Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy New Year!

As I say goodbye to 2006, I'm filled with a sense of sadness as well as excitement. The end of a year always brings some wistfulness as I close chapters, but I'm also overwhelmed with eagerness for what the new year will bring. I try to live life without regrets, and to think of all choices and challenges as learning experiences. But there will always be moments I would like back again, not so much to do things differently, but cherish that moment just a bit more.

As I look back, so much of this year has passed in a blur, even though I remember some days & weeks dragging by slowly as I waited for some major event. At first glance, it doesn't seem much has changed since January 1, but actually, I'm living in a whole new world, full of pluses and minuses. In chronological order, I added to my life a chihuahua named Mahal, a sister-in-law named Laura, lost my grandfather, Juanito, and added my new nephew, Jonah. I subracted a job I didn't like in hopes of adding one that I do like. I added college to my schedule and subtracted a hobby business in exchange and willingly added personal challenges for the chance of what could be and subtracted the simple acceptance of what is.

This year has also been an eye-opener of personal revelations, things not necessarily revealed to anyone else but me. I'm not a religious person, I haven't seen the inside of a church in many moons, yet my faith grows stronger every year. I truly believe that God never gives you more than you can handle. I feel like I'm carrying a truckload of burdens, but yet, I'm not worried. I have to thank my husband for that. It's because of him that I'm eager for the future. I've learned that marriage is a balancing act, spinning multiple plates, many of which Gareth and I have broken, a few spun too softly in contentment, a few spun too hard in anger, and a few not spun at all in ambivalence. There will always be plenty of plates to spin, but as years go by, I believe my husband and I will only get better at keeping them spinning.

I don't like making resolutions because they have this inherent quality of being unattainable. Maybe it's just semantics, but instead, I challenge myself to form new habits. New habits that will help me dedicate more time to writing, be more organized and follow through on goals I've set, even if I set them 2 or 3 years ago. My mom forwarded me an email, one I've read before but as things tend to do around this time of year, its meaning resonated with me more this time around:

Dream what you want to dream;
Go where you want to go;
Be what you want to be,
Because you have only one life
And one chance to do all the things
You want to do.

I may have to remind her of this email when I do something beyond the norm next year. Because if there's anything I can guarantee, it's that 2007 will not be anything like 2006. So, 2007. Here I come.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Made Santa's "Very Nice" List

Santa was very nice to me this year. Actually he's always been kind to me, but this Christmas I feel like I must've been on his "very nice" list. Right now I've got Justin Timberlake crooning in my ear, after spending all day today loading up my new Zune. Santa Gareth was pretty slick, telling me for weeks that Zunes were no where to be found. Not that I had asked for one. I actually listed an iPod on my wishlist. I hadn't even given Zunes a thought, except to ask Gareth what the difference was between a Zune and an iPod. Let me tell you...I LOVE my Zune. So far, I've only loaded it with J.T., Ciara and Christine Aguilera, the 3 CDs Gareth gave me this Christmas (Ciara was my St. Niklaus gift ~ it's been his family's tradition to get gifts on Dec. 7. We got clogs from my mother-in-law to set outside our bedroom door, and on the morning of the 7th we each had a gift in the clog. That's really all I know about the tradition, but hey, any excuse to get a gift is a good excuse to me.)

I also was generously gifted with calligraphy sets from both Gareth and Trista & her boyfriend Jeff. Now I have no excuse to master the art of calligraphy. I'm really excited about that. T&J also fed my other addiction with a Sudoku book. Mom gave us a flannel sheet set, my favorite of her many, many gifts which included earrings, gloves, socks and votive holders to name but a few. She really goes overboard with the gift giving for Christmas, and the kids have picked up on this tradition. Phedre & Josh gave us an awesome Family Guy Monopoly game with a $100 target gift card. I claimed the gift card and gave Gareth the game but of course we had to split the card 50/50. I forgot what Gareth got with his half, I think it was something for his Xbox360 or his PS3, but I requested new king size pillows for the new sheet set. Now we're drowning in pillows, I could build a fort with them, which Gareth claims I have, barricading him one side of the bed. Rhyana gave me some wonderful Bath & Body lotions and also gave us a $100 gift card to Best Buy. That certainly made Gareth's eyes dance. We're putting it towards the Nintendo Wii fund so once they're back in stock, we'll be playing Wii Sports again in no time.

Oh! Santa Gareth also gave me a laptop for Christmas. I'm still shaking my head over that one. He managed to surprise me twice on Christmas Eve when we opened our presents at my mother-in-law's house, first with the Zune and then with a Dell laptop. Now I have no excuse to not write. So, here I am. On Christmas Day, my parents gave me a black Coach tote & wallet set as well as new pajamas which I always love getting. They gave Gareth two Tommy Bahama sweaters which he loved. My nephews showered me & Gareth with our favorite socks. They're the ones that keep our feet dry and fit so comfortably. My cousin Joseph gifted us with a 300 ct Egyptian cotton sheet set, a great dress shirt for me and a wireless PS3 control for Gareth, things we jokingly told him we wanted but didn't think he'd really get us. My aunt gave us a bed-in-a-bag comforter set for our Cal-King. Family's always been generous with us, but this Christmas they seemed to pull out all the stops. I know my aunt was just showing her appreciation for our help with my grandmother's 92nd birthday party. I know I have my husband to thank for a lot of her gratitude, so kisses to my husband. :)

Somewhat veering on a tangent here, but I've been repeating this song on my Zune a few times now. It's struck a chord with me. It's Justin's "All Over Again." I don't know if it's the lyrics or the soulful & heartfelt way Justin sings it. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for songs about second chances. Maybe the lyrics will strike a chord for someone who reads my ramblings.

All Over Again

You've been alone
You've been afraid
I've been a fool
In so many ways
But I would change my life
If you thought you might try love me

So please give me another chance
To write you another song
Take back those things I've done
Cause I'll give you my heart
If you would let me start all over again

I'm not a saint
I'm just a man
Who had heaven and earth in the palm of his hand
But I threw it away
So now I stand here today asking forgiveness
And if you could just

Please give me another chance
To write you another song

Take back those things I've done
Cause I'll give you my heart
If you would let me start all over again

Little girl, you're all I've got
Don't you leave me standing here once again
Cause I'll give you my life (yes I would)
If you would let me try to love you

So please give me another chance
To write you another song
And take back those things I've done
Cause I'll give you my heart
If you would let me start all over again
Again oh
No no
oh oh

You know I love you (yeah)
Give me one more chance
No No
No No No No

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I'll write something original soon....

In the meantime...

1.) When was the last time you went to the bathroom outside?
- in Texas, I think, when I was 8 or 9. Fishing trip with my best friend (at the time) and her family. I was desperate but still didn't want to, but they were FOB and told me it was no big deal. I remember it was like a group squat with her two other sisters. LoL...

2) Which family member do you most resemble?
- I think I take after my dad, but people say I look like my mom, too.

3) Do you own your own Bible?
- We have three in the house, but don't ask me how we got them. I think one is my Kuya's.

4) Do you clean up nice?
- I believe so.

5) When was the last time you tripped and fell?
- I trip all the time but the last time I fell was in 1994 when I was still in college. I was walking between cars in a parking lot and didn't see the cement stopper in front of my car and oops! Went down hard. Only reason I remember is it made my mom laugh, she was waiting in the car for me and she said it was like a magic act. Now you see me, now you don't!

6) Where was the last place you slept besides your home?
- My lola's apartment.

7) Have you ever started an uncontrollable fire?
- Does heating up a frying pan of oil and forgetting about it count? Then, yes.

8) Ever run out of gas on the road?
- Yes. I always push it and I shouldn't. I always think there's a reserve below the E on the gauge. Luckily the one & only time I did, it was just as I pulled into my driveway so I coasted in. But then my dad had to bring me some gas.

9) Would you rather cut the grass or rake the leaves?
- Cut grass, because I'm usually the one who rakes the leaves.

10) Your middle name spelled backward?

11) What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer?
- Pictures from my Lola's 92nd birthday.

12) Last time you swam in a pool?
- Wow..hmmm...been a while, i can't remember. My honeymoon?

13) Have you ever been in a school play?
- Does a 3rd grade music program count? No? Then, I guess not.

14) How many kids do you want?
- However many my husband and I are blessed with, although 3 would be a good number.

15) Type of music you dislike most?
- I don't dislike any particular music but I rarely listen to country.

16) You registered to vote?
- Yes. In the wrong county, but yes.

17) Ever been arrested?
- Nope.

18) Ever prank called anybody?
- Not since caller ID was invented.

19) Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?
- I would like to say sure, but I know myself too well. Only if I was paid copious amounts of money.

20) Do you have a garden?
- Not really. Only visions of one right now.

21) Bath or Shower, morning or night?
- Shower, morning.

22) Best pizza topping?
- Hawaiian with toasted almonds. Chuck E. Cheese style. LoL.

23) Peanuts or popcorn?
- Popcorn. Especially movie theater popcorn.

24) Orange Juice or apple?
- Orange Juice. Tang if you please.

25) When was the last time you voted at the polls?
- This past November, because I'm registered in the wrong county still. Had to get a provisional ballot.

26) When was the last time you ate a homegrown tomato?
- This summer. Love them little grape tomatoes.

27) Are you good?
- Depends on what you're referring to. I'm good at quite a few things. You can ask my husband.

28) Ever order anything from an infomercial?
- That rotating storage container set. Never got it, though. Had to buy it at the store eventually.

29) Sprite or 7-Up?
- 7-Up just to be old school.

30) Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work/school?:
- Not since I worked for Wild Waves (Six Flags) in college.

31) Ever thrown up in public?
- Nope. Although when I first arrived from the Philippines, my dad decided I'd enjoy a ride up and down the hills of San Francisco. I was 3, sitting on my uncle's lap, getting nauseous, but I knew enough that if I slid off his lap and didn't look out the window, I'd be okay. But he kept pulling me back on his lap and pointing out the scenery going up and down, so I threw up on him.

32) Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love?
- Hmmm.... what if your true love becomes a millionaire?

33) Do you believe in love at first sight?
- Not on first sight. Maybe first kiss.

34) Who was the last person you visited in a hospital?
- Whoever had a baby last. I think it was my sister-in-law Yvonne, but that was for a false alarm.

35) Did you have a lot of hair as a baby?
- It's a De Guzman thing. We all seem to come out with pompadours.

36) What do you think about most:
- What the new year will bring.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pursuit of Happyness

A review I wrote for Gareth's website Skewed & Reviewed.

There are a few different messages one could contemplate after watching "Pursuit of Happyness" (misspelling intentional, and explained in the movie). It could be taken as an ode to the me-generation extremes of the 80s, a nod to the idea that money just might buy happiness or a salute to the dogged determination of a single father. The contradictory messages are present in this movie, inspired by a true story, but at the heart of the film is the dedication of a father for his son.

Will Smith, in his first dramatic turn since "Ali", plays Chris Gardner, a single father, down-on-his-luck in San Francisco, circa 1981. He doesn't start out single. He lives with his girlfriend, Linda, played by Thandie Newton, who is becoming more and more disenchanted with their life and Gardner's inability to make a solid living selling medical equipment, a failing business venture in which Gardner had invested their life's savings. She's working two jobs and they are still three months behind on the rent and the IRS is breathing down their necks. Gardner's feeling the pressure and it's apparent Linda is at her wit's end. Their 4 year old son, Christopher, is caught in the middle.

As he does tirelessly every day, Gardner is hauling around a bulky bone density scanner, on his way to another doctor who'll more than likely say, "Thanks, but no thanks," when he sees a man parking a bright red Ferrari and stops to ask him two questions. "What do you do and how do you get to do it?" The man tells Gardner he's a stockbroker and that he just had to be good with numbers. Gardner decides he wants to be stockbroker, too, and is soon pursuing an internship at the investment firm, Dean Witter, much to Linda's disbelief and dismay.

Persistent in his quest for an internship, Gardner convinces a Dean Witter human resource executive to grant him an interview, just as his home life falls apart. His girlfriend bails on him and their son and the landlord is ready to evict. In the middle of painting his apartment in exchange for being allowed to stay another week, he's arrested for unpaid parking tickets. He's released the day of his interview, forcing him to show up in paint-splattered pants and a white undershirt. With desperate wit, he survives the interview only to belatedly learn that the internship is unpaid. With sales prospects waning for his limited supply of medical equipment, Gardner has to decide whether or not to risk his & Christopher's already questionable future on the slim odds that he'll be hired for the one opening at Dean Witter when the internship ends.

Gardner takes his chances on being the smartest and the most successful of the 20 candidates, moving to a motel and continuing to try to sell the unpopular medical equipment on weekends just so he and Christopher could pay for rent and food for the week. He succeeds in selling some of the equipment, but it's not enough to keep them housed, especially with the IRS ready to swoop in for their share of Gardner's meager earnings. One night the Gardners find their belongings outside of their motel room. They'd been evicted. Forced to sleep in a transit station restroom, Gardner turns to a women's shelter the next day, but is turned away because, well, it's a women's shelter. He's directed to the Glide Church, and while the other interns stay late to make more sales calls, Gardner rushes through his day to get Christopher out of day care and in line at the church shelter by 5 in hopes of getting a bed to sleep in. Most days they're lucky, and it becomes their temporary home. Still they have to pack their belongings every morning, and Gardner lies to his coworkers about having to leave for a trip after work when they see him lugging his suits and bags around.

The movie was nicely paced and well-acted by both Smiths, although there were times you couldn't help but ask, "Geez, what else could go wrong? Enough already." But even more compelling than the story at times is Gardner's 4 year old son, Christopher, played by Jaden, who offers a surprisingly good performace, delivered with a natural charm and a beguiling face. Will Smith is unwavering in his portrayal of a man desperate to succeed. Whether or not it be for his own pride, Gardner leaves no doubt that there is always his son to think about. Gardner grew up without a father and he was determined that Christopher would never be without his. Smith conveys that dedication with an understated performance whenever he shares the screen with Jaden. Although it's easy to point out that Jaden is his natural son, the chemistry between the two is still poignant and unforced.

At times difficult to watch as father & son's situation gets more desperate, the movie's predictability still draws the viewer in with the tenuous hope that maybe, just maybe, the rewards will be sweet after the bitter work is done. Be ready with tissues and enjoy the performances.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Two Things

Two Things
Current mood: sick

Two Things...

Two Names You Go By:
1. Gen
2. Em(bib)

Two Things You Are Wearing Right Now:
1. my favorite jeans
2. my husband's blue long sleeve t-shirt

Two Things You Would Want in a Relationship:
1. friendship
2. passion

Two of Your Favorite Things to do:
1. Reading
2. Writing

Two Things You Want Very Badly At The Moment:
1. My mom's arroz caldo (it's chicken soup for the Filipino soul)
2. My husband home to take care of me. :::cough cough::: sniffle sniffle:::

Two pets you had/have:
1. Mahal my chihuahua (have)
2. Dutch, family dog, a beautiful American Eskimo (had)

Two people who will fill this out:
1. Johanna.
2. Christine.

Two things you did last night:
1. Hung out with family
2. Went shopping for gifts for Gareth's coworkers

Two People that live in your house:
1. Me.
2. Gareth.

Last two things you ate:
1. Left over carnitas de res from Azteca.
2. An apple fritter for breakfast. Bad, I know. Tsk! Tsk!

Two people you Last Talked To:
1. My husband
2. Joe from Big O Tires ~ need 2 new tires on the Hyundai.

Two Things You're doing tomorrow:
1. Run errands
2. Watch advance screening of "The Good Shepherd."

Two longest car rides:
1. From Federal Way, WA to Las Vegas, NV.
2. From Federal Way, WA to Burnaby, Canada.

Two Favorite Holidays:
1. Christmas
2. Thanksgiving

Two favorite beverages:
1. Coffee
2. Coke & Water

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The First Step

I finally took it! I submitted an essay to a magazine a month ago, just on impulse. Of course, it was nervous impulse, but I did it anyway. It's not a major magazine, it's just a small one that caters to sharing the stories of women in their 50's & 60's, called Releasing Times. They had posted a request on one of the writing group boards I visit, for women in their 30s & 40s to submit an essay about their mothers' journeys. So I submitted the essay I wrote about Mama when I was still in college. I updated it a bit, since back then none of us kids were married, and Mama was still grandchild-free.

Anyway...the magazine wants to print it for their next issue! Yay! LoL...

I was testing the waters when I submitted my essay ~ just to see how my writing would be accepted. What a great feeling to be asked for my permission to publish it. It's a baby step, but I hope I can take more steps that set me running in the next year towards a dream I've put off for too long.

Ready...set...go! Whee!