Tuesday, November 30, 2010

stark contrast 101

because i am running out of shallow things to do, i've taken it upon myself to post a Christmas wish on facebook every day. so far, i've listed:

  1. A photoshoppable life.
  2. The demeanor of a Top Chef Master, the creativity of an Iron Chef, the grace of a So You Think You Can Dance frontrunner, the looks of America's Next Top Model, the humor of Conan and Ellen, and the generosity of Oprah (and maybe a cure for my addiction to cable TV).
  3. Roddick's serve, Djokovic's forehand, Federer's backhand, and Rafa's hand ... in mine.
  4. 3D glasses that fit Asian noses better so I don't have to watch entire movies holding up plastic glasses and feeling like a poorly disguised guest at a masquerade ball.
  5. A memory that holds on to every smile, lets go of every tear and retains every single password.
  6. The absence of war, the end of injustice, the death of violence and the cancellation of TV shows with scantily clad gyrating girls and disrespectful or overpaid hosts.
tomorrow, i'm going to wish something for or about juancho and martina, two good reasons why i look forward to weekends.

aside from being the usual child-saturated weekend, this last visit was a good reflection of how juancho and martina are two distinct individuals. let's just say that if you wanted to know how rain forms, you would ask juancho, and if you wanted someone to dance in the rain with you, you would ask martina (who, depending on her mood, would either willingly dance wildly with you or look at you with disdain and say 'yuck.')

we all ended up on my bed because i was torn between wanting to nap some more and wanting to play with them. i said they had to nap too and, naturally, martina wanted a bedtime story. this time, however, i was given a break and they decided they would tell their own stories (that was a lie. there was a long and heated debate between the two: martina wanted me to tell a story and juancho wanted to tell his own. in the interest of world peace and my poor eardrums, i ruled that they would tell one bedtime story each.)

juancho's story was well constructed and surprisingly pretty funny, as far as made-up bedtime stories go (mine aren't as coherent, but i blame martina for supplying the plots). it was about a fat ant that grew too big and couldn't enter his home so the other ants had to dig him a bigger hole. i forget why, but a bigger creature wanted to enter too so they had to make an even bigger hole. and it went on and on.

martina would have none of juancho's long-winded story and kept trying to end his tale (which i was genuinely enjoying, fyi) by interrupting with 'and they lived happily ever after. theeee end! my turn, my turn!'

so juancho's story was quite disjointed at times, because it sounded like this:

juanch: so they pushed and pushed but the fat ant was stuck ...
martina: and they lived happily ever after. theeee end! my turn, my turn!

unfortunately for martina, juancho was quite determined to end his story (hooray for me). then it was finally martina's turn.

martina started hers with 'once upon a time, there was a girl ... and the girl's name was ... (and i swear she really paused for effect):

alvin and the chipmunks!'

it was a fantastic and hurried story with a tower, a smidgen of conflict and maybe half a moral lesson, which i have yet to decipher. and of course, her little story ended with 'and they lived happily ever after. theeee end.'

naptime was cancelled.

Monday, November 22, 2010

an encounter that doesn't count

and speaking of embarrassing experiences that i want to share for inexplicable reasons ...

i have a long list of random celebrity crushes, some more embarrassing than others. at any given opportunity, my sisters will always remind me that i had a thing for raymond lauchengco and once considered his cassette tape (cassette tape!!!) a prized possession. if you were ever a fan, you know which tape i'm talking about. i was in love with vic sotto (not a very big surprise) for a really long time, from elementary up to about 3 minutes ago, when i decided to write this blog and thought it was about time to end my imaginary affair with him. my first foreign crush was emilio estevez because he was in breakfast club and i liked the sound of his name. i liked john taylor of duran duran, i liked richard grieco of 21 jump street, i liked the menudo boy who wasn't the lead and wasn't ricky martin, i liked robert hays of the starman tv series, and zzzzz ...

*waking up from self-indulgence–induced nap*

somewhere on that list of random celebrity crushes is ronan keating of ... just a sec ... (and i cannot believe i had to search the net for the name of his boyband) boyzone. i'm not sure what i liked about any of my celebrity crushes and ronan was no exception. at that time, i thought he had a cute face (what, you expected me to admire his curriculum vitae?), and it was all over music videos and tv ads, especially when he visited manila to promote his solo album.

around the time of ronan's manila visit, i had a really late dinner with three girlfriends. as you've probably guessed by now (and if you haven't, you probably have better things to do than read a silly blog), ronan was in the restaurant. we found out because one of my girlfriends saw him walking behind me and her eyes popped out and landed on the nachos (just kidding, they were cheese fries).

'ronan is here! he's going to the men's room! run after him!!!'

ok, first of all: WHY? second of all: WHY THE HELL? was i going to propose marriage or offer cheese fries (or maybe some toilet paper)? being the shy, introverted person that i was, i refused to move from my spot just to stalk a celebrity. one of my friends, let's call her friendly friend, couldn't care less about ronan keating but she was excited for me and lovingly shoved me out of our booth. she used to be a professional celebrity stalker and thought nothing of hiding in the bushes to jump on unsuspecting basketball players (just kidding, she hid behind cars).

because of all the hesitation and prodding, ronan had finished his business already by the time we got to the men's room. so there we were, friendly friend and i, mortified and plastered to the walls of the very narrow passageway leading to the toilets. needless to say, ronan saw us there and my friend was able to muster a friendly 'hi' (she's not a pro for nothing). after he maneuvered his way around us, i casually informed my friend that i needed my life to end that very second. she didn't believe me and we walked weakly (me) and happily (my friend) back to our table.

we stayed at the resto until about 2 am and left because the service crew was starting to switch the lights on and off and throw bar stools in our general direction. as we exited, i saw that there was a van parked directly in front of the restaurant steps. it was ronan's ride. and ronan was still there, signing autographs for another group of girls. friendly friend was again beside herself with excitement and pushed me toward the singer (there was a lot of pushing that night). meanwhile, my brain had switched off again and all i could do was stare blankly.

'paper! give me paper!' my friend asked, with urgency.

i threw my folder of scratch paper at her.

'ballpen! do you have a ballpen!'

i looked at her with zero comprehension, because at that moment, i really had no idea what she was saying. what is a ballpen? who is talking to me? why am i here? look, blond guy near big moving thing with wheels!

to make a boring story short(er), friendly friend found a cheap blue pen in my bag and went over to ronan like the expert that she was. my friends then admired the blue scribble on my dirty paper and skipped away, leaving me standing by the door, still looking at the skinny pale guy who was trying to get into his ride and escape the strangely inanimate fan staring at him.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

i feel like an overgrown, overfed barbie

i plopped face-down on my bed this afternoon and said out loud, to no one in particular, 'i'm tired.'

martina, who was right behind me, said, 'i can give you a massage!'

i had no energy to run away so she promptly found a comfy seat on my butt cheeks and proceeded to ram her tiny fists into my back. it was not unpleasant and i was starting to fall asleep.

thankfully, this was not the brush
she used today
suddenly, martina grabbed my arms, pulled them closer to her, and started to wave my hair brush over them. when i asked what she was doing, she said, 'i'm putting butter on you with my butter brush.' i was not warned that our massage session would turn into a little barbeque and i was the corn for roasting.

[note: i stayed put because i was still pinned down to the bed and i was silently laughing into a pillow.]

it got confusing after that because martina reverted to being a health and beauty guru. 'i'm going to shampoo your eyes now!' so 'shampoo' my eyes, she did. thankfully, i had enough presence of mind to shut my eyes before she laid her sticky fingers on my lids.

and then, as though this was a logical progression of events, martina announced ... 'i'm going to make a cake on your head!' but instead of a mixing motion, she 'kneaded' my hair with a tremendous amount of energy for a tiny 4-year-old.

as a final touch, she began to spread some imaginary icing over my whole body, carefully using the same hair brush (the 'butter brush' from a few seconds back) as a spatula. she 'iced' my legs carefully and, after careful consideration, shouted (more than once),

'your legs are too big!!!'

[note: thanks, marteens.]

despite the gargantuan logs she had to deal with, she continued her self-imposed job of turning me into a very relaxed, clean, buttered and fully iced cake (or corn?). after she was satisfied, she jumped off my behind and ran off, possibly to inflict her imagination on some other unsuspecting living plaything.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

whiny martina's wish

martina was unusually irritated today because of sleepiness disguised as boredom.

marteens (in a whiny-but-still-cute* voice): i have nothing to dooooo. i don't know what to dooooo.

me: maybe you can jump on the trampoline.

marteens: noooooooo.

me: maybe you can paint.

marteens: noooooooo.

me: ok. in a nice and clear voice, tell me what you really want.

marteens: i want two sisters.


(yahoo smileys: how did i survive without them?)

*biased much?

if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to mock it ...

a few weeks ago, i tweeted a random thought:

is an embarrassing moment only embarrassing when you're around people?

no one replied to my tweet so i am re-posting it here (and expounding on it unnecessarily) where even more people can ignore me.

i suppose everyone has had a truly embarrassing moment at least once in their life. my earliest embarrassing moment happened at a kinder presentation although i'm pretty sure i had an accident earlier that school year in the playground, which involved a certain unsanitary act in a wooden playhouse. fortunately for my ego, there were no witnesses (or so i think – i'm still waiting for the hidden camera footage). i was bullied enough in kindergarten and an incident such as the aforementioned would have certainly driven me to quit school and turned me to a life of drugs and hate crimes.

it's a bit hard to recall truly shameful moments that are good enough for storytelling. i think after a while our brain automatically files away these experiences and encrypts them so that we can, at the very least, get out of bed in the morning without fear of being laughed at.

no one saw one of my most embarrassing moments. or at least i think no one did.

i was in my freshman year of college and was starting to make new friends among my classmates. a few of us watched a movie after class and everything was pleasant up to the time we all had to go home. it had started to rain while we were in the theater and by the time we got out, it was pouring and there was already some flooding in the streets. i didn't know how to drive yet and needed to commute back home. one of my classmates offered to walk with me because we were going the same way. i had no choice but to walk in ankle-deep flood water while trying to carry an engaging conversation with her. i think it was one of our first conversations and i didn't want her to think i was a flood snob.

anyway, as we parted ways in the rain, i waved cheerily (bye!!! bye!!!) with possibly inappropriate affect, given the dreary weather and the fact that i was going to see her the next day anyway. while walking away, i remember thinking, 'i really like this day even if it's raining now and i have to ride a jeep with wet seats', when suddenly and without warning, i found myself waist-deep in flood water. it took me a few seconds to realize that

my whole left leg had fallen into an open manhole.

try as i might, i don't remember how i managed to get back whatever little poise i had, let alone get back on level ground. i know i was holding a flimsy umbrella and i must've had a school bag or something else. i'm sure it wasn't an easy or dignified feat. it was one of those moments that i have effectively (but only partially) blocked out. however, i remember looking around after falling to check if any classmate had seen me. no one did. i don't think the passersby cared either – everyone was too busy getting out of the rain and couldn't be bothered by what must've looked like a vertically challenged girl laughing silently at herself.

i wonder if it's on youtube.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

the troath will set you free

i'm a sucker for free stuff. i love free food tasting at the supermarket (s&r and the rare visit to US-based costco come to mind), free meals at parties, free haircuts, free giveaways with purchases, and free wifi, to name a few. in the past two years or so, i've discovered a new favorite free thing: free trial classes.

i've attended a free pole-dancing class, where i discovered the value of thigh cellulite in hanging on to cold metal bars to save yourself from crashing to the ground. needless to say, i did not go back to pay for further humiliation. i've attended a free barre3 class, where i realized that it's important to wear the right exercise top if you don't want to distract yourself with your own cleavage. i've also attended a few free yoga classes, where i learned repeatedly that i really don't like yoga.

to be fair, i liked some of the classes but i might be too distract-able to really get into it. instead of transcending to a more peaceful state, i hear my thoughts more loudly. sadly, i cannot turn off the running commentary in my head. i think about how my mat is gross and slippery from my own sweat, or how i can hear someone's phone vibrating on the wood table near us (you know who you are!), or how 'yogi' reminds me too much of the bear, or how i like (or despise) the outfit of the woman in front of me, or what to eat after class.

but mostly, i'm just trying hard not to laugh.

if i were serious about pursuing yoga, the first thing i would do is stop going to these classes with friends who like to laugh as much as i do. and it's not just that they like laughing, it's that they laugh at the smallest things, which ordinary adults would ignore or forgive.

during one of my first free yoga classes, i went with TWO such friends who were also yoga newbies. we made a deal to distance ourselves from each other and not ever make eye contact, for fear of disrupting the class with our outbursts. even with those self-imposed rules, that particular class was more challenging than we had thought for reasons other than yoga.

for one thing, instead of being calm and patient, our teacher was rather dismissive and assumed that everyone knew something about yoga (despite knowing there were beginners in the group). it was easy to ignore her attitude though. it was also easy to ignore my stomach rumbling. it was also quite easy to ignore the peripheral vision of my two friends in awkward positions. so i thought it would be a breeze to control any laughter, until the yoga teacher said,

'breathe using ujjayi, breathe with a partially closed TROATH.'

oh no oh no oh no please don't let her say it again, i thought. i was so successful at being serious and namaste-ish. but nooo. she said it about 10 more times after the first. ignoring a mispronounced word is nothing, but hearing it over and over again in such a solemn environment while not really knowing what the heck she was talking about is another thing. where is my troath, teacher, and how do i partially close it? each time i heard 'troath', i felt bubbles of laughter slowly rising from my gut up to my ... well, troath. i was also certain my friends were going through the same thing.

much to my relief, i was able to hold it in until after the class, where i finally reunited with my friends, who were in physical and mental anguish because of the whole deal with the less-than-friendly teacher issue and the trying-to-suppress-laughter-because-of-'troath' thing. one of them angrily ate more than her share of free bananas in the dressing room as 'revenge' for the extra-long session. and when someone finally broke the deathly silence by giggling, i went to a little corner and laughed loudly for a very, very long time.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

sparkly, sparkly night

juancho and martina stayed with my family for 2 days while their tatay was being monitored at the hospital for dengue complications. if i had known i would be an instant mother of two last weekend, i would've eaten more carbs the week before. not that i don't have enough carbs in my system. it just would've been a good excuse.

juancho, 8, and martina, 4
one of the things i like about sleepovers with my niece (and nephew, when he was martina's age) is having to develop original and customized bedtime stories. it has to be said that juancho and martina are two very different creatures. my stories for juancho always turned out epic, with many twists and turns, mostly because he provided me with opportunities for creative plots and rich scenarios. my stories for martina, on the other hand, just turn out to be rather ... strange.

on sunday night, the stage was set for the next classic tale by yours truly. martina and juancho were clean and in their pajamas, and we were all tucked under our blankets. the story was more for martina because juancho is old enough to read (that's an understatement. i think he's gone through so many library cards already, they're running out of stock, haha). i knew he still wanted to listen though, so i planned on making it entertaining enough for the 8-year-old.

earlier that day, we saw a commercial for zhu zhu pets (they're hamsters, that's the extent of my knowledge on zhu zhus) on the disney channel so i used that to kick off my story. if we used my work, my story would've started with an invasive fungal infection, and no child wants to hear about candidiasis. i think.


me, storyteller extraordinaire: once upon a time, there was a hamster. and the hamster's name was?

martina: zhu zhu sparkly!!!

(naturally, zhu zhu sparkly. she couldn't have been named 'martina' or 'kim' or something simple like that.)

me: ok, the hamster's name was zhu zhu sparkly and she was colored?

martina: purple!!!

(because the story needed to get complicated at the outset.)

me, wanting to insert as many moral lessons as possible: zhu zhu sparkly the hamster was sad because she was the only purple hamster in the world. all her friends were brown. she cried to her mother, 'why am i purple? all my friends are laughing at me!' zhu zhu sparkly's mommy (try saying that 10x) said, 'it's ok to be different. you're different because you're special. when your friends laugh at you for being purple, just tell them it's ok to be purple.' (moral lesson #1) so zhu zhu sparkly had a friend, and her friend's name was?

martina: SPARKLY NEEVER!!!

(at this point, juancho and i burst out laughing but i tried to contain myself as soon as i saw martina's face all scrunched up and about to cry. it took very strong resolve and good neck and jaw muscles to keep a straight face that night, i tell you. i dare you to say 'zhu zhu sparkly and sparkly neever' without even the slightest twinkle in your eye. i'm still not over the name, by the way. sparkly neever. SPARKLY NEEVER!!!)

me: zhu zhu sparkly and sparkly neever (i paused for a few seconds to rein in my laughter every time i had to say this phrase) went to the park to play basketball ...

(yadda yadda yadda. i'll skip the relatively boring details. it's enough for you to know that i continued the story peacefully and was able to inject moral lesson #2, practice makes perfect, and #3, eat when you are hungry. i don't know if this is a good moral lesson to include in a kid's story, but it's never too early to know how to prevent hypoglycemia.)

... they went back to zhu zhu sparkly's house to have a snack. and they had?

martina: popcorn and 'memomade' ... ALL MIXED TOGETHER.

(juancho almost fell off the bed, ROBL-ing to his heart's content while i was so obviously suffering.)

me: so zhu zhu sparkly and sparkly neever had popcorn and memomade all mixed together (the pause was longer after this sentence – i was controlling laughter, tears and a bit of pee) and they were very happy.

(the tale continued until the hamsters' dinner time, when zhu zhu sparkly's mom invited sparkly neever [WAHAHAHA] to stay for a pizza dinner. then it was time for moral lesson #4, always ask permission from your parents if you want to have dinner at a friend's house, and #5, say 'thank you' to whoever feeds you.)

the story ended, we all slept in different stages of fatigue, and the morning came.

at breakfast, i 'tested' them to see if they remembered the story. juancho, el smarto, got all my questions right: from the flavor of the pizza to who said what to the exact snack formula. martina, on the other hand, who was the reason for the night's literary feast, replied by putting her hands over her ears and making an unsparkly face.



ps: i really have no right to laugh at strange names.

photojournalism entry #1: people never change

i don't remember making faces as a kid, but (as the picture below proves) i must have. in the picture, i was looking at relatives trying to make me smile for the camera. and this face was the reaction they got. i was probably a big whopping bundle of joy.

an actual toddler
over the years, at least two people have told me that i looked like elmo. ELMO! (was that link really necessary? is there anyone who doesn't know elmo?) elmo, the sesame street character! elmo, the nonliving thing if it weren't for the hand inside it! i have never had red fur or a squishy orange nose so i do not see how more than two distinct individuals have come to this conclusion separately. i also do not see how informing me of such an observation could lead to any sort of personal pride or happiness.

pretending to be an adult while
hiding the red fur
these days, i catch my reflection in the mirror and laugh. not really because i'm happy or trying to be happy. i literally laugh. because of my face. this could be an asset someday. especially if i start growing red fur.

adult with better makeup
in the meantime, i should simply accept that i look like a cartoon on most days, like i have since birth. and while i'm at it, i should also cover some mirrors.

caricature or really bad photoshopping