Sunday, February 17, 2008

Still Got the Moves

...and the stamina. Ha! Four Tanqueray and tonics and some unrecognizable shot later, I was still standing at 4:30 this morning. I was out celebrating my cousin's birthday at Strata. It was a nice little group of her friends, whom I've never met. But you know me, I can hang with anyone. And I sure did...and they were all 8 years my junior. They must've thought me a dinosaur. I chuckled to myself when two asked each other in wonderment, "When did we grow up and get old?" LOL -- ok spring chicken at @ 24. Yeah, you're old. And I'm a well preserved mummy. It's all good though because I had a great time...and just my sheer experience taught these kids a thing or too about confidence. ;) I'm so happy to be in my 30s!

Last night, I dusted off my dancing shoes and showed off my dance moves. It was a small blessing that MoJo wasn't there. He would've been bored to tears and begging to go home, which would've totally cramped my style cuz I'm a dancer! Had great fun. This episode of clubbing should last me a couple of months. Not my thing as it once used to be.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Who Needs Valentine's Day?!

MoJo and I boycott Valentine's Day. We did it when we were single and we do it now in our first year of marriage. It wasn't too long ago either when we spent many a Valentine's Day alone. So we are stickin' it to VDay and hanging out with the rest of the world who have got more important things to do with our time...and our money for that matter.

Why should we allow Hallmark to dictate when to express our loving or appreciative feelings towards our loved ones? Puhleaze. We are not contributing to this ridiculous $17 billion sham. As cliché as it is, Valentine's Day should be every day.

(Hint: I'll take Jacques Torres dark chocolates any day please!)

So what did we do instead? We ordered take out from Jaya, one of our favorite Malaysian restaurants in NYC (we always order the same thing: out of this world crispy squid appetizer -- the best, we ordered two orders because I wasn't willing to share; salted fish fried rice; roti canai and beef randang). We opened a bottle of 2003 bottle of Pinot Noir from Gundlach Bundschu, a vineyard we visited when we went to CA in 2005. Afterwards, we picked one of our Netflix movies to watch. We picked Transformers, the most un-Valentine movie of the group. What a waste of two hours though! It was terrible movie: the acting was mediocre, the storyline had lots of holes, the writing was bad, and the special effects were just uninspiring.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Moleskine to the Rescue

I'm really excited. I always am whenever I get something new.

The tendency with big bags is to fill it with stuff. When I had shoulder issues, I switched to using small bags in order to be disciplined about putting only things I needed in my purses.

Well, no more shoulder issues and I fell in love with my blue big bag. Despite my attempt to keep only what I need to a minimum, I still manage to walk around carrying the weight of gold. My bag has become a black hole for stuff that I think I need. Of course, there's my book that I'm reading and my 3 inch journal, my water bottle. Ack! The burden is becoming too great.

So I went and bought these and what a relief! My 3-inch think, 5 pound journal. Out! Usher in my new, sleek, and more importantly slim and lightweight moleskine. The recipient of all my hopes, dreams, ideas, gratitudes, and yes, even fears. My heart speaking in a tangible form. And each book has 80 pages each. Plenty of room to jot down things and tote around everywhere!

I've always liked Moleskines especially when I discovered a flickr group dedicated to art and poetry found in Moleskines. The pictures are pretty inspiring! I always look at them wishing I had the God given talent to draw. But alas no. God gave me other gifts to cultivate.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Are the stars grossly aligned so well that we are celebrating Super and Fat Tuesday on the same day? And of course, there's the Giants and the ticker tape parade in downtown Manhattan this morning. And there's Chinese New Year in two days!!!

I'm completely over-stimulated, I must admit.

I did my civic duty and voted after work. Is this a great great presidential race this year, or what?!! I never thought that I would ever see such fervor in this country to vote especially among young people. I'm used to their complacency, feelings of disenfranchisement, and total lack of interest. I just watched ABC News and thus far, 11 million registered Democrats came out and voted nationwide tonight. And of the tallied votes there is only a 17,000 popular vote difference between Clinton and Obama. It's an exciting nail biter!!!

After I voted, I witnessed a very sweet moment in front of the local public library, which served as a polling place on days like today: an African-American woman was taking a picture of her daughter, who couldn't have been more than 5 years old. As I walked up to them, I realized they had just voted together and the mom was taking a picture of the historic event and her daughter held open a big sign hanging around her neck...kinda like those folks on a NYC corner wearing billboards and distributing flyers for manicures, eyebrow threading, or men's custom suit tailoring. I was thrilled that this little girl was getting taught at an early age about the importance of this civic duty! Touched by this moment, I stopped and offered to take their picture together. Mom agreed and as I was about to take the picture, I had to ask the girl to open up her sign since it got crushed because she was so busy hugging mom. She was so cute as she obediently followed my instructions, revealing a homemade sign with a picture of Obama that said, "Obama for President".

Doesn't this story just make your heart melt??? What a country!

There, I've proclaimed my side.

What are the taboo topics one does not discuss on a first date? Religion, politics, and sex (and ex-es as a corollary to this topic). Well, I would rather not discuss these topics either on my blog. So why declare who I support? Because it's important for me to state who I endorse (Ha, like I'm a somebody with any political power or money!) at this juncture of the race.

Hey wait a minute...I voted. Why didn't I act like a total slovenly glutton in honor of Fat Tuesday?

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Minute with Ciarán Hinds

I relish in my confidence and ability to talk to anyone. With charm and grace, I usually can hold my own in any conversation. College and university presidents, philanthropists, banking CEOs, the young and the old.


...I am standing in front of an actor. I can't believe how star struck I get! All my charms drain away and instead, I hear the pounding of my own heart in my ears as they burn searingly hot. Suddenly, all my easy confidence disappears and I have a case of temporary amnesia as to what to say next. A large part of me wants to remain indifferent and am ashamed that I react this way. Heck, these actors are people too; we're no different...well perhaps except in talent and in money?! My NYC pride reminds me that it is totally unfitting for a New Yorker to be flustered with a famous person. This city is a great equalizer; the world continues to turn regardless of who you are. People pay you no mind even if you are a star most of the time.

As a result, I've sat next to Kyle MacLachlan on the subway, dined next to Tom Selleck in a restaurant, seen Denzel Washington doing sit ups with his trainer at the gym, walked past Spike Lee buying his morning bagel from the guy in the corner cart, walked past Jason Biggs on the sidewalk only to encounter Ethan Hawke two minutes later, sitting in the front of a restaurant I entered, ridden the subway with Natalie Merchant and her newborn baby girl, accidentally bumped into Sarah Michelle Gellar, and watched Brad Pitt exit a pediatrician's office with Pax...all with such cool composure you could refrigerate cucumber on my face and body! Puhleaze. I am a New Yorker and I do not create a fool out of myself by gawking at celebrities. This is not Hollywood folks. Decorum, please.

But today was different. A special screening of Persuasion at Brooklyn College featured a Q&A with Ciarán Hinds after the film. He spoke for 15 minutes about the film, its production, and his own particular craft of acting. He was charming, soft-spoken, intelligent, funny, and quite the gentleman. I was struck at how different he is when he performs, most notably evident in his voice. His tone takes on more power, a kind of air if you will, when he's in character, which was lacking tonight. The only time I've noticed this kind of shift in a person is my cousin in the Philippines, Methodiusmonk. The moment he puts on his robes and celebrates Mass, he becomes a different person. Possessed by the Spirit, his exterior shell is of course the same, but his way of being is unrecognizable to us, his family. I suppose this is what I see too when actors are in "the zone"? Or when I used to give presentations; I was "on".

The Q&A session was an absolute delight albeit short. I managed to take some pictures with my camera phone but I felt absolutely silly doing so. As you can see, some pics are blurry because I so wanted to hurry up and put the phone away while equally desiring pictures of Mr. Hinds. Everyone rushed to the stage to ask for autographs and take pictures. I resolved that I would not get his autograph like everybody else. Yes, my NYC pride prevented me. Instead, I exited the auditorium and went to the bathroom in preparation for the hour subway ride home. After exiting the stall, I got a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Where was the confident woman I loved? Why was I letting this moment slip away? I had an opportunity for a guaranteed minute with Mr. Hinds so why not take it? I reasoned that I was not stalking him on some street corner with a raised picture and pen shoved to his face among a crowd of other fans. No, this opportunity would be more genteel.

So I forced myself to go back into the theater and I happened to be the last person on line. Thinking the woman before me was the last person he would speak with, he got up but then he saw me and stopped. I flashed him my winning smile, the one I've depended on to get out of numerous parking tickets or used to end a debate I've won. "I'm sorry Mr. Hinds. If I could oblige you for one last signature?" "Of course," he said and got back down to his knees. By the way, he was on the stage and I was on the ground. He looked so comfortable in such an uncomfortable position -- on all fours on a hard floor -- I wondered if he regularly did cat/cow poses from that tabletop position he seem to so easily be in? I handed him a playbill for The Seafarer. "I thought you were brilliant in the play," was all I could muster. Oh my wit escaped me! I wish I could've said more like how MoJo was so gripped by the tension that his hands shook at the end of the play! But the moment passed. He looked at me and asked, "To whom shall I address this?" I said my name, spelled it, and I watched him, mesmerized at the deliberate way he wrote. All I could say was, "Oh, I hope it doesn't smear!" referring to my ink pen's possible inability to stick on the shiny playbill cover. Gad, how idiotic did I sound?! When he signed his name, I thanked him again and he said, "Oh, it's alright." I smiled again and practically ran out of the theater relieved that our encounter was over.

I completely came undone.

So here it...a trophy for my courage. It's funny how my wish to meet him and get his autograph on my playbill came true. I remember how much I wanted to wait for him to come out of the theater after the play but I felt silly with MoJo with me. And here, a few days later, I managed to get it in a more intimate and personal setting.

Ask and you shall receive.

UPDATE: Click here to see another blogger writing about the evening's experience and thanks to ClaudeS39, we have a video of Ciarán's appearance that afternoon!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Double Celebration

Today, MoJo and I celebrate the one-year anniversary of our engagement. I marvel at how much our lives have changed in a mere year. I am absolutely thrilled that we are married now but a year ago, I never did think it was possible even though I wanted it to be so.

This hindsight reminds me that it is not meant for us to know the "how" but merely to express our desire for something and if it is God's will, finds a way to make it possible. A year ago before this day, I imagined we would get engaged in the summer after we graduated and that we would have to wait at least a year before we got married. How would we pay for the wedding knowing full well it would be big since we came from large families? Knots would form in my stomach as all these unanswerable questions swirled and lingered in my mind.

But life threw me a curve ball last February as it did MoJo, who realized that it was the right time to pop the question. And as the saying goes, "When one door closes, another opens." Events happened in such a way that led us to an October 2007 wedding and all sorts of people were incredibly generous. Would I have guessed that our wedding would happen so quickly despite my desire for it to be so? Absolutely not.

Our humanity limits our understanding of the infinitesimal possibilities for things, events, dreams to happen. We cannot see the big canvas of our lives nor are we meant to see. We merely get glimpses. I remember the Historian telling me that God gives us only headlights so that we can only see the few meters ahead.

As I contemplate what I want to do when I grow up this 2008, I must remember that I cannot focus on the how I am to accomplish my dreams. Rather, I am going to simply dream big. And somehow, with faith and purposeful action, each dream will be realized in its appointed time.

If you know what to do to reach your goal, it's not a big enough goal.
- Bob Proctor, Auther & Speaker

Oh, and by the way: can we say best Super Bowl E.V.E.R.?!?!!!!!!!!
Go go go go Giants!!!
Sorry Boston for blemishing your oh-too-perfect record.

AP Photo: Plaxico Burress catching the winning touchdown!!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

My Very First Chinese Wedding Banquet

My friend Jenn and her husband (in the middle) at their Chinese wedding banquet with me & MoJo on the left, and KT & her husband Jason on the right. Jenn, KT, and I went elementary and junior high school together. Jenn & I went to high school together. In the last few years, we recently got back in touch.

Here's a picture of me and a bunch of folks I went to HS with (and partners/spouses). It was great to see them; haven't laid eyes on some of them in 14 years! Looking at us now and comparing our faces to our HS photos (yes, I whipped out the yearbook as soon as I got home), we haven't aged one bit. We all look great!

Jenn's mom and dad who remember me and I them, with fondness. Jenn & I grew up a block away from each other and because we went to the same school for 13 years, we grew close. They always used to give my mom and I a ride to assemblies and such. What great memories I have from childhood of friends from the neighborhood.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Seafarer by Conor McPherson

Hurry! See The Seafarer. I can't remember the last time I've seen a play this good. Granted, I don't see a lot of plays but perhaps I might see more now, thanks to this one.

Set in Ireland, the protagonist Sharky returns to take care for his blind older brother. It's Christmas Eve and the two are in the house along with two other friends to drink and play poker. One friend brings a guest from Sharky's past, Mr. Lockheart, who turns out to be the devil himself coming to collect Sharky's soul. Sharky has to win the game in order to save it.

Tension replaced laughter in moments, only to revert back once again to laughter. This cycle continued throughout the play. MoJo was so gripped that he found his hands shaking by the end. It really was that good. The writing was excellent but the acting was even better...if you can imagine something better than excellent.

Conleth Hill, Jim Norton, David Morse, Ciarán Hinds and Sean Mahon
The actors of Conor McPherson's The Seafarer (l-r)
Photo by Joan Marcus

We walked out of the theater absolutely delighted by the play's ability to draw us in and forget about the world for 2.5 hours. As we walked back to the subway, I felt as if I jumped the space-time continuum. I felt disoriented as my eyes tried to adjust to the bright lights of Times Square compared to the drab, dreary house in Ireland I had just been in a few minutes earlier.

For the next hour, MoJo and I discussed the play, compared notes, and continued to feel the endorphin-like effects of having just undergone a fantastic experience. I was so completely moved that my dreams last night were racy and tumultuous. The content of my dreams, I cannot remember. I awoke feeling like my brain ran some kind of was spinning and moving so quickly I couldn't hold a moment of it in my hand.

My main reason to see the play centers solely on watching Ciarán Hinds act. Captivated by his portrayal of Frederick Wentworth in the 1995 BBC TV-film version of Jane Austen's Persuasion (my absolute favorite of Jane Austen's novels) he got on my list of "must-see-actors-any-chance-I-get". Tonight, I was not disappointed by his performance and his name remains planted firmly on my list.

Now if Hinds & Alan Rickman can be in a play together, it would be a dream come true! I would be the first in line to get tickets. :)

We ate dinner at Etcetera Etctera and the meal was nothing to write home about. Rarely, do we order dessert but the hazelnut ice cream doused with amaretto and espresso caught our eyes. So we ordered it and we were delighted by the sweetness of the ice cream juxtaposed against the bitterness of the espresso. Why have coffee and dessert separately when you can have it together?! Delicious! And easy enough to make at home.