid, which meant someone would sit next to me. I’m fortunate to have access to an express bus route that took me practically door to door, so I was with the same set of passengers after the last stop in Manhattan and the first stop on Main Street in my part of Queens.

Masking up again

I was making my own masks at the height of the pandemic and experimented with different patterns, shapes and fabrics. I gave some to family and friends, and despite the prodding of some to sell it, I never did get quite comfortable with the quality of my work to do that. Sometime at the start of the year, I ended up setting aside some cut fabric for another time. They lay untouched until recently when the Delta variant surge started to make waves and caused me to rethink the idea that masks would become truly optional.

I may be fully vaccinated but I’ve always been one to be more cautious than laxed when it comes to Covid. Even as I walk out in the open in my neighborhood these days, I carry a mask in one hand and quickly don it when I see people approaching — whether or not they are masked themselves. I have noticed, though, that more and more are wearing masks these days, even out in the open.

When we were deep into the panic and general fear of catching Covid, I had experimented with as many as 5 patterns. After wearing the different iterations in various types of fabric, I’ve picked a favorite pattern which I tweaked to extend the ends and revised how to sew the three layers of fabric together. Although I have not used a filter of any sort all this time, all the masks I’ve made have a filter pocket. To my mind, the three layers of fabric should be sufficient filtering, given that the masks I make are breathable from the top and the bottom. (Else how will you survive wearing them?!)

Once I figure out how to produce the pattern I have altered, I will write a post about it to share.

While I would like for the elastic to be anchored to the mask, I’ve found that providing a channel through which it can more freely be looped through works best and provides the best flexibility. I continue to use cord stoppers to control the tautness of the mask against my face.

Masking up again

So just when we thought that the availability of the vaccine would help us overtake Covid, the reticence of many and the outright refusal of more, added to the onslaught of the Delta variant, have caused us to slide back to putting our masks on.

Even at work, we are back to masking up. But with the way things have been going, it would’ve been a personal choice for me to put my mask back on even without the mandate, out of an abundance of caution. After more than a year of batting the scourge of Covid, not to mention the losses suffered globally, you’d think we would be more United and resolute about which way we would go. Unfortunately we are not.

So back to masking up, folks!

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 the midst of it all

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AThe past couple of days have been very emotional for everyone. Although our emotions may run in different directions and come from varied perspectives, it is undeniable that we have all been moved. We are in pain. We are angry. We are grieving.

As a person of color who migrated to the United States 20 years ago, the concept of discrimination is very real for me. I was not born here, and when you see me in the very diverse crowds of New York City, you know by sight that I am one of “the others”. I am one in a sea of immigrants that make up this great country. The color of my skin and my hair, and the shape of my eyes and my nose tell you that I’m not your typical American. I identify as Filipino. When people ask me where I’m from, I instinctively say the Philippines. Because that’s where I came from and that’s who I am.

No matter how progressive this part of the country is, you know that you continue to be viewed through a different lens. Sometimes favorably, sometimes not. But your color makes people see you a certain way — even among us who are of color.

New York City has been in the middle of some very violent expressions of anger and grief. What makes it worse is that there are many who have sought to take advantage of this collective grief and indignation, and used it as a smokescreen — literally — to commit acts of vandalism and criminality.

This is indeed, a sad time for my home city. As a New Yorker, it breaks my heart to see New Yorkers hurting fellow New Yorkers.

While you may think that the bigger brands and establishments can bear to suffer the loss of their wares and the destruction of their physical stores, we forget that there are New Yorkers who man those stores and actually look forward to returning to their regular jobs in the not so distant future. There were smaller establishments who were operating on a very thin lifeline and are now further burdened by the need to rebuild and restock. Deli stores, souvenir shops, name brand stores — beyond the shattered glass and the lost inventory, this whole period of violence has cast a pall on the job prospects of those who were hoping to cling to their employment there.

I watched some of the footage of these looting sprees and found myself suddenly gripped with fear as I saw throngs of people forcing doors open, breaking glass, peeling away the wooden barricades. Then there was anger as the frenzy began and they stormed the stores and came out with their own haul. One deli store owner stood by his door giving away water just so the looters would not ransack his store like they did the others who were open in the midst of the violence. One guy went into a computer and electronics store and came out with a MacBook in a box, and got chased by two others who grabbed it from him despite his efforts to protect his “haul”. One of the guys started attacking him while another ran off with his boxed Mac. I am sorry, but I can’t even be sad for the guy who lost his loot. I am, however, sad for the three of them who fought like barbarians over the stolen goods.

Friends and family have been asking how my son and I are doing. We are far from the fray, and this is another instance when I’m grateful that I’m working from home, and not forced to commute to the city to earn my paycheck. But even if I’m not in the heart of the violence, it is felt all around us with the constant reminders of a curfew in a city that used to be touted as the “City that never sleeps”.

I feel the outrage in the death of George Floyd and can understand the emotions that run deep. It was a senseless act showing a lack and even an absence of compassion. I grieve him, too. I understand the cause that the protesters are fighting for — but the message has been heard loud and clear all over the world. Even when we protest peacefully, if we defy orders to go home when the curfew has ensued, the civil disobedience we commit can detract from the message and the cause we are fighting for.

Other groups have been taking advantage of the anger and the grief. It is suspected that some of the violence instigated by supposed protestors are actually the doing of groups who want to sow further violence and discord. More people are getting hurt. Cooler heads need to intervene. The voices of reason need to make themselves heard.

And for the last few days, the issue that has beset us for the last almost 100 days of stay-at-home/sheltering-in-place has taken a backseat. I look at the sea of people in all the places where the protests have been taking place and I am afraid at the spike I anticipate we will see in infections in the next 10-12 days. All those lives lost to the disease, and here we are tempting fate again, brazenly daring the disease to come and overtake us anew.

Ten days ago, I was getting ready for the ultimate return to office — and it didn’t matter that I didn’t know when that would actually take place. With a Phase 1 reopening slated for this coming Monday, the delineated two week gap per phase, and knowing that I would likely be returning in Phase 3, I don’t think I will be called back earlier than mid-or late July. Possibly even later. Still, I feel a need to get ready for that day when I would have to wade through the commute and enter the building via a transportation hub were thousands of people walk through on any given day.

At the back of my head, I was also trying to prepare for a possible second wave. Disposable face masks are available again, and there are the very expensive bottles of hand sanitizer on some store shelves. Alcohol and disinfectant spray or wipes continue to be a prime commodity that continue to be unavailable, so I am trying to just have some in stock so that I am ready if they disappear from the shelves again.

I know that our battle with the disease is far from over. We have just managed to catch up with it with the social distancing and the sheltering in place. We managed to prevent people from congregating and giving the virus a Petrie dish to fester in.

Until the last couple of days.

I want to see people going back to work again, and the economy taking a deep breath that will somehow revive it even at the slowest of paces. I want to go back to something close to normal — because I know we will never go back to the way we used to do things before we were all sent home to slow the spread of disease. But I do not want to return to the daily report of hundreds of people dying and losing their battle with the on Covid. That is one place I don’t think any of us would want to go back to.

So I keep my fingers crossed that the protests happening in our midst will not be an ember that will light up a fire that we will battle to put out later on. We have barely recovered from the battle we are yet to wrap up. What happens if we get into that kind of a race against this disease again?

I don’t have a solution to the problems that face us regarding race. I think it has sparked a new stream of dialogue that will hopefully help us flesh out the pain and the struggle — and maybe bring us to a better place. Eventually. This is one problem that, like Covid, will take time to solve. One problem at a time, they say. No matter how unrelated these two issues may be, they beset us and besiege us. We need to fight each one as if there were two attackers threatening our lives on two sides. We cannot forget the one that took thousands of lives in the very recent past, while we fight for the lives that continue to be lost because of the color of their skin.

I’m afraid all I can do is keep my fingers crossed. That, in itself, is sad, and almost makes me feel helpless, because that only means there is really nothing I can do either way, except see how things play out in the weeks to come.

Just another day

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AI attempted a blog post last night to no avail. After a third time where I hit the delete button for the entire post by mistake, I figured the post was just not meant to be. I’ve been trying the dictation feature in writing my past, and I’ve had mixed success. It takes some getting used to.

It’s not entirely all dictated, because the feature still requires actual editing. I’m trying to see if it can keep up with the speed at which I speak, but I am realizing that I am actually talking slower hoping that the phone keeps up with my accent and my words. Sometimes, I catch it thanking and probably wondering what it was that I said. Given that I speak with a slight accent but still with a twang, I figure I have to give allowances for the software or the technology to get used to me as well.

So it’s just another day.

7:30am. My alarm rings and I grab the phone to turn it off and I scan my inbox. Force of habit. On a regular day from not so long ago, my alarm is set almost 2 hours earlier at 5:45. I do my morning routines and get changed. I decide I will take a shower in the morning like I always did, instead of before bed which is now an option. I have a video call at 11:30am today with an external office as a test for a call with the boss. I actually need to put on a face.

8:45am I am ready to start my day and I log on. Soft token spews out the 8 digits that change on a cadence and I am in. This is my virtual office and my day begins.

10:15am. I am reminded I have a video fest call before noon. I put the lightest of make up to look presentable onscreen. I had to look for my lipstick and just put a hint on. Just a little eyeliner and then I dabbed some powder on. I am used to full make up at work — it has always been part of dressing up for me. Since the shelter in place order took effect, my skin and my hair have been given a major reprieve from the daily abuse I usually subject it to.

The call goes well but there might be issues. I need my IT tech.

12nn. I make a deliberate effort to “observe” my lunch hour, whether I actually grab a bite or not. It doesn’t matter that I stay in front of my laptop continuing to work, but I refrain from sending emails unless it’s the boss. I want to be respectful of other people’s lunch hour as well, and I postpone replying or writing until after 1pm. Even when I was in the office, I tried to keep that hour free of reaching out. I might be working at my desk or otherwise handling something, but I will not call or write anyone until after the hour is over.

I wake up the 16 year old and he grumbles a request to stay in bed a few minutes more. Yes, I know, they are on a modified schedule, and their online learning has been pretty much at their own pace, but I don’t want him to lose the structure of the day. He saunters into the living room half asleep. I have to remind him three times to eat breakfast, offering lunch. He grabs his bowl and milk and cereal. At this time I start asking him what he wants for dinner. (I like defrosting in the fridge and the sooner I bring whatever item I need from the freezer down, the less fuss it will be later). He wants a steak. Simple enough.

I’m making bread pudding today. I have researched several recipes and had hoped to do what my mom used to make based on Nora Daza’s recipe. I was ready to go until I saw that it meant double baking (baking in a pan of water). I wanted to make the simple version and landed on this recipe from the New York Times.

I’ve been setting aside the top and bottom slice of my bread loaves since I started eating bread again, and I’ve collected enough to make two batches. (I keep them refrigerated.). One batch down.. I must say I am happy with the way it came out and I will look to tweak the recipe later with raisins and flavoring.

Bread pudding

Mixed and baked within the lunch hour, I let it cool another half hour before I sliced a piece for lunch. Meanwhile..

1:00pm. I get back to work. Scheduling can be as easy as one email exchange or twenty. Sometimes technology doesn’t work like we expect it to and there are explanations and calls to be made.

I needed my white glove support for IT to report and hopefully resolve an issue. He is one of my closest friends at work and we say hi and catch up and have a few laughs. Even if (and all the more because) he is a friend, I requested for a call after 1pm. Matter settled, second test call scheduled.

The afternoon moves with more emails and scheduling maneuvers. When you manage a calendar as busy as the boss has, there’s a lot of wheeling and dealing to make it work. Sometimes it gets too tight and everyone is unhappy, but I think I do a pretty good job of managing her days well.

4:00pm. I have to remind myself the day is almost ended, and the emails that need sending must be sent within the next hour. I also start writing my daily wrap up to brief the boss on the following day’s schedule. If we were working like we used to, I would hand her the day’s calendar with all background information and prereads printed. Since this all started, the summary of the following day’s meetings and today’s meeting requests or scheduling progress have been an efficient alternative. I start my draft so I can hit “send” before 6pm.

5.49pm. Recap sent. Officially logging off and off to my second job: Morherhood.

6:45pm. Time to cook dinner. My son and I have taken to eating dinner together while watching one of our favorite comedies. These days, we’re going through the last few seasons of That 7″s Show. He wanted a steak tonight, and I had more of my callos, then pudding with white chocolate chips for dessert. (I microwaved if for two spurts of 30 seconds to soften the chips. Heavenly!)

9ish.. “Me” Time. I go and do the things that relax me. I press my masks and start top stitching a batch. I am still undecided about the ties, so none are technically ready to go. My cord locks finally arrived. I really shouldn’t complain because I got them cheapest at Walmart, even if it was sold by one of their consignees.

Midnight. I call my siblings who are with my mom and I say goodnight to all of them. It’s a quick call as they are having lunch and I want to go to bed. I like that info this daily now because they are all quarantined at home and can pick up on their smartphones. I drink my vitamin D, freshen up and sit on my bed in the dark finishing this post.

Soon, I will be choosing my sleepcast and drift away to lala land.

Another day ended.. another one beginning in a few. I bid you goodnight.

Walk with me

It’s rare that I get to take so many pictures chronicling what is an every day trip for me from my home to my place of work.  When I posted them on my Instagram account, I was struck by the way the pictures seemed to be telling a story.  While they are seen as individual photographs on my IG feed, seen together and in my own mind is a single narrative that begins with the first picture and ends just before I go up to my perch to start another day at work.

So come walk with me and see New York City through my eyes this snowy and cold Monday…

I start my day walking to my bus stop to take the ride that will bring me to Manhattan. I always make it a point to look up. I sometimes wonder why people keep looking down, but hardly, ever, look up.
UntitledThere is a ton to be seen if we took the time to just take a moment to train our sights upward for a change.

I ended up taking an alternative route which will be my usual route in a few weeks’ time as we move eastward to our other building.  I really don’t mind.  The two stops are separated by avenues which take me all of 7 minutes to walk if I don’t stop anywhere.  But whenever I can, I say hello to the boss upstairs.  I walk into the Church of St. Agnes on 43rd to pray.

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This church is very special to me because it has been a place of solitude for me during my weakest moments.  I have shed tears here.  I have given thanks.  I have simply sat and be.  I listened without saying a thing, not even in my heart.  This is like home to me.
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I have walked in and out of these doors many times before, but for the first time, I paid heed to the ornate grillwork that showed the world outside.  Again, we don’t stop enough to admire the beauty around us.

From there I take the scenic route through Grand Central.  Instead of entering through the main corridor, though, I always choose to walk through Grand Central Market for the visual and gastronomic treat.

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I notice there are new stores now like the two stores you see on the left.  (EAT gifts and that new SUSHI place.)  I like walking down this way because I get to see my usual favorites and whenever I can, I grab lunch.  This time it was a half pound of French Raclette from my favorite cheese place, Murray’s.  I love the sights and smells of this place, from the smell of bread to chocolates to the pungent cheeses and fish at the end of the row.
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It’s food and more food all around — plus a few extras like gifts and flowers.  If you were to throw a last minute party for two or more, or even one you planned ahead — this is a one stop shop for anything and everything you might want to serve.  (You’d just have to walk a few steps away for the vino, though.)  I’m on an almond croissant quest and I had already sampled Eli Zabar’s a few weeks back, but wanted to grab a delectable shot to use when I do write my post on which one wins my heart and tummy.
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I can stay here all day and watch the world go by.   I have never seen this place not  busy — less busy, yes, but always abuzz.  And yet it isn’t a noisy or dizzying kind of busy that leaves you with that urge to walk away or leave this place.  It’s that kind of busy hypnotizes you into just letting the world turn as you find yourself a quiet corner to watch spin around.

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I don’t know when exactly they put up what is now known as The Great Northern Food Hall, but I’ve visited here a couple of times to grab a sweet treat or a pastry for breakfast. One of these days, or when we finally move perhaps, I might take a quick bite here and write more.  This is the side that greets you when you emerge from the main hall of the terminal, and you will find clusters of their various outlets for you to choose from.  (Each station has it’s own check out counter which precludes any guessing games like bigger food spaces.)

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It occupies one half of the huge space that was all of Vanderbilt hall.  With the Food hall there, the event space has been reduced to the other half which isn’t really a bad trade off considering what is now on the other side.

Making my way out to 42nd Street, I walk westward and find myself at one of my favorite spots in the city, Bryant Park, where the New York Public Library is situated.

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In the spring and summer this place is awash with green, but even in the dreary months of winter, the tall trees stand majestic providing such a dramatic background as you walk its grounds.

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Mornings are my favorite time of the day in the park because it’s practically empty.  As the day wears on, the seats and tables all fill up with regulars from the offices around or the countless tourists both local and foreign who seek out the thrills of New York City.

The snow that was in the forecast started to fall.

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I like snow best when it is falling, no matter that it is pouring in torrents or drifting down aimlessly as if the air was cushioning it from crashing down.  I’ve seen these tables covered and buried in white.. then in grey.  I wondered how much snow was coming.

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I walked to my favorite bakery kiosk by the edge of the park closer to Avenue of the Americas, and taking shelter from the snow which had started falling heavier, I actually took a film clip panning the area (which, I am trying to upload but have not been successful doing.)  It is uncanny how no matter how many times I take a photograph from any angle or any corner, it never quite comes out the same.

And so I crossed, looking uptown, snapping away as I walked.
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Then I decided it was better doing this at a full stop, so I became one of those pedestrians who stands in the middle of the street, whips out a camera and shoots a pic.
UntitledFrom here I enter my building and go up to my perch, starting yet another work day.  This is My New York.

Having myself a Fab Summer

I was listening to Coldplay’s “Til Kingdom Come” for probably the 5th time while my bus was crawling out of the Midtown Tunnel yesterday when the title above came to mind.  I almost forgot that I was having a difficult time drawing my right eye with a flick — and before finishing the second, I clicked on the WordPress app and started writing.  (Eyes have been taken cared of..)

So how’s your summer been?

Those of you in New York City know we’ve gotten lucky with  moderate temperatures until this week, and even that has been a break.  We haven’t really had the sweltering heat of the past summers and that was unexpected.  The previous winter, mild as it was, tends to make us expect a harsher summer.  And we haven’t had that– yet.  Of course we’re just hitting the midpoint of summer and I could be speaking too soon, but I’ve always been a “warmer climate” person considering where I was born and raised.  Manila’s heatwave gives you good training for the hot summers of New York, but then it’s dry heat here.  (Imagine walking into an oven.)
#HappyFriday, #NewYork.. The #weekend is here.. take time to #recharge and get some #metime..#youarelmportanttoo #empirestatebuilding #lookingtowardsdowntown #sunnyaummerday #manhattan
I’ve been exploring more of the city during the weekends and lingering on later in the day.  It helps that the little guy is in Manila enjoying his summer break with his cousins, so I need not rush home to make dinner.  It’s been a time of new beginnings, plans and things that need to be done.  It’s also a time of renewal.  (More on that in another post.)

Unfortunately, I see the summer slipping by with some things falling through the cracks.  I will hopefully get to do a check-in on my 15 things for 2015 although I’m almost dreading it because I’m afraid I have missed out on many of the things I had hoped to accomplish, and half the year has slipped by.

The good news is I’M READING AGAIN.  I am actually so thrilled about actually lugging a book in my purse these days that I have taken to having the book within arm’s reach just so I can look and touch its pages.  (We call that shallow or mababaw back where come from.)  Simple thrills.

#MissionAcconplished, @juliaatolentino -- I couldn't actually remember the title andmfor@some@reason the pic or the message from @neo.phil.ia about it had disappeared -- but I found it in the #Buy2GetThe3rdFree table and snapped it up!  😀😉#bThe truth of the matter is, I had schlepped down to Barnes & Noble to buy some books requested by my nephew and niece.  I am always drawn to the tables where books are laid flat, enabling you to see stacks of it on top of each other.  There were no Minecraft books as requested by the nephew, and for the life of me, I couldn’t find the photo sent by my sister-in-law for my niece’s request.  So I walked around towards the tables and lo and behold, the book was right there: A Work in Progress: A Memoir by Connor Franta.  The thing was it was on a “Buy-2-get-the-3rd-free” table so I found myself walking around trying to decide if I will just get the book for my niece or if I will get two more.  Of course I got two more!  (Have to get that Barnes & Noble membership going!)

I have missed reading and the thought that I am finally getting down to doing some serious page-turning makes me kind of giddy happy.  Kind of.  At almost fifty, (yes, the Pinay New Yorker is THAT old) — I have discovered that the things that make me smile are no longer as profound or earth shattering or remarkable like they used to be.  These days, when a stranger says “Beautiful dress!” or “What a lovely necklace..”  from out of nowhere, that is reason enough to smile.  (This is the same dress that has seen a lady walk up to me at a grocery to tell me what a lovely dress I was wearing.  I am NEVER parting with this dress even when it is no longer age appropriate!)  Or maybe talking about movies or music or GoT.  (And if you don’t know what that stands for, then you aren’t in our ‘circle’.)  It’s being able to mention something from the 80s and know that you won’t get a puzzled look that tells you you’re from two different generations.  (As my brother who is only 3 years younger than me would say, that would be a generation gap.)

So what is my fabulous summer all about?  

Have a #cone-olli at the #NutellaBar in #Eatalynyc.  Your choice of #gelato atop a #nutellafilledcone, rolled in #roastedhazelnuts.  #yummy ! #foodporn #icecream #Itsliansdoitbetter #musttry #lovedit #dessert inNewYork #FlatIronDistrictIt’s about the Nutella Bar in Eataly which seems to have a hypnotic hold on me now, every time I’m in the area.  Not even the usual lines or throng of people going in and out of the place has deterred me from making a quick stop whenever I can.  On the contrary, it’s all those people walking around and the anonymity of walking in that crowd that kind of makes me feel at home in this place.

No, it’s not that sweet — even the sweet cream needs a little bit of nutella in it to make it really sinful.  I find it to be a good palate cleanser, though.  (Excuses, excuses!)

It’s about dreaming of learning how to sew (finally!) — but knowing it’ll have to wait for when I return from the next trip home.  So in the meantime, I’m focusing on hair accessories and trying to get my creative juices flowing to enable me to bring some pieces to give away as gifts in a week and a half.  I’ve startred sorting out my jewelry supplies as well with a more determined plan to actually revive the store on Etsy.   And no, I didn’t forget about my newfound interest in crochet — freeform crochet to be exact — as I featured in my craft blog, GothamChick just a few weeks back here and here.

I’m starting to go back to music that I love — jazz, in particular — and learning along the way.  It’s music that soothes and draws me to a time way back when I got so immersed in learning about modern jazz.   Back when they had a record bar (which is where they used to have shelves upon shelves of vinyl and stacks of cassette tapes), the lady in charge would lay out the latest releases and make her recommendations.  It is because of her that I heard of Eloise Laws, Donald Byrd, in addition to the staples of Alphonse Mouzon, Earl Klugh, Noel Pointer and Seawind to name a few.  Now I’m listening to Avishai Cohen who I was looking forward to watching “Live” in NYC but I just heard his tour had been altogether cancelled.. (Bummer..)

Summer’s been a time to enjoy movies, old and new, that friends have been recommending.   Don’t you just hate it  when people start talking about some title and ask you if you’ve watched it and you realize you’re way behind?  I never pretended to be a cinephile but I do appreciate good films.  I just haven’t had the time to sit in a theatre or find out what’s new.  (I miss Mr. Moviefone ..)  The good news is I am now raving about Everything Is Illuminated, Fading Gigolo and the original The Producers (1968).  I am not a film critic nor one of those people who try to dissect the “layers of acting” or the “depth of the story”.  I watch movies to enjoy them and I always try to sit in front of a screen with as little expectations of the story or the acting or directing.  I think we, as members of the audience, should just sit there and enjoy.  Every film, even those that are retellings of stories we already know are meant to entertain but will only succeed in doing that if we let them.  Save the popcorn — I’m still working my way down a list of other great movies.

I’ve made the effort to reconnect with friends from waaaaaayyyyyyy back.  As a friend from gradeschool wrote me, “(I) am happy to know that you are well on your way to getting to know yourself again and that you’re making strides where reconnecting with old friends is concerned. We do tend to lose ourselves when in relationships and though that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it is at times unhealthy. ”  (Bernadette aka Bambi has always written so eloquently.)

The sad part of being here in New York is that although some people maybe in the same neighborhood, connecting can take a lot of effort.  Sadly, we don’t all give it the effort it deserves.  Sometimes all it takes is an e-mail, a message on Facebook, or a chance encounter when you’re on the bus and you see a familiar face fiddling with her phone at street level.  (The Universe speaks, again.)

I miss my little guy but I am grateful for the break to focus on myself the last couple of weeks.  It makes me look forward to being with him again when I go home to pick him up in Manila in just over a week.  And there is so much to look forward to when I return to my home, New York, and ride out the last days of summer as we go into my next favorite season: Autumn.

Here’s to a wonderful rest of the summer for everyone.

Home is this great city, New York

#Foggy #ChryslerBuilding this #muggyday in #NewYorkCity . Still #elegant no matter what the weather.  #nofulter #myny #mynyc #midtown #manhattan #lookingtowardstheeastside #eastside #ilovenewyork

That I live in one of the greatest cities in modern times is not lost upon me.  Every day that I head to Manhattan to start a work day, I know I’m walking amongst people who wished they lived here and breathed the air I breathe 24/7, instead of being mere tourists or visitors to the city that never sleeps.  I get it.  It IS New York.  I’ve lived here the last 15 years and it never gets tired.

#OnMyWayHome: Went a different route after spending the day with a bunch of 11-year-olds in #Manhattan today and caught this glimpse of a different side of the #manhattanSkyline. #mynewyork #sunset #NewYork ##NewYorkCity #NYC

I have been at my happiest and my lowest of lows.  And yes, I have thought of leaving this city for good many times.  It’s not that I had gotten tired of it all — there are just times when there are bad memories that make leaving such an attractive proposition.  And yet I am always drawn back — mostly because a young man I brought into this world considers this his home.  And his home is my home.  Such is the consequence of parenthood — you don’t just make decisions thinking only of what you want or of yourself.  For the last 11 years, my world has been beyond what I felt and what I thought — it involved that other tiny person for whom I made day-to-day decisions.

I used to think it would be the same for every parent.  I have realized it is not.  There are just those of us who are constituted differently.  Instead of “we”, there is only “me”.

I am brought back to my Mom’s words of wisdom.  She used to tell me I should not look for my virtues in others — we were not created equal.  If we were, I wouldn’t be better than others.  In the same token, there are many created better than myself.  Amen.

#FifthAvenue with the #EmpireStateBuilding peeking from a distance down at everyone as they started making their way home.. I was zooming by in a #schoolbus after doing #momDuty with #myLittleGuy in #manhattan. Tired but feeling all warm and fuzzy insid

I’m good with that.  I try.  I’m not the perfect parent.  I have my weaknesses and shortcomings.  But I would fight tooth and nail for this little guy who means the world to me.

He’s finishing fifth grade this school term and moving on to the bigger boy world of middle school next year.  Give it a year more and he will probably be as tall if not taller than me.  His expressions have changed and his face and gait is evolving to a soon-to-be tween.  I recently chaperoned him and his friends on a senior trip, and I marvelled at how different he is with his friends.  He seemed even more grown up and more vivacious.  In the company of these other young men, he was his own person.  I found myself feeling wistful as the reality that my little guy is growing up stared me in the face.

I should be so lucky to have this young man a part of my life.  I have been truly  blessed.  And this IS home to him.  So home to me, it IS.

The #EmpireStateBuilding #today.  #myny #mynyc #mynewyork #NYC #NewYorkCity #NewYork #manhattan #midtown #lookingtowardsdowntown

The last year has seen me planting my feet firmly where I am right now.  Not that I have stopped thinking of what life would be in other places — but I have made myself at home with the plan to stay right where I am.

And I think I’m good with that.  Perhaps it’s part of sifting through the lessons of life that I have come across.  What am I complaining about?  Others would give an arm and a leg to be where I am.  Everything is falling into place, even if they are falling in places other than where I would have wanted to if I had a say.  But come to think of it, it’s not at all that bad.  In fact, if I allow myself to step back and see the bigger picture, it’s actually just fabulous as it is.

Misty Monday

I actually have a monicker that’s shoe-related somewhere, and the number one question I get asked when people find out I’m Filipina is how many shoes I have.. I will proudly say not as many as the infamous Imelda, but just enough.  Unlike my Starbucks mugs and postcards, there’s no shoe collection to speak of.  However, I am a good shopper, so a “Buy-One-Get-One-Half-Off” deal on rain boots at a boutique near me saw me getting 2 pairs. One was a short pair, and the other the usual tall ones.


#HappyFeet this #rainy day in #NYC. #rainboots #shoelove #shoes #boots #readyfortherain #cuteshoes
I picked them in a funky floral print and a lace mock up, and I’m quite happy with my purchase.  So my feet will be well dressed and dry as the rains come.  Like today.  $42 for both and I even got a free item — I chose a pair of practical flip flops.

Happiness!


#FoggyNYC #nofilter #cantseeathing #mynyc #myny #NewYorkCity

Monday wasn’t meant to be a sunny day and it was obvious from the start.  It was wet outside (hence, the raingear), and temperatures have dropped yet again.  (Our heat is on, for one. =(..)  I know, I shouldn’t be complaining.  But we expect April showers and it’s June.  Almost summer, imagine?

So what do I do on days like this?  I wear my rainboots, of course.  Dress in the proper coat (pink raincoat to the rescue) and just brave the elements.  The rain was pervasive but mild.  We don’t really get mist in the Philippines.  Like I kiddingly tell the people who ask me about seasons back home, we only have the wet and dry seasons.  No spring, no fall and no winter.  It’s summer or it’s not.

Like snow, there is a certain magic to the mist.  You don’t see it but feel it falling gently on your skin.  There are times when it falls strong enough for you to feel wet enough to whip out the umbrella, but there are times when you will just let it fall and put your face up to the wind.

In a naughty mood, I had texted a friend earlier if he could make the rain stop.  His curt yet hilarious reply: “I can’t make anything happen these days.  However, I spoke briefly to the rain department who said that I should stop calling them.”  I literally laughed out loud, while on the phone, upon reading his quip.

It was misty when I stepped out for a quick coffee and hug from a dear old friend from college who popped up from Connecticut.  I suddenly get a message he was at the consulate, five blocks away.  It had been a while since we last saw each other — so I grabbed the chance to catch up.  Those chance meetings — unplanned, though they may be — turn out to be the things that make one’s day on a misty Monday like yesterday bearable.  And don’t forget about the rain department!

Tuesday sees us with similar weather, but I can hear the birds chirping outside.  That can only mean that it hasn’t been as bad.  Not quite as windy (hopefully), and maybe, the sun will wake up from it’s slumber and stretch out even for a bit.  We’re not even hitting 60 today, temperature-wise, and that IS cold.  I guess it’s a day for coats, and maybe a decent pair of warm leggings.

This is the way we live here in New York.  Makes me miss the heat and humidity that everyone hates about Manila.. If you guys only knew..