Monday, June 17, 2013

On learning to like things

My two nieces spent the night at our house over the weekend. Jasmine is eight and Keona is seven. They're both learning to assert themselves and testing their boundaries, so they were quite a handful when it came to things they had to do, like eat or take a bath.

When you tell Jasmine to do something, she studies your face closely to see how serious you are and decides to follow (or not to) based on what she sees. When you tell Keona to do something, it's a battle of wills and, sometimes, fake tears. They're both beautiful, kind, and sweet, and they're also stubborn, strong-willed, and, really, too clever for their own good.

They are also very picky eaters.

When my mom served them red rice (we're trying to eat healthier) and corned beef (I said trying!) with scrambled eggs for brunch, they both said matter-of-factly that they only ate white rice. It took us a lot of convincing and prodding to make them eat.

We told them how red rice is healthy for them. "I don't like it."

We told them them how red rice is princess food in the mountains of the North. "I don't like princesses."

We told them how we wouldn't leave the table until they were done, so no Minecraft until they clean their plates.

Keona liked corned beef, so she was the first to yield. The moment she realized the red rice "doesn't taste like anything," she couldn't stop eating. Jasmine, on the other hand, declared she would just eat the rice, after having convinced herself that it tasted like chocolate. Eventually, she asked to try "just a little" of the corned beef and was surprised she liked it. The two girls finally cleaned their plates--and they both decided on their own that they actually liked what they ate, even the strange red rice.

In fact, Keona asked for a second helping in the afternoon.

This got me thinking about the things I like and how I got to like them. For instance, I love to eat, but I'm not a very adventurous eater. For years, I would order the same items in restaurants, because I liked knowing that I already liked what I was going to have.

This week, I'll blog about at least three things I know for sure I like and try to recall how I learned to like them for the first time.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I should take a good look at where I am

I treated myself to dinner and a movie (Man of Steel) in Eastwood yesterday, and it hit me that even if I've been working in Eastwood City since 2009, it was the first time I actually went to the place for leisure.

I mean, I've watched movies and I've treated myself to nice dinners in Eastwood, but it's always been after work.

Then again, even if yesterday was a holiday, I did pass by the office first!

That's one side of me that I want to change, that person that often forgets to take a good look at where I am at the moment.

Like, I now live most of the time in Quezon City, but have I gone around the place, discovering what's nice about it? Not so much.

This is a house near where I live in Quezon City that I've always found interesting. I took this photo in October 2012. I thought the house was abandoned, but a couple of weeks ago, I saw a group of teenage boys calling on a girl, asking her to come outside.

Come to think of it, I haven't been doing a lot of discovering recently. Maybe that's why I'm a little bored with life. I've got to change this.

There are a few places that I want to check out in Metro Manila. I'll post the list in a separate entry.

Maybe you have some suggestions?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I said I would write every day

I want to do it, really. Just to keep the habit going again. I've written for two days straight, and I can already feel the words swirling around in my head. Still, I worry that I would run out of things to say.

When I started blogging so many years ago (it was so long ago, I put it on Blogdrive.com, which, I'm pleasantly surprised to discover, is still alive), I was content with writing about my daily activities, no matter how mundane. In fact, my life then, no matter how dull, was enough to fuel a blog post or two a day. Three, even.

Nowadays, for some reason, outside of my little personal dramas, I can't seem to find anything worth blogging about. I think I've gotten used to Facebook status updates -- minimal effort with almost immediate results!

But I said I would write every day, and I will do it. So I asked the Internet for advice through Facebook (and again, minimal effort, almost immediate results), and I was advised to google "blogging prompts."

After a quick search, I found a couple of sites that may be helpful. Check them out at the bottom of the column on the right.

Maybe I will only need them for a while, until I get my writing groove back. Or maybe I won't use them at all because just knowing they're there for me to turn to takes out a lot of the pressure, and I can finally hunker down and write.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Making room for trees

The fire trees at the Madrigal Business Park in Alabang are in bloom, and this reminds me of what I loved most about going to UP. There was just so much space for nature and beauty!

Understand that before moving to UP, I was a freshman at DLSU.

In summer, there were sunflowers and fire trees in bloom. And how beautiful the lagoon looked with its resident ducks and geese, now long gone. There were large rocks and old trees, and the Sunken Garden would be mostly green. In the rainy season, rain would fall onto the trees and grass, and not make mud, and there was fresh air to breathe from where we sat--along the AS Steps, or under our tambayan tents.

I loved leisurely afternoon walks across the shortcut from behind the Math Building to NIGS because at one point, you had to walk along what I fancied to be a little brook (more like a canal, really, but the water was clean enough for frogs and snails and little fish).

Having gone to DLSU for a year before I transferred to Diliman, I had felt how the City of Manila can completely crowd one out. Every corner was filled with concrete, and how the vehicles competed for space, even in the air! (Later, when I was back at DLSU for grad school, I marveled at how students could hang out at Starbucks Vito Cruz and not go crazy with all the noise from the traffic five feet away!)

I love living in Southern Manila for the same reason: space. There is still space for trees and bike trails. Last Saturday, I commuted to Asian Hospital to visit my best friend and her dad, who is confined there, and I almost decided to walk to the hospital all the way from South Station because of the trees lining the street. It had been a long day, but I felt energized. I could breathe.

This had me thinking about my own "space."

The past few months--or maybe the past year--I think I've inadvertently crowded my own self out. I've filled my time with lesser passions and too many people for whom I could have no strong affections.

It's entirely my fault for not taking the wheel. I enjoy what I am doing most of the time, and I'm grateful for what I have now, but how long has it been since I planted something alive or created something beautiful?

Too long, the fire trees tell me. Too long.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Letting the lover be

I spent some hours tinkering with this blog again, fixing what I thought needed fixing. I'm reminded of that story about Walt Whitman, and how he just kept working on Leaves of Grass even after it was published, polishing it to death. While this blog is no literary masterpiece, I find myself always wanting to tweak it, as if somehow tweaking it would tell a better story of my life, and my past, present, and future would actually be better for it.

I know it won't be, because life is what it is no matter how organized my blog is, but I'm always happy to organize and re-organize, so I'm letting my slightly neurotic self be!

That's one thing I'm learning in my mid-30s, just to let myself be.

At present, letting myself be means giving myself space to be a little confused about where to go next in my life.

I don't know when I started second-guessing myself. Entering college, I was, like many of my batchmates, uncertain of how the future would unfold, but I was so sure of what I wanted for myself. I couldn't relate with friends who weren't clear on what they wanted. This confusion I'm experiencing now is truly unfamiliar territory.

I've heard it said (and I think I've mentioned it here before) that major life changes occur every seven years in one's lifetime. I suppose I'm right on track at 35.

I just have to remind myself that I have never strayed far from my passions, and the clouds will clear in time, as they always do.

Letting myself be also means honoring my own feelings. I've always been a feeling person, but I've also always sort of pushed my feelings away or at least kept them hidden because I thought that something else -- usually the opinions of other people -- were more important. But not anymore.

I will put my own heart first, and trust that it will always be a good compass, because I am a good person at heart.

I'll close this post with a short poem by Rumi, because it's always a good reminder to just be myself:

Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy,
absentminded. Someone sober
will worry about things going badly.
Let the lover be.