Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas 2005

No pictures from Christmas since I forgot the memory card to my digital camera. Boo hoo! I am waiting for members of my family to email their pics to me. Boo hoo!

...Days later...

Wait, a member of la familia sent pics. Here's another one of our (in)famous group pics. They are always the same at the holidays: same family members with just different clothes on. Of course, our family grows and we are delighted to welcome new ones to the group.

Thank goodness Ate G is all the way in the back. Hopefully, she's not causing trouble by tickling people while the shot is getting taken...


Friday, December 23, 2005

Only Been to 5% of the World! Ack!!

Check out one of Douwe Osinga's really cool projects. Below are countries in the world I have traveled to. It makes me realize that I really have to jump back on the traveling bandwagon. I missed my new country this year because of school...I'm sooo pissed that I broke a special promise to myself!!

My hope is to perhaps see two new countries in 2006. One will definitely be a three-week trip to Ghana to visit E who I met on the Inca Trail 3 years ago. There's a possibility that I might go to Tuscany, Italy and stay with newly married friends who are renting a villa for 3 weeks in March.

Top 5 Places JoJo Desires to Visit:
1. Vietnam
2. Australia/New Zealand
3. Italy
4. Costa Rica
5. The Pacific Islands of Fiji, Tahiti, and Easter Island

So little money, not enough time, and always stuck workin' for the man. * heavy sigh*



Below is a map of where I've been in the US and I must admit, that TX, MI, OH, and a lot of southerns states south of VA are due to airport layovers or driving through en route to FL. Missouri is a "real" visit though; I have family there and I helped facilitate a one-week college workshop for Native American high school students at Wash U back in 1999. If you take away these states and the Southwest, and add OR, it would look quite similar to the last presidential election. Ha! Can you tell I'm a flaming liberal??? 'Nuf said.




Thursday, December 22, 2005

Transit Strike Day #3

Day 3 of the strike: another walk across the Queensboro. It's amazing how we are all creatures of habit. I saw the same blonde guy in a black leather jacket rollerblading past me as I left my apartment and started my walk the exact same time I did yesterday. Made the same time I did yesterday to the office too. Amazing!

I adjusted my clothing appropriately for today's walk. Instead of wearing my lovely 2/4 length, camel colored coat, I wore my windbreaker on top of a t-shirt. What a difference -- I no longer felt encumbered!

These pictures are taken at the foot of the Queensboro Bridge, on the Manhattan side. The Red Cross Disaster Relief van provided hot chocolate for all commuters during the strike and I believe they were at other bridges in the city as well. Too bad I can't take in chocolate and sweets! Dang.

These last two days in the office, I've been battling with my self-discipline in not eating an awesome chocolate cupacke from the Buttercup Bakeshop made available by a colleague who was given a half dozen yesterday. There were 3 remaining in a box he left behind in the office refrigerator at 9am this morning, untagged (When you don't put your initials on food in the office fridge it means that anyone can lay claim to the food. And trust me, the people in my office are not shy about eating and taking...ha!). And I must admit, my resolve broke down by 10 am and I ran to the refrigerator and found that all the cupcakes were gone! The person who took the last cupcaked didn't even have the courtesy to toss the box from the fridge (no home training, seriously)! So I walked away and just helped myself to some water. Bah! Now, I've been jonesing for one of their red devil cupcakes. Ugh. I can't take it!!! Sooooo good!!

By the time I left the office at 3:45, the strike was declared over and transit workers were returning to work. By late this evening, I heard the usual rumble of the N or W train by my apartment. It's a welcome sound.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Transit Strike Day #2

So I decided to go the office today. Otherwise, for every day I not come into work will be counted as a vacation day. And you know how precious my vacation days are to me! I thought it would also be a neat adventure. I'm a native of Queens but never walked across the Queensboro (not as pretty as walking across the Brooklyn Bridge so one is not missing much, trust me) and I always toyed with the idea of walking to work or at least biking (when I finally own a bike) so I took the strike as an opportunity to experience something new, walk with my fellow borough folks to work, and take pictures in the meantime. At least I would have some sort of intersting answer when people will ask me years later what I did in the 2005 subway strike. I also wanted to see what Manhattan looked like too. And the only way I was going to find out was to walk there.

To the right is a (dark) shot as I began the trek onto the Queensboro. The next pic is of the East River and Roosevelt Island, a residential area which sits right in the middle of the River. Manhattan is behind the buildings in the forefront.

Anyway, the walk door-to-door is a mere 3.3 miles. That's nothing! My thrice weekly power walks in Central Park (which I've not done in weeks!) were 4 miles on uneven terrain so walking across the Queensboro Bridge should be a piece of cake. And I'm happy to admit that it was! Subway or no subway, I left at my usual time at 8:45am and the entire walk took 45 minutes. My bosses were just pleased that I could make it and didn't care if I was late.

Thank goodness for those fitness walks! It was great to zip past pedestrians and even those on bikes who had difficulty peddaling uphill on the bridge. It was also really interesting to see cars filled to capacity since a car was not allowed into the city with 4 passengers or less. I had several offers for a ride since drivers were desperate to get into the city and picked up pedestrians for free. See this NY Times article about how strangers are thrown together in cars. Although it would've been interesting to get into a car with total strangers and feel completely safe, my commute was so short that I would find myself jumping out of the car once I got past the pleasantries. Anyway, I wanted to get back into the swing of power walking and doing 6.6 miles a day would prepare my body for all the food I would be eating for Christmas and New Year! I felt in tip-top shape although this morning I wore my nice camel coat. Tomorrow, I think I'll wear my windbreaker since I arrived in the office sweating like a pig!!

Changed out of my sweaty t-shirt and windpants into a something a little more acceptable for the office although it was still on the casual side. Half of my colleagues who made it all wore sneakers, including myself. With a shortened day, I worked what I could and left before it got dark at 3:45. Although I knew I would be perfectly fine, I still did not want to walk through the industrial parts of Long Island City in the dark. The area is just a bunch of big, somewhat desolate and dimly lit sidewalks with warehouses.



Above is a shot of the line for the Q60 bus, a line owned by a private bus company, that runs between Queens and Manhattan. The line ran the lenghth of entire city block and wrapped around two more corners. Madness! I thought of taking the bus back home but when I saw this line, I realized that it would be faster for me to walk than wait. To the left, a detail of the Queensboro reflecting the light from sunset. Below, the UN building with the sun setting behind it.

Since I needed to leave early, I couldn't find the time to leave the office and walk to Madison and Fifth Avenues. These two avenues were designated for emergency vehicles and not open to other vehicles. It was virtually empty and many people took advantage of walking down a usually busy street. Unfortunately, I was not one of them. No worries. I walked down an empty Fifth Avenue once, immediately after the Saint Patrick's Day parade before the avenue opened up to traffic.

I'm not miffed about the strike at all. The entirely new adventure into the city was well worth it. And isn't this what life's about? New opportunities and experiences?


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Shoulder Injury: I'm a Mess

After a recent gentle yoga class, I started feeling a sharp pain in my shoulder and I knew it wasn't muscular. Talked to The Trainer about it and he told me to lay off the shoulder for the next few days. He suggested I ice it three times a day and at the end of the day, put a heat pack on it. I nursed it like this for two weeks and The Trainer focused on my lower body during workouts. When the pain was gone, we started to gently incorporate upper body workouts.

I thought I was in the clear when I went home one night, and pulled off my boots, and boom! I aggravated the shoulder and the pain was back. This is when I knew something was really wrong. So at the suggestion of The Trainer, I took a trip to the orthepedic doctor who suggested I take an MRI. In the meantime, he gave me Celebrex for the pain. It didn't help. The MRI showed an inflammation of muscle tissue and a resulting impingement of that muscle under the scapula. A tendon in my shoulder was starting to fray, coming close to a tear. I asked my doctor how this could've happened. He said that some people are born with lower positioned scapulas that would lend itself to an impingement. I asked why my muscles are acting out now, after almost 30 years, if I was born with this condition. He was stumped. He didn't know.

He advised me to rest, no workouts. And more Celebrex and hopefully, it will heal in time. As nice as my doctor was, it was frustrating to walk out of his office with no answers. If I don't know what caused this injury, how am I supposed to prevent it from happening again??

My body feels broken. Like vase that fell to the floor and was put back together with crazy glue. That's how my body feels which leads to my feeling emotionally broken too. Ugh. This sucks!!!!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

U2 @ MSG tonite!!!


The rest of the story to come. I just wanted to get some pics up for your viewing pleasure. My camera also has video capacity so if I can figure out how to post a video, then I'll post one on here.








This was U2's first concert at the Garden this Fall. They were here for a few days back in the spring!! Above, is Bono & Adam Clayton. And on the left is Bono (with a nice view of his behind in both shots) with the Edge. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a back shot of Larry Mullin.








The crowd thumping at the Garden! We had seats at the rear of the stage and althought it wasn't ideal, it certainly gave us a different perspective of the place. It also gave me the chance to take a shot like this one.


I'm sure these folks were also cheering for the fact that the Boston Red Sox lost their game and the division series to the Chicago White Sox that night. Wahoo!! Down with the Red Sox!!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Last hurrah at the Beer Garden

It was a big birthday for MoJo and since we were in California on his actual birthday spending time with MY family, the NY celebration got postponed to this weekend.

Here's the group at the Bohemian Beer Garden. A nice crowd came to celebrate, including his two brothers (can you see them standing in the back??). I suppose since the majority of these folks are engineers I found myself to be one of the three women in the group. *sigh* Such a male dominated profession... Anyway! Joe's friends are a great group of people and are all characters in their own special way. Several pitchers of beer and plates of kielbasa were consumed with a round or two of Uno played!

MoJo's friends and couple, El Biólogo & La Ingeniera recently took a trip to Peru and brought back a gift for him. It was an Andean hat!!! And apparently, El Biólogo & La Ingeniera say that it's not just any Andean hat, it's the one especially reserved for el jefe, the boss. Doesn't he look maniacal?? I'm just thrilled because I have a more colorful Andean hat that I got from Peru two years ago so I can't wait to walk down the street together and match (somewhat)!!!

My intention was to have a cake at the Beer Garden but apparently no outside food is allowed. So they confiscated my chocolate cake for several hours until we were left. Thankfully, MoJo lived nearby so the party moved over to his apartment where a nice rendition of happy birthday was sung and cake was sliced. We even took in an episode of the Simpsons. En route to his apartment, you'll see the only low point of the evening for MoJo. I'm not sure if he is scared of the dark or if his helium ballons were blowing too hard in the wind but he doesn't look so happy in this picture. Aaaaaww!

A lively poker game ensued after candle blowing. MoJo won the largest portion of the pot. Hooray!! Happy birthday honey!!!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Gentle Variations & Dinner with MoJoShowBiz's Famiglia

Today, my "regular" yoga teacher came back to teach the usual Saturday morning class. It was great to see B again as she had taken several weeks off to complete her finals for classes in her Masters program. I told her about my new discovery last week with the triangle pose causing the old back pain to return so she taught me really good and gentle variations for the triangle and reverse triangle poses. They worked great since I do not feel any back pain tonight!!

MoJoShowBiz's parents took the family out to dinner at Agnanti, a nice Greek restaurant by Astoria Park for a belated celebration of Joe's birthday. There were 8 of us all together: MoJoShowBiz's parents, grandparents, his youngest brother and her girlfriend, and us. His middle brother was missing -- off playing at one of his gigs. The restaurant was a nice family restaurant; they provided dessert and coffee on the house. Can you believe they offered it to us for free?? Says a lot about this place, right? The thing is though...I can't remeber its name!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

GO YANKEES!!!!


WAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Yeah baby!!!!

The Bronx Bombers are ahead of Boston by a 1/2 a game. All I have to say is: Bring it on Boston!! Bring it on!! 'Nuff said.

For up to date info, check out the NY Yankees's official website or the NY Daily News or NY Newsday.

Work it Randy!!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Back pain

Damn!! Last Saturday's triangle pose caught up with me. I'm feeling the usual pain in the right side of my back. Talked to The Trainer today about. Nor more positions that involve great torque-ing, he told me. Is that even a word? It's The Trainer's, not mine. Basically, I have to lay off the spinal twists. This stinks!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Fr. S's Birthday

Celebrated Fr. S's birthday today with friends. I took this action shot -- doesn't it speak volumes to the fun we had?!?!?

My mom & I got to know Fr. S back in 1993 when he served as a priest in our former parish. Even though my mom and I were always close, we had our rough patches especially during my teenage years when I challenged her and exerted my sense of independence all the time. It's the normal stuff we all go through as teenagers with our parents. Anyway, Fr. S met us at that point and because of his warmth and vivacious personality, we developed a friendship with him and let him into our lives. He was so helpful to me & my mom as we went through our typical growing pains! He kept reminding me to be loving and patient with my mom and he kept reminding my mom to let me go.

When he returned to Nigeria in 1996, we lost touch (back then, email was a brand new concept) although I had an snail address for him. Our daily lives were just so full that there simply was no more time to write. Mom and I never knew what happened to one of our favorite priests.

Then last September, our pastor announced a new priest in our parish. Mom and I couldn't believe what we were hearing!! The very same Fr. S who we loved and last saw 9 years ago was back in our midst again?!?!?! He had been in the borough for several years and was recently transfered to our church. We had no idea!!! When we surprised him with a visit to the rectory after Mass, the three of us were completely overwhelmed with joy at the reunion. The look on Fr. S's face, upon recognizing old friends re-entering his life, was so indescrible that I can only say it looked like a perfect Kodak moment. We hugged, laughed, cried, and relayed milestone events from the past 9 years. The joy I felt was truly incredible: I don't think I've ever felt it before. It was not connected to material wealth or accomplishment; it was simply because it came from love.

I believe that nothing in life is serendipitious. God brought us together, separated us, and brought us back together for a reason although such reasons may not be revealed to us at that very moment or even ever. But I take these beautiful moments with humility and gratitude.

Mom and I have opened our hearts to him and welcomed him into our family especially since he does not have any here. And I know he has done the same for us. We love you Fr. S! Thank you for being a wonderful friend and spiritual advisor to us! May God continue to bless you on your birthday and always. We thank God for bringing you into the world, for the special gifts He bestowed upon you, and for the light you bring to our lives. Happy Birthday!!!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Eureka: it was the triangle pose!

About a year ago, I injured myself in a yoga class. Guess I pushed myself too far past the edge while doing a reverse warrior pose (see left) and then kabam! I felt my back snap. When it happened, I knew I did something wrong. The back injury lead to pain not only in my back but immediately to my glutes, my bands, my hips, and my hamstrings as well. I was a complete mess! I couldn't sit or even lie down without pain shooting in these areas. My mom kept wagging her finger telling me that I shouldn't have pushed myself so hard. But yoga was so awesome, I responded.

I went to see a doctor who told me I injured my back because of really weak ab muscles. Apparently, muscles in the back, abs, and quads are all kept in a happy balance by the pelvis. When one area is weak, the other areas compensate. And in the case of strenuous stretching like yoga, my back was overcompensating for the weak ab muscles and decided it had enough. A yoga teacher once told me that the body was one big muscle. I finally understood what he was talking about. So off to 8 weeks of physical therapy. It helped somewhat but the pain didn't completely go away.

I lived in intermittent pain throughout the year. I tried to go back to yoga after a few months, but the pain came back. Then I started seeing The Trainer last May. He has been a godsend!!! He's a marathon runner, a master trainer, and works at my personal gym. My employer hired him to provide orientation sessions in our newly re-furbished office gym and he opened up his training services to me and other colleagues. I see him weekly! He is such an expert on the body and muscles that I trust him like I would my doctor! He said he would help me work through my pain and I eagerly said, "yes, please!"

He's taught me excellent stretches that I do first thing in the morning and another time in the day, he's encouraged me to drink 90 ounces of water a day (that's 3 Nalgene bottles folks) which forces me to get out of my chair and run to the bathroom, and he's really showed me the importance of daily cardiovascular exercise (3x/week: a brisk 4-mile walk in Central Park with colleagues in 1hr 10 min, 3x/week: an hour in a spin class or on the elliptical, 1x/week: weight training with Mark, 1x yoga: to stretch and meditate) to get fresh, oxygenated blood into my system and for a healthy heart. Although I am not 100% recovered, I am on the mend. I feel more stiffness than pain these days and I've gone back to gentle yoga (nothing too intense yet).

Thanks to to a high protein, low-carb diet ('cuz you need carbs to do intense cardio) and daily exercise, I've also lost more than 10 lbs and have gone down 3 dress sizes. My mom says that I've disappeared. But I feel great and healthier than ever, even more than I did when I was on the crew team in college.

Today's gentle yoga class consisted of some standing postures including that dreaded reverse warrior pose. But I didn't push myself and I really forced myself to breathe. From reverse warrior, we transitioned to triangle pose (see right), and it was when my teacher came to help me adjust my lower hip forward did I feel the twinge in my bands...the old injury!!! So that's how I aggrevated these muscles! I eased off and did a variation.

Awareness is key. Immediately after class, I stretched my bands the way Mark showed me and I did some other back stretches. It all helped. I feel okay this evening. Phew!

You know, at first I was really upset that I caused all these injuries to myself. But I see now my injuries as a part of me and have accepted them as so. Regardless of whether or not they heal completely, it is because of them that I have become so aware of my body and conscious of the importance of exercise and a healthy diet. If it were not for the pain, I wouldn't have started walking or weight training nor would I have taken the time to stretch properly. Suffering is a part of life and there is great cleansing and healing through the process of suffering -- I always believed that on a spiritual level. Now I see that it is true also on a physical level.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Rejected by Prof D

There was an email in my inbox basically saying that I didn't make the cut for the Anthropology of Violence class. Guess Hobbes, Nietzche, and the remaining clan are shelved for this semester.

Sent an email to The MA Advisor to see if she'll let me into her Principles of Anthropology course even though at first, I requested to place out of it because I felt it would be redundant for me when in fact, I wanted to be available to take the Violence class. I got rejected.

Logistically, I want both my classes to meet on the same day so that I only have to travel to CU once a week from work. The only class that could support this original plan is to take the Principles class. Sometimes, you just have to come crawling back...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

First Day of Class, My 2nd Semester

Although I was dredding the first day of class, I suprised myself at how much I actually enjoyed it. See, I'm an official bonafide geek who just loves the first days of school as I tote around new school supplies and shop for unweathered and unmarked books. I'm also a true Aries who always loves the feel of new beginnings.

I signed up again for two classes since it's all I can handle as I work full-time. Four more semesters of part-time classes and full-time work. The end seems like an eternity away.

My 1st class, The Anthropology of Violence, was gravely overcrowded. Thirty students showed up and the professor hoped only for 15. He should've put a limit on the class during registration but he didn't; now he has to figure out which 15 he wants to keep. So now I wait for word. We all had to write down our year, the program we were in, and our background in social theory. This class is heavily inundated with the modern (defined by Prof D as post-Descartes) Western philosophers such as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel, Nietzche, Foucault. I'm a little intimated since I've had minimal exposure to their writings and this class is a lot of work. But I'm up for the challenge. I'm planning to no longer have a life any longer this semester anyway.

I await to see if I made the "cut". If not, there won't be any love lost. I've already got another class as a back-up.

My 2nd class, Race & the Articulation of Difference, was rockin'. So much correlation between the events in New Orleans and the readings we are assigned. I really look forward to this class.

MoJo has already waved good-bye to me since he knows how busy I can get. I will try to be better about managing my time. I am committed to eating healthy and exercising daily. I am committed to having down time especially with my family, friends, and MoJo.

Keep your fingers crossed that I don't lose my sanity!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

California Dreamin'

School starts tomorrow and before my life gets sucked into the world of books and papers, I thought a 10 day vacation would be a good idea. California is always my fall back vacation since I love the dang state and I've got friends to stay with in LA & San Fran. MoJo & I went for our very first "faraway, get-there-by-plane" vacation. The plan: 10 days from LA via the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway 1) to San Fran with pit stops in Santa Barbara, SLO (San Luis Obispo), San Simeon, Big Sur, Salinas, and Gilroy.

Here we are in Muscle Beach in Venice. Check out our hairdos!

We stayed with Angelito in LA. It was good to see him and catch up! Drama and gossip were exchanged at record speeds since there was much to tell. I miss him since his departure from NYC but I have a feeling he'll be back.

Visits to other friends and family occured including one at a chinese buffet with the A clan on MoJo's big birthday!! He seemed a little sad at turning a big number but I know he will come to embrace his wise age. I love you honey!! Old man or not! Just kidding. LOL :) We also got to see friends that I consider family. Three G brothers were present with their spouses/significant others; unfortunately the eldest and dad were missing from the group. Fun times and tons of laughter were had by all.

Up to Santa Barbara we went where we were greeted by amazing weather typical of Southern California minus the glitz and facade of Los Angeles. Rosemary and lavender were growing in bushes along the sidewalk and in spite of its touristy feel, Santa Barbara still felt quaint and provinical. MoJo & I thought it would be a nice place to retire.

On the right is a picture of Mission Santa Barbara, one of the many missions built by Franciscans in CA all forming a chain in the state. These missions were similar to the ones I saw in Argentina.

North of Santa Barbara, we stayed in SLO (as the locals call it) as our home base for exploring Hearst Castle in San Simeon. En route to San Simeon, we drove by a sign pointing towards the town of Harmony, so of course I had to take a picture and pose somehow in relation to the town's name (I have other pictures of me at The Gap, AZ and Paradox, NY. A little quirk of mine, I know) so here I am doing a variation on Vrksasana (Tree Pose); I am one with the earth. Ommm....

A trip to the central coast is incomplete without a visit to Hearst Castle. Worth a look if you're in the area.

Next stop Big Sur for 2 days of hiking and enjoying the striking beauty of the jagged coastline. Too bad it was foggy the whole time. The sun evaded the coast but was found a bit inland. I had done this trip 5 years ago and the weather was perfect. I was sorely disappointed this time since it wasn't how I hoped it would be especially since MoJo had not done this drive before. If visibility is really good, you can see miles ahead of you and perfect sunsets too. When you drive the windy roads, it's just you and the road along the edge of a huge cliff with the ocean to one side and the cliff on the other. We did not see sunsets nor stars. The plus side was that we stayed at Kirk Creek Campground, a first-come, first-serve campground of only 35 sites that is located at the top of a cliff right by the ocean. It was still really nice nonetheless. And sweet MoJo reassured me that the drive, in spite of the fog, was still spectacular. "Mysterious" was how he described it.

The next day, we were off to the north for SF. Unlike other tourists who probably would've gone to Monterrey and Carmel, we decided to go a different route and head towards Salinas where Nobel Prize winning writer John Steinbeck was born and raised. We visited the Steinbeck Museum and I come away with a whole new appreciation for Steinbeck. I read Of Mice and Men and The Red Pony in HS (on the left is me on the red pony...maybe I should send it to my HS English teacher?) but never really liked his work. I think it was because I couldn't really relate to the people in his stories (the farmers, the migrant laborers) and therefore couldn't fully imagine the story in my head. Now, I am looking forward to re-visiting Steinbeck and reading The Grapes of Wrath, The Pearl, The Winter of Our Discontent, or even his non-fiction books like Travels with Charley or America and Americans. *sigh* So many books...so little time.

One gallery at the museum had a traveling exibit called "The Graceful Envelope". The Smithsonian's Postal Museum encouraged artists and calligraphers to decorate envelopes and mail it to the Smithsonian for entry into an annual contest. Each year, the contest may have a different theme like this one on the left, which was "Pushing the Envelope". You see Paul Bunyan in the top envelope (don't forget to look closely at the stamp) and another equally good entry on the bottom. Quite ingenious and beautiful were many of these graceful envelopes.

With our tummies growling, we headed 20 miles northeast to Gilroy, the "Garlic Capital of the World". You can tell by the smell in the air when you drive into town. Since MoJo & I are huge garlic lovers, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to sample heavenly, garlicky dishes. Below is MoJo enjoying a delicious Gilroy Garlicky Chicken dish at Mama Mia's. I had the winning 2005 Garlic Festival Cook-Off dish, Basil and Garlic-Stuffed Sea Scallops Wrapped in Prosciutto. We even had a chance to sample garlic ice cream. Amazing!!!

Before (see his look of anticipation) & After (see his sad yet satiated look)


The final stop after Gilroy was San Francisco! We stayed with friends I had met 2 years ago at this time while hiking the Inca Trail. The Acupuncturist in Training & The Journalist (see our picture in my previous entry) were, like Angelito, the best hosts. They were welcoming and generous with their time, their food, and their space. Their little bungalow in Oakland was so cozy and we were happy to call it home for the next several days.

MoJo & I ate our way through the Bay Area, taking in Ethiopian, Vietanamese, Japanese, and oh, the heavenly Mexican food. Yum. I don't know what it is out west, but the Mexican food is sooo much better than home.

We schlepped the hills of San Fran to visit Chinatown, North Beach, the downtown area, and we even stumbled upon Little Saigon! We visited Alcatraz and imagined what it would be like to be a prisoner. And after a trip to just two Sonoma vineyards for some wine-tasting, we came away with 4 bottles of wine. Now MoJo has begun to discern the different nuances of wine and can move beyond his usual, "it's fruity" description. All in all, a wonderful trip which already seems like a distant memory.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Retroactive posting

So shoot me for retroactively posting on my blog. I've been having an amazingly relaxing summer -- couldn't quite focus on sitting at home and updating a blog when there are so many fantastic things to experience in NYC this season. Why sit at home when you can be outside watching a free movie on a westside pier or listening to free opera in Central Park? More pics to show and escapades to tell from these past few months so keep checking back!


Em & Me in Central Park in June:
We froze our butts off while listening to free opera

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Bryan Adams & Def Leppard at Keyspan Park, Brooklyn

Joe Elliott of Def Leppard (left)

Bryan Adams (below)















Man, was this an amazing concert!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

A Weekend at the Cape


MoJo & me in front of the house


Dano teaches Sailing 101


We're starving...what's for dinner???


Ahoy matey! Land is over yonder! Wait, we're on it.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Meeting NY Yankee, Tino Martinez


MoJo, Tino, and Me at Planet Hollywood (NYC) Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 09, 2005

It's over!!! I survived the semester

Took my last classes today and handed in my two papers before these final meetings.

I can't believe I made it. I'm exhausted...killed myself these past few weeks. I didn't think I could cross the finish line this semester but I somehow pulled through.

It's going to take me a few weeks to recuperate. I have to do this for another 2 years?!?!? Crap!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Started seeing Mark, the trainer

Did I mention how amazing my employer is??? And the multitude of benefits that go along with work at the organization that I do?

So get this for a benefit package: 20 days vacation per year plus 4 personal days; the Friday prior to a 3-day holiday weekend, departure from work as early as 2:30pm; an employer contribution of 15% of my salary to a 401K plan without me contributing a penny; full medical, dental, and vision plans; basic and supplemental life and disabilitiy insurances; a flex spending account, funds taken from a paycheck deducatioin that is pre-tax, and can be used towards medical expenses (such as copayments, prescription purchase, eyewear, or a service not partially covered by insurance); plenty of transit checks to purchase Metrocards; and...

...a newly furbished gym...complete with state-of-the-art new equipment, towels, and a flat screen TV. To inaugurate the new gym, my employer decided to hire a trainer to teach us how to use the new equipment but to also give us a workout routine for an hour!

I decided I needed to start seeing a trainer...and since Mark's free...what the heck! My doctor said I need to start losing weght as I've gained 6 pounds in the last 6 months. Damn stress and tension from school!! I'm determined to get back on track. Let's see what Mark can do for me...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New Year Baby Fundraiser

Attended a fundraiser at the White Rabbit in the Lower East Side for a documentary film that's in the process of getting created called New Year Baby. It's the story of a Cambodian American family who survived the genocide of the Khmer Rhouge and started again in the United States. It's a touching and very poignant story of love, courage, and sacrifice.

I used to be involved in the production team but then I started grad school and I knew something had to give. Unfortunately, it had to be New Year Baby so I told Soch, the director that I could no longer be part of the team.

But tonight, I came out to support the project and all the amazing people are working to make this film happen. I even won a silent auction prize in the process -- a beautiful blue Cambodian silk scarf, matching purse, and wallet -- all for the low price of $60 -- that went to a good cause. MoJo was just coming on with a sore throat so he went home early. I stayed and schmoozed to support the film and encouraged others to support it too.

I believe in this project and would not be the least surpirsed if it aired on PBS or at your local independent theater in the near future. For more information, check out the New Year Baby website.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Erasure: New Wave Music -- ahhh, the memories!

I just got back from a Erasure concert at Irving Plaza in NYC -- and I am sooo pumped!!! They did not disappoint their loyal fans since they played all of their top hits (all the songs I wished to hear, they played!) and Andy Bell is quite a flamboyant performer! They opened with Bell in little tightie whities and a nude colored top with silver glitter and wearing angel wings while his back up singers were wearing fairy wings. They sang Heavenly Action. When he finished singing, Bell proclaimed in a high falsetto voice, "Welcome to Fairyland!" The crowd went nuts!!!

He changed two more times; his second act was an outfit that seemed to be in tribute to Liberace because his first song was Ave Maria with a piano accompaniment in the background. His last outfit was merely silver sequined boy shorts and a bare chest!! He entered with a big pink feather fan in both hands! He threw glitter, danced his familiar moves, and threw paper airplines in the crowd. I had so much fun! And it was great to hear men singing and dancing throughout the audience, many were gay. I felt like I was at an Indigo Girls concert, but in reverse! LOL - it was great!

But Bell's flamboyance is not how I remember them back when I was 11. All I cared about was their music and their unique beat (I'm not sure if Bell was even out back in 1987). Erasure and other bands like New Order (Bizarre Love Triangle is my cell phone's ring tone), the Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, and OMD defined my musical interests as an early teenager. We called it "New Wave"!!! And I loved it!!! *sigh* I remember listening to these bands so intently in junior high school, when my bangs were teased high to the ceiling and all I wore was black, black, and black. All my friends at the time listened to the same music and it was great to go to tonight's concert with Karen, an elementary & junior high school friend who I recently reconnected with.

In spite of the fact that Erasure was so significant to me at such a young age, it was my first time to see them in concert. Tonight was FINALLY my opportunity to see a concert I was prevented from seeing as a teenager since I grew up in a really strict household. My mom never let me go out!! So tonight, I made up for lost time! Erasure's music, especially their old school stuff, reminded me so much of the happy 80s, a decade that I am proudly a child of..


Erasure's Andy Bell & Vince Clark Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Almost there...the big 2-9!!!!

Happy Birthday to me. It's the last year of living in my 20s.

Overall, I feel very good and I am happy about turning 29. No major crisis, no freak-outs. I am at peace with my wonderful age and the wisdom I have acquired thus far in life. Looking back on the eve of a new decade, I thankfully, have no regrets. I have taken incredible risks that reaped amazing rewards.

I've learned that:

  • Life is a gift. Remain open in mind and spirit because life is full of surprises and every challenge may be seen as an opportunity.
  • The journeys in life are more important than reaching the intended destinations.
  • Seeking out mentors who can act as guides and role models are necessary for success.
  • Happiness is not a goal, it's an attitude.
My birthday was full of love -- so many people called or emailed or sent birthday greetings. I felt so loved by everyone. Two colleagues bought me tulips and MoJo surprised me by stopping by in the late morning to drop off a calla lily plant (calla lilies are my favorite flowers!). He told me that he had no idea what a calla lily looked like so he had to look it up online. In spite of his lack of knowledge, he cheerfully said, "See, I listen!" He decided to buy me a plant so that it would last longer than just the flower -- so practical is he! I felt like the luckiest girl in the planet!

My co-workers took me out to lunch and then in the evening, MoJo took me to one of my favorite restaurants in the city, The Blue Water Grill. There, I indulged in half a dozen oysters, wine, and a wonderful organic Scottish salmon that was to die for! A jazz trio played while we dined in candlelight. All in all, a wonderful birthday!

A very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my maternal grandmother, DD, who celebrates her birthday today, April 7, with me. She turns 98! May God bless her!!!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pope John Paul II, 1920-2005 - Welcome Home

For anyone who knows me, they know that my faith in God is very important to me, that I have chosen to remain an active participant of the Roman Catholic Church, that I struggle daily with the Church's teachings as made clear by Pope John Paul II, and that I rarely wear my faith on my sleeve. I have never been one to proselytize my faith to others, partly because I believe everyone is entitled to their religious ideas and need not hear what I have to say about mine but more importantly, I believe that the best expression of my faith is through living a life of love, trust, forgiveness, with a call to social justice.

I rarely would use my blog to discuss something that is so personal to me, as is my relationship to God and my relationship to the Catholic Church. But today, on the death of Pope John Paul II, the only Pope that I've ever known in my life, I felt that I could make an exception and put forth what my heart feels today.

Having been raised in a Catholic home whose family is from the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country where the line between church and state does not exist, I have been exposed to the Church since I was born. It was only during my college years that I turned from the Church, eager to get away from what I experienced as a stifling tradition. Without my mother's influence and gaze, I did not attend Mass on Sundays and shed all sorts of practices that I associated with Catholicism.

But God does indeed work in the most mysterious and the MOST GENTLEST of ways. Even though Sunday was filled with food, friends and good times, I felt like something was missing. I truly can't explain it...except looking back now, all I know is that it was God's Grace at work. So I tried going back to church and attended Mass on campus. I was struck by all the women who attended Mass out of their own accord without being dragged by parents and I witnessed how my peers incorporated their faith into their lives as students, as young women, daughters, and sisters.

Since 1994, I believe my faith has grown incredibly in due part because of my daily struggle with it, in questioning it, and in practicing it. Despite many painful disagreements with my Church, I still believe at the end of the day, that it is through Mass and the practice of the Catholic faith that I maintain my personal relationship with God, with others, and with myself.

I did not necessarily agree with all of Pope John Paul II's conservative ideology but I do believe that he has been a wonderful example of how one can lead a moral life. I have to respect a man who holds fast to his convictions and beliefs and has not once swayed from them in the context of a fast changing and "modern" world. His impact on others through his selfless and loving actions, is a wonderful model for us as Catholics, and ultimately, as human beings. His life example transcended Catholicism yet it epitomized perfectly the teachings of Jesus Christ. He taught us how to live faithfully, how to give our wills up to the will of God, how to accept pain and suffering in life, in illness, and ultimately in death, and how to fight for what we believe to be right -- to speak out and act on behalf of the disenfranchised, the poor, and the forgotten.

For these reasons, I am thankful to God for more the 20+ years of service this Pope provided. I am thankful for his life example. And I am thankful that he now is resting in eternal peace, free from human suffering and pain. The crux of my faith is the belief that death is not the end of life, but merely a transition to something better, something bigger, something so incredible that our own humanity will never have the capacity to fully understand it -- the promise of eternal life. This is what I believe. Although Pope John Paul II leaves behind a great void in me, and perhaps in all of our hearts, I rejoice at his coming home. I will miss his incredible perservance, his fight for justice, his love for humanity, and his example to us all.


Pope John Paul II FORGIVES his would be assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca, December 1983 Posted by Hello

Ambassadors of Love & Peace


Pope John Paull II & Mother Teresa, 1986 Posted by Hello

Friday, April 01, 2005

Happy Birthday Gmail!

What to my surprise when I open my gmail account this morning, I discover that Gmail is celebrating its 1st birthday. According to the site, they are going to "roll-out our new and top secret Infinity+1 storage plan" along with a corresponding graph.

Now I'm not a techie so I have no clue what that all means. But I do know one thing. Gmail is adding ONE MORE GIGABYTE to our mail storage for A TOTAL OF 2G!!!! Wahoo!!! How pathetic was I when I fretted that I would run out of storage space when I only had 1G. I should've know these Gmail folks would be ahead of the curve.

Hooray! Happy Birthday Gmail!!!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Mom headed to the Philippines

My mom is off to the Philippines for 4 weeks to visit her/my family and will be there to celebrate my grandmother's birthday, also on April 7. She will be turning 98 - God Bless her! She is such a spunky old lady although recently she's become quite frail and slowed down due to illness. As for me, I'll be turning 29 on April 7th! Have a good trip mom!

Monday, March 14, 2005

U2 -- Vertigo Tour 2005!!!!!

I want to trip inside your head
Spend the day there...
To hear the things you haven't said
And see what you might see
-Miracle Drug

Yeah baby!!!!! I managed to get two ticket to their October 7 concert at MSG!!! I was on the phone calling Ticketmaster AND online with Ticketmaster trying to get tickets right at 9am. After 17 minutes of excruciating agony (Ticketmaster online really plays with your emotions because my wait time went from 15 minutes down to 6 minutes and then went back up to 15 minutes. "How is that possible??" I yell at the poor lap top!), I GOT THEM!!! I was so delirious at my success that I didn't even look at the date, the seats, the cost...I just plugged in my credit card info and kaboom, I was charged! Now that's power baby!

I must've been dancing on my bed for the next half hour! WAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!


Look at these hot Irishmen! Posted by Hello