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Party at the park

What a gorgeous weekend we just had! After two full weeks of rain and cold (I’m talking 13ºC here!, the sun finally made an appearance just in time for a special afternoon party at the park.

Tala at Romy's party

It was a double celebration: a going-away party for Peggy and her family who are moving to Sweden very soon, and a birthday party for her eldest girl.

I love Europeans’ fun and casual approach to children’s parties—no big catered buffets or hired mascots here, just homemade goodies made with love, colorful decorations strung up on trees, and children playing in the grass and sunshine. I won’t give away too many pictures from the day, I’m sure she will post some photos on her blog too.

Birthday party decorations

Whether it’s The Hive or a children’s party, this woman always makes it look effortless! Peggy masterminding the celebrations behind the scenes (and behind the decorations).

Mom behind the scenes

It was just a happy, relaxed time in the sun with friends (from blogging, how wonderful is that!) and of course, family.

Birthday party at Oosterpark

Family photo Oosterpark

It was Tala’s first party too! Although she eyed the cake with great interest, she will have to stick to milk for a long while. Sorry, my love. You’ll get your turn.

Mmm... cake

This was just such a lovely afternoon (and the sunshine so rare!), I had to interrupt my stream of Berlin posts to share it. But there will be more Berlin posts (some of my real favorites from this trip!) this week for sure.

How was your weekend?

Birthday dinner: Brasserie Witteveen

One of the places that I like to go to in the Pijp is Brasserie Witteveen. My friends with kids like it because unlike the typical Dutch cafe, Witteveen’s wide aisles have lots of room for strollers. I just think it’s a really good-looking place to meet someone for lunch or a drink, thanks to the combination of sleek design with cozy elements like the seamless, 16-meter leather Chesterfield couch.

Brasserie Witteveen

I’ve always been curious about the private dining area at the back of the restaurant. Since Friday was my birthday, I thought it was a good excuse to finally check it out for myself.

Witteveen private dining area

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Amsterdam after dark

One of my weaknesses as a tropical-blooded person in a cold climate is that I tend to shy away from going out in the evenings, especially when the nights start to get longer and colder. But when I do end up going out at night, I always end up happy and thankful to live in a city that looks so pretty after dark.

My friend Michelle’s birthday last weekend was another chance for me to savor Amsterdam by night. She kicked off her celebration with drinks at the Sky Lounge of the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel beside Centraal Station, and the pleasant weather allowed us to stay out on the terrace to enjoy sweeping views of Amsterdam by night.

Part of the Sky Lounge terrace overlooks a side of Amsterdam tourists normally don’t see: the broad expanse of the IJ, with (from left to right) Westerdok, Centraal Station and the Eye Film Institute

… as well as the Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ (Music Hall on the IJ), the Movenpick Hotel, and Marlon’s former office building. This is where the big cruise ships dock when stopping over in Amsterdam; there’s one on the lower left of this photo.

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Summer at last!

You might have noticed that I haven’t been posting much about day-to-day life here in Amsterdam. Well to tell you the truth, apart from the traveling, spring and summer have been less than inspiring… and the weather has been mostly to blame. Weeks upon weeks of pouring rain and heavy gray clouds made me wish I was somewhere else, and you’ve seen that here.

But this week, things have changed. Summer finally came bearing its gifts: near-cloudless blue skies, blazing sunshine, and a transformed city. Amsterdam in the sunshine is colorful, cheerful, and so very alive—and I’ve spent the last few days offline in an effort to make the most of all that.

This late summer in Amsterdam brings with it the realization of things I once took for granted: walking to the corner store in shorts and flip-flops, enjoying a bowl of cereal with cold milk for breakfast, deciding that you want ice in your drink, getting a tan, even the feeling of breaking into a light sweat without moving a single muscle. (If you only really have to get sweaty a couple of times a year, it’s not so bad.)

But it also brings with it new pleasures: playing with babies and laughing with friends in a lush green backyard, driving to a beach where you never get burned no matter how long you stay in the sun, reading a new book in a sunny public park, throwing steaks and salmon on a barbecue grill (and eating them with salad, not rice). It’s funny how barbecues have become such a huge pleasure because the weather they require is so rare. Back home, there are barbecue grills practically installed on every other street corner, and we don’t even think about it.

So, I’m going offline again to enjoy this elusive, precious summer and all the little things I may again take for granted someday. (That’s humanity for you.) But please come back on Sunday for a special brunch treat… one that’s been way overdue! And of course, there will be more Iceland adventures next week.

Happy weekend!

Schaatsen op de grachten

… or in English, skating on the canals. Yay!
Just as winter doesn’t automatically translate to snow, it also doesn’t necessarily mean ice. In Amsterdam, where winters are relatively milder, ice is a rare thing. There’s too much moisture in the air here (I know, humid pa pala sa lagay na ‘to) and the city is warmer than the countryside. Smaller canals and ponds outside the city freeze faster, but the canals in Amsterdam are a different animal altogether. 
So when the mercury (and the snow) began to fall, you could feel excitement rising in the air, prickling and spiking with every degree that dropped below zero. The city was literally abuzz with one question: “Are the canals going to freeze?” 
Freeze they did. This has led to my discovery of the one other thing, apart from summer, that creates happiness for the Dutch on a national level. And that is… the ice.  
Heading out to the canals was like seeing a Dutch painting come to life. I was particularly reminded of the Hendrick Avercamp winterscape displayed in the Rijksmuseum. 
Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters, image via Wikipedia
I’ve also discovered why ice drives the Dutch bonkers. Simply put, ice = skating. In Amsterdam, it means skating with a UNESCO World Heritage Site as your backdrop. The last time the canals were any good for ice skating was 15 years ago; some parts haven’t been skated on since the 1970s. This winter, the city closed some of the locks, or gates, to help the canals freeze over faster. 
When Megamall opened its ice skating rink in the 90s, I was there on the very first day. So how could I possibly miss out on this?
Photo courtesy of Michelle

Join me on the ice, after the cut!


I wasn’t the only first-timer on the ice that day. It was also a first for Michelle’s baby girl Maddy, who slept through it all.

Natural ice means having to buy your own skates; nobody rents them out here. Most people own their own skates, and many Dutchies prefer the ones with the extra long blades that are made for speed skating. Mine are the most inexpensive kind I could find—just regular figure skates for girls.

Another difference between real vs. rink ice: big ripples and bumps that throw you way off balance. Also, I learned that ice is thinner (or doesn’t form at all) under the bridges, where it’s warmer. 
I was wobbly and tentative, unable to go far without holding on to a friend. But I loved every minute of it.

All I had to do to clear myself of panic was take a deep breath, look up, and see Amsterdam’s historic canal houses and soft glowing sky.

I enjoyed it so much, I had to come back the next day. With a real, palpable fiesta atmosphere pervading the city (especially around the canal belt), a return was simply impossible to resist.

The Dutch bring their culture of gezelligheid (coziness) to the ice, creating an atmosphere of fun, community and warmth (yes, even in the freezing cold!). Everyone was so friendly and happy. You could leave your shoes on the sides and nobody would take them. A guy skated right up to me and my friend and offered to take our photo. People were setting up picnics and parties on the ice…

… and serving hot snacks and drinks from canalside cafes and terraces. Some of the houseboat owners got in on the action and began selling coffee out their windows. And I had a few adorable kids skate up to me and ask if I wanted a cup of tea.

My girlfriends and I skated from one terrace to another, stopping for gossip and gluhwein (hot spiced wine) along the way. My newbie skating legs welcomed the break, and my frozen limbs welcomed the warm wine.

Ironically enough, the only other non-skater in our group was also the only Dutch girl in the group! Sophia (on the left) and I clung to each other for dear life, shrieking and giggling our way down the Prinsengracht. “Of course we can’t skate,” she cried, “we’re intellectuals!” 

In contrast, our friend Karyn was a pro on the ice. She took lessons when she was younger and even once shared the ice with the infamous Tonya Harding.

How I would have loved to get an early start, like so many kids I saw on the canals. Pushing a chair around is how you start learning and developing your balance. And I guess bundling up for the ice is how you start developing a sense of winter style.
I never thought I’d hear myself saying it, but I’m almost sad to see an end to the below-zero temperatures. The days were sunny, crisp and bright, and the ice was just… magical. We won’t get that with temperatures above zero; instead it’s a return to Amsterdam’s prevalent gray and gloom. 

I’ll miss this sight for sure. So many people—especially friends who have lived in Amsterdam for over a decade—told us how extremely lucky we were to experience during on our first winter here. I don’t know if it will happen again while we’re here, but I will harbor the hope that the ice returns to the Amsterdam canals next winter.

Yearender

What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

LIVED IN EUROPE. (This is the big one!)
Traveled in Europe without having to apply for a visa.
Painted my own walls (in the bedroom and living room).

Picked up furniture off the sidewalk.
Celebrated Queen’s Day in Amsterdam.
Used a bicycle to get around.

Learned Dutch. 
Found myself in Paris twice in one year.

Joined a running group and worked up to running for 20 minutes straight.
Grew my own herbs.
Had fresh flowers at home every week.

Wore a bathing suit at a park.

Started writing my very own blog column!
Volunteered for TEDxAmsterdam.
Went on a hot-air balloon ride!
Witnessed the changing of all four seasons. 

Sang at a wedding in the south of France.
Went swimming in a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Went swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.
Did my grocery shopping at a market (not a supermarket).

Learned how to sew (so far, a dress and cushion covers).

Learned how to knit (made a scarf).
Learned how to dance the salsa.
Learned how to bake (my favorite dessert: lemon tart!). 

Hosted a dinner party for 10.
Hosted five house guests, the most I’ve ever had at one time.
Bought serious rain gear (and wore rain boots).

Edited videos for money. 
*WHEW!*

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? 

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. But this year I set goals (something that always works for me when I remember to do it) and achieved many of them. That’s something I will do again this year.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Susie and Tinus, our dearest friends from Singapore, became the parents of a gorgeous baby boy named Max, the day before we moved to Amsterdam. We were his first visitors at the hospital!

Later in the year, another Max was born—this time to my friend Leslie in Amsterdam.

Did anyone close to you die?

Tito Rolly Cailles, one of our wedding godfathers, succumbed to leukemia.

What countries did you visit?

Switzerland, Portugal, Norway, Italy, Germany, Belgium, France, Turkey and the Philippines.


What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

A steady paycheck. Haha!

What was your biggest achievement of the year? 

Taking a leap of faith and ending up with a home and a life that I love. Runner-up: losing 8 pounds in two months.

What was your biggest failure?

Succumbing to inertia for a significant chunk of the year.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

I was hospitalized for severe asthma shortly after our arrival in the Netherlands.

What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

January 10, 2011: the day we arrived in Amsterdam.

What was the best thing you bought?

Hard to choose in a year filled with great furniture purchases. But I have would say it’s a toss-up between Final Cut Pro 7—the only purchase that’s paid for itself!—and my large purple leather satchel from Su-Shi.

Whose behavior merited celebration? 

My husband, for sure! From big things (like making the choices that got us where we are this year) to small things (like getting out of bed late at night to adjust the heating), he has done so much to make me feel like the luckiest wife in the world.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? MOVING TO EUROPE!

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Appalled and depressed are strong words; I wouldn’t use them. But the Philippine government always manages to make me go aaaaargh

Where did most of your money go? 

Fewer things, more experiences: travel and creative classes. I’m very happy about that.

What song will always remind you of 2011? 

Turning Tables by Adele: it was playing while we were painting the living room. Firework by Katy Perry was on practically every two minutes on the radio in Portugal and was the soundtrack to many a drive. And Kanye’s All of the Lights.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier. Maybe “just as happy” would be more accurate. 
ii. thinner or fatter? For the first time… THINNER, thank God!
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer in pocket, richer in experience.

What do you wish you’d done more of? Find work/generate income.

What do you wish you’d done less of? Stay in bed all day. 

What was your favorite TV program?

Breaking Bad! Also: Game of Thrones, Fringe, Master Chef Australia, Homeland


Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I don’t hate anyone. Hating is more toxic for the hater than for the hated.

What was the best book you read? A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Florence and the Machine (sorry, I know I’m late to the party), Calle 13 (reggaeton a.k.a. Latino hip-hop), Joshua Radin (folk), Wende (amazing Dutch chanteuse specializing in the French chanson).

What did you want and got?

Living in Europe has been a lifelong dream that was fulfilled this year. I also wanted to make girl friends, learn Dutch, take creative classes and travel, travel, travel. Check na check!

In terms of material possessions, I wanted a new lens and a sewing machine. Thanks to my thoughtful hubby who knows me so well and always gives me great gifts, I got both!

What was your favorite film of this year? Midnight in Paris!

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 30 in Turkey! I woke up at the crack of dawn to go on my first-ever hot air balloon ride over the stunning landscape of Cappadocia.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A real summer with sunshine, blue skies and warm weather.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

“Embracing Europe.” I experimented more, and gave more thought to putting together an overall look. I also loved being able to layer out of necessity and not pretense… and to be able to do it without wilting! 


What kept you sane? Thank God for the Internet. And new friends.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?  Alexander Skarsgard! Hotness.

What political issue stirred you the most?

The NAIA airport renovation and cancellation of KLM’s direct flights to Manila. Yes, I’m selfish that way.

Who did you miss? My family and choir friends.

Who was the best new person you met? 

My new girlfriends, the “ladies who lunch.” I’m so lucky to have found a group of women who are not only genuinely kind, but also smart, creative, easy to be with, and funny.



Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:

This quote by James Frey sums it up quite nicely: “If you care about what other people think, you will always be their prisoner.” I’ve begun to truly grasp that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

“Today is where your book begins/The rest is still unwritten.” – Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield

The most touching experience you’ve had this year?

Being on the receiving end of the Glee Club’s farewell serenade in Paris. Sniff.

What did you like most about yourself this year?

My creativity. I’ve both gone back to what I love to do and discovered new ways to express myself. My challenge for 2012 will be to focus my efforts and ideas in a way that will create value for myself and others.

What did you hate most about yourself this year?

I put off way too many things.

Was 2011 a good year for you?

The best I’ve had in a while. I like the lifestyle changes that have come about as a result of our big move. And it’s not every year that a dream gets fulfilled. I can’t wait to find out what 2012 has in store!

Walkabout

I had to take care of some work while my guests were gallivanting around Amsterdam, so it was only really on their last day that I got to take them around some of our favorite places.

While Cathy was getting some much-needed rest, Marlon organized a boys-only cycling trip to Vondelpark. He recently bought himself a proper Dutch bike, so Jonel took his old bike from Singapore out for a spin

Meanwhile, I went with Trina and Pia on a leisurely walkabout of Amsterdam’s many little streets—specifically the Jordaan, a district that I’ve long wanted to explore.

It’s been a while since I’ve just aimlessly walked around, and I was reminded how much I love this town. Whether old or new, there’s always something interesting to see.

I’ve started learning Dutch (which deserves a separate post!) and expanding my meagre vocabulary bit by bit by bit. Each new word is like a key that unlocks a small part of the city at a time. Out of the indecipherable jumble of letters that Dutch often seems to be (“parang Ingles na minali-mali ang spelling”, observed one guest), words now pop out with their meanings fluttering in the air like flags.

It’s not unlike being deep in thought and not really seeing anything until you realize a friend is waving hello. This was how I felt when I recognized the word boom, meaning tree, on this building. Then I saw that nearly the whole block was painted with the names of different trees. A mini-revelation!

In a summer that’s on the list of the five worst Dutch summers in a hundred years, I’ve come to realize that bright blue skies and big fluffy white clouds are a rare gift. We were blessed with them that day.

Shops, even when closed on Sundays, always beckon. I felt a bit of buyer’s remorse upon seeing this armchair. This is exactly the kind of chair I wanted, but we ended up getting something else.

The things we see always seem to link back to people we know. We thought this pink turban would be perfect for Dada (or at least her alter ego, Doña Nelda)!

And bikes always mean Elaine and Paul. I wouldn’t mind one of these turf crates for myself either.

I’d love to live in the Jordaan. There’s so much character in its narrow streets. But I’m not so sure I’d like to live in this blister-infested house.

Crazy cat lady alert! It’s the first time I had ever seen a cat being walked. I wonder how Rogue would take to it?

Of course, there were the famous canal views.

Never get tired of these. I wonder if I’ll get to the point where I can tell the names of all the canals by sight.

I still have one big item on my must-do list that I haven’t ticked off: rent a boat and go for a leisurely ride around Amsterdam with good friends and a bottle of wine. This is such a common sight and it always looks like the people in the boats are having so much fun.

We couldn’t let our guests leave without tasting Winkel’s famous apple pie.

After dessert, dinner: Dutch pannekoeken at the Pancake Bakery on Prinsengracht. Maybe not the best pancake place for me (I think the one we took Gutsy to was better, lucky girl!), but the only one that would fit a group our size.

This is how we felt to have our happy house emptied the next day. LOL!

Okay, maybe I wasn’t too sad… because I ended up leaving with them for a few days in Paris! But that deserves another post.

Hostess with the mostest

Marlon and I had one of our favorite couple friends – Susie and Tinus, who just moved back to Lah-Lah Land from New York — over for brunch today. And it got me thinking about entertaining and hosting social occasions at home.
Brunch guests Susie and Mr. T at our table, making mimosas


Part of being a young wife is the newness, fun and confusion of being a hostess. (Not a hoh-stess, but a hoe-stess. Just so we’re clear.) Marlon and I have guests over for lunch or dinner once in a while, and while Marlon does more of the prep work than any husband I’ve ever come across, these social occasions are always supposed to be the wife’s thing — making me, for the first time in my life, a hostess.

I love planning the menu and having friends over, but I have yet to get the hang of this entertaining thing. As a (relatively still) newlywed couple, we always find out just how little we have in the way of proper cutlery and china when it’s time to have people over. 

Our very first dinner guests, David and Phyllis, brought us a bottle of wine when we invited them over one weekend… only for us to discover that we didn’t even have a corkscrew. Marlon had to escape to the kitchen (which is open anyway) and stab at the cork with a bread knife, and we had to fish bits of out of our wineglasses all evening. David presented Marlon with a corkscrew the following Monday. 

Influenced by the Singaporean habit of stocking up on duty-free wine and liquor with every trip to Changi, we have a bottle each of champagne, dessert wine, Baileys and Absolut Tropical in the house… but only one set of all-purpose wine glasses from Ikea. I recently took advantage of a sale at Tang’s to buy serving plates, serving bowls and serving utensils because I realized we couldn’t go any longer plunking the metal pot of the rice cooker down on a trivet on the table, or serving couscous salad out of a scratched-up melamine bowl that Marlon used and abused through his bachelor days. Then when we bought pandesal from Lucky Plaza, I realized we didn’t even have a bread basket to keep the pandesal warm throughout brunch. It seems to never end!

And that’s just lunch or dinner for four people. When Marlon’s boss and his wife decided to bring their little daughter over for dinner, Marlon had to eat off a white plastic plate. Anything far beyond that magic number means paper plates for all — since we only have four pieces of everything.

Then there’s the matter of place settings. For brunch this morning, I had glasses and wine glasses on the table and had no idea if I should keep the tea cups for hot chocolate off the table or just plunk them in there. It’s almost enough to make a girl wish she had gone to finishing school. 

Tablea reveals itself to Susie… amidst our new serving ware from Tang’s!


Thankfully, most of the wives who come over are young wives like me. I haven’t seen anyone raise an eyebrow or make furtive notes on a checklist just yet. And luckily, our friends are pretty chill (and rather nutty). I spend a lot of time rushing back and forth before people come over, but once we’re all seated I wonder if I should even be wondering about how to be a proper hostess. And the champagne starts pouring, our friends start digging in and raving about Marlon’s latest culinary success, and we’re all laughing, there seems to be so much more to life than doing things properly.

10 years ago I was 18

UPDATED: Now with pictures and a note on technology!

Maggie and Gutsy’s forays into nostalgiatime made me realize, somewhat belatedly, that 2010 marks the passing of an entire decade. So I thought a look back at the Noughties (surely there is something better to call it?) was worth blogging about.

But as I have the awful habit of putting a favorite song on loop literally for years, thus preventing more current songs from penetrating my aural fog, I am not in the best position to make a playlist to commemorate the decade.

So let me just remember how it was 10 years ago, when I was 18.

10 years ago…

… I was a college freshman and my favorite class was English with Doreen Fernandez. I was just beginning to discover how much writing was a part of me, how happy I was doing it, and how good I could really be at it. Ten years later, it’s become how I make a living and how I live.

… I was possessed by the terrifying belief that to lose myself in the delicious mindlessness of pleasure, I had to be very deeply in love. To my great relief, I learned that the two could exist independently, thereby leading to some very liberating but otherwise pointless and frustrating… er, adventures.

… I made a powerful choice to be happy, long before I knew I could make such powerful choices, which got me over the biggest heartbreak of my life. Thankfully, no other heartbreak has followed to date.

… I promised to be friends with my first love. We still are.

… I met the man whom I would marry. I never thought he would be the one.

… The singular point of my existence was making it on tour, getting to Europe and having a life-changing adventure. I was probably waiting for some European Lothario to sweep me off my feet, but the real life-changer was the friends I made in the process of making it on tour and singing my way through Europe.

… I fell in love with singing. And after years of being an alto, I became a soprano. Now that was life-changing!

… I was in Slovenia, among other places. And I was shocked to discover not everywhere in Europe was prettier/newer/better than the Philippines. Slovenia!!! How’s that for somewhere you’ll never be again.

 
Que horror! Ano ba yang bandanna efek? 

… Oh Lord! All my tour pictures were on film. Each roll of film cost roughly Php150 and about the same to develop. I had to really think about which pictures I wanted to take. I saved up for months to have all 18 rolls from the tour developed. In my mind, 10 years is not that long ago since the memories are amazingly fresh — but looking at these film prints just makes it all seem prehistoric.

…  Speaking of pictures. The only person who had a digital camera back then was multibillionaire wonder boy and pawnshop heir Harvey Villarica. The resolution of this uber-expensive piece of technology was… ONE megapixel. Which meant he could develop them into prints about the size of a postage stamp (or, if you really wanna go back, Neoprint-size). We were all mystified the first time he showed it to us. “Harvey, what will you do with the pictures if you can’t develop them?” my English block mates wondered. “Put them on the Internet,” he shrugged. We just stared at him. “But… what for?” Ah, the dark ages.

… My family and I were struggling to make ends meet. There were days where I literally would have to scrounge up fifty pesos just to be able to go to school. Things are vastly improved now, to say the least.

… I shared a bedroom with my sister, with my mom in the next room. Today we live in three different cities — Sta. Rosa, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

… I was at least 35 lbs lighter. This in spite of the fact that I would have a three-pack of Chips Ahoy or a chocolate bar everyday. Well at least now we know how I got to my present weight. Hah.
… And in spite of the fact that I was 35 lbs lighter, I absolutely did not take advantage of my skinny-ness and dressed like an eejit. My favorite outfit was flared jeans, black leather platforms from the mercato in Milan, a blouse and a Jansport backpack. Ngek. My second favorite outfit was army green cargo pants, a large t-shirt, and sneakers. Fug. This style of dressing created the impression that I was either butch (Marlon: “I thought you hated guys”) or an athlete (Mags Imaizumi: “Oh aren’t you on the soccer varsity? You dress like the type”). Go figure.
 I loved this butchy grey Esprit jacket to death. I wore it all over Europe 
with my passport, wallet, camera AND travel journal stuffed into my tummy pocket 
like a dumpy manang kangaroo. I even cried when it went missing. 
Now I wish I could reach into this photo and rip it off me. 
Mamatay na lang ako sa lamig.
 

… I was one, maybe two cup sizes smaller. I would gladly give back my boobs if I could also give back the rest of the poundage I’ve accumulated since then.

… I had virgin hair. (High school attempts to “dye” it with Kool-Aid do not count.) I had only just discovered how not to tweeze my eyebrows to invisibility. Upper lip waxing, moisturizer, eye cream and sunblock were not yet part of my beauty vocabulary. The only sunblock in my consciousness was Coppertone and you would never think of putting that gunk on your face if you weren’t at the beach.

… I failed Math 12. Ten years later, does it matter? Hell no.

… Come to think of it, I can say with perfect honesty and zero regret that I once woke up to find myself in bed with my Math 12 teacher and his wife! (Be not alarmed: Lorna, Gerard and I were in the same Glee Club caroling group that year and we slept in the sofabed in Eunice’s den after caroling in Alabang. I was sleeping next to Lorna, naturally. LOL!)

Sinful sugar Sunday

i spent most of yesterday with marlon and his two closest friends from work — shivaani and shrenik, whose wedding in kolkata we attended two years ago. i love these two friends of marlon’s and i’m happy that they’re among my first friends here in singapore.

shrenik apparently is a man after my own salt-and-sugar-crazy heart (must have them one after the other), and i saw the full extent of his fiendish powers yesterday. what was possibly more mind-boggling than the amount of sugary snacks he keeps in the house is that, well, they’re still around — if i had all my favorite snacks in the house, they would all be gone in one afternoon. (except a small jar of nutella, which would take me two.)

the amount of sugar we had in the span of eight hours was beyond belief. consider:

  • a bowl of ferrero rocher
  • a pack of pepperidge farm dark chocolate chip and pecan cookies
  • filipino tablea hot chocolate with condensed milk (our contribution)
  • a pint of ben and jerry’s cherry garcia
  • various starbucks drinks: caramel frap, chai latte, iced tea
  • coke zero
  • honey dijon kettle chips
  • magnum ice cream bars

and that was still over and beyond the indian lunch cooked by shivaani, who, bless her heart, fell promptly asleep as soon as the opening credits rolled for paprika (totally surreal japanese animated movie). i managed to hold out for the length of the dvd, but was totally zonked out for the rest of the evening. my head felt dull and heavy, and i got cranky if i had to think for too long. at home, i couldn’t even read dangerous liaisons for five minutes without my pulse pounding at my temples. who knew that this was what lay on the opposite end of the spectrum from a sugar high?

but shrenik, diyos ko, totally out-sugared us all. yes, even me! he even brought out another bag of chocolates as if we hadn’t already been methodically hustling our collective blood sugar to critical levels. he exhibited no visible delay of his motor functions, while marlon practiclally had to prop me up in the mrt station. it was truly awe-inspiring. i concede defeat.

or maybe not. i thought last night’s saccharine bacchanalia was enough to put me off the sweet stuff for at least a couple of days. whaddya know, barely 24 hour hours later here i am blogging while munching on a crunch bar.

so when was the last time you had a sugar orgy?