Wednesday, December 31, 2008

can't breathe? nut a problem.

i went to bangkok and huahin this christmas with my entire family. interestingly, the first time we spent the holidays in thailand was also the same time the evil tsunami decided to hit the country and other parts of asia. this year, we almost canceled the trip because of the thai protests.

hmm. maybe we're not good for thailand.

perish the thought. we heart thailand. i mean, if it weren't for that trip, would i have another gem of a mother anecdote (like this or this)?

one night during that vacation, my parents, mia and i shared a cab to go home from iforgetwhere. for some reason, my sister started hyperventilating. drawing upon my residual first-aid knowledge from med school, i told her to breathe into a small bag.

my mother, the paragon of parenthood, dove into her handbag and brought out a small plastic bag, which i thought she would empty and offer to my stressed sister. instead:

"mia, you can't breathe? eto o, kain kang kasuy.*"

i joined mia in hyperventilating. from laughter.

really, mother? actually, i don't know if that was any better than the emergency coffee suggestion offered on a long and cold march night atop a tall, tall mountain.

again, i ask, "how did my sisters and i survive our childhood?" we must be built of stone. or nuts.

here's hoping the next year is funnier (and healthier!) than this one.

(yes! 15 blog entries for 2008!)

*here, eat some cashew nuts.

Monday, December 08, 2008

laundry lessons

when i stayed with my younger sister mia in illinois for over a month, i was often left to my own devices. she left the house every day at about 7:45 am, usually in a mad dash to make it to work by 8 am or thereabouts. during the first phase of my vacation, when i was still jetlagged from the trip from manila, i would've been awake by that time of the morning, watching her zoom across her small apartment like an angry zombie on a murderous mission. at about that time, i would've been done with the dishes from the previous night, would've finished answering emails, would've gone through most of the recorded shows (hi dvr of leetol sistah. i mishu.). when i had gotten over the jetlag (which was ummm ... after 2 weeks? haha), the routine didn't really change much: i woke up to an empty apartment, smiled at the thought of having no work deadlines, and picked up the dustbuster. during my stay in arlington heights, i was a semihomemaker filled with disney-cinderella-like joy at doing household chores.

during a day i designated as laundry day, i gathered all our whites and got a few quarters from mia's little pile of coins. i loved doing laundry in the states. it was so easy and so soul-fulfilling (is fabric softener addicting?) that i didn't mind doing it often. i wanted to dive into the pile of clean warm clothes straight from the dryer every time.

that particular morning, i unloaded the clothes basket into the washer, poured a capful of soap over the dirty clothes, and proceeded to place four quarters in the slots. i always imagined i was in front of a slot machine and wished silently that instead of clean clothes, money would spill out of the washer. of course, that dream never came to pass. that morning, however, i faced a different kind of situation altogether. i couldn't push the coins all the way in.

thinking it was just me, i tried to push it about a hundred more times (because, you know, THAT always works). thinking it was the machine, i halfheartedly banged its side (only halfheartedly because i didn't want the american neighbors to think i was a rabid laundrywoman, which i was at some point i'm sure) and tried to push the coins again to no avail. thinking it was fate playing with me, i closed my eyes and threw myself on the machine, praying that it would deem my coins acceptable. of course that really made all the difference and the coins miraculously entered the slots all by themselves.

or not.

i scribbled a quick "machine is not working – our clothes are in here" note and taped it to the front of the machine. i called my sister at work to report the dysfunctional unit and she pestered her landlord about it. allegedly, we were the only ones to complain about the machine. huh.

(i probably should've warned my millions of readers that this was going to be a long-drawn-out story.)

(to my millions of readers: this is a long-drawn-out story.)


after being in denial for a few days (and many days of being bothered that our clothes were outside the apartment), i slowly and solemnly took our clothes out of the machine, dirty piece by dirty piece. when i got all our clothes out, i spotted a lone black sock left in the cylinder. A BLACK SOCK. a stranger's black sock that could have ruined the whole wash if the *!%@ machine worked. a black sock i did not see when i was putting in our WHITE clothes. a black sock that might have inadvertently added an inordinate amount of greyness to our wardrobe. the horror.

lesson number 1: "things happen for a reason" (or "sometimes life events save us from our own stupidity, but don't quote me because most of the time, we deserve to pay for our mistakes")

after many angry phonecalls later, i tried the machine again. in a brilliant flash of genius/desperation, i tried another set of quarters.

lo and behold, they went in. the machine was working after all. apparently, there was a bad quarter in my original set of four, which made the machine reject the whole set. imagine: one bad quarter led to a number of sleepless nights (mine), a very pissed sister (mine), a fed-up landlord's husband (he was involved somehow) and a load of really fragrant clothes (the soap didn't get rinsed off until after a week).

lesson number 2: "one can make a difference" (or "some stories are meant to just stay in one's memory because when you try to put them into words, they just sound preachy and boring and not a single one of your millions of readers really want to hear about household chores so just stick to stories about juancho and martina")

lesson number 2.1: "two readers is not equivalent to 'millions' so get over yourself"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

just another normal conversation with marteens

[scene: naptime for juancho and martina. juancho was already in bed, trying to sleep. martina and i were debating the value of naps, particularly hers.]

the still-jetlagged aunt: (trying to be observational) marteens, look! juancho is asleep. he's a good boy, right?

marteens, the smartest 2-year-old: no, juancho a boy!

tsja: yes, but he's a GOOD boy.

mts2yo: no, a boy.

tsja: are you a good girl?

mts2yo: no, i'm a boy.

tsja: ok, all the boys should nap now. are you a boy?

mts2yo: no.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

afraid of commitment

i like food. wait for it ... i REALLY like food, particularly dessert. i eat when i'm happy just as much as when i'm premenstrual or sad or stressed or bored or procrastinating work or ... and now i'm just amusing myself.

embarrassingly enough, food is one of the main reasons why i decided on a month-long hiatus in chicago. i look forward to traveling mostly because i want to try out new foods (reeeally don't like the word 'foods'), not so much because of shopping or sightseeing.

(disclaimer: i DIDN'T say i don't shop or ... see things.)

when i first explored my sister's apartment, which would serve as my temporary residence during my american hibernation, i was horrified to discover that her place HAD NO JUNKFOOD.

'how will i survive?' i thought, after first being afraid and petrified (didn't get the reference? tsk tsk tsk. ms gaynor will be quite disappointed). so i proceeded to fill her (mia's, not gloria's) home with soda and candy and chocolate and chips and other little reasons why i cannot be a good role model for healthy eating habits.

a few weeks ago, during a trip to naperville, illinois, i had what i would like to call – for lack of more creative, original, restaurant-critic-type words – a cup of sugar dairy heaven.

the venue, cookie dough creations; the combination of choice, cherry chocolate chip ice cream with a huge glob of chocolate chip cookie dough on top. see pic above. you are allowed to drool.


that was me, fainting at the gustatory memory.

i tell you with all sincerity and emotion, i fell in love after the first bite. i think mia wanted to leave me in naperville because i couldn't stop raving about the ice cream WHILE i was eating it. i suppose one can take only so much of 'this is too good. aylavet!!! aylavet!!!' i couldn't believe how i survived 35 years without knowing the joy of cherrychocochipwithchocochipcookiedough. i heart choco chips. in fact, i heart choco chips on top of choco chips ... inside dough and ice cream, respectively ... you know, the aforementioned recipient of intense love.

i'm obviously not a food writer.

anyway, i was on my way to get a marriage license to show my genuine commitment to cookie dough creations, when i got a bit distracted. one thing led to another and before i knew it, i found myself in milwaukee, 1.5 hours away from my current vacation home, holding a double-scoop cone of leon's chocolate frozen custard and falling in love all over again.


(refer to previous *blag*)

now i know why people stray. around every block is a better, sweeter treat. just yesterday at sister's birthday brunch, i had the simplest but most unforgettable beignet, which is like a glorified funnel cake (main difference being that you don't really need to research the spelling of 'funnel cake'). i'm still reminiscing every powdery bite.

i'm not saying these are the best desserts EVER. i'm an equal-opportunity sweet-tooth. in fact, i'm looking forward to a free buffet dinner when i get back home in a few days. spiral at sofitel has the best hotel chocolate chip cookies.

wise men say only fools rush in.

(lame blog jokes = time to go home.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008


two sundays ago, mia and i visited the brookfield zoo "located outside of chicago" (i lifted that from the website and is surprisingly not a reflection of my laziness at researching details). it was a cloudy day but it wasn't bad enough for us to develop a case of frozen joints. it wasn't that cloudy though that i couldn't see there were more food stalls than animals in that giant expanse of land.

without realizing it, we must've clocked in over 4 hours of nonstop walking. you don't feel how tired you are until you sit down briefly on a wooden bench and think it's as comfy as the magic couch back home that lulls you to sleep within the first 15 minutes of sinking into it and makes you wonder why you ever have to leave the house.

back to the potentially enriching story at hand.

there's nothing like an afternoon of communing with nature to make you realize a few things about your own nature and ... you know ... life and stuff:

1. some good ideas are actually not.

we made sure we were early for the 2 pm dolphin show. my sister and i are suckers for dolphin shows. i must've seen about 3 or 4 already and they've never failed to deliver. there's something about smug-looking fish casually jumping out of and skimming across water that makes my inner child happy.

so we got there with some good seats still available. we made our way to what i call the splash zone (or maybe that's what it was really called, i can't remember), which were a few rows close enough to water such that ... okay, if you haven't figured out what 'splash zone' meant by now, you really shouldn't be reading nonsensical blogs.

anyway, yey! splash zone! (got it yet?)

the show started and sure enough, we got splashed by the dolphins. however, i did NOT expect that the splashes would be that huge. we realized too late that walking outdoors on a cold day with wet jeans and wet jackets may not be the smartest thing to do. also, two words: dolphin pee.

2. there is a reason why swamps are outdoors.

there were a number of exhibits at the zoo when we visited. some were housed in a separate enclosed structure that were designed to make you feel like you were actually in the featured ecosystem. (ps, it was nice to dig up a word from my elementary years) (fyi, it was 'ecosystem', not 'featured') (fyi, i like clarifying for my readers).

so let me say this: swamps and rain forests should not be confined inside a building. the moment we opened the door of the swamp exhibit, we were greeted by a cold wind that smelled of damp frog and other swampy scents. notsolittle sister pinched her nose while we semi-ran through the entire display of green water, amphibians, reptiles, insects and wet foliage. incidentally, this reminded me of how older sister and i semi-ran (more like dashed madly) through the hollywood wax museum in 1991. as to why we even bother entering creepy/stinky/swampy exhibits is a mystery. i mean, screaming in horror at the creepy wax interpretation of the last supper or waiting for a snapping turtle to snap hardly qualifies as living on the edge.


one of the special exhibits at the zoo for the month of september was an area where you could get your hands wet and fondle cownose rays, southern stingrays and white-spotted bamboo sharks.


mah sister and i were game (or so we thought). we kneeled beside the shallow tank and ... did nothing. with our hands poised as though we were going to dip them, we just stared at the rays and sharks swimming within arm's reach.

a confession: i never liked stingrays. i don't like animals that look like inanimate objects. to me, rays look like terrifying evil kites that came to life one cursed day. i honestly have nightmares about a whole slew of sea creatures. what possessed me to think i could actually TOUCH them???

after about 20 minutes of just being near the water, the fish whizzing by and lots of brave, excited toddlers who were practically IN the tank, mia came up with a bright suggestion:

mia: we can do this. think of it as touching fish. we're just going to touch fish!

me: ok! good! touching fish! (2 seconds pass) but wait ... i don't like touching fish.

mia: oh. right.

me: why do we have to do this?

mia: hmm.

and so we left the evil kites and the white-spotted bamboo sharks in search of animals that looked like animals.

i realize this anecdote makes us look like a couple of chickens but the zoo needed a poultry exhibit anyway.

4. a baby giraffe makes the heart grow fonder.

i told them to fall in line according to height
this was my favorite part of zoo day – seeing the baby giraffe. and this is my favorite part of writing this entry (aside from pressing 'publish') – discovering that a baby giraffe is a 'giraffe calf' and saying it softly to myself over and over. giraffe calf. giraffe calf. aww.

hmm, i had a point.

oh yes. the ... 6-foot baby animal. when we visited, the baby was just over a month old and, for most of the time we were in the vicinity, was just standing there. just standing and looking at us looking at him. his look said, 'veeeeeeeeeery funny. who was the wise guy who thought it'd be hilarious to put a newborn on stilts?'

so it just stood there, being cute. and we just stood there as well, trying hard not to break down in tears at the cuteness of it all. we failed.

seriously. a baby giraffe. a giraffe calf! life doesn't get much better than seeing one up close.

(anticlimactic portion of blog entry: of course life DID get a teeny bit better after the tiring zoo trip. one word: sushi.)

Friday, October 03, 2008

why, wind, why?

it's been 3 years since my last visit to the united states. it was about the same time of year, when the leaves were beginning to change color and the house facades were sprinkled with fake witches and scoopy goats.

i remember many things about that last trip. i remember that Coke (capitalized for clarity) tasted better, i remember having to consider sales tax when shopping, i remember having to speak with an accent so people didn't have to ask me to repeat myself three times, i remember loving outlets and marshalls and nordstrom rack (sue me), i remember the nonexistence of small food and drink portions.

i do not, however, remember being cold.

i mean, yeah, i recall having to layer clothes and i know it was a lot colder than home ... but i don't really REMEMBER how cold it was. much like how you forget the pain of childbirth (so they say) or the sting of a steroid injection for a nose pimple.

and now i am again familiar with the cold. and how.

every time i step out, i get slapped by the invisible vengeful ice creature from ice hell and i often hear myself shout, "what is THAT??? why???" it replies by giving me another frigid slap. wind is a miserable son of a ... wind-mother.

i guess it's nice to have thin fingers aesthetics-wise but when i walk outdoors, i always wish for an extra layer of fat around them, just so i don't feel like my hands are about to fall off. the other night, i had to carry an iced drink (again, why?) from the store to the car and, as my fingernails started to turn a fashionable shade of blue, i had to ponder my IQ. i didn't get very far pondering because my neurons were in the final stages of cryopreservation.

to think it's only fall. every day i have to hear my sister say, "that's nothing. wait til winter."

thankfully, i will be back home by then, halfway around the world from this windy nightmare. take that, you miserable invisible vengeful ice creature from ice hell.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

anatomy of an older sister

i used to write for an online magazine, LegManila ("a decidedly literary site that remarked on the good and the bad in the city"). due to some business decision, LegManila was shut down about 5 years ago (not sure about this, i tried to block it from my memory) and my humor pieces disappeared into oblivion.


i've resurrected some of my essays here and there*, and today is a good time to bring one out. below is a slightly edited version of one of my favorite essays. i wrote this 8 years ago but it still makes me giggle. (if you can entertain yourself, you're set for life.)

my older sister is married and mom to two extremely pinch-worthy kids, who have starred more than once in my blog. she doesn't make life a living hell for me anymore and, on the contrary, has turned out to be one of my best friends – not to mention best shopping mate, eating mate, spa mate and salon mate. oh and she now lets me eat the full range of colors of m&ms. just fyi.

happy birthday, ate.


Anatomy of an Older Sister

by Orange de Guzman
November 2000

Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian. – Dennis Wholey

There used to be tan M&Ms.

Do not dare challenge the truth of this statement. There are only a handful of things that I am sure of in this world. The existence of tan M&Ms is way up there on my list, ranked somewhere below the reality of God and a little above the certainty of a hearty laugh while watching an 80s drama flick on the Pinoy Blockbuster channel.

Before I digress, allow me to introduce my villain, the true atribida of my existence. Her name is Ate. (Names in this essay have been changed, albeit quite uncreatively, to protect the unwilling victims of my diatribe. Regardless of my valiant efforts to conceal their identities, I will, most definitely, still be strangled upon publication.)

Being 4 years younger than Ate, I had no choice but to be the submissive sister. Blame it on blind obedience, but I simply never learned to disagree with her. After all, Sesame Street did not ever teach rebellion or vengeance. Sadly, the lowercase ‘n’ standing on a hill (who’s not lonely anymore, mind you) did nothing to affirm my dignity.

Ate loved to manipulate my pliable mind. While watching Discorama, Ate convinced me that Bobby Ledesma, as well as the rest of the cast, was part of a set of triplets. What other explanation could there be for three identical faces appearing on screen? That favorite camera trick was probably the height of technology in the 70s. It also marked the start of my gullible years.

I believed with all my heart that it was very magnanimous of Ate to take charge of dividing M&Ms between us. (I also believed that I would never have to use the word ‘magnanimous,’ so you can pretty much imagine how adulthood has corrupted me.) Every pack was carefully opened and the contents laid out on a table of questionable cleanliness. Somehow, I always ended up with the dark brown and tan M&Ms. While Ate had all the bright colors melting in her hand (yes, they DO melt in your hand), I had to settle for my blah-colored candies.

One time, I mustered up all the courage my feeble spirit could generate and asked her why I had to eat the brown ones. Her answer?

‘But those taste better! The brown ones taste more chocolate-y!’

How could I have doubted my idol? Even after I stole and tasted a bright yellow M&M from her pile, I convinced myself that my pieces DID taste better than hers. She was right all along.

For one with semiformed values, I was forgiving to a fault. I easily overlooked the times when I woke up with large scribbles all over my legs. I learned never to fight with impeccable reasoning (‘But Mama, it’s so nice to write on skin!’). Somehow, I always ended up playing with Bad-Hair-Day Barbie, whose short blond locks adamantly refused to be tamed, while Ate reveled at the way her doll’s shiny hair moved gracefully in the breeze. Thus was the story of my childhood: too Brand X for words.

One glaring proof of how badly she treated me still remains to this day. Back then, she called me Engot – the closest English translation of which would be ‘stupid’ or some other terms I cannot mention right now, on account of my refined nature. I’m still trying to fathom what possessed her to give me such an endearing nickname. Unfortunately for me, the name stayed around for 25 years. My family and dearest friends now call me Eng, a blatant reminder of my singular childhood with Ate. I’m just monumentally grateful that I didn’t get stuck with the less-appealing shortcut Ngot, which sounds downright foul, if you ask me.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t grow up writing dark, angst-y poems about the harsh blows life has dealt me in the form of an evil sister. I don’t even remember hating her. Not even when I realized that the layered look, which she instructed the gay stylist to give me, would not be in style until a good 10 years later. Did I mind that I looked like a hairy lizard in my elementary yearbook picture? Not one bit. Forgive me for the visual torture.

As a matter of fact, we’ve become good friends. A 4-year gap becomes negligible as siblings grow up. A priceless bonus I’ve gotten from all those years of harassment is that I’ve become tougher and less sensitive to teasing. I don’t remember ever being called pikon. I suppose it’s because no one comes close to Ate’s creativity in dishing out pure agony. Either that or I’m just all cried out.

Besides, we’re on the same team now. I’ve become an Ate myself. My younger sister, who arrived 8 years after my birth, thinks I’m the funniest person alive. And why shouldn’t she? I treat her infinitely better than how my Ate treated me. Need proof? Ask my little sister. I call her Gross.

Revenge is sweet. (About as sweet as tan M&Ms – but then again, you’ll just have to take my word for it.)

*someday, i'm going to resurrect ALL of my old humor essays ... and then some. watch out for that. oooooooooooooo.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

a bigger blog (title)

not that anyone cares, but i've slightly changed my blog. i've had to update my blog's look to incorporate some new features, but i can't really change my main template (whose official name, by the way, is "dots dark") because my first-ever blog entry was about it.


on the upside, my blog name is now a bit bigger. whoopdeedoo.

on the downside, i can now clearly see how i've been so lazy the past two years. i wrote 79 ... note: SEVENTY-NINE ... blog entries in 2004, when i started blogging in june and i was still a full-time employee.

in 2007, when i was already working as a freelance writer, i wrote only ... well just LOOK. the number is on the left side of the screen. it's beside "2007". it's in parentheses. it looks like an "8".

upgrading can be a bitch. a bitch that will slap me silly into writing more often.

i'm from pasig. look it up.

two weeks ago, i was on a plane on my way to chicago for a month-long vacation, trying to contort my body into a shape that could possibly induce sleep, when i heard my seatmate – who was majorly awake – ask, "where are you from?"

hearing the all-too-often-asked question brought me back to 3 months ago, when the same question came from the lips of a middle-aged white man and was directed to me and a girlfriend. we were hanging out in front of our beach hotel, enjoying the sun and a fantastic view of the water, when the guy came up to us for small talk. because i was usually the noisier one, my friend expected me to answer for us. the problem was i didn't.

the main reason was i was trying to figure out if he was the father of a friend we met the day before. thinking about it now, that probably didn't make sense because if he were that guy i suspected he was, he wouldn't have asked the question in the first place. i also had to pause a bit because of a mild case of foreigner anxiety. i'm 35 years old and i suspect every nonfilipino who tries to talk to me wants to kidnap me. i refuse to justify my illogical thoughts.

however, the most embarrassing reason why my vocal functions didn't work at that time is the simplest one:

i do not like saying where i'm from.

it's not because i don't love my country and don't want to declare it. it's just ... ok, say i answer "the philippines", i always get the follow-up, "where in the philippines?" and i have to say "manila" with a heavy heart. everyone knows where manila is, sure, but am i really from manila? i have to restrain myself from overexplaining, "i'm not really from manila MANILA. i'm from pasig. which is in luzon. an island. where manila is. but it's not near manila. at least not by car. and not during weekdays." it's enough to make me want to live in manila, just to avoid the apprehension.

i should probably just say "pasig" and educate the world. but "manila" rolls off the tongue so much easier. and i like having weird dilemmas every now and then.

aaaaand there you have it. two minutes of your life down the drain thanks to reading my useless mental script. how to drive people to boredom/insanity 101.

anyway, after a painfully long 15 seconds of dead air, my friend realized i wasn't planning on speaking and answered, "manila." (yey.)

"oh i know where that is," he replied and scrambled off towards the water, where he would undoubtedly find more amiable creatures. my friend said we should've just said "siquijor" to challenge his knowledge of philippine geography. except i didn't really know where siquijor was either.

back to my long-drawn-out airplane story.

if i were back in med school, sleeping in cramped spaces at odd hours wouldn't have been a problem at all. when i was an intern, all i had to do was lean on a semi-clean wall and i would've dozed off instantly for a precious 30 seconds. ok, that was a lie. i would've slept even if the wall was filthy.

however, med school years are way WAAAAAAAAY behind me (this deserves another 'yey' ... so, um ... yey.) and it's not as easy to doze off. even with an empty seat beside me, it was really hard to pass out. i lost count of the number of times i tossed and turned in my teeny airplane seat, constantly waking up to be greeted by the number of hours we had to go before landing.

(incidentally, those airplane monitors that show time until destination, speed of plane, outside temperature, time at destination, time at place of origin, number of calories in airplane meal, future of my career, meaning of life, etc, ARE HEAVEN-SENT. the fact that i love those is probably connected to habits of wasting massive amounts of time watching candles burn until the wick runs out, checking the clock every other minute and being hypnotized by progress bars.)

without warning, a 30-something korean guy took the empty seat beside me and energetically tried to start a conversation in the dark with sleepy me. why. explain.

"hi there!"

of course he had to spray me with saliva every other word.

"hi." i turned my back on him to strike a stereotypical napping pose – yknow, for him to get the hint that i was trying to sleep. and to protect my facial orifices from his oral fluids.

"where are you from?" (see first paragraph of this blog entry to establish coherence of said entry)

i faced him and after a lightning-fast inner debate, answered "manila." i closed my eyes again and covered more of my body with the airplane blanket. i was not very fond of the instant in-flight saliva shower.

"oh i had a filipino maid for 5 years! she was good!"

i smiled faintly, trying to convey a multitude of thoughts with one tight-lipped expression: acknowledgment of the outstanding qualities of filipinos – maids or otherwise; a silent apology for not having the strength to continue a decent conversation; and a sincere plea to LEAVE ME THE HECK ALONE ... at least until a) i've had at least 30 minutes of deep sleep or b) i've found an giant umbrella.

proving that miracles are alive and well in the 21st century, the man moved back to his original seat. and i, having given up on sleep completely and having watched all the interesting movies and short films in stock, stared at the monitor again. after all, 6 hours and 37 minutes of staring is nothing, what with a plane going at 540 mph at 39,500 feet above sea level.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

thanks, world.

i was in my pre-teen years and she was a 20-something-year-old stranger. although i did not know her, her eyes peered into mine with such eagerness and sincerity, i wanted to believe her every word.

"you are such a pretty girl," she told me.

i smiled a bit – but not because i was trying to be gracious or humble. it was just that ... well. ok. of course i should've just been grateful for the rare compliment, except i couldn't disregard few factors in that scenario:

1. she was a patient in a mental institution.
2. see #1.
3. still can't let go of #1.

i know that i am completely objective when i say i am nothing special to look at. i'm no supermodel, and my face could hardly launch a dozen paper boats. as a child, i'd gotten used to going to parties with my older sister, who everyone greeted with "you're so pretty". all i ever got at those events were a pat and a measly "you've grown up so quickly" or some unappealing variant.

in gradeschool, we were asked to write down our favorite feature, and for lack of an actual favorite feature, i thoughtlessly wrote down "eyes". upon seeing my answer, a classmate looked at me and my supposed favorite feature, and asked almost politely, "really? eyes? what's so great about them?" then ran off to laugh with another classmate about my choice.

thanks, world.

i'll stop the miserable narrative at this point and just say this: i had my share of sucky moments in childhood. it wasn't an awful time, but a few non-schoolwork-related compliments wouldn't have hurt. really.

so then i grew up and realized that beauty comes from within and all that crap (important note to young readers: beauty comes from within). i mean i don't think a few nasty comments can still alter my self-esteem. however, once in a while, i get comments that make me want to dig a hole for the unfortunate shell that is my body. thankfully, these ego jabs are few and far between, and there are countless other things that make me grateful for my life and "favorite feature"-less body.

one of the most recent events that has put a crazy smile on my face is being at the receiving end of a well-planned surprise party for my 35th birthday.

it was everything one could ask for in a birthday party: a manually-operated mirror ball with a tall, shameless but sexy man dancing under it (note to sexy man: you owe me for the generous use of adjectives); the soundtrack of mamma mia playing in the background; table settings fit for a 5-star wedding reception; huge posters of me in full embarrassing glory; pictures of me and rafa nadal (sadly, not together) scattered all over the venue; homemade mexican food prepared by a non-mexican brother-in-law; a customized 'jeopardy' game that was so difficult i couldn't even answer questions about me ... etc, etc.

to say i felt appreciated is like saying oprah has a bit of money. when i got home that night, i shed a few happy tears thinking about all the people who thought i was worth the effort.

thanks, friends. you'll have to top it next year. (tips: better acting and maybe chocolate ice cream?)

and speaking of bodily fluids and feeling loved (wait for it ...), a few days ago, martina (my 2-year-old niece currently being potty trained), entered the bathroom while i was peeing rather peacefully. she ran to my side and, after hearing me tinkle, clapped for me, gave me a huge smile and said, "goojob!!!"

if a tiny, slightly inarticulate, extremely adorable child impressed with my toilet skills doesn't make me feel ultra-special, i don't know what will.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

martina and what seems to be some kind of a vocabulary

now that martina has started to understand the concept of telephones, it has become increasingly harder to actually talk to the person you want to talk to in that household.

me: hello?

marteens: hi! hi!

me: marteens! where's mom?

marteens: hi!!! mom?

me: yes, mom! please call your mom!

marteens: bye!!! *hangs up*

in spite of these slight inconveniences, talking to her on the phone is an absolute joy. for one thing, it's refreshing to get real answers to simple questions. for instance, when i ask "what are you doing?" i get answers like:

- "coughing! ... cough cough"
- "jumping! ... ung ... ung ..." ("ung" being an approximation of the cute grunt she makes while jumping)
- "working!" (i have no idea about her line of work, so don't ask)

i also particularly enjoy children at marteens' age (2 years old) because only about 50% of her spoken language bears any resemblance to actual human words. and even when her words sound vaguely recognizable, you just never know if she actually means what she says.

i shouldn't really be surprised. juancho (martina's older brother) gave me an equally hard time when he was a toddler.

just the other day, martina and i were watching the backyardigans (is there anything cuter than a backyardigan?), and the episode was about haunted houses. every now and then, i'd hear her exclaim, "goats! goats!" ... then it dawned on me that there were no actual four-legged bearded mammals on that particular show. she was talking about GHOSTS.

me: marteens, can you say GHOSTS?

marteens: GOATS!

me: g..g..ohhsssttt ...sss

marteens: goats! scoopy goats!

thanks to my medical education, i figured out that she wanted to say "spooky ghosts" but fell a bit short. after a few more attempts at correcting her, "scoopy" started to sound correct and i gave up.

i guess with maturity comes the art of letting go. martina thinks giraffes are called "wions" and identifies the color green as "wed". i honestly don't know if i want to do anything about it. maybe next year. as of now, i'm more concerned that i'm starting to think "scoopy" sounds better than the real word.

ooooooo. scoopy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

life lesson #3311974: change is inevitable

today i woke up disturbed. mostly because of a bad dream where i tried to throw forks at strangers on a train (fyi, i don't do this in the real world ... at least to my knowledge) (and also, no one was hurt ... boooo) and partly because i had a feeling i've blogged about 'dancing queen' already.

it's true. i did. creepily enough, i wrote about it almost exactly 2 years ago.

the song that i once cursed and belittled now makes me all smiley and disgustingly giddy.




i promise – this is my last blog entry about 'mamma mia!' the movie.

to my two regular readers, forgive me. don't leave me. please.

(i'm not needy. i'm not.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

my my, how can i resist you?

the last time i willingly paid to watch a movie three times was for 'a walk to remember' – definitely not a favorite, curriculum vitae-worthy achievement but one that 'i'll always remembaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh'. ehem. sorry. cough cough. sorry mandy.

today, i watched 'mamma mia!' for the third time with my parents and older sister (who, by the way, watched it with me the first time). surprisingly enough, i enjoyed it as much as i enjoyed the first two viewings. unsurprisingly, i cried at the exact same times during all three.

but seriously – could there be a happier movie? i doubt it. i should know. i saw the 'care bears' movie (the gross little sister forced us to) and it didn't make me feel half as good as this one did.

i'll say it again: all three times were such good experiences for me that i was willing to forgive the nasal vocal prowess of the beautifully aging pierce brosnan. of course the 'beautifully aging' factor had a lot to do with forgiveness.

yet another non-surprise, the mamma of mia (real name of gross little sister) had to end the night with another one of her classic showstoppers:

"ang galing ni meryl streep! parang sya talaga ang kumakanta!!!"

("meryl streep was great! it was like she was actually the one singing!!!")


to this, one can only say ...






(i apologize to my friends and family who i have bombarded with endless singing on chat and in real life. when we find something that makes us happy, we have to hang on to it and milk it for all it's worth ... until all people who, at some point, loved or respected you start to disappear without explanation and would rather feign their own murder than be seen with you. *tears*)



(ok i'll stop. now. see if i blog again. ever.)

Monday, July 07, 2008

martina's ark

my older sister has ever so subtly hinted ("complained" would be a better word) that i have not blogged about her youngest child, the little (and i do mean LITTLE) martina. i guess it's my fault. i blogged too much about juancho, martina's older brother, so now i have to even up the score. not that i mind. kids are hilarious. particularly when they're not yours.

juancho is now 6 and martina, 2. if you ask her how old she is, she'll respond by putting up all five fingers on one hand and say "toh!" then she'll order her mom to fold 3 of her teeny fingers so only 2 are exposed. not sure if this is laziness or ingenuity. we'll find out in a few years.

(if you ask her again, she might say "four!" and still have five fingers up. she's a girl. she can be any age she wants to be.)

TOH-year-old Martina

aaaaaaaaaaaaanyway ...

it was just almost a minute after my sister commented on the dearth of martina-related entries. we were all in bed – sister, me and martina – trying to put the tiny one to sleep. i decided to start one of my customized stories for her. i supplied the plot and she filled in the blanks. before i get criticism for my plot selection, bear in mind that marteens is just TOH.

me: once upon a time, there was a cat. and the cat said ... ?

martina: MEOW!

me: the cat said MEOW! and then it saw a bird!

martina: PLYING!!! (her hand shot up in the air and simulated what seemed more like an angry hang glider than a bird in a bedtime story)

me: yes! flying! and they saw a dog. the dog said ... ?

martina: FROOF! FROOF!

(don't ask me why the dog couldn't say "woof!" maybe it had a speech impediment. maybe it had peanut butter stuck to his palate. this unconventional bark, however, signaled the inevitable downward spiral of our homemade tale.)

me: mmm ok. the dog said FROOF! FROOF! and then it saw a pig. the pig said ... ?

martina: (while smiling) MOOOOOO.

(at this point, i was seriously doubting the mothering skills of my sister. what has she been teaching her daughter??? but martina seemed really happy and content about a mooing pig, so i continued. being the storytelling genius that i am, i tried to set it back on the right path.)

me: o ... k ... the pig said MOOOOOO. and they saw a cow! (see? genius.) the cow said ... ?

martina: OH MAN! (and slapped the side of her head with her mini palm)

me: WHAT DID THE COW SAY??? (i had to see it again)

martina: OH MAN!!! (true enough, she slapped her head again)

apparently, the cow in our story wasn't all too happy because either (1) it saw a mooing pig or (2) it was ... a cow. i mean if you woke up as a cow, you'd probably slap your head too. watch out for that hoof.

i valiantly continued our interesting but substance-free tale.

me: so the cow said OH MAN! and then it saw ... a snake. the snake said ... ?

martina then just gave me a tight-lipped, almost scary smile accompanied by a tiny nod.


me: what did the snake say???

and she gave me that evil-smile-and-nod combi again.

in fairness, snakes never really say very much. neither did i after that story. i was too busy laughing my froof off.


this has to be said: aside from the direct order from mah sistah, another reason why i was inspired to blog again is because just a few hours ago, rafa nadal (aka my lover) won his first wimbledon in an epic 4-hour and 48-minute match against roger federer. if rafa can conquer a grass court, then i can also triumph over my blogging laziness. see the similarity? neither do i. but it's a good excuse to mention rafa.

hi rafa. call me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the danger of baby dragons

i guess you could say i like miseducating children. there's something about the whole 'tabula rasa' concept that makes me want to mess with kids' beliefs. much like the impulse to mess up a perfectly organized office table (that was my lame attempt at justifying the state of my room). this is also why my friends rarely allow their children to spend time with me. unfortunately, my nephew and niece are not spared of my little hobby.

one of my favorite stories involves the then 3- or 4-year-old nephew of a good friend. he was wearing long, loose shorts when i saw him.

me: why are you wearing a skirt?
the poor unsuspecting victim (tpuv): this is not a skirt!!!
me: that's a skirt.
tpuv: (clearly getting upset) THIS IS NOT A SKIIIIIIIIIRT!!!
me: (with all the calmness of the adult i often pretend to be) that's a skirt.
tpuv: (at the top of his poor baby lungs) THIS!!! IS!!! NOT!!! A!!! SKIRT!!!
me: (enjoying now) that's a skirt.
tpuv: (running away) MAMA!!! WHY AM I WEARING A SKIRT???

later that night, i taught tpuv that fire hydrants were dogs' toilets, a tutorial that compelled his aunt (who, surprisingly, is still my friend to this day) to call and scream at me the next day for putting the wrong info in her nephew's malleable brain. in other instances, i have taught a group of 7-year-olds at a children's party that they should water the souvenir cookies shaped like flowers so they would grow. closer to home, i've had to tell my own nephew that we had a baby dragon in the backyard.

this particular one wasn't my fault entirely. we were upstairs one time, quietly watching tv, when the screech of a cat in heat pierced the air. wide-eyed juancho had to ask, "what is THAT???" so instead of explaining cat sex to the child (not that i could explain it any other time), i told him that it was a baby dragon.


of course after that he begged me to show him the mystical animal, so i had to tell him the dragon usually hid from people ... and naughty boys (i'm his godmother. i am slightly in charge of his moral life. sue me.).

i admit this is not very healthy ... mostly because i forget to take back the things i say. just the other day, i heard juancho saying that he saw my 'pets' playing with each other on the floor. only then did i remember that i told him some time ago all the ants that lived upstairs were my pets and he shouldn't kill them. he's going to have a rich imagination (and a genuine love for insects and dragons) thanks to moi.

i'm still waiting for the baby dragon topic to resurface. if all goes well, i'll remember to correct it before he enters high school.