Friday, December 31, 2004

8:25 to 2005

it is exactly eight hours and 25 minutes to go before 2005 comes and i am here at home, sitting by the pc, listless, sad, lonely, tired... alone.

i know it's a pandemonium out there in the streets and in the malls with people going crazy with last minute shopping for food and fireworks for their New Year's celebrations and rituals. i was out earlier this morning to do some last minute food shopping my self.

but now, all is set to welcome 2005. i have bought the food and the fireworks yesterday, i made the fruit salad last night and the maid is cooking the paella arroz valenciana now.

my eldest is asleep, after spending the whole night downloading The Nightmare Before Christmas and other musicals on the net. my two younger ones are out playing and running around.

i am surrounded by papers to correct and materials to file, i have my To Do list left over from 2004 still a page long and not a single To Do checked, i'm supposed to be finishing proofreading a client's final thesis, the car's radiator is waiting for the mechanic to come over (i should make that call again to the mechanic)... but here i am tuning out on the net, going back to THOSE SITES again, just feeling hornier and lonelier than ever. thank God there is tim's site and his recent poems, which helped me not feel so alone in this situation at least!

oh, one good thing: i have finally decided to quit my department chairship position in 2005, so i can have more independent time to pursue my passions and interests and even improve my income potentials from them.

that decision opened up a major release valve in me. i think it is the biggest stumbling block so far to my following my pleasures. i love my faculty and my students but i hate the drudgery of administrative routine and the pettiness of administrative politicking, even as i thrive in putting out other people's fires. still, it won't get me to my goals and my dream, which is having an internationally thriving career earning from home doing what i love to do best-- writing, speaking/lecturing, research and consultancy and travelling-- by the time i'm 40. the family business i've recently got going with my mom and uncle whetted my appetite for working from home.

(i can't believe it but i am actually doing a kolzen now, just bitching and bumming and talking about nothing and everything! ;D ... and it feels good, just dumping on a blog like this, surprise, surprise!)

oh well.

at least i'm feeling better now. better get back to those papers and To Dos.

it will just be another New Year's Eve, after all. (enter Barry Manilow crooning: "it's just another New Year's Eve, another night like all the rest... and when you're through, this New Year you'll seeeeeee, you'll beee just fiiiiiineeeee...")

yeah, i've lived through worse.


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Walls of Fear


Our hearts want to experience all
To sing and play, laugh and cry
Happiness and sorrow, pain and joy
With what some may call reckless abandon
However, it is just unconditional love
Our minds, though, do not agree
It wants to control and manage
To be too cautious and too careful
With what some may call logic
However, it just builds walls of fear
Walls of fear
Keep us from mistakes
Keeps us from pain
Keep us from sorrow
However, they keep us from love
My mind has built too many walls
To protect me from pain
From many years of crying and sorrow
Of limited success and many failures
However, they are slowly crashing down
Love will cure all
Love is all we need
Love, I did not have
Love, now, I have
However, fear still keeps the walls
Now, love has found me
Gives to me all
Gives me joy and passion
And happiness and love
Tearing down my walls of fear


*reprinted with permission from the author (thanks, tim!)

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Quim

i have started reading this book by Regena Thomashauer, Womanly Arts, and it feels like a homecoming to me. it speaks of coming into one's full-blossomed womanhood through the power of following one's pleasures.

i could say i know this already; this has been what i have been doing all along (remember my blog on "A Sinful Pleasure"?, which is only one set of many womanly pleasures)!

following my bliss--no matter what, even if other people say i'm insane, silly, ridiculous, exasperating, unpredictable, ... "bad". hey, so what, this is my life. i'd rather live it following my bliss and being who i am; than running after other people's idea of bliss for me, and forgetting who i am, and in the end dying without having really lived.

i could say this is Women Who Run With the Wolves revisited for me. if Wolves was an important scholarly and foundational book for me, Womanly Arts is more like a practical manual and reviewer. : )

anyway, i am getting to that chapter on The Power of Feminine Pleasures, and according that woman's powerful part (aside from her mind, heart and soul) -- the vagina -- the rightful respect and understanding and cherishing that it deserves, first and foremost by the woman herself. in short, the chapter talks about pussy pleasure.

and as i was skimming through the chapter, i was reminded of Erica Jong's novel, Serenissima, which coined up a new term for "pussy" but i forgot what that term was. in the novel, the heroine, Jessica, shares that the term was handed down to her by her mother, a self-created term, and Jessica says she prefers that term over "pussy" or "cunt" because while these have a sleazy, derogatory connotation to them, this new term sounded more intimate and affectionate, the way a woman's pussy should be properly treated. so i flipped through Serenissima again, three times, to find that term: "quim".

as with all adventues of exploration and discovery, i then tried to look for the term in google, which took me to different sites. i learned that quim is some sort of a web design term (quality in use integrated map), a skateboarder (quim cardona), a Catalan writer of note (quim monzo), and a nickname for "Joaquim", among others, aside from it's being "a slang term for pussy".

more importantly, i was disabused of my belief that the term was indeed coined by Jessica's mother in Serenissima. i learned that the term is a U. K. english term, and dates back to 1613. what's more interesting is it has equally more adorable-sounding equivalents in other languages -- which makes one wonder how Americans perceive the pussy vis-a-vis how other nationalities do. hmmm.

one site says it has its origins in the Welsh "cwm", which means "a valley of pubes" (pubes? as in pubescents? pubic hair?) and is a refined way of saying "mapatasi" (which is a shortcut for saying "Map of Tasmania", which looks like a woman's quim). The British also call it "muff" while the Australians call it "minge". in the Philippines, it is called by many names depending on the dialect and the company-- from the euphemistic "flower", to "puki" in Tagalog, to "monay" in Visayan (which is also the name of a bread), to what i use with my children, "muning", which means little "monay" but is pronounced as "mooning" or can even be pronounced as "moaning". heehee.

anyway, this little scholarly adventure of mine brought me to certain sites, among which is a series of links to blogs dedicated to sex, erotica, pornography and the like ( i didn't realize there were so many blogs like those!!!) .

finally, clicking here and there as my fancy directed (follow your pleasure, remember?) i was taken to a site which depicted pictures of real-life couples having sex. i was not offended because they were just the usual everyday-looking couples making love and having fun.

i gazed and gazed and sighed and sighed.

it has been sooo long and i just gazed and gazed to recall how it was, how it could be again... i wondered if i still knew how to do it... and so i gazed and gazed and sighed and sighed.

... and oh, how my quim quivered...!!!


; D


Monday, December 27, 2004

Boyfriends, Girlfriends, Flings and Reality

more than once i have been asked if i already have a boyfriend. once or twice i have been asked too if i was somebody's girlfriend. sometimes, my students talk about flings and how a fling is different from a boyfriend or girlfriend.

yet still, i am at a loss as to how to answer. usually, i ask back: define boyfriend/girlfriend.

and i get many interesting answers.

some say a boyfriend/girlfriend is somebody you hang out with and have sex with. others say it's somebody you have fallen in love with and who has fallen in love with you too.

but then i counter--

1. if you hang out with somebody and have sex with him/her but you don't really care much for each other and each other's lives out of bed, isn't that more appropriately called a sex friend? :)

2. if you have fallen in love with somebody and he/she has fallen in love with you back but you haven't talked about your relationship yet nor have made love yet, nor started building something together with, isn't that more appropriately called a beloved or a lover (although lover takes on sexual connotations) ? : )

3. and what do you call somebody you hang out with and make love with and who has professed falling in love with you and whom you have fallen in love with back, but who is not yet ready nor willing to be romantically and sexually exclusive with you, or you vice versa?

4. how about somebody you hang out with and have sex with and who has fallen in love with you but whom you haven't fallen in love with back? are you his girlfriend but he is your sex friend? : D

my definition is a tad more than that-- it's somebody i hang out with and make love with and whom i love and who loves me back and whom i have a mutual agreement to be romantically and sexually exclusive with and whom i make plans for the future with.

my students hoot at my answer. they say my definition is not that of a boyfriend, it's of a fiance or a husband! : D

*****

and i still can't understand flings.

my students say it's more appropriately a one-night or a few-nights' stand, or a sex friend, whom you don't really care about but only lust for. but since i have never had sex with somebody i don't care about nor feel affection for, i guess i still have to experience one. : )

*****

so when somebody asks if i have a boyfriend or if im somebody's girlfriend, my safest answer is a "no"; although if going by other people's definitions, i think i must have had a dozen boyfriends already!!! (and i am soo shocked at this realization-- to have had a boyfriend or been somebody's girlfriend without knowing about it!!!) omigod!!! : O

heeheee.

*****

and here's one last question to boggle the mind-- how do i call somebody:
1. i hang out with regularly and share my day and thoughts and feelings with;
2. whom i have fallen in love with and has fallen in love with me;
3. make love with;
4. started to make a commitment to be romantically and sexually exclusive with; and
5. started to make plans for a future together with,
but whom i have never met for real in person as all of the above has been done virtually/online? :)

*****

which brings me to another last, last question: what is real, what is not real -- the sharing of all parts of your selves except the body, or the sharing of the body and not the other parts of your selves?

hmmm.




Saturday, December 25, 2004

What They Say

i am bothered by what a close friend recently told me, that i have a tendency to make him feel disapproved of by my brutal honesty and defensive by my probing questions whenever he tries to share something with me. yet i am also confused because he says his self esteem has shot up a lot ever since he started talking with me.

feedback like these i remember, but it never bothered me before. i've always just dismissed it as the occasional whinings of the fragile male ego whenever they start feeling threatened by my just being who i am, possibly having been used to females who pander to them like fawning sycophants and/or females who are just plain quiet and submissive, OR females who are otherwise obviously castrating bitches (hence it's easier to shoot them down).

but this bothers me now, because i think i have seriously hurt my friend and i honestly never meant to. it also bothers me because i think that this might be a clue to my own contribution as to why my marriage did not work out in the first place.

as with all descents into one's own darkness, i would not want to face my own ugliness stark naked.

still, i know that the descent is necessary, if i were to heal further and grow.

so i will begin by trying to recall similar feedback ive heard from men friends in the past two and a half years:

- "talking with you is like playing chess"
- "talking with you makes me tired; i have to be up on my mental toes all the time"
- "you clean out the cobwebs from my mind"
- "you are my personal mental laundromat"
- "Ms. Independent! opinionated and stubborn and willful -- but meeting you in the flesh is a surprise: you are actually sweet and caring and wonderful and all woman!" (this sings in my memories)
- "you attack men" : ) (this screams in my memories)
- "you have the courage to call things by their true name"
- "my, you're a feisty one, aren't you?"
- "you irritate me sometimes when you pick on me"

and this one from my ex, as i read in his Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage, after i left him and refused to get back together with him after five attempts on his part over a period of six months: "she makes me feel less of a man." :(

only one close friend i can recall enjoys and celebrates this part of me, but then he is by nature polite and courteous and upfront honest and caring, so maybe this feisty side does not come out more often with him.

on hindsight now, i can also recall that this side of me comes out whenever i sense them doing either of two things with me: playing me for a fool or telling me what to do when i haven't asked for advice.

but what confuses me, though, is these same friends who uttered the quotes above have also become my closest and most steadfast friends who keep coming back. one friend (the same friend who says i attack men) actually says that after talking to other women and taking their BS for 2-3 months, he feels he needs to come back and talk with me just for mental laundry. : )

so it never really bothered me before. i stuck to my original idea that if a man is threatened by who i am, then he is not much of a man, and i'd be better off without his company if i were just to be another ego prop.

but this friend whom i have hurt lately, he is more specific as to what it is i do that makes him feel that way-- when i question him and when i restate what he's saying using different words.
i have tried to explain to him that when i question for details, it is in my effort to understand what he is sharing, to have a better appreciation of context, so i can listen more fully not just with my ears but with my mind and heart too. the using different words, which he interprets as my correcting his choice of words, is a new one for me. i thought i was just being a good feedbacking friend, as what i have learned in Psych 101 : )... but apparently, he feels corrected when i do that. the only other option i see is for me to keep quiet as he talks. yet, he also says he doesn't want that because he wants me to ask him questions from time to time and to let him know i am hearing what he is saying...

hmmm. this will entail some delicate balancing act i guess, being who i am, being there for him as a good friend, and being more sensitive to my timing, choice and tone of words. it's okay. i am up to this challenge for my further growth, and for the sake of a valued friendship. : )

which brings me to the only other reason why it bothers me -- how this apparently annoying/exasperating yet also endearing habit of mine might have seriously caused the deterioration and death of my own marriage of ten years.

which brings me to another confusing thing: because as far back as i can remember, for 9 of those 10 years, i was mostly quiet and submissive and easily acquiescent; i even turned over my paycheck to him and let him make most of the decisions in the household, except with childcare. how could i have made my ex-husband feel less of a man?

i have a suspicion that it might have been my tone and attitude with him, even when i didn't say so in so many words.

well, frankly, the more i lived with him and knew him, i did begin to respect and trust him less. but i held on, for 8 more years, without saying much in the form of complaint, much less "attack". that was why i caught him and everybody else by surprise when i finally upped and left one june morning two weeks after our tenth wedding anniversary.

still, this is important feedback for me, because i think it holds the key to unlocking certain issues i have whenever i have tried to form significant relationships with men. i single out men because so far, in most other areas of my life-- my family, my work, my students, my children, my friends, i have no serious challenges at all. people take to me instantly and can't help but love me. : )

the questions running through my mind now are: in order to have a significantly meaningful and happy relationship with a man, do i --

1. hide my self again and become quiet, passive and submissive? ( !!!)
2. continue just being my self and let the chips fall where they may? or
3. continue being my self but learn refinement, tact and diplomacy (blush, blush... at my age, haven't i learned this yet?)

at this point, my own answers to my self are--

1. for those who try their BS on me, continue doing number 2; but
2. for those i care about and are sincerely avoiding BS, do number 3. : )

*****

this all seems pat, so easy to solve. but then again, too, i know from experience it is not. i amuse my self talking to my self and figuring things out, but it seems the more i speak/write, the more i hurt my friend.

maybe i'll do the quiet part in number 1 for now. that seems best.





Friday, December 24, 2004

Cruelty

you say,
"i love you
but your wound stinks.
here,
let me pry the scab open
for you;
let me heal it."

i wince and say,
"no please.
it is healing fine."

you insist,
"but i love you.
your wound stinks.
i hate the smell.
let me heal it."

i raise my voice and say,
"stop.
please.
i am not ready.
i know it stinks.
but i am not ready.
please--
just let it be."

still you persist,
"but i love you
don't you see?
your wound stinks.
i don't like your stinky wound.
if you want
to be with me
let me heal it."
and you keep prying it
open
until it bleeds
again.

now i scream:
"STOP!
stop it!"

but my wound
opened wide
cuts bigger and deeper
this time--
and it just bleeds,
and bleeds
and bleeds
and bleeds
and bleeds...

now you say:
"i love you,
but i can't take
that bloody
stinking wound."

and they say
love is kind?



Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Mirror Has Two Faces

i am glad i watched the movie.

if the first three movies entertained me but only left me still feeling clueless about this whole man-woman thing-- not to mention envious that it could happen to others and actually work out but not to me-- "The Mirror Has Two Faces" is a movie after my own heart.

there are these two main characters, a man (jeff bridges) and a woman (barbra streisand), both in their thirties to forties, accomplished professionals (jeff is a math professor at columbia u while barbra is a lit professor at the same u), fine human beings, but who are still loveless and alone.

i loved jeff's thesis--that maybe the crazy thing is the illusion of romantic love and sex and passion, that the real and lasting thing is true friendship, a meeting of the minds and souls--because that's what i've been thinking that will finally work for me after the experiences of over the past two and a half years' romantic misadventures. but i still empathize with barbra's longing too--how a marriage can be not only a meeting of the bodies and hormones and hearts, but also a meeting of the minds and souls. barbra wants it all and so do i!

anyway, the story progresses with jeff finding barbra through an ad he placed for "true friendship and companionship", which barbra's slutty sister answered in her behalf. a good friendship of shared interests and laughter and affectionate tolerance of each other's eccentricities develop. finally, jeff proposes to barbra, although the proposal is more like a business proposal than a romantic one: "we share a lot of things in common, we have a good friendship, we have trust, respect and affection... why don't we get married?" barbra agrees, hoping that it's only the beginning of the realization of her secret dream of having it all, not understanding that for jeff, it is already the ultimate realization of his thesis.

their story is complicated when barbra actually falls in love with jeff, and jeff the same for barbra, but although barbra wants to move forward with more, jeff feels betrayed that now he has to contend with his growing lust and passion for her. to jeff, sex would complicate and ruin everything; while to barbra, it would place their relationship at a higher level.

talk about the battle of the sexes being reversed. hmmm.

of course, in the end, the story is wonderfully resolved, with each character evolving to a new level of consciousness, letting go of their previous fears and shells and becoming more radiant as human beings.

what made this movie different for me was, when the other three previous movies only left me feeling mushy and quite jealous, this one makes me feel more hopeful again, especially when i think of the very rare and few friendships i am having now that approximates authentic meeting of the minds and even souls,... with the passions just being held in check...

hmmm. i may really be on to something real at last now.

i will have to wait for the meeting of the hearts to kick in, still, though.

i still want it all, after all!




Battle of the Sexes

i was getting quite fed up with my blogs, and about how they have all just been about men and love lately, so i decided to take a break and catch some light comedies instead.

i never noticed it until i was on my third movie, though, but the last three movies i've been watching since yesterday--

1. The Stepford Wives
2. Bridget Jones' Diary: The Edge of Reason
3. How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days

all have one thing in common: they have the words "battle of the sexes" in them, whether in the blurb or in the dialogue itself!!!

sigh.

and i've been wondering this week why, suddenly, 4 (four!) old, old loves came back again to reconnect after a long, long time of our not speaking to each other. i thought at first it must be the holiday season making some men quite lonely... but now im beginning to suspect there must be something in me that picks up all their antennaes at almost the same time?!!!

oh god, life is getting weirder and weirder.

i am about to watch an old movie, Barbra Streisand's "The Mirror Has Two Faces."

the movie's blurb says, "There are two things a woman knows-- what she's looking for, and what she'll settle for."

and this isn't even comedy.

hang on, dear heart.

!!!


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A Woman's Question

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
(to an old love who has come back and popped The Question...)


Do you know you have asked the costliest thing
Ever made by the hand above--
A woman's heart, and a woman's life,
And a woman's wonderful love?

Do you know you have asked for this priceless thing
As a child might ask for a toy--
Demanding what others have died to win,
With the reckless dash of a boy?

You have written my lesson of duty out,
Man-like you have questioned me;
Now stand at the bar of my woman's soul
Until I shall question thee.

You require your mutton shall always be hot,
Your socks and your shirts shall be whole;
I require your heart to be true as God's stars,
And pure as heaven your soul.

You require a cook for your mutton and beef;
I require a far better thing.
A seamstress you're wanting for stockings and shirts;
I look for a man and a king--

A king for a beautiful realm called home,
And a man that the Maker, God,
Shall look upon as he did the first,
And say, "It is very good."

I am fair and young, but the rose will fade
From my soft, young cheek one day;
Will you love me, then, 'mid falling leaves,
As you did 'mid the bloom of May?

Is your heart an ocean so strong and deep,
I may launch my all on its tide?
A loving woman finds heaven or hell
On the day she is made a bride.

I require all things that are grand and true,
All things that a man should be;
If you give this all, I would stake my life
To be all you demand of me.

If you cannot do this-- a laundress and a cook
You can hire with little to pay;
But a woman's heart and a woman's life,
Are not to be won that way.




Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A Man

(a poem copied in college, title and author unknown...
for T; maybe this is what all the past has been for...)

when Nature wants to drill a man,
and thrill a man,
and skill a man;
when Nature wants to mold a man
to play the noblest part,
when she yearns with all her heart
to create so great and bold a man
that all the world shall praise--
watch her method, watch her ways!
how she ruthlessly perfects
whom she royally elects;
how she hammers him and hurts him,
and with mighty blows converts him
into trial shapes of clay
which only Nature understands--
while his tortured heart is crying
and he lifts beseeching hands--
how she bends, but never breaks,
when his good she undertakes...
how she uses whom she chooses
and with every purpose fuses him,
by every art induces him
to try his splendor out--
Nature knows what she's about.

when Nature wants to take a man,
and shake a man,
and wake a man;
when Nature wants to make a man
to do the future's will;
when she tries with all her skill
and she yearns with all her soul
to create him large and whole...
with what cunning she prepares him!
how she goads and never spares him,
how she whets him and she frets him
and in poverty begets him...
how she often disappoints
whom she sacredly anoints,
with what wisdom she will hide him,
never minding what betide him
though his genius sob with slighting
and his pride may not forget,
bids him struggle harder yet;
makes him lonely
so that only
God's high messages shall reach him,
so that she may surely teach him
what the Hierarchy planned.
though he may not understand
gives him passions to command--
how remorselessly she spurs him,
with terrific ardor stirs him
when she poignantly prefers him!

when Nature wants to name a man,
and fame and a man,
and tame a man,
when Nature wants to shame a man
to do his heavenly best...
when she tries the highest test
that her reckoning may bring--
when she reins him and restrains him
so his body scarce contains him
while she fires him
and inspires him,
keeps him yearning,
ever burning for a tantalizing goal--
lures and lacerates his soul,
sets a challenge for his spirit,
draws it higher when he's near it--
makes a jungle, that he clear it;
makes a desert, that he fear it
and subdue it if he can--
so doth Nature make a man.
then to test his spirit's wrath
hurls a mountain in his path--
puts a bitter choice before him,
"climb or perish," so she says...
watch her purpose, watch her ways!

Nature's plan is wondrous kind
could he understand her mind...
fools are they who call her blind.
when his feet are torn and bleeding
yet his higher powers speeding
blazing newer paths and fine;
when the force that is divine
leaps to challenge every failure
and his ardor still is sweet
and love and hope are burning
in the presence of defeat...
lo, the crisis! lo, the shout!
when the people need salvation
doth he come to lead the nation...
thus doth Nature show her plan
when the world has found--
a Man!




Sunday, December 19, 2004

Honesty and Kindness

M2 and i went out for some shakes and a movie today. it felt good being around each other again, after a long time.

over shakes, we got around to talking about the recent "drama" in his life where i managed to play unwitting supporting heroine/villain, however one looks at it.

"her cousin even sent me a link to her yahoo profile with her picture on it, your so-called 'girlfriend', N ... ", i volunteered.

he looked nonplussed, "they did that, huh? i told you she's not my girlfriend. she just likes to think she is."

"yeah", and i smiled and looked at him naughtily.

after a pause, he grinned and said, "well? what do you think?"

"ummm... she's okay, i guess," i looked away but couldn't stop grinning my self.

"and what does THAT mean, huh?" he pressed.

"well... she looks like an unemployed professor," i said and sighed.

M2 looked at me quizzically, "why do you say that?"

i looked back at him and, as seriously as i can, said, "she has no class."

M2 stared at me for a moment and then guffawed.

i grinned, "well you had to ask."

M2 shook his head and said, "baby, you're sooo cute when you're like that! i love it!"

innocently, i said, "oh. i thought i was being kind."


this time we both guffawed.


Saturday, December 18, 2004

Why Love Is Not Enough

Even if you loved me
and i loved you
most times
our being together
has to end.

It is one thing to feel love;
It is another thing to sustain love.

Sustaining love takes--
the right kind of character,
readiness
and commitment
to sustaining love.

We may feel love
but if we are--
too tied to the past,
too fearful,
too suspicious,
too closed up,
too self-absorbed,
too self-unaware,
would rather hide in lies than truth,
would rather just have fun than growth,
would rather just have sex than real intimacy,
would rather serve our own interests than both our loved ones' and our own,
would rather be made happy than take responsibility for one's own happiness,
would rather remain childish than grow up--
then we cannot be ready for real loving.

And if we are not soul ready for real loving,
how can we truly, fully commit to real loving?

Being in love takes only feelings,
Being in a loving relationship takes all of you and more--
out of your self and into a bigger Self.

Being in love
but not being in a truly loving relationship
of caring, respect, honesty, trust and friendship
diminishes us
rather than enlarges us.

That is why
our being together
has to end.

That is why
love is not enough.



Guardian Angels

first there was M, and then there was mama, who suggested doing on online background search on him. that's how i found out he was married. :(

then there's M2, and then there's Carrie, who was so hell bent on saving her cousin from further harm, but who saved me instead.

God must have his guardian angels working overtime for me, saving me from my own self sometimes!

Lesson to learn-- avoid men whose names begin with M?

heeheehee... :D

nah.

Lesson to learn-- i am meant for bigger, better, more authentic men.

Friday, December 17, 2004

A Sinful Pleasure

today, i took the whole afternoon off away from the people in my usual world and traveled to a world only my own, or share with those similarly driven. i do this once every two or three months or so, oftener when im feeling really harassed and in need of some good loving.

i asked two or three friends to join me for this special treat some days ago and i was surprised by their similar reactions: their eyes widened and their mouths formed big Os and then they giggled and teased me, with one of them even pinching me and saying, "oohhh you're so deliciously naughty! what a sinful pleasure!"

so, with nobody in tow, i submitted my self to my usual haunt today: a complete facial and peeling treatment to soften my facial skin even further, a long and luxurious hot oil treatment on my hair after i had it trimmed, a queenly foot spa and massage finished off with an elegant manicure and pedicure in the end.

needless to say, i drove home feeling so good and so beautiful and so loved, that i also felt like i could take on anything life throws my way but at the same time feeling so content and thankful, that my life is just exactly as i dreamed it would be -- a masterpiece in progress.

i am in a good place in my life at last, but i didn't realize loving one's self and giving one's self simple pleasures, simple joys would be such a sin now.

if that is most women's attitudes about pleasuring one's self, no wonder many are so angry and spiteful when other women have it good.

well, i'm sorry for them. all i can do is invite them to goddess magic. the rest is still up to them.

: )

Hard Times' Blessings

i just came in from the government's housing fund office today and managed to renegotiate the payment terms on 13 months' worth of arrears. i actually feel proud of my self now for having acquired the skills to get my self out of sticky situations, with my integrity still intact.

a year or two ago, this wouldn't even have occurred to me to be this cooly businesslike. i would have been panicked and tortured, desperate to borrow funds from anyone willing to help me out, just so i could pay whatever it is the ex owed to whomever, but using my name.

i was brought up to value my name above all. finding out after the sep that so many loans have been incurred in my name by the ex during the marriage and the loans now have become overdue and immediately demandable, pushed me in crisis after crisis during the past two years. i felt like being in a forest blaze, desperately trying to put out the fires around me with whatever water i could find using my little pail. some days, i felt like i was cresting a series of tsunamis, one after another, with only my wits and my charm to get me through.

but hard times have their precious blessings. i learned a few valuable things and skills, which will last me through many lifetimes now:

1. people will respond to honesty more than they will respond to sophistication -- i just lay down my cards, tell them what resources and options i have, they take their pick if they want to get paid.

2. lawyers' letters are just words on a piece of paper, no matter the tone. the legal process is slow. their clients need me to pay up more than they need to see me in jail (besides, in the Philippines, nobody who admits to owing somebody can be jailed for not being able to pay). play for time. especially if they start to threaten, they must be getting desperate. stay cool, be honest, tell my sad stories, affirm intent to pay, but just emphasize that the time period cannot be on their terms now but mine.

3. i do my own legal research now too. even my lawyer with the annulment was amazed that i found a spousal settlement agreement we could use to settle my material affairs with the ex, even while we waited for the annulment case to begin. as civil annulment is virtually a new phenomenon in our country, not many know what to do with it in terms of implementation, despite the existing laws. those Chinese sages were right: when there is chaos, if you know what you want, there is your opportunity to turn things around to your advantage.

4. i have formidable speaking and writing communication skills in addition to my research skills, that i've discovered for my self, after i learned to negotiate the spousal settlement agreement with my ex and his lawyer dad, who couldn't do anything more but change one sentence in the document i drafted and sign agreement soon after.

5. i am learning how to be a good diplomat and negotiator now. : ) i have learned to find the reasons behind a "No" and try to help solve those reasons so we can get to a "Yes". And most important of all, i am not afraid of "NOs" anymore. i tell my self-- they are just two letters in all 26 letters of the english alphabet! so what if somebody tells me "NO"? i will not die! but if i ask why they said NO, i will have learned something valuable, if not about the problem or situation at hand, then about human nature at the very least.

so the visit to the housing fund office today became just another business transaction, an opportunity for me to employ all the lessons and skills i've learned. that's why i am so proud of how far i've come, with God's grace.

so, today is just another day, now. : )

i can be bigger than life's challenges if and when i choose to, that much i've found.

thank God for hard times' blessings!

T. C.

love is indeed lovelier the second time around! ;P

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Maria

Music and lyrics by Rodgers and Hammerstein, for "The Sound of Music"


She climbs a tree and scrapes her knee
Her dress has got a tear
She waltzes on her way to Mass
And whistles on the stair
And underneath her wimple
She has curlers in her hair
I even heard her singing in the abbey

She's always late for chapel
But her penitence is real
She's always late for everything
Except for every meal
I hate to have to say it
But I very firmly feel
Maria's not an asset to the abbey

I'd like to say a word in her behalf
Maria makes me ... laugh!

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet!
A will-o'-the wisp!
A clown!

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay
And listen to all you say
How do you keep a wave upon the sand?

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

When I'm with her I'm confused
Out of focus and bemused
And I never know exactly where I am
Unpredictable as weather
She's as flighty as a feather
She's a darling!
She's a demon!
She's a lamb!

She'd outpester any pest
Drive a hornet from its nest
She could throw a whirling dervish out of whirl
She is gentle!
She is wild!
She's a riddle!
She's a child!
She's a headache!
She's an angel!
She's a girl!

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet!
A will-o'-the wisp!
A clown!

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay,
And listen to all you say,
How do you keep a wave upon the sand?

Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?


*****


You just love her, love her, in all the ways she is and is not.
That is all.

: )

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Bridget Jones' Advice

oprah interviewed renee zellwegger on her show today and asked renee, as bridget jones, for advice on the kinds of men to watch out for. bridget said, "love your self more than you will ever love these types":

1. (i didn't catch it, as i my youngest daughter asked me something)
2. married but in denial
3. sex-crazed
4. emotionally crippled
5. morally corrupt

oh how i can relate! i've been through numbers 2 to 5 so i guess i must be making progress. you've been with any one, you can detect them a mile away the next time. and then too, if you've been through the pits, there's no other way to go but up, huh? : )

that's a hopeful thought.

i just hope i've already been through number 1, too, whatever it was. God knows i can't, won't and shouldn't have to suffer BS one more time!

Mace

you always said i could write about you and i thought that was just the little boy in you wanting to be recognized. it amused me but i never gave it much thought.

now i want to write about you, tell you things i couldn't tell you when we meet, but suddenly words fail me.

maybe i will just speak from the heart.

you said i "cashed you in" for M, and you felt really bad about that. i cannot tell you enough times how sorry i am that i made you feel that way. i never thought i meant to you more than just a friend to share pleasures with. at least, when we started that's how i thought our understanding was-- friends in need of mutual pleasuring, even for only a brief time, like an ice cream treat on a parched summer day.

but then that second or third time, when you laughed about my innocent comment about a harem being like having eggs, cheaper by the dozen, i told you how my heart dropped to my knees, especially long after you fell asleep while i lay there very much awake thinking of what has come over me and you sleepily woke up to kiss me on the forehead.

but you never believed that, didn't you? or you never want to believe that. all you see is how you are always there for me when i have these up-and-down little loves of the moment, with you relegated to the background of just being "a friend" who listens to my rollercoaster tales.

why do i feel like i have to keep proving my self to you? it got to a point where i laid my heart out on my sleeve, but suddenly you were nice but noncommittal.

yet you keep coming back.

i try to tell my self that all you want is just plain brother-sister friendship with me now but the words you say, the tone of voice you use tell me a different thing.

i want that different thing with you too, but it is hard to read you now when my own emotions get in the way. i get afraid that maybe i am reading too much into it, and that these are all in my mind.

in Filipino, we have this term, "urong-sulong". i told you that once and suggested you ask all your other Filipino friends what that means. i don't know if you bothered to find out so i'll explain it now anyway. "Urong" means retreat, "sulong" means advance. so when somebody is "urong-sulong" he does things in a "retreat-advance" sort of way, like he doesn't know what he really wants, or he's not very clear in expressing what he wants.

that is how i feel about how you've been carrying on and it exasperates and infuriates me. i offer you my heart in my hand, you turn away. when i turn away to look for other loves, you chase me. what is it? what do you want from me?

now you are coming back again. i hope we will both be clearer this time.

i am tired of playing cat-and-mouse games.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Men Who Fall, Marry

i watched Ally McBeal earlier today and got teary-eyed from the episode.

ally was assigned to mediate a case between a church pastor and his ex girlfried, who, for some reason, was probably threatening to sue him because he called off their long-standing relationship "just like that", despite previous promises of marriage, making plans, etc. (i wonder what the case would have been about... i didn't catch the earlier part)... or because the ex girl friend, who was the main singer in the pastor's church, was singing secular anguished love songs during church services and the pastor wanted to stop her from doing so...

anyway, the crux of the story was that the ex-girlfriend's angst was not because he ended it with her but that he ended it with her so abruptly, and the only reason he gave her was that he had a "change of heart". the ex-girlfriend didn't buy that; was, in fact, even more confused by that. so ally tried to help the two talk again, at least, to find out the truth about why the relationship ended.

so after much hemming and hawing and cajoling, the pastor mustered up the courage to tell the ex-girlfriend the truth -- that it wasn't really her to begin with, that she was perfect, that she was all the things he wanted, that he loved her... BUT... he was never in love with her, no matter how much he tried to convince him self he did or that he should.

the ex girlfriend was hurt by the truth of course, but also felt released from the bondage of her confusion, and now truly moved on by singing her more secular songs in a new night club.

as for ally, it helped her come to a confrontation with her ex, billy, who also finally admitted to her that the reason why he ended their relationship years ago after seeing his current flame for only 10 minutes was that, according to billy, "he knew, in those first few minutes, that this was the girl he was going to marry" and not ally.

anyway, the episode got me teary-eyed because it rang some truth for me, except that the culprit who ended a number of relationships was me-- for not feeling in love enough with the other party, even if i loved them. or maybe, it's because, on a deeper level, my gut told me they weren't "it", they failed some basic tests, and so i fall out of love fast.

i remember the ex: looking back now, oh he was definitely in love with me! that's why it became a whirlwind romance of only 1 month before he proposed, and another 3 months for the wedding. for a while, he was a transformed man, everybody who knew him told me. he brought me around and introduced me to every one as his fiancee, although i thought we were only boyfriend-girlfriend then. he stopped drinking, gambling and womanizing, called me at all hours of the day, couldn't get enough of me, told everyone how lucky he was, how i was the best thing that happened to him, how with me he has found meaning in his life...

from this perspective now, i could understand his suicidal anguish when i finally left after 10 years. i was the bad girl. everybody talked behind my back. we seemed like a perfect couple, never having been known to fight or have rough patches in our marriage. everything seemed peaceful, idyllic. and then i blew our cover.

what everybody didn't know was this: that being madly in love may cause men to decide to want to marry you, but it isn't enough to make a marriage work. being in love may cause men to shower you with all the attention you need during the courtship stage, but it doesn't mean they will still pay attention to you and your marriage after you have been married. being in love may cause men to worship you and put you on a pedestal while they are romancing you, but it doesn't mean they will even respect you and love you and accept you for who you are, just as you are, after you have been married. being in love may cause men to be possessively jealous of you, but it doesn't mean they will not verbally abuse you and emotionally manipulate you just so you do and be exactly as they wanted you to be.

it is unfortunate that most women grow up conditioned to see the proposal and the wedding, as the be-all and end-all of their lives, and are not prepared to learn how to discern the real stuff: the character of a man who can not only be in love with you in the heat of the moment but who can stay in love and be truly loving to you for keeps.

and i guess, that is the bottom line of the confusing state of my love life these days: men falling, men proposing? hohum. i am looking at the tests of character and friendship now, playing for time. so i guess that makes me a bitch to some people who want it fast and soon. girl friends keep telling me i have it good, that i can have my pick, why am i not going for it still?

add to that the fact that i am still very challenged with containing my own passions, as i too have a tendency to fall in love fast, the bighearted girl that i am. why do i torture my self so by keeping unattached and celibate?

they do not understand: i learn my lessons at first try, and i learn my lessons well.


Thursday, December 09, 2004

That Ache Again

i almost did a stupid thing today.

i was feeling so achy the whole morning, i could actually feel my uterus contract! by noon, i was so bothered that, while doing emails, this website address --- www.passion.com -- just entered my mind.

i think i remember an invitation email i got from that site long ago, which got delivered to my bulk folder. i remember being amused that such a site existed, that people really registered there and met other people for... well... you know... to soothe their aches.

well anyway, i checked it out... and then signed up for a free membership... and browsing all those profiles... i started thinking: why not meet guys anonymously and discreetly in a nearby city (not here in mine, of course! that would be suicide!)... and i clicked on a few profiles to make winks...

but of course, since my profile was up for review and wont be available for 48 hours yet, i didnt get any responses.

which was a good thing.

because there was one profile there in the next city with his cellphone number as his handle. i started composing a text message to him... but then i thought twice about having a stranger get hold of my cellphone number... so i decided to wait until my profile got approved so i can just communicate with him via email for a while...

anyway, as i couldn't do anything else to alleviate the ache, i did the habitual thing--self help, as always. (oooh what a fever i found my self in!)

and then i drove back to work.

tonight, after i got home, and having gotten hold of my senses again, i realized how dangerously foolish i had been. i quickly erased my profile and account there, as well as the few emails ive received from the site already. i suddenly felt so dirty!!!

oh i am so pathetic.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Papa

my earliest memory of him was when i was two.

i was standing by the open door of my parents' bedroom, hugging my toy monkey with its drum. papa and mama were on their bed, one on each side, leaning on their sides facing me, with my newly-born baby sister at the center.

i don't remember what it was they said but my feeling was they were teasing me, taunting me, maybe telling me i was not loved anymore, as there was already my baby sister to take my place. mama was smiling indulgently, while it was papa who kept mocking me.

i felt confused and heartbroken, alone and pushed away. his face turned menacing for me, and i hated him that very moment. i threw my toy monkey at him and hit him on the head.

it must have hurt, as mama made a big fuss of comforting him and showing me his bleeding scalp. he was suddenly all weak and whiny, and they both scolded me for being such a bad girl.

i felt guilty.

for the first time in my life, i felt so alone.

*****

i was four or five, "vacationing" with papa in Iloilo, a city in the next island, a boat ride away. actually he was on one of his sales visits to our customers there and he took me along. we stayed at his brother's, my uncle's, apartment.

the first day, he left me at my uncle's to play with my cousins. but as the afternoon and evening wore on and he still hadn't come back, i became worried. i missed him terribly. i stopped playing and kneeled by the sofa propped against the living room window, waiting, watching for any sign, any sound of him coming home. i started crying silently.

dinner time, my uncle, aunt and cousins each called and cajoled me to the table, but i wouldn't budge. i just kept on crying, my little heart breaking into a million pieces.

at around midnight, he came. my uncle and aunt told him how i waited for him and never ate my dinner at all, but just remained crying by the window. we ate dinner together quietly.

when we retired to our room, he asked me if i wanted to go with him on his sales calls the next day. i said yes! he warned me it would be tough, could i take it? i said i will take it. he warned me we had to wake up at 4a.m. for the long road trip, i said it's okay. he said he'd only wake me up once, if i don't wake up, he'd leave me. i said okay.

i never slept the whole night, alert for any signs of him moving and waking up. when he finally did "wake" me up at 4 a.m., i jumped out of bed, dressed my self and was ready even before he was.

it was the happiest day of my life. we rode this rough railroad train where both people and animals were all bunched together. we climbed up and down several buses to get to far flung towns. we trudged up dirt roads to get to his rural customers' houses. while they talked and he charmed them with his easy manners, i sat quietly by, prim and proper and obedient, never making a fuss. when we walked down a road, i ran with my little legs just to keep up with him. he said he didn't want any sissies; if i wanted to be with him, i had to do as he did, no special privileges. i had to be tough.

but it was okay. i was with him, and that was all that mattered in my world.

*****

when i was eight, i begged mama to let me go with him in one of his out-of-town sales calls again. it was a wednesday but i absented my self from school. he drove our little volkswagen van and i was his assistant. i learned to tell we were in a new town or city when he'd point out to me the churches and the municipal halls as we passed them by.

his customers praised him for having such a pretty, quiet and efficient assistant, but he waved them off, saying i was just undergoing my necessary training.

life is tough and i've got to learn to be tough. i carried boxes of merchandise, helped push the van and assisted him in fixing it when it got stalled, and never complained of the dirt, humidity and squalor all around us.

all that mattered to me was that he needed me and i was there for him and that i felt important being around him.

*****

i was twelve. it was a sunday. the family and some of papa's and mama's friends and their families were at the local beach.

i was wearing a sleeveless shirt top and shorts and playing with my younger brother and sister in the sand. then we chased each other and swam and chased each other some more, until mama called us in to eat.

as we ran back to our cottage, i noticed people turning their heads and staring at me.

on hindsight now, i must have been a sight to behold-- a young girl with fair skin among a sea of brown-skinned bodies, playing and running gleefully like a child, but looking every inch like a full-grown woman, in wet shirt and shorts, with no underwear lining showing through.

papa angrily took me aside, covered me with a towel, and scolded me for acting like a kid. i felt confused and ashamed. he roughly asked, "hasn't your mama bought you a bra yet?" i shook my head, "no."

the next day, mama took me shopping for my first bra.

*****

i was nineteen, coming downstairs for a glass of water at 2 a.m. i found him on the sofa, hunched, smoking, looking agonized, apparently not having slept at all. he asked me to sit down. he started asking me questions about mama.

do i know this priest that is mama's friend? people have been talking; are they really just friends? what do i know of this priest?

i said i didn't know anything, that all i know is that he is also their church ladies' circle adviser, that he seems like a good and holy man, and that maybe mama is just undergoing a lot of changes right now and badly needs a friend for support.

mama has not been sleeping at home lately, but at our store.

he asked me to go with him to one of mama's church friend's house. at 4 a.m., we drove down the dark city streets to look for mama's friend's house. he asked them the same questions, both mama's friend and her husband. they couldn't tell him anything new.

i had never seen him look so confused and so tortured. my heart cried out to him, but i just kept quiet, sitting there next to him in the car. he drove home silently, gripping the wheel, tears streaming down his face.

after we got home, it was never spoken of again, that brief moment of friendship, when i saw him at his weakest.

*****

i was twenty-four. it was the eve of my wedding.

my sister and i, tired from all the day's work preparing for the wedding and attending to relatives who have come to stay with us to attend the wedding, slept at papa's bedroom downstairs instead.

there were the three of us on his and mama's large bed, with me in the middle. it was past midnight but i kept tossing and turning, while my sister was sound asleep. papa lay on his side with his back turned towards me, hunched and quiet.

i started sobbing, thinking of my wedding in less than twelve hours. my life was changing, i didn't really know how it did, things happened so fast.

sometimes in life,--i've read somewhere before,--you make one small decision, then things happen and take on a life of their own, and you are caught up in what's happening, not knowing if it's what you really wanted or are ready for.

i realized this was one of those times.

i wept quietly but the more i wept the harder it was to stop my self from shaking, consumed by my unbelievable grief.

i looked at my sister and papa, they both seemed peacefully asleep. so i gave in and wept more openly, more freely.

at that point, papa turned around, and still, with his eyes closed but brow furrowed, he stroked my hair slowly and hushed me. i wept even more as i huddled closer and he cuddled me in his arm. it was a rare moment of tenderness, coming from him.

no words were said, he just kept on stroking my hair as i sobbed. once or twice, i heard him sniff and sigh, but his eyes remained closed.

he just kept stroking my hair until finally, i fell asleep.


it took ten years to wake up.

Top of the World

words and music by Richard Carpenter and John Bettis

Such a feelin's comin' over me
There is wonder in most everything I see
Not a cloud in the sky
Got the sun in my eyes
And I won't be surprised if it's a dream

Everything I want the world to be
Is now coming true especially for me
And the reason is clear
It's because you are here
You're the nearest thing to heaven that I've seen

I'm on the top of the world lookin' down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I've found ever since you've been around
Your love's put me at the top of the world

Something in the wind has learned my name
And it's tellin' me that things are not the same
In the leaves on the trees and the touch of the breeze
There's a pleasin' sense of happiness for me

There is only one wish on my mind
When this day is through I hope that I will find
That tomorrow will be just the same for you and me
All I need will be mine if you are here

I'm on the top of the world lookin' down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I've found ever since you've been around
Your love's put me at the top of the world

Monday, December 06, 2004

Strange New Feeling

i woke up dreading to go back to work today but once i started work i became more upbeat and cheerful.

and when somebody asked me how i was today, for the first time in my life, i surprised my self by saying, "im fine. happy. it's a beautiful breezy monday today."

ive never described my self as happy before.

joyful, at peace, sometimes delirious, yes. but never that word -- "happy".

hmmm. : )

Sunday, December 05, 2004

A Naughty Postscript

here's another interesting sidelight to the Negros Tour story, which actually became everybody's highlight at the end of the day:

the last leg of the tour was a visit to the 70ish tour guide's own ancestral home, for he belonged to one of Silay's old rich families. we toured his whole house, looking at dolls he collected from his travels to many countries, viewing his art and antique collection, and finally, even stepping inside his charming antique bedroom which contained more artwork and nude sketches and paintings of himself in his younger days, done by the country's top artists.

i had been through this tour before so it was not as interesting to me as the first time. but that day in our tour, there was a group of nice plump little old ladies who belonged to some women's club in their city. after one of the ladies got to see the nude artwork, she hastily went back to her group and noisily told them about it.

they instantly flocked around the nude artwork, filling up the room, that all the others had to stand back closer to the balcony. there were oohs and aahs and girlish twitter among them. i stood back in amusement and smiled.

finally, as the tour ended and everybody were herded out of his bedroom, the little old ladies were the last to leave. i was next to them so i was within earshot when the tour guide asked, "all right, any more questions?"

one little old lady raised her hand, and so i stopped to look and wait for her question too. with rounded saucer-like eyes, she asked the tour guide, "Is it... is it... is it really THAT big?"

for a while the tour guide didn't get it, until all of us women chuckled. he was quick to retort, "of course, do you want me to show you the real thing?" and he acted as if to unzip his pants.

then she asked, "how big is it?"

the tour guide gamely answered, "10 inches."

the saucer eyes grew rounder and bigger, " 10 inches!!! i thought they're only up to 6 inches!!!"

the little old women shrieked as i shook my head in amazement. these charming old people, in their sixties and seventies, and flirting naughtily still.

word got passed around about the incident among the other members of the tour and all the way back, everyone shared tidbits and jokes about the little old ladies. we found that they were all spinsters. seated at the front of the bus like adoring fans, they flirted with the tour guide even more by asking him more questions and begging him to sing some more songs from long ago.

at one stop, as the tour guide got off to show some members food delicacies, the little old ladies were overheard discussing among themselves how it's such a shame somebody so dashing and articulate and intelligent and well-traveled and cultured would still be so single.

one of the ladies piped up, "i wouldn't mind being married to him; i would even get to own all those antiques too!"

the saucer-eyed darling of the day retorted, "me too! having those 10 inches is enough!"

Postscript to Negros Tour

but things are not what they seem, like they always go. the topside world shows one thing, the underside world shows another.

all throughout the tour, seated across the aisle from me in the bus was a mixed couple, a tall goodlooking 50ish caucasian and a petite nice but marmy and chinese-looking 40ish woman, probably another product of those Internet romances getting so common in our country nowadays.

they didn't look fitted together, in the physical sense. the lady was dowdy looking, in fact, almost like a lesbian, with her short hair, thick glasses and cheap walking shoes. the gentleman was attractive in an understated and soft and gentle kind of way. i actually thought i'd look more "fitted" standing next to him than she. heehee.

but they looked comfortable together, and i envied that. they had this easy way about each other, comfortable in each other's skin, not at all the way most mixed couples i see acting around each other--sort of stilted and overly nice and cloying, with the woman so young and gawky while the man quite old and solicitous.

at one point, during our lunch at a golf country club cafeteria, one member of the tour group called out to the gentleman who was standing by an electric fan, trying to cool himself. the tour group member asked him to come over and eat already, and he was quick to say, "oh it's okay, im waiting for my wife." i envied that even more.

then, during a printmaking lecture, while the tour guide singled them out and told the group how lucky the lady is for having married such a nice guy, he was even quicker to say, "well, im luckier that she would have me for a husband!"

i envied that the most.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Negros Tour

i took my students in our "Dynamics of Popular Culture" class to a day tour of our province today, to further immerse them in our local culture and history before we discuss media influence on popular culture by midterms in january.

i arrived in the nick of time. everybody were already on the bus, but four more students who just paid were waiting for me to ask the tour guide to take them in as "chance" passengers. with my natural charm and friendliness : ), it was a breeze. i knew i had him when the tour guide blurted out,"so you're their teacher? you look sooo young!"

we had a fun tour today, not only because of the places we visited but because of our 70ish old tour guide who was a cultural artifact all by himself. he peppered the trip with so many anecdotes and jokes and trivia, everyone instantly felt at ease with each other. after lunch, during the sleepy siesta hours, he made us sing christmas carols with him and we had a ball!

the tour also made me prouder of my self as a Negrense and as a Filipina, to realize how so creative and ingenious our people are, even with very little resources. we visited a chapel with a mural and religious icons made entirely of dived-for and hand-picked seashells (the chandelier alone took 14000 shells to make!), as well as viewed a collection of artworks by Filipino masters and one unknown painter who died in poverty, unrecognized. his melancholy yet hauntingly beautiful paintings touched me most, particularly upon knowing that he was virtually unschooled in formal painting but largely self-taught.

we visited monuments to our Cinco de Noviembre, that famed Nov. 5, 1896 day when my own provincemates declared the first Philippine Republic of Negros, even before our Tagalog compatriots declared Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898. what made it strikingly funny and spirited was that the Negrenses seized their independence through a bluff-- they tied bolos to cane stalks to make these look like bayonets and painted rolled up sawali mats black and placed these on wooden carriages to make them look like small canyons from afar. this frightened the Spanish authorities so that the Spaniards capitulated and signed the Negrenses' prepared surrender documents without too much resistance.

i observed the students having fun too, interacting with the other tourists on the bus, as well as cracking jokes among themselves, even while they learned about our local culture and history. their faces were so animated and they were so participative, even our tour guide said he fell in love with all of us.

days like these, i am proud to be who i am and exactly where i am.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Somebody New

he asked me if
there was somebody new
i'm meeting--

somebody whom
i thought would be
a good fit,
a man who
could give as much as he gets
and more,
consistently loving and caring,
thoughtful and sharing,
with integrity and compassion,
intelligence and spirit;
without the mind games
and emotional manipulation,
minus the now-you-see-him-now-you-don't act,
less the keep-it-all-in self-absorbed macho pride.

he asked me if
there was somebody new
i'm meeting.

i should have said: yes--

him.

Chrysalis

Before it becomes a butterfly, a caterpillar goes through a growth stage during which it is called a "chrysalis." On the surface it may not look like much is happening, but the delicate chrysalis process changes the fuzzy caterpillar into an awesome butterfly with wings of intricate designs and intense colors.

that is how i feel about my life lately. on the outside, i seem to be the same, but on the inside, there are magnificently terrifying yet exciting rumblings of transformation going on.

not that the "same" me i am now was the me i was 3-4 years ago even. these years since 2000 have been fast-paced years of growth and change for me, expanding me and my life in so many ways. this year when i thought i finally had it all together, i am experiencing these inner shifts again for something more, something different.

my numerology report says 2004 is a "1" year, the start of another 9-year lifecycle, while 2003 was a "9" year, the close of a previous lifecycle. and that is how ive felt about my life too.

this year saw me having my own book published and launched to national acclaim. at the same time, joining my mom's and uncle's online butterfly business not only afforded me the increased income i badly needed to support my three kids and my self, it also gave me a taste of the global market out here-- how people thought and felt and acted and how i have quite a knack for customer service with my writing.

which all brings me closer to making a long-ago secret dream more vivid and attainable: earning from home freelance from writing, speaking, being consulted with, and travelling the world for free!

i am looking into some websites now, particularly AWAI's, on courses i could take for preparing me for this career shift. and i feel excited.

i know i still have a long way to go, and i have got to maneuver this shift as smoothly as i can, without significantly denting my present career path and chances while moving closer towards my heart's desires.

God help me and guide me in this intense time of transformation!


Thursday, December 02, 2004

Worn Down

i wish it was Christmas break already.

like a runner stretching herself to cover the last few paces of a race, or a thirsty person crawling, inching her way to a desert oasis, i have been feeling really worn down these past few weeks.

i should be happy; i am producing at par despite the feeling. i got elected to a national position in Pax Christi Pilipinas, my Toastmasters' Club colleagues are begging me to not only be their VP for membership but also their VP for education, my Department and students and kids are thriving, my school paper staff recently won 22 awards in a regional writing contest which also awarded me as one of 10 outstanding school paper advisers in the region.

what makes it more meaningful is that all these achievements are inner-driven, and the accolades and trophies are just icing on the cake, not really sought for their own sakes.

still, all im feeling these days is total exhaustion.

yesterday morning, i called in sick from work as i woke up feeling really groggy and nauseous. today is the same; add to that the fact that my 6 year old and 4 year old both have high fevers.

when i think about all the things i do, multitasking plus more multitasking as a single parent, i am amazed i am still sane and standing. and i feel like crying for my self.

suddenly, just thinking about all these things i do and still have to do wears me down further. the satisfaction from doing work well is still there, but then, there's also a sharp poignant edge coming out now-- that edge that questions how long i will still be doing all of these.

i guess im coming to my 7-year itch on the job.

that, or im starting to burn out.

i wish it was Christmas break already!

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Letter to a Friend

at this point, T, this sharing of ideas and beliefs with you is enough. do you know i actually get a lot of the romance -- men coming on to me strong at first, but who fizzle out fast when i insist on just friendship first?

in a way, it has become my litmus test in my own journey and search for true love. i am tired of sweet nothings and empty promises. i want the real thing, the kind that endures and is unrelenting, bigger than any and all challenges put together that may assail us or either of us, when i do find somebody to have an "us" with.

i am reading a book, "Getting It Right At Last", something about getting out of love addiction. the book's main point is there are two different things: being in love and being in a loving relationship. love addicts tend to get trapped in repeating the first over and over with different people, but never even know what the second is like.

that sounds a lot like me. at this point in my life, i am backing off and looking inward and upward, just observing my life as it unfolds and the kind of men i attract, particularly when it comes to my lovelife. and so far, this i have observed: my tendency to fall for exciting but unavailable/unreliable/even abusive men.

the book says it all goes back to unmet childhood needs, and i guess it is true. my father is basically like that and whatever "love" i got from him , i had to earn with being a good girl and being the best student i could be with honors, awards, etc. i am still struggling with feeling comfortable about receiving love from anybody, just for being me, without earning it in some way.

so what im trying to say is i am at a point in my life where i need to get out of this "addiction" if that's what's im really into. maybe you are the best person to talk to about this because you can definitely relate with addiction! heehee.

i am at that point where i see now the harm and uselessness of my addiction and trying to wean my self away from it, but at the same time, i am still so vulnerable. then, too, the alternative -- meeting available and kind men -- seems still so bland and boring if not distasteful, at this point anyway. so i have a long way to go huh, before i can have a really loving relationship at last.

which leads me to my answer to your question i guess: about doing vs. being. i believe in being first, then doing. i believe in transforming and raising one's consciousness to the level which makes it "natural" for what one wants to just "fall" into one's life, and then when one has attained the consciousness, to help it along with doing. because if one started by doing first without being, there will be resistance everywhere.

for example, with your job and graduate school rejections, i want to ask if you also asked them why they "rejected" your applications (not you, mind you)? was it something you said, wrote, or the way you projected your self to them that turned them off? like if you go around thinking like a failure and looking like a failure and a slob ( if you thought like one, you're bound to look like one), if you were them, would you hire somebody who projected that image?

frankly, i can't believe why they would not accept your applications. you are a good person with a good mind and very good communication skills. so the only thing left for me to think about is maybe you are not impressing them with your packaging that's all. please don't go huffing and puffing on about it's what's inside that counts. i believe that too; in fact we are one of the few who go more for the inner stuff than the outer.

but in a superficial world with superficial people, i think that since we're smarter, we have to humor them by giving them the appropriate packaging that they expect and impresses them so much, that they forget about the substance. and then when we've got our foot in the door, we further amaze them with our inner stuff.

that's how i see it.

Friday, November 26, 2004

That Ache

sometimes, it catches me by surprise. if i had physical balls, i could say it grabs me by the balls.

today, at noon, i suddenly felt weepy and i didn't know why. a wave of terrible loneliness and pain washed over me and i felt like crumpling down in tears. and i was in the middle of a top administrative meeting!

then a colleague and friend who was sitting beside me leaned over to look at my notes, and my god, how i ached from the gut and belly!

that manly scent, his skin brushing against my arm, that deep masculine voice speaking to me softly in an innocent conspiratorial whisper -- they all confluenced to grip me so hard i hyperventilated, both in extreme longing and frustration.

driving home for lunch, i suddenly gave in and cried. i remembered it has been sooo long, 9 months and 6 days to be exact. and i wept for what i missed, what i have been missing, and wondered how long i could go on still without it.

i ran through the admirers ive been keeping at bay: who? which one? when? should i just give in now for the heck of it?

one recent admirer's words kept ringing in my ear: "I was not trying to make an offer for physical contact with you, just trying to suggest that I think you are capable of learning and growing and not falling back into the old routines. I really hope that you can find someone you can have that with and to be happy, even if it ends too soon."

that jarred me back -- "if it ends too soon."

why should it have to end too soon if something meaningful and substantial is what we say we both want?

and then it hit me -- he is the same with all the rest, so far. no matter what is said or promised, it all comes down to one thing they want from me: temporary pleasures at the least inconvenience.

i want to have it all and i can give it all, for the long haul.

what is so wrong with requiring as much as what i'm willing to give, and not settling for less?

if suffering my temporary aches is the cost of saving my self for something good and real and lasting, so be it.


Monday, November 22, 2004

a simple truth

in the many
little gaps and silences
of my days,
nights,
weeks,
months,
years

that i try to fill--
with work, wit, ideas
and even
up-and-down little loves--

a simple truth remains:

you, the one i truly love;
you, the one i want to build a life with;
you, the one i cannot have.

Good

okay, okay, after that initial dumping with "Bad", there's a germ of a future yet for me.

the same yahoo personals relationship results say that with all the good things i am, i should focus on finding men who are available and kind, and stop wasting my time on men who may excite me but who are not really there for me and not kind to my spirit and my esteem.

sigh.

except that right now, the available and kind ones i see around me also bore me to death with their niceness.

somebody attractive and independent and who's his own man, but available and kind. somebody with a good heart.

tough order, Universe, but serve him up! i'm up to the challenge.

Bad

i just finished this very long relationship test at yahoo personals, and the results should make me feel good -- it says im basically very good with people and showing empathy and compassion and have excellent communication skills -- but it does not.

it also says i am too trusting and naive and open when i shouldn't be, that im an eager pleaser (ouch!) especially when it comes to my men, and that my high sexual drive is a double-edged sword because although i want both romance and sex, my appetite for the latter too soon in a potential relationship sacrifices the blossoming of the former.

:(

so what should i be now huh?

right now, i just want to live like a hermit and a nun and shun any and all that has anything to do with men, love and romance!

hmp.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Inward Trip

this always happens to me every time i take a trip away from home.

i come back more conscious of how my present life is being lived; it's like im an observer and visitor to my own life.

it takes a while getting used to my life here in Bacolod again. even if i have physically arrived, my consciousness still retains the level and quality of the one i've reached in the place i've travelled to. i seem to imbibe the very aura of a place when i go to it even for a day or two; i am very sensitive to nuances in culture this way.

like right now, i see my children and i feel how blessed and thankful i am that they are there in my life. i see my home with them, my books, our things and i see how simple yet so rich my life is. i see my paperwork that reminds me of my work and friends at school and my career and i see how lucky i am to be doing the kind of work that i'm not only very good at but which i also love to do. i see the simplicity and integrity of it all-- my children, my home, my things, my work, my friends, my life -- and i wonder why i make it so complicated sometimes by my periodic ups and downs and angst about my so-called lovelife. it will happen-- true love-- in it's own perfect time. why torture my self needlessly with false ones?

a while ago, my two younger kids were quarreling and the noise rose to a din but i ignored it, feeling immune to it all, thinking "it's their business, let them settle it themselves", and i wondered why many times i let my self get sucked into their little wars and exhaust my self further by trying to make all things right for every body, when they can very well get along fine without me having to say or do a thing.

i watch and see everything, both the outer things and the inner ones-- what is there in my life and how i feel and think about them. and then it all comes down to the "re-realization":

i am me in my mind and heart. that is the real me. all the things out there are creations of the me i have been, so far. and if i don't like them, i only have to change the kind of me i am in my mind and heart, and the outer things will follow.


In Hiding Again

i have been in going-inside-myself mode lately. net friends can see that from my yahoo and msn profiles which are not so open anymore.

i have this imaginary conversation with an imaginary friend going on inside my head:

friend: what happened to your profiles? i don't see your personal website and your blogsite addresses anymore! and what's that white butterfly picture doing there?

me: im hiding.

friend: hiding??? from whom? why???

me: from perverts in the net, maybe. from screwed-up people who just lie and cheat and sweet talk their way into your heart and life, i guess.

me: i'm not giving them any "ammunition" anymore to use against me to screw me! i should have learned that the first time, huh.

friend: yeah.

friend: i hate saying "i told you so".

me: i know. me too.

friend: yeah. ... i think i know now what that white butterfly means...

me: yeah. thanks.

friend: (HUGGG!!!)

War and Peace

i never noticed it when i decided to buy the book at the airport; i only realized the irony of it all as i was already reading the book!

today, on my flight back home, while waiting for my flight to be called, i browsed through the airport bookshop and came across a newsprint annotated version of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War". i had a whiteprint translated-from-the-original one years ago which i only read halfway through before i gave it to my brother who was joining the army. still, the half-a-book's worth of lessons served me well during the tempestous legal negotiation process with my ex after i left my marriage.

the irony is-- i am going home after a very rich weekend spent with likeminded colleagues and newfound friends at the Pax Christi Pilipinas first national general assembly! Pax. Christi. Peace of Christ. a movement for peace, for a better, more humane, more just world.

: )

sometimes i trip my self up. my conscious self does one thing, then my subconscious self does the opposite. heehee.

but it is not as polarized at it appears. maybe i need to learn the art of war to achieve the ways of peace too.

and reading the foreword and first few pages of "The Art of War" affirms that insight:

"Civilization might have been spared much of the damage suffered in the world wars of this century if the influence of Clausewitz's monumental tomes On War, which moulded European military thought in the era preceding the First World War, had been blended with and balanced by a knowledge of Sun Tzu's exposition on The Art of War. Sun Tzu's realism and moderation form a contrast to Clausewitz's tendency to emphasize the logical ideal and 'the absolute', which his disciples caught on to in developing the theory and practice of 'total war' beyond all bounds of sense.

... (Sun Tzu) believed that the skilful strategist should be able to subdue the enemy's army without engaging it, to take his cities without laying siege to them, and to overthrow his State without bloodying swords. ... (for he) considered the moral, intellectual, and circumstantial elements of war to be more important than the physical...

(Sun Tzu) did not conceive war in terms of slaughter and destruction; to take all intact, or as nearly intact as possible, was the proper objective of strategy."

*****

our general assembly was capped by a very honest and very touching talk by a priest based in Mindanao, of how the long-standing armed conflict between Filipino Muslim separatists and the government has caused so much suffering to thousands of men, women and children, and how this environment of "periodic war" (you learn to expect the wars almost like you expect the changing of the seasons) is creating a generation of children who see the world without anymore the innocence and trust and natural goodness one expects of children in otherwise "normal" and peaceful environments.

Father Bert's sharing caused lumps in my throat and tears to well up many times, because his sharing was not so much of teaching concepts but of telling the stories of the lives of the every day people he lives with and ministers to. (at one particularly heartbreaking point, i decided that someday somehow, i will try to get these stories out into the "mainstream" of public consciousness in the series of more children's stories i am still creating in my head.)

anyway, the whole point of the talk is that the idea of authentic reconciliation is a heartwrenching struggle, but then there is also hope.

i learned that, for authentic reconciliation to take place, the following must happen:

1. sincere, honest, open truth telling of personal stories (why one did what one did, what one felt because of what the other did)
2. repentance
3. forgiveness
4. restoration (and transformation) of the relationship

i asked some questions of the good Father:

1. what happens if despite one's efforts to tell one's truth, the other does not?
2. what happens if there is no repentance?
3. why is our court/legal/institutional/administrative arbitration/mediation systems structured in such a way that the questions asked do not encourage truth telling from the heart, but "truth" telling in terms of fact reporting, how many evidences one can present of one's innocence and the other's guilt, etc.? does not the system itself contribute to an atmosphere of war rather than of authentic reconciliation and peace?

there wasn't as much pat answers that i got as suggestions of how peace workers have been doing it in Mindanao so far, and more sharing and more thoughts for reflection. the good Father said, "it's all a struggle, both personal and communal, among us peacemakers. but the whole point is that there are alternatives to what we have been accustomed to in resolving conflicts. conflict is a necesary part of life and change. but conflict does not always necessarily mean that the only way of resolving it is through war."

and i learned about the concepts of retaliatory justice (what we have been accustomed to, how our bureaucratic and penal system is set up for) versus restorative justice (the kind of justice that not only sets things right, but heals brokenness... of individuals, of relationships, of communities.)

oh, so many questions...!

my mind is exploding.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Short Trip

today i leave for manila by boat for the Pax Christi general assembly. it's going to be a short trip. i'll be back on the first early morning flight by sunday.

funny that i have only P100 pesos to bring with me on the trip. my sponsors said all my accommodation, meals and transportation needs will be taken care of anyway and a colleague and friend who's going with me on the trip offered to lend me funds in case i'd need more. heehee still living on God's grace and people's goodwill and generosity, after all this time!

but look at the places i've gone to even with lack of my own material resources -- the key cities in our country (this year alone this is my third trip to manila and have made two trips to iloilo), and even Hungary and Romania in 2001!

as with all my trips, i look forward to this one again. it's a chance to get away from my usual life here and just be my self, take care of my self, without being responsible for others. it's a chance to connect more closely too, with likeminded colleagues and new friends, and explore new adventures, even for just a while.

i hope to be further renewed again by this trip, like travelling always does for me.

God take care of my children and all the things i am leaving behind, as i go on this short outer and inner journey again!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Goals Set Directions

i just came in from a visioning congress where i was a volunteer main documentor. the keynote speaker was our country's top senator, a young man in his early 40s who's loved and respected for his integrity, intelligence and performance in business and government service.

since i was the one solely responsible for transcribing his extemporaneous speech, i think i absorbed almost all of his words and ideas. what struck me most was his example on how our province, in 1986, had a GDP which was 85% dependent on our sugar-based economy; and how now, 18 years later, our province's GDP is still 85% dependent on our sugar-based economy. no wonder we can't get out of our economic rut, sugar now being a sunset commodity in the global market.

the senator exhorted setting specific measurable directions that veered away from sugar dependence. he said, pick a figure and pick a timetable, any figure and date will be correct. what is important is you decide on a goal. that goal changes your direction. any decision that comes afterward becomes subsumed to whether it supports that goal or not.

this made me think about my life.

it's been 2 1/2 years since i left a horribly sick marriage, and so far i've been doing quite well, in fact, better than most people who have left their marriages/been left in their marriages, other people told me.

i have done my emotional work of healing and growing and becoming more mature in many ways, i have forgiven the ex and the past and am now starting to move on, i am doing work i love to do and my career is thriving, my kids are doing really okay growing wiser and stronger in character without losing their basic innocence, all that's left is finetuning my financial security and stability so i can really move on with taking care of my self and my own without having to be so economically vulnerable.

i remember now some goals ive set for my self for when im 40, which will be in 4 years. basically those goals mean achieving economic stability and security as i steer my career towards doing more of the work i love to do and am best at -- writing, speaking and connecting with people, traveling.

although ive always hoped and wished for somebody special to share my life with, i just realized that i've never really made it into a conscious goal. i actually see my self flourishing independently on my own for a while, before i settle down again to commit to another and build a life with another, at around 40.

so why have i been bashing my self lately over experiences which are not even part of my overall personal life plan for a while?

maybe it's just the feeling of loneliness sometimes, and being so different from everybody else i know, and the deep longing to connect with someone and share my life intimately with that someone for the long haul. sometimes, it's just the feeling of being so alone, so besieged by life and feeling overwhelmed from being the one solely responsible for three young individuals in my care.

those are the times when i really long for somebody to talk with, somebody to carry the load for a while as i rest and renew my self, somebody to share my joys and pains and fears with, and be understood and loved and accepted and cherished by, just as i am, somebody to hug me and hold my hand and tell me that i'm good, i'm doing okay, that everything will turn out okay after all. it is scary and lonely being alone sometimes and seeing everybody else with somebodies of their own, you know.

but then looking at my self and my needs and my goals again, do i really want that now? am i really ready for it now? or are the few precious friendships i have enough to satisfy the need for companionship and comradeship, for now?

i am beginning to suspect that the real answers to those questions above are a no, a no, and a yes. just basing on my internal feeling of readiness.

i never dated before i met and married my ex, so i guess i must've just been making up for lost time learning and exploring the world of life, "love" and men these past 2 1/2 years or so, mostly from a safe distance, here on the net. with all the adventures and misadventures i've had, i am glad it's only been on the net! ; > at least no permanent harm has been done to me bodily or to my reputation!!! heehee.

but oh how i have grown, and oh how i have learned! (this will require another separate blog... hmmm)

maybe for now, where and how i am now is actually best for me, that i am exactly where and how i meant my self to be.

life has meaning for me now (since the sep actually) because i am handcrafting my life the way i want it crafted, on my own terms, in my own time. it's a difficult but rich life. and im getting there, to that place i mean for my self to be.

so stop bashing your self and pulling your self down by paying too much attention to short-term disappointments which might even actually be helping you towards your long term goals, dear heart.

as Rainier Maria Rilke once said, "be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart... try to love the questions themselves... for someday you will most likely stumble along into the answers", when you're ready for them, and when it's time.