Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ending the busiest week with a 'WHAT???'

It's finally Sunday. To say this week was 'busy' is not giving it justice. It was more like if Busy drank about 3 Red Bulls and some uppers and stayed awake for 3 days. And then hooked himself up to intravenous espresso drip. And then ran a marathon. And then ate some chocolate-covered coffee beans ... dipped in coffee.

(Oh wait. It will be December in a few days. I suspect there will be more of these wild weeks to come.)

A few hours ago, as I was starting to feel a teeny bit peaceful, Martina called and asked to talk to me. I assumed it was some sort of a debriefing of last night's wedding, which I helped organize and which she attended.

Martina: Why you be the host? (She's 5. Grammar errors are cute at that age.)

Me: Because my friend asked me.

Martina: I think mom should be the host.

Me: OK.

Martina: Did you see me last night? I was spying on you.

Me: I saw you.

Martina: How about when I went away, did you see me?

Me: No, I didn't.

Martina: 1 + 1?

Me: 2.

Martina: 55 + 60?

Me: 110 ... Oh wait ... 115. (In high school, I was always Best in Math.)

Martina: 70 + 70?

Me: 140.

Martina: Bye!!!

... and now I am very strangely disturbed and off-kilter. Thanks Marteens.

Don't be fooled by the 'innocent child' facade.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dear strangers, sorry for entertaining you

I've probably written already about how I appreciate the fact that adulthood strips you of every ounce of pride and dignity, allowing you to quickly forget about humiliating moments and giving you license to laugh raucously (but just inside) at yourself. Maybe I didn't say it exactly like that, because it's overdramatic and pretentious (like me). What I was just trying to say was .. *inhale* ... I'm a big girl now who doesn't mind the occasional embarrassing moment like this or this *exhale*.

As though life decided that it's been a while since my last humbling episode, I tripped in public again yesterday. Except this time, I made sure people would stop and look at me. I had a big lunch and needed some caffeine to survive the rest of the day. I trudged sleepily up the stairs to an adjacent Starbucks (the one right beside the Chili's in Greenhills) and tripped on the last step. For most of the population, this non-event would've gone simply unnoticed BUT:

1. I was wearing noisy plastic slippers (which was probably why I tripped in the first place). 
2. I made a small sound immediately after realizing I was in danger of falling down the stairs ('Eee!') 
3. I kept my balance by holding on to the walls, thus striking a very look-at-me pose, which I held for a few seconds.

So imagine you were one of the unsuspecting Starbucks patrons peacefully enjoying an overpriced drink and a hypercaloric pastry. You hear the loud slap of a plastic slipper hitting the floor and a simultaneous 'Eee!' You turn to look for the source of the sound and see an awkward girl holding the walls with both arms outstretched to the side looking very much like a modern-day female Samson pushing imaginary pillars.

For that minor interruption, I blurted out a loud "Sorry!" and proceeded to the counter. And that was that.

(I realized much later on that I didn't really need the coffee after my little spill. I woke myself, as well as a small unwilling audience, with sheer clumsiness. At least the barista had a wider smile on her face that day. How rude. I said I was sorry!)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Being a writer doesn't always mean you know dem words

That's me pretending to write
but really just playing Bejeweled.
Sometimes I question my life – in particular, my skills as a human being. (I also question other people's lives, but I'll need more time and drive to blog about that.) I get paid to write and edit but, many times, I don't feel like I have a very good grasp of the concept of words and how they should actually mean something that people can comprehend.

Take last night, for example. I was about to step inside an elevator when I saw the doors closing, threatening to harm my overexposed slippered foot. Any other sane person would have chosen to address the sole person inside the elevator using one of many understandable, socially acceptable phrases, such as:

  • "Going down!"
  • "Hold the doors!"
  • "Wait!"
  • "Excuse me, kind sir, if you could so graciously take pity on my plight and reopen the doors for me, I would be quite grateful." (Of course, you would be staring at closed elevator doors when you get around to "kind" ... then you'd have to return to your time machine and warp back to London in the 1800s, where you probably belong.)
  • "Tekaaa!" (Curse words optional.)

My excuse: I was tired and one blip away from being brainwaveless when it happened. So when I opened my mouth to say something, what came out was:

"Hoo hoo hooooo!!!"

... because apparently yet unbeknownst to me, I am an owl. A really huge featherless and idiotic owl. Who needed the elevator.


Epilogue: The guy inside the elevator reopened the doors. Maybe my panicked face was enough to get the message across.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

She reminds me of me

Martina: Look, Tita Eng! I have a medal! (It was a Mother Mary medallion pinned to her dress)

Me: Wow! Is it Mother Mary day?

Martina: No, it's give-everyone-a-medal day.

Friday, October 07, 2011

A giant exception

While Martina and I were watching TV, she saw a bigger-than-average guy and shouted, "That man is so fat!"

"Martina," I explained, "you shouldn't say that about people. It's not polite."

"But he has a big tummy."

"It's not nice to point it out, Marteens."

"But what if we see a giant? Can we say, (at this point, Martina raised her hands in the air, as though she was panicking) 'GIAAAANT!!!'?"

"Yes, Marteens, if we see a giant, we can say 'giant'."


As long as I got the message across.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The 5-second rule applies even after 20 minutes

Many, many years ago, my family and I had a great meal at Breakfast at Antonio's, back when it was still at their original scenic hillside spot (which I love and miss every time I think of it) (like now) (*sniff*).

We had all started eating heartily when we heard Dad exclaim: 
Apparently, about half of the German sausage on his plate rolled off and fell on the floor, most likely rolling a bit more until it stopped squarely under our table. We all commiserated with Dad:
After we had finished our individual breakfasts, Dad still looked pretty sad about the wasted food, saying that it was a really big piece that fell. We agreed. He said he wanted to get it (like from under the table, where all our feet were) and try to eat it again. We thought about it for a couple of seconds ... and agreed again.

I don't remember who actually got the sausage from under the table, but I remember we tried to be as subtle about it as possible, so as not to disturb the other diners (or, you know, not to be harshly judged by people who probably have more sense than to retrieve food that has been on the floor for way WAY longer than 5 seconds). I also remember that Dad peeled off the outermost layer of the sausage, because he was really all about hygiene. Har har har. Best of all, I remember that he enjoyed those last few precious bites.

I don't know if there is any big lesson to be learned from this flashback, but if there were, it would probably have something to do with:
  • loving food;
  • not wasting money;
  • not being embarrassed by idiotic but harmless actions; or
  • sticking behind your family's decisions.

Or maybe it's simply about making sure that when you have a terrific piece of sausage, stick a damn fork in it and never let it go.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The perfect thing to say

Very few things give me more inner peace and joy than seeing Martina curled up asleep in my bed. This afternoon, after I woke up from my own nap, I listened to her soft snore for a while and pushed up my pillows against her because she likes that.

She woke up, smiled sweetly and extended her arms to give me a hug. I hugged and kissed the little one while thinking, 'I really love this day.'

Martina then spoke, with her cute, cute voice breaking the silence:
'Tita Eng?' 
'Yes?' I said, expecting some perfect quip to capture the moment. 
' ... You smell like ham.'
Sometimes, I wonder about my life.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Flying flipflops (and something about cramps)

I finally got the chance to experience the Eastwood Mall's Ultra 7 Cinema, which, according to this ad (see left) is the 'ultimate luxury movie viewing experience'.

(Before I go any further, please explain to me why the man is sitting the way he is sitting. Is that supposed to convey 'I am a relaxed man having an ultimate luxury movie viewing experience with my date while awkwardly putting up my foot beside where my drink is supposed to be and hogging the popcorn at the same time'? Because if that is the goal, then ... score!)

I went with a grrrrlfriend who wasn't an Ultra 7 virgin so she was able to explain to me where everything was, 'everything' being the restrooms and the lever to release the footrest. What she didn't reveal was that those suckers do not slowly rise up from the chair – they explode upwards.

When we got to our seats, my friend immediately went into a comfy position with her free popcorn by her side and the seat fully reclined (the seats really do transform into a bed – do not attempt to watch at Ultra 7 if you are even just slightly sleepy unless you want a really expensive purply nap). Meanwhile, I was trying to fight the cold air using only a flimsy shawl for protection. After I acclimatized, I attempted to release the footrest but forgot that I was wearing my flowery flipflops.

Do I even have to tell you what happened next?

After I pulled the lever, my left slipper went flying through the air and down the next level. It was pure providence that no one was hit and that it didn't happen while the movie was showing. There was, however, the problem of retrieving it.

Important bit of info to divulge at this point: My whole family is prone to muscle cramps. Every now and then, we get competitive about who has had the weirdest cramp location (like the 'wala ka sa lolo ko'-type contests*). Regular people get cramps in their legs and feet. I have gotten cramps in my fingers (like while toothbrushing, and then I feel like I will never let go of the toothbrush), little toes (when this happens, it's cute – it looks like two of my toes decided to become best friends and literally lean on each other), chest muscles, tongue (nothing dirty here, it happens when I inspect one side of my oral cavity in the mirror for too long), upper back (like when putting on a sports bra), tummy (I'm sure there are abs underneath the fat), and so on. I think my worst cramping experience was when I had to try on a kind of full-body shapewear that was REALLY tight. I put it on through my head and shoulders (instead of stepping into it like smart people do) and needed the help of my sister to force it downwards. It wouldn't go down smoothly. Instead it gathered into a narrow band across my shoulders and chest. Midway through the struggle, I felt almost all of my main muscles cramping, which was aggravated by laughing loudly at my reflection and my sister who also had the living energy sucked out of her from laughing at my sorry, cramping state. We really had to take a moment (with one of us half-naked, with a black monster of a thing wrapped around most of the top half of her body) and calm down before we finally succeeded.

OK where was I?
Passport pic

So anyway, my slipper was far from me and I couldn't get out of my chair because I couldn't force the footrest downward. Because it was so cold in the theater, my leg muscles were already stiff to begin with, so when I had to use them to push, they just (naturally) cramped up. Once again, there was someone laughing asthmatically beside me while I was suffering in agony and trying to figure out a way out of my seat. All I could do was hug my sore legs and stifle my otherwise loud laugh. I tried again after the cramp subsided a bit but it took more than two attempts before I was able to rescue my footwear.

All in all, it was a good adventure. Luxurious, even. Most importantly, I finally satisfied my curiosity about Ultra 7 and my left slipper finally tasted the sweet joys of air travel.

*Pinoy private joke; I do not accept the challenge of translating or explaining this.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Photobombing in a place of peace

Once in a while I learn an expression or word that makes me nod slowly in approval. A few favorites that come to mind include:

  • 'ikaw na!' (applicable in so many situations); 
  • '___ fail' (eg, 'outfit fail' or 'tinola fail' ... but this particular phrase is getting old)
  • the rather profane but perfect 'clusterf**k' (you who introduced me to that word, you know who you are);
  • 'sporn' (those who frequent tennis fan sites should know this); and
  • 'humblebrag' (love LOVE this one!)

Another one I particularly like is 'photobomb'. There are entire websites dedicated to photobombing, some more interesting than others. If you still don't understand what the term means then you are probably over 60 years old. I was imagining trying to explain it to Dad and my head hurt.

Interestingly, I've always been prone to photobombing long before the word was invented. Sometimes I do it consciously (ironically, because I get very photo-conscious) but more often, I ruin an otherwise decent picture without really meaning to do so. Sometimes it's just forgetting to take off sunglasses or being the only one with closed eyes, or something harmless like that. Other times, it's downright stark.

One of the more recent examples took place early in 2010 at a wedding of a friend. This was the picture after we all composed ourselves (and possibly after a round or two of photo-editing):

Nice, right? Decent. Acceptable. Smiley. I'm second from the left.

And then there was THIS:

Inappropriate reaction, anyone?


In fairness to me, no one was ready for that picture anyway (see fish-lips on leftmost friend), but what was that anger flaring from the whites of my eyes? Why was I so enraged? We were at a pretty wedding at the lovely Tagaytay Midlands and we were all in a great mood. What the heck was wrong with me? (Not that I don't ask that every day)

When we analyzed the pic days after the wedding (after my friends recovered from laughing themselves silly over this picture – thanks guys), we realized that there was nothing and no one in the spot where I was looking. We were on an incline, and to the right of this picture was a nice view of mountains. Was I mad at those? Maybe Djokovic was waving on a mountaintop. (*Deleting joke about resisting the urge to push him off*)

So there. Once again I have offered myself up as a willing target. Feel free to laugh in my face the next time you see me. That is, if you want to see that look in real life.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A new blog?

Aww, 'orangeexpress' is already taken at WordPress. Maybe I should stick to Blogger. The interface over at WordPress is so clean and tempting, though.

Why is it always easier to think of clever names for other people?

Anyway, I was thinking of starting another blog for a separate project, which I might (with a 95% certainty) drop after a few weeks. I'm the type of person who starts writing on a brand new notebook and completely forgets to do it after some time. As a result, my room is home to about 5 or so notebooks that are just less than 5% filled (what's with the percentages today?). Starting blogs is just like that, except more earth-friendly (and my writing has gone completely illegible so the move to virtual notebooks is almost essential).

I will post my new blog address if I ever get around to creating one. Feel free to suggest new names in the comments. And, you know, what to write about. Or, you know, just say 'hi'.

There is a 99% chance I will reply.

A quick Mama-related snippet

Today, while researching something, an old Mama memory resurfaced (with apologies to those who have read or heard about this already ... I don't even remember where I posted this).

Mama and older sister Apple were at the mall because Ate needed to buy goggles for Juanchy. They went in different directions, and when they met again, Mama asked:
"Nabili mo na ba yung (Were you able to buy) Google?" 
"Mama ... hindi ko kaya yon (I can't afford that)."

For all your swimming needs

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bruised ears in exchange for an ego boost

So this is the story behind why I have a hotel privilege card which allowed me to do this on my birthday ...

I rarely have patience for sales or telemarketing people who always somehow manage to catch me at a bad time. There have been, however, a lucky handful of them who chanced upon the perfect time to sell me something over the phone. This 'perfect time' is usually when I'm bored but not sleepy, or when I had just accomplished something at work or right after receiving good news. (Should I be bothered that these are very rare times?)

One particular salesperson, who I shall call Judy, was one of the fortunate few. I was feeling particularly happy that I had just submitted something substantial for work and willingly answered an unlisted number calling my mobile phone.

It was Judy (of course it was – I didn't mention her for no reason). Judy was the type of salesperson who talked while smiling widely and ended every sentence with a '!!!'. For instance:
'Ma'am!!! This is a great card with so many privileges, ma'am!!!' 
'Maaa'am!!! You can stay at our hotel for free because I'm going to give you vouchers!!! There are so many vouchers, maaa'am!!!'
It got more interesting when she found out my nickname.
Judy: Ma'am Orange!!! Oh my God, I love your name!!! One voucher allows you to have a ROMANTIC NIGHT at our Tagaytay hotel!!! You can bring your boyfriend!!! 
Me: And how are you so sure I have a boyfriend? 
Judy: MAA'AM!!! With a name like Orange, I'm sure you have a boyfriend!!!
(I checked. I didn't have one.)

Anyway, long story short: I bought the card, partly because, beyond  (despite of?) all the exclamation points, it sounded like a good deal and partly because I had to go back to work. Unsurprisingly, Judy was unnecessarily effusive in her gratitude.
'Ma'am Orange, thank you!!!! Thank you!!! I really love your name!!! I'm going to name my child after you!!!'

Maybe I should've warned her that her offspring would have to live a life hounded by the question 'Where's Apple/Red?' and strange looks, but I just set her on her merry way. I'm sure she would move on to the next potential customer with a fantastic name she would drool over. In any case, I was grateful – I got a seemingly value-packed card and a bit of affirmation to boot. Not bad, Judy. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Too much?)

Where are the exclamation points?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Alone again, unnaturally

Any self-assured adult will tell you that it is rather quite enjoyable being by oneself. Although I am far from being this self-assured adult that I speak of, I, too, enjoy being alone. *I hear the ticking of the clock/I'm lying here, the room's pitch dark ...*

(Show of hands: Who continued singing?)

I didn't always like being alone, but I suppose that was because I was young and afraid (now I'm old and afraid, but with age comes the art of pretending to be what we are not). The first time I had to live away from home was back in med school. I admit (with much shame) that I shed a few telenovela-like tears the first night, while quietly folding my underwear in the part of the rickety drawer assigned to me. My parents visited that weekend, and brought me a bag of Clover chips to heal the sadness. After they left, I sobbed in the bathroom, not so quietly that time.

Over the years, I have grown to like being alone more and more. You might say that I don't have much choice, what with being single and all, but I'd like to think this is one of the happy discoveries during my partner-less phase (phase, life, whatever). I like shopping without being disturbed or pressured, I like eating without having to rush, I like driving with a light car, I like flying without constantly looking for my travel-mates, I like the idea of being quiet without being judged.

This year, to change the usual birthday routine and get some distance between me and my beloved computer, I decided to spend a good part of my birthday alone. My finances did not allow me to spend a full weekend somewhere far (truth: I was too lazy to book a ticket) so the next best thing was to check in at a nearby hotel and put my newly acquired privilege card to good use. More on the history of that card later.

Recipe for a good birthday afternoon

I loved that day. After breakfast and lunch (which were just 2 hours apart, I realize now) with family, I started my birthday solitude. I spent the whole afternoon at the almost-empty hotel lounge (apparently, I was the only one in the mood to drink at 3 pm). I had a thick book and a coupon for free drinks – what else could I have asked for? Free peanuts (you thought that was a rhetorical question?)! And I got those too. I don't remember the last time I felt that peaceful and relaxed and satisfied with life. Like I said, I loved that day. (Except maybe for the part when I had to use all of my willpower to walk like a sober person back to the hotel room.)

Of course the next best thing to being contentedly alone is spending time with people who really want to be with you and vice versa. I got that too when Juancho and Martina invaded my once-quiet, once-clean hotel room the next day. Not that I minded. What's a birthday without a little chaos?

Chaos in the best gift tag ever

Friday, July 29, 2011

Naturally, 'Muffy' is short for 'Fluffy'

Quick update: Martina is still funny. (To me, I should emphasize).

After 2 weeks of not visiting because of a weird viral rash (on her, not me), Martina spent most of today at our house. She was falling asleep while chewing her lunch so we all decided to 'nap' after eating. Thankfully, napping meant another chance for a quick naptime story. As always, I let her provide the plot and characters' names before I supplied the details. She requested a story about one little pig. A few seconds later, she changed her mind and bargained for two little pigs. I allowed it. Anything but three.

So the first pig's name was Fluffy. And his nickname was … Muffy.

(Apparently, Fluffy was his Christianized baptismal name. Who doesn't know St Fluffy of Naples?)

The younger pig's name was Shoeshine, named after a dog Martina saw on TV. Shoeshine's nickname was, however, 100% Martina-generated. Shoeshine's nickname was … place your bets now …  Sootine.

(It's pronounced SOO-tayn of course, because SOO-tin just doesn't make sense. And we're all about sense here.)

It was at that point that I missed Sparkly Neever.

Martina was already quite sleepy when I began telling the story of how Muffy was assigned by his mother to be in charge of Sootine. As expected, my tiny niece fell asleep while I was still in the middle of adding levels of personality to my characters (pigs can be multifaceted in my stories). Not one to put a plot to waste, I continued to tell my tale just in case Martina wasn't fully asleep yet. For the curious: Muffy and Sootine had a wonderful time 'camping' in their pink tent (male pigs are accepting of all colors) and 'fishing' and 'cooking' by the 'river'. I don't know how those 'details' were 'relevant'.

Oh and there was no evil wolf, no huffing or puffing, and no crazy straw houses in today's story. That stuff is reserved for stories of the three-pig variety. It must be noted that Juancho beat me to the three-pig story a few weeks ago when he provided our naptime story. I was quite riveted by a few things:

  1. Embarrassingly enough, I had forgotten most of the story so I was genuinely interested.
  2. Juancho is a great storyteller. I was holding back tears when I thought about how I used to tell him stories when he was too young to know I was messing with his head.

All in all, I was extremely grateful for today. Martina will soon be too big for my stories and Juancho might have already outgrown my imagination (I had to threaten him to nap with us that three-pig day). I miss my little playmates already (Martina and Juancho, not the pigs).

I'm not going to cry. I am NOT going to cry.

Taken about 4 years ago. Edited for nostalgia today.

WAAAAAHHHH!!! *sniff* Hold me, Muffy.

My blog is now mobile-device friendly

I clicked something and The Orange Express is now mobile-friendly. Just like me.

And that was today's highlight. The leftover-pizza breakfast was a close second.

Who wants my life?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

BTW, the cake was grrreat

Everything you need to know about Martina can be summed up in this tiny story that happened two nights before her 5th birthday.

My family and Ate's family stayed at Sofitel over the weekend for a joint Father's Day and Martina's Day celebration. For some reason, staying at hotels is a thing now in the family ... because that's how we roll (only in my mind). The kids love these little overnight stays: Juancho loves the beds and elevators and pools; Martina thinks hotels are simply fantastic. Just two weeks ago, as we entered the lobby of Taal Vista Hotel (venue of our family's 'official' summer trip), Martina exclaimed at the top of her lungs, "This is the most wonderful place I've ever seen!!!" (which is really not saying much, given that she was barely 5 at the time) (but we should've been paid for such a good endorsement [just FYI, Taal Vista])

Back to the original story.

Sofitel gave us a free chocolate cake for Martina's birthday and when we found it in the room after coming back from dinner, we decided to surprise her. We all called her into the room and everyone started belting out the usual 'Happy birthday' song.

The cake of a thousand tears and a million calories

When Martina saw the cake, she smiled for a millisecond, then the surprise started to hit her. While we were in mid-song, she desperately tried to figure out what to do with herself. One can only imagine what her young brain was processing: What is this I'm feeling? Happiness? Terror? Pleasure? WHAT'S HAPPENING, PEOPLE??? Instead of calmly handling the situation, Martina hid her face with her hands, hunched over the table while starting to whine a bit, then finally bawled with all her might into the arms of her amused mother, who was busy recording the whole calamity on video (guess how many times Marteens will want to watch that in the coming years).

Mia: Are those tears of joy?
Juancho: Tears of pain! (he's always been smart, that kid)

So we cut our on-the-spot performance short, pretended nothing happened and got ready for bed. Martina, on the other hand, wiped her tears and asked for a slice of cake before sleeping – the very same cake that we thought she had already condemned to the trash can of her mind. It's true: Chocolate trumps psychological trauma (and everything else on earth, really).

The next day, we found out that Martina had talked to Juancho after the whole surprise disaster, and asked accusingly,

"Why didn't you sing 'Happy birthday', Juancho???"

Apparently, in the throes of her despair, she still noticed that her brother refused to participate in the grownups' instant presentation. Note (more like warning) to self: Nothing gets past Martina.

And with that slightly creepy undertone, the short story ends.

Here's a baby pic to make it all right again:

Martina at the hospital, looking like she's suppressing a comment

Happy birthday, little beloved one! I wish you more courage to deal with curveballs, a continuing love for dessert (trust me, this will help you someday in many, many ways) and a heart that can forgive people for not singing on command.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Links are fun (and self-indulgent)

Blogger started counting page views only relatively recently, so the 'Popular Posts' on the left side of my blog aren't necessarily my favorite ones. I have really old entries that I re-read when I need to reminisce the stories I like sharing until my listeners' ears hurt or when I need to fill in the gaps in my hole-filled memory.

I'm posting the links of some of my personal favorites, just in case you're in the mood for some light re-reading too.
  • The leech story – If I would ever be accused of fabricating my stories, this would have to be my accuser's proof. I assure you though that this happened ... because that's how my parents roll. I love this story.
  • The epic mountain drama that involved warming oil and unreliable doctors, myself included – This happened the year that I decided to be adventurous. It almost cost me my life. OK, maybe not so much 'life' as it was 'pride'.
  • I like all the anecdotes about my nephew Juancho and niece Martina but a few that stand out are Juancho's nativity story and Martina's story about Sparkly Neever
  • An embarrassing kindergarten presentation where I learned how to be paranoid and overcompensate all in one go.
  • Panicking in Macau – This is one of the reasons why I don't associate running with happy times.
  • Cashews to the rescue – Another classic Mama story. Like the time she alarmingly said, after seeing a snake completely wrapped around a tiny monkey so the monkey's hands and feet were sticking out, "I didn't know snakes had feet!" (I have a feeling I've written about this, but I can't find it.)

Essay flashback: The continuing saga of Ms Sweet Tooth

I wrote this essay 10 years and 10 million desserts ago (I was just recently accused of exaggerating. You think?), when I wrote stuff because I was assigned a deadline and a small fee. Today I still write about dessert without the promise of compensation, just for the joy of savoring the memories of good sweets. The day I say 'no' to dessert is the day I tuck my shirt into pants again. So, anyway, here's the essay – slightly shorter than the original published version.


The continuing saga of Ms Sweet Tooth
August 2001

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart.” – Erma Bombeck

Along with an entire horde of hormonal women in the world, I cannot resist dessert. Dessert is not an option, it is inevitable. Passing up what is for me the most important part of any substantial meal is like walking out of the movie theater just before Harry finds Sally on New Year’s Eve to tell her that “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but you get the picture.

During one particularly heavy lunch, my friend proposed a rather questionable explanation for the phenomenon of always having room for dessert. We were trying to justify why we still wanted to order ice cream with barely enough space for our lungs to expand. At that point, I was willing to listen to anything that will allow me to get just a bit of chocolate into my system.

With enough conviction to incite public unrest, he said that dessert has a special ability to creep into the crevices of the food already inside your stomach. Of course, I didn’t point out that, for his theory to hold water, this only applied to dessert that melts or is already soft/liquid to begin with. It’s hard to imagine a slab of frozen turtle pie trying to work itself into the spaces between ingested pork chops … but then again, why bring it up? I tried not to probe him too much regarding his theory. You know what they say about not biting the hand that pays for lunch.

I was a dessert freak as far as I could remember.

When I was a kid, life and cartoons and math and dessert were simple. One of my favorite desserts back then was a certain Magnolia frozen delight with a name that escapes me right now. We called it “Up and Down,” but I’m (almost) sure that wasn’t on the label. It was one of the cheaper popsicles (price was and still is an important factor), and one of the most attractive, in my opinion. Its top half was yellow and the bottom, orange.

I don’t remember ever having a whole popsicle to myself, as my older sister and I shared everything at the time. The problem was she wanted the yellow part, so I had no choice but to wait for her to finish. Did it matter that I wanted the yellow part too? Was it ever taken into consideration that by the time I got to hold the stick, the orange part was already melting like crazy? That’s what I had to bear for being named after a flavor/color: everyone assumes I actually like orange. (The truth is my sister never assumed that, she just always took advantage of me.) To this day, I disdain melted ice cream and near-liquid popsicles.

If you don’t remember Up and Down (or think I just made the whole thing up), you may want to refresh your taste buds by trying Selecta’s Twister Pop, which comes remarkably close. Except I think they’ve discontinued making that, too.

When my lola (chief enabler extraordinaire) ran out of spare change, I had to settle for improvised desserts, one of which I still get a hankering for every now and then.

Our house was never without Milo, as my sister and I were raised to believe that it was some miraculous drink and that it was a tragedy not to have a cup of it in the morning. I don’t remember how or when it started, but a childhood dessert discovery involved the omnipresent Milo powder. We put about two heaping tablespoons of it in a cup and added a drop of water. We rolled the drop around the cup until it formed gooey ball of chocolate goodness. Voila! Instant dessert. A small drop went a very long way.

Skolatina of Cyma:
I've come a long way from Milo balls
(taken in 2011)
If you haven’t figured it out, let me say that I am easy to please when it comes to dessert. To this day, one of my finest memories of cool heaven is a huge cup (barrel?) of nonfat soft-serve chocolate yogurt at Universal Studios more than 10 years ago. Very cheap, all the taste, none of the guilt and, being in cold weather, didn’t melt at all. I enjoyed it more than the Back to the Future ride (that’s saying a lot, considering it was one of the main attractions at the time).

Now, trapped in an adult body, I find that I get stuck with regular, but no less sinful, desserts. After a while, all the restaurants seem to have the same stuff. Yes, I don’t love them any less, but something in me longs for something more than just another cake, ice cream concoction or fruit platter. For instance, I thoroughly enjoy the TGIF creation so grotesquely named Cup of Dirt – a cup of chocolate pudding laced with gummi worms and topped with cookie crumbs – but find that it’s beneath my dignity to order it after a normal adult-appropriate dish.

An unusual yet delightful dessert I’ve had the pleasure of discovering was in Hong Kong, at the Vong restaurant on the top floor of the Mandarin. My friend and I ordered one of the set lunches on the menu. After a glorious meal of what was supposed to be appetizers (they were more than enough, believe me), they served us a plate of what looked like red sorbet. It turned out to be raspberry chili ice cream. After the first taste, we couldn’t stop wow-ing and mmm-ing. The frozen liquid delivered a sharp pang to the tongue and made us all confused – it was both sweet and spicy. I didn’t know if I was smiling because of the view of Hong Kong harbor, the good company or the chilly chili.

As if that weren’t enough, the waiter served us an assortment of round chocolate confections. There was one piece that looked highly irregular. It looked like any other dark chocolate ball. Except it was sweating. As in big drops of moisture were running down its silken contour. It looked like it was scared to be eaten.

Playing the role of the heartless cannibal giant, I slowly took a bite. As it turns out, the chocolate shell was covering a ball of flavored ice (my friend and I agreed it was apple-flavored), which explained the condensation. It was a surprise beyond my wildest sweet dreams. And one I still think about every now and then with a faraway look in my eye and mild shooting pain in my tooth.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Martina, marriage, and the lack thereof

I absolutely love my phone chats with Martina, mostly because they just barely resemble real-world conversations. I wrote about some of our exchanges through the years and I am pleased to report, that today – about 2 weeks before her 5th birthday – I am still deeply baffled by our short talks.

Just this morning, in the span of 10 minutes, Martina called me three times to:
  • Share that her toys weren't working because they needed batteries;
  • Complain that Juancho used her bathroom and will probably make it dirty; and
  • Order me to call her mother because she promised she would be gone for only an hour.

(Ask me about my productivity level today. Ask me.)

The truth is I prefer the above topics versus her most recent 'problem' that has prompted her to call the house every day with a sense of urgency that 5-year-olds shouldn't even feel. Her concern?

"Tita Eng, why aren't you married? Who are you marrying?"

Prior to this, it was "Where is your real family?" (she meant "Where are your children?") I said I didn't have any. I suppose the marriage question was logical backtracking. To be fair, she also asked all her other single aunts and single uncle. I wasn't the sole target of her interrogation.

Of course, being thirty (*cough cough*) seven years old, I am used to being asked the marriage question because I live in a country where tact is endangered and, apparently, it is more hip to be in a loveless marriage than to be happily single. I have gotten tired of the polite response to "Why are you still single?" (the polite response being "Shut the hell up, you miserable excuse for a human being.") My actual responses have been variations of the following (some sound better in the vernacular, try it):

  • I can't choose among my boyfriends.
  • I AM married. Didn't I invite you to the wedding? So sorry.
  • Is marriage still a thing these days?
  • I'm too young.
  • *Closed-mouth evil smile* (see below)

Singleness: having time to take random pics

Anyway, back to my supposedly short story. Martina never got her answer because I was always still asleep when she called at 8 in the morning. When Martina finally visited and asked me to my face, I told her I was marrying Rafa (you know, 10-time Grand Slam champion ... of my heart), she gave me a skeptical look, as though she could see right through my thick screen of delusion. "No, really, who?"

I was able to distract her from that topic for the rest of the day but she remembered again the next day and called for the nth time. "Who are you marrying again?"

"No one, Marteens."


"Not everyone has to be married," I said.


"Some people get married, some people don't. OK?"

Martina thought about it for half a second and said, with a bit of resignation, "OK."

Single women all over the country will agree that it was probably one of the easiest and fastest times an unmarried lady has been let off the hook. It's refreshing to see how a pure soul can just accept the situation and move on. In Martina's case, she moved on to asking if I could buy her a skateboard.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to finish composing my video marriage proposal to Rafa.

BTW, Martina, *this* is my real family
(taken 3 years ago, when Martina first started using the phone)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Let's just say the date was unforgettable

I've been on a few blind dates in my life, some more tolerable than others, and obviously none resoundingly successful (however which way you want to define success in dating).

One particularly memorable blind date however, is worthy of at least half a blog entry. It was 2005 and the guy was a friend of a friend, as blind dates usually are. I am withholding his name from you – all 5 of my loyal readers – not because I am protecting him from public scorn, but because I have conveniently and predictably forgotten his name (SPOILER ALERT: This entry is proof that I forget everything except the most extraordinary of things … oh and Bruce Willis was dead the whole time).

So for now, I will call the guy BD (for Blind Date, not Barney the Dinosaur).

Prior to the date, I had been warned by my friend that BD wasn't really willing to spend for a big date (red flag #1?). I had no problem with that, I said. I agreed to meet him at a mall.

When I got there, BD was already seated at a fast-food place so I met him there. He asked if I was hungry and I said I was only thirsty, thinking we would have a proper dinner later on in the date. He bought me a cup of orange juice. It was, you know, orange-y. And then we left the restaurant and began walking.

Around the mall.

Covering every cursed inch of that cursed mall.

For a very long time.

A very long, thigh-cramp–inducing time.

To be honest, I can't remember much from the extremely long conversation that we probably had (then again, I also can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday*). I remember though that at one point, we were looking at couches because we had somehow found ourselves in furniture stores. You read that right: Fruntiure soters (Just checking your reading skills). We were checking out chairs and tables and lamps not because we had, in the span of an hour, decided to live together and buy a place somewhere, but because … OK, I have no idea why. For whatever reason, we went in and out of all the furniture stores in that section of the mall and I found myself becoming genuinely interested in wood grain and suede upholstery.

As if the date could not get any stranger, BD turned to me and said (in the most normal tone of voice), "Oh I need to buy underwear." 

(I take the previous red flag back, this was the only red flag. It was a gigantic, fiery red flag whipping my face violently in the quiet storm that was my date.)

Naturally, the next thing I knew, we were in the department store and I was staring at endless boxes of white briefs, not knowing whether I should offer to help him find his underwear size. I regretted having skipped the chapter on underwear shopping in the giant rulebook of dating. As BD was mindlessly talking to a saleslady about his preferred style, I wished with all my might that we were back at the furniture.

When I regained enough composure to start a conversation with him again, he was nowhere to be found. I spotted him a short distance away holding up a pair of shiny blue shorts that were on sale. He asked me if he should buy it. If I'm not mistaken, words came out of my mouth. I couldn't be sure – it could've been just warm air. My brain was still trying to process the whole white-briefs scenario.

After we had walked for what seemed like the equivalent distance of a full marathon, BD suggested dinner. Finally, I thought. And he proceeded to bring me to another fast food place, which would've been perfectly fine if not for the fact that he got in line ahead of me and ordered his food. And paid. Well at least he wasn't a robber or anything (at the time).

The rest of that night is blurry to me now. I think I left him after he ate (I must've also skipped dinner, pretending to be one of those girls who never go hungry) but I could be wrong.** When the date ended, I was very much bewildered, and not in a good way.

And that, boys and girls, is why you should consider wearing rubber-soled shoes to blind dates and why you should always ALWAYS think twice before reading purposeless blog entries.


*Today's breakfast was a chocolate popsicle. That's pretty hard to forget.

**We actually got married and bought many pieces of furniture together (Just checking your gullibility index).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Essay flashback: A piercing look is never enough

This is the first humor article I ever wrote. I didn't want to post it for a few reasons, the main reason being that I don't write this way anymore. At least I don't think I do. For one thing, I try to avoid using Filipino to reach a wider audience, except of course when the funny does not translate well.

I also don't write this way anymore because I think I am much happier now than in 2000. When I wrote this I was a very sarcastic, cynical hag who enjoyed making snide comments to anyone who would care to listen (and Tiger Woods still had a clean image, which would explain the dated reference). A few of my initial essays had the same tone, and when I read them again, I felt like a stranger wrote them. Today, I try to avoid writing very negative or critical pieces.

In any case, here it is again, just very slightly edited without changing its original bitchy tone. (I'm sorry.)


A piercing look is never enough
August 2000

“I don't get mad, I get even. Actually, I don't get even, I usually get mad. Okay, really, I just get depressed and mope for a while. Then, eventually, after much pain and consideration, I get over it.” – Kevin Morris

To say that I have a pimple problem is like saying Tiger Woods plays golf.

During my uneventful adolescence, while most of my peers were complaining of acne outbreaks, I usually had just one or two blemishes, which (much to my friends' consternation) cleared up after a few days sans any dermatologic intervention. I suppose I was extremely spoiled by this pattern of pimple appearance-disappearance, because when I started to have acne in my mid-twenties (!), not a tinge of worry crossed my mind.

I suspect that the root of my problems is hormonal, or I was born with a bad combination of genes. However, I cannot stop toiling over what I could have done differently. MAYBE I should have been more aggressive in treating my then-obvious skin problem, MAYBE I shouldn't have waited until my cystic infections started turning into ugly dark splotches on my face, MAYBE I should have dismissed the neurotic voice inside me saying "Dermatologists are for vain people."

In a parallel universe, I would've been just another face. Just another scar-free face, that is. However, in this particular world, I have to bear the full consequences of my non-actions.

As if looking into the mirror everyday and spending obscene amounts for treatment are not enough punishment, I've discovered, in the worst possible way, that my country of birth is hell for people with physical imperfections.

I used to be baffled at the way my American cousins would be so scandalized by their Filipino relatives who told them if they'd lost or gained weight since the last visit. I shrugged it off as the elders trying to make trite conversation. Now, with a ton of evidence to prove it, I have come to accept that Pinoys can be downright r-u-d-e.

I will not pretend to know how this particular Filipino peculiarity evolved. I have no doubt that these words are uttered out of genuine concern and nothing but pure intentions, and yet ... has it ever occurred to anyone that people actually know when their bodies change? To the alarmingly common "Tumataba ka yata," I have never heard anyone counter "Why, thank you for telling me I've put on a few pounds. I was wondering why my torso turns blue each time I forcibly zip up my jeans."

Sometime ago, I was talking with a group of people and, for reasons unknown to man, the topic segued to the subject of my facial potholes. "Matatanggal ba yan? Sayang kasi eh, ang ganda mo pa naman sana. OK ka siguro kung wala yan." “What was I supposed to say? "Yes, at this moment I am a substandard person who's better off dead. Let's all join hands and pray that this wretched curse be lifted from me, lest I not be 'OK' to anyone unfortunate enough to lay eyes on my sorry face."

One morning I was walking down our street when a long-time neighbor motioned for me to come over. "O! Anong nangyari sa mukha mo?" "Pimples, ho." (I would have started my Discovery-channel spiel on the wonderful world of acne to her, but I was rushing off to work.) To this lame reply, she responded with "Ay nako. Nung bata ka, ang ganda-ganda mo eh, tapos ngayon ...."

I can't win.

This is why my passive-aggressive personality (with help from a few empathic friends) has come up with a number of retorts I would love to say to all the verbal oppressors out there. Some of these I have actually used, believe it or not.

In response to the simple and direct "What's thaaat?" and its lesser-known, equally thoughtless variations (yes, some people actually waste muscle energy to ask inane questions), here are my suggestions, apart from the obvious answer:

1. The penny-for-my-thoughts reply --- "I cannot believe you asked me that." 
2. The denial approach --- "What? What? Where? What do you see???" 
3. Clarification --- "Did you want to start a conversation with me, or were you just being mean?" 
4. The self-pity wisecrack --- "Oh I'm sorry. Let me walk a few steps behind so you won't have to be seen with me." 
5. Sarcasm --- "I was getting bored with a plain face so I had the doctor surgically alter it so people like you can have something to talk about." 
6. The pagan response --- "I forgot to mention that in my new cult, we inflict ourselves with facial wounds at the crack of dawn every Tuesday... right before the ritual sacrifice of tactless idiots to our vengeful gods." 
7. Subclinical psychosis --- "Look! Over there! It's my ego floating away on a breeze." 
8. The bitchy attack/changing-the-topic technique (depends on inflection and/or how dense the recipient is) --- "Ang ganda mo." 
9. The bitchy attack version 2 --- (after "Awwww. What happened?") "Don't ask me what happened. I don't know what happened. Don't ask me things I don't know the answer to!" 
10. The self-help retort --- "Thank you for affirming my sense of self-worth today. You have indeed boosted my morale with your insensitive comment. My years of low self-esteem have now been compounded by your astute observation."

It should be obvious by now that part of me has irreversibly turned into a total crab as a result of all this pimple business. I have only myself to blame.

On the good side, thinking of snappy comebacks has been a stimulating form of mental exercise and, I must admit, having a daily source of amusement keeps my sense of humor alive and bitchin'. Furthermore, I'm not exactly in the mood to transform the entire Filipino psyche today. Ask me again tomorrow. Maybe by then, I can give you more than just a dagger look and a dry comment.


Monday, April 04, 2011

Thank you, acne and friends

I think that I am 97.33% satisfied with my imperfect body. I used to hate almost every body part (thanks to friends, foes and strangers who have so helpfully pointed out my flaws to me) but now I believe I am almost completely at peace with what I have. Adulthood does strange things to people.

I accept my skinny, crooked feet and oversized bony fingers. I accept my high waist and absent derrière. I accept my flat nose that rejects most types of eyewear. I accept my bigger-than-normal gums that betray me and make me look more primate-like than ladylike when I'm at my happiest. I accept my massive, cellulite-laden thighs because they remind me of good times with dessert (and Martina seems to love them). I accept my womanly chest (I'll never hear the end of that phrase) that I almost always try to hide (but fail) because it's always bigger than my stomach and makes me look proportional even after a buffet meal. I accept my brown skin because many pale people on the other side of the world are paying good money just to be darker.

(If you are still thinking about the second to the last sentence of that previous paragraph, then you're definitely straight. And also, STOP IT.)

The one thing that is still quite hard for me to accept is my propensity for acne. Every morning, after I snicker at the status of my hair, I see my facial scars. There's probably some technology out there today that can make them less obvious, but I'm pretty sure it won't come cheap. I'm not (yet?) that vain. To this day, I catch myself looking longingly at faces with poreless, scar-free, smooth cheeks and wish I had brought myself to a derma at the peak of my pimple outbreaks in med school.

But then again, if I didn't have acne and the scars that followed, I wouldn't be blogging today.

I don't remember where I had that fateful conversation with Awi, a friend from med school days. I'm pretty sure it was the year 2000 and I was sick and tired of the lack of tact, respect and subtlety in society. In other words, I was sick of people telling me I had less-than-perfect skin. I told Awi about my dream retorts to fight all my verbal oppressors. In a flash of genius (or maybe he just wanted me to shut up), Awi told me to just write everything down and submit it to a magazine.

So I wrote my first humor essay. It was about acne and how I wanted to reply to every rude person who has ever told me I could've been pretty if it weren't for my scars. I showed Awi my essay ... and he laughed. He laughed hard. 

That was when I realized that Awi was certifiably crazy. Oh and that I could make people laugh by just writing what was normally in my head. Most importantly, I realized that making people laugh with me felt absolutely wonderful. It felt like I had done a bit of good in the world.

Although I earn my living as a writer of serious medical things, I don't think I will ever be comfortable calling myself a writer. My grammar leaves much to be desired, my vocabulary is elementary, my spelling skills give me nightmares and punctuation often gives me pain (although I have an ongoing romantic relationship with parentheses). In spite of all these technical flaws, I know that for as long as there is something funny in my head, I will write about it and hope someone out there laughs with me (or stifles a laugh for fear of being caught at work reading senseless blogs) (you know who you are).

So to all my friends who have liked my stories, thank you. And thank you for telling me about it. 

And if you want to start a fund for my future laser skin resurfacing, I wouldn't mind it a whole lot either.

Pet-owner for a day

Newsflash: I'm not a pet person.

Before I receive the wrath of animal lovers, I want to clarify that I'm not exactly cold towards all animals. I appreciate zoos (I may have been to too many) and funny animal pics and heartwarming animal stories and talking Disney animals (maybe that doesn't count). Sure, I like my friends' well-behaved and clean dogs but I never really longed for a pet of my own. I blame the neighbor's giant dog that pinned me down when I was a child and gave me dog phobia for life. To this day, when I think of dogs, I have flashbacks of saliva dripping from canine teeth a couple of inches from my face.

In college, a friend gave me a small green turtle (I forget why), which I put on my side table. We stared at each other a few times and I let it scramble across my bed once or twice. I did my best to keep it alive by feeding it with pellets and making sure his (her?) enclosure was clean. For the most part, though, I think the turtle and I were just both very confused as to why we were in each other's life. When that turtle met his (her?) violent death at the hands of a killer rat (I promise you this was an accident), I felt a decent amount of shock and requisite sadness. My family replaced the turtle (I really should've told people that I don't care much for turtles) and if I remember correctly, that second one escaped its home and died a lonely death under the dusty computer table.

The one and only 'pet' I loved was a teeny tiny kitten that literally strayed into my life many years ago. I thought of him (her? I should check these things) when I saw this image on the Daily Squee. This is a spitting image of my former 'pet'.

Find the hidden kitten. Clue: it's under a bear knee. 

It all began one ordinary morning. I was in our living room with some friends when, from out of nowhere, the tiniest orange kitten casually strolled into our midst. No doors were open so it's still a mystery to me how it got inside our house – for a minute, I thought I was imagining it. After shedding a few tears at the cuteness (Am I the only one who cries at cute things?), I picked it up and found the shaking baby was barely bigger than my hand. The kitten looked a bit lost and hungry, so I tried to feed it with water and whatever milk we had in the ref. I was at it the whole day and night without much success. I don't think I did much else that day but wipe my tears and feed.

When I woke up the next day, the kitten was nowhere to be found (I'm pretty sure the killer rat didn't get to it). Like the broken-hearted idiot that I was, I cried silently in my room and prayed that the kitten found his (her? OK I'll stop) mommy.

And that's the rather boring and humorless story about my one-day pet. I think I just needed an excuse to repost the kitten-under-the-teddy-bear pic. My heartfelt apologies. 

(But really, it's a cute kitten pic, right? *silent tears*) 

The blogger is still alive, just FYI

Here's a quick recap of my weekend with the ever-logical Martina (who will turn 5 this June, hhnnoooo!):

Martina: What part of me do you like hugging?
Me: I like hugging all of you!
Martina: I like hugging your legs. They're so tough.
(I'm so flattered.)
Me: Martina, are you so cute?
Martina: No, I'm famous.
Me: Why are you famous?
Martina: I'm just famous.
(Can't argue there. My blog is exhibit A.)

Later that day, before I helped her shower:
Martina: Can I use the bowl (she was referring to the 'basin') in the shower?
Me: I don't think you can fit. You're too big now.
Martina: Maybe when I'm a baby again? I'll be 2 then 1 then a baby.
Me: Marteens, I'm so sorry but you'll never be a baby again.
Martina: Really?
Me: Yes, you're growing up.
Martina: I'll be a teenage boy?
Me: I don't think you're going to be a boy.
Martina: My cousin is a teenager.
Me: Really? How old is he?
Martina: He's 52.
The scary thing is that she always makes perfect sense to me.


Epilogue: When Martina's mommy read this entry, she told me that this morning, Martina told her she liked hugging my legs because they're "so big and fat". I think I'll stick with "tough". Thanks, guys. 

Monday, February 07, 2011

Words get in the way

(Sorry to disappoint you, Ate, but this is not a blog entry on Gloria Estefan.)

I realize I haven't written in a while, considering I was on a good blog roll a while back. Thanks to a million and one factors, words just don't come easily sometimes. (I'm sticking to that excuse. It sounds much more mysterious than "I'm a lazy blogger who would rather watch meaningless TV shows than write.")

Thinking about words reminded me about, who else, Martina. Although when thrown into a crowd of strangers, the 4-year-old morphs into a miniature statue devoid of speech, hearing or large movement, Martina is usually quite confident. At her gym, she will twist and turn and tumble without fear of injury. When you ask her anything (assuming you are not a stranger), she will answer with such aplomb that you will doubt your own reality. When she doesn't know the right word to use, she picks a word from her own special vocabulary, which I hope to legalize someday. Sparkly neever!!!

Over our Christmas vacation, I bought Martina a toy watering can so she could play with it in Hua Hin (never happened – it was high tide during our waking hours). When I was looking for it though, I couldn't remember what it was called. I asked my sister, who also couldn't remember the term at the time. While I was deep in thought, trying to remember "watering can", Martina came up to me and said,

"Oh you mean the water ting-ting?"

Water ting-ting. It rolls off the tongue better than "watering can" or "the thing you use to water the plants but not the hose or the sprinkler" (which is what I said before Martina offered her own term).

Before that vacation ended, Martina revealed another new word. She wanted ice for her drink (scotch, apparently) and stuck her head in the cooler. When she looked up, she asked,

"Where's the snapper?"

... which is a more descriptive word than "ice tongs". Now that I think of it though, "ice tong-tong" would've just knocked it out of the park. Martina, I think there is still room for improvement.

I discovered (yes, "discovered", not "recalled") that I had written previously about Martina's vocabulary. I read it and, because of what I suspect is vanity mixed with boredom, was pleasantly amused by my own entry. It's fantastic to have poor memory sometimes. My past surprises me.

Another addendum:
Let's not forget about the ching-ching!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

More from the Thailand files: A roomy room

Silly as it may sound, I won't forget this recent Thailand trip because of one particular restroom. If I need to state the obvious, here goes: I have a thing for good public toilets. I even wrote guidelines a while back, mostly because I was sick of impractical and dirty restrooms and partly because I was at gunpoint. In a nutshell, I love ladies rooms that are clean, thoughtfully designed and unique. Who doesn't?

Anyway, we were at the Fly Now Outlet in Hua Hin, quietly going about our (mostly window) shopping, when my older sister excitedly announced that she had just been to THE BEST RESTROOM in the world. I practically ran to the stalls (because I really needed to go, not because I wanted to show my sisterly support). Martina, now-famous 4-year-old niece, quickly followed me.

When I saw the restroom, I understood my sister's elation. Although I wouldn't say it was the best ever, that particular one was a joy. I wanted to spend long and lazy hours in that room, with a good book or an iPhone app or two. Although the design and fixtures weren't exactly creative (that is, the toilet looked like a toilet and the sink looked like a sink), it was overwhelming in a good way. Here's a pic:

Tadaaaah! ... aaa ... aaa ... (toilet echo: one of man's worst enemies)
I'm telling you, this room was HUGE. I'm sure there are apartments in New York and Hong Kong that are smaller than this restroom. In my 'guidelines', I specified the need for 'reasonable leg room per cubicle'. The Fly Now restroom took it further and gave you the option to park your Ford Expedition inside the stall. I assumed the size was intentional though. After all, the outlet had extraordinarily gigantic (and very pink) guards, who hung out outside the building. I suppose even dinosaurs need to pee. (I'm trying to stop myself from imagining dino-poop. I'm failing, FYI.)

Pink Martina with the pink security guard
The cubicle was relatively empty, but the cold concrete walls and floor were softened by the two potted plants at the far end. The metal ceiling was high and each stall was open near the top. In effect, you could hear the 'activities' of your 'neighbors' if you listened carefully (I would be worried if you're the type who would actually want to listen. I know a good psychiatrist.) 

My favorite part about this minimalist restroom, apart from its cleanliness, was the long wooden bench that ran across the whole length of one of its walls. Martina's favorite, on the other hand, was that everything was within her tiny reach. She had already seen and used the restroom, which explained why she was only too happy to join me.

I wasn't expecting to get the royal treatment, but I felt like I had my own personal assistant as I went about my business. When I was ... um ... seated, Martina sat on the bench, directly in front of me, and we had a very pleasant conversation, given that we were in a rather unsanitary scenario. When I was done, Martina jumped off the bench and shouted, 'WAIT, I'LL GIVE YOU TISSUE, TITA ENG!!!' Thankfully, I was in a foreign country and there was little danger of being recognized on account of my name ricocheting off the cubicle walls. Martina also took care of flushing the toilet, opening and closing the tap, and giving me paper towels to dry my hands. I tipped her with a hug, but she wanted a Ralph Lauren sports coat. I would've given it if she had waxed the Expedition too.

So I've completely forgotten my point. 

Oh yes: Restroom! Big! Clean! Cute toilet attendant! Fun times!

The end. Or is it? (Tan dan daaaaaaaaaan ... aaan ... aaan)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Thailand: An enlightening experience

Deep in the recesses of a Thailand mall, I discovered a precious secret that was kept successfully for ages and ages. Today, in this unholy hour, I bestow upon myself the responsibility of letting the world finally know how Hello Kitty stays as bright as light.

Sorry Hello Kitty, I had to do it. 

Of course, Hello Kitty is not known for selfishness and hoarding. Apparently, she shares her beauty products with her cousins in Safari World ...

Hello, Kitty. Stay ... stay ...
and some really REALLY distant (and creepy) relatives.


At least the flamingoes weren't into the whole peer pressure scene. They took the opposite route and went crazy with some Stabilo (am I circa or what?). Highlighter parteh!!!

Why am I having med school flashbacks?

There you have it. Another edgy photojournalistic piece from me. I'm sure this would've been better if I had some kind of photography or editing talent, or maybe a smidgen of sense. To make up for it, here's (a younger) Martina impersonating you-know-who. Because a smiling child makes everything better.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Thailand: A fruity preview

Just came back from spending the holidays with my family in Thailand. Lots to share but so little time. For now, here's a 'giant' teaser:

May our 2011 be larger than life!