Showing posts from May, 2008

Walking in the rain, in the flood

I walked through a couple of meters of knee-high floodwaters the other day. Fortunately, I was wearing flip-flops (thick ones, thank goodness) and a short dress. I was scared for a while, but only because I was alone, it was way past midnight, and I remembered I'd scratched a scab somewhere on my right thigh and a word I hadn't thought of since college came to mind: leptospirosis.

I waited for a group of people to wade ahead of me, comforting myself with the thought that if I fell into an open drain, they'd notice and get help. But they walked too fast, and when a couple of cars passed through the flood, causing some waves to come crashing at my legs, I panicked and stopped on higher ground, hoping another group would come for me to follow.

I waited for a while, but nobody else came. When I checked the time, it was already close to 2 am. Some men pushing a stalled car called out to me and told me to walk right on ahead, the waters weren't deep. But they were too far, and I was temporarily paralyzed by my fear.

I shrugged it off and told myself: I'm a big girl now, and I control my destiny, and my destiny does not involve falling into open manholes or drains, dammit. It doesn't involve getting sick because I walked in dirty water. And it doesn't involve being alone for the rest of my life, either!

So I walked on, and walked part of the way home, where I realized it wasn't really the meaning of the word "leptospirosis" that made me worry; rather, it was remembering it's context and knowing that, once upon my lifetime, I had a hand to hold while wading through floodwaters. Remembering that, I was made aware of not having one at the moment, and the thought of being alone scared me.

Strangely, it was going deeper into that memory that also comforted me.

Most of my college friends would know why I'd say it was a "color of the wheat fields" moment. Really, I think it's lovely that when I walk through flood, I can be scared on the surface, but deep inside, I can still find an ember of a beautiful memory of love, of friendship that warms me.

(Then I remembered a poem I received years ago that was written about that moment, a poem I'd lost when I lost Hotmail. Thank God for Yahoo Messenger. I got another copy from the great poet himself!)

Tulad nuon sa España, sa ganitong gabi, sa ganito karaming tubig
Jaime Jesus Borlagdan
Kay Dat

Kung meron man akong hinanakit
sa pagbagsak ng langit, maliban sa tubig
ay ang iyong pagkapit na wala ngayon

sa braso ko na nuo'y nanliit na baka
bumigay o mabali sa higpit at lapit
ng iyong init, ang iyong balat
sa aking balat, ang paa natin
walang ingay
sa ilalim ng tubig.

Mula Mabuhay, hanggang Lacson
inihatid natin ang isa't isa
(kahit tayo'y dalawa) sa isang simula
na magmula nang matapos natin ang baha
ay nawalan na ng hangganan
ang pagdugtong ng ating mga lansangan.

Sa isang pag-ulan ibinuhol tayo
sa kasal ng pagtampisaw sa sanaw
sa isa't isa tayo humawak para di maitangay
ng paglimot sa imburnal at lagusan.
Ipinasya nating itigil muna ang pagdaloy
ng panahon at paglaruan ang naipong sandali
hanggang lunurin tayo nito sa malabong tubig
At tayo'y nalunod, oo, at ginusto nating
huwag huminga, huwag umahon.

Salamat at nagtiwala kang di ko hahayaang
madapa ka sa nakalubog na daan. Salamat
at di mo ako iniwang nangangapa
ng mahahawakan

tulad ngayon
tulad ngayon.

Agosto 5, 2000, Sulu Sta. Cruz Manila

English Trainer Chronicles: Sink

There's a You Tube video that I find really funny. It's an ad for Berlitz. In it, a new guy in the German coastguard receives a mayday from an English ship.
English ship: "Mayday, mayday! We are sinking! We are sinking!"
New guy: "Hello! This is the German coastguard. What are you sinking about?"
I've noticed that many of my students don't know the word "sink," and I've heard this action described/depicted in so many ways. Today's was the best ever.

We have an exercise called Timeline of the Twentieth Century. It divided the significant events of 1900-1999 per decade, and I ask my learners to use the past tense and give me sentences about some of the events, never mind historical accuracy.

I used it with a student today. His English was already good, but, as he said, his words were "trapped inside his head." He tried his best to talk about what happened to the Titanic, and his attempt had us both laughing our hearts out: "The Titanic dove into the ocean. It broke into pieces that couldn't swim."

Same direction, he said. Make sense. :)

Unsettled, unsettling

At some points in my life, I question some of the roads I've taken, some of the decisions I made, and some of the people I've given time and attention to. When I was younger, I'd agonize over having done the "wrong" thing; now, I just forgive myself faster.

I understand more than ever that I can't be blamed for not being ready for a lot of things. Some things just can't be rushed. I'm happily learning, though. Underneath it all, I'm just really happy to learn, and I know that everything, everyone I cross paths with is there to teach me something.

I was reading Jim Paredes' latest post on the "mid-life crisis," and something he wrote struck me, even if I'm only halfway past 30:
When we let go of attitudes, beliefs and ways that don’t work, there appear newer ones that take their place. This will happen repeatedly until we find the right ones that apply to this new stage in our lives. We are like a house in renovation except that the dust has not settled and so we are not sure what we really look like inside. But be assured that there is a lot of activity happening there.

We can also compare ourselves to snakes in the sense that we must shed off old skin periodically to continue living in a supple, energetic new body.
It doesn't seem so clear to me now where I am at this point in my life, at least where my personal life is concerned. Some things that I thought I had already figured out, like love and friendship, have come undone again.

I welcome the unsettling, though. And I welcome the activity. I'm sure when the dust does settle, I'll see even more clearly. This, I'm old enough to know. ;)

Small delights

Keona turned 2 last May 21. I stayed less than 45 minutes at the party, I didn't get to sit down and eat, and I had no pictures. But at least I was able to kiss her and see her jump up and down with delight upon seeing all of us there and watch her do what little tots are extremely good at doing on their first three or so birthday parties--smudge the lettering on her bumblebees and daisies cake.

She went with her mommy and daddy when they brought me to work, and she sat on my lap and pointed out the window. "Sun!" she said, and I remembered how, as a tiny little baby, she would stare transfixed at the plastic bead curtains in my room that glittered when the light hit them, and how, when she was old enough to crawl and stand up, she would try to grab at them and hold on so tight, I'd have to gently pry her little fingers off. She's discovering bigger and brighter things now; I can't believe how fast they grow up!

I'm having my "Sunrise, Sunset" moment here, and she's only two!

Back to the gym

Thanks to Emily's prodding, I went back to the gym today. I challenged myself to reach 400 calories or one hour on the treadmill, whichever came first* and I won! Afterwards, I did 100 crunches on the lower-tech, er, crunch machine. I feel... good. Tired, but the good kind of tired.

It had been so long since I last exercised; in fact, I was already toying with the idea of already cancelling my Fitness First membership. Thank God for the extra cash that comes my way--I can afford to maintain it some some.

I'm back to my pre-FF form, stamina-wise. I haven't regained all the pounds just yet, but I'm getting dangerously close to it.

I'm hitting the gym again tomorrow. One hour on the treadmill again. If there's a yoga class, I'll take it to. The schedule is somewhere in my gym bag.

Baby steps.

* The hour came first, even if I alternately raised and lowered the incline, and alternately increased and lessened the speed. I can walk 5.5kmph. After that, it's running and panting. Imagine these in treadmill time: a two-piece chicken joy and rice is like more or less 500 calories. A Yellow Cab pizza slice is over 1,200 calories.

Blah, blah

I was going to write something about that what happened today, but in the end, I decided it wasn't even worth writing about.

I'm just really happy I made it through this stressful work day. I had to wing six or so lessons, (almost) in a row, without having the documents I sent to my students. Such is life--when the connection's bad, the connection's bad.

It wasn't the end of the world, though.

I'm just wondering: Did today have anything to do with the earthquakes? I've only experienced two earthquakes in my life, and both times, I really thought I would die.

Just in case, this: The Prayer for a Happy Death

Refusing to cling again

If there's anything that the recent months have taught me, it's that taking control of your life does not always mean you should have complete control over it.

This was something I've always known cerebrally; in fact, one of my favorite chapters of all time is the following chapter in Richard Bach's Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.
Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.

And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, "See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the messiah, come to save us all!"

And the one carried in the current said, "I am no more messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure."

But they cried the more, "Savior!" all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a savior.
You can read the complete chapter here. But it wasn't something I fully understood. I am, after all, a hands-on learner.

However, this little ball of knowledge just stayed snug in my head, lying dormant, until the time came that life would force me to draw on it.

(Truly, life always prepares you, in its own way, for the paths it has prepared for you. I wouldn't have thought something I read in the comforts of my own bedroom, so long ago and so far removed from the people I've wrongly held responsible for my bruises, would help me deal.)

I've realized that the many times I've hurt myself and I've hurt others were times when I wanted to be in control. I wanted this person to treat me this way, I wanted this person to behave this way, I wanted this person to feel this way towards me... when, I've realized lately, the only true thing I want is for me to feel a certain way: happy.

Another lesson for me at 30: I've tried to hold on to life with a tight fist, afraid of losing whatever it was that I thought brought me happiness, and I was wrong.

Every good thing in life points to sharing: You can't call yourself a writer unless you've been published. You can't smell perfume unless it's released from the bottle. And you can't say you love someone, unless the person knows it.

While the jealous, zealous Scorpio in me still remembers the delight of rightfully, righteously claiming something, someone, to be her own, and her own alone, I want to claim something even bigger than what my fist can hold on to this time, something so big, I have to hold it with my palm open.


I'm working on a script for Ana's wedding reception program and, for inspiration, I've been re-reading my long-forgotten Shakespeare.

I used to think she was pathetic, but this girl Helena has spunk!

Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit;
For I am sick when I do look on thee.

And I am sick when I look not on you.

You do impeach your modesty too much,
To leave the city and commit yourself
Into the hands of one that loves you not;
To trust the opportunity of night
And the ill counsel of a desert place
With the rich worth of your virginity.

Your virtue is my privilege: for that
It is not night when I do see your face,
Therefore I think I am not in the night;
Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company,
For you in my respect are all the world:
Then how can it be said I am alone,
When all the world is here to look on me?

I'll run from thee and hide me in the brakes,
And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.

The wildest hath not such a heart as you.
Run when you will, the story shall be changed:
Apollo flies, and Daphne holds the chase;
The dove pursues the griffin; the mild hind
Makes speed to catch the tiger; bootless speed,
When cowardice pursues and valour flies.

I will not stay thy questions; let me go:
Or, if thou follow me, do not believe
But I shall do thee mischief in the wood.

Ay, in the temple, in the town, the field,
You do me mischief. Fie, Demetrius!
Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex:
We cannot fight for love, as men may do;
We should be wood and were not made to woo.


I'll follow thee and make a heaven of hell,
To die upon the hand I love so well.

A video worth posting

What will your life be like 50 years from now?

Donna gave me the link, and I looked it up on YouTube. More information about this video here.

"Stay out of perfection"

I haven't been able to complete a short story for ages. I've made myself a pretty little writing space, I've dug out the manuscripts I need to revise, I've worked through most of my excuses... and I just can't finish any of them.

This is something I needed to hear/read:
Stay Out of Perfection

Perfecting everything slows down success. Stop organizing and perfecting everything, just allow things to flow their course. If you must correct, organize, and perfect; allow the natural successful flow first. Get things out first, then optimize.
Read the rest here.

English Trainer Chronicles: You took what off?

Laughter, really, is a great de-stresser. France had a four-day weekend, and many of the French went out of town. My learner arrived in the nick of time to have our lesson, and he was breathless over the phone.

He explained why he was almost late.

He'd decided to take the morning train, and would work half day today.

Learner: This morning, I took it off.
Me: ... You know, when you say that, you're usually referring to clothes.

2008 Habits - 1st quarter update

Early this year, I said I would start a new habit every month. I started by logging in my food intake and daily expenses in January. I'm sorry to say I've stopped doing that since I got back from Thailand in March. My vacation expenses were crazy--I kept all the receipts, but I simply gave up.

But that wasn't the only reason.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I sort of have three jobs now. The third, I started on March 1. It's a daily thing, and it takes me at least two hours a day--roughly about the same time I take writing down what I ate and how much I spent.

I seriously need to learn how to manage my time better. I spend way too much time day-dreaming and watching TV and being my emotional self.

I also went on a juice fast in February. I was successful for exactly two weeks, and then I caved in to lovely Italianni's food on my mom's birthday. I'm disappointed in myself, but I'm not beating myself up over it because it really was hard to do it while working full-time. I needed fresh juice, and I just couldn't make some at work for two reasons: 1. I don't have a portable juicer; 2. Our pantry doesn't have a sink.

It isn't all bad news though, because in March, I gave up *some* fast food: all kinds of hamburgers. I'm going to add that to my Count-ups.

I spent April catching up with work, spending time with Ruth, and dealing with a personal problem. No new habits there. Except that I started wearing dresses more often--but that doesn't count.

Now, it's five days into May. This month, I'm giving up red meat, which means I'm acquiring the habit of eating only poultry and seafood. So far so good. That's going in my Count-ups too.

I figure that I can also wean myself off the bad stuff I take in. It worked with soda and it worked with cigarettes.

First quarter grade:

Flowery summer

This summer, I've taken to wearing dresses to work. I only have a few, but wow, the difference it makes. No more heavy denim clinging to damp skin! I rarely used to do this, as I've always had the commute to deal with.

I had this notion that it would be difficult to take jeepneys and tricycles and all manners of public transport wearing a dress, but it's not that difficult, really. I don't think I'm ever going to go back to wearing jeans again.

Well, what do you know--I have a girly girl inside me after all.

Speaking of which, here's a pretty little summery picture I'd like to share.

I took this at Festival Mall when Ruth was shopping for her engagement and wedding rings. Giant hibiscuses were all over the place!

This area leads to the movie theaters.

More here.

Where April went

Is it May already? Wow. I've been struggling to get right back on schedule since I got back from my March vacation--which totally threw everything off track--but April, oh, April was beautiful because one of my best friends, Ruth, was back in the country for a three-week vacation from her "new" life in Toronto, Canada.

Sherwil, me, Ruth, Emily. We all lack sleep.

For a couple of days, we were a foursome again.

It was also around this time of the year that Ruth left five years ago. It was a year of letting go for me. My dad also died that year. Seeing her back sort of brought me back to the girl I was for a while, but it only highlighted the fact that I'm so different now.

In fact, we're all so different now. In a really nice way. :)

More pictures here.

Where April also went

I have three jobs now, sort of. I'm an English trainer, a columnist for the regional newspaper The Freeman, and, since March 1, a copy editor for The Philippine Star's Inbox World section. The last of which takes up some of what used to be my idle, thus, blogging time. So that's also why I haven't been blogging much.

But I've finally had time to breathe (thanks to Labor Day) and organize my schedule, and so, this blogger's back!