Reading again

I am hoping I am well on my way to starting on my 6-book quota for the year.  It’s July (yes!) and almost August (!!) and I have made a promise to myself I WILL do the 6 books AT LEAST.  (Ambitious, I know..)  It’s not for a lack of books to read.  It doesn’t help that I have the books in my Kindle which I’ve barely opened in the last couple of months.  I also received some books from cousins and friends from the last visit to Manila.

And while the hardbound books I so love are such a load impinging on my 100-lb baggage allowance for the trip home, I also managed to get Armida Siguion-Reyna’s book.  I had to seriously debate with myself about getting Enrile’s tome.. but I managed to get that somehow in the last couple of weeks, straight from National Book Store.  I know, my politics are showing here, but I am always in for a good read.  I am hoping that these two will be part of my 6 for the year.

I had gone to Barnes & Noble last weekend to get some books requested by my nephew and my niece, and the one requested by Audrey, A Work in Progress: A Memoir by Connor Franta was being offered on a “Buy-2-get-the-3rd-free” table so I had to make a decision on which other two books I was getting.

After going through the books displayed on that stack, I decided to pick up The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky which I am currently reading, and The Shell Collector: Stories by Anthony Doerr (for later).  What’s interesting is that as I was paying for my purchases at the counter, the young lady at the cashier gushed about Chbosky’s book and told me she reads it over and over again.  (Comments like that make me think about one of two things: the books IS that great.. or she is seriously messed up for not wanting to read something else.)  Well, the book has been made into a movie which I will watch after reading it, and that the story was picked up for the big screen (not to forget that it spent a considerable amount of time on the NY Times Bestseller’s list) should say something about how good a read it must be.

If you’re expecting a book review, this isn’t one so I’m sorry to disappoint.  I’m merely reporting what I am reading and what’s up next.  It’s not a heavy read but I’ve learned how to reserve my judgment for how heavy or light a story is for until after I close the book for good.  Some of the better books I’ve read have taken me on a journey from one emotion to the next, and there is no single feeling to describe the story that was told.

It is easy to read because it’s written from the perspective of a teen.  Another lesson learned is not to dismiss young adult reading as being “juvenile,” more so after I’ve read the entire Twilight Saga.  And yes, I’ve read the Harry Potter series, but I have stuck to one reading of all these books.  (I can’t understand why one would read something over and over again except if it’s Holy Bible.)  But again, who am I to judge.

I don’t have the luxury to  sit down and read it uninterrupted, but I’m savoring the fact that I’m actually holding the book in my hands.  There is something about reading the old-fashioned way, much as writing in longhand these days is a unique experience, that makes reading a book fulfilling.  I’m not saying I’m not ever going back to the tablet — I will.  But from time to time, it pays to actually hold the words in your hands.

I like the break that my mind gets from the real world when I have a book in my hands.  For a moment in time, I am part of someone else’s story that plays in my mind and heart as if I were watching it on screen.  And yet there is a profound difference in the way the scenes and feelings form inside me because of the words written by the author.

You should try it again some time if you’ve been enslaved by your reading tablet or worse, if you haven’t been reading at all.  (Horrors!)  Wish me luck with this one.

Then again, on second thought, I think I’m good.  Let me get back to my reading..
the Perks of being a wallflower

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.

My Friday Five (on another Saturday)

Last week’s Friday Five went well for the first two but the last three are staying on my list.

1. Create more pieces for the shop and list more items.

I have actually been on a creative streak all week.  It has me all excited because I’m actually being creative and not just pulling things together using the styles I had used through the last couple of years.

New ideas are coming to me which has me looking at the whole process of producing my pieces differently.  More to come in the shop!

Inspiration to create - The previous week has been a buzz of activity as I started experimenting with the materials I already have for pieces to post in the store.  All unfinished pieces but soon to be completed.  #bracelets #agate #etsy #creativity #insp

2. Start reorganizing my supplies according to component type instead of material.

3. Write a letter.

4. Go back to reading the Bible.

5. Finish my Art Journal Every Day post on Mother’s Day. — which was last week, yes, but I had already started it

Hence this week’s Friday Five is as follows:

1. Write a letter.  Why could something be so simple so difficult to do .. hopefully this weekend.  (A loooooong weekend, at that!)

2. Go back to reading the Bible.  I’m actually hoping to tick this off of next week’s list by carving out regular time every day.

3. Finish my Art Journal Every Day post on Mother’s Day. — It comes in stops and starts and I haven’t touched the art journal for a while now.  Hopefully that will change with a three-day weekend just started.  I really can use the extra day to the weekend to recharge.

4.  Sort the clothes that Angelo has outgrown.  Right about the only person who doesn’t realize how much he’s growing up is the boy, and I hate having to make him change from a shirt he’s already obviously outgrown to somethings that fits better.  I’ve been culling the smaller size shirts/jeans from his wardrobe through the winter, but I think I can do another sweep through.  His hand-me-downs go to a box I send home for an impoverished community where my Mom stays most of the year now.

5.  Start reading again.  Where will I find the time, right?  But that was one of the things I wanted to do this year — read more.  Like every year.  And reading the Bible doesn’t count.  There is just so much literature out there — and even on my book shelf and digital library, unread.

It must seem like I keep listing things down and not actually getting things done.  It feels like the last 8 months of my life has had me just in limbo — floating in space.  I feel the ground under my feet most days now.  I can look at the sunset and see beauty instead of sadness that the day has ended or relief that it has.  I haven’t quite landed on my feet solidly just yet.. but maybe soon.  Hopefully soon.

 

Newspapers on a Saturday morning

I find it such a waste of a reading opportunity that despite a daily access at work to The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, the best I can do is scan the headlines and look at the front page photo occasionally. So I’ve been trying to widen my reading, even if selectively, by pulling out sections which I tuck into my tote in the hopes of grabbing a few minutes to read in the bus or at home.

I finally pulled out what’s been in there a week now and read. No, I shied away from the headline news which is what I rely on TV and Twitter for. (And the only news Twitter Feed I am subscribed to is The New York Times.). I look at the lighter side of life like the art and the movies and what’s going on in my city.

I really should be reading more. Even with the digital access to so much reading, I am still partial to the printed paper versions. I spent a bit of time yesterday at Strand Books off of Union Square after getting a haircut. Crowded from floor to ceiling with books of every possible genre and from a wide range of publication dates, it was book heaven.
Book heaven at Strands Union Square.. I can browse here all day but had to go home.  Wall to wall and floor to ceiling.. Can't wait to go back.  Happy Friday, everyone... #happyfriday #bookheaven #strandbookstore #strandnyc #strandunionsquare #bookstore m
My favorite, though, are the shelves of books outside in the sidewalk where their bargain books are sold for anywhere from $1-5 each. If you have the patience and time to spare, you are sure to find something that will see you walking to the cashier to ring up a purchase in the store. Of course I was there not just for the reading but for crafting possibilities. I am scouting for a second book to alter and more crafting and blackout poetry possibilities.

Crafting-wise, I wanted to grab a ca. 70s dictionary for the prints and paper but I changed my mind because it was heavy. I did come upon a 1931 anthology of love poems (for blackout poetry) and a book on Britain which was not quite coffee table book size but bigger than your usual hard bound book. The pictures and the paper appealed to me and it looked like it was sewn in the spine and not just glued on like the newer books which made for a better altered book.

But the books can wait.  I wanted to read my newspapers.. and read I will.

Feedback on Feedback: Words.. and more words

Words - my own graphic for a of post on that topic using PictureBlurIt’s been a while since I have found the inspiration to write a post on my feedback on feedback I’ve gotten.  (Hence, “Feedback on Feedback”.)  For the most part, it’s because the people commenting are now real friends (Yes, finally met Lou, for one..) — or friends from another realm (like Kat of Postcrossing Philippines) and Bernie who I first bumped into as a customer of my Etsy shop but who might as well be a sister from another lifetime reincarnated into someone else..  And I’ve come to accept that 7 of the 10 or maybe 11 readers are actually “lurkers” who never say a peep.  (And that’s perfectly okay, too..)

So you can imagine how truly moving it is for me to find a comment that someone takes the time to write to let me know my words make sense to them, too, besides the three others I’ve mentioned here. =)   And if I have neglected to mention you and you are always making your presence felt with a “like” or by leaving an echo through a comment, apologies… the Pinay New Yorker is almost 48 and not quite as good remembering.

Thank you, Mike.

Mike, you see, had strayed into my space and had left a comment after reading “Broken Links and trying to get into law school“.  He wrote:

I’ve started reading your blog a few days ago and all I can say is that, with all honesty, I really love it. Even though I find it hard to keep up with the width of your vocabulary, it occurred to me that, maybe, just maybe, you are the voice inside my head. It’s the only voice which helps me cope with most of my law school dilemmas including my inability to pursue law straight after college because I thought that I wasn’t ready yet (financially and emotionally). It pains me to see my former classmates charging through the rigors of law school (because I wanted to be in their position), while I’m still here waiting for the opportunity to enter the same. That’s why after a few months of working in the government sector, I finally decided to take up law in San Beda (my Alma Mater) as a working student. However, law school requires proficiency with the English language, which I consider, my greatest weakness. So aside from reading literature and answering WordPower books, could you please share your story on how you became articulate with this language; how you fell in love with it; and how you managed to keep on improving it? I asked these questions because I was greatly impressed by your writings. I can feel that your heart was really into it. And just by reading your blogs, I can already exercise my use of proper grammar and expand my vocabulary. I wish that I’d be able to speak and write like you Atty!

To which the Pinay New Yorker says:

First of all, thanks for the idea for a dozen or so blog posts which I will now have to write because I wouldn’t be able to sit tight on any other topic until I do that.  =)  I like your calling me “the voice inside your head” which I would reply to with a curt “Be careful what you wish for.” LOL.. I’m not making light of your comment — but the truth of the matter is, when I read that, I actually told myself YOU sounded like the voice in my head.

Second, the fact that you read my blog makes me eternally grateful because now I guess I have 11 readers.  (I love making a joke of that..)  So I guess it’s you who’s been pulling the stats for the Philippines up.  It’s both heartening and depressing to see my stats every day where they are — and I wonder from time to time who in Dubai or Turkey might be reading what I write here — but I am a very shallow person when it comes to people reading my blog, so when I see some new “country” popping up, I’m thrilled pink.  Of course when the ticks for the Philippines shows more than 2, that gives me a reason to smile.  On the otherhand, it’s depressing because wouldn’t it be great to see hundreds of hits a day?  (Hint: I get waaaaaaaaay less than that.)  I’d be lying if I said I never thought about chasing that, but then when I tried to grow my audience and make the blog’s readership reach “stats heaven”, I lost a big chunk of the authenticity of the personality of my little corner here.  It just wasn’t for me, and it wasn’t what kept this blogging going all these years — I’ll say it again, I write for my personal benefit.

I went back to writing for myself and that’s just the way I like it.  But of course I cannot deny the fact that I like that I somehow make sense to other people, too, so I guess I’m not crazy after all.

Let’s start a topic at a time.  I would normally start by chastising you for belittling your grasp of the English language but that’s a whole post altogether.  And so is the need for English proficiency and your chances at surviving law school.  Today, I’ll talk about my favorite topic: me.

How did I become articulate with the English language? 

Let it be known that my parents came from very humble beginnings.  My mother only  finished elementary school and soon after worked as a housemaid to support her family and younger siblings.  My father was a high school graduate.  I am not saying that to rob them of credit for who I am and the way I am right now — but simply to state that from those simple backgrounds, they nurtured my siblings and I to be the best that we can be.  And they would have been brilliant if only life gave them a chance to further their education — I know I’m smart because of genetics and not because of a fluke.  They worked very hard to send us to the best schools, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

The first person I’d credit for my English is my Auntie Lydia who insisted on speaking with us in English at home.  She was a former nun and introduced us to fairy tales and musicals like The Sound of Music.  My mom sort of clashed with her on this because she was afraid that we would stop learning Tagalog and my grandmother who spoke only Bicolano and Tagalog would have an even harder time communicating with us.  But up to the death of my grandmother in her 80s, all she needed to do was give us those every tight hugs I still remember for almost choking me telling me how much she loved us.

Auntie Lydia called us off for using slang which was forbidden. No “gonna” or “wanna”.  (And she wasn’t a Paulinian nun, mind you!)

Secondly, the Paulinian sisters should take a huge chunk of the credit.  I remember they would penalize us for speaking in Taglish.  When I was in gradeschool, the fine was 25 cents. Of course it was just a threat.  The rule went that if you were to speak in Tagalog, start and finish the sentence in the same language.  And to this day, that rule is embedded in my head.  If I talk to you in English, I will do it in straight English.  No “tusok-tusok the fishballs.”

I started writing when I was 11.  I wrote poems, stories, letters, diaries.  And I went back to the stories I wrote and re-wrote them again.  I kept notebooks of prose which I had brought back to New York in the hopes of encoding them sometime in my lifetime and actually produce a compilation even just for my own benefit.  I still have one or two old letters I wrote to friends or to my mom and I didn’t write this way then.  I had grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.  But I never stopped writing.

I haven’t written poetry in over a decade now but I have written as much as I can on paper and here.

I like to listen to my voice resonating in the bathroom as I read the newspaper.  Maybe that’s why my resume has “Newscaster for an FM radio station” as one of previous jobs held.  I’m an “aural” person.  (I work best when hearing what I need to remember.)  Even when I memorized in law school, I had to hear myself speak the verse or provision for it to stick to my head.  Most of my study aids had to do with Baroque music playing in the background because one of the books I read said their cadence and melodic progression somehow “opened up” the brain to be more receptive to memorizing.

As I got older, I tried to seek out advice and pick up the comments and suggestions of people who had done this for years and years.  I’ve always said that anything can be learned.  But more than that, you have to want to learn and be open to absorbing new information and words and styles like a sponge.

There was Sir Cas, a 70-something veteran in Manila City Hall who was dredged from retirement by one of my first bosses to help us with a government project.  From him I learned such basics in English like how to address a memo properly.  You say “TO:” when it’s a peer or someone under you, but to a superior, you say “FOR:”.  (And I don’t care if the memo police swat my hand because Sir Cas said that.)  Add to that that you don’t sign off with “Sincerely” unless you are attesting to something.  Hence, “Truly Yours” which a lot of people find sort of “old” now.  Besides, “Sincerely” sounds better, true — but what are you being sincere about?

Then there was Triccie C, one of the most remarkable people I have met who had influenced my writing style, and who, to this day, is a proven expert in the field of communications.  Her elegant style and attention to detail has made me think of all the reminders she would chirp in whenever we were working together.

Much like what you are doing now — trying to seek advice and find bits and pieces to pick up from other people’s experiences.  They will not all work for you, but if you look and are open to it, you are bound to find something that will help you improve yourself.

I devoured Reader’s Digest, Time and Newsweek when I could.  It takes a certain patience to go through their sometimes lengthy articles, but I enjoyed them immensely and regretted not having the time to pick up one as the years passed.  These days, I regret that their issues are much thinner and less substantial than they used to be.  I still pick up an issue once in a while, and when I grab a magazine, I try to finish the article from start to finish instead of just flipping through the pages.

I actually take the time to find the meaning of strange or new words to me.  When the definition was ambiguous, I didn’t leave it at “I have an idea what it’s meaning is.”  I went to the dictionary.  (Of course these days, googling the word will give you a definition easy.)  When I was reading books, I scribbled the new words I didn’t know the meaning of at the back page and I looked up their meaning when I paused between pages or chapters.  I probably would remember 3 of 10 words I sought definitions for, but reading the definitions of the other 7 gives me a better chance of properly defining the word later if I do encounter it.  The new words whose definitions I remembered, I tried to use in an every day context.

I have had a love affair with words all my life.  From the children’s books I read over and over again to my endless ramblings here.  Proficiency in the English language, like any other, takes practice to master.  Write.  Read.  Then write again.  And read again.

I don’t see what your problem is.  Save for a correction or two, your comment as written doesn’t need to be edited.  And I’ll tell you a secret: I make those mistakes, too.  You have to be comfortable writing and speaking the language to be able to paint a canvas with your words.  You have to be confident enough that your words will come naturally without sounding too high brow — and you will be able to switch your tone and language depending on whether or not you are writing a formal letter or if you are poking fun at yourself like I often do.

That you are willing to learn and better yourself is a big leap towards the right direction.  Just keep going and keep learning.  Open yourself to keep growing and grow you will.

Monday, Monday…

I hope everyone had an uneventful weekend and that we start the week on a positive note. I’ve taken to Twitter (@GothamChick) and am slowly getting the hang of it. I’m still trying to “learn my way” through it, though. (No pressure — I have but 5 followers.). I’m in more for the people I follow which, again, is a very, very short list.

Monday and the sun hadn’t fully risen yet although it was already 7:30 when I started drafting this post on the bus. It’s not as bad as it was last week — we’re at “freezing” instead of “below freezing” temperatures. Still, it’s cold,

My Kindle is still acting up, but I’ve managed to update the inventory on the device as well as make the fonts a little larger. I am trying to get going with Grisham’s “The Associate” but my device seems to be in that “just woke up” mode we find ourselves in when we literally get out of bed. I have suddenly lost interest in A Game of Thrones , so I’m putting aside the third installment which I have been stuck with for the past year. Too dark a story for someone trying to find the sunshine in the everyday things we encounter. All that death and gore resonates of pain and heartache. It brings me memories I’d rather not dwell on. Might as well make up for all the Grisham novels I’ve missed.

Every year, I end up saying I will read more this coming year. I envy those who can finish a book in a day or who have the luxury to sit through a book overnight. I’m hoping that toting my slimmer and lighter Kindle will give me that chance.  (I love the iPad but it’s just too “precious” an item and too cumbersome because you can’t exactly just slip it in and forget about it…).

I did a lot over the weekend..  Made some progress with the Art Journal… =)  More tomorrow.  It’s been a busy day at work for me… stayed in because of the snow outside.. praying for warmer weather please.

 Still cold in NY

Sabado (Saturday) Morning

I’ve been busy with the postcards (yet again) and addressed three Sesame Street postcards to three Filipino fellow postcard collectors. This was a postcard I had gotten a couple of years back from Sesame Place, back when my now 8-year-old was starstruck by the sight of Elmo, Ernie and Bert and Super Grover. These days, it’s the postcards from Disney Hollywood Studios  showing Star Wars that gets his attention.

The Sesame Street Gang (Sesame Place Postcard)

I already have a copy of this which I had sent home addressed to my son, and remember that I had bought it to trade away.  I haven’t been trading for the last 8 years but have continued to collect postcards.  Alas, it’s time to weed out the postcards which don’t belong to my collecting interests so I offered them to Postcrossing Philippines on Facebook of which I am a part of.  All three have been picked up and are on their way.

It’s a sunny Saturday here and I guess we’re going out for errands after the usual family lunch.  I’m not too upbeat about it because I’m not feeling well.  (Something we ladies have to deal with on a monthly basis.)  This time around is particularly painful, but I’m trying to think happy thoughts to chase the pain away.    (The boy was sitting on the sofa shoulder-to-shoulder with me waiting for me to finish with the laptop so he can play an online game that he can’t do on the iPad.  I gave him a look and told him it takes me longer to write if someone’s waiting on me.  I think it worked.)

Three day weekend on our side of the world as the United States celebrates Labor Day.  We have no special plans.  Just stay home, do errands, relax and recharge.

I plan to continue organizing the postcards, work on my Art Journal and my Altered book, write a few letters (penpals and friends await!), and maybe, just maybe, read a chapter or two more of my current book which has been mothballed a couple of months now, A STORM OF SWORDS: A Song of Fire & Ice Book III.  “Kindling” (hahaha!) used to be a comfort, but nowadays, I’m not that close with my e-reader anymore.  Maybe it’s time to renew the friendship, specially since I always have the work Ipad with me.

Three day weekends are going to be scarce and precious now that school is opening this Thursday for New York.  My little guy is trying to enjoy what’s left of summer, but isn’t particularly excited.  (Or he’s just trying to hide it.)

I just want to be able to sit down and paint, do collage, and try new things.  And I’m doing one of my favorite things right now which is writing here.  =) Literally, it made me smile.

I’m thinking Steak Fajitas at Chili’s this afternoon.  =)  Yet another smile.  No guacamole for me, though.  Everything please BUT the guacamole.  I Except when served at Dos Caminos, I’m not particularly fond of avocados except as a dessert like we make it in the Philippines.

Lunch time for the mother-in-law so have to go and get a-heating in the kitchen.  Here’s to a fruitful long weekend for those of us here in the US.

Walking my little guy to school

Today was one of those rare occasions I got to walk Angelo to school because his Dad’s away on business for two days.  It’s one of those things that throw ourschedules kind of “off” because it means walking instead of being dropped off for him, and it means leaving for work a tad bit later for me.  (Note to boss has been sent.)

So we walked.  It’s approximately 7 minutes each way, and is a pleasant walk as long as the sidewalk is not icy in the winter.  We walk hand in hand when we cross, and he often tugs at my arm if I’m holding my tote and my purse.  My boy has grown indeed.

I ask him about his friends in school and have such fun teasing him with this girl he has always liked.  He talks to me about his current favorite shows like his namesake, “Angel”, whose reruns he catches during breakfast.  (Yes, my son is named after a vampire — but one who is supposed to be “the Champion”… and yes, he is MY champion. =)

Our walks are always a fun time for us as mother and son.  I like that he is very expressive and inquisitive.  He’s been reading chapter books of late, and has taken a fancy to Paula Danziger‘s Amber Brown series.  He’s already on his third book and I asked him if he was being assigned the books or if he had chosen them, and he said he had picked them because he liked the stories about Amber Brown.  It’s actually a very realistic and straightforward story about divorce and how a nine-year-old copes with the reality of her life and the changes brought on by her parents’ situation.  There is a lot of humor as an eight-year-old like Angelo will appreciate because there’s a lot of “snot”, “slime” and all the other silly things second graders laugh about as well.

He asks me to stay until they start letting the children in at 8am.  I asked if the other kids wouldn’t think that weird or make fun of him for it, but he seems to genuinely enjoy that Mom is right there on the sidelines with him.  My son has his own mind about what he thinks about what other people think.  Even as a four-year-old, he would ask to sit on my lap in front of other children and when I tell him the other kids might tease him, he nonchallantly tells me, “I don’t care.”

They grow up so fast.  I try to savor him growing up and then realize he is not as little as I had gotten used to thinking of him.  He is growing up with a mind of his own.  At eight, I had many hopes and dreams already.  I had my “problems” in my little world.  School was fun but was sometimes a challenge.  Friendships were beginning to get complicated, although I remember how I would play early morning patintero with some of the girls in a social hall.  By the time the bell rang, we would all be sweaty and dishevelled and would sometimes get a good scolding from our teachers for being so boyish.  =)

Mine has a thing for his red CARS jacket which he should really leave in the house now that the temperatures are milder.  But he says he likes it, and he’s not giving it up — not yet.  He is still a very picky eater, but when he likes something, he eats it day after day after day.  I love it most when he laughs hard — and his whole body shakes as the laughter consumes him. 

I like it when he holds my hand as we walk.  It fits perfectly in mine and there is the reassuring grip from his tiny hand.  One day I will look up when I talk to him instead of looking down as I do now.. even then, he will always be my baby.

A Shared Passion for Reading

One of the things I regretted leaving behind (and having to give away in the process) when I moved to New York in 2000 was my then rather modest library of books I had collected through the years.  I leftthe paperbacks back in San Juan but I selected friends to whom I gave away the hardcover books and CDs I had decided were too cumbersome to bring with me as I moved across the oceans.

I have always loved to read.  My dear Auntie Lydia had turned me on to reading fairy tales and nursery rhymes as soon as I could do my ABCs.  I still remember how she introduced me to Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales by gifting me with a children’s version when I turned 7.  (And that book remains to be one of my most precious possessions, finally making it back to New York with me in 2010.)

She also introduced me to Reader’s Digest when I was in first grade.  Then I discovered Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys sometime in grade school.  I managed to read around 75% of the books on the list and to this day I regret not having completed all the Nancy Drew mysteries.  My encyclopedia set at home came with an accompanying set of children’s books which I loved to peruse and read.  In that series I was introduced not only to our beloved children’s fairy tales but fables and Greek mythology as well.

In high school, I read more purposefully and while reading homework took a lot of my time, I continued to try and read a wide range of books, spurned on primarily by our guidance counsellor’s advise to read and read when I asked about how I can increase my IQ.  (That’s another blogpost altogether.)  But who can forget Antoine de Saint- Exupery’s The Little Prince which I love to this day.

In college, I decided I would start my own collection.  I discovered my now favorite authors Richard Bach (more popularly known for “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” but whose “Illusions”  touched me more profoundly); friends from the service organization I joined in college, Opin and Carol (a.k.a. Beauty)  introduced me to Frederick Forsyth via the The Day of the Jackal and Robert Ludlum via The Bourne Identity.   My bestfriend from high school, Gina, introduced me to  Leo Buscaglia whose “Living Loving and Learning” remains to be one of my favorite gifts to friends.

In this day and age of e-readers, I continue to share my love of reading, giving one of two kindles I received two Christmases ago to my sister, Ofie.  And just recently, I shared the wonders of Kindle for PC with a dear friend who now has the books in my e-library to peruse and pore through.  It’s such joy to find someone who loves the written word as much as I do — sifting through the stories and plots and immersing one’s self in another’s point of view.

I feel like a “Book Santa” who has opened new doors for a friend to continue reading again.  As someone who loves reading and chalking up “books read” on my list, I know what getting to the end of the story feels like — and how it signals you can go to the next book on your list.

Enjoy the books, and when you read them, I hope you feel me right there beside you reading them, too.  I look forward to the conversations on the common books we read — and will read together — in the coming days.

Catching up on the reading: My Bookshelf, My Kindle

I have actually vowed NOT to buy any books until I can jumpstart my reading again, and while I have been cradling my Apple iPad and my Kindle  and keeping them handy in my tote, I haven’t really done much reading in the last couple of months.  Not good, I know.

Right now I have around 5 hard bound books waiting to be read, and I’ve gotten nowhere with Betty White’s “If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won’t)(Note to self: Hoping to finish THIS weekend!) and I’ve practically given up on Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods: A Novel(One more try?).  What I’m raring to start reading (which is going against what I just said I had vowed) is George R. R. Martin’s third installment of  “A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3) which I just downloaded.

So maybe — just maybe — I’ll finish American Gods.. and get on with reading Agassi’s “Open (which was actually Ofie, my sister’s pick), and get on with catching up with the Grisham books I have yet to read.  (Soooo way behind with that one, too!)  I know I want to read more than I actually manage to.  I can certainly do better.  With theKindle just a touch away, I really have no excuse.  And there are the other books I downloaded which I hope to eventually get to.. if I can get a 48-hour day.  LOL

My books have always been a source of solace and pride for me.  Solace because they have provided me with a place where I can enrich myself without actually going anywhere and spending for more than what the book would’ve cost.  Pride because I count them as a personal accomplishment when I think about the books I HAVE managed to read.  It makes me feel as though I am actually doing something proactive to keep my brain cells alive and kicking. =) Let’s see how many books I will manage to finish reading this 2012. 12? That’s a modest and reasonable goal. Let’s hope I meet it.