Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Me

This wasn't originally my first imagined entry for 2009.
I already had about three long paragraphs typed up when my cousin's computer decided my writing was lame and closed all its programs without waiting for me to save it first. I guess I must agree. There is something unsatisfying when you don't write. I mean, it's still writing, but it's not the writing I want to do. It's not exactly that creative when your just chronicling what happened during the day.

The day I had been waiting for has finally come. And it came in with a very big bang. Actually, my last few days for 2008 was pretty nice too. Finished enough work on the 30th to keep my time free til the weekend. Then some of my friends all agreed to meet up and catch the last full show later that night followed by a nice midnight snack without alcohol. Didn't even realize how fast time went until I got home. Forgot my house keys (which always happens when I get brain-drained and too excited to go out), which meant I would make one sleepy household member very cranky. I felt guilty about that but it was worth it. Nothing beats getting the chance to spend time with good people. And sadly, that is something I don't get to do very often.

The 31st had me awake before lunch. Even though it was raining a bit, the guys wanted to meet up again early afternoon to practice some throws before getting caught up in the new year's eve preparations. Another unexpected treat was I got to see someone I don't usually see. I don't really know or talk to this person as well as the others but for some reason, things are always a little bit nicer when they're there. I bet some people don't realize how much of a blessing their presence is. How happy they can make others just by being themselves, no other effort involved. I think it's so cool how people have the power to help inspire and uplift another person. They become a blessing of sorts. Well anyway, that person did show up and we did get to chat a bit for a change. Not that anything is different. But it was just nice, doing that under the rain. I know I've always kept a distance from the people I like because it's better that way for me. There's simply something poetic (and safe) about admiring from afar.

Anyway, due to prior plans, I had to leave the group earlier. Me and my cousins had planned to do last-minute fireworks shopping (which is the best kind of shopping when it comes to fireworks as the prices start dropping the later it gets into the night). We went to what was usually a wet market that had been transformed into a fireworks center. Even the neighborhood police were double-parked on the street trying to buy stuff. We had already been set on getting sparklers, roman candles and those cute Pop-pops (little harmless balls of energy that make a popping sound when you throw it on the floor or step on it. A more modernized form of watusi). It was a crazy scene as vendors and buyers were trying to break each other down with the haggling. But as I eventually found out (more on this later), sometimes it's not always for the best to get a good discount on something as volatile as fireworks.

As always, dinner was a simple but cozy affair. Since we we're all still feeling majorly stuffed since Christmas, we usually just cook a big pot of yummy chicken congee to tide us over for the night. For perennially-hungry tummies like mine, there is always a fridge full of holiday leftovers to choose from. This was more than enough to satisfy our midnight and after-midnight snack cravings. The major fireworks action started happening a quarter to midnight so everyone went up to the top floor to welcome 2009. I bet noone in the entire Philippines was planning to sleep any earlier than 1am that night. You simply don't do that. Everyone wants to be awake when the new year comes in. And it's not as if you can sleep any earlier with all the noise around you anyway. December 31st has got to be the longest day ever for everyone because it extends past its 24 hour schedule. It can also be one of the most tiring and exciting days to prepare for too. Then January 1 becomes sort of just half of a day because everyone wakes up around lunch time and is too groggy to to do anything else worth remembering.

The Pop-pops we're a real hit, with even my 88-year-old grandmother having a blast throwing those little things around. My very adventurous aunt even wanted to experiment and see if it would still pop if we throw it at each other (this brilliant idea was immediately nixed when my guy cousin realized the experimentation would all be directed at him.) The sparklers made for nice pictures and provided cool ambiant light for the photos, but they were basically just, uh, sparkly. The roman candles proved to be a revelations as they were anything but what we expected. We bought two bunches of a dozen sticks each. The first few ones had the usual effect of colorful balls of spark flying out of them (thank god, because anything more and the older folks might've had a heart attack ). But I lit one and it exploded. I automatically let go but still felt the impact. I pretended it was nothing (while at the same time secretly checking if all my toes and fingers we're still intact through the smoke) but even my uncle heard it from the second floor and went up to ask if everyone was alright. This was noticeable because noone ever buys things that go *BANG* in that house. I picked up that defective roman candle (which I suspect wasn't defective at all. Maybe the maker decided to add one crazy stick in the bunch to enlighten our supposedly lame celebration. Kind of like when they add a bonus track to your favorite CD. Although in this case, you use it at the risk of one of your little piggies).

Turns out there was more than one surprise in that bunch, which was why nobody except me and my other crazy cousin wanted to start lighting the other bunch. With just the two of us left, we weighed the consequences of whether ending up in the ER (they live a block away from a good hospital anyway :P) as compared to the high potential for crazy but dangerous fun. We ended up deciding that we couldn't let it go to waste (haha, there was no contest from me actually. I just needed a devil's advocate to tell me to keep on lighting away). We vowed to keep happy despite the obvious risks (bad, baaaad, i know). At first, we just lit the sticks we put on the ledge, but it kept moving in crazy directions, so then we decided to plant it in the pots. This was better as some of them still exploded and for this, we decided to hide behind one of the plastic chairs as a precaution (which was still stupid since it could fly right into us anyway). There was this one outstanding piece which literally blew up even all the way into the handle. It makes me shudder thinking what could've happened if someone was actually holding it. No more discounted fireworks for us next year. But I'm adding a Crying Cow (a noisy but harmless treat), more Pop-pops and baby rockets to the list next December though.

So there. Happy new year and goodbye to the same old me.
Things have to change. And things will change anyway, whether I like it or not. But there are also so many good things around me right now that it's hard not to notice how thankful I really should be. And if last night's wake-up call was any indication, the first thing I should be happy about is that I get to keep all my toes and fingers again this year.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Hodgepodge

With Buddy Holly blaring in the background, the rhythmic clinking of forks and spoons over a good dinner with the family and my very satisfied tummy sending happy signals to my brain, everything just seems alright in the world.

At this very moment, I do not have a care with whatever's going on outside, as evidenced by:

1. I don't even know where my mobile phone is or feel the overwhelming urge to text anyone back (even the cute ones). This is quite a feat since I consider my phone an added appendage which I can attach and re-attach at will.

2. I can't tell what day it is. Whether it's Thursday or Saturday, doesn't feel important. My mental calendar is all messed up. Except for my weekly deadlines, time is immaterial right now anyway. It doesn't even matter what time it is. I sleep late, wake up late and will probably end up looking more like a zombie after this holiday break is over.

3. The gym seems like a foreign faraway land I plan to visit, but not this year. Anyway, I know I should be resting more so this dangblasted cold and cough will go away but I just cant seem to bring myself to bed at a decent hour. Hence, all the more time for my much-neglected blog.

4. I can't believe I got lured into doing some holiday shopping today. Blame it on the sports hiatus til new year. December in the Philippines is probably the only time when the congestion in the malls is worse than it is in the street traffic. I'm the kind of person who tries to finish my gift list by October at the latest, but somehow today I ended up going to a jampacked mall and surprisingly, I actually got to buy things I've been eyeing while I was too busy buying gifts for other people. What's worse was just when I was about to convince myself that that was the last purchase for the day, I end up seeing one more thing I absolutely have to get, regardless if it had a xmas discount or not! Well there goes the rest of my paycheck....

5. If I were to be asked to leave the house right now, I would not even bother changing my pink flannel pajama bottoms and wife-beater top (but I'd change into new underwear, of course). There isn't even any food stains on it. Not yet, at least. On the same vein, me and my cousins went on a midnight snack run a few days ago and I dared my whacko cousin (bad idea) to go out without changing (in this case, she was currently wearing jeans, a shirt, Hawaiian housedress, a plastic lei and to top it all off, her spanking new blue ukelele that she just recieved for Christmas. The plan was just to go to Starbucks, but after driving around for a while, it finally dawned on us that no coffee shop franchise (sosi or not) was going to remain open for Christmas eve. So after looking at all the closed Starbucks, Coffee Beans, Gloria Jeans, Figaros, and even the usual dependable 24-hour Mickey Dees, we ended up agreeing that the newly-opened David's Tea House near the house was the only viable option for the night (either that, or we make our own snacks at home.). So we got there a little before midnight and since I refused to be seen walking into that place with "Inday," me and my other cousin watched them enter first. But before they could, two young-looking well-dressed guys (who I assume were the owners) stopped them. Me and my other cousin couldn't stop laughing our guts out! We had assumed Inday got stopped because she honestly looked like she just escaped from the looney bin. (I don't think she even bothered combing her hair, mana sa akin haha.)

But as it turns out, we were mistaken. It was almost closing time, so we eventually got to go in on the condition that we were the last order for the day. We even got a 20% discount since it was their first day. Sweet! It felt like a second Noche Buena that day what with all the noodles, congee, dumplings, chicken and that delicious salt & pepper fried tofu (which I will definitely go back for!). Too bad we forgot to bring a camera.

6. I've been catching up on all the kimchi flicks that I seem to get cathartic pleasure from. I got to finish Korea's Le Grand Chef and Taiwan's About Love. I'm currently halfway with another Seoul movie, Crazy Waiting. And just for good measure, I think I'll watch Love Phobia and Fly Me to Polaris one more time too!

Weekend Plans:
I'm still iffy about the 8am calltime to practice throwing discs at the nearby university tomorrow. Unless I sleep within the hour, I doubt I'll feel awake enough to go. I think I need more impetus to show up. Which makes me wonder, would it make any difference if I knew a certain someone was going to be there too?

Sunday is an outreach day. I miss the outreach events my old choir used to organize. Small-scale but just as meaniingful nonetheless. And I wasn't able to participate in one last year, so I gotta do double time this year. We're heading to a center for sexually abused women somewhere in the South. Thank you God for letting me meet new wonderful people that give opportunities to do things like these with.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas stalkings

"Finally, after all the presents have been opened, the noche buena has been eaten, and the guests have gone...."

Awwwwww fuck it.
Fudge, I was thinking of starting off this entry with an 'ole Father Christmas-like tone, all nostalgic and warm, but I just can't do it right now. I barely got enough sleep (my fault entirely). I've been subsisting on grilled sweet ham sandwiches for over 24 hours (and counting...) and I am now deadset on finishing reading a friend's old blog from end to end. It has entries from over seven years ago which I accidentally discovered online. ("Accidentally" here is a loose term which I choose to mean that I searched and found the link to it deliberately. Call me psycho, I know). No big reason for the research, just plain old curiousity, I guess. That, and the fact that it's really interesting how significant the changes one can undergo give or take a few years. This person's quirks are very interesting. Not out-of-this-world, but enough for me to bother reading about up til the wee hours of Christmas morn.

It's almost year's end and I am so glad to feel that I have not caused hurt, offended or inflicted pain on anybody else other than myself. Even if it happened indirectly, I feel sad for those who choose to think that way instead of assuming the more positive, kinder choice on what to believe.
It feels good to live this way. Living the way you want without really using, abusing or punishing others.

Now achieving Happiness may be a different kind of pursuit altogether, but being at peace with yourself requires almost no effort if you feel no guilt. The world can be pretty tricky, you can offend it just by being who you are and still, it takes that against you. But that doesn't mean you are in the wrong. It just means that some people aren't born with the understanding of appreciating your individuality. But I will never be a headless chicken. Maybe I could be the purple cow, but never the chicken. WTF?

This year, I tried not to be so disappointed in people. In previous years I would've tried not to get angry when I realized anger is a useless, expensive emotion that drains not just your body but the mind as well. And then when I went a notch down to just being disappointed at people who have done me wrong, I realized that disappointment was a sad thing to feel for people as well. Disappointment has a way of lingering with you even longer than anger ever will. Sometimes I can get pissed at someone and then totally forget about it within the same day. But disappointment hangs in there, reminding me constantly of how I was so badly let down. So now, I say, if I can help it, let's skip the anger and disappointment and just write off things as just that. Here is my personal mission-statement of sorts that I plan to use when it comes to understanding and accepting the reality of less-considerate individuals.

1. People make mistakes, but sometimes they can't help it and they'd probably take it back if they could. (i hope)

2. People say mean things, but not everybody can be an editor and words are a tricky business. That's why good writers are hard to find.

3. People are fickle creatures. They can change their mind in an instant, whether it be about their jobs, sports, friends and even family. Yes, they can even quit their loved ones, if they really wanted to. That's the freedom they have as a living body with an independent brain and a heart. Who knows, maybe in the long run, the decision was for everybody's benefit after all.

4. People don't realize the effect they have on others, based on what they do or DON'T do. Not everyone is a sensitive genuis. and in the same vein, not everything a person says or does or doesn't do have to be necessarily connected to you. For this, you'll just have to write off the rest of the clueless population as a nice, naive bunch of dense logs, haha. If you want something known, then be upfront. Guessing is kid's play.

5. People can be hard to understand. Sometimes, it's because they don't want to be understand. And other times, it's because they get so messed up inside that they don't know what else to do. I know someone who makes it so hard for his friends to be friends with him. But that doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't want to be friends with us, he just can't help but be crazy frustrating most of the time. Normal people just do that when they have their whacked-out or depressed days.

These are just some of the learnings I wanted to jot down while my brain cells still feel like they're in work mode. This post didn't turn out as bitter or jaded as I first thought it would be. I'm going to try and steer away from that tone now as much as possible because there are a million more glorious happy things to write about out there. And I really shouldn't dwell on the familiar anymore. It stinks in the pit of despair. Hella boring too.
Thank God for good friends, family, constant opportunities, and a unwavering, nagging passion to push on with life everyday.

So I guess life can be good, if I wanted it to be.

Merely Christmas

It's 3am Christmas day and I'm still up (but not necessarily about).
Funny that I've gotten so lax on blogging even though I've already been working for a website for over a year now. I could say there's just too many things happening, as usual. But then again, isn't there always some one thing or another happening? It's just a cop out.

Truth is, I really wanted this year to be not just good, but great. Any other year I probably would've been content with a not-so-sucky 12 months, but this year, for some reason, it was just crucial for me that it wouldn't be a bomb. Now I just can't wait for it to be over.

Looking back at my last entry six months ago, I know I was able to accomplish most of what was on my mid-year wishlist. I indulged in a new sport and even got to be part of three finals games because of it. I got to travel and go on a nice little adventure on my time and terms. The only thing I still haven't mastered up to now is reigning in my mind on matters of the heart. Harmless crushes aside, I should stop being affected anymore. I'm getting too old for that. I won't say any more on this because it'll only come out like a sad sorry pile of mush. Which is what it is, actually. I need to work on that part. Especially now.

Quite honestly, there's a lot to be happy about from the past few months. I've lost more weight from all the running than I have from sweating it out in the gym. I've learned to eat healthier with a little help from the chirpy persistent nutritionist at my gym. I've met a wonderful new community of athletes and religious individuals who are just so sincere and welcoming that it makes me feel guilty for not being even half as nice as they are. I envy these kinds of people. Those who can be light and carefree company. Because I know I can never be me who will be described like that. But then again, they're lucky to not have to go through things that will change them growing up. Harder, sadder, more painful things. Things that will break you but eventually strengthen you. I can't complain. I did get smarter after all. I think.

Now christmas this year at the family house was subdued, as always. They had early dinner because their guests apparently had other parties to go to come dinnertime. I opted to demur from the 5pm calltime as I have always hated having this wonderful traditional meal being moved hella earlier at the dictate of someone else's social schedule. I hate to say it, but I always resented it when even the opening of the presents had to be done right after dinner because everyone had to sleep early because they were going out of town the following day to go to the province. Why did I have to feel cheated out of enjoying my Christmas eve because of somebody else's plans? Christmas isn't merry when it feels pressured to be finished early, no sir deifnitely not.

Anyway, I've finally figured out the one New Year's Resolution I want to keep for next year. It's so simple I can't believe I didn't think of it earlier. It's one of those stupid things anybody can start doing at any time of the year, but I just think the start of a year is the best time to feel like a clean slate again. No wonder I can't wait to put 2008 behind me.