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.

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