Archive for the 'lifestyle' Category

yesterday i almost knocked over a huge flower centerpiece in the lobby… (ca. june 2004)

…but that doesn’t stop me from hovering all around the place like an apparition. i’m in bohol.

travelling alone all the time has leveled my head. it has proven that the bottom line is we have to fend for our own hide.

ormoc. i was down with the flu, but it was too late to cancel. so all red in the face, i lug the training manuals, the binder of transparencies as heavy as concrete blocks and that gargantuan overhead projector into a tricycle (yes, tricycle. some cities don’t enjoy the luxurious volume of taxicabs that manila and cebu take for granted). the tricycle jolts as it negotiates a pothole and hurls the bag of manuals and transparencies into the busy road. i yell “HUNONG SA!!!” to the unknowing driver, pounce dangerously into the street, play patintero with a swarm of oncoming vehicles, retrieve my precious cargo, and sprint like mad back to the tricycle.

minutes later, i try to figure out how to set up the ohp i carried from the medieval ages. when i finally get it poised and ready, i hit the switch. no light. i visualize pushing it off the pedestal.

dumaguete. feb. 14, valentine’s night. i was hungry like hell. i walk the whole boulevard stretch. i must have seemed like joseph in bethlehem, moving from house to house, asking kindly for lodging. and getting refused over and over again. “sorry, ma’am. fully booked ang restaurant.” i hate valentine’s night as lovers out on the most hackneyed date of the year shoot pathetic glances at me. they think, “awww…kaluoy niya, wa siya’y date.” i wish they all choke on their carbonara.

miles later of walking back and forth, i end up in the same restobar i usually haunt. no more spaces at the tables, so i to squeeze into the bar. and i mean squeeze. i’ve never seen so many foreigners within a few square meters of me before. i don’t look up as i eat my fries and pasta. i ignore the waitresses rushing past me as i drink my beer. this place is busier than an anthill. a foreigner tries to strike a conversation. i pretend not to hear. i was hungry like hell.

same place. i’m not hungry anymore, but i’m bored like hell. randall (a&h marketing officer) and i have finished our respective obligations by lunch. now we have four hours to burn before the boat ride back to cebu. we check out of the hotel at twelve noon and take our lunch. now what? i buy me a pack of luckies and a bottle of bubble solution. we find a shady spot where we could sit along the boulevard by the sea. just to see if it works, i try to blow smoke into bubbles. you know what, it does work. and it’s so wonderful watching those smoke bubbles float listlessly and pop in the air, releasing isolated puffs of lucky strike menthol. randall laughs at me because he thinks it’s ridiculous.

later on, we’re still bored. we drink two rounds of stong beer at shakey’s. and it was still 2:30 pm. i propose a bet as to what sort of movie will be shown on the vessel. he says war movie. i say superhero. winner gets a bag of popcorn.

“just married” starring ashton kutcher and brittany murphy. so we split the popcorn bill.

bogo, cebu. the satellite office is still under construction, so we had to book a place for a seminar. this one we got is a function room by day, discobar by night. naturally, our closest neighbors are videoke joints. i talk about risk factors and underwriting guidelines while an amateur belts “AAALLLL BYYEEE MYYYEEESSEH-EE-ELFFF…” so the proprietor (a rotund british guy who seems genuinely concerned), hands me a microphone so i could be heard above the poor wailing woman. just as i speak through the mic, some guy from the other side of the street sings “oh baby baby… my baby baby”… so i sing with him. really, i did.


new habit, old habit, gone habit

new habit: running

since i decided one day some weeks ago that i will start running every day, there hasn’t been a day when i didn’t run. ok, counting the treadmill too on rainy days (cut me some slack, it’s monsoon season here). alright, i exaggerated. i honestly never missed on regular days, but i can’t run on days when i extend shift. unless i pull a superwoman routine and decide i can still run despite the 12-hour work schedule. maybe i can, but i won’t.

gone habit: smoking

because i realized at the start that i couldn’t even sustain running 2 minutes without losing my breath (i am that pathetic), i quit smoking. i’m not a health nut. i just thought i should give myself a chance to run 5k straight then get back to smoking if i still feel like it.

old habit: reading 

that is, the old habit that i seem to have left behind. there are strange explanations here that i can’t seem to form into words, but just know that this running and quitting smoking made me want to read as much as i used to. and in these past weeks, i finished reading the following:

which is a very good pace for me. a very good pace indeed. please consider that i haven’t picked up a single book to read in the past 9 months.

put one foot in front of the other. repeat ad nauseum

i don’t know why i’m forcing myself to write when i don’t feel like writing. i think it’s because i have this new notion that i could get that mojo back if i just keep at it. so no matter how blah i feel, i must write something. plus, i resolved this year to log my days in some form of journal. why not this blog?

this is the same feeling i get running. i don’t know why i’m forcing myself to run even when i don’t feel like running. the other day, as i dragged myself to the bathroom to change into my trainers, my mind scurried from one excuse to the next, trying to find ways to make me sit it out for the day. but i realized (with some mental pain) that if i find excuses then, i would find excuses later. and that would just lead me to eventually quit. because i’m a quitter. but not this time.

oh, but i did quit smoking. so i’m a quitter in that sense. i’m not saying that with pride. i’m saying that it got in the way of breathing regularly when i reach points of exhaustion. i am not a health activist. i finish a whole can of pik-nik after i exercise. i know there are people who do fitness training yet maintain the habit of smoking. i’m not one of those blessed individuals. i am one who gets winded out of my skull.

going back to writing, i still haven’t come across anything that could inspire me when i feel, well, uninspired. some people offered their own preferences, maybe i should try some out myself. this blogger said running “sometimes, takes (him) there too”, let’s see where it takes me.

going back to running, i still haven’t figured out a way to get rid of the laziness that sweeps over me just before i pound the streets. but there was one day when i decided to channel richard simmons. i can’t recall why him of all exercise video people, i simply guessed that the thought of him would keep me entertained enough to forget the time. so with richard simmons as my existential guide, i clipped the streets on a balmy afternoon, birds trilling in the trees, blossoms peeking through shrubbery, most likely a campy smile on my face as i waved at tourists on their yellow and pink vespas-for-hire. when i ran past a gentleman (the father?) and a young lady (the daughter?) crossing a street, the gentleman lets out this trite jogging witticism, “you must be running late,” to which i beamed and cheerfully responded despite my shortness of breath, “running late for fitness!”

i will no longer channel richard simmons.

wait… i think i still want to. with disco tank top, candy stripe shorts and bunched up socks. maybe this will make me want to write, too.

disappearing in a cloud of dust

so i did start running. and i was faithful to the program. it’s not much, but for one normally unfit and lazy and bound to the couch, i’m doing a good enough job. i sweat about a bucket, but that would be the humidity and exhaustion combined. the next day it was the rain and exhaustion combined. that’s right, i didn’t let up even if the weather was getting the other runners down. i stick to the footpath, slushing a little through puddles, sometimes on the wet grass just where the gutter meets the street, make my way to one of the five-star resorts whose driveway forms a kind of cul-de-sac at the gate of one of the exclusive subdivisions.

the other day, i suddenly had this big slab of self-awareness drop on top of me like the proverbial anvil. in the midst of a good pace, i suddenly wondered how i look like running. are my shoulders square, is my neck drawn, is my back arched… wait, is my butt sticking out? then i abruptly switched to a brisk walk. because i got quite bothered by the idea of the sight of me running. a few steps on, a grandmother and her small grandson got ahead of me, so i picked up the pace again, feeling a little ashamed that two such persons were outwalking me. as i slacken by the pedestrian lane to let a utility pick-up through the intersection, the driver decelerates, shouts “you go on. can’t get in the way of your running” so i smile an out-of-breath smile and flash him a thumbs-up as i run across his path.

when the rain advanced to a strength you won’t call a drizzle anymore, i was about five yards from the nearest shed. i considered for a moment taking shelter until the rain passed, but i had such fierce loyalty to the program, i didn’t want to ruin the time i was going for. so i ran past the shed where the tourists followed me with a collective puzzled gaze. what is this asian lady doing?? naturally, that only served to increase my self-awareness and i wish i could crawl into a hole in the tree.

yesterday, the weather decided to do the exact opposite. it was 31 degrees the time i knocked off. with that heat, even changing into my trainers in the bathroom cubicle felt like an ordeal. and i began to imagine people looking at me thinking i must be crazy. i warded off the thought, i must just be insecure about senseless things, finished the training and jumped into our pick-up all sweaty and tanned. from the back seat, my husband’s friend asked in amazement, “man, how could you run in this heat?”

then i became paranoid again.

i am, obviously, thinking like a self-conscious pubescent who thinks the world gives a damn about what i’m doing. when, in fact, they couldn’t care less.

i have to run

six days ago, i started running. on the treadmill. but running nevertheless. i started with alternating 90 seconds brisk walking and 60 seconds running until the timer says 30 minutes then i step off the machine and walk across the garden before stretching on our terrace. then the other day i started alternating 90 seconds walking and 90 seconds running within the same time frame (though i cheated one day when i just had to get on and off to watch the replay of american idol; but i kept marching in place while watching. doesn’t compensate, really, but at least i try).

this may not sound impressive, but if you know me and my lifestyle, this is a vast improvement. i, who can barely sustain running over 60 seconds straight without losing my breath and splitting my sides about 15 pounds heavier ago, decided to run. and on the tradmill too, one thing i used to be repulsed by because i just thought it’s unspeakably boring.

this may also sound as if i’m following the crowd (literally in the philippines) of runners who have taken it upon themselves to tread the open pavements because, well, everybody else is doing it. i am not a hipster snob, but i do take efforts to stay away from things that everybody else is doing. so kill me.

so why on earth did i start doing it? because i’m in a foreign country and that strangely motivated me to run.

today, if it doesn’t rain when i knock off from work, i’m going to actually run outside.

how to pronounce the name siobhan

that’s shuh-VAWN’. correctly spelt siobhan.

in a previous entry, i wrote about the considerations i had to take as i was selecting a name for my then ungendered baby. i wanted siobhan so bad for a girl, but i had some pronunciation issues. since we live in a country of michelles, nicoles and beatrices, and hardly anything more complicated than lindsay and joan, i had to look at how a relatively unusual name was going to impact my daughter as she begins to introduce herself to other people.

i once had a classmate named mavis. that isn’t even a very complex name to begin with, yet schoolteachers who meet her for the first time keep asking how her name is pronounced and/or spelt. so fast forward to adulthood, and imagine how she carries on with call center agents and helpdesk representatives.

as for me, i have a very simple name, but thanks to other pinoys who prefer to vitalize their names (like jun who prefers jhun, or joy who prefers jhoie), many starbucks baristas and ticket agents affix an unnecessary h to my name. this is how i memorized the nato phonetic alphabet: talking to agents and baristas saying things like “my father’s name is ari. alpha romeo india.” lest they make him ahri or something close to that.

long story short: no matter how i like siobhan for my first child’s name, it simply wouldn’t do her well in our culture. so i went with robyn. i have always liked that name (as far as grade school), and the worst that could happen is having it misspelt robin. or rhobin in the world i live in.

that’s robyn. romeo oscar bravo yankee november. robyn.

people rely on experience rather than age for seniority…

…so you shouldn’t show you age.

this very day, i arrive at the lastest of my late twenties. one more year and i am officially doomed to obscurity. unless i do something about it.

first things first: vanity is a priority. yes, i plead guilty to the facile form of the highest capital sin. narcissus better scoot over that lakeshore so i can peer into my own reflection. and because i may have some sort of body dysmorphic disorder, i can sweat over the shallowest of things and suffer chronically of an insecurity against the rest of the beautiful populace.  

i have dry skin. which was fantastic growing up because while classmates labored over clearasil, astringents and oil blotters, i had absolutely no worries about breakouts. i never used face powder until i started working. but late twenties/early thirties will more than make up for what i lacked in blemishes. fine lines. the gradual appearance of the horror that is wrinkles. which i can overdramatize into a disaster now: tenacious creases under my eyes, the multi-pronged semi-dignified crow’s feet, a furrowed complex between my eyes and eyebrows, and these hairline canals of laugh lines in places that, at a younger age, indicated my joy.

my problem is… i hate face gunk. i don’t like the feeling of moisturizers, no matter how light they claim to be. they’re all the same heavy, humid, gluey stuff to me. heck, i don’t even use body lotion despite my scaly surface. so how to battle (or at least delay) these signs of aging without the aid of gelatinous substances? i suppose there’s no easier way.

so for the first time in my superficially insecure life, i used toner and moisturizer. i started using them about three weeks ago, after one of the consultants in our beauty department persuaded me into investing lunch money in moisture (“you will thank me for it, trust me. how you look in your 20’s is a gift from god. how you look in your 30’s is your gift to yourself”). he drove a very convincing argument there, so off i went to buy a set of facial wash, toner and moisturizer from the next personal care store i stumbled upon on my way to food (i’m afraid i am not ready to splurge on our own brands; it takes genuine enlightening experience for me to be persuaded into buying thousands of pesos worth of skincare).

three weeks after i diligently applied these compounds onto my screwy face, i still haven’t figured out how women built a habit of it. application is superfluous effort, takes away good sleeping time each morning.

when i visited one of the stores last weekend, the supervisor drew close to my cheek and suddenly says, “you’re skin is so nice today. what did you do?” and before i can even reply, she walks two steps into the stockroom, brings out one of the store staff and says to her, “look at her skin. isn’t it nice?” then she turns to me again, “what did you do?”

our beauty consultant was right. i will thank him for it.