Fresh out of the Box

Was browsing Barnes & Noble  and Borders website couple nights ago looking for some good reads (the plan was to purchase one book). After finishing Naslund, Ericsson and Frasers “Marie Antoinette”  books, I’ve been craving for more historic classics. I was quite surprise when I found out that B&N’s having a summer sale, including literary award winning and best selling books. The price was insanely discounted, 50% additional reduction of the clearance amount. A bit impossible to resist, don’t you think? Took me forever deciding which one to get. I couldn’t get just one, I ended with six books. I did my best to fight the urge, but I’m powerless over book sales. And what’s worse? I charged it on my credit card. Yahtzee!

The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory. I’ve red her last book, The Boleyn Inheritance, and really liked it. Hopefully, this book would be another page-turner. It’s the story of Katherine (of Aragon) from the royal court of Spain, who was to be the future Queen of England.

The Queen of Subtleties: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Suzannah Dunn. Thought I’d read another Boleyn novel, from another writers perspective. I’m always fascinated of novels who has this Joan of Arc’ish lead characters and I think Anne Boleyn possess this kind of charm.

Madame Bovary by Gustavo Faulbert. According to Michel Gaultier, it’s a genius story of human frailty and liberation — a tragic classic. So, I’ll give a shot. It was a suggested read after finishing Edith Whartons, Summer. They say the plot of the story was similar. From innocence to lustful desires, reviews says that it’s an erotic tale.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I red it back in college, took me two months to finish reading it. I was swamp with home work back then, too. I lost the book somewhere between our move and so, I’m putting it back in my collection.

The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendahl (pen name). Mister Reichman, my Historical Writing professor back in college told me about this book; it’s his personal fave along with The Brothers Karamazov. Which I think is one of the best works of Fyodor Dostoevsky.

The Complete Jane Austen Collection, which includes Persuasion, Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Senbility etc. Let’s see the difference between this book and the movie (which by the way, was pretty good – Pride & Prejudice. The one starring Keira Knightley). I’ve planned to read this book first, 715 pages!

A Funny Couch Conversation

Mom told me about three weeks ago that my newly widowed aunt is coming here to San Francisco to pay us a visit. Haven’t seen my Tiya Alicia for years, ten to twelve if I’m not mistaken. My parents both agreed (didn’t even bother asking me in advance) that she’ll be staying at my place, what was I suppose to say?  except “fine.”  It was my parents idea to have her come here for a couple months. After my Tiyo Pablo died last year of a sudden heart attack, she’s been by herself most of the time and left crying day and night. My parents thought a temporary change of environment would do her good.

We picked her up yesterday at the airport. She has aged a lot since I last saw her back in our ancestral house in Kamuning, but nonetheless, she’s still glamorous. Gave her a big hug and the customary beso-beso, it was nice to see her after many years. Like every relatives reaction, she was surprise how huge I’ve become. She jokingly said ” Iho, you’ve seem to have adapted well towards American lifestyle. Look how big you are now! “  What was I to say? I just had to smile.

Let’s push the fast forward button, to get to the funny part of my story…

Tiya Alicia was unable to sleep last night, said she’s tired but she still has jet lag. It’s also hard trying to catch up with the time difference. And since everyone else has retired, why not keep her company? A good chance to catch up on “chickas” about our family back in Manila. I asked her about her children (my cousins) and she claims they’re all doing fine. They’re all busy running what’s left of our grandparents business and keeping a family all together. She then asked me, how I’ve been.

” I’m doing okay naman po.” I said. “I keep myself sane by working and keeping myself busy. Kayo po, Kamusta na? “

” Mabuti naman, Anak. Naninibago lang siguro ako, ngayon na wala na ang uncle mo. “ She said and was a bit teary eyed.

Then she tried to change the conversation, maybe it was too soon to talk about her husbands death.  ” Eh ikaw, kelan ka ba mag-aasawa or magkakaanak man lang? Ikaw nalang kasi ang walang anak sa inyong magkakapatid. Hah! “

I was caught off guard for a minute. ” Naku Tiya, alam nyo namang bakla ako. Aasa pa ba raw akong mag-asawa? “

” Hanggang ngayon ba? “ I didn’t expect that response. Being openly and obviously gay my whole life, I was shocked. Is she in denial or what?

” Oo naman po, alam na po yata yan ng buong angkan hah! “ I started laughing. ” At tsaka nag asawa po ako dati, pero di rin nagtagal. Malas lang po siguro. ” Pertaining to my so called marriage (union ceremony) many years ago.

” Talaga, Anak! Bakit naghiwalay kayo? ” I knew she was going to ask me that.

“Mahabang kwento po. Basta nagkalabuan lang po kami ni Scott. Baka single for life na po talaga ang bagsak ko.” I saw her wrinkled her forehead.

” Scott? ” She asked.

” Tiya naman, bakla po ako. Di po ko pwede sa babae. “  Scratching my head after.

” Anak, pasensya ka na. Pero di ko lang talaga maintindan ang sexual preference mo. ”  In my head, what’s so unclear about it? I guess some of our older folks still have issues or different opinions about gay marriage and homesexuality, in general. But that’s absolutely fine by me, they’re entitled to their own belief. As long as they don’t start preaching and act self righteous, I’ll keep my mouth shut.

” Paano ang relationship nyo? “ Was her follow up question. She’s becoming intrigued of my gay affairs.

” What do you mean po, Tiya? “

” I mean yong, pagsasama nyo. Sino ang husband and sinong wife? “  This questions is driving me insane, seriously!

” Tiya naman, di naman po eto bahay-bahayan. Di na po yon importante. Basta nagmahalan, yon na po yon. “

” Sa tanda kong eto, Anak. Marami pa talaga akong di alam sa mundo. ”  She said with an innocent face. ” Ok lang ba sa Mommy at Daddy mo? Sa mga kapatid mo? “

” Oo naman po, but they chose not to dip their fingers in my personal life. That way po, tahimik ang buhay. ”  Was that a good answer? Hahaha. ” Si Daddy naman po kasi eh tahimik lang yan. Mag cocomment lang yan pag kelangan. Si Mommy, madalas mag sermon; but she’s accepting at minsan sinasakyan pa ang kabaklaan ko. My siblings, they care; but keep their distance. Okay naman po sa kanila eh. Wala namang problema, wag nga lang na mag-iiyak ako. “

” Ganoon ba, Anak. Mabuti at understanding sila sayo. ” Still with a hint of confusion.

” Wala naman po silang magagawa. Ganito na po ako, noong araw pa. Dba? At wala naman po akong ginagawang masama sa kapwa. Natatandaan nyo po ba nong bata pa ako eh madalas na akong tuksohin, sila uncle pa nga ang may pakana. Na paglaki ko raw eh magiging parlorista daw po ako don sa may kanto natin o di kaya eh mag-tatangga habang rumarampa sa kalye. So bakla na po talaga ako. Noong araw pa! “ Having that painful recollection tortured me almost my whole life. But then their predictions didn’t turn out right, so I’m the one who’ll have the last laugh on their bluff. I didn’t turn out to be a “parlorista” (no pun intended on my gay beautician friends) and definitely not (caught) wearing a swimsuit on a gay pride parade.

“Akala kasi namin eh magbabago ka pa, Anak. Na pagkakalakihan mo rin yan. “  Like it’s some sort of puberty or teenage issue, Heck no!

” Akala ko rin po eh! “

” Makulay pala talaga ang buhay mo, Iho. Pero kong masaya ka naman, eh okay na rin. Maaliw ang mga pinsan mo pag nakwento ko eto sa kanila. “

” Gawin ba raw showbiz ang buhay ko, Tiya. “ We both ended laughing. I guess I didn’t expect that a simple family conversation, can be both eye opening and comical.

More “chicka” to follow…

A Personal Record

I didn’t realize that I just set a personal record, been blogging for 11 consecutive days. Too much time on my plate lately or too many ideas running through my head. I wonder which one? 

(My favorite place to blog — at the OFFICE. No interruptions and free to think clearly.)

A short poem I wrote on a piece of napkin, while waiting for my freshly brewed Cafe Americano this morning. I don’t know exactly what my inspiration was, I just have the compulsion to write. I don’t have a title either and I’m open to suggestions. Here goes :

A thousand routes,

A thousand ways,

In the end,

One road remains. 

Then I red something inspiring from my Starbucks coffee cup. The Way I See It # 205:

Many people search blindly for the “meaning of life.” What they don’t seem to understand is that life does not have meaning through mere existence or acquisition or fun. The meaning of life is inherent in the connections we make to others through honor and obligation.

-Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Int’l Radio Host-.

I also found this neat political test online, they call it Political Compass. The results says that I’m a Libertarian Leftist, like Mahatma Gandhi, The Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela. Hmmmm, is this for real? For a while I thought I was an Authoritarian. Guess I can’t be in politics!

Left Wondering…

” If a man makes you walk the first step of your life. Will you help him walk the last step? “

Out of nowhere, my mom popped this question while I was driving her to an appointment she made at a nearby salon. I wasn’t able to thoroughly absorb her query, till I parked the car. I didn’t have time to answer, I just smiled. After mom stepped out, I was left by myself and an empty car. And while waiting for her to get done with her appointment, I just had to find the answer; at the very least some sort of clarity.

My family has been my driving force in life. The most important people, who I draw my strength and motivation. They’re the endless source of love and relief. My parents may never be a perfect couple, but they were the best. Often misunderstood, but most of the time impeccable down to there predictions. Rejoicing in the moment when we’re wrong and say the words ” I told you so…” It may hurt my ego at times, but nothing compares to a sweet embrace I get after a good cry. That’s tough love right there, something only family can give.

I think my mothers words was not intended as a question, but more like reassurance. In a land where it’s customary for grown children to have their aging parents put in nursing or senior institutions; it’s but natural for my mother to seek comfort in a promise that I will care for her when age has taken it’s toll. She’s but one in a million folks, who had this same question in mind.

But with all sincerity, I have no doubts or apprehensions. That if my parents have walked me this far in life, till now. Walking them to there last step is but a small price to pay for a life filled with love, blissfulness and dedication.

Said Goodbye to Pochette

Just last night, I said bye to Tzar. Today, it’s something else. After ten years of loyal service, my LV Pochette Gange bag finally said bye-bye (accidentally got caught on the door knob, the straps been detached from the bag itself ). I remember summer of 1997 at the Magnificent Mile in Chicago (LV Flagship/ Gallery), the day I laid eyes on her and whimsically bought her to satisfy my mundane desire. (1998 I bought, Montsouris and then, Musette in 2000) She’s been a reliable companion throughout my travels and lasted this far, considering I’ve use her more than the others. Never made any demands or ever complained, all she ever wanted was the dust bag, chamois cloth and a dash of leather cleaner or conditioner. I will miss her dearly, ten years together is such a long time.

I Miss You, Tzar

I was at a cat show in Lodi when my good friends from Cornish Rex Friends Rescue were chattering about a cat about to be surrendered by his owner. They were looking for a foster home nearby, preferrably in Northern California. ( My love for cats is infinite and I always have a soft spot for rescues and fosters.)  Without a doubt in my mind, I volunteered to take Tzar; on a temporary basis till we find him a suitable home.

On a dark friday night, Tzar was delivered at my door step. He was true gentleman from the start. He’s a guy with refined taste, who prefers to sleep in my bed rather than the snuggly pet mattress. Not to mention that he has to retire on top of a heating pad, and it’s turned on twenty four hours a day. He would only eat on a porcelain dish, totally ignoring the plastic ones I regularly use. He was one spoiled feline! And in return, he gets up at 6:30 every morning to wake me up; he was my alarm cat. And on cold days, he keeps me warm; he’s the best company to cuddle with on a winter night and when I’m reading a book.

But the day came when all this has to end. Earlier today, Tzar’s new parents came to pick him up. I had mix emotions about the whole thing, I was both happy and sad. I’m  glad he found a new home and new people who would love and care for him. But in a way, sad, cause I may never see him again. I never thought I’d shed a tear, but soon as he was out of sight — I started crying. I can’t beleive I already miss him.

Hayward: Heart of the Bay

My second home. It is a city located in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area in Alameda County. As such, it is considered one of the semi-major suburbs of Oakland and San Francisco. It is the sixth largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 140,030. The estimated population in 2007 is 155,312. The suburbs of Mt. Eden and Schafer Park have been incorporated into Hayward.

Hayward is the birthplace of Olympic gold medalist figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, Jack Del Rio, professional wrestler turned actor, The Rock. NBA Phoenix Suns Eddie House, Olympic gold medalist and professional boxer Andre Ward. Hayward is the sister city of San Felipe, Mexico as well as Funabashi, Japan.

Pretty interesting, huh? Was very much surprise when I red all that information online. Thanks to Wikipedia! Who would have thought I’d find bliss in my own backyard…

(From Top to Bottom: Hayward City Hall at night time, All Saints Catholic Church, Equine Sculpture at the City Hall lobby, View from the Hayward Hills after dark, Mission Hills, Madonna Sculpture at Downtown Hayward, Bridge going towards Hayward Shoreline and Lake Chabot)