Enchanting Chicago

The next morning, I woke up at about 10 AM to have brunch with my good friend Kay. I wasn’t really hungry, so I requested that we eat something light. You see the night before, I stuffed myself with some deep dish pizza. And I haven’t fully recovered from over gorging. So my friend suggested that we have some sandwiches and a smoothies, and we went to Frullati’s Cafe on Clark Street. I ordered myself a Mango Pineapple Smoothie and split a Veggie Sandwich with Kay. After a good two hours of chit-chatting, catching up on stories, we said our goodbyes and I decided to take a stroll at the Millenium Park.

There you’ll find these massive bean and egg shaped pieces of artwork (for lack of a better description) that would surely attract anyone, both tourist and locals alike. Then there’s the state of the art open stage where people can just lie down on the grass while watching a concert. I heard Yo-yo Ma once performed there and attracted a huge crowd of people. There’s also Grant Park that resembles old Luneta in Manila (during the good days). And there I saw Buckingham Fountain in all it’s glory.

I then decided to check out The Art Institute of Chicago where I saw some very nice paintings similar to that of the Legion of Honor Museum back in San Francisco. I was also fascinated with their photography exhibit, my eyes were wide open the whole time. Photographs of  Ansel Adams, Harold Allen, Jean Atget, Jonathan Bayer and a whole lot more. Images that I can only dream of taking. After a good four hours in the museum, my cellphone rang. It was my older brother reminding me of our dinner date the next day. By that time I realize it was getting late, I got out of the arts building and it was already dark and my legs aching. So I hailed a cab and went back to my hotel room. Ordered myself some steak and red wine, then knock myself to sleep. This is how I’ve always pictured my holiday, free to do whatever and whenever I want! 


A Walk In The Windy City

My day started with a breath taking sunrise as the plane was landing on Chicago. The Midway airport wasn’t too busy and there’s not too many people, which made walking out quick and easy. Soon as I got out of the gate, the hotel driver was right outside with his van. However, it was too early to checked myself in. So I decided to dropped off my stuff at the lobby and bagged breakfast on busy Michigan Avenue.

It was an animated Thursday morning in the city, people are walking fleet footed in both directions. I think I’m the only one taking my time, looking up and down like a tourist lost in the metropolis. I’ve been to Chicago quite a few times; but with my every visit, there’s always something new for me to discover. After an hour of walking, I came across this remarkable cafe at the corner of the Fine Arts Building called Artist Cafe. The smell of fresh coffee, pancakes and bacon was just too hard to resist, so I decided to have a sit down breakfast instead of getting myself something to go. I have all the time on my side and had to remind myself constantly that I’m on a holiday. Hahaha!

I ordered myself a Ham & Cheese Omelette, French Toast, a side of Bacon and Coffee (non decaf, of course). The servers are dressed casually with bright smiles on their face, that made it a jolly place to have a meal. Also, the lady who took my order was kind enough to gave me more bacon strips and a croissant, free of charge. What a nice treat for a tourist like me, don’t you think? The food was good and it fueled me up to last the whole day. It was a hearty meal that I didn’t bother getting lunch. They gave generous portions and the servers pay attention to their diners. Now, that’s excellent customer service right there!

And after that fabulous breakfast, I decided to walk a couple more blocks and saw this book shop called Prairie Avenue. It’s an artsy book lovers paradise, as this store caters to architecture and interior design enthusiast. I don’t consider myself an art connoisseur, but they did carry books for DIY aficionados like me. So I bought a couple books and headed out the door. A couple more blocks of walking and I’ve brought myself on the north side of Michigan Avenue they call, the Magnificent Mile. Where there’s 900 shops waiting — a shopaholics dream come true! Thank heavens , I left my credit cards back home. I must have been thinking ahead when I did that. Hahaha!

After window shopping and almost six hours of walking, I decided to take a cab back to the hotel. By the time I got there, I was ready to check in. I went up to my room (that was absolutely beautiful, paired with a wonderful view of the Chicago River), rested a little bit, took a shower and headed out again. This time, I don’t know exactly where I was heading. I’m just taking it slow, maybe I’ll get some more fresh air or if the museums open late night; I can probably take a peek. I have no plans in mind and I’ll go where my legs take me. The night is young and I have a whole city to explore!

There’s A New Guy In Town

I first saw him in the office lobby, he was wearing this light pink shirt, flat front chinos and this soft leather driving mocks. How I know the details of what he’s wearing? Of course, I checked him out as I was walking by. I knew he was new, cause I can recognized most of the people that work in the office. I work in a fairly small company, and since I do payroll from time to time. I’m very much aware of newbies and oldies.

Cee Cee and I went to the cafeteria for some quick breakfast, when I saw this tall handsome bloke in line and right in front of me (that same guy in the lobby). I pulled my friends sleeve and asked, who’s he? Cee Cee gave me this wide eyed look and said that he doesn’t know his name. All she knows is that he’s new and works as a contractor at the Engineering Department. No wonder, I didn’t catch his name — he’s not on my payroll. Hahaha!

And being the inquisitive being that I am. I went up to him and introduced myself. Found out later in our conversation that his name’s Ted and he’s indeed an Engineer. Then I realized he’s by himself having breakfast. So I invited him to join us on our table, which he gladly accepted. Cee Cee on the other hand  could not beleive that Ted is seating right in front of us. She kept of smiling and staring at him. Which I think made Ted a bit uncomfortable. I had to pinch Cee Cee on the side, so she can stop whatever it is she’s doing.

After a good half hour of chit-chatting over breakfast, we all got up and went back to work. And soon as I was on my desk, my phone started ringing. Guess who? Cee Cee. She was asking for my opinion — if Ted is gay or straight. I had a hunch he’s gay, but my friend says no way. So to make the long story short, we made a small bet (free sushi dinner).

Come lunch time, as I was about to head out of my office when I saw Ted walking towards my direction. He asked me if I had any plans for lunch and if I’d like to join him. It so happen that I didn’t have any errands. And decided that lunch with Ted was not such a bad idea. We went to the nearby Elephant Bar, about ten minutes drive from our office. Had an hour of laughing and cashual conversation, then we drove back to work.  That’s about it, nothing unusual.

Soon as I shut the door to my office, I called Cee Cee and told her about my lunch date. She was so green in envy and wanted to know more details. But our small talk was interrupted by a knock on the door, and I told Cee Cee that I’d have to get back at her after work. I thought it was my boss knocking, probably checking on what I’m doing. But when the door opened, it was Ted. He came by to thank me for having lunch with him and then he asked, if there’s a possibility of dinner when I get back from my vacation. Without any hesitation, I said YES!

Now, to my dear Cee Cee. You may want to make dinner reservations when I get back. I think my gaydars right, our bonny Ted may very well be queer!

The Proxy Wedding Singer

It was my cousins wedding and I had to drive a good three hours just to get this hotel where she was having her special event. The traffic on I-101 was just bad, both ways. By about 8 PM, I got to Monterey all tired and ready to go to bed. But I couldn’t just yet, since there’s a wedding rehearsal and dinner at the the nearby restaurant. The very moment I went inside the ballroom, I was surprised to see that all eyes were on me. I was puzzled at first, but decided to ignore the look I  got from members of the family. A couple minutes after, my cousin (the bride) got up and asked to speak to me in private. What did we talked about? You would not beleive it. They’re (bride, groom and family members) requesting that I sing for her wedding. Now, I feel like laughing! Is this some sick joke?

Don’t get me wrong, I do know how to sing. Going back my grade school and highschool years, I was an active member of glee clubs and choir groups. But that was it! I have no formal training in music or whatsover. Nor do I have a dream of becoming a singer. If ever I do sing nowadays, it’s all for fun. And I dare not embarrassed myself in front of many people, half of which I don’t even know . And so I talked my cousin into forgetting this whole idea. But she didn’t let me off the hook that easy. She made me sing right that very minute and then got on her kness. She’s really serious about this. She’s begging me to sing on her wedding. Now, what am I supposed to do?

That same night, I went to my hotel room with a CD player in one hand and lyrics on the other. I was to sing One in a Million You for the bridal march, For Once In My Life , The Way You Look Tonight and a duet of the song, All I Ask of You. Luckily, I knew the songs as I’m an avid listener of Michael Buble and Larry Graham records. Bu am I really ready for the embarrassment.? Seriously, what did I get myself into?

The next day, I woke early to do a dry run. In as much as I’d like to sing without a cheat sheet in front of me, there’s just no way I can memorize four songs in one night. I phoned my cousin and she said that it’s alright if I had to read some of the lyrics. For my first song, I was to sing A One in A Million You as my cousin Jane walks the aisle with my uncle. This huge door opened and when I saw how stunning Jane was in her wedding gown ( and gaved me that quick wink). Suddenly, I was feeling more inspired. I couldn’t let my cousin down. And so, I gave the song my 100% and was surprised that I was able to get myself to sing the high notes (just a lucky amateur). I was grasping for breath after, but the people seemed to like it. I even got a thumbs up from the bride and groom. Now, this is how it feels to perform again!

After the first song, I think I’ve bought myself some confidence. That this time, I was more relax and wasn’t as timid as I was earlier. For the newly weds first dance, I sang The Way You Look Tonight. It was then followed by For Once In My Life. Then the last song was All I Ask of You, for the couples last waltz. After my humble performance, I was ready to gulp a gallon of water. I was thirsty as a camel and finished about five glasses of cold water in one seating. Hahaha! But looks like everyone had a wonderful time and enjoyed their proxy wedding singers exhibition. Whoah, what a day and what an experience!

Knowing Yourself

The world always makes sure that you cannot fool yourself for long about who you really think you are, by showing you what truly matters to you. How you react to people and situations, especially when challenges arise, is the best indicator of how deeply you know yourself. Nobody can tell you who you are! It does not  even require realization, since you already are who you are and that requires no belief from the world around you.

A Wedding, Some Drama & Family Affairs

It was my cousin Jane’s wedding, with long time boyfriend Marlon. It was one happy event, an affair with the whole Bautista-Reyes family. We have relatives flying in from across the land and seas, siblings and close relatives from my fathers side of the family. We have Tiya Amelia and her family from Australia. Tiya Zenaida, Tiyo Nicanor and Lola all the way from Valencia, Spain to witness the event. There’s Tiya Virginia and her daughters from their holiday in Hawaii. Then Tiya Alicia, Tiyo Manuel and Tiya Conchita from Manila with a family entourage. All seven children, along with spouses, grandchildren, great grandchildren and close relatives. So it was sort of a big event, like an unplanned reunion. Just our family alone, excluding Marlon’s side was a whopping 85 guests. I think there was enough number of people to fill a whole ballroom.

Of course with members of the clan all together in one roof, means both drama and endless criticisms. I remember my Tiya’s eyebrows raising when my mother made her grand entrance in her lilac floral gown, along with Daddy Aldo (my mother’s fiance’). Mom has just a way of intimidating people without uttering a single word. But allow me to remind you that my mother’s tie to the Reyes clan was severed when she got divorce to my father (considering it was my Dad’s vice that instigated the separation). And on top of that, my Mom’s new companion came as a big surprise to them. My golly it’s been so many years and some people refused to move on!

But since Mom was cousin Jane’s godmother, and one of the guests of honor; mother decided to attend this wedding. My cousin was insistent and Mom could not refused. Also, Lola asked to see my mother in person. They haven’t seen each other for almost a year now. And beleive it or not? The two has such a wonderful relationship besides the failed marriage. As my grandmother would say over and over again in family functions — that it was my fathers fault and his mistress (turned wife after) that caused the family scandals, that led to my parents separation. That no one replaces my mothers place in her heart. I tell you, my grandmother is a character. Hahahaha!

Besides my mothers grand entrance, I saw different facial reactions from other members of the family when Lola introduced Mom to relatives as her most adored daughter-in-law. When in fact there’s another woman in my fathers life that she refuses to acknowledge. In as much as I’m also not fond of (though we’re civil and I have my own reasons)) Tiya Lourdes (the new wife), I felt like what Lola was doing was an insult on her behalf. But who am I to stop the last living matriarch of our family? So I told Dad and Tiya Lourdes to ignore grandmothers rave and just move to another table, which they did. I was saddened to see my madrasta teary eyed and feeling alienated among her supposed-to-be family. My stepmother and I were never closed, but if I try to put myself in her shoes — I would really feel bad. And so I needed to do something to help lessen the embitterment she’s feeling. I went up to her, paid my respects and had a descent conversation. I also went up to my Tiya Virginia, the coolest of all my (snobbish) aunts and asked that she joins us and talk to my fathers wife. Thankfully, she agreed and kept her entertained the whole time. In no time, they were laughing and giving each other high fives. That was such a relief!

Then there’s my cousin (the one who once owed me money, remember him?) who was pretending that we’re okay. What a jerk! I guess he was trying to put a show for the family. But in fairness to him, he did apologize after the wedding reception. I did accept and was polite about it, but I can’t pretend we’re all good. That’s just not part of my nature! Maybe in the next couple days or weeks, I’d hit my head on concrete, forget what happened and let things be the way it once was. Yah, right!

So as you can see, in as much as you’d expect our family to be so open and accepting, the idea of divorce is not so well received (till this day). My dad’s siblings find it quite hard to beleive that separated couples can be friends (like in the case of my parents). I don’t know what kind of mentality they have, but for some reason they’re still stuck in the ice age.  There minds to refuse adapt with present time. But then again, they’re entitles to their own judgement. Seeing our parents happy and in good terms is enough for us children. I couldn’t care less what others think of them. You can call them dysfunctional or deficient, but they’re the best for us. We may differences and separate lives, but nonetheless we’re auspicious in our own right; just by simply having each other.


My Desk Top Free View

I was tagged by my dear sister, Thess. I have two laptops, the Mac I use for work (and leave at the office as much as possible) and one I personally own (for my hobby & web browsing). So for this post, I’ll be posting the one I use for blogging and photo editing, my own laptop. There’s nothing extraordinary about my screen, pretty straight forward if you ask me. The desktop background is a male nude sketch work, charcoal on newsprint. Something I bought online from an artist in Massachusetts. The original piece is framed and nicely displayed in my home office along with my other nude art collection. Here’s a view of my laptop screen:

Now for the finale, here’s the free view instructions as quoted from Sister Thess:

A.  Upon receiving this tag, immediately perform a screen capture of your desktop. It is best that no icons be deleted before the screen capture so as to add to the element of fun.

You can do a screen capture by: [1] Going to your desktop and pressing the Print Scrn key (located on the right side of the F12 key). [2] Open a graphics program (like Picture Manager, Paint, or Photoshop) and do a Paste (CTRL + V). [3] If you wish, you can “edit” the image, before saving it.

B. Post the picture in your blog. You can also give a short explanation on the look of your desktop just below it if you want. You can explain why you preferred such look or why is it full of icons. Things like that.

C. Tag five of your friends and ask them to give you a Free View of their desktop as well.

D. Add your name to this list of Free Viewers with a link pointing directly to your Desktop Free View post to promote it to succeeding participants.

Dom Lawrence

To keep the ball rolling, I’d like to tag (hope you don’t mind) : Abby G, Banggigay, BW, Meeya, Weng, Mark, Jen, Apols, Eric , Liv & Cheh. Hope you find time to do this and if this happens to be a duplicate tag, no need to redo it. I guess linking it would be just fine.

Thank you all and have great week end. I am off to Monterey now for my cousins wedding!