Saturday, July 28, 2007

Home Sweet Nothings

One night earlier in the week, I agreed to meet up with a friend-by-association to have dinner of Belgian mussels, racks of lamb, stoemp and fruit beers. It was one of those polite courtesy dinners that came as a result of the "we need to get together and catch up" line -- those that we always say but rarely mean. The dinner was set a good week prior and I had doubts as to how long we can keep a conversation going without hitting any brick walls of awkwardness. I have never hung out with her without my sister present, who happens to be our binding glue. As a matter of fact, she's my sister's really good friend. And because I am my sister's sister, by association, that makes me her very good friend too. Second helpings of logic, anyone?

"See? I think that you and I are more alike than me and your sister is," she said with a flourish as she took a dainty sip of her beer.

I almost choked on the pesto-covered mussel that was trying to make its way down my esophagus. "Excuse me?" I asked. "How did you derive that conclusion?"

"Because even though your sister is seemingly the stronger one being the oldest one in the family, she actually is quite emotional and harbors attachments to certain things and people," she explained. "And we're not like that. We're very independent and free from those."

I still don't get it though.

She must have seen the confused look in my eyes because she prodded on. "Like, for instance, you're the type of person who would consider the place you're currently living in as home," she retorted. "Most people only consider the place where they were born or grew up in as home even though they're living somewhere else. And haven't gone 'home' in a while."

My god, she sussed this out of me within half an hour? "Really?" I asked cautiously. "What makes you think that?"

"Simple," she answered helping herself to the fries. "You referred to your house in Manila as your 'parents' house' instead of just 'home.' Why? Where is home for you?"

Good question. I don't know. And neither did I catch myself referring to my parents' house as my parents' house. Could it be one of those psychological mumbo-jumbos about the subconscious and all?

My friend seemed to have hit home within a span of that minute. And she has totally caught me off guard because admittedly, I have never gotten around to thinking about it. Where is home indeed? Better yet, when did home stop being home for me?

It would already have been a decade next year since I moved out of our house when I was seventeen. I cannot imagine where time has gone to. All I know is that within that decade (well, almost), I may have moved at least ten times. Because I moved/move a lot, I have learned to live with minimal things. Not the bare minimum, mind you, just minimal. The idea of packing up boxes and boxes of rubbish brings tears to my eyes not because of emotional and sentimental reasons, but because the idea is just so tiring and exhausting. The more I moved, the more I learned about possessing just the essential stuff -- and having to let go of the unnecessary baggage. After all, it isn't all the time that there will be someone to help you with your baggages -- and I meant that both literally and figuratively. Pun intended!

I may be the typical girl having too much make-up, too many shoes and an excessive amount of clothes in my possession, but I assure you that when push comes to shove, I can be out of this apartment within two hours carrying everything that is important for me to live on and actually survive on. Sure, I have the token heirlooms, jewelry pieces and critical documents that I can't afford to lose, but other than that, I can leave everything behind.

I learned that though not everything is replaceable, there are many things that are. And we agonize so much about the complications that we have in our lives when in truth, zoom out to see the bigger picture, and it's actually very simple. If you want something to happen, do it whilst only taking what you need. Anything in excess will just kill the journey because it will gobble up extra energy and resources. When you get there, you can always build your home all over again. Until the next one comes along, that is. Then you do everything all over again -- maybe with a little bit more to bring, maybe less. It depends. Who knows, one day you may just hit your final destination where you can build your home for one last time.

I know I will always have a home at my parents' house. However, I could no longer call it my home because I'm not there often enough to dress the place with my soul. It was my first home and it will always serve as my launching pad for my subsequent homes. And wherever I decide to build my current home at, I will always remember my first home because I will always take a piece of it with me. My alarm clock has traveled the world with me since I purchased it when I was eleven. It has woken me up every morning for fifteen years. It has stood on numerous bedside tables and it has survived many seasons. My home is where that alarm clock is.

"Ohmygod," my friend exclaimed. "It's already ten-thirty! I think I have to go, I promised the maid I'd be home by ten."

Honestly, where does time go when I'm not looking?

"I had fun though," she smiled. "We really should do this more often."

"I know. We need to get together again and catch up," I said.

And this time, I meant it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Raising Little Orphan Annie

Adoption used to be this big hush-hush thing where I grew up -- it's like this big secret that no one was supposed to know or else it would be a one-way ticket to social Siberia. Divulging such a secret is likened to opening up Pandora's box with a vengeance. I remember how school children would use the term with malice to take the mick out of someone else. The term "adopted" back then represented someone who was vastly different, or simply, someone who did not belong. We have all been called names at least once in our lives. And no matter how fancy or rotten they were, they all hurt either way...

People always seemed to be walking on eggshells whenever they were around adopted kids. It was as if they were afraid that their tact and tongue-biting would betray them and accidentally spill the beans to the poor fragile child. And the slightest hint of pity would always be present in their conversations with the adoptive parents -- the patronizing glances and the inward sneers. "Poor thing would never know how it is to cuddle with your own flesh and blood." A rather noble act of kindness was all of a sudden likened to the curse of a dreadful and incurable disease. It is beyond me why it is the strong and compassionate people are the ones being unfairly judged.

Plucked directly from personal experience, I noticed that it is those from the older generations that are not as forthcoming with the concept of adoption. Those from clannish and wealthy families are worse. Perhaps it has got something to do with taking excessive pride with the family name and gene pool, but aside from DNA, is there a real difference between a biological child and an adopted one? The big misconception back then of being adopted was that one is only of second rank compared to the real ones. I mean, imagine if the Queen of England had 2 sons -- one adopted and one biological. Clearly we know right off the bat which one will be at a disadvantage. Hopefully, someone would prove me wrong on this one.

Adoption -- I compare it to being an artist; a painter, for instance. We can all technically do it but it is not for all of us. After all, not everyone can paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Only the worthy and special ones are called to go through with it. And the rest, well... I'm not sure. Maybe they're those who are still unsure or those who simply don't understand.

I would be so honored if I found out one day that I am picked to be an adoptive parent. Of course, I wish to have children of my own as well, but I pine after the chance to provide a deprived child the love and care that he or she deserves. I honestly believe that no one must have to go through living with uncaring (especially abusive) parents. And believe me, this decision came way before Angelina Jolie started scooping kids left and right around the globe for her to create a mini-United Nations General Assembly in her home. Then again, as I always say, it's easier said than done. I am open to the chances that I may do a 360-degree turn once I'm installed in that particular situation. I hope not though.

Questions that constantly plague my mind: Should a child know if he or she is adopted? Does it matter? If so, when is the best time to break the life-altering news? This adoption business truly is more than meets the eye.

There are millions of homeless children out there. And likewise, there are millions of childless parents who want nothing more than having a child. Do the math. Tell me, why is it that the scales still don't balance?

Sure, people nowadays are more open with adopting children, especially those of foreign origin from developing countries. I'm almost afraid to ask, however, if it is only a fruit of a fashion trend. Adopting a Chinese girl isn't quite like investing a boatload of money on a Birkin bag. Nonetheless, the awareness that Hollywood icons have brought to adopting children have been massive. A bit misguided, yes, but still massive. And it has led many families to consider -- or even pursue with -- the option.

I have dealt with a fair number of adopted people -- I've met them, I've spoken to them, I've hung out with them, I've embraced them and I've loved them -- and they are unsurprisingly nothing short of normal, just like you and me. I'm beginning to think that the idea of adoption is a highly psychological condition with non-adopted/adoptive people.

Having the means to adopt and to provide is a privilege. But having the capability to give a complete stranger a loving home and a sense of security -- is a gift.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Interview With Vampires

Unfortunately for all of us, there are numerous necessarily evils that we have to encounter in our lifetimes. And through these usually surfaces sheer idiocy and monumental stupidities. Nonetheless, there is nothing that can be done but keep our eyes closed and go through with it.

Interviews -- they are the bane of my existence. Although I understand why the concept of interviews came to be, I have difficulty accepting the fact that it has become an annoying, insincere and utterly fake protocol. So much so that I can't help but wonder why tremendous weight is put on it when considering a person for a position. I would think that the idea of an interview is to get to know a potential employee. Plain and simple. Almost like an interesting and engaging conversation. You know, get a feel of his or her personality, skills, capabilities and such.

But no. As a matter of fact, I more or less equate interviews nowadays with tedious and rigorous processes that simply drain the lives out of us. I never understood the need to prolong interviews to as much as eight to ten phases -- only to find out that you weren't good enough on the ninth. Obviously, interviews can be stretched out to a hundred phases and one will still be unable to make certain that the candidate is the perfect one. After all, it takes a lifetime to get to know oneself; more so a complete stranger who just wants an honest job with a paycheck attached to it every month.

And then there are those tests. Admittedly, there are some professions and industries where tests are necessary and I accept that. I can understand why aspiring journalists need to show samples of their work or take a writing test. Or perhaps why engineers need to get certified and also why lawyers need to pass the bar. However, I do not quite agree with asking an administrative assistant to take a math test involving algebraic and trigonometric problems. Or asking a consultant to estimate how many ping pong balls can fit in a Boeing 747. Or -- get this -- asking an entry level analyst which famous people he or she would take during a scavenger hunt. And those cheesy brainteasers -- seriously... why?

So if I happen to know why the person only takes the lift up the twentieth floor even though he really lives on the twenty-fourth floor, that makes me a better fit for a job?

I once had a job interview where I was asked to estimate how many flights there are all over the world on a daily basis. As I tried keeping my eyeballs from popping out of their sockets, I was silently shitting myself in my seat. I mean, where in the world do I start? Whatever happened to those overplayed questions where they ask you to name three strengths and three weaknesses?

"How about I look it up online?" I asked cheekily knowing full well that I have probably bombed the interview already anyway.

"But that's not the point of the exercise," my interviewer countered.

"Oh I know," I said. "I know you just want to know how my brain works. And trust me, it works that's why I'm asking you if I can just look it up online. I'm smart, I know how to make things easier."

He sighed. "Fine, let's try another one," he said clearly not impressed. "Can you estimate the world's population in a thousand years?"

"What do you care? We'll all be dead."

Needless to say, I didn't get the gleaming job in the prestigious firm. But hell, if I have to go through nonsense like that to prove myself worthy, then no thanks. Having the talent for knowing useless things will not grant me a better career. These days, it seems that the more bull we know, the better chance we stand to bagging our dream jobs.

On a more serious note, interviews truly are an important portion of recruiting and finding a job. It's the only real way to get to know someone and to gauge whether he or she can do the job. And naturally, we put our best feet forward when being interviewed. The only real way to find out if a person truly is a good fit is to give him or her the job -- and hope for the best. We win some, we lose some. Recruiting employees is a massive trial and error feat.

However, the creation of a department dedicated to recruitment has decided to make themselves feel important by asking applicants to go through hoops just to clinch an interview. Otherwise, they send an uber-impersonal email or letter lying about how genuinely sorry they are for not being able to grant us an interview. I cannot believe there is an industry solely devoted to this cause.

Looking for a full-time job is a full-time job in itself. It is one that is most depressing and is simply complete torture. Going through interviews is the validation of our crushed self-esteems. I can imagine how much better it would be to roll around on rock salt after rubbing our bodies with sandpaper. Bagging that one job is the sweetest victory -- and an added bonus if we actually don't mind doing what it entails.

At the end of the day, aren't we all just prostitutes that accept whomever takes us as long as they are willing to pay us? We go where the most money is.


Post Script:

I apologize for the negligence from posting this week. I was swamped with that little bugger called work and exhaustion clung to me like a lovesick hormonal teenage boy to the hottest girl in class. Having a full-time job seriously gets in the way of the fun things in life. I will catch up with comments this weekend, I promise. Really!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Stealing Magnolias

Just like everyone out there, I have a closet that houses all the skeletons I've been hiding all my life. The collection of bones have accumulated over the years as I hopped from one experience to another. From the outside, however, it looks like a gorgeous antique closet -- adorned with carvings of flowers and angels -- that contains precious jewels, family heirlooms, grand dresses and glass slippers. One of those things that people pay top dollar for at Sotheby's.

I have seemingly led a blemish-free life that therapists hate as my subconscious neither holds any traumatic ordeals or dysfunctional meanderings. I hate to say it but my parents did their jobs pretty damn well raising me -- hence, making it difficult for me to put blame on them for any of my psychological paroxysms. Just picture Meredith Grey, just as damaged and broken, without much excuse for being damaged and broken. And minus 95% of the whining.

When I was uprooted from my cushy life back at seventeen years old, my excitement was uncontainable. New life, new environment, new country, new friends -- and of course, independence! Well, not exactly as my parents were still financially supporting me 100%, but at least more independence that I got compared to living under the same roof as them. I realized how sheltered I was. This both scared and delighted me. I was thrown in a world where I was about to discover many new things.

Just like everyone, I had been foolish and I had been smart. After all, it was college. That's my excuse. I followed the herd. I drank and got drunk, I had cold pizza and swigs of vodka for weekend brunch (coffee and cigarettes for the weekday ones), I bought more clothes to make up for the fact that I hadn't done my laundry in weeks, I blew all my hard-earned cash on clubbing and going out, I *ahem* dabbled with things I knew I shouldn't be touching, and I incurred excessive credit card debts. Nothing especially out of the ordinary, but it was all new to me. However, the angel perenially sitting on my right shoulder kept me afloat -- with constant reminders on why I was there in the first place. Though admittedly, I did horrendous things, I still made sure I still maintained top grades, kept myself out of jail and made sure I graduated. It was the least I can do to thank my parents, right?

There was one instance, however, that brought my fast pace to a skidding halt. This time, my moral values came screaming at me -- and truly tested me for the first time. I was with a friend at that time. We just finished taking a horrible final in accounting and we felt we deserved a treat. We had ice cream and went shopping.

"It's getting cold, I really need a new muffler. My old one is already moldy and I could no longer see the colors in its original shade," I commented as I browsed around scarves, beanies, mufflers and mittens.

She picked up one of the mufflers and examined it. "Hey," she said. "This one's not too bad. It actually looks pretty warm." She tied it around her neck as if to prove it.

"Yeah," I said. "You should get it."

"Yeah, I should," she agreed.

"How much is it?"

Before I could get an answer from her, she was already out of the store -- with the muffler still around her neck! I stood there agape; my brain still trying to process what just happened there. I mean, she was supposedly my friend. How long has she been doing this? And when were the other times that she did this? If she got caught, I could go down with her. All these questions flooded me.

"I got you one as well!" she said as she triumphantly showed a second muffler hiding under the first one she lifted.

I took it, said thanks, and wrapped it around my neck. She was right, it was mighty warm. That was six years ago and I still have that muffler inside my trunk that has all my winter clothing. I still ask myself why I didn't say anything and why I didn't do anything about it. It wasn't the first time it happened, neither was it the last. And I don't know why I tolerated it.

I may have done so many ridiculous things in my life but I do have my boundaries. I'm not angel and I've never been. There are things I can let go -- whether easily or with difficulty, I can still let it slide -- but there are things I ought not tolerate. And going against the law is on top of my list. I have no reason to rebel and neither have I got a good reason to disregard my intelligence. I know what's right from wrong and though ethics can cause me to stray over a gray area once in a while, I find no reason to put so much at risk for a measly muffler (or anything, for that matter). If only fate decided to take the red pill on me that day, I would have lost everything -- my stellar scholastic and academic career, my family's trust, my independence, my life basically, plus I would be denied of a great future. All for a muffler? Shoplifting is still a crime and though I didn't pull the deed myself, there was no way I could explicitly prove that I wasn't an accomplice. If I were to go to jail for a crime, I'd make sure it was worth it like embezzling billions of dollars to a Cayman Islands secret bank account. Not a ruddy muffler!

I learned a lot from that episode. The gods were definitely looking down on me kindly that day as they gave me a sobering premonition instead of a rude awakening. I have toned down the risks that I take as a result of growing up and learning from my mistakes though I don't regret making any of them. My gut feeling has become my best friend especially now that I am continuously faced with new experiences that I've never encountered before. And I have become pickier with whom I allow myself to be surrounded with. Sure, I've made foolish choices before as to whom I let influence my life, but admittedly, they did show me another world that I know for sure I didn't want to be a part of. It's always a case of "the moon is rounder in another continent" but now that I've seen the other side, I'd like to stick with this one, thankyouverymuch. We do make our fair share of mistakes and there's nothing wrong with that as long as we know they were mistakes. And that they remain in the past.

As for friends, it is our choice whether or not we bite the bullet and get in trouble with our friends. However, true friends don't put their friends in a dangerous position without giving them a choice. It is, indeed, a good test to find out who our friends really are but it isn't a decision for us to make for them.

Big mistakes stem from small mistakes. And good friends keep you from those.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

'Til Death Do Us Part

"It's easier to be a widow than to be a widower," one of my colleagues stated matter of factly.

I choked on the tea that I was drinking when I heard this from him. Him being a guy in his late thirties, very soft-spoken and very very very very very nice. He's so nice that it pains him to pass out his own opinion. He's known to sit on the fence at lot. Ironically enough, he's a whiz currency strategist -- a career that depends on personal views and perspective when it comes to taking certain positions. And he does this every. single. day. Probably another one of God's jokes to mankind.

"It's true," he insisted, offering me some water and some tissue paper. "Men have difficulty expressing their emotions" -- altogether ladies: DUH! -- "so when they lose their life partner, it gets to really difficult."

See, if just any guy would have told me that, I probably would have thought he was just saying it for the sake of saying it. But no, this is coming from a guy who rarely volunteers anything that comes from his head. He's really nice (have I mentioned that?). His wife has ultimately hit the lottery... he's the type to open doors and to always offer his hand even in situations where he knows he can't do anything to help.

My parents had a conversation about each other's death a few years ago. It started out very casually -- like, my mum just happened to think about it and blurted it out. It didn't turn out very pretty because my dad opined that if my mum went ahead of him, he'll simply go back to his province and spend the remainder of his time there. My mum, evidently, didn't like this because she wanted him to stay in our current home and live there because she feels that they've worked so hard to acquire. It has become a legacy for them -- a symbol of their life together. Touche!

While I don't think that any of them were wrong, I understood why my dad said that. My dad was never really one to speak up (unless he feels unusually strongly about a certain issue). I'm not sure if this is due to the fact that my mother is just (extremely) strong-headed or that he's just smart enough to not go against her. I, however, reckon that my dad will have a harder time coping with my mother's loss primarily because of the abovementioned reason: that he doesn't express himself enough. I'm sure he has his own coping methods but I somehow wish that we were more involved in it. We, his children, are still learning to read him... and everyday, there's always something new to learn about him. I feel that as we get older, he deems us more trustworthy of his thoughts and feelings.

My mother, on the other hand, is an open book. Actually, that's quite an understatement. She's an open book with multi-colored highlighted lines and lots of dog-eared pages. She always makes sure that everyone knows what she's thinking and feeling... especially when she's not pleased. She's a terrible liar. Her lies just fall out of her eyes in truckloads. She's also good at piling guilt on us (something that I'm convinced that this comes with the maternal instinct package that mothers automatically receive once they pop their first-born).

The fact that I know that my mother will be shattered into talcum powder if (knock on wood) my dad goes first goes to show that she will be fine -- eventually, at least. And I know this because she tells me. My dad, on the other hand, I have absolutely no idea. He'll probably be less obtrusive in his kids' lives but there's really no way of getting in his head. And somehow, that scares me.

Secrets scare me, as a matter of fact. Nevermind that this statement is coming from a person who never runs out of them. I like knowing what's going on... and what's going to happen. I like being kept in the loop. What they say about what you don't know doesn't hurt you -- bollocks! It simply gears you to get even more hurt once you find out the truth. And trust me, the truth always comes out somehow... whenever it may be and whether we like it or not. And no matter how distant you are from the truth (time-wise and geographically), it will still hurt.

Anyway, I digress.

I hope that I won't have to find out the truth about whether or not it's easier to be a widow any time in the near future (or at all, if I can help it). It's a very sad thing to think about. Losing a life partner -- a best friend -- must be indescribably tough. Break ups are bad enough but at least there is still that thread of hope we cling on that a reconcilation is still possible.

I no longer have living grandfathers. My maternal grandma has outlived her husband for almost twenty five years now; my paternal one is on her fourteenth year of widowhood -- and still struggling. I don't know how they do it but they sure are doing one hell of a job. Bless them both.

A dear friend once told me that it is indeed possible for people to die of a broken heart. It's not accepted by science, but it still is possible.

I don't know about everyone else, but that must be the worst way to die. To die of a broken heart.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Candy Conversations

"It's getting late," he said. "Shouldn't you be going to bed?"

As if on cue, I let out a yawn. I tried stifling it to despairing failure. "I guess," I conceded. "My cell phone battery's running out as well. I think it needs to go to sleep, too."

He laughed lightly. "All right then, Princess," he said. "Have yourself a good night's sleep. I'll call you again tomorrow."

In bed, I shifted my body to the right as my left side has completely lost feeling.

"Okay, Mr Stingy Smiles," I retorted.

I heard him smile over the phone.

"Why do you insist that you never smile?" I asked curiously.

"I don't know," he replied. "I was never really the smiling type."

"So you mean to tell me that during this whole conversation we had, you never smiled once?"

Oh come on!

"A few times -- " he answered.

"Hey, not a bad start, right?"

"A few times I may have stopped smiling."

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Crawl-Out Clause

A friend attending law school once told me that because divorce is still considered illegal in the Philippines, sometimes lawyers would deliberately put certain weaknesses and kinks on marriage documents as a way to break out of it legally in the future. Hearing this disturbed me beyond belief. Sure, it's a practical oversight and can be considered smart in a twisted way, but it was like putting a hex on marriage and a couple's togetherness.

Don't get me wrong, I have long ago stowed away my rose-colored glasses behind my closet, almost reaching Narnia. It has paved the way for my cynical evolution. However, I still have great respect for the institution of marriage. I am aware of the fact that in this day and age, marriage has somehow been reduced down to a contract that society unconsciously demands from us -- despite loud and rambunctious protests against it. We all don't have to think like that, do we?

I am aware of most compelling issues that often result to -- no, must result to -- divorce such as domestic violence, child molestation, criminal offenses and such. I absolutely approve of breaking down a family or a marriage if the above-mentioned are concerned as it is obviously for the best. It continuously amazes me how the world can house such sick sad bastards sometimes. However, I still frown upon the concept of divorce because it has evolved into something that people take for granted. Instead of using it as a last resort, it has become a clause that allows one to get out of a binding contract in the drop of a hat -- albeit a very expensive loophole at times.

I shall not even touch on the ludicrous lifestyles of the rich and famous as surely, they have single-handedly created the multibillion dollar industry that divorce lawyers swim in. The phenomenon has trickled down to next-door families and couples who seemingly have the average-joe life that you and I live. I still remember back when I was growing up when kids come from "broken families" instead of the newly coined "single-parent families." Getting a divorce was once the curse that casts you out of the loop straight into the arms of the untouchables. Now, it has become a habit, almost fashionable. It has become as common and expected as getting married.

From what I have learned, when one gets married, there is no turning back. After all, it is meant to be forever (resisting to say "no shit, sherlock" right now). There is no such thing as a trial marriage. Getting to know each other is usually part of the whole dating and relationship process -- thus giving way to the idea of waiting a while before getting married until one is definitely sure. More often than not, divorce is waiting at the other end of the tunnel when one marries for the wrong reasons. Also, some people use divorce as leverage and event as a threat to the other person.

Coming from a society where divorce is still taboo, I do find that the people in it tend to work on their ailing marriages a little bit more. It probably also stems from a culture filled with close family ties, and the repeated reminder of the importance of face value. The problem no longer becomes exclusive to the husband and wife because of the rest of the (extended) family gets involved.

Walking over to the side of the fence, this can also be quite harmful. Not getting out of a marriage because "it's the right thing to do" despite the suffering and misery can take a toll on one's health and self-esteem. Sometimes, we need to know when to throw in the towel because it not only affects us, but also the people around us. This is where Oprah's right in saying that we must love ourselves first before we love other people. For instance, some marriages get through cheating spouses -- but if it's chronically done and will obviously not end, what is the point of staying? Staying married but living different lives is as good as having no marriage anymore, methinks. There's a difference between working on the marriage and just letting it run.

I used to be 100% against divorce because of my ultimate respect for the institution of marriage. I've always thought that marriage was the end all and be all of things, and that no matter what, we're stuck with it that's why decisions have to be made wisely. It still is true to a certain extent, but there really is no way to know everything without running the course of life, is there? People and circumstances change -- something beyond our control. However, with the help of experience and maturity, I have grown to accept divorce as part of the survival process. It is necessary in order to gain access to a second chance. I only disagree with using divorce as a means to repossess life a third, fourth, fifth or sixth (maybe more) time. Surely, everyone makes mistakes, but we need to learn at some point. Someone told me before that making the same mistake twice is stupidity. Touche!

I don't judge people who have resorted to divorce -- no, not at all. If any, my respect and sympathy goes out to them because it must be one of the most difficult decisions they had to make. That's what it should be. It ought to remain being a tough decision to make. It should never be an option that is within arm's length. Otherwise, the world will be one big Melrose Place production where we just swap spouses and continue pouring money into divorce lawyers' banks. And marriage? It will just be another excuse to throw a party...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Look Ma! No Hands!

Going to Australia was my answer to the aged-old question: "When was the last time you did something for the first time?" Not only was it my first time to visit the country, but it was also my first time to wear a full-fledged coat in June-July -- ever! It was a bit disconcerting thinking about it initially, I was almost dubious, until the biting cold hit my ears when we braved the Blue Mountains in New South Wales and when I intuitively parted with twenty bucks to purchase a beanie in the nearest tourist trap of a store.

I had this juvenile notion as a little girl that with Australia being down south, everyone was holding onto rails trying hard not to fall off the earth. "Look Ma! No hands!" Though, thankfully, that little theory of mine has been disregarded just a few minutes after its conception -- by hysterics coming from blood-related people. I still do find it amusing, however, being in a country where it gets colder as you head south and hotter heading the opposite direction. And where the water swirls down the drain in a counter clockwise motion instead (I lie, I didn't really notice, but is it only an old wives' tale?).

I did enjoy -- yes -- very much so. Getting to know new cities is likened to a blind date. I wasn't sure if I were going to like it or not. And neither was I sure if it will envelope my attempts to assimilate. I was a bit apprehensive with mixed stories about Sydney and Melbourne from cynical and forever-roseate associates who frequent the place. I decided that I had to, for once and for all, form my own opinion of the place and contribute to raves and rants. And I'm glad I did.

It was several days of getting filled up with good lager and wine, extremely scrumptious food (both from land and water, of course), and lots and lots of walking and getting lost -- which is perhaps, I daresay, the best part of any travel adventure. Sydney is just as sassy and cosmopolitan as ingrained in my imagination and Melbourne, I reckon, is her funky and hip sister with a carefree attitude.

If there is one thing that I envy about Australians, it would be their perseverance to maintain a healthy balance in life. I have long forgotten how it is to leave work at five in the afternoon and come in at nine in the morning with a steaming cup of tea and muffin on each hand -- and a smile pasted on my face. These days, everything is so rushed and everyone succumbs to it. Especially in Asia, there seems to be this unspoken race to the top where profits are seemingly generated from long hours of service and labor. I didn't enjoy having my window shopping spree getting interrupted whilst the sun is still up in Australia but I do understand and respect the reason why it has to be done. I don't blame the people for wanting to get out of work -- do you?

I have completely lost the concept of a forty-hour week. That's practically saying you have a part-time job. Seeing Australians enjoy their life and not allowing work to ruin it is quite admirable. I can't help but think: is it too late for the rest of the world to revert back to that kind of life? Or, should I say, can the rest of the world afford to do it? After all, old habits die hard, no?

Though I immensely wish to go for another holiday, I am quite happy to be back. One can only live in a suitcase for so long. And one can only be away from blogging for so long...

The bantering is back :) I have missed you all!

Can anyone guess where this picture was taken? (clue: it's in Sydney)