The Carnival

Today we went to Chini's school for their annual fund-raising carnival and it was bigger and better than I expected. Everything was there, albeit on a smaller scale- food, rides, entertainment, a pit full of donated toys for sale that Chini was crazily digging through for that perfect toy (each one being perfect until you find another one and then another..) and kids. Chini has an easy, confident friendliness that is so grown-up, calling out school-mates not for attention but because she was simply glad to see them.

I don't have fond memories of childhood school carnivals. The one memory I have was being held in the carnival jail and because I didn't really have any friends who could come forward to bail me, the jailers grudgingly let me out. Funny thing is that those childhood experiences of loneliness and of being bullied didn't really affect me at all. I knew innately that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me, that the world was composed of friendly people and assholes and that at some point, you had to choose which of the two was most likely you. 

I looked around at all the kids having fun, enjoying the uncomplicated, carefree concerns of childhood and thought, it was really good while it lasted.

Eye test

Beginning in the early to mid-40s, many adults may start to have problems seeing clearly at close distances, especially when reading and working on the computer. This is among the most common problems adults develop between ages 41 to 60. This normal change in the eye's focusing ability, called presbyopia, will continue to progress over time.

My first memory of my mother reading anything other than her teaching stuff was in elementary school when she came home one day with a whole stack of paperbacks from the book-bargain bin Book Sale. By the time I was in high school and she was in her early 40s, she had started wearing glasses. She blamed her deteriorating eye-sight on those paperback books and cautioned us to never read in dim light; to never go to bed with wet hair (not sure if she really said this lol) and sealed the argument with the claim that blindness ran in the family (I actually only know of one, my grandmother's younger brother Ely who had been blind for as long as I can remember growing up).

Initially, you may need to hold reading materials farther away to see them clearly. Or you may need to remove your glasses to see better up close. Print in the newspaper or on a restaurant menu may appear blurred, especially under dim lighting.

Over three years ago, I started having problems focusing on my computer screen. I even blamed it on the fact that it was a PC and even requested for a new one, a bigger and brighter 27-inch iMac. But the problems persisted. There were times later in the day when I would feel slightly faint, my vision blurring. One day my colleague asked me why I was adjusting the distance between myself and the computer screen and I told her that the screen didn't seem to be that clear as I thought it would be. Really she said surprised. Could it just be the fact that maybe you might need glasses? The thought that it was probably my eye-sight all along didn't occur to me at all. You watch out for wrinkles (a good 10 years away I think) or that tell-tale shot of pain in your joints, but you never quite realize that your eye-sight is getting bad, dismissing it as simply part of your exhausting day's side-effects. So off I went and had my first eye-test with local optometry chain OPSM. I remember the day I got my first 'proper' glasses. We went to a cafe for brunch after picking the glasses up and there was that startling moment of realization staring at the food in front of me looking as clear as an HD image, that you hadn't been really looking at the world the way you used to. Something had irrevocably changed and it didn't need your permission or approval. I felt a bit sad but comforted myself with the thought that at least, I got a really great-looking pair of Rayban frames.

During these years, schedule a comprehensive eye examination with your optometrist at least every two years to check for developing eye and vision problems. Don't rely on the limited driver's license vision test or other insufficient vision screenings to determine if you have an eye or vision problem.

Adults over 40 who have the following health or work issues may be particularly at risk for developing eye and vision problems:

  • Chronic, systemic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • A family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration.
  • A highly visually demanding job or work in an eye-hazardous occupation.
  • Health conditions related to high cholesterol, thyroid, anxiety or depression, and arthritis for which you take medications. Many medications, even antihistamines, have vision side effects.

So I'm like over a year overdue for the required two-year re-test and at the back of my mind, it's the same strange consistent denial of those little signs- the eye fatigue, shot proof-reading levels as you miss out on words, little twinges in your head at 4pm. So after two cancellations, I finally made it back to the OPSM branch in Papakura which is easier commuting to than the other branch where I had my first test. I've only learned recently that when you go for an eye-test, your results- or your script- is yours; you're not obliged to order your glasses from the tester. OPSM has always been the most expensive one of the chains because they carry high-end labels. Woe to you if you're a label whore. Woe to you if you couldn't afford it. But I can- and would I wear anything else but Raybans??? I must admit though that after two glasses with them, I could feel a slight burn in my pocket (each pair with the lens cost well over $500). 

I've discovered that there a million cheaper but stylish frames out there. There is a site called clearly where you simply send in your script and they make your glasses for you with nice frames starting at under $65. I got a pair from them once, but either I got bits of my script entered incorrectly (I'll make sure I get the script typed as opposed to written down by hand and then photographed with a phone camera!), or the quality was simply not there because the lens view was all wrong. Plus, I chose a frame shape that I later realised didn't really fit my face shape. 

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I've been asking around and I think you get what you pay for. The very thorough 45 minutes I spent at OPSM was apparently vastly different (according to co-workers) from the hurried, somewhat fast-food orientated operation of the other competitor chain (Tommy Hilfiger, honestly?). There were a lot of steps- photographing, examination of the inside, heaps of quick-flashing lights; the eye-ball pressure test involved a slightly stinging application of a desensitising liquid followed by yellow dye which I feared, dyed my eyeballs an alarming shade of hepatitis-yellow. 

And when it was all done, my eyes rested on a pair of frames I was actually praying not to see in the shop- Rayban Wayfarer frames; a perfect match to my Rayban Wayfarer sunglasses. 

Now that's a sight for sore eyes...

Source: https://www.behance.net/gallery/8843453/Eyeglass-Frames-(GIF)

X and the 6th

Some people are one or the other and in my choice of phones, I have always been the Apple other. I started with the 3Gs, then the 4s, the 5, the 6 Plus, the 7 Plus and now my 6th one, the X (ten).

I had a brief fling with Android for a bit (for research purposes only lol) but it was more for nostalgia (remember Sony-Ericsson? They had the dopest phones back in the day when the word dope meant something else) and the camera (which was 50-50 for me).

But I'm a creature of habit so I've gone back to Apple, will stay committed to it and will continue to buy every worthy new iteration that comes out because that's just the way it is. 

My thoughts on the new iPhone:

1. Just when you thought they couldn't make it any more beautiful, they do. The trade-off with its looks is that it's fragile. It has never been a phone you can use sans case without risking scratches and dents. I ordered a case and a screen-protector prior to pre-ordering and put them on the phone the moment I took it out of the box.

2. I hate dimmed devices and I sometimes become a source of distraction when riding with friends in darkened cars as I would have my phone at full brightness. But maybe its the OLED screen? Or the so-called True-Tone display? But at something like 40% brightness, text has never been truly crisper, more well-defined which makes me think, Retina display was never really what it claimed it to be; that this is the true superior display.

3. People complain about the lack of this, or what Apple has taken away and I think, they've probably haven't used Apple devices enough. I've had Apple devices for over a decade and the evolution of their ecosystem has been so consistent and controlled that changes improve your experience and use of them. Sure, there will be the odd annoying feature, but overall, the change is tremendous but never announces itself in an unnecessary aggressive fashion. Just barely half a day since I started using the iPhone x, handling my iPhone 7 Plus seems like several steps backward. The home button proved itself to be a significantly unnecessary tedious step. To be able to simply swipe away app windows within the screen area itself makes for a faster, smoother control of the phone.

4. Even before I realised it, my main phone usage is photography. I have taken to picture taking as my de facto note taking, my daily journal. I had high hopes for the camera, especially for the front-facing ones. But the promotional photos aside, photos taken from the rear of the camera are better. I have this beef with iPhone cameras, perhaps my only beef with it- I don't think I ever looked good in photos taken by them, hence the lack of selfies even if I am apparently, super vain.  But I'm not vain enough to ditch it for Android just because I'm not happy with how I look.

5. I love the animojis!

A long urban weekend

I know for a fact now that given the choice between a scenic hike and three hours roaming a luxury mall, I would definitely pick the latter. I don't mind hiking, but if you get the same health benefit walking up and down the aisles, your heart-rate picking up at the price of an Armani sweater you thought looked great with your jeans, then why not.

Auckland is not by any means, a worthy competition to Melbourne, Honolulu or even Manila, but I've learned to accept what I can get. You just have to learn how to navigate the city's  nooks and crannies to look for what you want. And sometimes, you even find stuff you don't expect to find like Moscot eyewear, tucked away in a small shop inside the Queens Arcade; quirky sweatshirts by Paul Smith inside iconic Smith & Caughey's; or a thousand and one beauty products at any of those Asian shops that sprout and disappear like mushrooms all over the city.

And you don't have to buy anything- perusing and filing the knowledge of what's available, or what's possible (better skin for middle-age?), is the whole point. 

Was so upset, ended up buying shoes

I'm truly a New Zealander now, to the bone. I voted in the last elections with a passion I hadn't felt in a long time. I care about issues and my future in a country where I can definitively say would be the place I would die and be buried in. I'm also upset that today, the party I voted for didn't take their place in government as I had been hoping.

I was so upset that I ended up buying a pair of sneakers I had some doubts buying. 

Suffice it to say that I was efficiently distracted by the whole experience (a first for shoes) of being the first to get a pair with the imminent possibility that the size and colour I wanted would run out. It was like getting Adele concert tickets all over again.

I was put on a queue and in suspense as I waited for over 15 minutes wondering if I would get it. If I were, to be honest, I didn't really care. It's just shoes I thought, or just a phone, or just Adele (no one else is like Adele really). But I guess we need these 'little wins'; that feeling that all the effort and the waiting are somehow worth it, even if all our expectations have yet to be proven.

We wouldn't know would we until we get it, until we try it out and take our first steps in it. 

It could all go terribly wrong and wait- I'm talking about the shoes I bought and not Jacinda Ardern and her Labour-New Zealand First coalition government. 

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Off Day

A cold starts with that tell-tale tickle in your throat and the scary thing is this- there's no warning. You were fine when you woke up. You were fine the night before. But suddenly, just before you get up from your desk for morning break, you feel the tickle. You clear your throat once, twice. You go to the bathroom to muffle the sound of more aggressive clearing and it doesn't go away. 

In the past I didn't know any better and as the day progressed, I would feel the tickle grow like a warm, tingly diaphanous web inside my body. My face would feel hot and then cold. I would feel light-headed, my eyes watering. By evening, an explosion of sneezes fills my lungs, my nose with mucus. I get to bed knowing that something out of my control has gained possession of my body.

But I learned by accident that you could arrest this- first sign of that tickle and you literally bombard it with everything and anything- anti-bacterial lozenges, a hot drink made of 650 mg of paracetamol (an analgesic), and 10 mg phenylephrine hydrochloride (a decongestant), cold and flu tablets, cough syrup, mug after mug of hot lemon juice and honey. It wouldn't hurt if for dinner you had something really spicy- all that capsaicin (and approx 239% vitamin C).

And it works- kind of. The tingle would be gone the next day, but you sort of realise, this thing doesn't give up without a fight. It's been arrested, but it's not dead. The barest of signs linger; a still throaty, stuffed sounding voice, the occasional sniffle.

But it drives home the point- you're mortal. Your efficiency as a human being depends on the state of your body. Health is not wealth, it's life itself. Nothing else matters- I did a few emails, vacuumed, washed whites- was I working or was I not? My mind, stilled probably by all the medication swirling in my body, said it didn't really care and just after noon, I turned off my email notifications and had a blessed nap. 

I turned off stuff, but I'm still here.

Had that blood test today for lipids. if medication works, do you keep on eating the way you do? 

Had that blood test today for lipids. if medication works, do you keep on eating the way you do? 

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I would make a sizeable batch of adobo- a mix of chicken breasts and thighs cooked in apple cider vinegar and Kikkoman soy-sauce and nothing else,  and would just take portions out for lunches and sometimes, for midnight snacks because why not?

I would make a sizeable batch of adobo- a mix of chicken breasts and thighs cooked in apple cider vinegar and Kikkoman soy-sauce and nothing else,  and would just take portions out for lunches and sometimes, for midnight snacks because why not?

Chini Rae kept me company via her mother's phone

Chini Rae kept me company via her mother's phone

WATCHING: DR FOSTER

We've all had drama, but we never realise how harrowing emotional upheavals/betrayals are - at least that's what BBC One drama series Dr. Foster wants us to actually picture, or remember. Every drawn breath, surreptitious glance and loaded word has the heft of a metal hammer, the slice of a hidden blade or the surprise firing of a gun at close quarters. But there is barely any physical violence here, none that I've seen so far anyway through three episodes of season two. Beyond the ugly crying and the endless rationalisations, unfaithfulness is about that awful punch to the gut- and that for some of us, the only resolution is punching right back.

Sunday's Ultimate Life Tips list

I don't know why the first thing I do in the morning is to reach for my phone as if Im expecting to find something life-changing in it. Like free money? Not. 

Saw this list in the NZ Herald and it made me smile.

1. Use olive oil instead of extra-virgin olive oil when cooking with heat. It has a higher smoke point and is cheaper. Use your nice oil for finishing dishes, not for preparing them.

2. When you break a glass on a hard floor, shine a flashlight parallel to the floor so you can see the shadows of tiny pieces you would otherwise miss.

3. Unless you like soggy wet toast, buy butter/margarine with the highest grams of fat per serving.

4. When ironing clothes, don't start from the front side. Leave the front side to the last to have an excellent finish.

5. When cleaning mirrors or windows and have no window cleaner in hand, use newspaper with water.

6. If you want to avoid pocket dials, move your recent calls icon into a separate folder.

7. Bees hate CO2. If one is bothering you, gently blow on it and it will fly away.

8. Tourist with a camera? Take a picture of your contact details. This would make it easier for someone to get in touch with you if you ever lose your camera.

9. If you are given a prepaid debit card as a gift, save it after you spend the money. You can use it to sign up for free trials online without worry of being scammed.

10. If your printer is out of black ink and you need urgent printout, change the color of the font to #010101, which is 99 per cent grey, it will help you quite a lot.

11. Let someone know you're picking up the tab for a meal after they've ordered. This allows a considerate friend to order what s/he wants freely and also prevents a colleague/acquaintance from taking advantage of your generosity.

12. If your other half can't make a decision about where to eat, play the 5-2-1 game. You give them five restaurants, they pick two, and you pick from those.

13. Whenever you travel abroad bring a new soundtrack for each place you visit, preferably one you have never heard before. In the future, every time you listen to each soundtrack again they will bring you vivid memories of the places you have visited.

14. If Word crashes or shuts down and your document didn't save, search ".asd" in the file Explorer under "This/My PC". It should be there.

15. When you're about to cry, think of words that rhyme or count backwards from 100 in sevens. Engaging the logic part of your brain shifts blood flow away from your emotional centres and helps you maintain your composure.

16. If you are buying headphones/speakers, test them with Bohemian Rhapsody. It has the complete set of highs and lows in instruments and vocals.

17. If you want to "vacuum seal" food, put it in a ziplock bag and submerge it in a bowl of water with the bag open above the water. The water will push the air out of the bag, and you can close it without any left inside.

18. When you sign up for anything online, put the website's name as your middle name. That way when you receive spam/advert emails, you will know who sold your information.

19. If an indoor cat gets outside and lost, put their litter box outside. They can smell it from up to a mile away and find their way home.

20. Learn to read food labels. "Made from 100 per cent ..." is not the same as "Made with 100 per cent ..."

21. If somebody comes to your door selling a home security system and asks if you have one, always say yes. You never know if you're talking to a potential burglar.

22. When walking your dogs, make them sit and wait before crossing streets. This will make them hesitate about running into roads if they ever get loose.

23. If you want to learn a new language, figure out the 100 most frequently used words and start with them. Those words make up about 50 per cent of everyday speech already and should be a very solid basis.

24. Go to the zoo when it is a little cool outside. The animals will be active trying to warm up.

25. Bring a healthy snack to work. If you're looking for a snack but don't feel like eating the one you brought, you're not hungry, you're bored.

26. There is a visible difference between not working out at all and doing 15 pushups every day. Make 15 pushups your new "not working out".

27. If you can hear them but they can't hear you, you're the one with the weak signal.

28. Leave the washing machine lid open after every load of wash to allow moisture to escape and dry it out.

29. If you have a clogged drain use baking soda and vinegar to dissolve the clog and flush with boiling water to avoid buying expensive drain cleaners.

30. After you assemble furniture, use duct tape to attach things like hex keys, that came with the furniture, to the underside. You won't have to look for it when you have to disassemble the furniture.

Source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/

Deja vu

IOS 11 is Harry Potter magic; Live photos can be rendered into loops, bounces. Who would have thought that a moment in time could be captured so perfectly as a gif? 

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Friday

I have this fear that there will be that one morning when I wake up, having blissfully put my phone on flight mode through the night, that goddamned North Korea has launched a nuclear/hydrogen bomb attack because of goddamned Donald Trump. 

This Friday morning the sky seemed on fire for no other reason than the fact that it was another Friday; that we get to be alive and well for one more day; that we have to persevere only because there are people we love who need our protection and care.

Sunday 2

If I had a choice, I would have grilled pork belly, steamed shrimps, 'inihaw na bangus' and a salad of steamed okra, tomatoes and seaweed. But this three-egg spinach omelette would have to do.

If I had a choice, I would have grilled pork belly, steamed shrimps, 'inihaw na bangus' and a salad of steamed okra, tomatoes and seaweed. But this three-egg spinach omelette would have to do.

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A vote that actually counts

Don't get me started on politics. I don't even know where to begin. It had always been my dad's dream to work in government, and he got in around 1992 and died in what was technically still his term in office twelve years later.

So basically I've lived it, worked for a politician for nine years and I don't want to ever live it again though, on occasion, I get worked up as I've been with Hillary Clinton which is bizarre because I don't even live in the United States.

But that's politics- it's very irrational even if politicians try so hard to tell you that it's necessary, that your life and your future depend on it. Outside of my irrational trolling of Donald Trump at every opportunity I get, my life seems to hum along just fine. Interest rates don't bother me because I don't have a mortgage; I can afford $4 avocados when I feel like having one; I'm not troubled with child-care issues because I don't have kids; I think my carbon footprint is small because I don't drive which doesn't matter anyway because climate change is irreparable and we're all fucked.

I think I envy people who are so clued into what's happening but beyond the academic astuteness, does it help anyone? Remember that memorable scene in 'The Devil Wear's Prada' where Anne Hathaway's character is rebuked for thinking she's exempt from fashion when in truth, no one is? I'm sort of thinking that one of these days, someone or something will remind me that I'm not exempt from politics. But I'm not holding my breath. 

For now, I'm casting a vote for myself- NOT waiting for anyone to help me change or run my life.

CHINI RAE LEADS THE WAY. We voted at Chini Rae's school, Opaheke Primary

CHINI RAE LEADS THE WAY. We voted at Chini Rae's school, Opaheke Primary

Fish and chips Sunday

In a country where food choices are surprisingly few, I wouldn't complain if I had fish and chips every other day. There is always something inherently satisfying about a meal that has some carbs, a whole lot of fat, a fair amount of protein and the flavour of which you can calibrate with more salt if necessary (flaky salt is best); a dash of something sour (malt vinegar is rubbishly ineffectual in cutting through the fat, use native Philippine vinegar instead preferably one that you've spiked with chilies); or something surprising like Japanese mayonnaise and pungent horseradish.

Variety can also be achieved by buying your fish and chips from different places; no two are the same with significant variances in the batter (a nearly equal ratio of batter to fish-meat is best) and of course, the type of fish used. There's hoki (lemon fish?), tarahiki and snapper which I always go for even if it's slightly more expensive. Apparently, in the South Island, they commonly use Bluefin Gurnard and blue cod, both of which I still haven't had the chance of tasting.

When Jay first visited New Zealand he became enamoured with fish and chips and we wondered why in a country like the Philippines where seafood was virtually predominant, no one has thought of dipping boneless bangus in batter and putting it in the deep-fryer- and that's because it's dumb. And unnecessary- bangus is flavourful by itself, unmasked save for salt and pepper (but don't forget the dipping sauce of fish sauce and calamansi).  But white fish are inherently bland, hence, the mummification with eggs and flour. But I'm not complaining.

Time out but not really

Being able to work at least once a week at home (or anywhere really where there is a reliable internet connection) is a privilege which I have to remind myself, I have justifiably earned. I am fortunate that natural habits- a compulsion for thoroughness- can actually be rewarded by a generous and understanding company.  But lately, I am stepping away from that when I realised that if I were to quantify it, I was giving something closer to 110%. Too much. OA na iyan. The number of times I have said  'so busy' to friends who somehow still remember to say hi is astounding only for the fact, that it's the absolute truth. 

But I'm not miserable. I'm not fat- in fact, I'm a few months away from getting abdominal muscles to show. I'm happy in the abstract sense of the word and content in the quantifiable sense of the word. 

But yes I'm busy- and glad that today. I can work at home and do my laundry for 'breaks'.

Rebel in the Rye

I was saying to Sam's mum Mary this morning on our 7am drop-off that maybe I should re-read 'Catcher In The Rye'. Books are like people; how you get along with them depends on your level of maturity, your current state of mind. If I remember it correctly, I read the book when I was in college; there was a copy in my Tito Benny's library in Fairview. 

I can say for sure that it didn't affect me as much as the Chronicles of Narnia did which I all read when I was 11, or Sidney Sheldon which I started reading at 12. So in hindsight, I wasn't at all the alienated adolescent that I thought I was. Holden Caulfield aside, I can identify more with JD Salinger.

I'm going to be a writer when I grow up, I declared to anyone who asked when I was 13 and unlike JD who was inspired/moved/influenced by his experiences in the war, Hemingway by his extensive travels or Tolstoy having a profound moral crisis, I was a child who was simply imaginative. And bored. And friendless for the first 16 years of my life. And well provided for by nearly perfect parents who didn't beat me up, let me starve or be sexually molested. In short, what the hell was I going to write about?? This is generalising I know, but something profound, something really important could have been a start- and I think that what I had wasn't just enough of a catalyst. Wasn't enough material.

Opening in theaters September 15th Directed by: Danny Strong Starring: Zoey Deutch, Kevin Spacey, Nicholas Hoult, Lucy Boynton & Sarah Paulson The world of legendary writer J. D. Salinger is brought vividly to life in this revealing look at the experiences that shaped one of the most renowned, controversial, and enigmatic authors of our time.

I actually came across this trailer on Jessica Zafra's blog- yes, I check on the old girl once in a while to see if she's still alive (!)- and watching it made me cringe; nearly every line uttered in the trailer was me, that old writer me.

1. All I know is how to be a writer
2. My life is dull
3. Fiction is more truthful than reality
4. "I write short stories"
5. Write another story and another one after that
6. How is writing a real profession?
7. I don't know if I'm cut out for this
8. Are you willing to devote your life to telling stories?
9. Dumb it down once in a while
10. You can enrapture people, move people
11. I just want my writing to be truthful
12. You got to stick out these dry spells
13. Imagine a book that you'd want to read and go write it

Mum

There are some Kiwi/non-Filipino things that I don't feel comfortable doing or saying. Like buying and giving greetings cards (I have a suspicion though that card-giving is probably universal); using the words 'mate' (which is similar to like saying 'pare' but 'mate' is applicable to anyone regardless of gender) or 'ta' which is a British-ism for 'thank you'. 

But I like saying 'mum'. We grew up calling our parents mommy and daddy and switched to mother and father when we got older. One would have thought that using 'mom' or 'dad' would have been natural seeing how Americanised Filipino culture is, but I think Kris Aquino put us off using it. It sounded like a pretentious upper middle-class affectation and while it seemed that people thought we were in that social category, the truth was that we never did put ourselves in any. We slummed it out with rest of them and when necessary, played the part better than the best of them. Integrity, and your own self-respect were far more tangibly better things to possess than financial and career success. But mum wouldn't begrudge praise when friends or acquaintances kids achieved either- and would point it out to you. The fact that it didn't take me long to realise that it wasn't meant as a subtle jibe is credit to her perseverance- and commitment to her job as a mother. 

You can only push your child so much but she certainly tries, and still does. And this to me is her most important legacy, something she practices herself to this day even if it sometimes borders on near obsession (like her fervent Catholicism; her championing of her friends; her zealous dieting). 

You have to try, and try, until you literally succeed (a really pointed reminder she dropped on me in middle school when i was flailing with stupid, goddamned mathematics).

And this applies to everything- being a better person; a healthier one; a richer one; a more truthful one; a creative one; a more compassionate one.

Because the day you stop, is the day you fail.

Happy mother's day mum (even if we don't really celebrate it but as Kiwi's are fond of saying, let's give it a go).

Happy birthday to me

How you celebrate your birthday shows exactly where your life is at the moment. There was a full decade when it was all about other people; I closed a restaurant once, and a bar just to accommodate everyone I had invited. And these people weren't hangers-on- I was neither rich nor popular- but friends who at that point in my life, were there. And then were gone. I was gone, to a really far country no less. Each time I visit, things change more and more until everything just disappears and I wonder, going through the memories, if the things I remember actually happened.

I had celebrated turning 40 with a quiet dinner at home. I cooked all the dishes I wanted to eat- familiar ones like kare-kare, fried snapper and new favourites like rum and raisin ice-cream for desert- and I was perfectly happy.

This year, it's food again, and family, and new friends and a nagging suspicion that no one's going away just yet.

A few new things I've discovered about myself today

I've started running again, by accident. It was a weekend when everything fell into place; the weather was fine, I finished the laundry, blogged a few things. And I felt fine. So I put on my running shoes, stepped out of the house and did about 3.5kms the first time- the first two kilometres being alternating bursts of brisk walking and sprints. The second day, was about the same distance and while I dropped my pace, I ran all the way. I guess I was distracted by the houses as I ran past wondering who lived in them. Day or night, you never really see the people who lived inside.

The last time I actually ran was sophomore year at university. I took running as a physical education class and we ran around the track in Diliman for the whole semester. For our finals, we went over to the Ateneo and ran around the campus. I've always been realistic when it comes to my physicality and I guess I passed that class even if I can't remember what my final grade was, or what I learned from it. When you're 17, youth affords an invincibility, an imperviousness that unfortunately also applies to life lessons.

So when I got an email for a muscle balance assessment from a local physio I thought, it's never too late to know- and this is what I found out:

1. My right foot is nearly half an inch shorter than my left (8 versus 7.6)
2. I have weak glutes! (aaaarrgggggghhh)
3. Running or even walking, my feet tend to collapse quickly on their arches which explains the quick shin pain and tightness of my outer thighs.
4. I tend to favour my right foot even while standing up
5. My left foot is over-pronated.

Coming back for corrective exercises..