Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Let me spell it out for you

I like people who go the imagined extra mile for their jobs.

Last month, we had to stay in a small hotel in the suburbs for my sister's wedding in Illinois. At check-in, the elderly receptionist explained the usual stuff to us: how to work the key card; the checkout times; the room amenities (were there room amenities?); and the free hotel wifi (yey!) ... which had a password.

"I'm going to write it down for you," said the kind sir.*

I thought that was nice of him. I watched as he so carefully wrote every character of their top-secret password. It looked like it was going to be one of those that looked like HSrafa3U8nadal46sW (don't test that on my computer) or something equally complicated.

And then he showed us the password written in very shaky handwriting:

"C A B L E"


Awwwwww. And hahahahahhaha. But more awwwwww.


After the wedding, we checked in at the same hotel. They changed the password to ...

"B E A C H"

And yes, the receptionist wrote it down again.



*Hi Mia, this is a shout-out to you. Kind sir!!!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hi, Ruthie!!!

DISCLAIMER: This entry is about children. Not Juancho or Martina this time (aww) but about some more kids I love. So if you are allergic to cuteness, move on. And think about your pathetic, meaningless life, you little ...

I kid. I kid. 

And speaking of kids ...

I love children. In all shapes and forms. If you've read a few blog entries or if you're my Facebook friend or Instagram follower, then you know this. At some point, you've said to yourself, "Orange must really like kids" or "Wow, another picture of a baby on her wall" or "What?? Another entry about her nephew/niece???" or "One more picture of a baby and I'm going to block her".

(So you're still here, huh?)

When I was in med school, I both dreaded and loved going on duty at the nursery. I loved it for obvious reasons. Being surrounded by newborns? Heaven. Having to extract blood from them? Hell. And here's another fun fact I'd like to share (I've probably written about this before): I cry at cuteness. So it didn't matter if I just had to monitor a baby's heart rate or extract blood from a tiny heel: I cried beside every single crib. During every single nursery duty. To be honest, that is part of the reason I knew I couldn't be a practicing doctor. But that's a whole other blog entry (or maybe a full novel).

(Thinking about blocking me again, huh?)

One of the best things about my latest major trip to the United States was that I met more than one unforgettable kid.

There was 17-month-old Dana, the teeniest, tiniest, softest baby who rarely cried (sometimes, it would just be a lone tear running down her precious cheek) and who grinned at people when they weren't looking so that when they did look, they would get the best smiley surprise ever.

Dana clapping at her cuteness

There was 7-year-old AD, who read and remembered everything. This girl had smarts and creativity and talent oozing out of her every waking second. She would start a crafts project in one corner of the house and then would run to her room to start another one or practice her piano pieces while talking to her pet fish in between her million activities. She taught me that you could wash dollar bills with water. (I don't think I will try it with pesos.)

AD x 2

There was 4-year-old Ava who loved saying my name and proudly introduced me to her best friend even if she barely knew me. She showed me the pantry as part of the home tour and showed me where they kept her cereal. She insisted on sleeping in her princess costume because she wanted to keep being a princess even in her sleep. I cannot argue with this logic.

I promise you I did not put Ava in that basket

There were children I just barely waved at, some I exchanged a few hello's with, and some who I saw when they were sleeping (nothing creepy here, I was with their parents, I promise). I wish I could've spent more time with all of them.

And then there was Ruthie.

I first met Ruthie at the tail end of an extremely difficult day. I had just come from a very emotionally draining meeting at the hospital. In a nutshell, it was about a friend and his cancer, and I embarrassed myself by crying more than the patient. It was such a heavy day that when my sister saw me at one point, she so tactfully and clearly told me that I "looked like hell".

Thanks, Apple. 

Anyway, I met my friends from San Francisco for dinner that night. And they brought their then 8-month-old baby. It was Ruthie. 


When I first held her, she was a bit sleepy and judgy. She pushed me away and looked at me like she found me at the bottom of her shoe after walking through the remains of a cow who had been dead for 4 days.  

This is how that looked.

Baby bewildered
Baby pushing me and my 5 chins away

After a few minutes, Ruthie started to come around and I learned the first profound truth about her: Ruthie was the happiest baby in the world. 

I honestly believe I had to meet her that particular day just to even out the negative emotions of all the hours before dinnertime. Without a shadow of a doubt, I know that Ruthie was sent to be my angel of joy. Because how could you keep a heavy heart after seeing this smile:

Equally happy mother-of-Ruthie seen here

Fast forward to many months later, when I was blessed with the chance to be with Ruthie and her smile again.  

This is Ruthie at 19 months. 


If you haven't guessed from the picture, Ruthie is still the happiest girl in the world. At her age, she might also be the friendliest. I lost count of how many times she said "HI!!!" to us at full volume. It was the kind of "hi" you say when you accidentally see a friend in the mall and you are genuinely happy to see the person (as opposed "desperately attempt to hide behind a mall column"). The kind of "hi" that you cannot ignore. Dinner was just an endless cycle of Ruthie saying "hi", Ruthie sprinting through their house a few times, and then Ruthie seeing us like it was the first time, prompting her to say ... guess what. Needless to say, I loved it. Who cares about having an adult conversation with boring old adults when a baby wants to say "hi"?

Also, I had forgotten how entertaining toddlers learning to talk could be. This is Ruthie practicing some animal words.

And speaking of animals ...

Ruthie's mommy, Pauline, was trying to entertain her using a book with cut-out faces of animals. It was designed so the reader would look like s/he had animal ears and whatnot and you can teach children about animal sounds and the fact that parents will do almost anything for their baby. 

So Pauline stuck her face in the pig-face hole and tried to get some interaction going. 

Mommy: "Hi Ruthie! Hi! Hi!!! What does the pig say?"

Ruthie: (confident) "HI!!!"

She wasn't wrong, you know. 

And speaking of "hi" ... again ...

My last day in the US was spent with Ruthie and her family. Before my flight, we went to downtown San Francisco and, unfortunately for me, Ms Tropical 2013, it was an unsurprisingly chilly day. It was so cold that even Ruthie's smile seemed a bit frozen. Or so I thought.

Mommy: "It's cold, Ruthie. Cold!"

Ruthie: "Cold ... cold ... HI COLD!!!"


Never change, Ruthie. And thank you.

Some of the original pictures of me and 8-month-old Ruthie ("Judgy" and the last one) were taken by Ian Santos. I just filtered the heck out of it. Thanks, Ian!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A quick Spanish lesson

(Before proceeding, I need to warn any young readers that this post is about a bad word, and you will need to ask permission from your guardian before continuing to read. Go now. Why are you still there? Why are you even online?! Close the browser!!! I'm going to call your mother!!! 


Also, I apologize in advance to any other readers who might be offended by cursing in general and those who are sensitive to the * symbol.)

Mama, Dad and I watched a bit of the Australian Open on TV last Friday. We caught the third-round match between David Ferrer (friend of Rafa, I need to add) of Spain and Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus. Ferrer just lost the point and the camera zoomed in on his face as he was mouthing a very emphatic 'p*ta'.

Me [laughing]: Rafa says that a lot too.

(Clearly, someone is obsessed about a certain someone else.)

Dad: What? Of course not. Why would they say that? Is that Spanish?

(Clearly, someone does not know his colonizer's influence on the vernacular.)

Mama [and you know I was already bracing myself for what she could possibly say]: Of course it's Spanish.

(Clearly, someone does not always say funnily inaccurate things.)

Mama: ... It means 'ANIMAL.'

(I take it back. And I laugh uproariously.)

Even *they* think Mama is funny.

Epilogue: Ferrer won 6-4 6-2 6-3. He's an ANIMAL!!! And I mean it in a very non-curse-y way.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Mama being Mama again (subtitle: MAMA MIO!)

So my parents and I were going home from a dinner. I was driving, and Mama was in the passenger seat. When we got to C5 Libis, Mama blurted out:

"We haven't visited PAPA PYO!"

Papa ... Pyo?

Could she have been talking about ...

Papa P? Pyo ... lo?

We haven't visited Piolo Pascual? Is he a long-lost cousin or brother??? (Because the resemblance is striking, obviously.)

That's when I realized we were passing in front of ...

The PADRE PIO chapel.

I will end with that because I have run out of words.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Ax and you shall receive

Last New Year's Eve, my entire family was locked out of our house. For over an hour.

Maybe I should explain.

As far as holiday traditions go, my nuclear family probably has the simplest ones. For the last few years, we just open a bottle of champagne and don't even bother cooking anything for media noche. There is usually bread of some sort, and maybe some fruit (well, there is ALWAYS a fruit in the house ... wink wink ...), and definitely leftovers from the entire season of food. For entertainment, we go out on the street and watch our neighbors' fireworks (which, I have to mention, has been getting bigger and better and louder, so much so that when I took a video this year, all you could hear on playback is my frightened screams of 'OH MY GOD!').

Oh wait. I have proof ... of my cowardice.

Sorry about the wires. I was pretending they could shield me.

Last year was no exception. After forcing ourselves away from the TV/bed, my parents, little (?) sister Mia and I went outside just before 12 AM to check out the explosions and such.

It was nice. Loud booms and ringing bells and clanging gongs (yes, gongs) and semi-irritating horns. Sparkly fountains of color through the haze. 'Tangled'-like lanterns pretending to be nearby planets (see vid below – I obviously just found out you can upload YouTube vids on Blogger and am going embed-crazy).

If you haven't seen Tangled, get to it. It's fantastic. Hi Zachary Levi.

Then we all had enough and headed back to the house. And that's when we discovered the locked door.

To this day, no one knows exactly what happened. Who was the last person to exit and possibly mindlessly lock the door before stepping out? Could've been me (maybe I needed new blog topics), could've been any other sleepy person with me that night. Allegedly, the door locked itself sometimes but I have trouble believing that because ... how the hell???

The upside is we have proven to ourselves that our house is EXTREMELY, FRUSTRATINGLY difficult to break into, especially given that zero members of the family are international spies or savage criminals (this is only an assumption). My window-grill–obsessed architect father had successfully protected all of the possible ways to insert a fully grown human into the existing openings. Even if the house keys were on top of a table 6 feet from the windows (they weren't), there were also no fishing poles or extendable clamps in sight.

Just to be clear: There have never been any fishing poles or extendable clamps in our house in my lifetime.

Thankfully, my dad kept a small set of assorted tools near the garden (which, like us, was also outside the house). After many unsuccessful attempts at using the garden shears, a hammer and chisel, a screwdriver, and other tools I can't remember now, dad decided that the best item to use was an old, rusty ax. So my poor father spent the first hour of 2012 hacking away at the ridiculously sturdy doorknob.

This was the aftermath:

You could say these were ... *puts on sunglasses*
... axed out.
The victim.

After over an hour that felt like a whole year (we should've checked if the fireworks were restarting), we were finally able to sit down at the dining table, drink some much-needed alcohol and laugh feebly at the first misadventure of 2012.

Last night, the final night of 2012, I reminded my parents to leave the door just slightly ajar as they exited to watch the fireworks. Dad, on the other hand, had other ideas. And possibly a trauma-filled memory of last year's fiasco.

And so:

Dad: McGyver. Me: Giving away age by using McGyver references.


May we all learn from our mistakes and remember to never completely close the door.

(Unless you have valuables in the house or something. Then that would be just foolish.)