Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas, Darling

"Happy New Year, too"

See y'all in the Year of the Rat!

Posting will be sporadic for the next two weeks, if I can even find internet time.
"Merry Christmas, Darling" by The Carpenters

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I Enjoy Being A Girl

"I adore being dressed in something frilly"

Look how happy fashion designer Reem Acra looks in this photo:

[Fashion Wire Daily]

The elaborately beaded amethyst confection is from Acra's jewel box collection. I would be that happy, too, if I were posing next to such a gorgeous gown. I would be even happier if I were wearing the gown.

I COVET THIS GOWN. It would be a breath of fresh plum air in a crowd of black formal wear at the Metropolitan Opera. It would get me on the Best Dressed List at the Oscars. It would go perfectly with a tiara. And Ewan McGregor.

Oh, sigh. I want to be a movie star when I grow up.

"I Enjoy Being A Girl" from Flower Drum Song

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'll Be Home For Christmas

Dusty and I are leaving early Sunday morning to go "home" for the holidays. We're spending Christmas in Baltimore with my family, then flying to Albuquerque to ring in the new year with his dad and some of our dearest friends. It's going to be hectic and fun and crazy and lovely and exhausting and joyous.

"I'm dreaming tonight of a place I love..."

It has been 15 years since my whole family has been back to the Philippines for Christmas. We all miss spending time with all of our relatives and loved ones during this most important holiday for Filipino Catholics. When the cousins were little, our family would gather at my Lola's compound in Makati for Christmas Eve. Sometimes we would all go to Simbang Gabi [Midnight Mass] together, but no matter what, we all came back for Noche Buena [Christmas Eve dinner] and opened our presents together.

One of the things I miss most about the tradition of going to Simbang Gabi is fresh bibingka and puto bumbong. I remember being hurried up the church steps after I stopped to smell the yumminess wafting from the street vendors' carts just outside church. I remember fidgeting more than usual during Mass, knowing that these treats were waiting just beyond the heavy gilded doors. I can almost taste that heavenly first bite of piping hot bibingka. It was the best reward for living through a nearly two-hour Mass.

"And although I know it's a long road back, I promise you: I'll be home for Christmas. You can count on me."

Christmas 1984 was particularly difficult for my parents. It was our first Christmas in the United States, far away from our relatives, loved ones, and sacred traditions. We were still navigating the social waters of our new country and we didn't know anyone very well. Our downstairs neighbors were kind enough to invite us over for Christmas dinner, but we felt like outsiders in their family celebration. We felt a little stranded; we were most certainly not home for Christmas.

After the party, we all went back upstairs and my mother turned on the Carpenters Christmas album. During this song, my mother suddenly got up and went to the bathroom. I crept up to find that she had left the door ajar, so I peeked in. She was crying into a towel.

"Christmas Eve will find me where the lovelight gleams"

This Christmas, my parents will be surrounded by our growing family and counting many blessings. My brother has just bought a new house and is in a healthy new relationship with a woman my mother actually likes. My sister and her husband are expecting a baby girl in February; their combined brood will number five kids. And of course, Dusty and I are bellying up to the festivities with our own wee-beastie-in-the-making. My brother has predicted that my sister and I will be fighting over turkey portions at Noche Buena. I think we should have a turkey just for the almost-four of us.

"I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams"

Although this song still conjures up sad memories for me, it no longer makes me weep openly. Much. Our family is making new memories and traditions, and redefining what it means to be home for Christmas.

"I'll Be Home For Christmas" by The Carpenters

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

These Dreams

"Every second of the night, I live another life"

Dreams from the First Three Prego Months

Dusty and I are Eastern European river gypsies and proud parents of a gorgeous baby girl with black hair. We are speeding along a brick tunnel waterway and the baby is getting splashed. I ask Dusty to slow down and not take the corners so hard. We finally reach our destination: a large Ukrainian feast hosted by my big boss, Papa Love. There are tables groaning with pyrogies, kubasa, cabbage rolls, and meatballs as far as the eye can see. And in the center, Papa Love is seated on a throne, welcoming us to his party. We eat heartily.

BioWare decides to increase productivity by having us all live in dorms near the office. After work, a bunch of us are watching TV in a very Animal House-flavored room. A co-worker comes in, bearing 12 large pizzas. There are only five of us. I admit to ordering seven extra just for myself. "Bring them here," I bellow. We eat heartily.

KPAX asks me to cater his wedding. [Editor's Note: This is just a dream, ladies. You can still have your very own Paddington bear... if you're worthy.] On the eve of the ceremony, I get a note from him saying that he and his bride-to-be have changed their minds. They just want to live in sin and don't want a big ol' fancy wedding. I look up from the note and see that I'm surrounded by all the yummy food that I had already prepared for the wedding banquet. The dessert table alone contained two cakes--chocolate coconut and strawberry cheesecake--plus pastries and fruit salads and a chocolate fondue fountain. "Can't let all this go to waste," I think. I call Dusty to come to the wedding site. We eat heartily.

Dreams from the Last Three Days

I give birth to a gorgeous baby girl with black hair. A friend comes to visit and we sit in the living room to chat while she holds the baby. I go into the kitchen to make tea and notice the moon shining brightly through the window. I return to the living room to find that my friend had turned into a werewolf. A snarling, drooling werewolf was holding my newborn. My shapeshifting friend and I agree that she should not visit again during a full moon.

I give birth to this. There is much screaming. And then this comes charging into the birthing room to claim the newborn. There is more screaming.

I am on tour with Depeche Mode. The band is practicing on the bus while I nap on one of the long seats. I start to snore loudly [in real life, as well], disrupting the band's jamming. Andy Fletcher gets annoyed: "Who in the bloody hell invited the pregnant lady?"

"These Dreams" by Heart

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Let It Go*

" Let it go. Let it go / This is smaller than you know / No bigger than a pebble lying on a gravel road"

Laurel's comment on my recent 32 Flavors post got me thinking [Danger, Will Robinson!]. She said, "It seems to me what you're getting at here is not the desire to shed all labels, because that would remove some of the wonderful 'Cookieness' that we all know and love, but rather expand on the fantastic foundation that is present and to remove the boundaries of any things that you feel are limiting you."

Oh, but on some level, I do have a desire to shed all labels. I've been kicking around this identity issue for years; I've posted before about my aversion to labels. With labels, you see, come expectations. I've realized how often I put undue expectations on myself and others because of labels, so I'm trying to break myself out of labeling. Or at least attaching expectations to labels. Maybe it's just me, but I tend to live up to labels I'm given, consciously or not. When I catch myself acting in a way that doesn't feel natural, that feels like I'm only living up to a label, I figure out how to shed that label right-quick.

One of the labels I've been trying to shed for years is "feminist". Once I accept the label "feminist", then I should be offended by all the things that offend fellow feminists. Honestly, I don't have the kind of time or energy it takes to pucker my butt that much. For example, if I'm a true feminist, then I should apparently be in a white-hot rage over Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress: A Girl's Guide to Dungeons and Dragons. I haven't seen this book, but I've heard that feminist gamers are claiming it's horribly, catastrophically bad.

Ladies, how about a little perspective? Losing your family home in a devastating flood is horribly, catastrophically bad. Having a loved one die in your arms during a bloody civil war is horribly, catastrophically bad. This book is a marketing gimmick to attract new players to a niche game for geeks. This book is at worst only mildly, vaguely annoying. It is not invading your country or raping you and all your female relatives. It is not holding a gun to your head and forcing you to buy it. So, you know, GET A GRIP. But I digress...

Almost a decade ago, I had a disturbing dream where thousands of unseen hands were wrapping me tightly, using large strips of paper. On these strips were written all the labels that I felt I'd been assigned over the years: feminist, fierce Pinay, flower child, poet, activist, artist, leader, savior, Madonna, whore. I had the sensation of being trapped, suffocated. I wasn't sure I wanted to be all of these things; I wasn't even sure who decided I was any of those things. I only knew that I could become more, if only these labels weren't wrapped around me, encasing me in a cocoon that pinned my wings.

When I was decoding this dream, three questions came up:
1) Is this who I am or who everyone says I am?
2) Who do I want to become anyway?
3) Will it matter what I was to you when I discover what I am to myself?

These days, I believe the answer to #1 is "yes" and that is okay. But I want to become the woman I believe I can be, not who everyone else says I should/could be. It might matter what I was to you because I might surprise both of us when I discover what I am to myself.

"Let It Go" byGreat Big Sea * Updated the song 07/25/08; felt this was more appropriate.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sweet Surrender

"The life I've left behind me / is a cold room / And sweet surrender / is all that I have to give"

Scene from Evermans in Canada, Season 3, Episode 70, "What? Nuh-uh.":

Cookie wakes up a few minutes before the alarm rings and goes to the bathroom to pee. It is the day that her period is due, but she has been waking up nauseated for a week and her body is not acting the way it usually does at this time. Just for giggles, she decides to take a pregnancy test. She finishes up and blithely leaves the stick on the counter. She goes back to bed.

When the alarm clock goes off, Dusty wakes up and goes to the bathroom to pee. There is an audible pause in the activities and Dusty comes back to the bedroom, looking wide awake and incredulous. He is holding the stick. He sits on the bed next to Cookie.

Dusty: Um, honey, this is a pregnancy test, right?

Cookie: [yawn] Yeah.

Dusty: There are two lines.

Cookie: [sits up in bed] What? Nuh-uh.

Dusty: There are two pink lines. See? [hands the stick over]

Cookie: Well, holy crap. We're going to have a baby.

Giant grins spread across two sleep-marked faces. Then Dusty jumps back into bed with Cookie. They pull the covers up to their noses, giggly and giddy as two kids who've woken up too early on Christmas morning. They turn to face each other, but nobody says anything for a few moments. Neither of them wants to break the spell. But then...

Dusty: Holy crap! We're going to have a baby!

Both: HEE!

- End Scene -

Today marks 14 weeks of gestation for our wee beastie and everything so far has checked out just dandy. We are ecstatic about our healthy lil' wiggler. So, um, does this officially make me a mommy blogger?

"Sweet Surrender" by Sarah McLachlan

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

One in a Million You

"Love had played its games on me so long / Doubt had tried to convince me to give in / Said you can't win... / Life showed compassion / and sent to me a stroke of luck called you / a one in a million you"

"Microsoft has confirmed to GameDaily BIZ that BioWare's critically acclaimed RPG is off to a red hot start with one million copies sold in less than three weeks."

Note to you who bought a copy of Mass Effect: THANK YOU!!! Many of you have written to let me know that you're enjoying the game and that makes our geeky little family very happy.

Note to you who have not: All the cool kids are playing it. You want to be cool, don't you?

"One in a Million You" by Larry Graham

Friday, December 7, 2007

32 Flavors

"I'll never forget where I came from / 32 flavors and then some / I'm nobody but I am someone / 32 flavors and then some / I'm taking my chances as they come / 32 flavors and then some / Looking for truth and there is none"

Tomorrow, I will be 33 years old. It's a red letter day on the calendar; not to brag, but my birthday is kind of a big deal, especially in the Motherland. December 8 is a national holiday in the Philippines, celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in Catholic tradition and officially marking the start of the Christmas season. Towns often have fiestas, complete with parades. That's right, people. PARADES. With at least one person wearing a tiara.

I learned recently that Bodhi Day is also observed on December 8. According to Mahayana tradition, Bodhi Day is the date on which Siddhartha Gautama realized and presented the Four Noble Truths to his followers. From that point on, he was simply known as the Buddha, Enlightened One. I'm a goal-oriented overachiever, but I don't think I will achieve enlightenment overnight.

I do think, however, that I'm making good on some of the personal goals I set for myself, to be achieved by the time I'm 33 years old. I started setting goals for myself on my 30th birthday; that first year, I resolved to get a book published by the time I was 31. Yeah... that worked out as well as the time Wendel and I decided to give up gossip together for Lent. [Remember that, Wen?] That was the longest 40 days EVER. Well, okay, it was actually the shortest. *ehem*

So I decided to set goals that will make me work harder at this "being a good person" gig. Sometimes being a good person means being good to myself as well as others. I've come to realize that I've relied too much on labels. There's a safety and security in putting people into categories: "You're the jackhole who pissed me off a few times in the past. Therefore, every word that comes out of your mouth must be potential dickery." But is that all they really are? Maybe they were having some off days, like we all do. Do they really deserve to be put into a box like that?

There's a safety and security in naming myself a "geeky hippie" or an "extroverted introvert", but are these things really all I am? Moreover, is my personhood limited to my actions in certain situations? Some of my co-workers have apparently decided that I am defined by my illustriously bad temper and they walk on eggshells around me. The evil part of me thinks that's sort of cool [FEAR ME, MINIONS! BWAHAHA!], but the not-evil part of me is really tired of living up to that stereotype. I can be quite a nice lady when I want to be. Really, I can.

I've been a lot of things in my 32+ years: activist, actress, dancer, daughter, editor, geek, hippie, poet, sister, tita, wife, writer. But the one thing I've never been is free. Free of the self-labeling that can really limit who I am and could be. I resolve to be more free of such labels by this time next year. I am 32 flavors and then some. Instead of a 32-scoop-tall cone, I want to be a giant swirly rainbow of taste sensations. Deeelicious!

"32 Flavors" by Alana Davis/Ani DiFranco

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


"And then a hero comes along / with the strength to carry on / and you cast your fears aside / and you know you can survive"

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the TV show Heroes.

Okay, I need to stay calm. I know that there is a writer's strike in Hollywood and they probably wanted to go out with a bang before they took up their picket signs. I know that it's the fall finale and the season has to end with a cliffhanger. I know that last season's cliffhanger also made us wonder whether one or more of the Petrelli brothers would be worm food. Ma Petrelli's boys are the hub of the great wheel o' heroes, so of course they have to be central to the cliffhanger.

But why, writers? Why would you want to hurt me like this? What have I ever done to you except watch your show faithfully every week? I actually gasped aloud when I saw the penultimate scene of Volume Two. All I could think was "NOOOOOOOOO!!! NOT THE PASDAR!!!" Hold on, Nathan. You know you can survive!

The thought that those Lovely Angular Cheekbones might not be part of my weekly TV... feel... faint... room... spinning. I need to lie down.

"Hero" by Mariah Carey