Music appreciation and the latest American Idol results
I think I am one to speak. I was in the high school symphony orchestra but I listened to awesome things like NU 107, but before that, I was into conflicting things like Hip Hop and R&B. My first musical influences belonged to the cluster where The Sound of Music belongs to, plus a lot of Disney. In the seventh grade, I didn't just learn that music teachers were mean, I also learned that they were phenomenal, or at least they should be, otherwise they aren't up to scratch. In the seventh grade, Ms. Cristobal shoved classical music down my throat and I liked it. I liked how smart it made me feel. Waking up at 6 am meant being stuck between 98.7 and 107.5. It was like wondering what to wear in spite of full closet.

Having said all that, I really don't get music snobs, or the proclaiming oneself as a "music snob," or music snobs who don't even know they're music snobs. I on the other hand merely say "My iPod is better than yours," in the manner of tongue and cheek. This acknowledges the fact everyone's music tastes are different. Judging someone for their musical tastes is what it is: it's judgmental and by that ground alone, is unfair.

If you like music, then you should at least appreciate everything, or at least give it a listen and consider it. Figure out why other people like it, other than "old people like it." This is the same reason why I have friends of a certain age who LOVE New Wave and still others who like 90's grunge. Have an educated opinion as to why you don't like it even. Music snobbery has its futilities like, say, comparing teen pop machine Justin Bieber and teenage jazz wunderkind Nikki Yanofski. Saying one is better than the other is a lost cause. Firstly, because pop and jazz are totally different things. Secondly, pop and jazz move in different spheres. Thirdly, there really isn't anything to compare. They're worlds apart. Compare Nikki Yanofsky's style with Joss Stone and that'll still kinda make sense. (Kinda) Or compare Justin Beiber with Michael Jackson or the Jackson 5. That still makes sense. Think about it. Discuss.

Sure, there are appalling things like "Friday," and overplayed K-Pop dance hits, but these are appalling because of badly written lyrics and way to much air time. Music appreciation can be pretentious, and snobby, but this isn't what music is all about. I can talk about music with my friend Eds and our conversations consist of band names and new album titles. I can talk about Sufjan and nothing but Sufjan with my online Sufjan buddy June for more than an hour. Music is supposed to bring people together and put on an ecstatic smile on our faces. It's not the song's or artist's fault if their lyrics are horrible (okay sometimes it is) or if they're overplayed.

Now American Idol is something else entirely. It hinges on music, but it's really the performer that America is voting for. Based on this year's top 2, it's clear that a LOT of country fans are voting and calling for their apparent favorite, but it's a show that calls for voting your favorite, and not necessarily for the kind of music you like.

I actually like Scott. Country isn't so bad, especially if you consider yourself one who likes music. The reason why he's where he is is because he gives a nod back to old Country music, which happened to be raunchy in a way that's ahead of its time. Also, his voice is just off the wall. You don't hear 17 year olds who sound like that everyday, and with a great personality to boot. He'll go far with an attitude like that. Do I like that he's up there? Kinda. There are a lot of short-changed Idol contestants but on the other hand, shows like American Idol run on luck, good or dumb.

Lauren on the other hand has surpassed the archetypal chunky blonde that's been on the show for far too long. But this isn't why she's terrible, or why the other archetypal chunky blonde contestants were terrible. They were terrible because their song types were wrong and/or their performances were bland. Lauren's low self esteem is supposed to have herself voted out, but low self esteem is NOT the voter's fault. It's something that artists have to deal with, and Lauren is onlylucky to run out of time to deal with that and get to where she is. I'll admit though, that when I saw her performance battling for a spot in the top 3, I actually thought that she would win this. I don't doubt that Cowell would have said that after weeks of being proven wrong about her being voted off. (You'll have to admit, that the latest batch of judges are more helpful than vague. Randy has done a great job at being precise. Yay for meaning what you say, Dog!)

All that being said, music is awesome. It's bigger than what you think is great, what you think is crap and what you think is noise. (Seriously? You have the gall to call something noise? Seriously? Okay Imma stop judging you now) Most of all, music is bigger than American Idol. It's so big, that a reality show cannot contain the likes of Adam Lambert, James Durbin, and Casey Abrams, although they are blessed to have the opportunity to let the world know that music is awesome.

Edgardo Crisol, my angel of perseverance and spunk, rest in peace
We had a run through of my recital at his house in early April. Other people involved in my recital were there as well, allowing a reunion of sorts.

My repertoire was divided into three parts. The meaty middle part (aptly called "Geeking Out") consisted of six showtunes from the usual suspects like Webber and Schonberg. After those six songs, he said "Perfect six. Brava". It was then he felt assured that my show would be great. He was at peace because putting the show together was laborious and he was thinking of everything concerning it.

And that was the last time I saw him. He was gracious and energetic, his hair was well kept and he left an impression on the rest of the afternoon's company. Apart from the priceless look on his face as I ran through my entire repertoire his full self and his entire being was present and vibrant.

He never got to see my recital, and he probably never got to hear the recordings. For all I know, I was the last of his students to have a recital while he was still alive. Incidentaly, this recital would be my last performance in the counrty before leaving for New York for good.

I got the call about his passing hours after the fact but by then, the steamroller had already passed. I had already seen it coming and I couldn't cry. Like the calm after a storm, or the numbing sensation of settling down after a show. However, reflective moments would lead to me smiling to my self and laughing from my belly at his memory.

Every lesson with sir Dodo couldn't be described any lesser than revelatory. I was forced to take a hard look at myself and I was pushed to my limits only to prove that I can reach that bloody high note.

He made a holistic process about reaching that note while I was going through some metaphysical shifts in my head. With every fiber of my being engaged in the act of singing and performing, I have never felt as tired. Or hungry.

Every Sunday Micko and I come to Katipunan (all the way from Muntinlupa) without expecting anything but the fear of the unknown. Sir Dodo must have felt my anxiety (which a good kind of anxiety) and started lessons with an hour long chitchat. Aside from effortlessly reaching a high G, I found it to be a small victory to have made him laugh.

It is with great pride and profound humility to call sir Dodo a mentor. Like any beginning of any relationship, we met at one point but I would rather say that he found me. He found me at a time when theater was about to be something that I'd give up. It was a time of discouragement, anger and disappointment. Sure enough, he called out those demons the first time I sang for him, thus saving me from them and ultimately salvaging my passions.

Nevertheless, he heard me. He didn't just hear my voice. He didn't just hear the anomalies of mismanaged vocals and the anger issues that plagued my conscience. He heard me and knew everything about me and what I am capable of.

My recital last April 17th was something that he would have applauded. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have had a recital to begin with. My little concert had a humble turn out, but my goodness were they talking about it for a week. I would have done it again if I had the resources, most especially if he were still here.

Sir Dodo's death could not have come at a more auspicious time. He came into my life just when I was thinking of quitting, and he died not even a month before my flight. As if he didn't have any more significance with each voice lesson. I am convinced that God himself brought him all the way to Muntinlupa for me. There can't be any other explanation.

And now, I have a lot to give tribute to him for. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have regained belief in myself. I think I'd disappoint him more than my own family if I didn't embark on performance once I land in the US. He did push me to my outmost limits and I cannot put those labors to waste.

As if you didn't bear enough significance already. It's a peculiar time to depart, sir, leaving at this stage of my life when I am about to go full circle and return to America. You made things easier to bear, for someone who is going on her own journey.

Thank you for saving me from giving up. Thank you for listening to what I could surprisingly do. Thank you for finding me.

Here's to last pages and Fate, to head tone cherubs, to a certain preference for the English languge, to the human voice, to Prince Zardoz, to CCP urban legends, to photoshopped hearts, to sugar crashes, to disappearing boxes. Your memories are precious. Yours are the words I'll allow to be burned onto my skin and stitched onto my heart.
You're already a part of me and I'll be taking you with me, on whichever stage I shall hopefully grace.

A subtle but not so subtle hard hitting gospel (A review)
Did Joss Whedon just write a show?

At least that's what I thought while I was at New Life earlier tonight. Christ in the Concrete City, thankfully, isn't a gore-fest with the crucifixion at its epicenter. Evangelism as a hard sell is tough enough in a world that often demands substance and reason. The show is riddled with snark and wit in all the right places. It quotes scripture. It also takes us to an arresting place where we realize we're laughing at ourselves. The adaptations bring about the relevance of Jesus in these present times and without awkward over-Filipinized nuance. Just brilliant.

Written by Philip Turner in the mid-1950's, the material has been modified for cultural relevance. English and Tagalog are used alternately with ease all through out the show. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I'll go ahead and talk about what the show talked about.

As I mentioned, the material didn't glorify the obvious, the obvious being the death of Jesus Christ by way of blood and gore. Instead, it put the banal on the spotlight. The show opened with Joan Osbourne's "One Of Us," duly presenting its theme.

The show takes us to other places behind the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. It touches on the crowd anticipating the execution of the "King of Jews." It explores what it's like have a job that includes nailing a human being. It gives a brief glimpse of Pilate's insight (with brilliant subtlety) during the trial. It also takes us to where we are now, when we hardly think about the gravity of someone undressing his godly likeness just to die for creation's sake.

Christ in the Concrete City poses questions that force us to wonder about our lives but not in a way that asks where we'll end up when we die. As the cast takes the audience between modern and Biblical times, the eras disappear as they blur the difference between spectator and sinner. A lot of us were raised in upbringings that make us out to be saints and free from all error, but this isn't the case. We tend to forget that we're imperfect and we tend to let the baseline of our lives nestle in the safe, unassuming position that says "we didn't do anything wrong" and convinces itself that "I'm a good person." We have to constantly check on how we live and we think, and how we regard ourselves should not shelve itself into general goodness and merely being "okay." This is how the the message of the show did not hit hard on sinners and sinfulness. The subtlety hints that there is something wrong in thinking that there is nothing wrong with us. I think that this is the biggest, most self-inflicting denial that can lead to certain demise. This is where Jesus is supposed to come in and save the day, but it doesn't work that way either.

Jesus said "be transformed by the renewing of your mind." I think this is what the cast of Christ in the Concrete City accomplished. I hope they open more shows.

Christ in the Concrete City has three shows today, Easter Sunday, at New Life Alabang at 10 am, 3 pm and 6 pm. Admission is free.

The Lent Thing, Part Two: Giving up Cheetos was surprising
This year, I decided to make a conscious decision about Lent. I should give something up.

In less than two days, I'll be able to eat Cheetos.

My Lent sacrifice was a decision made three days after Ash Wednesday. It was already Friday at the time, and I realized that I had not bought a bag of Cheetos since Tuesday that week. I question my ability to stay true to this sacrifice, but here I am, some 38 days later, and with sufficient reflections.

Cheetos are a vital part of my life. They are my go to snack. My comfort food. They are what you should sacrifice to me as tribute. I would lie for you if you would give me a bag of Cheetos. I'd do your homework. I'd clean your house, bathe your dog, chaperon your curmudgeonly grandmother. Anything. I've reached beyond the point where Cheetos became associated with me, the same way four leafed clover because associated with Saint Patrick and the rose to the virgin Mary.

Keeping shop at Moments Salon made Cheetos ridiculously accessible. In fact, almost every purchase of Cheetos was a mindless and automatic. A habit bordering on bad. I could make my leisurely 5 pm walk breaks pass through Shopwise at Festival Mall and buy two snack bags of Cheetos. OR I could make a quick hop to the 7-11 at the other end of our building and splurge 65 Php (roughly a dollar fifty or so) for a King size snack bag. Life was great.

I fought with myself about this Lenten fast: "But there's a bag of Cheetos in the kitchen." My Superego must have said this. Or a worried Ego.

"Then let's be realistic," I said to myself. "I won't eat a bag of Cheetos that I bought with money from my own pocket. I know Rod will want to share it. I will not initiate in the partaking of that bag. Once it's open, that's it." A reasonable Id. (If anyone knows me, it'll make sense that it's the Id making sense of all of this; I blow my ow mind this way sometimes)

It seemed rational, honest, and realistic.

The first thing I noticed is that I have the propensity to not spend. Accessibility is the number one reason for Cheetos booty calls. The virtue of thriftiness also spread itself elsewhere. There are three (count them: one, two, THREE) second hand book stores near Moments Salon. It so happened that I hardly spent on books. I'd only buy a book if it was ridiculously cheap, like an Arthur Blisset epic for 20 Php.

Two or three weeks into the fast, not having any Cheetos didn't bother me as much. At this point, my mind would deliciously imagine myself at Easter, munching at every Cheetos piece I'd pop in my mouth. However, every time this would happen, my body would actually say something to my mind:

"Ma'am, Cheetos are splendid things and we sort of miss them.'s kinda...icky. And the things that the digestive system churns out into the bloodstream are less than desirable. In fact, 'less than desirable' is an understatement."

My body, as it turns out, talks to me like a staff of household help, led by a polite but brutally honest butler. I should feel like a being divided by its desires and concerns, but being merely human, I'll go with what my body says.

Actually, this was a fear I had on the onset. I feared that I might end up not eating another morsel of Cheetos. I was afraid of being detached from this glorious wonder food. At the same time, I don't find myself gorging on Cheetos on Easter Sunday, or the Monday after. I'm not pining for it anymore.

The point of Lent is to sacrifice. Growing up evangelical with Catholic influences somehow painted a lopsided picture of Lent. There is so much mention of "the sacrifice has been don't need to sacrifice." My problem with this is the notion that there is no need acknowledge our human nature to give in to what we think is good for us. In my mind, there is a kind of superiority complex behind the notion "we don't need to sacrifice."

It's true that we don't need to. However, making a conscious sacrifice does anyone some good. It's like the freedom of accidentally forgetting your phone at home when you're at work. It's kinda liberating. I think this is what Lent is all about as well: you make yourself aware of your humanity and you end up being aware of more things that what your body wants.

Next year, maybe I'll sacrifice tea. There will be negotiations for sure. But I wonder what I'll learn at the end of it. I think that's what worth the experience.
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The Lent thing part 1: My personal need for ritual
Ever since I started listening to Mars Hill podcasts, I began having yearnings for some semblance of a tradition. They were doing Lent for what I think was the first time when I downloaded my first Mars Hill podcast. I wanted in. I’m (no longer) Catholic, but there are things in the Catholic tradition that I absolutely love, some of which are Lent, the call and responses in Mass and the rosary.

When my family converted to Evangelical Christianity, we were taught to believe that traditions and rituals are not necessarily sincere presentations, offerings or expressions of love and devotion to God. Services at the church I went to learned the beauty of being spontaneous and we learned much about the Holy Spirit. However, there was an underlying animosity about things that were Catholic. Lent and Holy Week therefore were seen as - I can’t use the word “evil” - unnecessary and maybe even foolish.

In the last few years, I’ve had to confront the things I believe in, and question them long and hard. While there are things I did not entertain the benefit of thought that are outside of what I grew up believing in, there are things in Christianity that I definitely cannot let go of, and there are things that I think are misunderstood and blown to proportion.

One of these things is that Christianity is the only way and the right way to live life. Saying this might put me in a hot seat of some sort. At the same time, I don’t want to theologize or justify this first sentence. Rather, I’d posit this: that Jesus is one heck of a man everyone should follow without any other context than what’s contained in his milieu. I’m leaving that right there.

Okay fine. One other thing. One of the things I find jarring about Christianity is the whole personal relationship thing. Communing with God and/or the Universe and/or nature is technically like having a relationship. But there are things that can fall through the cracks that misunderstand the solitary aspect of this faith. Things like “God told me so,” the fact that the sinner’s prayer isn’t in the Bible, the way that some Christians are legalistic to the point of replacing free will, down to things like what we should wear when leading worship. That last bit? Pisses me off to no end.

And this is why I appreciate the Catholic Mass, and the Catholic Church’s traditions. They do have a foundation. They also hold a lot of people together. There is no doubt that repeating words and prayers again and again ingrain thoughts and virtues and ideas in to our minds until they become a part of our own being.

On the other hand, worshiping God in a church service is great. It’s probably one of the best things ever. I’d even compare it to awesome sex but I’m not one to say and my only reference to this is the ending of the movie “Perfume.”

At the church I go to now, there would be a little more than just a handful of services where the worship was nothing short of fantastic and amazing. One particular service had the pastor allow the entire service devoted to just worship. We sang a few songs over and over but it was euphoric and we were all convinced that we broke a barrier. It felt like were singing songs together for 6 hours non stop but we ended right on time, if not early. At the end of it, I wanted to turn to a stranger and say “Wasn’t that just great?” because it really was great.

You can’t expect such phenomena to happen just like that. In fact, anyone can allow that kind of spontaneity to happen, but later on it becomes like a drug. Worship pretty much is like a high. Your brain pumps up dope and makes you feel high. This isn’t to discredit God with science and the chemistry of the body but worshiping God or being in an epic worship service really does make you feel good but that’s not the point of the whole thing.

Which is why I find myself looking for structure and ritual. Another thing that bogs me down about the whole anti-Catholic thing was that rituals don’t mean anything just because they’re repeated mindlessly. A lot of the Christians I grew up with would loathe the word ritual, or even avoid it. I was convinced of this myself until I got sick and tired of spontaneity. Worship doesn’t mean anything if everyone just sings and wait for something to happen, not knowing what it is they’re waiting for.

I started reading about Celtic Christianity a few years back. It’s a subject I fell in love with but have read enough to not about it just yet. This is probably because it’s the same Jesus we all worship and meditate upon. There are things like thin places and monasteries and prayers and work and ritual and responses and living together as a community. I haven’t read enough, but the way the physical and the spiritual is so intertwined with words and silence appealed to me. I didn’t mind living like that.

Then I looked a creeds. I revisited the Apostle’s Creed because everything I believe is true is in it. Then I went further and prayed the rosary. I discovered the Protestant Rosary, which, to be honest, is more hard core than the Catholic one. Each decade of each mystery is different, unlike the single style of the the Roman Catholic paternoster. I’d pray the Protestant Rosary once a week. The one I use is a Lasallian rosary with 6 decades and I use thatfor my own intentions. The feeling I get after praying the whole thing was uplifting and I felt like I broke through a wall and still feeling strong.

I no longer go to the church I grew up as a young Evangelical. A number of things people-related ultimated my excuses for not going. They have good intentions, but why should I go to a place that has me ending up feeling frustrated? Try as I may, I’ve given that church a second chance one too many, but I thought it best to just silently disagree by not showing up.

The church I go to now is pretty great. I’m not active as was in the previous one but I know enough people to say “Hi” to or to wave at or greet. I don’t always agree with the teachings but even that doesn’t discourage me from going; instead, I find my faith rejuvenating itself into a discourse and my faith is still intact even if I still end up not agreeing with the teaching.

However, I still love the mass. Each chance I get, I respond to everything that I know a response to. A prayer meeting I went to in QC had us all in call and response. I felt that it was one of the most powerful things. The masses I’d happen to attend at events and parties would more often than not have a relevant and stimulating homily.

A wedding I went to a few years back had to two services, a Catholic mass and a nondenominational Christian service. I liked the Catholic one better. The way that people respond in prayer together as witnesses to the union is, I think, a very beautiful thing. The homily is most likely to be a run of mill about loyalty and love and all that, but people respond and do the same thing along with the couple exchanging vows.

That is what I love most about the Catholic mass, and everything that’s got a ritual in it. It’s about people doing things together and caring about one another, and living in concern for one another while all along communing with God. I this is the way the world should work, and how people should add to their repertoire of loving one another

The Busy Business Busies Made Me Not Do It!
I can't believe that I let February pass me by without posting anything. I feel shocked and horrified. I feel shocked and horrified, first and foremost, that I haven't written anything when more than half of what happened to me in February was worth writing down. Secondly, I am shocked and horrified because February was like a WHOLE year.

I present to you a short list:

1) A course in advanced Professional Make Up at Make Up Forever. I got a discount!

2) Doing make up for the opening of the Rent show in Manila. I lived it like a New Yorker on the way home!

3) Singing with the De La Salle Alumni Chorale. Nailed a Manhattan Transfer arrangement!

4) Getting sick. My body. It catches up!

5) Getting a recital together. It's the send off I'll give myself!

Like can't get any fast paced than right now. It's already March. March!

In more contemplative news, something struck me at a family-ish gathering more than a week ago. My niece (cousin's daughter) was christened the other Sunday. Most of my cousin's and his wife's college friends were there to witness and celebrate with us on that special day. Meanwhile, I sat with my lunch plate in front of me thinking who I would invite to something like this.

As it happens to be, I don't have that much friends my age. Or rather, I don't have that many friends who are my age and have their own families. I'd chalk it up to my friends in theater, who range from high school kids to doctors in their glamorous late 30's.

I would tend to think that my cousin's lives are at a predictable route, but I thought the better and disagreed with myself. No one's life is predictable. Theirs just turned out the way it did and mine is, well, out of the ordinary. I should say so myself.

Right now, the last five years are catching up on me. I'm leaving the Philippines to pursue things in the US. A LOT of things. There are events leading to my departure and they are numerous and overwhelming. I feel like I have to catch these things around me to make them happen. I don't think I'll be settling down for a break any time soon, and it's not like any of it is not within my control.

I've got to do it. Let's do this!

I seriously have to stop
It's not Book Sale's fault to set up branches near my home and near my mom's salon. It isn't Starbucks' fault that I feel obligated to fill up my promo card with stickers, thus making it a fundamental requirement to stop at every Book Sale branch in Festival Mall (there are two).

Today I paid for two books. An early book by Roddy Doyle, whose sensibilities I've heard and read about and really love mostly because he's Irish. The other is a brief memoir by a relatively new author, Amy Fusselman. The latter is lauded by David Eggers, Zadie Smith and Rosie O'Donnel. I'm not a fan of all of Rosie O'Donnel's work (maybe I misunderstand her), and I haven't read David Eggers or Zadie Smith although I know who they and how stellar they are.

So there lies my problem. I have over 400 titles in my personal library (a weak estimate), more than half of them bought at second hand bookstores like Book Sale.

I have a love affair with Book Sale. This love affair has already reached the same level as an addiction: it's an embarrassing. A few years ago, I would try to hide my newly purchased books from my parents but they'd wonder at why my bag looks like it's stuffed to point of bursting. They do not wonder simultaneously about where my growing collections of books are coming from. Friends tend to take secrets in better than parents, but I must have stretched the limits of their understanding. I saw two other books that bear similar affinities (blurbs by literary notables) and I had them reserved for pick up tomorrow. I should stop. My manfriend thinks the world of me, and he knows that I have a crap load of books. He might say just call it crap anytime now.

"I can't help it" isn't an excuse, and a lame one, if ever executed in my defense. What's even more lame is that I'm such a restless and slow reader. As much as I love books and reading, I can't sit still sometimes and if the action is picking up or if I'm getting affected by the way events are unfolding against a character's knowlege, I need to pull over and stop.

Right now, I'm reading a fantasy by Charles de Lint. Again, I was sold on the blurb Marion Zimmer Bradley, whose Mists of Avalon, Firebrand, and ­­­­­Lady if Avalon I have on my shelves but haven't read yet.

This kind of obesity is better than overeating, which is what I'm thankful for. Of all the vices I have chosen, I chose a timid kind of entertainment that requires nothing of me but a harnessed attention and an active imagination. Those things shouldn't be hard to conjure. Now that I should tell myself.

Last Monday, I was the most responsible person in the world
 Last Monday, I was the most responsible person in the world.

For almost a month now, I've been helping my mom manage her new enterprise, Moments Salon. The days shorten when I'm there, and Festival Mall is not even a stone's throw away so it's not so bad. Also, doing the accounting at the end of the day is hella fun. (Senior year high school came back to me like when that thing happens to Chuck.)

The day in question would have been an easy day at the salon, or in everyone's life for that matter. My mom's sister was in town. She had a party to go to, which is reason enough to visit a salon. By the time I got there, tita was having a foot spa to be followed by a pedicure.

I left the house empty, as dad went out for a bit. An hour after getting to the salon, my phone rings. It's dad.

"I'm right outside, man."

He didn't bring house keys with him. He decided to drive to the salon and get my keys. Then mom says "But we're almost done here. Tell him to wait." Dad then decides to go my aunt's house. No harm.

So things settle. Mom coaxes her sister to get a manicure, which she does. One of our salon staff's daughter, along with her young family, drop by. Her husband was looking for a job and made rounds with bio-data in hand. They had a toddler with them, and another baby girl who isn't a year old yet. My aunt's husband has a rubber manufacturing company and they have a few openings. Since she was at the salon, this was something of an appointment. Then my aunt needed change. So she had someone go out and break the 500 peso bill. They come back with take out from Jollibee and my aunt's change. All things settled mom and my tita leave. I sit at the reception area like a boss and I take out my copy of Sexing the Cherry and read.

As soon as my family leaves, a foot spa customer comes in. Teresa, the matriarch of our visitors, took to this customer, in spite of the fact that she hadn't eaten yet. Go Teresa.

It was starting to become unbearable that the the kids were starting to go on their own tantrums, and the couch waiting area is being turned into an eating area. And people were speaking in mixed Tagalog and Bisaya and I can't seem to get a printed word in edgewise.

Okay, allow myself an interlude. I don't have anything against our staffer Teresa, or her family. It's totally okay for them to come by since they live 5 minutes away. What's not okay is when they eat in the couch area and breast feed right by the glass windows, or hang out for more than 30 minutes especially when there are customers being tended to. It would be great if they controlled their kids once in a while. The husband was holding his baby girl up and she was slapping her baby hands all over the phtoto prints on display. I had to tell him to kindly notice that. Then the toddler was standing on the swivel chairs and running around. I had to frown at her like your token grumpy grandmother at grand family reunions.

The foot spa/pedicure customer leaves satisfied, but not 30 second later, another customer looking for the exact same services comes in. Teresa is getting tired, but she's gung ho. Teresa rocks, by the way.

Then her other daughter comes in holding her baby girl by her hip and she looked distraught. She couldn't find her 10 year old son. He was dropped off by an uncle who told him to wait until he came back. Not 10 minutes later, the uncle came back and kid wasn't there. The younger mother didn't want to go home because she had to look for him but no one's watching the other two kids there. She was walking across the salon floor like a headless chicken with a baby hanging at her hip. All this while other baby was having a tantrum herself.

I so wanted to leave. I needed to leave. I needed to get my coffee. But I can't leave. What if something happens and I'm not there? For starters, it would be a perfect moment to be a bitch for and I can't pass that out. These people aren't customers who will sit and not leave the waiting area. These people are comfortable enough to stay just because their mother works at the place. I can't fault them entirely for that.

Finally, the bunch that got there first set out to help look for the kid. Then everyone else leaves. I find myself having to go back 5 pages of Sexing the Cherry, but I had coffee to get at Starbucks.

My phone heralds a message from my mom.

Wait for Rod. Give him your house keys.


I silently protested my predicament by standing behind my desk and tapping my fingers right on the top counter. I relieve a little tension by letting the staff know how silly it was to have EVERYONE leave home without their keys, relating it to Teresa's mishap and trying to make her feel a little better and laugh. Before I could complain, it was great that Rod came 15 minutes after I get mom's message. Given the circumstances, even he was exasperated.

Oh my god these people. Including me, he said.

I jangled the keys in his face and he was on his way.

In hindsight, this made my walk to Starbucks worth it. My latte was my reward. I return to the salon an hour later, and the 10 year old was found at home after walking home from where he was last seen.

For all that chaos, I think I thrive well in it. For all the chaos, I found one thing to be thankful for, aside from the Starbucks, as difficult was there was to look for something good: At least the foot spa/pedicure customers didn't come in at the same time.

The happy new year made me do it
A few things that I have to admit, before the rest of the year unfolds and carries on.

1) I did a little soul searching before Christmas, and I wondered if I wasted the last 5 years of my life. It's a legitimate thing to think about, but considering that I am not the only person who thinks this way, I will have to rethink this. Sometimes, it's the simplest answer that makes all the difference of 5 lost years, which turns out not to be lost completely.

2) I can't stand it anymore. The last few days have met me with conversations amongst family about homosexuality. One family member is totally averted to gay people, while another family member thinks that "you can't get anywhere without running into a gay person." I am sorry that I had to run into these conversations. I had to walk out of these conversations. Hindi ko na kaya. So while I'm at it, I have to admit further that:

a) I am pro-gay, and therefore pro-gay marriage. Marriage is marriage, and it shouldn't be exclusive to heterosexual relationships.

b) I believe that you CAN be gay AND Christian. Long story.

c) I'm STILL Christian, as I cannot think of myself believing in anything else that the triune godhead, and I do believe that God is bigger than homosexuality. So Chillax.

3) I still totally feel like I wasted the last 5 years of my life. But for what it's worth, tonight was awesome. I had a Wii party at home, with people who matter. We only had Wii Sports, Wii Resort, Racquet Sports (not sure what it's called at the moment), and Super Mario Galaxy. We talked while owned it on Wii Resort, and the conversation only intensified when we accompanied it with Swordplay Showdown. Think aggression, pent up anger, frustration, and Gestalt. It was great.

I know that a New Year post including the travails of the past year should have been in order, seeing as I have been TOO silent a blogger for my own good. 2010 was a year of flying past the crap that gets thrown my way and smiling in the face of epic failures that happened to involve me haplessly. On the other hand, 2011 will be about me.

Having said that, my New Year's resolution with thereby be:

I will blog more frequent than sometimes, and this will the first of many. Yes, this will the first of many. I have been silent because blogs have effects that are surprising and dangerous or both. Also, I was silent out of respect. To say "I've had enough of this bu****it*" is equal to "No more Mister Nice Guy," if a few handful of you get my drift.

2011 is going to be awesome. For me, at least. And the people I love, and the people I played Wii with earlier, and the kids I bump into at ATC.

Wrong on a Multi-level of Wrongness
clementine tangerine
I love dogs. I love the 5 dogs we already have, the dogs owned by relatives and those owned by friends. Most of the "clan," as I collectively refer to ourselves, live in a subdivision that is surrounded by other subdivisions and this division isn't really the problem.

Chalk it up to my being a night-owl, but this habit of mine may have saved us from robberies and other atrocities that have been plaguing this area. It would have been great if our whole subdivision was walled in or fenced in, but it isn't.

Polo is a healthy Japanese Spitz who know his name, knows his owners and his owners' next of kin. He was spoiled, loved and known. His name tag wasn't always on his collar (which was always on him anyway) but the moment you hold it to look at it, he approaches you and presses the side of beautiful next to you. I don't really know what to do but he seems to love being scratched behind the ears.

He goes on rounds, presumably to mate, and he comes back to my aunt's house. Animals know when it's time to eat. Our own household menagerie which includes adult dogs Jack and Georgia, their puppies Gaston, Bubba and Max and felines Penny, Michiko and Junior all know when it's time to eat. They restlessly crawl around our backyard, without fail, at 5 pm. It's mostly the puppies and the cats who make noise. You know it's pretty late if Jack barks at this time. He's patient when it comes to meals.

Polo, however never came back. A dog was witnessed nearby to have been slaughtered for meat. One can only guess.

I don't oppose eating dogs. Humans have fed on stranger things but feed on pets...on a being that was owned and loved, is just wrong and evil and too f***ed up for words.

Our subdivision/village desperately needs a perimeter fence. We don't have that on the areas surrounding this area. We're walled against New Bilibid Prison property, Katarungan Village, and Ayala Alabang. The edge of the house I live in is apparently the very end of our own street but there is no fence separating here and there. Polo's daily route would include the area beyond our village.

I haven't really mourned a dog whose final moments were that of fear and pain. Jonathan, a previous dog who was around before Jack was even born, was on the verge of dying. When I called out his name in shock of the state he was in, he managed to lift his head and look at me. Then he settled back to die. Jonathan was different from Jack, just was the both of them are very different from Polo. Jonathan had a temper and I was the only one he would allow to touch him. Jack talks, and so does one of his brood, Max. Curiously, all three puppies love eating fruit. Georgia sneezes like a human and has a melancholic-phlegmatic personality. Polo was mild and innocent.

So this blog post is for Polo. While we may never know what has happened to him, let it be certain that he was loved.


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