Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Totally Awkward Tuesdays

As awkward and clumsy as I can be from time to time, it's no surprise I've been involve in a number of embarrassing moments. One particular moment however, remains the most unforgettable for me.

It was that time back in my freshman year in college when unattainable-crushes-who-don’t-know- you- exist- so- you- try- to- impress was the norm. I had one of those crushes. He’s one of the most gorgeous guys my teenage eyes had ever laid upon. I was attending a class next to his so every Monday and Thursday mornings, I’d catch a glimpse of him. One not-so-fine day, I had the misfortune of getting caught in traffic and ended up being late for class. Since my class room was on the third floor, I ran up the stairs as soon as I reached the building … books on my right arm, lunch box on my left hand and a heavy bag on my back!

All of a sudden... my foot missed a step, and I completely lost balance! Books, papers, lunches (not to mention, ME!) all flew in the air! I tried to pull myself up and gather my things together. Suddenly a wonderful, oh-so-manly voice spoke to me, trying so hard not to laugh…

‘Are you okay?’

I swear, if I had a lighter skin color, you could see me blush from head to toe! I wished the floor would open up and swallow me… I was just dying of embarrassment! But hey, who better to rescue you than your gorgeous prince charming, right? Besides, I finally got my desire of making an impression… probably not in the positive way I preferred… but who cares?

We started talking from that day on....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What Christmas Means to Me

Like most people, I've always associated the holiday season with family time. It's the one time of the year when you get to see relatives you haven't seen in a long time, give each other gifts, pig-out and just be merry! In the Philippines, it also means waking up at 4:30 every morning starting on the 16th of December until Christmas Eve to attend the Catholic morning mass, with the belief (at least for other people) that if you complete the 9 consecutive days of masses, your wish will come true ( I was never able to complete it though! I'm too lazy to get up early!). It also means church entrances smelling of that delicious delicacy cake; young children caroling at every house every night; and streets, houses and stores completely decked out with lights and decorations.

But Christmas for me, more than anything, means being with my Pops, my Ma, Sis and Bro... the five of us celebrating together.

For 23 years, that was the meaning and reality of my Christmas.

And then I left the Philippines for a graduate school in US.

My first Christmas here was the loneliest one I ever had. Don't get me wrong, I love this country (and especially my Man!), but I was on a foreign soil and miles away from my family for the first time. I was overcame with deep homesickness and was so depressed. I longed for home and for the people I loved most in the world. I wasn't alone as I celebrated the holidays with a bunch of friends, but it just wasn't the same.

Over the course of years, however, I've learned to cope with homesickness and enjoy the holidays better. Especially last year, when I celebrated it with my new family. Fiance's parents had been nothing but wonderful to me. They welcomed me in their home with open arms! He and I had only been dating for a couple of months at that time, but his Mom gave me wonderful gifts and set up a stocking with my name on it. That gesture completely tugged on my heartstrings and touched me. She's such a wonderful woman!

I don't think Christmas will give me that can't-wait-till-christmas-i'm-counting-the days feelings ever again (probably because I'm getting old... although Fiance's still too excited, which amazes me... I mean, at his age!) but I know it will get better and better every year. This year, my sister started her PhD studies here in US, so we get to celebrate the holidays together with Fiance's family. (They're welcoming her, too. Aren't they amazing?) And next year, I'll take Fiance to my home for Christmas and our second wedding ceremony. (Yes, we'll have two! A chapel wedding here for his family and a beach wedding in the Philippines for mine. Both are small and intimate - which I really prefer!). And the year after that? We're hoping that we'll have our 'bundle of joy' who will give more meaning to our Christmases from that year onwards.

Merry Christmas to everybody! I wish you all the best this holiday season!

And to my family (my parents read this from time to time): I miss you all so much!!! Christmas just won't be the same without you, but we'll be there next year! I love you and you'll all be in my thoughts. Enjoy the holidays, Pops, Ma and Bro!

Monday, December 22, 2008

30 Life Lessons

The year 2009 will be a milestone year for me. Aside from the fact that I will be leaving the single life behind to take the plunge into matrimonial bliss, I will also be turning 30.

Yes, 30! The age most twenty-something women dread! The age that, when most women reach, they start lying about.

Not this gal, though! I can, in all honesty, say I don't dread turning 30 or 40 or beyond that, at all. It's a natural process of life! We grow old, but with age, comes wisdom and maturity (at least for most people!). I'm not looking forward to getting wrinkles in a few decades (who does?), but I welcome wisdom and maturity with open arms.

I've been through a lot in my more-than-a-quarter-of-a-century existence in this world. Believe me, my life hadn't been easy, but I wouldn't change anything. I am what I am now because of all the things I've been through. I've learned to be grateful for everything in my life. I've learned to cope with every situation thrown my way. I've learned to deal with hardships, and to get up when I fall. And all these, I have learned with age and time.

Anyway, I wanna share the 30 lessons I have learned about life in my 29 and a half years of existence in this world (I'll share those I've learned from dating and about men in a later post (",) ). Here goes...

1. Families are the greatest treasures in this world. Cherish them.
2. Be grateful for everything you have. If you have food on the table and a roof for a shelter, then you're more fortunate than millions of people in this world.
3. You can't rely on raffle or lotto tickets. Work hard to get what you want.
4. For kids: Study hard. You'll be thankful in the future that you did.
5. Time heals all wounds... regardless of how you feel right now.
6. Hating someone is a waste of time and energy. Who do you think ends up feeling more miserable?
7. It's never too early to save up for retirement.
8. There's no sense in beating yourself up for past mistakes. Mistakes should be lessons learned.
9. There's no such thing as an easy journey. Every road has a crack or a stone that might trip you. Just get up when you fall, and keep going.
10. Dream big. They're free, anyway.
11. The worst question to ask yourself in the future is 'What if...?'. Make sure while you can, that you won't have to eventually.
12. Love yourself. How do you expect others to when you don't?
13. The grass is not always greener on the other side.
14. Who cares what other people think? What they think is their own business.
15. Whatever you're going through... that, too shall pass.
16. Cultivate all aspects of your personality and make sure you bring out the best in you.
17. It's okay to cry.
18. Hold on to true friends. They're hard to find.
19. Experience is the best teacher.
20. Don't blame other people for your mistakes. Man up to admit when you're wrong!
21. Be proud of everything you are.
22. Always remember what Roosevelt said, "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission."
23. Keep your promises. Nothing hurts more than broken promises.
24. Be gentle with rejection. How would you feel if it's done harshly to you?
25. Try to always look good. You'll be amazed at how good it can make you feel inside, especially when you're feeling down.
26. Don't take ANYTHING personally.
27. Step out of your comfort zone from time to time.
28. BALANCE is the key to living life. Balance your time between your family, career and social life, but prioritize your family when you need to choose.
29. Believe in karma.
30. Live life to the fullest!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dream Jobs

When I was a kid, there was no doubt in my parents’ mind that I would one day be a scientist. I’ve always asked questions of why the sky is blue, how the rain is formed or how people came to be. But like most kids my age, when asked what I wanna be when I grow up, I always say... a lawyer, a doctor or a teacher (depending on my mood). However, when I reached high school, I confirmed what my parents knew all along. I wanna be and was gonna be a scientist. I love science (especially chemistry), I was my school's bet in most science competitions and I was fascinated with McGyver. So it’s a no-brainer why, years later, I became a chemist.

That’s not to say, however, that being somebody other than a chemist never crossed my mind. If I weren't in this field, I probably had been (or would be in my next life) …

A psychologist. There’s just something about people’s brains that fascinate me. The way it works, how it processes information and its ability to store memory. I’ve always wondered why some people turn out to be geniuses while others seem to be idiots, and what makes crazy people take pleasure in having sadistic tendencies while I can’t even harm a bug and would faint at the sight of blood. The brain works in mysterious ways and I would have loved unlocking its mysteries.

A writer. I’ve always had this vision of me in swimsuit (my work attire) lounging under a big umbrella, writing a magazine article or a book somewhere in a Caribbean beach (my office), while sipping Margarita (okay… pineapple juice, since I’m not much of an alcohol drinker). In real life, writing might not be as glamorous as I try to make it sound, but I’ve always loved it. It’s how I usually express my thoughts and pour my sentiments. Well, this blog’s somehow helping me fulfill my dream of being one… if only I could get paid doing it!

A travel correspondent. This is one of the best jobs in the world. It’s like getting paid for taking a vacation! You explore the world, go on cruises, see the sights and then talk about it…. How did Anthony Bourdain get to be so lucky?

A Natural Geographic photographer. Nature always has a way of getting me awestruck. As a hiking and travel enthusiast, I am fascinated with all the wonders of the world. And to capture its magnificence in still pictures as a job … I’d work without overtime pay on weekends!

A grade school teacher. I adore kids (until they’re 13 years old! ;-) ). In this highly competitive world where a lot of people lie to each other and at times commit evil against one another, a child’s innocence and inherently good will is refreshing. It bolsters my sometimes-wavering faith in humanity. An environment surrounded by children reminds me of how it used to be when the world was simpler and life was worry-free. And kids have this natural thirst for knowledge that makes teaching so enjoyable! To me, being able to help mold kids into better people and help them create a better future is one of the most rewarding and honorable jobs of all.

So... what are yours?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fool for Love

A friend of mine called me up a couple of days ago to tell me that she got back with her ex. Normally, I'd be delighted with a news like that. This time however, I wasn't.

My friend had been technically dating her boyfriend for 2 years now. I said 'technically', because theirs was a tumultous on-again, off again roller coaster of a relationship. They'd be lovey-dovey for 3 months then the guy would pull off his cold shoulder act and disappear on her. Two months later, he'd reappear and begged her to take him back, and they'd be together again. Another three months later, he'd do the same thing he did before, then another two months, the roller coaster relationship continues. And on and on, it goes.

So... why does she keep taking him back?

I'm still searching for the answer. The truth is, I'm completely clueless! I mean, she's a pretty and sweet woman with a graduate degree! I'm sure she can date any guy she fancies. He, on the other hand, was a total jerk, had no permanent job and a guy I wouldn't exactly call attractive (but then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder). On top of that, he CHEATED on her! To me, he's the embodiment of a woman's nightmare!

Now, I know love is blind and all that crap, but seriously, it can't be that blind!

The first time they got back together after they broke up, I asked her if she's happy and when she said yes, I was happy for her and I was supportive. But now, even though she says she is, I can't be supportive anymore. How can I, after all the things the guy put her through? She definitely needs to wake up and face reality!

Okay, I do know that women can be a fool when it comes to love. How many times have we heard the phrase ' She's a smart girl...until she fell in love.'? Honestly, I've been there, done that. I once dated a guy who called all the shots in our so-called relationship, and like a fool, I put up with it. My only excuse was that I was really young and extremely naive! We would go out, then I wouldn't hear from him for a few days until he'd decide he wanted to see me - for which I'd drop everything, just to be with him. That went on for a few months, and during those months, my self-esteem was at its lowest. Deep down, I knew I was being a fool yet I was too powerless to resist. Looking back, I don't think I was even really in love with the guy. I was just infatuated! Yet, there I was, acting like a love-starved fool! And same as what I'm telling my friend now, my own friends were telling me he was a jerk, but I wouldn't listen. I guess it's usually easier when you're on the outside looking on the inside... you can easily differentiate the rights from the wrongs. But when you're the one in the situation, it's usually a different story. You turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to everything else, and choose to believe what you desperately wanted to believe. I did wake up one day, and told myself I had enough. I was tired of the roller coaster emotions he was putting me through, and decided to break it off. After that, I vowed that I would never be a fool for love again.

And since then, I never was.

What about you? I wanna hear stories.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Winter Blues

Growing up in a tropical country where there's no such thing as a winter season, I used to be jealous of people who had seen and experienced snowfall. I'd see movies showing a snow-covered ground during christmas, and I'd wish I was there. In my young mind, it was so beautiful! There was nothing I wanted to experience more than a white christmas!

When I applied to graduate schools in US six years ago, I specifically chose universities in the northern part which will make my wish come true (although of course, that wasn't my main criteria in choosing the schools) . I was tired of the hot and humid weather, and I was more than ready to take on the cold winter!

I got my wish when I was accepted in a university in Ohio.

I still remember the first time I experienced the snow fall. Like a kid, I was so excited and happy! I called my family and told them the news. They were jealous! With my friends, I went out in the cold, played with the snow, tasted it and took silly pictures.

The happy feeling went on for a few days.

A month later though, reality sunked in. It was too darn cold for a tropical gal like me! I can't get out of the house without bundling up in gazillion layers of clothing! The novelty started to wear off. Soon enough, I can't wait for the winter season to be over and for the spring to come. Suddenly I missed my tropical country where it's warm all year round!

Over the course of years, I did learn to adapt and accept the fact that there will always be a winter season in this state (4 months, in fact). I don't care much for it though (I would have said hate, but it's such a strong word), especially when I'm driving. I've had a few near-accidents due to slippery, snowy roads, so during times that I don't have to go to work, I stay cooped up at home, watching DVDs and surfing the net, while sipping hot tea (like yesterday). There are days however, when I'm too antsy or when I'm with energetic Fiance, that I'd force myself to get out of the house and brave even a snowstorm. (I'd be nervous the whole time, even if Fiance's the one driving, so he has to calm me down by reassuring me that he's been doing it for more than a decade now.) He and I did just that last year. We braved a blizzard and drove for two hours on a normally forty five-minute drive, just to watch a Cavaliers game. The thick snow made it hard to see the road, but amazingly, we did ok. We were crazy, (I know, I know (",) - and I won't recommend it) but it was a fun and memorable adventure!

Honestly though, I can't wait for spring, and especially summer, to come. There's no better feeling than being on a beach and feeling the warmth of the sun's rays.

A friend of mine told me before that his mood changes with the weather, and I thought he was crazy. Now, I totally understand.

Lesson learned: Grass just always seems greener on the other side. The truth is, it's not.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cohabitation vs. Marriage

A co-worker asked me yesterday if Fiance and I live together. When I told her 'No', the surprise on her face was evident. "But... aren't you engaged?"

Yes, Fiance and I are engaged, but I don't have any plans of moving in with him until we have made our vows of 'till death do us part' official!

I'm not a prude, nor am I trying to be moralistic. I know that cohabitation, nowadays, is becoming the norm among other young people. I don't have anything against those who do. I hardly think it's immoral, and I don't go around judging peoples' characters based on their beliefs. We're all entitled to our own opinions and that's the beauty of freedom and democracy in this country.

Personally though, I don't believe in cohabitation. I'm a black-and-white type of person, and living together, for me, just seems so gray. It's a half-baked commitment. It's like dipping one foot into the pool and calling it swimming, when in reality, you're just 'testing the waters'. You don't wanna put both feet in, in case it's too cold/hot and would need to get out easily. Same applies to living together. It's basically a trial marriage. You share your life with somebody and do all the things married couples do, but without the ties that permanently bind the two of you together. So, in case things don't work out, it's easier to break free.

And therein lies the problem. When you decide to just live together, you're entering a relationship built on the notion that it's a trial, and there's a possibility that it might not work! With this kind of mindset, it most probably wont!

(If you're ready to share your life with somebody - somebody that you chose wisely- why can't you take the full plunge?)

One of my bestfriends actually tried to convince me a couple of times to live with BA before marrying him. Her argument was that you won't really know the person until you live with him. Under the same roof. Seeing each other 24/7 (or, at least everyday). The real him, as well as you, will only show when you've been living together in a single house. So why not do a test drive first?

Honestly, I agree with her on the 'knowing the person' part - 100%. But let's say, I do just that. I'd agree to live with BA. A year later, I'd realize, a number of his habits utterly annoy me. What then? Should I break free because I can't deal with them?

When you're just living together, that's easy to do. Just pack up your bags and leave. So most probably, you'd do just that. But when you're married, it's a different story. You have to get a divorce, change your name back to your maiden name, deal with legal issues and so on and so forth. So, you'd probably think twice and try to work it out instead. Aside from that (or more than that), you made a vow to love the other person for better or worse - and if you're like me, that means something - so you might decide to to honor that.

Actually, a number of people who cohabitate do end up getting married. The sad part is that statistically (at least in the US), 50% of those marriages end up in divorce.

And the reason?

When you enter a trial relationship, you don't usually commit yourself completely to that person. Part of you has a hidden fear of getting hurt if it doesn't work, so you hold yourself back a little. The problem is, even if you do get married eventually, you'd probably still carry that fear in your head without realizing it, thus contributing to the demise of your marriage.

I believe that living together is a really big step. It's a step towards literally sharing every aspect of your life with somebody. It's the beginning of another chapter of your life. And as old fashioned as it sounds, it's a chapter that, I personally believe, should begin with official vows of starting your life together and staying together forever.

The truth is, the independent part of me harbors a slight fear of getting married. (I'll elaborate later on another post). It's the ultimate form of commitment! There's no turning back and there's no absolute guarantee that it will work. But I do believe that I have found the guy I wanna share my life with, so it's a risk I'm willing to take. I won't have it any other way. I know sooner or later, BA and I will find things about each other that we won't like. (We already found some(",) ). But I know too, that for better or worse, he and I will exhaust all options before we even dare to contemplate giving it up. Because that's the promise that we will make and that's the vow that we will honor... for the rest of our lives.

That's the beauty of marriage.

This is my personal view. What's yours?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bride-to-be Fever

I finally caught the bride-to-be fever.

Although I was ecstatic when I got engaged, I don't think it really sunked in that I would actually be a bride. And that, as a bride, I have to do so much planning and organizing.

And I never thought it would be this much fun!

When I was young, I knew (or at least hoped) that I'd find the right guy and get married eventually, but I never really thought of my wedding day way ahead. I know some women did, but I never pretended to be a bride when I was a kid, nor have I tried to visualize how my wedding would be in the future. I guess, I was afraid that I would jinx it or something. In my mind, it will happen when it happens.

And now that it is, all I can say is... nothing beats the feeling. I swear, I'm far from becoming a bridezilla, but all these wedding planning is making me feel so excited!! It takes a lot of work, but it's worth it!

Anyway, I'm done with the first step: finding The Dress .

Last weekend, I went to David's Bridal and tried on several wedding gowns. (I felt like I was doing a fashion show!) There are way too many that caught my eyes! But same as what people say about Mr Right, you'll know which dress is for you the moment you laid eyes on it. True enough, when I saw mine, I just fell in love! I knew it was the one (",). It was perfect for my beach wedding. My sister, who was with me, as well as the consultant and other people in the store, all agreed.

I don't wanna post the actual dress (BA might see it and it could be bad luck), but the style's kinda similar to this one...

And with regards to the wedding ceremony itself, this is how I envision it would be...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sexiest Men Alive

I was at a grocery store the other day when I happened to get a glimpse of People magazine on my way to the check-out counter. I was in a hurry to go somewhere, but when I saw it, I just had to stop! On the cover of the magazine, was the guy I've been drooling over for years since I saw him in X-men... Hugh Jackman, the 2008 sexiest man alive! I know I'm engaged and my heart does belong to another utterly sexy man (Love you, honey!(",) ) but hey, I'm not blind and I can always appreciate beauty when I see it!

Anyway, here's my own list of the 5 sexiest (celebrity) men on Earth. (I have to add the word 'celebrity', otherwise, Fiance would make a strong objection). Whose on your's?

I agree with People's magazine. Hugh Jackman is the sexiest man alive! I've watched almost every movie he was in, and I just love him.

Patrick Dempsey wasn't called McDreamy for nothing. Those soulful eyes are enough to melt a woman's cold heart.

Mark Wahlberg is hot. Period. It's self-explanatory.

Some of you might not agree with this choice, but there's just something about Jason Statham that makes my heart skip a bit. It might just be that attractive European accent, but for me, he's the definition of a Manly Man.

I used to go gaga over Tom Cruise back in my college days. I'm not that crazy about him anymore - especially after that Oprah episode and the Scientology issue- but I still think he's gorgeous.

I just realized... all these men are over 35. What's with me and my penchant for older men?