Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Crazy little Christmas presents list

If I were Santa this year, I’d like to give my favorite, lovely, delightful friends the quirkiest and the swankiest Christmas presents. Here’s my list:

Roselle - fly chef Dimitri Fayard of Vanille Pâtesserie in Chicago to her home in the Gold Coast for a private baking lesson
Farrah – a weekend at Le Spa de l’Hivernage, Hivernage Hotel and Spa in Marrakech,
Taryn – a private serenade from John Mayer (and get married to John Mayer)
Faith – a 12-day Food and Wine Tour in Germany
Bonna – a trove of vintage jewelry pieces in a handcrafted Agresti Magdelian jewelry box
Lia – a dozen Christian Louboutins, a dozen Manolo Blahniks and a dozen Jimmy Choos
Mei – a date with Mr. Right (Prince William?)
January – a shopping spree at Burberry for the newest mommy
Karen – Half a dozen Chanel outfits of her choice, plus Lanvin accessories
Fevi – a trunk-full of pearl jewelry for the girl with the sunniest personality
Otette – Tango lessons in Argentina
Bardott – a brand new house with gold-plated fences
May Ann – a ski trip in Gstaad, Switzerland
Kati – breakfast in bed at the Penthouse Suite, The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco
Lanie – a la Lara Croft adventure trip in Cambodia
Carol – her dream guy in a faille-wraped huge box (with a Bvlgari necklace pakapin!)
James A. – a private Phantom of the Opera show where he plays Christine :)
…And of course, to my all-time favorite friend, David – a super white BMW M6 coupé and the Burma Workshop with Steve McCurry

But until I stumble upon an indecent amount of money, or upon a magic well which dispenses a never-ending supply of moolah… you all have my LOVE. :)

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 12, 2007

New York minute

We wanted to do something new, something crazy, something unexpected. Like, (I asked my hubby) not pay the mortgage? Well, not THAT insane.

So last Saturday, despite the undesirable predictions of “some showers” and low 40s temperature, off we went to New York City. And- we took the bus! We parked our car in Union Station in DC and walked a couple of blocks to the Greyhound station- at 2:30 a.m. The four of us (me, David, our friends Darko and Janet), walking in the NE DC streets in an ungodly hour in freezing temperature- how’s that for a crazy start? Actually, we got a little lost at the Union Station, we didn’t know where to exit from the huge, deserted station. We were panicky because we didn’t want to miss the 3:15 bus. We didn’t miss it alright. The bus was 40 freakin’ minutes late! We didn’t know what was wrong, but the driver sort of pranced around, with his huge hat, as if announcing (as Darko said)- “look at me, look at me, I’m a bus driver!” People were cranky and impatient, and when David asked the lady at the ticket office what was taking the bus so long, the lady simply said- “It’s up to the driver’s discretion when to leave”. Whatda??!

And we wanted to slap him silly when he gaily (and ever so slothfully) took our tickets, acting like time was not wasted at all. Grrrr. We slept on the bus and then we were finally in NYC. We had breakfast at Sarabeth’s in Central Park South, where we ate a whole lotta eggs. Haha!

Our trip was kind of a short stop here and there, because we were only staying for the day. It was so cold, and gloomy. Our last two trips in NY were really cold, so David said he’s not ever coming back to NY when it’s freezing. We went to the Apple store on 5th Ave. And then at FAO Schwarz to look at toys we weren’t going to buy. We waited outside (in icebox temperature) for minutes before the store opened. We witnessed the trumpeters’ fanfare, the laying out of the red carpet, and the staff cheering on the entrance of shoppers. It was kind of cute, but David thought everything was “silly”.

NYC cab drivers are one-of-a-kind. They fly the minute you get in. And there was no time to be polite. One of our cab drivers uttered the unspeakable N word to the other driver when we nearly hit his vehicle. Had he been a celebrity, he would have apologized on TV and would have gone to rehab. But it was New York, and people were perpetually impatient and busy.

Fifth Avenue was bustling with bundled-up tourists. I guess one can entertain himself just people watching all day. Although the Christmas tree was not set up yet, we went to see it at the Rockefeller Center. The gloomy weather did not deter the people’s sprightly spirits, including us. Achy feet? Naah. Biting cold? No sweat.

Lunch at Chinatown was unbelievable. Dirt cheap and as tasty as tasty Chinese food should be. We went to the tiny corner restaurant on East Broadway. David ordered the roast pork which he liked so much, and forever regretted not getting it to go. We ordered their yang chow fried rice. It was yummy, so we ordered another one. Then, it was that good that ordered two more to go. Whoa, now THAT was liking it so much! The roast duck was also good.

New York trip over so soon? We squeezed in a little stroll in Upper West Side. We went to Zabar’s. And some shopping, too. My prized find? A burgundy cashmere shawl. And lots of other stuffs, too. The bus trip back home was quick and on time (thank God!). By 9:30 p.m., we were back in good ole’ DC.

Was it fun? You bet. Sometimes, something unpredicted is more wonderful. It gives a great big oomph.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Today is gloomy, rainy and cold. Not my kind of day. But it’s a good thing that the rains came since the area had been experiencing droughts for weeks now. And thinking about the fires ravaging Southern California, I wish it were raining there, too. I was watching the movie The Holiday on HBO earlier this week, and the Santa Ana was mentioned. And then, the next day the wildfires started, fueled by the unusually fierce Santa Ana winds. When you agitate your mind with all the calamities going on in the world, you’re bound to just perish miserably. This is added stress. What to do, what to do?

Anyway, we bought half a gallon of Selecta halo-halo ice cream from the Filipino store this week. Too pricey at $10, but too mouthwatering to dismiss. I love it. Buko salad next time?

About the movie The Holiday, I liked it for its simplicity and agreeableness. It wasn’t explosive or massively tear jerking, but I found a lot of kilig and funny scenes. This kind of movies should be in my must list- I don’t need maddeningly passionate love stories or sappy, sappy love songs to make me smile. On hectic days and weeks, sometimes funny videos or a nice warm meal or photos, and nice pleasant movies are enough to ease up the crunch of daily life. Last night, I watched the movie Happy Feet in between cooking for dinner and dinner, and chores afterwards. It was so cute. So we’re planning to watch it again tonight on HBO.

While I was flooded with paperwork today, (and in fact, I’m bringing some work home tonight), I was thinking how glum today was. It’s now 5:30 pm and outside it’s already too dark. Definitely, not my kind of day. Summers are better. But I thought about the meeting that I conducted today, and how it went really smoothly, and at the end of the hour, one staff exclaimed “it was really a good meeting!” I realized, heck, it was so much better than whining that life sucks. I remember a clinician, who always seemed to find ways to complain about the cases that I assign to her, grumbled again to me last Tuesday. As I listened to her irate litany, I looked at her and was astounded. Here she was, just a couple of years older than me, and looking like she could already be my aunt. Holy crap.

So take it easy. Take time to think, that no matter how mad the day was, it will always be better tomorrow.

Friday, October 19, 2007

sixty-seven days 'til Christmas

The other day, I bought a creamy cappuccino-scented candle. I need a little bit of aromatherapy in my life right now. It’s calming to come home after a long day and have a room heavy with one of those stimulating aroma. Since I have stopped drinking coffee, who said I couldn’t “smell” it? The past three weeks had been hectic. So frenetic we were tired all the time. Adding the cooler temperatures, bed and sofa are instantly our choice words. Pleasant scents are always a relief. In my case, the scent of coffee always peps up nothing but good memories.

At our former boss’ Tie Burning” party at his house on Columbus Day, I tasted this wonderful thingy- wasabi nut. It was surprisingly very tasty, and you couldn’t help but pop them in your mouth one after another. His tie-burning party was fun. A lot of the staff were kind of edgy when he left (sort of, he was forced to retire by the Board), and I was half-expecting that the party would be all kvetching since a lot of people didn’t want him to leave, but then, everyone was pleasant. The food was good, and the people’s mood was less uptight than at work. Perhaps, life is too short to wallow in mournfulness all the time?

I interpreted for a Cebuano-speaking client of a law firm in Pennsylvania Avenue in DC last October 12. I took the train on a cold, windy day. I interpreted for fours and a half, and took the train again going back to the office. It was my first time to act as interpreter, and it was a fun experience. I met the three lawyers who worked with the client, and I had a great experience. After work, the hubby and I met three friends from work at an Ethiopian restaurant. I love the food. It’s not something I can eat everyday, but it’s very tasty and spicy I’d like to enjoy it from time to time. We also tried the Ethiopian beer, which was very light. One of our friends was egging me to let her try one of Philippine-made beers. I’d love for her to try San Miguel, but I don’t know where to get that around here. Or Red Horse kaya? Ha! One of our friends was Ethiopian, and he taught us how to say thank you in Amharic. It was too long, and I couldn’t pronounce it well. David was able to say it to our waitress, which delighted her very much.

I was able to beat the deadline for the county report at 4:35 pm on Monday, the 15th. I’m tasked to do the report on one of our county grants now. It was passed on to me since the last Program Manager left in a huff in July, and she didn’t really tell me much how to do the report (which was done online). I didn’t have an idea what I was getting myself into, and of course, I was frustrated until I was finally able to figure out what to do. How funny life is, when all your life you avoided getting involved in anything with numbers and figures- I chose to take the least amount of Math courses in college and I crawled, and I wept in my Stat and Research courses in Grad school- and then, now. Is this the way of the Heavens in punishing me?

Life is better with free pizza! We ordered pizza for dinner earlier this week. When we got there to pick it up, we waited another thirty minutes for it. I was not really that bored and exasperated, but I was pacing back and forth the whole time. (Because it was cold, and I felt better if I kept on moving). When the pizza was ready, the manager told us it was free, and we didn’t have to pay for it and he thanked us for waiting. With free 2-liter Coke pa! Not bad, not bad.

I finally made some binignit. I got all the ingredients from the Asian store, and on Wednesday night, there I was, ladling my way into a medium pot of my (authentic) Pinoy binignit. Oh well, the next day, I brought some at work, and shared it with some officemates. They liked it. Half the fun of making the binignit was explaining to my non-Filipino friends the ingredients and the history of the binignit!

Sixty-seven days ‘til Christmas! I haven’t heard a single Christmas carol yet! In the past, I always look forward to hearing my first Christmas carol for the year. Hopefully this year, I’d hear something classic and heart-tugging. Something like this:

Can't wait.....

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The search for the great 0 S

I’m talking about a pair of jeans. Last weekend, I crawled and labored looking for a pair of perfect jeans. Perfect for me meant- dark, stretch, sits low on the waist, and of course, short and size 0, and most importantly, within my budget. (I’m not the kind of girl who buys those pricey jeans which can feed a whole country for a day). I guess I am just an unfortunate shopper because I had to sweat and toil each time I shop for a pair. That is why, when I find a good pair of jeans, I don’t usually horse around. I wonder if fellow size 0s have trouble like me.

I actually went to a couple of stores which was frequented by teenagers. But, their jeans were made for tall, lanky teens with legs shooting up to the armpits. As I browsed through endless shelves of jeans, I was a strange weed in an oasis of teenyboppers in tank tops, hoodies, short shorts, fleece drawstring shorts and pants. I was thinking, oh God, I am an old prune trespasser. I had to make a quick getaway to save myself from further embarrassment.

At one point, I tried on one of those skinny jeans. But like super low-waist jeans, it’s just not for everybody. I swear I looked like a bowling pin, and my butt seemed like Titanic. Oh well, I have accepted a long time ago that not every uso is for me. My jeans had to be straight and, or boot cut, but never long and lean and skinny. At this day and age, of course.

Looking for size 0 and short pair of jeans was a major spin for me. A total headache most of the time. But unless I wanna expand and burst forth into two (or three) pant sizes, (which I have no plans of ever doing), or unless I grow really tall and my legs would stretch, then jean shopping would remain to be a massive pursuit for me and a major pain for my hubby. (He still cannot fathom why I HAD to shop for jeans for an entire afternoon – no breaks, to add). I kid that the only thing that matters for men in jean shopping is if their size is available.

Last Sunday, I found a pair that I liked – dark, stretch, sits low on the waist, slim through the leg and thigh, subtle boot cut opening, in my size and only one pair left. I tried it on, and it looked and fit right. But then I had wanted to see more, to scout out for other size 0s out there. I’m that kind of shopper, but only when it comes to jeans and shoes – I had to scour every item in every store before I make the ultimate decision. And so, I left the pair in a corner under the green jackets (a marker, sort of).

I went into an epic quest for that elusive pair of size 0s that look, feel and fit just perfectly. I dared to take another chance in another teenybopper store. But still, no luck. So I traced my steps back to the store that never seem to fail me. And there it was – my pair of jeans- waiting for me. Finally, I found my perfect pair. It was a happy day….

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Some days are good

Some days are good, some days are bad. And some, plain humdrum. On Sunday, we spent the whole day holed up at home, and I complained to the hubby how… quiet it was. Normally, I would prefer days at home muted and unperturbed. But yesterday was… just different. Traffic down below was hushed, and it felt like the whole world went away for a nap someplace. The hubby and I were catching up with some work while tuning alternately to 90s, 80s (and 70s!) music channels. But still the lull, was oddly dismal.

When I was a little girl, I could never comprehend why grown ups prefer to just sit down and talk, or just sit quietly for long periods of time. That was the time of inexhaustible energy – always running, stomping, cutting things, chomping away pretzels and stick bread. No time for talk, only for screaming. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t turned my back to conviviality. It’s just that as I grew older, I look at peace and quiet as a reward, and not as a punitive measure.

First thing Monday morning, I managed to irk (unintentionally) an officemate. Two officemates, actually. They were in my face by 8:30 a.m. I could have griped and fussed, too. But then again, those two people were the two most unlikable people at work. They were perfectionist, nitpicking and tart. They want everything to be perfect. And God forbid, should a minuscule detail be off, a hissy fit is sure to happen. I wasn’t interested anymore to grumble. It was obvious I do not belong in their perfect world. And I am not even welcome there! Oh, well. If the “perfect” world is populated by people like them, I’d rather splash around in my imperfect world. Some days… are just full of drama.

Some days which start bad, turn out good. That, would be a perfect day. After a lousy Monday, I got a very good news. So I survived. I love quiet days. And I love days full of surprises, too.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Legends of the Fall

Last Monday afternoon, I spent a scant two hours watching Legends of the Fall on TV. I’ve watched this movie many, many times, and yet I still spent ample time holding back my tears. It happens all the time. The movie, is one of my all-time favorites. I liked the pre-Brangelina Brad Pitt. I think I don’t like Brad now – for a very valid reason. I’m not sure why after all these years, I still feel like weeping and mourning over the story. Was I being a fool?

I liked the sadness and the harsh mood of the movie. Unrequited love, troubled soul, pain and sorrow… an absolute, powerful sad story. I’ll never get over it.

What is it with me and sad stories lately? I remember, last Monday I had cried three times in a single day. Can I blame it to sad movies, the searing hot weather or am I just mad at the world?