Monday, December 22, 2008

Editor's Choice and New Year Epiphanies

Yay! Just found out today that my story, Ghost Between Moments published in Bewildering Stories was considered to be part of the review editors' favorites for the fourth quarter! That's so cool!

Now, if only I could write more. 2009 looms in the not so distant horizon and its going to be quite a challenge to equal my 2008 writerly accomplishments, but, we'll see. If I do fail, at least it will not be because I did not try, right?


This year has proven to be a year of growing up for me. Now, more than ever, I'm forced to accept that I'm not quite the end product, but instead, I'm simply a work in progress. Perhaps I'll always be a work in progress. In the past, I had believed that you could have one perfect state - just like characters in a book, who eventually reach a point where, flawed or not, they no longer feel the urge to change - but of course, the one perfect state is impossible unless you're like Buddha or something.

And that's fine.

It doesn't bother me as much now that I make mistakes; nor does it behoove me to admit and acknowledge them. Instead, I strive to not repeat the errors in my past and move on. I don't dwell; neither do I whine (too) much. I've even learned how to talk (with less sarcasm) about what bothers me, even when the pain is raw. But most importantly, I know, with irrevocable certainty that someone is more important than me in the bigger schema of things. My son, though not the center of my universe, definitely occupies several galaxies that before his existence, I had not known were voids of emptiness.

On to 2009!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Because Love Doesn't Have To Make Sense

When we first met, I was young (and not just younger) and you, were already you. In a crowded coffee shop, filled with good juju and over several frappes, we talked, and laughed, and fell in love. For me, it was our seeming difference – where I was aggressive, you were calm, where I was loud and insecure, you were even tempered and confident – that made you irresistible me. And for you, as you would tell me later on, it was my seeming crazy self-importance – the fact that I seemed to know that the world owed me (and I owed the world) something far greater than what I already had.

It wasn’t easy, after we got married.

I wanted excitement, and romance, and adventure, while you desired the quietness and Babylon 5 and sleepy Sunday afternoons. It had been a long road since then, but it was good road. Through protocultures, Bango Bubbles, cold noses in the middle of the night, stolen blankets, and unexpected snuggling in the early morning, we learned how to love each other despite and because of our own eccentricities. You learned to value physical touch (and Gossip Girl, and cut-throat Acquire); I learned how to value time (and Band of Brothers, and vat-less Science Fiction). And somewhere in between, we were blessed with a son who taught us that yes, we could still love each other (and laugh, hysterically, about our own foolishness), despite being deprived of sleep, and rest, while being overcome with worry for every little thing that he does.

Perhaps we are not the best of pairings still. We still fight, and argue; we still don’t completely understand the “kampi system” (though we have come a long way since we began). Sometimes I get impatient with you; and you, sometimes, find me unreasonable. But at the end of the day, even if things don’t make sense anymore, we still love each other.

We are the best of friends. We are the best of lovers.

Happy Anniversary (Week), my Beloved.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Rough Week

It's been a week of painful endings, virtual email fights, tenuous beginnings, unreconciled reports, shallow sleep, a little writing and inevitable goodbyes. Somewhere in between, we found time to put up a humble-sized christmas tree, take pictures, cry, go to the doctor, eat chocolate, and simply enjoy the time we had.

I love my son, Hector. But I think I speak for my entire (small) family when I say I'll miss yaya Janice.

Friday, November 14, 2008

String Addiction: For A Musical Weekend

A couple of weeks ago, Dean introduced the string version of I Dare You To Move by Switchfoot. I was enthralled. Now, some weeks later, I have probably listened and relistened to every (modern) song redone by a string quartet. My favorites include some classics I had already loved prior to being "string-ed", but also include one or two I've only heard in string version (ergo, I don't really know if it sounds better in strings or not).

For those wanting some music without the lyrics, I recommend the following (all can be found in You Tube):

1. String Quartet Tribute to Seether and Amy Lee - Broken

2. String Quartet Tribute to The Killers - Mr. Brightside

3. String Quartet Tribute to Evanescence - My Immortal

4. String Quartet Tribute to Oasis - Wonderwall

5. String Quartet Tribute to Full Metal Alchemist (I only have a vague idea about this anime, but I love the string soundtrack)"> name="allowFullScreen" value="true">" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344">

6. String Quartet - Helena

7. String Quartet - Through the Fire and the Flames"> name="allowFullScreen" value="true">" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344">

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Breed of Auditor

Strange as it may seem, auditor though I may be, I find some auditor species to be just as strange as I probably am to other people (oh, and yes, there are types of auditors, just like there are types of doughnuts and chocolates, lol). In particular, I find IT auditors kind of odd.

It's not that I don't understand them, exactly. I'd like to think that being the general auditor (with a burgeoning specialization in Treasury, which is a choice of logistics rather than of actual preference) that I am, I know enough to talk the talk with the almost best of them, if not walk it (the talk, I mean). But they do weird things, say weird things, that even I find cutely pecuilar.

For one thing, they rarely keep physical working papers. They tend to keep everything in databases (gasp!) and they actually know how to manipulate the Lotus application to its fullest (double gasp!). For another, they have weird terms, which I understand (sort of), but laced with a certain humor I could almost grasp. For example:

IT Auditor 1: Just ping me when you're done with your documentation

IT Auditor 2: Wow, parang server.

IT Audiot 1 & 2: (laugh)

General Auditor Known As Kate: ....

These kinds of situations gets me thinking that perhaps, one day, people will even find me stranger (causing other auditors to write a post similar to mine) once I actually become proficient with Treasury Products. Currently, it's quite difficult since there aren't really other Treasury Auditors with whom I could create slang with. Maybe when there are more of us, I could joke about derivatives and swaps, and repos, and, mark to market rates.

Right now though, I can't even think of a lame joke about these things that routinely give me headaches nowadays. And the potential stranger version of me seems so distant, so foreign. So all I can do is watch IT auditors laugh and chat and feel, with an epiphany that I don't want to accept yet, that perhaps, after all, by sheer number, I'm the really strange one.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Blast from the Past

Just got the lay out for our wedding album today (I know, I know, its been three years, but it's a long story). Here are some of the pix of that wonderful day:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stupid Facebook: Warning - I'm Just Complaining

All I wanted was to access my son's photoalbum located at my sister in law's site.

I have her invitation. Before logging in, I could even view the pictures. And then, I just wanted to see the comments, but the site asked me to register.

So I registered. (Twice, because somehow, my first registration got lost - argh.)

And then, now I can't even see the photoalbum, nor my sister in law's site, nothing!!!

I see nothing! This is what i get for registering.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hector Stats

Several years from now, when I'm talking to my son's girlfriend, I will have to have some hard facts and stats about him to properly fulfill my embarrass-my-son duties. And so, here they are, as of 27 October 2008:

Age: 3 months, 1 week and 4 days old

Height: 65 cm (above average percentile)

Weight: 7.3 Kilos (slightly above above average percentile but below the 95th percentile)

Head Circum: 45 (way,way,way above the extreme percentile)

Likes: Shiny, silver things; Mickey Mouse Club; Annie Lenox Songs; Whistling;

Dislikes: Fork on plate sounds; rattles

Looking at this list, I'm sort of worried with his rather rapid growth (the doctor is also concerned he might become obese, but thankfully, he's not yet at that stage). Especially the head circumference thingie - while it sounds good to have a big head (now, now, dirty minded people, you know what I'm talking about), and in general, we are taught that being above average in anything is also good, for a baby, I don't really know what it means.

My only consolation is that he seems healthy, and strong, and happy. And I guess, right now, that's the most I can hope for.

Bewildering Stories

Yay! My story is up in Bewildering Stories in this link!

Please visit and share with me your thoughts, if you have time. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Conservative Parenthood

Now, more than ever, I find myself thinking about the intricacies of being a parent. Having been brought up by two not so patient people, I know I'm in danger of being temperamental myself to my child, expecting the best all the time and conveniently forgetting the drama I went through when I had to undergo the weight of my own parents' expectations. I hope I won't though, and I hope that I will actually listen to my more even keeled spouse when my own patience is tested, but I know the risk always loom not too far from me precisely because of my own upbringing.

One of the things I've never really thought about, however, is the concept of being "conservative".

Just today, I received an email that emphasized (underscored and highlighted), my apparent liberal nature. Here's the situation;

A teenage boy asked permission from his parents to go to a party in a hotel in Ortigas. Parents agree, and pick him up two hours after the party began. They find that the party was in a room (not a function room), with beds (god forbid), a lot of kids (mostly boys), some booze and smoke, and their son, playing truth or dare with 9 other kids in a bedroom. The mother (the apparent sender of the email), was freaking out about the entire situation, thinking it was so horrible that something like this could happen. The email then goes on to scare (yes, scare) the recipient parents with this final message:


My first reaction was, OMG, these parents are overreacting. I mean, I don't want my own child to be drinking and smoking, but I also know that you can't actually stop them or their friends (and in fact, the more you do, the more they seem to like doing it, at least that's how my own drinking and smoking friends explained it to me). But what really got to me was that the mother was so upset with her son because he was playing truth or dare (note: he wasn't even drinking or smoking, nor was he caught in a compromising situation).

My second reaction, on the other hand, was something along the lines of 'did I miss something?' Perhaps that's what responsible parents do. They freak out when their teenage son is in a hotel room with twenty other kids with loud music, and booze, and girls, even though he obviously is not drinking or smoking. Perhaps, that's the right way to bring up a child. Perhaps I'm just too liberal.

My third reaction is what's currently taking a hold of me now: a sort of surreal amusement. Especially, when I read the last line of that email.

Which isn't what a responsible parent should do, right? Times like these, I'm just glad moral issues like the ones above are still a long way off.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hector Stats

Several years from now, when I'm talking to my son's girlfriend, I will have to have some hard facts and stats about him to properly fulfill my embarrass-my-son duties. And so, here they are, as of 27 October 2008:

Age: 3 months, 1 week and 4 days old

Height: 65 cm (above average percentile)

Weight: 7.3 Kilos (slightly above above average percentile but below the 95th percentile)

Head Circum: 45 (way,way,way above the extreme percentile)

Likes: Shiny, silver things; Mickey Mouse Club; Annie Lenox Songs; Whistling;

Dislikes: Fork on plate sounds; rattles

Looking at this list, I'm sort of worried with his rather rapid growth (the doctor is also concerned he might become obese, but thankfully, he's not yet at that stage). Especially the head circumference thingie - while it sounds good to have a big head (now, now, dirty minded people, you know what I'm talking about), and in general, we are taught that being above average in anything is also good, for a baby, I don't really know what it means.

My only consolation is that he seems healthy, and strong, and happy. And I guess, right now, that's the most I can hope for.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I'm Back

After 83 days worth of maternity leave, I'm back.

And now I have two projects waiting which, I miraculously have to finish by December, plus the first act of a novel and a short story.

I miss my baby boy.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Some Unexpected Good News

Who knew?

It was the last story that I had written with cold, calculating control (as opposed to the fevered, and often mad bursts of white heat). Every word, every thought, every unfortunate comma was thought of, deliberated then decided on. And, despite all the hard work, blood, sweat, tears, heart, soul and, ever more importantly, time, put in it, I was still unhappy with what came out.

I have never worked on a story as I did on Riverstone Heart. And I don't I will anytime in the foreseeable future as I have learned that my returns for the works I didn't work too hard on (and didn't, consequently, over think or over edit) were much higher than the ones that I've obsessed on for ages.

And yet, someone thought it was pretty good. A couple of people who I've idolized for so long, actually thought it was good enough to be cited in the Year's Best. It's a heady feeling. In fact, it's the second best news of the year, just edging out my first (hopefully not my last) Palanca (but still way behind the birth of my son for obvious reasons). I think it's because it's so unexpected. I mean, regardless of what I thought of my story submission for the Palanca, I still did something to join the contest, and come August, I'm of course hoping for the legendary Palanca letter. But this, this, was literally out of the blue. I didn't even know my idols read Serendipity mainly because it was so new there's no record if it being even in the radar. But they did. And here I am.

But perhaps the even bigger reason why I feel so good about this is that it is some form of validation; not that my idols read my work (but of course, that's part of it as well), but that there were actually people who did read my work - not just my friends, or my enemies, or people who knew me or, even more probably, knew of the people I knew. I was just someone out there, unknown, without anything or anyone to back me up or bring me down. And all that spoke for me was my story.

Perhaps that, more than an award, makes me feel like I wrote something of value. And whatever the future brings; even if I probably won't be able to replicate this wonderful year in terms of writing, I will always own this moment where I can say that, for at least one story, I was a writer.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Two Big Roses and a Thorn

This is kinda delayed, but I just want to announce the birth of my most beautiful, darling, wonderful, healthy baby boy, Hector Benjamin, last July 16 at 11:25 pm. He weighed 7 lbs. and 3 ounces (but has since then gained a full pound!:) ) and was 50 centimeters tall. My labor was difficult - I had to go through a 'trial of labor' for 15 hours before my doctor told me that I had to get a CS to keep me and my baby safe - and the weeks that followed have not been a walk in the park (he feeds every 1.5 to 2 hours or so), but seeing him grow, smile, kick, punch, move and basically do anything, made me feel its all worth it.

And in a bit of more recent good news, I (think - I keep feeling that maybe its just a practical joke that someone sent me with the CP letter head through TNT - lol) am now a fluke!!!

As for the thorn, my husband and I, due to a paritcularly expensive investment, are now officially poor for the next ten years. Sigh.

Thanks to all who prayed for my son!

Friday, June 20, 2008

36 Weeks and counting

Today marks my 36th week and 1 day into the pregnancy.

By now, the fine downy hair (lanugo) that has covered our son's skin is beginning to disappear, along with the vernix caseosa (the thick, creamy substance that has protected the baby’s skin while he has been submerged in amniotic fluid). I've also gained a total of 28 pounds - 3 more pounds than I had originally envisioned. While I wish i could say I can stop right here, my doctor feels I'll just be putting on more weight as D-Day (delivery day) draws nearer, as fluid retention will work against me and the weighing scale.

As early as next week, as late as a month from now, I could be giving birth. I'm scared, excited, tired, excited, scared, tired - you get the drill. The pregnancy gestation period has been both an extremely long and short journey, depending on what time of day people ask me about it, and what i've just eaten prior to the question.

But we're almost there. Your prayers for my baby's health (and mine) would all be appreciated.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Surprise Office Baby Shower

Just when I thought I couldn't be surprised, my office mates just proved me wrong.

Here are pix from my office baby shower. I look tired and I haven't even combed my hair (I thought I was just going to go to some unofficial office shindig), but don't doubt, I was happy. I think my hubby was happy too. :)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Big Hands, Big Feet

My hands and my feet are the two (in terms of sets) of my biggest insecurities in life. While most people don't notice it, I actually have large hands (relative to my size) and fat feet (I mean, length wouldn't have been that much of a problem I think, if they were slender).

The large hands was embarassing during the "dating" phase of my life when guys, in what would have been a romantic moment, notice my rather large, stubby hands (that sometimes, despite the fact that I'm smaller than the guys I've dated, are larger than my date's). It was especially horrific when I got engaged and my hubby - ever the honest kind of guy he is - revealed matter of factly to his family (to his family, would you believe), that I have a bigger ring size than he did.

I nearly died in humiliation but of course, my hubby was unrepentant ("how else would I be able to arrange our wedding ring size?", he asked).

My feet on the other hand, is not so obvious, but the tragedy, though quiet, is just as bad for me. The thing is, I love shoes. I mean, I LOVE shoes. Unfortunately, here in the Philippines, while they carry my size, they don't necessarily carry my girth. Plus the fact that most designs only look good on slender feet. As it is, I have to keep buying open toed thingies not because they're sexy, but because they're really more comfortable.

Of course, not everything is bad about them, no matter how much I complain. My hands, for example, though large and embarassing and inconvenient when texting on cell phones, they are incredibly good for giving massages, typing and playing the piano. In the meantime, my feet has saved me numerous times from graceless falls - being the clutz that I am, I just end up hitting things rather than hitting things and then falling gracelessly to the ground.

So why am I writing this? This isn't really what's on my mind right now. Maybe it's because I'm really scared right now, and I'm frustrated and I just don't want to deal with what's going on in my life that I focus on things that are more mundane and manageable.

And damnit, there's a story somewhere here in this blog, but I just can't write it.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Back To Work

After 2 weeks, 11 pokes (either from injections, blood withdrawals etc) and a gazillion antibiotics, I'm finally back to work.

For all those who had prayed for me and my baby, thanks.

Now, it's time to catch up. Hopefully, the rest of my pregnancy continues without any further complications.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Calculator and I

Auditors and accountants have a very personal, intimate relationship with their calculators.

For most of my professional life, I had endured being laughed at, teased, made fun of, by non-accounting/auditing friends, who find my lugging around my ancient table calculator at all times, a source of never ending amusement. I don't mind. Few things came between me and my calculator (one of which is coffee, but that's for another blog), but for the most part, we're inseparable. I simply feel naked without it.

But perhaps what's even more unusual, is that it has to be the calculator. I have only changed calculators once in the past ten years, and it was with so much grief because I couldn't find my original, large numbered calculator. When I finally found it again (the original, large numbered calculator, or OLNC for short), I nearly sagged with relief. Far from retiring it, I had even used for a couple more years, even though its batteries have long died and it only relied on its solar power. With reluctance, I had put it in a "home" when the numbers are no longer discernible. The "home" was our little shelf in our condo where useful things reside: scissors, tape, clips etc. There, my battered, ten year old calculator would stay to be called only during special circumstances wherein I would have to calculate something at home (hey, it happens).

I write this blog now, because I have just been introduced to a nifty, far more advanced, and expensive looking calculator: the HP 171BLL Financial Calculator. It comes with its own leather case, and 300 page manual. It has buttons that are alien to me like "Print" and "Input" and "Math" (like, isn't the whole point of calculating is to do math?). Its packaging boasts of 28K user memory, 250 easy-to-use functions, a solve application nd RPN and algebraic entry. Browsing through its manual, I find that it can perform cash flows and mortgages without you having to put in an equation.

But despite all its cool functions, I feel disconnected.

I find myself longing for my battered, solar/batter operated calculator whose most advanced function was that it could back space. And yet, if I were a fantasy character and the calculator was a sword, there would be no question that I should be happy to obtain something so cool, it has its own name. But I'm not.

Maybe I'm just getting old and the barrage of information is too much for me to process. Or maybe I really just have difficulty moving out of my comfort zone. Or maybe, irrational or not, I just find it a sort of betrayal to the relationship I have had with my good, old calculator who has been a sort of friend, sort of security blanket, sort of good luck charm over the years.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Forbidden Kingdom

For those who are thinking of watching it: don't.

Enough said.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

That's it, I'm now a Cookie

Right from the moment I had seen and heard David Archuleta sing Waiting For the World To Change for his American Idol auditions, I had been a fan. And at the beginning of the formal competitions, it had seemed like there was no one who could come close to him in terms of charisma both on and off stage, having mass appeal to all ages and genders alike.

And then, Eleanor Rigby happened, and I began to have grudging respect (and reluctant crush) on David Cook. Still, he was my number 2, and deep inside, despite his Billy Jeans and Little Sparrows, I had kept rooting primarily for David A.

Today, things changed.

For one thing, he came out in the unkempt-tie-and-vest look which I adore. And then he sang something so sweet and pop and maraiah and made it dark and sexy and manly. And then, they kept panning the camera over his brother (who had brain cancer or something and had only been able to attend this particular performance of his). And then, David Cook cried.

And now, I'm a true, blue cookie. Go David C!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Word Recall: Parfait

It's funny how certain mundane words have the power to bring back memories of ages past. I mean, I can understand how scent does that to you, or how names and places can rouse nostalgia, but more interesting to me are the ordinary words that spark some long unused brain cell into remembering the past.

Recently, I had encountered one particular, seemingly innocuous word: parfait. There I was, just browsing casually at some menu, when I saw the word parfait and on cue, time slowed down, camera moved closer as I found myself drawn into a flashback.

Back in high school (god, that's been like over a decade ago), parfait meant lazy, hot afternoons after school wherein my best friend and I would cross the street to go to a small store that served what was then, in my limited estimation, the best parfait in the world. I remember small, inconsequential details of those times: the dark, chocolate brown color of Gate 4 (the nearest gate to the store); the hushed rustle of trees that seemed to mumble greetings as we passed; the glare of the afternoon sun that, for some reason, seemed to be more unbearable outside school premises; the high pitched clinks of smell bells as we entered; the 45 peso price tag to our ice-cold luxury (that was expensive back then, but my best friend and I would have gladly skipped lunch for this indulgence).

And of course, since I was already there, it was so easy to get lost in the myriad of memories of high school. From the parfait shop, I remembered we'd hop to the small school supplies store that sold, among other wonderful things, magnificent greeting cards. I, and a lot of girls my age (or should I say, the girls I hung out with), had a thing for greeting cards then. And we'd hungrily scour over the various kinds of greeting cards, collecting those we can afford, salivating over the ones we couldn't (after all, in the battle of parfait vs. greeting cards, parfait always won). There were small greeting cards with beautiful little sentimental notes; large ones with extremely cute pictures of babies and dogs and butterflies; medium sized ones that played music-box melodies; odd shaped ones that had funny anecdotes and witty (or sarcastic) little bylines. After our little tour of the school supplies shop, we'd go back to school, sit down on the concrete floor right beside St. Cecilia's auditorium, and talk, or sing, or read. I didn't know it then, but in retrospect, I was happy.

Nowadays, though conceivably, I can afford to buy parfait on a more regular basis, I don't anymore. I've lost some of my sweet tooth as I grew older, and the parfait, with its whip cream and chocolate syrup seems too much for my adult sensibilities. As for the greeting cards, they've also sadly lost their appeal. I hardly even pay attention anymore to the greeting cards I personally receive, feeling somehow that their messages are trite, overly sentimental, saccharine sweet.

Oh, how things have changed.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sleepless in Manila

Besides the heat, which, for some weird reason I can't get used to yet (meaning outside, its way too hot, inside my office, its way too cold), I've been dealing with a lot of issues with the pregnancy that has whiners like me (yep, I admit it, I'm a certified whiner) complaining and grumbling for most of the day. I do, however, try to limit my whining when the sun is out, simply because I know that while my husband is great, even he will probably throttle me if I keep piling on him my discomforts after he had gone through a hard day with work and traffic. As much as possible, in fact, I try to be nice at night, saving all my good humor for the time when I can wind down with my husband and cuddle up to him to sleep.

However, lately, its becoming difficult. For one thing, I haven't had much sleep. What, with my additional weight (I can't seem to position my arms and belly in a way that I'll be comfortable anymore when I sleep), the creeping back pain (which starts out small, but starts to gnaw on your nerves after awhile), the toothache (according to the dentist, this is the baby stealing calcium from me, since I'm off calcium supplements temporarily), my allergies (the extreme itchiness that I am unfortunately cursed with) and, more recently, my colds which has given me grief over such a simple thing as breathing, its not wonder I can't sleep at night.

The sad part of it is that I keep my husband awake too. Every time I toss and turn, I jostle him awake, so that he too, has to share in my tragedy.

The only thing good so far is that my baby kicks a lot now. While its not always a pleasant experience (try getting a few more minutes of sleep when someone is kicking you [furiously] from inside clamoring for food), it is a reminder of what truly matters at the end of the day.

Now, if only that reminder could get me some better sleep....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Are Feelings Actions?

Hot on the heels of a terrible row with one of my close friends (and I'll tell you right now, it's all been fixed and tidied up and we're both fine), I've gone introspective again by questioning what truly constitutes 'action'.

To give you a little perspective of what I'm talking about, the fight was about him not wanting to have to censor his words, and me not wanting to have to censor my feelings. My stand, for sometime now, was very pragmatic about emotions, especially since I have a temper and calling me "emotional" would be an understatement. I basically adhere to "judge a person by his actions, and not his thoughts", with thoughts not being limited to the cerebral but to the emotional, and the actions coming to include hurtful words that are spoken out of spite.

It's because of this code that I've always felt guilty about losing my temper - I turn nasty and sarcastically succinct not caring about the other's feelings - and why, especially for my loved ones, I tend to shy away from confrontations (as opposed to with people I care less about where I'm slightly [okay, more than slightly] more aggressive). I need to time to calm down, to think about why I'm upset, to differentiate whether or not I'm overreacting, to arrange my thoughts and pinpoint what exactly bothered me and, if I'm still bothered, to find a way to say these things without being hurtful. Unfortunately, I'm also a terrible liar and I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. So when I'm bothered by something in public - bar me walking out - I tend to be obvious about it.

Which got me to my current introspective dilemma now. My close friends (and even to some extent my husband) have been subtly hinting that I should be more open about my feelings, to confront them and not to be afraid to them, to tell people outright when I feel like I'm being offended or hurt so as to prevent escalation. Some of them even had stated that they prefer the hurtful words over the awkward silences wherein I would ensconce myself in my own turbulent thoughts, letting them to be unwilling witnesses to my despair.

But how can I stop the way I feel? How do people learn not to get hurt? And yet, despite this, I do see their point. When you see someone you love feel bad, you want to do something about it. And the very inaction of the loved-one-who-feels-bad could cause you tremendous pain or, at the very least, incredible discomfort. Should I really subject my friends to that just because I need some time to calm down? Should I start thinking that my emotions, by virtue of being felt and because it is so obvious, is an action in itself?

And if it is, does that mean my obvious solution is to become a better actress, to learn to hide my discomfort and my distress behind a more comprehensive mask?

For my close friend and I, we've come to a compromise about what we should do when something similar happens without compromising who we intrinsically are (because it would be a tragedy if you're not yourself with your friends). Only time will tell if it will work - if I will remember the code words and be calm enough to say them, and if he will remember the code words and remain calm enough to give me space until I can state my reasons.

But for the rest of my friends and family - what do I do?

What do I do?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What's in a Name?

Apparently, a lot. Of hard work, that is.

Especially if you're female and you got married and you have a ton of licenses, bank documents and the like that are in your maiden name.

What's worse, is that no one actually tells you and prepares you for this stress. Either by conspiracy of revenge or simple forgetfulness, my mother, my husband's mother, everyone's mother or wife, while always ready to spout wedding and marriage advice in the early days of my wedding preparations, neglected to tell me how difficult it would be to change my maiden name to my married name. So now, two years and some odd months later, I'm still dealing with the stress of changing expired licences and insurance documents etc.

It has pushed me to even keep my maiden name with a dash to help avoid even more paper work. Its not that I'm trying to assert my feminist side, and sadly, its not even that I'm trying to sort of rebel against the age old (and admittedly chauvinistic) tradition of losing one's maiden name for a husband's last name. I'm a feminist, but I'm not that much of a feminist that I'd be willing to go through the inconvenience of always having to type (and more annoyingly, print) four more letters and a dash to my last name (as if doing so will change how people would treat you, gender wise, which, ya know, is what truly matters to me).

But still, the paperwork haunts me. Don't they understand I got married? Why can't they just accept my photocopy of a wedding certificate (authenticated by the NSO, no less)? Why do I have to file millions of paperwork? Why do I have to file the millions of paperwork in their hard to reach head quarters and not in their more convenient satellite offices? Why can't bank systems simply allow me to put a dash in my maiden name and my last name (I can't even begin to tell you how stupid some of their reasons for not allowing me to do so, beginning with their system doesn't accept dashes in the last name)? Do all recently married women go through this or did I miss some special seminar that tells you the most efficient way to survive the name changing process?

Ugh. Times like these, I wish I just didn't have to go through my birthday.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Turning 28 and Other Stories

Twenty Eight

One more day 'till my birthday.

Unlike previous years when I would look forward to my birthday with about the same excitement as a four year old, I feel decidedly more calm about the event this year. I think I'm getting old - I just can't get myself to even hope that the world will all stop to give me a day to remember. Or, it could be that I'm just pregnant, and every event until the big event in July pales in contrast.

If anything, I'd just be happy to get through tomorrow without any nasty complications from my pregnancy. I don't really expect anything to be significantly different tomorrow (I will have lunch with my parents and then litcrit and then dinner [hopefully] in dampa) and all I can hope for is that everything goes smoothly.

Other Stories

Two stories in the news troubled me. One was about the Jersey Children's Abuse Scandal (read here) and the other about the re-use of syringes in hospitals (read here).

The first, troubled me because it feels so much like the young adult horror stories I've read and watched, only this time, it's all too real. Unlike books and movies where I could comfort myself that its all exaggerated, this proves that such places does exist, and people do suffer in cellars and attics, perhaps even shackled and raped. And the fact that they're children, makes it worse.

As for the other one, it troubled me because I didn't even know that re-use of syringes still existed in modern times. Knowing that i would soon be confined for the delivery of my child (and knowing that I'm terribly frightened of needles and such, can't be trusted to actually look when the nurses supposedly open them up to be used) only magnifies my fears.

Oh well, just goes to show how pregnant women can get extremely morbid with the slightest provocation.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Our New Baby

Believe it or not, this ain't a post about pregnancy. Instead, this is a post about the newest addition to our little family, weighing in at around a pound and costing my husband (the most wonderful, incredible man in the world who loved me enough to give it to me for my 2007 gift) around Php31k: the new Nikon Dx40 SLR camera!

I've always been interested in photography. Which is ironic, because 1 - I myself, don't photograph well (it takes a certain alignment of stars or a total eclipse to ensure I get a good shot) and 2 - I have awful eyesight (which is getting worse recently, but of course, I refuse to take any reasonable action such as getting eyeglasses - heaven forbid! - for it). As a child, I've found it fascinating to see those "art" shots that show images of mundane things made more marvelous by trick of shadow and light.

I've always thought that once I was old enough to own my own SLR camera, I would take pictures of the same mundane things that had fascinated me in my youth (in particular, and not a lot of people know this, I have a rather morbid fascination with trees - wet trees, dark trees, trees with complicated branches that sink so low to the ground before thrusting upwards - almost as if it were redeemed - to the sky). Lo and behold, my interest took a slightly different route when I saw a documentary of this Korean female monk where they showed still images of her just thinking, or walking or simply staring straight in the camera that somehow gave the viewers an insight to her thoughts, to her personality, a glimpse of her charisma.

I never knew a human face - and I mean a normal human face, not the overly made up supermodel types - could be so interesting. And so I decided that what I wanted most for 2007 (aside from the child of course) was an SLR camera. Dean of course was there to caution me about how photography could take years to master just so you can take a simply face shot and make it marvelous, but though my mind agreed with him wholeheartedly, my heart just wanted to take pictures and believe that somehow - formal training be damned - I can someday come close to those still images of the Korean female monk in that documentary.

The wonderful thing about my marriage is that my husband also shares my interest in photography, although with slight differences. He, I believe, is more interested in the technicalities of getting a great shot - changing colors, adding blue or red pigments to the picture, making sure the composition is right, cropping and cleaning out images - whereas I just want to capture the moment on digital film.

Between you, me and the rest of the world, I think he has a better chance of becoming a great photographer, as he's actually interested in learning how photography works, while I'm just waiting for a certain alignment of stars or a total eclipse to get my shot. Despite this, however, its great to know I have someone to share my interest in, someone to learn it with and most of all, someone to take pictures of when all other models and muses have given up with my long wait for brilliance.

Here's some of my practice shots with our new camera (of course, with my favorite person in the world):

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Big News

Last night I just found out that my best friend (will keep her anonymous for now, until she announces it herself) was also pregnant. Around two months behind me, in fact. Aside from the customary delight (and I have to admit, relief, because at least now, I'm no longer the only reason why my smoker friends can't smoke, lol), I'm truly excited just thinking of how cool it would be for our kids to grow up with each other.

Growing up as an only child for eleven years was undeniably lonely, especially since I literally grew up alone (no nearby cousins and such) for the first five years of it. I didn't know how to interact with the other kids and had to learn the hard way how to deal with interpersonal relationships that would, at least I feel, come easier for someone who had somebody else their age when they were growing up. While my best friend's baby is not exactly a sibling, I feel interaction with someone so close to my child's age would be extremely beneficial, helping my child navigate easier the wild landscape of his/her childhood.

Of course, I know that I'm getting ahead of myself. Of the many things that could go wrong with my little fantasy of our children becoming the best of friends, there's the more mundane concern that their personalities will not mesh and they'll simply not like each other. Or, something more extreme and more frightening would be what if one if not both of our children are unhealthy (and for any expectant mom, this is one of the primary concerns).

But right now, I can dream and it's good to have my mind occupied with something else besides coffee cravings and work. And I can pray, and hope that everything turns out well.

Congratulations best friend! Apparently, 2008 is a big year for us in more ways than one. :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Going on 15

Weeks that is. At least in terms of pregnancy.

Which means that my first trimester is officially over, although, unofficially, the nausea still bothers me every now and then, granted it is no longer to the extent that I would actually throw up blood. So far, the pregnancy has been both worse and better than I expected. But while there are a lot of things I still miss (and will continue to miss until the baby is born) things are definitely looking up.

At 14 weeks and 5 days, here is my pregnancy update:

What I miss...

1) Obviously, the game, which, because four out of the six people involved (including God himself) are smokers, is just a big no-no for me in my condition right now. Just this week, Andrew created the digital art for our characters and it made me feel both proud (hey, I didn't know my character and my shard was that pretty!) and sad (I really do miss gaming).

Art courtesy of Andrew Drilon (I hope I'm not committing some social, grievous mistake by posting something a friend of mine did for the game, but I just felt Andrew did such a terrific job at making these masterpieces that I can't help but blog about it. )

2) Coffee. Once upon a time, I fell in love with Mocha Java (from Great Taste) and I thought that love was reciprocated. Through the years however, Mocha Java became more distant with me and became less and less available. Until one day, Mocha Java just simply disappeared. For awhile, I was lost. Somehow, I picked up the pieces, got involved with Coffee House's Cappuccino and I thought I had moved on. And then I found out I was pregnant. And then, Mocha Java came back. And then my doctor said I can't have coffee.

It's a sad, sad world, I tell you.

3) My friends. Though they've been bending over backward to accommodate my suddenly healthy lifestyle, it's just not the same hanging out with your smoker friends knowing they will start to fidget in an hour or so, trying to compensate for the non-existent cigarette in their mouths by eating candies by the boxes. And while I know that they all love me (and my husband) to bits, I sometimes don't know anymore if we've (hubby and I) have over-extended our welcome by staying too late when every minute I'm there, I'm essentially depriving them with something they arguably need more than water. So now I feel we're caught in the awkward stage - I'm trying to be polite and trying not to inconvenience them too much but at the cost of not spending as much time with them as I am used to. The real tragedy here is that my husband, great guy that he is, has decided to stay with me when, the truth of it is, he could actually spend time with them, game with them, do stuff with them (albeit without me) because he is not bound by the no-smoke-shall-reach-thy-nostril rule.

What's Great About 14 onwards....

1) The nausea and heartburn has let up. I know I've been whining about this incessantly, but the all consuming nausea and heartburn (made worse that I'm actually hyper acidic even prior to my pregnancy) had been so bad that I just wanted to crawl into a blanket and stay there forever. What's worse, when I did walk around, I hardly had any sense of fashion, my hair was a mess and I was pale with hormonal zits all over my face, making my already battered self esteem plummet even further down the depths of nauseating despair. All these made me walk slower and with a slouch, face down (you should ask Alex when you see him about how I walked, he does a pretty hilarious impersonation if I do say so myself). Now, either I've gotten used to my pale, hormonal zitted face, but I think I've started to look better. And while I'm not exactly skipping towards a rainbow, I'm actually walking at more or less normal pace towards some destination. And of course, I've started to actually comb my hair.

2) My breasts have grown from a 36 to a 40. And while this was not actually an occurrence that strictly happened in my 14th week, I am beginning to see the fashionable opportunities with increased breast size. I'd be deliriously happy if I go down to a 38 after the pregnancy, but friends have said this is not that case. Oh well, enjoy them while I have them.

3) My belly is now a pregnancy belly. Prior to this, I keep inspecting my stomach and instead of seeing an unborn child, I just keep seeing the donuts I shouldn't have eaten at lunch time. I didn't look pregnant, just, well, fat. Now, it definitely looks like a pregnancy belly so that people actually look at you and say Congratulations, instead of trying to hide the "Oh-my-god-she's-grown-fat" look from their eyes.

What I'm thankful for...

1) My husband. Through out the horror of my existence in December, he has been funny and patient and kind and firm and mean and persuasive and determined and optimistic when he needed to be. Even now, he takes such great care of me, that I often feel that I'm letting him down when I can't help but throw up. He's been wonderful and wonderful. I don't know what I did to deserve a husband like him.

2) I didn't actually lose my temper as much as I thought I would. In fact, a lot of people have voiced their fears to both me and Alex about my mood swings, thinking, not without basis, that I was a fairly temperamental person to begin with, baby or no baby. But the sudden bouts of illogical anger or even tantrums did not occur. The only times I got angry with Alex, in fact, was when he, upon sensing that something is wrong with me, would badger me with questions when all I want to do is sit still, not move, not speak, just letting the pain die down. In those instances, I get so annoyed that I actually get enough adrenalin to lose my temper and tell him to leave me alone before I crawl back to my own pocket of despair. But those instances were rare. For the most part, we hardly had any fights nor arguments, to a point I'm actually beginning to miss them. Alex says not to worry though. He thinks its just the nausea that keeps me too tired to be temperamental and that soon in the second trime, we'll both be back to normal.

3) Jelly Tongue and Crushed Ice and Plasil. All of which are used to keep me from throwing up. The Jelly Tongue in particular, a frozen apple flavored gelatin available in most stores, has the added benefit of tinting lips a delicious color of red, which would have been useful for my self esteem had I the skill to apply it more evenly.

So that's it. Supposedly, this second trimester is the best three months I'll get during the pregnancy, so here's to hoping.

And to all my patient friends, Mocha Java and beloved characters, I'm almost back.

I'm almost back.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Baby Moves!

Today was supposed to be a bad day. First of all, it's Friday (and recently, Fridays have become depressing for me since hubby and I no longer do what we usually do on Fridays, but that's another story); second, the week had been so horrible in the nausea and throwing up front that last night, I was actually vomiting blood (which is, thankfully, just gross and not life threatening); third, there's tons of work to do and yet despite those, I have to take the entire morning off to go see the doctor for my monthly check up.

The morning itself did not start well. I could hardly force myself to eat, I was nauseous, I had no energy and all through out Alex was hurrying me (and pushing me) so that we could actually meet our doctor's appointment. The night before, I barely had enough good sleep with my stomach churning and churning so by the time we got to the hospital, I was already tired.

And then I had my ultrasound. And I saw it - the most wonderful thing in the world. Our baby moved! (And, well, kept moving - according to the doctor, malikot ang bata.) Alex had this big smile on his face, and I was near tears. The last time we saw our baby, he/she was just a tiny (unmoving) blob. Now, the child has limbs (which he/she uses to propel himself into various positions) and looks more like a baby than a fetus. It was such a great moment, that hearing the child's heartbeat an hour later, seemed anti-climactic.

Just remembering how the baby moved in the ultra sound, makes me want to break into song - never mind that I'm still nauseous.

It's a great way to start 2008.