Overall, I'm proud of what I've accomplished this month. I can't wait to participate again next year!
Friday, November 30, 2007
Overall, I'm proud of what I've accomplished this month. I can't wait to participate again next year!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Speaking of Chuy, his coat has finally grown back in time for fall and winter. This is Chuy after his haircut this summer:
And this is him now:
He's still the same skinny dog but he looks bigger on account of all that fur.
In addition to the temperatures dipping, today I've realized that there are 27 shopping days left until Christmas. That may sound like plenty of time to shop, but it'll be Christmas before I know it. I've already started thinking about my Christmas list this year, and my strategy for avoiding crowds at the mall. There's nothing I hate more than the unholy trinity of holiday shopping: fighting traffic getting to the mall, dificulty in finding a parking space, and standing in long lines. If I do have to make a mall visit, I'll make sure to breathe deeply and count to ten.
And of course, remember the holiday spirit.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Cynematic, a friend I’ve made courtesy of NaBloPoMo, has tagged me for a random meme tag. I’ve seen this done at other blogs I’ve visited but this is the first time I’ve been tagged (so excited! Finally, I have a blogger buddies!). Here are the rules:
- Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
- Share seven random or weird things about yourself.
- Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
So here are seven random or weird things about me that you may or may not know:
- I am not afraid of spiders but I am afraid of cockroaches, especially the ones with wings. A childhood incident scarred me for life when a HUGE cockroach with wings landed on my head and crawled around for a few seconds. It was really, really gross! I get goosebumps right now just thinking about it.
- I cannot walk and drink at the same time. I have to come to a full stop, drink then resume walking.
- When I am thinking hard about something or focusing on what someone is telling me I look like I’m frowning or scowling.
- When I was younger I could tell right from left by popping my right shoulder. My right shoulder was injured when I fell down a flight of concrete stairs and it never healed properly.
- I inadvertently rename people whose given names don’t fit their looks and/or personality. In high school I was always calling this one guy “Sam” when his name was Andy, and at my old job I called this girl “Patricia” even though her name was Priscilla. Personally, I think my names are better.
- I love weddings. I live vicariously through people planning weddings because I didn’t have a church ceremony or reception for mine (but I don’t regret it). If you ask me to go wedding gown shopping or cake tasting I’m your gal!
- When I was in elementary school I was always the tallest (or second tallest) girl in my class. I didn't grow much during adolescence because I only grew to be 5’3” tall. My husband Rene thinks it's because I didn't take a lot of naps when I was younger. I am the shortest person in my family.
Sharing is caring, so will the following people please share seven random or weird things about yourselves:
Monday, November 26, 2007
Many movies and TV shows were filmed at the Arboretum, chief among them Wonder Woman, Fantasy Island, and many movies from the 1930s to 1950s that were set in the jungle or in a tropical island such as Tarzan and Anna and the King of Siam. Below is a picture of the cottage, where exterior shots for Fantasy Island were filmed:
Me pointing at the bell tower where Tattoo yelled, "The plane! The plane!":
This is Baldwin Lake, where the seaplane for Fantasy Island would land at the beginning of every episode. Now it's where the turtles and geese hang out:
As you can tell from my references above, I watched plenty of Fantasy Island while growing up and was one of my favorite shows. I'd watch this show every day during summer vacation, when it was shown during the day. What I liked best about this show was the idea of a mysterious island somewhere in the Pacific where people from all walks of life could come and live out their fantasies for a price.
Each episode began with the introduction of the guests in which Mr. Roarke (in a white suit, played by Ricardo Montalban) would describe to Tattoo (dwarf assistant played by Hervé Villechaize) the nature of each person's fantasy, with a cryptic comment on why the person's fantasy will not turn out as expected. The episode would then alternate between two or three independent storylines as the guests experienced their fantasies and interacted with Mr. Roarke. Often, the fantasies would turn out to be morality lessons for the guests, sometimes to the point of putting their lives at risk, only to have Mr. Roarke step in at the last minute and reveal the deception. It is mentioned a few times that a condition of visiting Fantasy Island is that guests never reveal what goes on there. I don't remember distinct episodes but was always interested in each guest's fantasy. It'd probably be really cheesy now but I loved watching this show back then.
My current fantasy? To win the lottery, get out of the rat race, and buy my own fantasy island. I'd make Chuy wear a white tuxedo and teach him to ring a bell to announce the arrival of family and friends who've come by for a visit. How great would that be?
Sunday, November 25, 2007
As soon as I got home, I introduced Mr. Turtle to Chuy. Chuy sniffed Mr. Turtle intently at first, trying to figure out what this thing was that I brought home. After a minute or two or sniffing, Chuy decided to try to put the turtle in his mouth. Panicked, I brought Chuy inside the house so that Mr. Turtle could recover, settle in, and explore his new surroundings. I marveled at Mr. Turtle's speed and curiousity - whoever said turtles were slow creatures never met Mr. Turtle, because ten minutes later he was at the other side of the yard.
The next day was Thanksgiving Day, and remembering the episode from the day before, I put Mr. Turtle in a box atop the patio table before letting Chuy out. Unbeknownst to me, Rene had other plans for Mr. Turtle and let him out of the box. A few minutes later I heard Chuy barking and growling at something in the backyard, so I went outside to check it out. Guess what that dog had in his mouth? Mr. Turtle! I must’ve screamed as I pried Chuy’s jaws open because everyone in the house came running over to see what was going on. I dragged the dog inside and placed Mr. Turtle on the grass. Thank goodness for that hard shell! I yelled at Rene for letting the turtle out when Chuy almost attacked him the day before, to which he replied that the hard shell should protect the turtle no matter how many times Chuy put him in his mouth. After that episode, I didn’t think having these two animals in the same yard was a good idea, so Rene dropped off Mr. Turtle at his mom’s house. Rene later mentioned that Mr. Turtle did sustain some damage to his shell from the bite and was glad that I had intervened before Chuy made turtle soup out of him.
After letting him loose in my mother-in-law’s huge backyard, Mr. Turtle was nowhere to be found a few hours later. Everyone in the house looked for him and found him half an hour later, digging a hole about three inches deep. The next day, the next-door neighbor knocked on the door and told my mother-in-law that the turtle was out on the sidewalk walking towards the street. Somehow Mr. Turtle found a way to open the side gate, even though the gate is six feet tall with a latch. My mother-in-law put the turtle back inside the yard and made sure that the latch was fastened. The next day, Mr. Turtle was gone.
Rene thinks that Mr. Turtle is a native California turtle similar to the ones he’d heard of while visiting a turtle reserve at California City (California City, CA – there I said it twice!). Rene visited during the winter time, and the Park Ranger told him that the turtles were underground during the fall and winter months, about four feet deep, hibernating. Rene thinks that the recent land development near our house may have unearthed the turtle, forcing it to search for a new place to burrow until I picked it up and decided to make it my pet. I sincerely hope that Mr. Turtle is in a nicely holed up somewhere nice and cozy for the winter.
As for me, I will never pick up another turtle again – unless I am planning to serve it to my dog, who obviously considers turtle soup a delicacy.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I am thankful for my health, which I should be taking care of more often.
I am thankful for my husband, who is a wonderful friend and the best partner I can ask for.
I am thankful for my family and friends, whose love and support I cherish and treasure.
I am also thankful for stores like TJ Maxx, who always manage to offer great fashion at affordable prices. Check out my latest purchase:
Lately I have been having a love affair with flat shoes, and this pair is the perfect shade of cobalt that I have been searching for: a fine royal blue with a tinge of purple. I’ll be wearing this throughout the fall and winter months to jazz up my wardrobe.
This year we celebrated Thanksgiving at my mom’s house. Thanksgiving is an adopted holiday for us (we are originally from the Philippines), one that we’ve embraced throughout the years. Because it’s an adopted holiday, the food we serve are a little bit different. By different I mean that we are not bound to the traditional fare: turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie, etc. Certainly we have some of those elements in our meal every year but sometimes we’ll substitute ham for turkey (sometimes turkey is just too dry!) and add a little something different to the mix. This year we had what I’ll call wieners-cheese-and-marshmallow on a stick. Behold my masterpiece:
So basically I’ve strung cubes of cheese, miniature wieners, pineapple, and marshmallow along a bamboo stick and stuck the stick into a head of cabbage. Back in the Philippines my mom used to make these works of art for our birthday parties, except that hot dogs were used instead of wieners and the sticks were stuck to a pineapple. I don’t know how these seemingly random ingredients were brought together to create this food but I can tell you they’re as familiar to me as pumpkin pie is to Thanksgiving. I wish I could show you pictures from past birthday parties to illustrate my point. I ate a ton of these yesterday, while putting them together and throughout the day. I might need to buy some new pants to tide me over until the holidays are over.
While I’m on the subject of things that we do a little bit differently on Turkey Day, here’s another one that sticks out: instead of watching the Thanksgiving Day parade and football games (which we used to watch before the advent of The Filipino Channel), we watch whatever programming is being shown on The Filipino Channel (TFC). During Thanksgiving lunch, they were airing a game show:
This channel is what my parents watch 90% of the time. Personally, I’ve grown to like it over the years because it gives me a glimpse of Filipino life that I don’t see anywhere here in the US. By watching TFC I learn about what Filipinos in the Philippines like to watch and the current events that they care about. I’m hoping this information will help me connect with my relatives, whom I will be visiting this coming May. I can’t wait to see how my aunts, uncles, and cousins look like – it’s been a long time since we’ve gotten together. Hopefully I’ll surprise them with my intimate knowledge of the most popular soap operas and famous celebrities.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Below is a photo essay on the wonderful things I bought from Target for my birthday:
1. Tunic top by Erin Fetherston for Target: I loved this top as soon as I laid eyes on it. It's simple in design but the details are pretty: rounded collar, red buttons, and velvet ribbon stitching. Target has this line called GO International, where couture designers like Erin Fetherston design a limited collection for Target. The collection is sold over a two-month period only. Past GO International designers include Paul & Joe, Libertine, Behnaz Sarafpour, Prouenza Schuler, and Alice Temperley. This time I was at Target on the first day of the collection, so I got to see every piece in every size. This is my mom's birthday gift to me.
2. Cream dress by Erin Fetherston for Target: Another gift from my mom. This dress looks great with tall boots or tights and mary janes. Since I'm petite the skirt isn't as short as it appears on the picture.
3. Silver ballet flats by Xhiliration: I bought these flats for myself. I have been enamored with these ballet flats from J. Crew for some time and was thrilled to find a cheap alternative at Target for $14.99!
This is how they look with jeans:
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I went to Target to buy a gift for a baby shower, then preceded to wander the aisles. For an hour. There is always something new and interesting to see at Target.
After Target, I went to a baby shower thrown by my cousin Sharon. I ended up eating a lot of food, which is rare for me to do during parties. I usually get three bites in before I start yapping away and forget about my plate. Then the food gets cold and I end up tossing it. This time I finished my plate and had a chocolate cupcake topped with pink frosting afterwards. The one I had is pictured above in the middle tier. It tasted so good.
Then I went home and watched License to Wed. I'd recommend it if you like Mandy Moore and the cast of The Office but aside from that, I'd skip it. If you're wondering why I watched it, it's because I got it for free.
I went out to a Chinese restaurant for dinner and ate too much (again). Rene and I watched Ocean's 13 afterwards. All that food made me sleepy, so I fell asleep at the 20 minute mark and didn't get up until 12:30 am.
That's when I realized that I forgot to post an entry for Saturday. I planned to post an entry a day for the entire month of November but given this month's activity, both at work and at home, I'm surprised I made it this far.
Friday, November 16, 2007
My earliest memory of my brother is when he was one or two years old. I pretended he was my younger sister and put lipstick on him while we were alone in my parent’s bedroom. I don’t know if he remembers this incident but I will say this: he made a really cute girl. A cute little Japanese girl with creamy alabaster skin and short hair. When my brother was younger his skin and hair were very light, and sometimes I doubted that we even came from the same family. Perhaps a Japanese family lost their baby while visiting the Philippines??
I also remember fighting over a credenza that we shared. The credenza had drawers down the middle and two toddler-sized closets on each side. One closet door had a cute teddy bear painted on it and the other door had a cute little bunny painted on it. Of course it mattered to both of us which closet door we were assigned, and of course we both wanted the same one: the teddy bear. I wanted the teddy bear because I thought it was a girl; my little brother wanted the teddy bear because he thought it was a boy. After a long debate about the bear’s gender – the teddy bear did have big curly eyelashes (which to me meant the bear was a girl) but was wearing a blue ribbon around its neck (which to my brother meant the bear was a boy) – my mom made me give the teddy bear closet to my brother because I was older. I got the stupid bunny with a yellow ribbon around its neck.
Of course, not all my childhood memories of my brother involved me giving up something; there were fun times too. Once when I was eleven years old and we were living in a townhouse in South San Francisco, my brother got this bright idea to use a sleeping bag as a sled, which we used to slide down the (carpeted) stairs. We’d get inside the sleeping bag, pull it all the way up to our chins, then launch ourselves from the top of the stairs. We tried different configurations with the sleeping bag-slash-sled: individual, double, triple. My favorite was the triple, when my brother, sister, and I all got into the sleeping bag and slid down the stairs together. We had fun like this for hours.
Now my brother is a tall, handsome man, a far cry from the scrawny boy who had a hard time gaining weight and had braces and acne during his teenage years. Now he’s the most stylish guy I know and owns more clothes than me (and that is saying a LOT).
To my handsome and stylish brother – Happy Birthday! May you have many more wonderful years to come.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I remember some bad times, of course, because being a teller meant getting told off by customers who wanted their $10,000 check available NOW (even though their average monthly balance was $3) and by people who wanted to cash a check written by one of our customers – which was fine, except they either didn’t have proper identification (Blockbuster cards DO NOT count as proper ID) or didn’t want to wait until we compared the signature on the check to the signature card on file (this was way before computer imaging was popular). When I first started working there, bank was severely short-staffed and the lines were almost out the door every time I came to work. Eventually, the bank did hire additional tellers to keep the line to a minimum, but not before I got daily tongue lashings from people who have been standing in line 30-45 minutes. I really wanted to blurt out, “then use the goddamn ATM next time!” but I’d let the bad comments go in one ear and out the other. I mean, I was sorry that they had so spend so much time in line at a bank, but why dwell over something I couldn’t control? I could only do my job as fast as I was able and I’d have to be fine with that, nasty comments aside. Over time I developed a tougher skin.
Anyway, after I’d been working there for about six months, we got a new manager. Unlike our old manager, who was a very nice lady but wasn’t very personable, new manager was a young dude that liked to work hard but keep things fun. After closing out our registers and preparing for the next day, we’d have rubber band fights and stupid contests. One of our favorites was shooting rubber bands into garbage cans, with the winner being the one who could shoot the furthest. The cleaning staff was not thrilled with our antics.
The other thing the new manager liked to do was pull pranks on people. These were not pranks meant to make fun of or embarrass people, so it was fun. I remember pulling a prank on another teller by smearing ink all over his black pen so that when he picked it up his fingers would be covered in ink. I also remember pulling another prank where I switched out the numbers on another teller’s keypad so it read 4-5-6 instead of 1-2-3 on the bottom row. Of course, these people pulled pranks on me too, so it was all good. The pranks made work fun because you never knew what to expect when you came in. It was also fun plotting and devising ways to get the person back. Childish, I know. But those were good times.
We were all devastated when this manager left us for a better opportunity at another bank. I didn’t blame him for taking the job: he was very smart and his current job didn’t provide him with enough opportunities to advance. A few months later, I left the bank to work for a credit union where the pay was better but the people weren’t nearly as much fun.
I look back on those times fondly and sometimes wish I still had that fun work atmosphere from long ago. I’m not saying that we should have rubber band shoot-outs at work but it would be fun to pull harmless pranks once in a while. Because who doesn’t like a good laugh to blow off the stress of working?
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
ISTJs are quiet and reserved individuals who are interested in security and peaceful living. They have a strongly-felt internal sense of duty, which lends them a serious air and the motivation to follow through on tasks. Organized and methodical in their approach, they can generally succeed at any task which they undertake.
ISTJs are very loyal, faithful, and dependable. They place great importance on honesty and integrity. They are "good citizens" who can be depended on to do the right thing for their families and communities. While they generally take things very seriously, they also usually have an offbeat sense of humor and can be a lot of fun - especially at family or work-related gatherings.
ISTJs tend to believe in laws and traditions, and expect the same from others. They're not comfortable with breaking laws or going against the rules. If they are able to see a good reason for stepping outside of the established mode of doing things, the ISTJ will support that effort. However, ISTJs more often tend to believe that things should be done according to procedures and plans. If an ISTJ has not developed their Intuitive side sufficiently, they may become overly obsessed with structure, and insist on doing everything "by the book."
The ISTJ is extremely dependable on following through with things which he or she has promised. For this reason, they sometimes get more and more work piled on them. Because the ISTJ has such a strong sense of duty, they may have a difficult time saying "no" when they are given more work than they can reasonably handle. For this reason, the ISTJ often works long hours, and may be unwittingly taken advantage of.
The ISTJ will work for long periods of time and put tremendous amounts of energy into doing any task which they see as important to fulfilling a goal. However, they will resist putting energy into things which don't make sense to them, or for which they can't see a practical application. They prefer to work alone, but work well in teams when the situation demands it. They like to be accountable for their actions, and enjoy being in positions of authority. The ISTJ has little use for theory or abstract thinking, unless the practical application is clear.
ISTJs have tremendous respect for facts. They hold a tremendous store of facts within themselves, which they have gathered through their Sensing preference. They may have difficulty understanding a theory or idea which is different from their own perspective. However, if they are shown the importance or relevance of the idea to someone who they respect or care about, the idea becomes a fact, which the ISTJ will internalize and support. Once the ISTJ supports a cause or idea, he or she will stop at no lengths to ensure that they are doing their duty of giving support where support is needed.
The ISTJ is not naturally in tune with their own feelings and the feelings of others. They may have difficulty picking up on emotional needs immediately, as they are presented. Being perfectionists themselves, they have a tendency to take other people's efforts for granted, like they take their own efforts for granted. They need to remember to pat people on the back once in a while.
ISTJs are likely to be uncomfortable expressing affection and emotion to others. However, their strong sense of duty and the ability to see what needs to be done in any situation usually allows them to overcome their natural reservations, and they are usually quite supporting and caring individuals with the people that they love. Once the ISTJ realizes the emotional needs of those who are close to them, they put forth effort to meet those needs.
The ISTJ is extremely faithful and loyal. Traditional and family-minded, they will put forth great amounts of effort at making their homes and families running smoothly. They are responsible parents, taking their parenting roles seriously. They are usually good and generous providers to their families. They care deeply about those close to them, although they usually are not comfortable with expressing their love. The ISTJ is likely to express their affection through actions, rather than through words.
ISTJs have an excellent ability to take any task and define it, organize it, plan it, and implement it through to completion. They are very hard workers, who do not allow obstacles to get in the way of performing their duties. They do not usually give themselves enough credit for their achievements, seeing their accomplishments simply as the natural fulfillment of their obligations.
ISTJs usually have a great sense of space and function, and artistic appreciation. Their homes are likely to be tastefully furnished and immaculately maintained. They are acutely aware of their senses, and want to be in surroundings which fit their need for structure, order, and beauty.
Under stress, ISTJs may fall into "catastrophe mode," where they see nothing but all of the possibilities of what could go wrong. They will berate themselves for things which they should have done differently, or duties which they failed to perform. They will lose their ability to see things calmly and reasonably, and will depress themselves with their visions of doom.
In general, the ISTJ has a tremendous amount of potential. Capable, logical, reasonable, and effective individuals with a deeply driven desire to promote security and peaceful living, the ISTJ has what it takes to be highly effective at achieving their chosen goals - whatever they may be.
I think for the most part this is true. What's YOUR personality type? Find out by taking the test here.
One red sedan, squeezing into my lane while the driver blew kisses to an unknown recipeint. Me? Could it possibly be me that she's lavishing this affection on? I mean, I DID let her slip in without any fanfare even though she cut me off. Aw shucks, you don't have to blow me kisses to show your gratitude! It was my pleasure!
A few seconds later I saw the intended receipient of the kisses: a white SUV sticking his middle finger out of the window. I think Ms. Red Sedan cut him off too. Classy.
I guess that's how LA commuters express their love for one another.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
My life is so boring that the highlight of last week was when the water dispenser in the break room broke and I didn’t know how else to get water. I was torn between taking water from the tap or going downstairs to buy bottled water (which I really hate doing, given that we have five gallon containers of water just sitting there but didn’t dare touch because it would look weird having me pour water from a five gallon jug to a small water bottle). Luckily someone told me that the water dispenser in the other kitchen was working, so why don’t I fill up there instead? Genius! Only I didn’t know that another kitchen had existed until then, and I’ve been working here for four whole months. Imagine working at a place for four whole months and not knowing there are two kitchens on your floor – another microwave, another refrigerator, another dishwasher even – and not using it. This information would’ve been helpful during those times that I’ve waited for someone to finish using the microwave. There have been times when I’ve waited for up to five minutes for a fellow employee to take their food out of the microwave; after five minutes were up, I figured their grace period was over and I’d take their food out and put mine in. I don’t like doing this but I have needs, chief among them hot food. This other microwave would’ve made life so much simpler. Sigh. Better late than never I suppose.
So for the rest of last week, and this week as well, I have been using the water dispenser at the newly discovered kitchen. I was so thrilled with this new discovery that I have been filling up my water bottles two at a time, just in case others discover the new kitchen and take all the water. That being said, guess what happened this morning? Yep, the water dispenser in the old kitchen has been fixed. And it’s been that way since Monday morning. I’m not complaining about the extra steps I took to get to the new kitchen, but come on: there’s got to be a public service announcement for these kinds of things.
Monday, November 12, 2007
My kind of funk is not be confused with the following:
(a) The Funk one feels when dancing, as in We’ve Got the Funk!
(b) The Funk that is synonymous with bad odors, as in “damn, that bathroom smells funk-y!”
My kind of Funk is the kind where you feel so blasé about everything: you don’t feel like doing anything or talking to anyone. You have nothing interesting to say to your husband, or co-workers, or random strangers in the elevator whose shoes you are seriously in love with. The mouth stays shut and the expression blank; the best I could do today was a closed-mouth smile when my boss came around, and only because I like her. I’ve tried shaking it off by visiting my favorite websites, especially those chronicling the adventures of a certain celebrity (we’ll call her Whitney Beers) and her propensity for doing something stupid every time a person with a camera is nearby. Oh Whitney, when will you ever wise up?
I was hoping The Funk would go away after lunch, but I’m afraid it’s settled in for the day. It brought its favorite paperback novel and is happily re-reading its favorite parts as I write this entry. I suppose we all have days when The Funk comes to visit (not to be confused with Flo who comes to town every 28 days), and it is entirely in our control how we choose to react to The Funk. Me? I’m attempting to block out The Funk by focusing on my work. If that still doesn’t help, I’ll need to watch reruns of The Office tonight and hope it goes away. Because honestly, who doesn’t enjoy watching the antics of one Dwight K. Schrute?
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Today is the day that the last two weeks have finally caught up with me. Last week, and the week before, I'd been working some crazy hours at the office, often coming in before 7 a.m. and staying until 7 p.m. I haven't had a hectic schedule like this in years and today it kicked me squarely in the pants. I've stayed in bed almost all day, watching movies and surfing the web. In between the movies and the web I've gotten up a handful of times for the bathroom and to find something to eat. I wish I could do this everyday.
Just the other day I had a conversation with someone at work about what we'd do all day if we didn't have to work. She said that at one point in her life, after getting laid off and getting a severance package at a former job, she had an opportunity to take a year off and took it. She said that during week one, she spent some time getting pampered, going to a spa and getting a new haircut. During week two she cleaned her entire house, and on week three she went on vacation with her husband at Lake Arrowhead. On week four, she got bored at home decided to go back to work. She said she didn't know what do during the day to fill the hours - she didn't like hanging out at the mall, she didn't really have a hobby, and I'm guessing she didn't watch a lot of TV either.
I don't know about you but I could find a million things to fill my days. Of course, a portion of those days would be devoted to sheer laziness like today, but there are so many things I'd like to do during the day if I didn't have to work. For example, I'd probably spend an hour or two every day working out. I'd also pursue a number of home improvement projects, like learning how to install wood flooring and ceramic tiles, painting walls, etc. - I'd be a home improvement bad ass and they'd know my name at Home Depot. When not working out or renovating my house, I'd find some time to volunteer. I'd also use the time to pursue other hobbies by taking a photography or ceramics class at the local college. I guess what I'm saying is that even without a job my days would be busy, and instead of being shackled to my desk, I'd be busy doing things I've always wanted to do.
Of course, there'd have to be some kind of travel budget as well - one that would allow me to visit a number of places during the year without going broke or having to take a part-time job to pay for it.
All of this is just a daydream, one that I find myself longing for lately. I've realized lately that life is not about things you acquire but about the things you do to enrich yourself and others around you. Now if only the lottery gods could hear me and give me a few million, I'd be set. For now, I go to work every day and toil in the hopes that this will become a reality in a few years.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
It wasn't too long ago that these discount travel centers were a rare sight here in LA, so I was pleasantly surprised to find them occupying a space at my favorite mall.
According to their Deals of the Week, a trip to Beijing that includes airfare plus five nights' stay at a 4-star hotel costs only $965! Sweet jeebus!
Alternatively, you could also purchase a roundtrip ticket to Rome for $365, Barcelona for $425, or even Paris for $439. Those fares are ridiculously cheap! Now if only I can find the vacation time and money for room and board, I'd be set.
Some people fantasize about having lots of money and owning a fancy car. Me, I dream about the places I'd visit if I had the time and money.
I also dream about owing one of these:
But that's a story for another day.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Stranger: Hey man you still work for the IT department at Countrywide?
Rene: No. I've never worked for Countrywide. Or IT.
Stranger: Really? Because you look just like someone I used to work with years ago. Are you sure you've never worked in IT?
Rene: Nope, I've never worked in IT.
Stranger: You look exactly like someone I used to work with. Maybe I've seen you before - which industry do you work in? Are you in IT?
Rene: (becoming defensive) Uh... none.
Stranger: No industry? What do you do?
Rene: (lying to shake the guy off) I don't have a job.
Stranger: Oh... (walking away awkwardly) You look just like him, you are a dead ringer.
Rene: Ok (starting to walk in opposite direction)
The funny thing is, this is not the first time Rene's been mistaken for someone else at Target. A few months ago another dude came up to him and asked if he'd met him before at a Chippendale event. That's right, a Chippendale event. The kind of event that would require my husband to wear a banana hammock were he performing at said event. That ended awkwardly too, and later we wondered what that meant: was "Chippendale" code for something deviant, or was the guy a male stripper? Anyway, we didn't think anything of this interaction until today, when Rene got called out for working in IT.
I wonder what person Rene will be mistaken for the next time I have to buy dog food at Target.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I have birthmarks in several places in my body. I have one on the left side of my scalp, one on my left leg just below the knee, and one in my left armpit. Using the same logic applied to my mom's birthmark, I guess this means I am smart, am always on the move, and have really bad B.O. Other members of my family also have that birthmark on their armpit so at least I am not alone in the B.O. department. This is also probably why I am obsessed with European deodorant.
Accordingto Wikipedia.org, a birthmark is a blemish on the skin formed before birth whose cause is unknown. Like mine, some birthmarks run in families. In Italian they are called "voglie" and in Arabic they are called "wiham," both of which translate to "wishes." According to folklore, they are caused by unsatisfied wishes of the mother during pregnancy. For example, if a pregnant woman does not satisfy a sudden wish or craving for strawberries, it's said that the child might bear a strawberry mark. Maybe back in the day my mom yearned for better deoderant.
I also have a Darwinian tubercle on my left ear, which also runs in my family (my niece Samantha has the same exact thing on her left ear). Basically a tubercle is a malformation in the ear, resulting in extra skin along the outer rim of the ear. When I was younger I was very shy about showing other kids this thing on my ear and I was very self-conscious. Kids have a tendency to make fun of things they don't understand, and since none of them had it I thought it best to keep it quiet - and well-hidden. This meant that as a kid I never wore my hair in a ponytail or wore a headband to school. My left ear needed to be covered up all the time or else I'd risk getting asked, "What's THAT?" by some kid in school, which would pique the interest of other kids, and before you knew it everyone was pointing at laughing at me. Not that this ever happened, mind you, but just the thought of it was terrifying. It was my worst fear.
I never felt ashamed about my tubercle whenever I was at home or with family. My mom always told me that it was my "agimat," my lucky charm. It wasn't a big deal in my family and no one ever made fun of me. As I grew older I stopped caring about what other people thought about my tubercle. For the most part people are polite and ask me what it is if they're curious. Sometimes people look at it while talking to me but never bring it up out of courtesy. Most people don't say anything about it at all since it's small and the same color as my skin.
The thing about having a tubercle is that this physical flaw made me who I am today. I think that being so self-concious in childhood about having extra skin around my ear makes me more sympathetic to other people who might have the same condition or have a physical imperfection they cannot control.
As for the birthmark in my left armpit - well, that's up to you to decide. How badly do I smell?
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
However, during the past two weeks, and with the dreaded 2-9 Y.O. looming in the horizon I have become concerned that this streak may soon be coming to an end. I use my clothes to gauge whether or not I have gained weight, and I’ve always been +/- 10 pounds from my normal weight depending on my diet and exercise habits. I think that I may be a tad over the +10 mark since lately my pants have been snug. The photo of what I’m wearing at the end of the post is evidence of this weight gain. My belly is not folding over my waistband (yet) but it’s getting increasing hard to find loose tops to hide the muffin top effect.
I think this is my body’s way of telling me to get off my butt and start working out. In addition to the extra weight I’m tired all the time and find it hard to get anything accomplished after I get home from work. My routine has been to walk the dog immediately after getting home, then read a book or watch TV in a stupor before succumbing to sleep.
Maybe working out will commence once I recover from the sheer volume of work that I’m facing the rest of this week and next. Just thinking about all that needs to get done here at the office makes me super-anxious and drops all non-work related thoughts, like working out, from my head. But I think that if I want to get fit I need to start working on it immediately and not let my workload ruin those plans.
Wish me luck!
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
During the last Olympics I was living in Melbourne, having just arrived for my secondment. Secondment, for those who do not know, is just a fancy term for work swap. Basically, my old company would get two Aussies to help out during our busy season and would send two Yanks (ha ha I said Yank) over to Oz to help out during their busy season. I didn’t understand why Australia would get busy mid-year while the US got busy at year-end but it was probably for the best; my office couldn’t spare anyone, not a soul, not even the interns who didn’t know how to do anything except make copies and punch holes in paper, during the months of January to April. It was just that busy, even more so now. I am being utterly sincere when I say accounting firms will hire anyone with a pulse these days.
Anyway, we watched the Olympics from our apartment in Melbourne whenever we could. It was like a cruel joke actually, because a lot of events took place while we were sleeping, and the only things they would repeat during prime time were events in which Aussies excelled. This would include swimming (remember Ian Thorpe, the Thorpedo?), diving, cycling, rowing, field hockey, some track & field, and my personal favorite: shooting. Yes, I said shooting, as in skeet shooting, as in throwing a clay object in the air and measuring the skill of the person shooting down said object. Yeah, I didn’t understand why that was an Olympic sport either but it was kind of entertaining. I was waiting for the contestants to yell “Pull!” to release the clay disk but instead heard all manner of words in their native tongue. At least I think they were saying pull. When we weren’t watching skeet shooters shoot down clay, we watched the US and Aussie teams duke it out in the pool. I think the medal count may have been in Oz’s favor for that event but it was hilarious how they treated the medal count for the Olympics as a whole. I think the US, China, and Russia were the top three in terms of quantity, but the Aussies went two steps further: first they organized it by number of gold and silver medals won (because bronze obviously doesn’t count), then they organized it by number of medals per capita. The funny thing about basing the medal count on the country’s population obviously meant that Australia was on top, and the US was way down there. I thought the way they were presenting the information was amusing and a wave of American patriotism hit me: we have the most medals damn it, not Oz, so stop acting like you have beaten us you Aussies. Of course, I kept that thought to myself since I did not want the Aussies turning on me during my first month there.
What most people don’t realize about Melbourne is that there are many different cultures living there, chief among them Greeks, Italians, and Chinese. Did you know that Melbourne has the largest Greek population outside of Greece? It’s a fact. I’ve had some terrific Greek food in Melbourne and was disappointed with the kebabs here in America after I got back. That stuff they have down there is authentic and oh so good. The Italian and Chinese food were great too, but not so great that you wrote back home to rave about it. The only ethnic food I wouldn’t recommend trying is Mexican, because they really screw it up in Melbourne. They think salsa comes out of a can (eek!) and do not understand the concept of beans. Also, there aren’t very many Mexican places in town – I only know of two: Taco Bill’s and Three Amigos, both of which sucked. When I asked for nachos, they gave me nacho chips drenched in canned salsa and cold sour cream. I think I ate four chips and gave up. To make matters worse, they do not have hot sauce. Bring a bottle of Tapatio if you really like it on your food. Otherwise you are out of luck.
The other thing that crossed my mind while thinking about the Olympics was my age. During the Athens Olympics I was 25 and already starting to feel, well, old. A lot of the Aussies working for my old company were 21 or 22 for goodness sake; to them, I was a senior citizen at 25. I’ve actually heard someone exclaim, “Blimey, by the time the next Olympics come round I’ll be 25! That’s so old!” to which I replied with the Look of Death. The nerve of these young Aussies and their big mouths. I’d be 29 during the next Olympics, which made me nervous because that was really close to 30. I wondered what I’d be doing by then but didn’t give it too much thought, aside from the hope that I’d be higher up in the corporate ladder and making more money. It’s really hard for me to say what I’d be doing a year from now, let alone FOUR years from now, since my plans are constantly changing. I really hate getting that question during an interview: where do you think you’ll be five years from now? I don’t know how they want me to respond to this question so I am always vague with my answer. Wouldn’t you as an interview think it’d be creepy to have someone say something specific given all the variables in life? I personally wouldn’t be impressed with a reply like “I want to be Vice President of Sales in five years” or worse, “Head of Internal Audit.” I’d rather they be honest and give me a general direction on where they think life will lead them.
So I guess I’m not doing that badly when I measure myself against those expectations in 2004: I have gotten promoted and do make more money. The jury’s still out on maturity, sound decision-making, and cooking skills. If anything, I’ve probably regressed rather than progressed during the past four years. Maybe when the Olympics do roll around in Beijing next year I will think about these things and look back on my life. Perhaps then I will not be as hard on myself.
I didn't have anything to write about until I visited NaBloPoMo this morning and looked at the topics for discussion for the group called Those Who Wander. One person asked what was the most exotic location I've ever visited, and another person asked how far in advance do I plan a trip (and if I use any guides). Just thinking about travel makes me miss it BAD, because I look forward to the next trip just after wrapping one up. I have got the bug, the travel bug, and it makes me itch like crazy. I take local trips around LA to satisfy this itch until the next big trip comes - one that involves a plane and being around another culture.
Why do I love traveling so much? For me, it’s the excitement of visiting a new place without having to worry about the everyday stuff like going to work, commuting during rush hour, dirty laundry and dishes that need to be washed. When I am traveling, the only things I care about are where I’m going for the day (or where I’m not going if I just want to hang around and nap all day) and what I’m eating. There is no stress over deadlines, maybe except when trying to catch a train or airplane to visit another destination.
For me, the excitement of traveling begins at the airport. Most people hate waiting at the airport for their plane to arrive; they hate the hassle of lining up to get their tickets, then lining up again for the security checkpoint. To make this as stress-free for me as possible, I always get to the airport early (at least two hours before departure time for domestic flights and least three for international), take my time going through both lines, and read a book or magazine while waiting for my flight. Waiting at the airport gives me quiet time and allows me to really get into the book or article I am reading. It’s a nice change of pace from the work environment, where someone is always calling you or e-mailing you or talking to you. Sometimes it feels great to just relax and not have to worry about responding to someone else.
My next trip is January 2008 and is work-related, meaning that I will most likely be working long hours during the week with a possible reprieve during the weekend (no promises though!). Despite the heavy workload I am really looking forward to visiting China and can’t wait to try real Chinese food and look at the tall buildings framing the Shanghai skyline. After that, I am planning on going back to the motherland, Philippines, in May to visit family (Grandma is turning 75) and to explore the islands. I haven’t visited since 1990 and lots of things have changed since then – for starters, the babies that are now full-fledged adults! Great, now I feel old.
Monday, November 5, 2007
This morning as I stepped out of the house I encountered a pleasant surprise and was momentarily confused as to where I was: was I in San Francisco or Los Angeles? I haven't seen fog roll around like this in a while.
Seeing the fog reminded me of when I lived in San Francisco. I lived there during the late '80s and early '90s, back when girls shellacked their hair with Aqua Net hairspray in an effort to have bangs shaped like an ocean wave. Ah, those were good times. The problem with having that kind of hairstyle in San Francisco is the combination of fog and wind, which worked throughout the day to make sure the ocean wave on top of your head was decimated to a flat pile of hair by the end of the day. It didn’t matter how much Aqua Net was applied – this is the way most days ended for me in San Fran.
Some days, like Valley temps go past 100 degrees, I miss the fog and cold of San Francisco. I miss taking the BART downtown and visiting Ghiraldelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf, and Union Square. Unlike LA, downtown SF is central to everything, and you could practically walk everywhere in the city. I miss the restaurants most of all: North Beach Pizza, which serves the best slice of pizza you've ever tasted (in my opinion), Plouf, which serves only clams and mussels with a wine sauce, and E&O Trading Company, which has a great Asian fusion menu. Apparently, I've left my stomach, and not my heart, in San Francisco.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
After reaching North Hollywood, Rene and I rode up and down Lankershim to look for a place to eat. We passed Ha Ha Cafe and the Millenium Dance Complex. Good thing for us neither Lindsay nor Britney were at Millenium today, otherwise we would have had to fight for sidewalk space with photographers.
We ended up eating at Pitfire Pizza, where I had pizza and Rene had spaghetti. We had high hopes for the place but ended up being disappointed with our dishes. Actually the pizza wasn't that bad but the cheese didn't look like it melted correctly. I was going to take a picture of my dish but inhaled it before I could whip up the camera - I got pretty hungry after riding 17 miles to North Hollywood.
We hung out for a few minutes before making our way back home. We ended up getting home about an hour and a half later.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Friday, November 2, 2007
A few years ago I went on secondment to Melbourne, Australia. I lived in Melbourne for three months as part of a work exchange program. The Melbourne counterpart of the company I used to work for leased an apartment for Rene and I in the city, and also provided us with a rental car. For all intents and purposes we were Melbourne residents for three months. We loved living in Melbourne, and sometimes when we talk about the future we discuss the possibility of living there again.
As much as I loved Melbourne there was one little thing that I didn't like during my experience. You see, I visited Melbourne during their winter (which would be our summer) and it was not sunny every day like LA. I mean, there was a little bit of sun during the day because Melbourne is known for having all four seasons in a day, but not enough sunshine. It was during this time that I realized that I may suffer from a mild form of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Not seeing the sun throughout the day made me a little bit surly; I wasn't depressed or anything, but I was grumpier without the sunshine. This is why I love LA weather - this morning I left the house and was greeted by the sun.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
I've photographed what I've worn for the past seven days, and frankly it's gotten boring posting a picture of myself and describing what I'm wearing. I've realized that I actually have plenty of things to blog about, so I've deleted all the pics and outfit descriptions and put them on my Flickr account here. I'll keep on taking pictures of what I'm wearing throughout November but it didn't make sense using it as a theme this time out.