Monday, March 28, 2011

From 3 to 21 in 525,600 minutes

This came in the mail today.
Happy day! I am runner number 0057 in the Natgeo Earth Day Run 2011. Twenty-one frikkin kilometers, baby! Woohoo! 2nd half mary will hopefully be better than the first.

Last year, I ran the Natgeo Earth Day Run's 3k event. Besides it being my first race EVER, it was also the very first day I started running! My original plan was to just run the PGH Race's 5k the weekend after it, which I signed up for because a friend organized it, but according to my running experts (read as Raj and Rowena) I should check out how I hold up on a 3k route first.

So I signed for Natgeo 2010. I loved the backbone of last year's race: movement and awareness for climate change, and pushing for preparedness should another Ondoy happen. I thought it was a great cause and I must admit, it was an excellent start to my love affair with a sport.

Now, a year later, I move up the ladder. I will run this year's Natgeo because I am in love with the idea that I can push myself to perform! From last year's 3k to this year's half mary! Yiiii! Although technically, I was supposed to be full-fledged marathoner by March; my lack of discipline put that on hold... for now, but I've got a good, steady pace going and my right brain thinks I need a few more 21's under my belt before I gun for 42.

But I am seriously HAPPY! Looking forward to Race Day on April 10. Happiness is a Natgeo race kit delivered to your door by Air 21. :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Happiness Is...

I went on an incredibly indulgent shopping spree today. Its not that I can't afford it but today just proved how uncontrollable I can be when left to my own devices in a bookstore that's likely to carry the kind of books I love.

It all started in the morning with this:
I was in our neighborhood's tiny, obscure, practically obsolete NBS branch, waiting for the driver to finish an errand. Of course I whiled away the time by carefully going over the branch's small collection of published art. I was hoping to find a cheap-o copy of The Lost World, or The Da Vinci Code, or Angels & Demons... a few of my missing links (i.e., previously owned; lost to "friends" who have no idea how precious books can be to a person.).

As unfortunate as it was that copies of those were to be found, there was gold 'neath the rubble! The thorough browsing got me "Focus" by Al Ries. Likely to be considered a classic in marketing material now, Focus talks about how a singular story, word or moment can make your brand stuck in the mind of the public FOREVER. It's how Volvo = safety, and FedEx will always be overnight. Or Coke is happiness (keko kela!). Classic as the concept may be, it remains true: occupy the singular space in the human mind that only you can have and OWN IT. What I'd like to find out now is, where does that singular space come from? Does it happen in one decisive moment or is it like the id of being, continuously changing and therefore always a work in progress? I guess I'll have to read the brilliance of Mr. Ries to find out.

BUT WAIT! There's more to the story. So I pick up the book to check out the price. "Hmmm... from P385, down to 250." Not bad. As I'm never one to turn down a bargain, I headed off to the counter to pay and take my treasure home.

Scan... click... and the COC read P125. One hundred twenty five pesos! The discount was on a further reduced 50% discount! Un-F-ing-believable. By the time Mang Ariel got to me, I was singing "Happiness is Al Ries for a steal."

Note to self: Review the 22 immutable laws of marketing. I just need to brush up.

How I wish the book buying stopped there. The bargains started and stopped in NBS Retiro, because when I got to Fully Booked Powerplant in the afternoon, I turned into Agustus Gloop let loose in Willy Wonka's factory!
Brief backgrounder: I'm not the most pop-culture reader. When everyone was reading EPL and TTTW, I shunned both novels vehemently. Okay, fine, not that harsh. I'll probably read them one day if someone lent me a copy. But you won't dare find me reading Nicholas Sparks, or LJ Smith, or (dear God.) Judith McNaught. My kind of books are slightly more on the difficult-to-find scale. When the bookstores carry the novels on my most-wanted list, it's normally just a piece or two (nothing like the boxes they keep of The Last Song) and the freak geeks like me are left to fight among ourselves for the rarities.

I really didn't expect to find the works of the author I was looking for on the shelves of Fully Booked, and I really didn't. I was wearing my contacts, couldn't read stuff right and my eyes hurt. (I did find something else however. I'll get to that later.) But since I don't give up easy either, I hopped on over to customer service and asked if they had copies of Naomi Novic's Temeraire Series available.

THEY DID! Books 1 through 5 in paperback, because the latest of the series was just released in hardbound. I was so happy! Although I could wait for Book 6's paperback copy to come out, books 2-5 just had to be mine. I am now the proud owner of the almost complete Temeraire novels.

Temeraire is the dragon of Captain Will Lawrence, an aerial fighter pilot in the twisted fictional history of the French-British war had it been fought with dragons. Alternate reality. Fantasy realism. Throw-the-box-away thinking. For me, Naomi Novic is an artist with her words and ploys. I'm sure many freak geeks would agree.

Now on to my shelf find: Since I am part Sci-fi geek, I'm always scouring that particular area of the bookstores. Yes, I look for specific idols like Sanderson, Gaiman, Rice, Feist, Stroud or Novic, but I also take time to browse through other authors. I know H. G. Wells is in no way just another Sci-fi author (he wrote The Time Machine, The Island Of Doctor Moreau and War Of The Worlds for crying out loud) but this was my honest first time to take real notice of him.

Reading the introduction of Adam Roberts in the reprint copy of H. G. Wells' "The Food Of The Gods" piqued my interest because Roberts noted that this isn't one of Wells well-known works. Often overshadowed by it glorious brothers, now all made into nasty B-movies in my humble opinion, which leads me to hope that Hollywood stays away from this one, The Food Of The Gods is revolves around the fictional plot that scientists have found an element that turns mere men herculean. Like finding the fountain of youth, Wells plays out the go-abouts in the mind of the limited human being as he explores the "possibility" of god-like qualities.

Don't you just love it when the written word challenges boundaries of the thought, in terms of storyline creativity and human capacity.

So, those were my fabulous finds at FBPP today. More will be added to my collection next week, because I had a few put on hold for me: Sanderson's Well Of Ascension & Hero Of Ages, Guillebeau's AONC and Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project.

I spend too much on books...

Egads, heaven help me when July 2011 comes around and Hobbes & Landes hold their annual sale. Books, boardgames... they're my version of Samson's hair cut off. Still, that Peanut's song is stuck in my head. "Happiness is... an ever growing collection of books, books, and more books."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Getting older but none the wiser.

"Don't fret! We unbelievably perfect women will find our unbelievably perfect men someday. We're still young, and no where near our thirties pa naman so we have plenty of time to play around." said the wise twenty-two year old fresh grad.


Genius line came from genius me. Comforting a friend from heartbreak, that was my witty comeback. Back in the days of 22, the big three-oh just seemed like a forever away. Now, in a simple hop, skip and *tambling*, I'll be thirty!

Of course it doesn't mean there won't be time to "play" anymore, just that "playing" is the idiotic thing to do at this point. Or is it? In all honesty, I CANNOT tell anymore. I'm twenty f-ing nine but still none the wiser than that stupid fresh grad who thinks her witty lines are made by a beautiful mind.

Then again, what does wiser mean anyway?

Obviously frustrated about that thing that is taboo.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

We Break, We Bleed, We Wonder

As heroic and/or nonchalant as the brave face may be, we must always be mindful of the frail humanity behind it.

A tiny snippet of Jersey Girl brought on this post. It was the scene where Ollie (Ben Affleck's character) was talking to Maya (Liv Tyler's) about leaving New Jersey for NYC to push his PR career further. The move meant uprooting his daughter from the family he's reconnected with, and cutting short the life he could've had with Maya.

She automatically turns on her brave face. Shielding herself from the what-ifs, Maya takes the high road with Ollie: how will the move affect his young Gertrude, who will benefit most from the new life in NYC, what about his father, will he be left alone in New Jersey to fend yet again for himself? Deflections to get the topic off the possibility of "them." Ollie tries to bring it up, saying maybe when he and Gertie visit his dad in New Jersey, they could meet up for coffee or something. She goes, "Why? You think I'll be sticking around here for long?"

Yep, Kennon. Pump up the pride, think of the family, spotlight on him and never her. It's the way of the giver. After their brief talk, Maya says her goodbye, as nonchalantly as possible, then rushes indoors to bawl her eyes out. Of course, Ollie never sees the tears. In his head, she doesn't care about the thought of "them," which gives him the opportunity to focus on his life with his daughter. Brilliant, ain't it?

In reality, this is something that happens on a near day-to-day basis. Regular Juans put up the force field to showcase they're okay everyday. "No need to worry about what goes on here, we're all fine and dandy so go on and think of your own shit." They're the people who refuse to be in anyone's hair, but still give to the marrow without seeking the limelight.

They bleed the most, and break only when no one's looking. Their unseen tears are like the tree that falls in the forest. If no one saw the tree fall, did it really fall in the first place?

Not necessarily the martyr, they're more like pillars. Everyone else leans on them for support without ever realizing that, hey, maybe they need to lean back and rest against someone once in a while, too. They never show weakness, because in their head, they need to be the strong one. They're the ones who'll never wonder out loud because no one likes the person who reads between too many non-existent lines. Strong on the outside, frail on the in.

Everyday, they bleed, they break and they wonder, too. Look around you and see if anyone in your immediate circle fits the bill. Trust me, they need the release the most; maybe you can be the outlet to jumpstart the flow.

'Cause not everyone's got a blog for crazies like this.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Paper Trailmix

I've admitted it before. I have this horrible habit of reading too many things at once. Although this time around, reading two books at once is truly minimal for me, its the odd mix of genres that got me to write this entry.
Chris Guillebeau is my hero. In the grey days of a dreary employment past, Chris' once-in-a-while snippets of genius were my source of inspiration. He brought back the thoughts of linchpin, making a difference, and being unconventional to me. Of course, Seth G. ingrained that mindset in me already, in terms of work (read as brand mgt and marketing). Chris G. helped make it more personal, more about me. Thoughts of non-conformity brought on my obsession with boardgames, my bucket list and Y@H. And the "publication" of this li'l blog o' mine! :)

I've been dying to read his book The Art Of Non-Conformity since its release back in 2010, but the fates conspired against me: Getting a copy is IMPOSSIBLE in my poor, lowly third world country. Good thing my rich boss bought one to add to our office library when he went to the States over Christmas. The book you see above is property of my workplace... Am now trying to cook up ways to steal it away for myself. (Muwahahahahaha...)

Then we go to Beauty's Release, the 3rd novelette in Anne Rice's Erotica series. So, yes I've read the first two and, although I cringe at the extreme sexual descriptions found in every page-turn, I love the message I'm getting from the books. Anne Rice is one of my all time favorite authors. I have a very broad collection of her works, and I've been reading her since elementary. Although I'm glad I didn't read the story of Beauty 'til now. High School's raging hormones could've done horrid things to me back then, so its a blessing in disguise that I never got hold of a copy until recently.

Yes, the books are drowning with every single position, disposition, partnership and abuse imaginable, but despite all that, when you look beyond the sex, you learn something. Marrying pleasure and pain is basic. Humility in the face of humiliation is a level deeper. Servitude to govern justly, the servant leader, and graceful service wakes up an even deeper part of the brain. Yeah, yeah, you don't have to read erotica books to get these insightful tidbits, but I gotta admit, naked princes and princesses certainly make the jagged little pill go down faster.

I count me lucky to be given the opportunity to read, published masterpieces such as these two nonetheless. And I count me blessed that I find a happy place whenever I get the chance to. I'll be taking my time with these two books, relishing each moment with them. Hopefully, I come out a millimeter improved when I'm done. :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Zag And Do More

It's Lent. Season of sacrifice and abstinence and fasting. 40 days of giving up something: soda for some, rice for others. Smokers give up smoking, carnivores give up meat. Our family standard is "No beef, pork or chicken every Friday of Lent," and since I grew up with the practice, I feel its not much of a sacrifice anymore.

But I can't think of giving anything else up. I'd give up writing on this li'l blog o' mine for Lent but I fear for the sanity of the people around me. Can't give up running 'cause I haven't really been doing much of it these days. I don't love doing anything else enough to give it up as my act of sacrifice. Actually, I don't do much of anything else to love something in the first place.

And that may be the key to my Lenten lock: I have to do MORE of something.

I've never been little miss regular habit. Besides my monthly p., nothing else in my life is done regularly: not running, not writing, not cleaning my designated aquarium... not that I need to be doing something constantly to love it; it's just this trail of thought has led me to the conclusion that I might be not doing enough with my life in the first place. Maybe, what I need to give up idle time because its the only thing I can think of that I have too much of now.

So, for season of Lent, I resolve to zag and do more. Yesterday, instead of the normal lazy Sunday, I opted to groom Belle further after her weekly wash, then I cleaned my 80-gallon aquarium. For those of you who haven't met Belle before, I'd be happy to note that she's a big, bushy black Lab with too much hair for her own good. So combing her out was a heck of an exercise under the heat of the almost midday sun. Then my aquarium... *sigh* ... I've been putting off the cleaning task of that for the looooongest time, algae and grime has built up so much in it that hauling it all out yesterday took a good 3 hours. Now, it looks brand-spankin' new!

True that the day's chores tired me out, but I also had a deep feeling of accomplishment and self-sufficiency. It felt good to get off my fat ass and do something, rather than laze away another afternoon.

So, that's what you can expect of me this Lenten season. What's your "sacrifice"? :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

60 seconds left

(It was a choice of writing about Event Horizon, Jurrasic Park or this... Yeah. Apparently, I'm a real girly-girl at heart. I'll get to those movies in other posts another time.)
"What if your house was on fire! You have 60 seconds left before everything burnt down & you could save one thing only, what would it be?"
That was the question Declan (Matthew Goode) posed to Anna (Amy Adams) in one of their slightly deeper "I hate your guts but I'm stuck with you..." conversations and, for me, the clear backbone that made the movie Leap Year absolutely meaningful and riddled with insight.

Plot was simple enough: Boston gal Anna flies off to Ireland to propose to her cardiologist boyfriend on Leap Day (because an old Irish folklore allows that to be so), gets waylaid in Dingle while boyfriend is all the way in Dublin, asks a local barkeep to take her to the capital by Leap Day so such proposal may happen, and falls in love with him along the way. Of course barkeep Declan and Boston gal Anna end up together in the movie, that isn't much of a spoiler. Its a fluffy chick flick, you can't expect any less than happily ever after.

What stirred my soul, however, was the scene right before Anna and Declan got their happily ever after. Anna was back in the States with her cardiologist boyfriend, supposedly happily engaged to him. While contemplating her new affianced status, she sets off their apartment's fire alarm and realizes a sad fact: while boyfriend was fast to grab his laptop, saying "I haven't sent out the message of our engagement on facebook yet," Anna just stood there. She felt no urgency, no rush to save to anything in that apartment, in that life with the cardiologist.

It's when she realized what she needed was back in Ireland, and she had to go back and get it.

That scene got me thinking about what I would do if placed in a situation like that. If my house was burning down, what would I grab instinctively? I consider myself lucky because I know exactly what I'd save first.

And in order of importance, they are:
  1. Papa, Mama, Achi, Marty, Tito Isat and our house help, although I'm hoping their legs will let them walk/run out on their own. Yet if I must, I shall bear them on my shoulders.
  2. My dogs. Yes. My dogs. Belle, Bubu and Brandy. Oh, and our house turtle, Pagonggong. If I had the strength to carry my 80 gallon aquarium out, I'd do that, too.
  3. My books. Egads, the thought of my collection... gone... I'd rather burn with my books than leave them to the flames.
  4. My iPod. I have TONS of songs & movies in it: LOTR extended, Flight of Dragons, Snoopy Come Home, my glamrock and run playlists. Reminder to self: back up all 30Gs of it in iBook/Mac Mini... soon!
  5. Lula and my Nike sports tops. Running essentials and major investments for me. 'Nuff said.
  6. 5 fridge magnets. Four are yearbook photos of my brother's 4 beautiful daughters, and the fifth is a family photo. Wait a minute... this should be up in #4...
  7. My purple bead necklace. Made of wood, classic, goes well with everything and passed on to me from my Amah.
  8. My disc! Manila Spirits circa '06. She's white, worn out and well-used. She's had a great many throws and plenty more memories.
  9. My bikinis! My family could never understand why I have to have so many, but I do and I love each piece. They've given me nothing but good vibes on the beach.
  10. And my vintage shoes! They're all hand-me-downs, but still classically gorgeous. Bally, Ferregamo, Bruno Magli... they make my heart sing.
WHEW! That turned out longer a list than I'd initially thought it would be. This house had better not ever burn down.

So, here's looking at you now. If YOU had 60 seconds left before everything was gone, what would you grab to save first?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sick Is Overrated

It's true! People sometimes wish they could get sick to get timeout from work. HA! With the world wide web, there's no escaping work anymore. Being on your deathbed ain't even a proper excuse to not finish something.

Whoever created the internet, I hate you.

No, I take that back. Without you, this silly little rant would never have gotten out of my head.

But seriously, getting sick is NOT a good thing, people. You try getting up every morning with a friggin' ache in your back that makes you feel like you ran a marathon the day before. Or try not being able to breathe all of a sudden in the middle of the night. You're like, "What the...!?" and in a coughing fit meant for an old lady of a hundred and three. Or try nursing a mind blowing headache every thirty minutes. It makes you wonder, why the hell did this "bug" decide to land on me?

But it did. Gah. I hate being sick. It makes you weak, feel broken, and in this case phlegmy and gross. The things I've coughed up, you won't believe. I was even scared that this could be dengue. Mosquitos just love me; its why I worship the earth makers-of-Baygon walk on, but I could not, for the life of me, recall the last time I was bitten by a mosquito. So we rule that out.

Whatever this "bug" is, it's almost gone anyway. Feeling much better today. First day it didn't hurt to go downstairs and have breakfast, and first day I was able to play with mah babies without feeling tired 5 seconds later. Heck, first day I got the urge to write again! So, today is a good day.

Kids, let me tell you, don't take your health for granted. Take 'em vits, eat 'em fruits and veggies, and drink plenty of H2O. There's a virus that's gonna make you feel like hell and back again going around, and you best be prepared for it.

I Love This

Did you get it? Did you? Did you? :))

Join the hunt, Ethan Hunt! I love love LOVE this! It was like finding a tiny piece of witty treasure in the full page ad of the "Wild Guyito Hunt" in the Inquirer today. It's these trivial, insanely useless but incredibly brilliant tactics that pull me out of my misery.

Just when I go on thinking that everyone's gone back to the mundane, and same-old "look for li'l-ole-me" raffle mechanics, funny bones behind the makers of THIS ad pull an Ethan Hunt out of the blue. It's hilarious! And it sticks! So sticky, crazies like me write about it.

And that's already winning half the battle, Joe. Buzz is important, especially for something done year in and year out as the Guyito Hunt. You don't have to shake up the entire program to create the buzz you need. Sometimes, its better to stick with the simple and just add a few drops of funny into the mix. I've never joined the Guyito Hunt before but this little trick makes me want to. It's like that McDonald's Twister Fries ad, which I *heart* just as much.

Brain behind "Join the hunt, Ethan Hunt!", you are genius. :)