Saturday, May 31, 2008

it's not personal

i don't know how it is for people in other parts of the world but in my part, people have been talking about how everything seems to have gone awry lately:

a couple of days ago, Smart telecoms giant experienced some breakdown so us subscribers couldn't send nor receive messages, whether by texting or calling. appointments were missed, promises broken, as my good friend and fellow blogger Dave Al posts. : )

this morning, Smart-based servers experienced glitches again so those of us subscribed to SmartBro couldn't go online either.

yesterday, i noticed long lines at Metrobank ATM machines near Lopue's East because the BPI machine close to it was offline due to "phone company troubles", its sign said.

this morning, i got an update email from Metrobank saying they're doing a maintenance check tomorrow morning to preempt breakdowns, but to expect some downtime still.

tonight, after a wonderful dinner out, our host and my good friend was surprised to find that our favorite restaurant couldn't take credit cards because their credit card machine broke down due to phone connection troubles.

the people around me are beginning to wonder if it's a conspiracy by some people somewhere.

i told them not to take it personally-- it's Mercury Retrograde! : )

What's a Retrograde?

A planet is described as retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards through the zodiac. According to modern science, this traditional concept arises in the illusory planetary motion created by the orbital rotation of the earth with relation to other planets in our solar system. Planets are never actually retrograde or stationary, they just seem that way due to this cosmic shadow-play. (from Astrology on the Web)

There is no real backwards movement of Mercury; it's just that we see it this way from Earth, because of the combined movement of the Earth and Mercury around the Sun. However, astrologically this is very relevant. (from Astrology

More from Astrology

General influence of Mercury retrograde

Mercury rules over the mind's processes, studying, communication, businesses, travels and the like. When Mercury reverses its direction, all these areas are affected as well.

The mind turns naturally inwards and people tend to analyze more their own thoughts and follow the common thinking patterns, rather then be curious and eager for new intellectual experiences or challenges. This helps in meditation or the thorough lonely long-term study of a specific matter, but it affects the study of new subjects, the communication with others, the attention oriented outwards.

Businesses, travels and communications tend to experience delays and different problems. Computers and other processes that work with information may experience crashes, unexpected failures.

Don't enroll for new courses, don't buy expensive Mercurian items (books, cars, mobile phones etc.), don't sign important contracts and do not marry.

What is this Mercury retrograde period good for?

It is definitely a very good period for some actions. No time is completely bad for anything, there is a reason in everything that happens.

The key is the reversed direction of movement: take any known Mercurian action, reverse its flow, consider the keywords "re-doing something", "double-checking", "finish the old projects" and there you are, you've found the good side of Mercury retrograde.

For instance, you may want to read again a book you particularly liked, a subject you studied before, meet and discuss with old friends you haven't met for a long time, travel to places you've already been to before.

This is an excellent time to work on old projects that never got to be finished. So, think about the things you started and never finalized.

Next, you might wish to prevent any bad things to happen to you: so double-check your agenda, call your business partners to confirm that everything goes as planned, have everything ready before the deadline and leave some extra time for unexpected events. Make copies of your important files and documents, save your work more often.

The other solution is to go on vacation or at least slow down the pace of your projects. You will find that going slowly during the Mercury retrograde period will spare you many efforts of redoing the same action that wasn't performed right the first time.

Above all, be generous and compassionate: you are already aware about the influence of this period, but the others aren't aware of it or there may be uncontrollable events. That's why you should have more diligence with the others and give them some more time. It'll be your mental health that you'll be sparing actually.

This period's Mercury Retrograde lasts from May 26 - June 19, and since the Mercury Retrograde is also in Mercury's home sign, Gemini, the sign of the mind and communications, you can expect the retrograde influence to be doubled. (Read more about the "Murphy's Law of the Cosmos" here.)

so take heart and relax: it's not personal--

it's planetary. : )

work with it and go with the flow, or work against it.

peace of mind, or frustration?

it's your choice.

Friday, May 30, 2008

"Life is queer with its twists and turns..."

i remember this line now from an old poem, Don't Quit, that Mama used to post around our "home" (the dinghy mezzanine floor above our store in the public market) while we were growing up (she liked to post a lot of quotes and poems on living life the best and noblest and highest way, despite our miserable physical surroundings...), as i am struck now by how queerly indeed my life has twisted and turned, especially in the past year.

first, i decided to take an unpaid year's leave off from university work, just to rest, relax, and follow my bliss. people thought i had lots of moolah stashed for the full 12 months ahead; they thought i was kidding when i said i was living in God's Grace month to month (i was)!

in June, a love which i thought to be The Love of My Life turned sour, but i consciously resolved not to take it like a victim and to keep my faith and hope for True Love still pure and unsullied instead... and then i met B on July 1, on his birthday!!! : )

then there was the awarding ceremony for my second national book award at the Cultural Center of the Philippines last July, and the fun radio interview out of town, which my kids enjoyed as much as i did (the radio station treated us like superstars, with our own coaster to fetch and bring us back to the hotel and wherever else we wanted to go after the interview).

after that was a children's literature conference i attended where i expected to just be a participant but ended up being like a "grand finale" speaker which got the audience very hyped up and involved.

then the U.S. visa interview with my sis, where the visa officer just asked us questions, didn't even look at the rest of the documents we brought, and then granted us 10-year multiple entry visas each!

then the fun, special bonding time with Mama in the States last Sept-Oct, where we got to relive our teenage years again and fill in the "missing link" in our lives (Mama left us when we were teenagers). we didn't know it was to be our last time with her together, but i think now that she knew all along.

then i come back here in October to have my books launched at The Negros Museum, along with the museum's Storytelling Program, in the midst of the Masskara Festival.

in December to February, both Papa and Mama got seriously sick, having to go in and out of the hospital several times, until they couldn't leave the hospital anymore. Papa was last admitted on Jan. 16, while Mama on Jan. 29. Papa died on feb. 20, and Mama on march 10.

taking care of both, first here in Bacolod, then there in Atlanta, Georgia, was both special and surreal in itself. it was special because i discovered that one gets to forge and develop a new, adult relationship with one's parents one never had before when they were physically healthy and well. now that the tables are turned and they are dependent on you and you are taking care of them, the masks fall off, and you just relate to each other as full human beings in all your best and worst, and you find that if you just show up for them everyday anyway, just dig in there and continue to care for them the best way you can despite the arguments and the rehashing of unfinished business, the Love and Laughter remain and only grow stronger and unbreakable in the end. i would never have exchanged those last moments with Papa and Mama for all the world. it was the sublimest of benedictions.

and it was also most profoundly healing and special that both Papa and Mama just kept on asking about each other in the end. they were in each other's thoughts, even in their semi-conscious and pained states. how's that for deep Love, huh? : )

my brother, Tope, and my sister, Honey, and i-- we kid each other about our parents being Soulmates after all-- despite their stormy and tempestuous love and lives. but we also quietly know that all jokes contain a deep truth in them; we just joke about them because we could only comfortably take them in joke form; the deep truth both scare and awe us so...

yet, it was surreal, too, living in hospitals and around sick and dying people and the medical staff who also help care for them for three months, and then after that, having to deal with the business of funeral homes and cultural and social norms for the dead. it was twilight-zonish, waking up in the morning and not even able to make plans for noontime, because one never knows what happens next. after they died, it was twilight-zonish still, to find that people get so hung up about certain practices and arrangements (and money, yes, money!) and that they can even be the source of a lot of family and friends' dramatics and melodramatics.

in the midst of it all, i was asked to submit a proposal for an international conference, and found out later in April, that i received a full grant for my paper presentation proposal. so now i have been applying for my Schengen visa to Belgium, as well as preparing my paper for the conference.

in the midst of it all, too, B and i found time to be with each other, just the two of us, and it was a most special, special healing and sweet time.

then, there was the most welcome trip to New Jersey and New York, the bonding with cousins we last saw when we were children, and of course, conquering The Big Apple on our own. it was a most precious, healing gift from Tito Tony and Tita Melvi, more than they will ever know...

coming back home, i decided to beautify my home with part of the inheritance funds i received from Papa's estate. so since April, i have been living in home depots and hardware stores most times of the day. : )

now, i am looking forward to spending more special time with B again when his summer vacation starts, even as i prepare to go back to university teaching, refreshed and renewed in my zeal for the calling.

this afternoon, my publisher's staff communicated with me for a single-parenting talk they plan to do in July, a day before i leave for Belgium, and in which i have been invited to speak and share.

then i come home to find an email from Lifestyle Network who wants me to be a guest in their show! ;O



a friend asked me once how i was, and we both laughed when i said, "i'm mastering the art of winging it!"

but it's true. i am discovering now how life is so strange, all the best-laid intelligent plans can fall apart in a moment. no use stressing over the minutiae of the how-tos.

just focus on what brings you joy, and live more of them each moment each day. the rest, just wing it. ; )

true security is found inside, in your knowing and realization that no matter what happens, you can handle it... not really just because of you alone and the strength of character and life skills you have developed, but because somehow, you are taken care of and provided for, always, by both Seen and Unseen Friends of the heart and soul...

another friend shared with me a joke quote once, and which i find most apt now--

Life is short. Don't make it shorter!

: ) : ) : )

Monday, May 19, 2008

NJ and NY Memories, Week 2

Tita Melvi has yet to upload to us the 600plus pics taken from her digicam, so this will have to do for now. (Turn on the music!)

Diary of Week 2--

April 6 - Dinner party at Carteret

April 7 - just stayed at home; i enjoyed doing the laundry on my own, and took a long walk around the neighborhood afterwards

April 8 - Honey and I took the bus and then the subway to Central Park on our own for the first time! visited the Museum of Natural History and just walked half of Central Park and wondered which movies featured which spots (I remembered "Serendipity" and "When Harry Met Sally" :> )

April 9 - Italian lunch at a resto in Port Authority; walked down the avenues to get to 42nd Street to watch "A Chorus Line" (matinee-- the ticket prices are less expensive, and we get near front row seats at that!), then took the subway to Chinatown to meet Tito Tony at Hopkee's where he treated us to dinner. My former IDS student, Andrea Tolentino, met me there too.

April 10 - Honey and I took the bus and then the subway to Central Park again, to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and walk the other half of Central Park. we temporarily got lost and boarded the train going to Brighton Beach! Heheh. Well, as Mama used to say, "The best way to finding your way is by getting lost first."

April 11 - Tita Vicky took us to Menlo Park Mall. We watched "Smart People" there and I bought a bear and her clothes at Bear Boutique for our niece, little Angela, Tope's only child and the baby in the family. Later in the evening, Tito Tony and Tita Melvi took Honey, Elmer (our cousin, their youngest, Cecille (Tita Melvi's best buddy) and I out to a Hibashi dinner.

April 12 - lunch (I had "dinuguan"! I missed "dinuguan"!) at Tita Vicky's house, on our way to our cousin Albert and his wife Judy's place at Nutley, where we hung out with cute babies Anna (Al's and Judy's darling) and Kylie, cousin Linus and his wife, Dalia (parents of enigmatic Kylie : > ), and Elmer (who has yet to find his one and only somewhere out there) -- and Tito Tony, Tita Melvi and Cecille. We ended the day with a wonderfully sumptous dinner, both for the palate and tummy, and for the heart and soul!

P.S. to Week 2 --

April 13 - lunch at King's Chef, then flew back to Atlanta via Continental Air. For a while there, we almost got bumped off and I was already wondering if I could buy Victoria's Secret lingerie with the $300 voucher Continental Air would be giving us... well, when you get lemons, make lemonade! : D

April 14 and 15 - Honey and I just stayed home at East Point, to wind down even as we finished the last of the packing for all Mama's stuff to be sent home via Balikbayan Boxes, as well as our luggages.

April 16 - Mama's wonderfully fun friend, Darling Manching, drove us to the malls for Honey's last-minute shopping, and then we had a wonderful early dinner at their charming home in Peachtree City that late afternoon. Dinner: American-style pork chops and Filipino-style dried salted fish and steamed shrimps with achara. Guess which dishes won out? : )

Later in the evening, back home at East Point, after Carmen and I finished our butterfly orders for shipping, Carmen took us out to do our laundry for the last time, en route to the post office.

April 17 - Mama's friends Elmer and Lolit Cortez invited us (Dad Larry, Honey and I, as well as their best friend and Mama's friend too, Elvie, and her kids) to dinner at their beautiful home in Fayetteville.

April 18 - for our "despedida" (farewell) dinner, I treated Dad Larry and Honey to a dinner theatre show of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at The New Shakespeare Tavern in downtown Atlanta. : )

It's all been like a dream, alright.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

my Moms' Day morning

i woke up to find these in our newly-renovated bathroom...

the kids' note says--

'Just because you're the BEST mom in the world and the awesomest woman we know!

:) :) :)
This is also why I've been so quiet here lately:

my "inner sanctum" has been undergoing...

... a major transformation!