Monthly Archives: June 2007

Going to Plan B

I bought a nice dress, fit it and thought it fit nicely, had it dry cleaned when the dress I had ordered online turned out to be totally blah, and I thought I was all set. I put on my body girdle, and the zipper just wouldn’t budge up because Alan said it was too wide a gap. Duh… (This, of course means that I can no longer return the dress so I will have to “shrink” into it.)

Plan B: My black formal dress. I had sworn I wouldn’t wear black in the spirit of the celebration, but I am comforting myself with the thought that my research told me it is acceptable to wear black in evening wedding receptions. So I am praying that I am not the only one wearing black tonight. The proverbial “Little Black Dress” to the rescue…

I managed to do my face without any mishaps and I am grateful I was able to put on liquid eyeliner without a slip. That can be a challenge at times when my hand lands a tad heavy on one and I would have to “adjust” the other by drawing it thicker.

My allergies (asthma) notwithstanding, I think I will survive the night. Thanks to Plan B.

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That first job

Do you remember how your first job went? Mine was rather a novelty that came at an opportune time when I was looking for a way to even partially support myself when I was in law school.

I saw an ad in the newspapers for a radio newscaster, and since I knew I had a well modulated voice and excellent pronunciation (thanks to the teachers and nuns of St. Paul), I auditioned and successfully landed the job. It meant getting up real early and getting to the station before the first newscast at 6AM. I lived in San Juan and the station was in Makati Avenue, so that meant a good 45-minute commute.

I was paid minimum wage which, at the time, was P118.00 a day. Less taxes and SSS, that was just around P80 and change. Of course you have to keep in mind, this was the day and age when a jeepney ride cost only P1.50. The job itself was rather a breeze– we picked up news from the various dailies and re-wrote them for “audio-only” delivery. Many people don’t give a thought to the fact that news as read in a printed form like a newspaper is written differently as compared to news that is delivered on radio and still done differently when delivered on TV. (Okay, enough of Writing for Broadcast 101.)

My first job gave me a taste of being paid for my skills. I actually got the money as hard cash which made it all the more bittersweet. We were paid 15/30, and I remember the joy of getting my first paycheck which actually was a more fulfilling moment as compared to actually having gotten the job in the first place.  I learned a lot of things in that first job — and I had my share of mistakes.  I managed to hold my job for over a year until another opportunity came.  It enabled me to see a lot of different people from the millionaire businessman who owned the station to the janitors, security guards and clerks.  Not all of them were your typical Juan de la Cruz.  I got my first taste of both the real goodness and evil in people — and I survived it.

From the get go, it was clear to me that this job was but a stepping stone.  It wasn’t to be a career for me, because I knew I was there to help me achieve the bigger goal of finishing law school.  Sometime at the end of my stint with this radio station, I got the chance to audition for what was then an all-female deejay station — I got the job now as deejay, but the problem was they wanted to assign me the midnight shift.  It was then that my Mom reminded me I was trying to stay in law school that’s why I was looking for a job.  I declined the job.

I felt I was part of the so-called productive portion of society.  I felt a sense of accomplishment no matter how small my monetary gain was.  I was scolded at times for having expressed an opinion when I was supposed to delivery the hard facts.  I got in trouble for being involved with someone who drew the boss’s ire.  I learned that a person of modest means was not necessarily a person with a kind heart.  On the contrary, they can take advantage of one’s kindness just as easily as those who are outwardly scheming.  I met a lot of interesting people. 

Looking back now at that first job, it makes me feel proud about how far I have come.  I am grateful for the lessons learned.  No matter how nondescript that role was in the grand scheme of things, I know it made me a better person.

The stepson is currently on a fearless foray into the employment market.  It has been an eye opener for him.  The first company that responded to his submission was a company selling knives who took any Tom, Dick and Harry who applied.  The catch was that you underwent training at company expense but had to put a deposit on your sales kit.  After the initial euphoria had worn out and he had undergone two days’ training — reality hit him and he decided this wasn’t the right job for him.  I don’t blame him — I have always personally admired sales people no matter how obnoxious they may be.  Selling takes a certain kind of skill, and I knew early on I didn’t have it in me.

Meanwhile, the young man is beginning to realize the good jobs are not there for the taking for someone like him who has not even progressed beyond his freshman year.  While I don’t think it will quite convince him to go back to school with a renewed zeal, I’m thinking it gave him a reality check.  Ouch..

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My journey back to longer hair

I finally got a haircut which will probably be my last one in a while because I’ve decided to grow my hair. It will be quite a struggle getting through the next 6 months — which is how long I think it will take for me to decently grow it to a very short bob — and I know I will have to get creative. I’ve outgrown my ultrashort hair. It’s one of those life-changing decisions a woman makes, very much like the one I made to cut my hair just above the shoulders when I had grown it to 6 inches below that.

Should I try extensions? Wigs? Gel or some hair product to tide me through those odd hair phases? This should be interesting. I have to check out hairpieces I can attach and wear with a headband. Hmmmm..

I really have no problem with the hair but I’ve had it for 5 years now, and it’s all part of reinventing one’s self — it makes ageing less painful and staves off stagnation. It has been such breeze finger combing it while blow drying — I have practically not used a hairbrush or comb in ages. I use my hands and fingers to style it back into shape.

If I am lucky, it will take me less time. Abangan…

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Five things to be happy about

  1. Grilled cheese for breakfast (add some iced coffee to that!)
  2. The Fourth of July
  3. Fridays!
  4. Knowing whom to thank for all the blessings I have in my life
  5. Books, books, books!


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Commuter Woes

Angel are I are in a packed express bus headed for home. Some 6 or so people are standing — that’s as packed as it gets. We are going home without Alan because he has an awarding ceremony to attend — an industry event– and he was nominated for an award which we are keeping our fingers crossed he will get.

The little guy is intently watching the street scene zoom past. He’s wearing his Bench cap the other way around, and although I had expected he would nap on the way home, he was pretty alert through the whole trip home. Our parting this morning was rather jolting in the sense that he just walked into the toddler area and dismissed me with a curt “Goodbye, Mommy!”. It felt like he couldn’t wait to have me leave so he could go about his business. At least it’s heartening to see him adjusting so well to this new routine. Many kids actually have a difficult time adjusting to a structured routine like pre-school or daycare but he is obviously having a ball.

I was actually a few minutes late in fetching him due to a last minute call from the boss. I called ahead to let the daycare staff know I would be late and they were kind enough to keep him company. I decided we’d have dinner at the Grand Central Food Concourse on the lower level because I didn’t want to wait until we got home before he had his meal. I immediately searched for the Chinese Food outlet to get some white rice. Then I proceeded to get some spaghetti with meatballs — betweeb those two, he had both rice and spaghetti.

I knew we wouldn’t be able to make it to the 3rd Avenue bus so we walked the two blocks to 6th Avenue. He faithfully held my hand and patiently walked beside me. While waiting for the bus, he had a “emergency” which had me torn about looking for the nearedt bathroom or taking a chance that it would be a false alarm and we could keep iur place in line. Well it didn’t quite hold so I had to be creative about finding a discreet shrub in Bryant Park where I could change him. Fortunately, he’s big enough that I can change him while he’s standing up. The pull ups have velcro-like snaps on the hips. With iur emergency taken cared of, we fell back in line and caught the bus.

It had been a while since we started waiting fir the bus, so by the time we got on, there were no more rows with two seats available. We weré lucky enough that two women offered to vacate their rows so we could sit together.

The trip home was uneventful. When we got off the bus, we walked home hand in hand. I bathed him and he’s now asleep beside me. In howevern have a ton of things to do in the kitchen…

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Feeling out Maine

Talk about last minute planning but we are considering driving to the south coast of Maine for part of the Fourth of July weekend. It’s a little unsettling that the holiday actually falls on a Wednesday this year, so many people are actually considering taking the whole week off. I’d love to do the same but I don’t have all that many vacation days left, what with the trip to Europe looming overhead. So we’re just taking the Thursday and Friday after July 4 off.

Alan and I have agreed to take a short break somewhere driveable and we’re setting our sights on Maine. We’re thinking of heading for Saco which boasts of two waterparks, is but 10 miles from Kennebunkport, and definitely near a lighthouse or two. I already plotted it on MapQuest and have found that it’s a 5 hour drive from where we are. Not bad. I’ll be devoting some time to reading up on the location and planning our trip there, granting we can book something for that holiday weekend.

It’s the first time in Maine for both of us, and we’re looking forward to exploring that portion of the New England coast.

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Keeping abreast of current events

Like most people, my first source of news is television.  I tune in first thing in the morning to catch the weather forecast primarily — it plays a big role in my decision on what I will be wearing when I step out the door.  There are the free papers given away at strategic points like the subway station which I used to get primarily for my Mom.  With the new job, the day’s edition of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are always on my desk by the time I get there, although that’s primarily for the benefit of the boss.  On the days she’s not in, I used to take home the papers for Mom to read.

I finally picked out two sections from Friday’s paper and decided I have to read the news more.  I have an e-mail subscription to the headlines on The New York Times, but I have not really paid much attention to it until I got a blackberry.  While I have yet to maximize that free service, I at least look at the headlines and see what’s being bandied around the country. 

I really should be reading more current events other than reading TIME.  There’s just too much going on for me to do that right now, but I’m making a conscious effort to do some extra reading.  Nothing compares to jogging those brain cells and keeping them active… That’s one thing I really admired about my Mom.  She was the only one who really read the newspapers that were delivered to the house.  It’s a habit I’m hoping to pick up from hereon.

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Dress Dilemma

We woke up to a pretty chilly morning — considering it is summer already, this is indeed a welcome relief.  Forecasters say summer isn’t going to be scorching as last year’s which is good, but with weather being unpredictable and all, you’ll never know.  We can just hang on to our optimism.

I have quite a few things on my plate this weekend, more so with a wedding next week.  I need a new dress.  While I dress up for work, I don’t really attend formal gatherings, and the last one we went to was a sweet 16 party which meant a black dress was elegant and acceptable.  But wear black to a wedding?  I thought I’d do my research — while the more practical and unconventional view seems to be wearing black is fine, a little voice in my head reminded me that weddings are supposed to be happy occasions, hence, you are supposed to veer away from anything too somber or akin to mourning.  Fine.  So the black dresskend. will have to wait for another formal occasion.  (And I guess the black sandals, too..)  I have to seriously find that dress this weekend.

I’ve been doing my research so I have  fair idea of where I can get a decent one that will not make my pata arms a bit inconspicuous.  Despite being well endowed, I don’t think a sleeveless or strapless ensemble will work.  I’m looking at getting a dress with sleeves or a shrug at least.  I saw an elegant formal dress suit at another store I will get if all else fails.  So I’ve told Alan I have to get a new dress this weekend.  He’s napping on the sofa.  I guess this means I’ll have to wait for him to wake up later, then we can be off.

The little boy, meanwhile, has been making lambing all morning. We did some finger painting and we’re sending one home to Grandma.  He’s been pretty good really.

Back to the wedding.. this whole business of celebrating two people getting married can be quite an expensive affair.  It’s somewhere upstate so we are checking into a hotel for the night. Since we cannot leave Angel home alone, we are bringing my mother-in-law with us so she and Angel can stay there while we are at the reception.  It’ll also give father and son to enjoy the pool together, and then we can have a family brunch the next morning before returning to the city.

Not that we mind — the bride is someone we have known a long time at Alan’s hotel — we have even taken to taking her with us out once or twice on weekends.  Even when she moved to another company, she continued to be on our list of friends invited to special occasions.  (She was at Angel’s baptism, and Alan’s last party.)  I even offered to create wedding CD souvenirs for her — but they politely declined as they had decided to make a donation to a favorite charity instead.  Fortunately, Alan doesn’t have to wear a tux so we don’t have that expense to worry about.  We are sparing ourselves the agony of going through the bridal registry and giving a cheque.  After all, the bride is a dear friend and we like the groom — so I have told Alan it was best to go the dollar route.

Just as a safety net, I have ordered something from an online/magazine catalogue.  The thing is the dress is in S-M-L-XL and I don’t know how the L and XL will look on me since I have no option to fit it, so I ordered both.  Thanks to the liberal return policy here, I have no qualms doing that knowing I can return the item/s I don’t like.  For good measure, I ordered the matching clutch and shoes.  (Rolling eyes up to the heavens..)  It cost a small fortune, but thank God for deferred billing options.  (Big sigh of relief..)

I will still look around for a dress.. again, with the return policy in mind, I know if I buy it and it turns out to be not the dress for this wedding, we can always bring it back.  The trick is not to take any tags off and to be careful when fitting it to make sure it is returnable.  So I will go and wear my suman underwear (thanks to the magic of body girdles!) so that I can have a better appreciation of how I will look in the dress with all the unsightly spillage tucked away.  I would’ve loved to get an offwhite dress so I can wear the slingback satin beaded pumps I had made specially for my wedding 7 years ago (and which I have NEVER ever used again for lack of an occasion or dress to go with it…), but it might actually be cheaper and more practical to get a dress in another color.  And we have a second wedding reception to attend in August!  (While I wouldn’t mind wearing the same dress, unfortunately, it’s another colleague of Alan’s from the office so there’s going to be some similarities in the crowd — so the dress cannot do a repeat performance.)

Wish me luck!

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Friday with my boys

I would usually be hurrying home to whip up something for dinner or else I’d be waiting for Alan to fetch me at work. Today, though, is different because Angel is in daycare in Manhattan and I don’t have to worry about cooking dinner for everyone because Mom’s back in Manila and my mother-in-law has her goodies. So Alan and I are already thingking about dinner with our boy in the city. That’s something new, too, considering we would usually be thinking of some place where we could go for a dinner date as a couple. Now it’s a dinner date as a family.

So we decided we wanted Filipino food, and we called Ihawan (718.205.1480) over in Woodside to order ahead. That would give me a chance to get some patis (fish sauce), too, and a few other things at the Filipino store.

Friday is always my favorite day of the week because it means getting time to spend with the family.  TGIF!

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Letting my baby go

We’re crawling down the highway heading into Manhattan as I write this. I’m listening to Sheryl Crow’s “Real Gone” for the third time since we pulled out of Bayside and I really don’t mind because it’s Angel’s favorite song from the movie “Cars”.

We have today and hopefully tomorrow and the rest of the coming week in back up childcare. While I can always leave him with his other Lola, I also want to take advantage of this opportunity to get Angel acclimated to structured play again.  Call it a re-initiation into daycare. I’m preparing myself for some separation anxiety again — more really on my part than his.  One thing I’ve learned about children, particularly my boy, is that they have quite an ability to adjust when thrust into new situations. Their young minds eventually adjust and help them adapt.

It’s the start of a new chapter in the little boy’s life. While he’s had stretches of daycare between Mom’s trips back to Manila twice before, this time it’s a step to getting him ready for school.  It wasn’t easy leaving him as he literally clung to me for dear life asking me to take him with me. The tears started coming as soon as I checked him in at the door, and he was begging me to stay while I was filling out his day sheet.  They pried him away from me and he started to calm down the minute I was out of sight.

It’s one of those instances when I have to let him go and let him face the world on his own. I know they will tell me he’s fine by the time I call to check up on him later. He always bounces right back.   Still, it isn’t easy remembering how he cried buckets trying to convince his Mom to take him.  I keep hearing him call out “Mommy” — I ended up trying to convince myself I was okay.

On the brighter side, I felt a sense of pride as we walked from the corner where Alan dropped us off  — his little hand in my grasp.  I beamed as he walked beside me, instead of having me pushing his stroller up the sidewalk and into the building.

It’s days like this that make me wonder how different it would have been if we were in Manila and I had a yaya taking care of him…  Would I still take the trouble of giving him a bath and dressing him up at the beginning and end of the day?  Would I be folding his clothes after his Dad does the laundry?  Would I be putting him in daycare at 3?  In a way, it would’ve been akin to letting him go even earlier than I am doing now.

I fetched him at the end of the day and he seemed okay.  He kept telling me how they had played with cars… he couldn’t wait to drag me out of the center — and then we were on our way back home.  Hand in hand, we walked — and there was my baby, a big boy now, getting on and off the escalator, walking beside me, out into the world.

This post also appears in FILIPINA MOMS

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