One day soon

Life has been pretty hectic of late. Or maybe it just feels that way because we let ourselves indulge in the imagined bliss of summer when the days are longer, and we get this feeling of things moving just a bit slower. Now that that’s over, the pace seems to have picked up again.

I find myself looking forward to weekends not for any plans of partying or of doing something exciting– but rather because weekends mean being able to sleep in. That simple a luxury I crave!

Sleep. I miss you so much during the week, so much so that you are the highlight of my weekends. But Saturdays and Sundays are supposed to be so much more. So I find myself browsing shows to watch, places to visit. Exhibitions to see. Or simply chilling in a corner enjoying a leisurely lunch. Alone. One day soon.

For the longest time, I felt like I had lost out on many options because I don’t drive. Oh, I do know how to. My dad had sent me to driving school when I turned 18 and I was ripe to apply for a driver’s license — and it was during those driving lessons when I realized that driving was not my thing. I would need my own highway because I scare too easily and would swerve automatically in the opposite direction if another driver cut me. I didn’t want to endanger others, so I politely said no to driving and the car that went with it.

Here in New York, more so in the city, everything is accessible via public transportation. I have dared to go to places and parts of the city I have never been to before, armed with just the instructions of which buses or trains to take. But when it comes to places that need driving, i have found that Uber or Lyft is not always a choice.

But I refuse to let go of the idea that I can still go to places I would otherwise have been driven to, on my own.

Traveling alone is suddenly appealing for the adventure it offers a golden girl like me. I don’t really go on vacation trips except the annual trip to Manila and a side trip to another place or country along the way. My son usually travels with his dad, and he’s not too keen about traveling with Mom without a car. That doesn’t mean I can’t do it on my own.

Planning a tripI’m already planning a day trip in the coming weeks. There are places I’ve been to that I want to visit again, and new places where I want to explore and try new things. Traveling alone appeals to me because I need not worry about where to eat where my boy’s picky palette will find something agreeable. I wouldn’t be constantly thinking of things to do that would make a destination exciting and thrilling for a teenager like I usually do when he and I are out on the town. I can focus on what I want to do.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy going out with my son. It’s just that “him and I” takes a bit more planning than just “me”. I do relish the conversations and the laughter and how he would put my arm around his waist as he puts his arm on my shoulder. As he is almost a full head taller than me now, I fit rather snugly under his arms with room to rest my head on his shoulder if needed. He has grown. I used to hold his hand and lead him around. Now he takes me and leads the way. We are quite the pair.

But then there are times when it’s just me. A consequence of the uncoupling that happened not too long ago. And just as I carved out an identity for myself as I shook myself free of that matrimonial bond, it has become clear to me that there is more to me than the mother I am to this boy.

I pause and let that sink in. He is 15 and soon will be 25 and then 30. I cannot wait until after he has chosen the life he will live for me to learn to live mine. One day, I will see him less and less. He will have his own family. And while I will always be here for him, and without a doubt, he will be there for me– I need to carve out my world beginning now that I can choose how I want it to be.

I don’t want to be that old lady who makes do with what she has. I want to be that woman who chose to build her world into what she wanted it to be. And I want to go and see places. I want to make new memories, even if they bring me back to where I had been before.

No matter how near or far you’ve come. there’s a sense of exhilaration when you’ve reached your destination. I crave that excitement of knowing I have arrived and can do what I came here to do. Shopping in the mall, or exploring a town or revisiting an old favorite place.

That thought brings a smile to my face.

I know where I want to go. There’s a place I’ve been longing to return to even if I’ve been there three times before. I am curious to see how revisiting these places I went to would feel now that I’m a different person and I see the world with a different lens. I’ve been researching how to get there and plotting my day. What do I with the few hours I get to roam.. what do I bring? Where do I go?

I am not quite there where I can explore on my own and stay the night or the weekends just yet. A day trip seems adventurous enough for starters. I will get there. I hope to one day do a cross country journey by train .. or maybe hop from state to state by bus. Not quite there yet– but I’m going to get there.

For now, I will do that day trip and maybe take you with me on my one day adventure. Soon.

#10daywritingchallenge Day 2

This post is Day 2 of the #10DayWritingChallenge. Below are related links to this blogging list.

10 Day Writing Challenge

Out of Focus

Sewing Decisions

Fridays be like

Slow Saturday

Getting back up on your feet again

Autumn Monday

Taking it easy

When you fail again

Self love

 

Jetlagged

So I spent the last first two weeks of September traipsing around down under, and stopping in Manila on the way to and from.  Manila is 12 hours ahead, and Sydney, 14.  While I managed to spend the night in Manila, breaking the already long trip back to New York into a longer two-segment 30-something-hour sojourn, recovering from jet lag continues to be a challenge.

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Kiama Blowhole, Australia

I have been used to the long haul flights to the other side of the world, having done approximately 10 trips home back to Manila in the 16 years I’ve been away.  I’ve even managed to get the seat choice down pat, opting for the two-seater rows at the back of the airplane. Perfect for when the boy and I are traveling together, or even when it’s just me as was the case this time.  I know to use one of those neck pillows which I had resisted for the longest time, to pack the right set of toiletries in what case and where, and not to fight sleep when I start getting hit by the urge to catch some shut eye.

My first night back was not a problem except that despite the lack of sleep, I didn’t go to bed until 2am.  I woke up at around 6am, put my suitcases away, then slept again by 7am.  I was awakened at noon when my little guy walked into my room to hug me, and that was that for sleep.  I went about my day as if it was another ordinary weekend where I slept in, and plopped down to bed a few minutes after midnight.  Sleep found me and I was knocked out until 6am.  Perfect start of the week!

I wasn’t quite as lucky last night, waking up twice — and eventually deciding to stop fighting it by getting out of bed by 4am.  Yes, I’ve been up since.  And surprisingly, I’m going about my day as regularly as I do, except that I have a slight (and very slight, at that) buzz in my head.

I really shouldn’t be surprised anymore.  This happens to me each time.  And while I struggle with jetlag when I am at my destination, it is worse when I get back to my home turf and try to get back into the swing of things.

I have finally embraced the fact that fighting it won’t do me any good.  Caffeinating goes both ways — helping to keep me up when I need to be up, but also keeping me up when I need to sleep.  So I try not to overdo it.  There is the temptation to go overboard with the coffee, but I have discovered that being on my feet — even just taking a short walk around the floor or the building — helps to bring my energy levels up when I sense a yawn coming.

When my brain refuses to rest and keeps me up, I now choose to take advantage of the extra energy and do something productive.  This morning, I went through one headpin tray and sorted the beads out and the headpins that had wandered into other bins.  (I know this is Greek to most people.. imagine sorting multi-colored and vari-sized paper clips.)

During those moments when keeping my eyes open is too much of a struggle, a short powernap can rejuvenate me, whether it’s 5 or 10 or 20 minutes.  Even if I am unable to sleep, for as long as I am able to close my eyes and sit quietly in a room, my body seems to get the message that it has rested and allows me to keep going after.

We humans are creatures of habit.  Breaking our usual patterns of sleep and activity wreaks havoc on our system, but we can certainly guide our bodies to settle back down to what it had been used to.  It’s like a cold, you just have to ride it out and do what works best for you.

My summer thus far

Weeks of silence.

I have  been here and not here.  I just came back from two and a half weeks in Manila which was both long and short at the same time.  If I don’t seem to make sense as you read this post, blame it on the jetlag.

I landed just before midnight on Tuesday and was safely home after 1am the following day.  The trip is long but I’ve been doing this almost yearly the last 15 years.  It isn’t so much the butt ache that the long haul flight is, but more the pre and post heart ache of returning and leaving the land of my birth that makes a bigger impact on me each time.  This is going to be a yearly summer sojourn as the boy prefers to spend his summers with the cousins — foregoing the more festive and shorter trip home over the holidays.  This is already his second summer spent there.  We haven’t even gotten over the Jetlag yet and he is already asking to spend more time in Manila next year.  
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Business commitments and projects hanging over his head  made it difficult for the dad to schedule their departure.  He brings the boy down and the deal was for me to bring him back.  Last year, the boy spent seven weeks in Manila, departing right before the Fourth of July holiday just as school ended.  Two weeks with his father and then a two week lull spent with my family and cousins on the other side.  I arrived and spent three weeks with him and my family before we flew home together to New York just in time for the school opening.  This year, we decided to bring him back two weeks before school opens so that he can adjust back more easily.  Four days since we arrived and he and I are still heavily jet lagged and working as if we were still on Manila time.  I’m doing okay– he’s going to be fine.  

My summer has been about two trips across the globe to join and celebrate bestie Donna’s 50th with her family in Fiji and this one in Manila.  I can’t complain.  I usually would be happy with local trips and just one long splurge back home, but the golden year celebration paved the way for the two trips to warmer climes.  It’s not something I’m looking to do every year– but I am happy I gave it the effort to make it happen.  Besides the obvious personal treat to have more sun and fun with people who mean a lot to me, taking these trips are part of a transition to a new world that is taking shape right now.

Trips on the local side are also transforming into something different from the usual family vacations we used to take.  I am hoping to take more solo trips in the future, although my first day visit to Boston is still in the works.  (I am hoping to pull this off by the fall to visit my friend, Doctor Lisa).  One trip at a time.  My ability to travel is changing but not being curtailed, but it is a big adjustment I’m trying to make slowly.

Many years ago at a random hair appointment at a fancy salon in the city, the stylist who did my hair then planted an idea in my head about taking trips on my own.  That isn’t exactly something I had ever considered since moving to NYC in 2000 to start a family, and even when she mentioned it, it wasn’t exactly something that I thought I would ever think of doing.  But that was then.  My world is changing in ways that now make that thought actually appealing and maybe a necessity. and Fiji was the first such trip I took.  

This summer is a summer of firsts in that respect.  To actually be able to think about a vacation without my little guy is a bit of a stretch..and I did it!  I guess knowing bestie Donna was going to be there with her family really helped a lot. 
Fiji

Even during the trip home, I didn’t go about it as I normally did in previous years.  I didn’t plan for anything specific except that weekends would be saved for the family.  Secondly, I wanted to make a deliberate effort to see people I had many trips ago meant to see but never did for one reason or another. Instead of scheduling meet ups weeks ahead by announcing my arrival, I chose to stay quiet the first four days to maximize time at home, then I sent out the messages.  Some fot responses, and those that were met by silence, I simply dismissed as a result of people just being too busy.  Other friends I waited to say hello, and others I simply just didn’t have the time or resources to meet.  I kept things simple and scheduled from day to day.  I have never really been one to expect a grand asalto, and even coffee or a drink would suffice.  I was deeply touched that my godson and his wife even flew in from Cebu where they are now based to see me.  And friends from way back indulged my simple requests to have my favorite treats.

One thing I had to do this trip was to plan my expenses properly due to budget constraints.  Where I would normally pick up the tab, I had to opt out of for practical reasons.  I even decided to forego my usual craft haul shopping — something that wasn’t really difficult to do, given how I still have a ton of supplies here in New York.  I did look around for local handmade fabric for my sewing projects, but the rains were not much help in getting around.  

All in all, it has been a productive summer for me.  I can even say at this point that I can safely put a dot to the sentence of summer 2016 without feeling like it just passed by uneventfully.  I am still not quite where I had hoped to be in terms of the year-long goals I had, but I have certain obstacles in my way I have no control of.  I’m not sweating it.  I think I did pretty well even, compared to Summers past.  

I’m sort of in between phases in my life which seems to be quite a long winded refrain I keep coming back to— but that’s the truth.  So I have been doing new things and shedding practices of the past, trying to move forward each day.  This summer might yet be unique if only for that– as I hope that I will have crossed fully to the next phase by the time the seasons bring me to this time next year. 

In the meantime, summer is not yet totally over.  Let’s see what happens the next few weeks as we head into fall.
 

My Travel Essentials

I have lived in New York City for 15 years now, and I believe I’ve taken as many long haul trips– mostly to home (the Philippines). I have around 4 other international trips involving other destinations, and the others were a smattering of trips I’m too lazy to try and count right now. But through the years, I’ve refined and narrowed down the things to bring and do while spending long hours between destinations, and have defined a routine as well as my “must pack essentials” for my carry on.

I’ve seen similar lists and don’t mean to knock anyone’s down, but I’ve found some suggestions helpful and hope that mine would be helpful for someone as well.  Remember that these are just suggestions and not commercial endorsements.  I actually use and buy the products mentioned.

Here are the things I always travel with, more so for the long haul flights home. It’s a pretty basic list which I have gathered simply out of habit and not necessity.  As long as I leave the house armed with the following in my carry on luggage, I’ll survive the trip, come what may.
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1. My go-to medication plus a bandaid or two. I don’t travel with a full first aid kit.. not even a mini one.  Allergy meds and my pain reliever of choice are a lifesaver, more so since I usually end up with very little, if not no sleep at all, the night before a trip home. (Which means a major headache during the trip.)  Not all international airports like Seoul Incheon International will have a pharmacy in site– and that is such a relief when you forget your painkiller of choice.  I have also had at least one bad experience of being trapped inside an airplane with an allergen (lady next to me was sniffing and sneezing, too) and the handy allergy meds in my purse helped alleviate the discomfort. Allergy meds are also essential if you are traveling with a younger child who reacts to food occasionally like my 11-year-old. That is the reason I always have one tablet in my wallet and we always have the same in the car. (The Pinay New Yorker takes Claritin and Aleve.)

2. My face cleaning and moisturizing regimen in travel size portions in one ziploc bag or vanity case. I don’t travel fully made up but I hate leaving my face with any layer of make up overnight, even if my evening is virtual as its spent on the plane. I usually take everything off before I hit la-la land and then reapply an hour before landing.  This will allow your skin to breathe and rest. Travel is not an excuse to torture it with extended wear! If I come on board with just powder and no foundation, I would usually put on a layer of moisturizer before I sleep to refresh my skin. No, I don’t do facial sprays. My routine has always been to cleanse and then moisturize. Whether your moisturizer is Oil of Olay, baby oil or a more complicated concoction, I find that it helps me to sleep better and arrive well rested at my destination. (The Pinay New Yorker uses a medley of products from The Body Shop.)

3. Travel size your toiletries. No. 2 would require you to grab those travel set containers. Most dollar stores, pharmacies and superstores carry them, and you can even customize your kits from specialty stores like Muji and Beabi.  I got this nice set from one of the pharmacies here which has proved to be very versatile because of the choices that the varied sized containers give you.  Try not to keep buying travel size toiletries every time you travel. If you do, buy the brands and products you use so you can refill them from your regular sized supplies at home when they run out. I find though that most travel size items are still a tad too much for overnights or trip size portions. They can be bulky and difficult to fit in your purse even if they comply with the 3 ounce requirement.

Do make sure to fill them up or refill them a day or so before your trip because they can be time-consuming and messy if done in a rush. Fill them to the lid, and wrap the containers containing thinner liquids like your toner in plastic wrap if you have experienced spillage caused by cabin pressure before.

4. Always carry wipes and tissues and a pocket sized sanitizer to clean up messes or when you just have to sanitize. Accidents do happen on board, during or after meals. While the cabin crew will assist, you would want to be ready.

5. Accessories to keep you comfy and warm. Don’t shoot me but I don’t travel with a neck pillow. For some reason, I haven’t been able to find one I’m comfy with so I dispense with lugging one on board. During flights, “comfy” to me means keeping warm. So instead, I make sure I travel with a scarf big enough to cover my head and face with for sleeping (yes, I’m one of those who sometimes ends up sleeping with my mouth open when I sleep seated.). In addition, I bring a larger handkerchief like my precious tubao to tie around my neck. Even in the winter months, I sleep with a kerchief because I just get cold that way very quickly otherwise.

Because I choose to travel with comfy shoes and I don’t need socks during the summer, I bring a pair of leg warmers just to keep my legs what else– warm. A pair of socks is a good alternative, but that only takes care of my feet and not my legs. (I’m old, there!)

When I can, I travel in a sweater or jacket with a hoodie, but that is out of the question when I travel during the summer like today. I would bring a season-appropriate jacket which I may or may not wear to the airport. I have also found that bringing an extra layering shirt in my tote has been wise given how they keep the plane cabins cold. (Read; freezing.). Bring something light enough not to crowd your purse — just in case you choose not to use it. Sometimes a simple second shirt can actually make the difference even when you’re wearing a jacket or sweater.

6. Snacks of your choice. I have been traumatized by my initial trip to New York 15 years ago when the plane ran out of breakfast as the last meal between my connecting from Tokyo to Michigan before hitting New York. Be it s powerbar, a small bag of nuts or a candy bar, bring some.  Don’t bring a whole basketful as if you were going on a picnic, though, and be mindful of flight restrictions on the kind of food allowed past the security check.  I am also mindful of not bringing anything pungent or offensive smelling, so as not to be  nuisance to others around me.

7. A book, magazine in hard copy or on an electronic device — and something to write on and with if you write a lot like I do. This trip, I have brought a scratch notebook of sorts to scribble anything and everything on.  In addition, I packed a blank notebook to scribble on.  I always make sure I have at least 2 pens, but make sure all my pens are together in either a Ziploc bag or a pencilcase.  Some pens tend to bleed when the cabin is pressurized so be careful when you set the pen down on your writing medium of choice.

Travel is something that I have found enjoyable for the simple fact that it takes me — literally — from one place to the next.  And moving from the familiar to something different every once in a while is always worth the trouble it may entail.  Here’s to my next trip, wherever that may be.