January 31, 2009

Of Brain Itch and Earworms

I would like to believe that my daughter came out into the world to the tune of "La Chupeta." In the four days that I stayed in the hospital after my C-Section four years ago, this makes-no-sense-to-me song supposedly about pacifiers kept ringing in my ears. I tried muffling it with earphones and a dose of post-partum Alanis Morisette. I tried thinking up the lyrics to a super jologs song that is deeply embedded in my memory courtesy of my childhood yaya. I tried walking around the hospital lobby in search of that blasted player.

To no avail, of course.

It was only after the baby and I were in the safe confines of home--and I still heard fragments of that song--that I realized that it was playing in my mind all along. (As it turned out, the nonsensical La Chupeta was my OB's ringtone. It was the last thing I heard before I drifted off to anaesthetic light-headedness.)

In any case, this post had me thinking "La Chupeta!" No, it didn't make the list of GetBack's 10 worst brain-itch songs. Apparently, it lost out to "Who Let the Dogs Out," "YMCA," "Mmm Bop," "Mambo No. 5" and "I'm Too Sexy," among others.

Still, it tops the list of songs that that have the embarrassing way of (unintentionally) coming out of my usually unexercised vocal chords. Along with "Brother Louie," "I Will Survive" "Name Game" and--our dearly-missed messenger's favorite--"Quando, Quando, Quando."

January 29, 2009

A Real Headache

I went to church last Sunday and went home with a migraine. No, it wasn’t from the homily. It wasn’t from the pressure of being “good,” either. Instead, it was from the squeaky heels of this toddler whose parents obviously do not know the difference between cute and irritating.

As if the toddler with the squeaky shoes was not enough, there was this little girl who walked up the altar and proceeded to mount her own concert. Watching her teetering on the edge of the stairs—and eventually on the small foothold at the base of one of the cathedral’s columns—was disturbing enough. But what really stressed me out was the fact that the parents or whoever was with her never made the effort to get her to behave.

I don’t know, but there are some parents who need a dose of discipline themselves. They look the other way, not giving a hoot if their child is growing horns or assaulting the neighbor. They laugh off irritating pranks as innocent, harmless things that will make the kids more “macho,” more “street-wise,” more “worldly.”

I know of these parents who thought that they were doing the kid a favor by letting him have his way in anything. Well, the kid is now a pre-teen who drinks, gambles, smokes, swears and bullies.

I won’t stress myself any further thinking what the future holds for the two kids who gave me a migraine if their folks would continue looking the other way. This much I know, though: disciplining a child can be a minor head (and heart) ache. But better a slight discomfort now than a real headache later.

Scenes from a Seminar

A participant leafing through a catalogue
Slippers shared by two participants – and wayward shoes unceremoniously shoved under the chair
A stifled yawn
Heels, heels, uncomfortable heels
Know-it-alls biting more than they could chew
Me shuttling between two windows when I should be documenting

BUT really, this seminar on ethics and accountability is NOT boring. How can it be, when it is peppered with colorful glossary such as:

Anak ng Diyos
Backdoor entry
Barya-barya lang
Daya Time Record
For official’s use only
If the price is right
Kagalang-galang na magnanakaw
Republic Act 1530

I guess it’s true: corruption knows many languages. And no matter how you call it, it's still corruption. AND, sadly, it is every where. Tsk. Tsk.

January 22, 2009

No Kitchen Goddess

In my restless 30s, I fancied myself to be a kitchen goddess. Blame it on an overdose of Jude Law and Music from Another Room, but I had romantic visions of me slaving away in a small bakeshop with huge display windows. I wanted to bake fancy cakes, make truffles, cook up a feast.

For a time, I did good on the baking part. I took lessons, tested recipes, basked in the wonderful scents of cinnamon and vanilla. In those blissfully unattached times, I realized that I could figure out the science that went into a thousand pan de sal, but I could not come to terms with the intangibles, love and commitment included.

But then, baking became a business and the novelty wore off. I moved on to the cooking part for either one of two then very pressing reasons: (1) in anticipation of the days when I would have to cook for myself OR (2) to impress future attachments, in-laws most of all.

Today, my cookbooks are gathering dust. The day I got married was the day I kissed my kitchen-goddess aspirations goodbye. The husband is decidedly the better cook, and from Day One he made it clear that the kitchen was his and his alone. There was no room for another cook; not even for an apprentice. I have since been banished, and I can't say that I am complaining.

My sister, who has recently been raving about squash soups and santoku knives, continues to stoke my interest with her "gourmet" reading fare. In my past life, I would have gobbled up titles like Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant; The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen; The Art of Simple Food. Who knows, I might just have time for them again. For now, though, I am happy being the kitchen god's wife. :p

January 16, 2009

Rained Out

The relentless rains of the past months finally took its toll on my cashew tree. While there were no storm signals up over Sorsogon, we have been bombarded with heavy rains and strong winds since the first day of December. And now what passes for my side garden is a mess.

The cashew tree is but the latest in the long line of "natural" casualties. The aratiles tree that shaded the front gate was felled by a sudden storm three summers ago. The avocado, the santol, a host of mango and pili trees, the lonely gumihan that could have told a thousand stories if it could speak ... all these are gone now. Once-upon-a-time markers in this cycle of construction and destruction.

Some other tree will grow in the cashew's place. Already, there are signs of new growth. Weeds are crowding my backyard as well. The rains have made them thrive, and now they are happily choking what is left of the vegetable patch, creeping up and over cracks and crevices. When the weather clears, the gardener-on-call will have his hands full.

I have learned to live with the rains, of course. They may have set back some of the plans I had for life and for the garden. They may have messed up my calendar, and made me want to do nothing but curl up in bed all day, but they are essentials for growth. For rebirth and for renewal. Besides, when summer's scorching heat strikes, I know that I will be wishing for this kind of cool.

January 6, 2009


Here's the upside to this taking-down-the-trimmings thing that used to give me the blues:

Finally,they're getting rid of the hideous thingamajigs passing for Christmas decor in front of the City Hall.


January 5, 2009

Not My Year, Huh?

2009 is not supposed to be my year. Astrologers and new age gurus making the rounds of pre-new year talk shows have all been harping about the sheep/goat not being "friendly" with the ox. Consequently, they concluded that the year of the ox won't be a breeze for those born in the year of the sheep/goat.

The Chinese New Year is still weeks away, but I can't say that the first day of 2009 had been relatively easy. What promised to be a sunny day at the beach turned out to be a short lunch that had us shivering from the driving rain and the cold, cold winds. It was a "powerless" day, too, as the whole city didn't have electricity from 9 a.m. until around 7 p.m. The restaurants closed early, and all we had was this lame chicken and cold leftovers.

BUT, sweeping predictions and bad starts aside, I know that my 2009 will only be as good--or as bad--as I make it. And it will be good. As good, in fact, as these post-New Year's Day, post-brownout photos.

This is late, I know. Just the same, Happy New Year, everyone!

January 3, 2009

Post-Holiday Blues

The last of the guests had been seen off, and the madness that spilled over to the living room is now a manageable mess. The street is back to being quietly normal, the dogs are no longer jumpy and the fridge is groaning with calories and cholesterol. I will deal with the leftovers tomorrow. Tonight I will allow myself to wallow in post-holiday blues.

I guess this is the downside to being--and staying--home: people are always saying goodbye. There are early-morning goodbyes, when cars that used to crowd the curb disappear into the mist after one last blowing of the horn. They won't return until the next long holiday; sometimes not even then.

There are hasty goodbyes said at terminals, amid last calls for boarding and the excitement of arriving passengers. Whatever catching up is crammed in the hour-long drive to the airport. For my daughter and her cousins, the catching up will have to be done much later, when they are old enough not to squabble over toys, over the attention of the grandparents, over invasion of private spaces. When they are old enough to understand the concept of family.

The house is all quiet now. It will be so until somebody comes home again. I longed for this kind of quiet when the next-door neighbor belted out "Tragedy" from the videoke machine at 2 a.m. a lifetime ago. I wished for quiet when there was a houseful of whining and wailing toddlers. When firecrackers set off the baying of four dogs and the annoying whimper of six puppies.

It will be another long stretch before family and friends visit what they used to call home. It won't be long before I settle into the new year. Life will be back to normal tomorrow, and I won't have time for the blues.

Tonight, though, I wish it isn't this quiet. Oh well...