Friday, March 31, 2006

at the end of the day

There is nothing more delighful than to end a day with amusing thoughts and anecdotes. Today, I got a couple of hilarious tale. Last night, my Mom sent me a text message telling me about a funny thing that happened to my dog. Bub got hit on the head by a guyabano fruit at the back of our house. I couldn't stop laughing thinking about my poor tiny dog, being knocked over by a guyabano and getting green stains on her head!

And then at the lunch table today, a new staff asked me and David if we were brother and sister! Because we look alike, she said. Imagine that. It definitely made the other lunchers guffaw. We laughed so hard about it. Sometimes, we're mistaken as brother and sister. Hilarious.

What better way to wrap up a particularly stressful week? Tonight, smoking shisha with friends. Tomorrow, the cherry blossoms in DC.

Life As A Volunteer

For the last ten months, I had been doing volunteer job. It had been quite entertaining and I have learned lots of things. Sometimes, it can be very frustrating, only in the sense that I am not being paid for my efforts. However, that's another story and I am not in the best position to complain. Being a volunteer has taught me many different things, and has given me opportunities to experience things I would probably miss had I opted to just stay home or wander elsewhere. For a newcomer like me, this is best place to learn.

My work in the psychological testing field before was challenging. Everyday was a test of patience and judgment. I’ve encountered varying personalities in the past. My current volunteer job is at the information and referral at a mental health agency. Basically, my tasks include processing voicemail messages and directing them to the appropriate program, attending to walk-in clients needing services, processing referrals from other agencies, contacting possible clients on the phone, and sometimes, answering calls at the referral line.

It’s a LOT of work, I only realized it now. I used to be so confused on my first months here. And most of the process and system is fairly new to me, and I needed a lot of time adjusting to it. Insurances, self-pays, sliding scales, DFS, CPS, counties, grants, policies, etc. were all new to me. But I soon became familiar to it, and making referrals and forwarding cases to different programs within the agency became quick and easier.

And working in a multicultural place is such a joy and it is so exciting to meet people from different corners of the world. Most of those who work here are immigrants, and it’s exciting to know different cultures. All the clients who come for services are mostly immigrants, and most of them don’t speak English at all. It’s a scary thought to come to America and not be able to speak the language. It makes me think that Pinoys are luckier because even though some don’t speak the perfect English, we still have more than a handful of English to survive. Most of the clients speak Spanish, Farsi, French, Arabic, Amharic, Vietnamese, among other languages.

The most challenging part of the job is the walk-in clients. They come in seeking services, sometimes accompanied by interpreters, sometimes they can fairly converse in English and some would need a staff to interpret for them. Having met them, I feel so thankful that even though Filipinos have a very chaotic and rough life, we didn’t have to experience what those people had been through. Filipinos still have a lot of things to be thankful about. It’s so sad to hear their stories about civil wars and all other difficulties they’ve been through. The agency offer many different programs for them- like counseling, legal services, social services and life skills programs. And having met these people from places like Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Congo, Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Morocco, etc. has made me appreciate more the distinctness of world cultures. Also meeting people from Latin America has made me understand more contrasting personalities and cultural variety.

I love to be here. Friends teach you words and customs from their own countries. People share about their peculiar eating habits, or about food, marriage, raising children, unusual customs and practices. It’s always fascinating to hear those exchanges of interesting tales. The staff is a mélange of people from different cultures- Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Germany, Hungary, Ethiopia, Bosnia, Iran, Kenya, etc. etc. They blend well with the American staff. Well, there are those who are easy to get along with, and there are those who are such pain in the neck. Like I said, this place is a hodgepodge of different cultures and personalities. And in general, this is a great place to be.

I never thought I’d be able to meet people whose cultures I only read about in books. But I’m here, and it is a great experience. Being a volunteer here is such tremendous adventure. Doors and windows for greater opportunities and discernment has been opened for me…

Thursday, March 30, 2006

recipe no.2!

I'm in a cooking frenzy! This time, I made omelettes and I'm dubbing it as "MHO"- My Humble Omelette. This is fairly simple to make. You just need:

4 beaten eggs, seasoned with salt
3 hotdogs, cubed
1/4 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup onions, chopped
dried basil
dried oregano
dash of pepper
1 tbsp. oil
Then: Saute onions, carrots and hotdogs in oil. Season with pepper. Add basil and oregano. Set aside. Then pour beaten eggs into the pan, then add the hotdog mixture. Wait until the eggs are set. Fold the omelette and serve!

I hope this won't become a cooking blog ;)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

recipe no.1

I like experimenting with new recipes. It's a newfound joy and hobby :) After perusing over numerous cookbooks and watching too many cooking shows, I learned that following word for word any recipe is not a good idea. All you need to do is follow your instinct and have good judgment. And the best lesson of all- don't hesitate to experiment.

I started to try my hand around the kitchen in 1999. And I could proudly say, my relationship with cooking have grown steadily and progressively over the years. I had too many trials-and-errors over my cooking. I used to be the kind of girl who vowed never to cook, or at least learn how to cook. However, David changed my mind about cooking, and I have been happier ever since. Now, I am a happy cook! Sometimes when I'm stressed out about something, I try to whip something up to 'keep my mind preoccupied'.

The more fun way of cooking is to use whatever is in hand, and create something from it. So let me share a recipe I made recently:

1 cup pork strips (thinly sliced)
1 cup Chinese mushroom (soaked in water, sliced)
minced ginger (around 1 tbsp)
broccoli florets (around 1 cup)
soy sauce (3 tbsp), mixed with
1 tbsp light brown sugar
garlic powder and ground pepper to taste
1 tbsp. canola oil
sesame oil

*cooking directions*
saute minced ginger in 1 tbsp canola oil
add pork strips, stir fry for around 3 mins (or until meat is done)
add mushroom
add soy sauce with brown sugar
simmer for around 4 mins, or until liquid is almost dried up.
while it's simmering,
add broccoli florets (cover while it is simmering)
add a dash of garlic powder and pepper to season
add a few drops of sesame oil just when you're about to
turn the heat off, be sure to mix well.
serve with rice

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Carrie and Big

It was only this year that I was able to see the last two episodes of the Sex and the City, season six. I was religiously following the show until a more important event in my life came up, which explains why I missed the exciting last episodes.

Anyway, I was not disappointed. I am glad Carrie and Big ended up together. Got me thinking about an old Filipino adage -"Pagkahaba-haba man ng prusisyon, sa simbahan din ang tuloy". All's well that ends well. Although at some point, I had wished Carrie and Aidan would marry eventually. However, Aidan is not meant for Carrie.

I remember that episode when Carrie saw Aidan on the street and when he turned, there was a baby. It was a nice scene. It was a closure for Carrie, she could never have Aidan ever again. But I'm the biggest Big fan. I know he and Carrie belong together. Although it took them a long time to realize that.

Recently, I've been watching reruns of the show. I'm still excited over each episode, although I've seen them many times before. It's nice to reminisce, and to remember the days when me and my friends would talk about the latest episodes. We had a great time.

My favorite character is Charlotte. She's too neurotic and obsessive, however she has the most endearing personality of them all. It's her fashion style also that I like. Carrie is fun, she's stubborn and very independent. Miranda is ultra cynical. Samantha...hmm. She does what she had to do ;)

Skip to Happiness

"Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now.
Don't wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future.Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it's at work or with your family.
Every minute should be enjoyed and savored."
Oftentimes we are caught in the frenzy of daily rigors that we turn into grumbling machines and forget to relax, and we become so uptight and can't seem to find joy in things.
Little things can bring joy in life. You don't have to do grand things to be able to find joy. There are so many things in life to be happy about. A favorite song played on the radio, a quick coffee break, a nice meal, the chance of catching up with your loved one while being stalled in traffic, a wonderful sight along the way... The list goes on and on.
Life is what we make it. And we should make it as happy as we can. Life should not be wasted in a pit of unhappiness. Life is short, we should not waste time making ourselves and other people miserable.
Let's all be happy and celebrate life!