Sunday, September 28, 2008

Travel: Pisa Album

I studied in Rome during my junior year in college. Rome is the perfect place to study ancient and art history. For a History major like me, it is the p-e-r-f-e-c-t place to study. Nothing beats having the city as your classroom, as a few of my class lectures took place on-site - the Roman Forum ruins, the Colosseum, and museums including the Vatican Museum. During my stay there, the weekends and holidays were spent exploring Italy and other countries in Europe. I will be sharing my photos in some of my entries, and I hope you'd look forward to them. My travel entries won't be about specifics, but about my personal experiences.

From Rome's Termini station, I took the train bound to Siena. Siena was actually the final destination, but since Pisa was on the way, I thought this was my chance to see the famous La Torre di Pisa (Tower of Pisa). Pisa is one of the places I've dreamt of seeing since I was a kid. The train was full and since I didn't reserve my seat, I had no choice but to stand until I get to Pisa (a four-hour trip). An Italian guy almost fell off the train because people were pushing and shoving. Anyway, one guy grabbed his shirt that was almost ripped open. I could still hear his buttons popping. I couldn't stop laughing after that. No worries, that Italian guy had a great sense of humor.

As you enter Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square), you'll be greeted by this awe-inspiring sight. It just hits you right on the face.

I don't think I have the right words to describe what I felt that day.
So, there it was - truly leaning.

I only stayed in Pisa for about three hours, then hopped on to my train to Siena. Seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa was short and time limited, but the happiness and experience of fulfilling my dream will stay with me forever.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bloody Monday

The room looked all too familiar, as I've been here countless times before. Mom was at the waiting room, while I waited for my doctor in one of those tiny, cold, examination rooms. I was reading E magazine, when I felt a warm fluid oozing through my left arm. I panicked. The gauze covering the blood test area was soaked. I ran to the lab and asked the nurse, "Is this normal?" She exclaimed, "No." She immediately took me back to the examination room, cleaned my arm, applied pressure, and put on a new gauze. I kept looking at the bandage in case it gets soaked again. I was relieved, but my body felt cold and weak. It was the shock wearing off.

Since I found out that I have low platelets, I've always been very careful about being cut or being injured in any way. I've been poked and prodded for the past two years but nothing conclusive has come out on what's causing my condition. Finally, Doctor H came in with my chart. He and the nurse talked as he came over to check on me. He sat down, apologized for being late, and told me that my platelets went down another 5000. I guess I was used to hearing this, as my platelets have been enjoying a roller coaster ride for the past two years - nothing new, but the bleeding occurrence was a first and it scared the shit out of me. As of now, there are no medications I can take to get my platelets count up, so Doctor H recommended that I should come back for another test in two months and all we should do is monitor my platelets. I nodded but deep inside, I was frustrated for answers. I looked at my arm. It stopped bleeding.

It was 3 PM, and Doctor H was my third appointment of the day. I took Monday off, and I was thankful I was able to cram three doctors' appointments in one day. Mom and I decided to relax in the afternoon. We thought we deserved some time to decompress, so we drove to the Washingtonian Waterfront which is about 10 minutes away from the clinic. It was rather a perfect, fall day. I thought, I shouldn't let this bloody Monday get me down, so off we went...

The bridge over the pond at the Washingtonian Waterfront. This is quite a charming place to shop, watch movies, and eat.
The Waterfront from a distance. They usually rent out boats during the summer. I've seen paddlers get soaked by that fountain, and it never fails to make me laugh.
Here's the sculpture of Puss-in-Boots at the Washingtonian Mall. There's also a Winnie-the-Pooh sculpture, but this one's my favorite.
Mom and I spent about three hours at the B&N and browsed through books and magazines. Somehow, I find the company of books soothing and friendly. I wanted to buy a couple of books, but I opted to just purchase one - "The Reluctant Fundamentalist."
Here's a great Mexican food restaurant in the area. They have excellent marinated, grilled beef accompanied by soft tacos and side dishes. Aside from the good food, the place is also brightly colored. You can see the Winnie-the-Pooh sculpture in front of the restaurant.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Color Me Fall

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
as I have seen in one autumnal face.
(Quote by John Donne)

The winds will blow their own freshness into you,
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop away from you
like the leaves of Autumn.

(Fall poem by John Muir)

(Photos taken: Montgomery County, MD, Fall of 2007, Kodak Z650)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hodgepodge of Thoughts

Fall is definitely here. As summer activities begin to wind down, the trees are changing colors and leaves are falling to the ground. The apartment complex held a pool party this weekend, signaling the seasonal closure of the swimming pool and giving everyone their last chance for a pool splash. There were lots of games and freebies like ten-minute massages, on-site caricature and airbrush tattoo artists, and food/drinks etc. Music was in full blast and apartment residents came out to party. Mom was a bit hesitant to mingle, but I was able to convince her we'll just walk around to see what's going on. We managed to get a caricature of ourselves (photo), pink and purple balloons, two bags of cheese popcorns, magnets for the fridge, and we both got our ten-minute massages. I was thinking of getting an airbrushed tattoo but decided not to. I laughed at myself because the line was loaded with kids taller than I am. I can't believe how tall kids are these days. I was just thinking I must have missed something while growing up. I almost didn't make 5 feet. The pool party was so much fun that Mom and I sat on a picnic bench, watched people, and ate our popcorns. It was a great way to give summer 2008 a closure.

Caricature artist. (Photo: Samsung t819)

Every time the season changes, I can't help but assess how I did during the summer. Of course, memories, both good and bad, from the past would start trickling in making me emotional and teary eyed. I'd question myself a lot. Was my summer productive? Did I accomplish anything on my summer list? Was I too busy to be happy? Am I ready to move on? The party attendees started to dispurse at about 6 PM, so Mom and I went home and sat on the balcony relaxing to the humid breeze of summer. I was contemplating about my list of goals for the fall...but I stopped as Mom said she wanted to walk to the grocery store. It was at least a 30 minute walk.

A view from my balcony. (Photo: Samsung t819)

It was 8 PM when we got home. I went back to the balcony to watch the sunset, but I saw that the moon was already up. I realized that soon, days will be shorter and the nights longer. I sighed at the thought that seasons come and go, and that the status quo will "unavoidably" change. I "really" should learn to be much more flexible. I fought, kicking and screaming, the changes that have happened in my life. I was the stubborn one who wanted "good" things to last - forever. How do you learn to be flexible? How do you stop believing in "ever afters"?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

September 11

let us remember
where we were
where we were going
what we were doing

let us pause for a few moments
to remember
the first responders
for those who didn't make it home that night

whether in NY, PA or across the Potomac River

we will never forget

Monday, September 8, 2008

Happy And Sad

I was tagged by Artemis.

Here are the Rules:

1. List the things that make you Happy and those that make you Sad.
2. Tag other online friends you know.


  1. my family
  2. living "my" life
  3. seeing the world, travel
  4. letters - real letters from family and friends
  5. my blog and my blogger friends
  6. fulfillment and success in my career
  7. reading and to be surrounded by books
  8. blooming flowers
  9. being comfortable with who I am
  10. sweets - chocolates and cakes
  11. a home cooked meal


  1. departures, separations and goodbyes
  2. unfulfilled promises by me or someone else
  3. when my mailbox is empty
  4. a quarrel/fight with someone
  5. sickness
  6. seeing someone crying and in pain
I am not tagging anyone in particular, but if you like to do this meme, consider yourself tagged. Have fun!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Quiet Weekend

Work is stressful these days - a lot of things going on, so I'm not even going to talk about it (sigh). Last week was one of those weeks you just want done, finished, finito. I was so happy when the weekend came, but Saturday was a soaker as hurricane Hanna dumped a lot of rain and wind in the area. I actually didn't mind the rain, as I curled on my couch and watched my Sandra Bullock favorite movies.

In the afternoon, I was in high spirits as I collected my mail for the week. I received letters from friends and pen friends. I am so happy whenever I see cute and colorful letters in my mailbox.
I also received really cute surprises in the mail - a miniature fan from Japan, and a "lucky pouch" from S. Korea. Inside the "lucky pouch," there was this traditional Korean drum key chain. I just think the pouch and key chain are so adorable. So while the wind howled and the rain poured, I sat by my desk and wrote letters to my friends. I wrote my heart out.

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." (Anais Nin)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Nonconformist Heroine

I was NEVER fond of TV dramas before...until I saw "Ako si Kim Samsoon." Lately, I've been finding myself eager for the next episode and hoping for Cyrus, a rich and good-looking guy, to finally admit that he is in-love with Samsoon. I find the show entertaining and capable of delivering good laughs, but what struck me the most is that - Kim Samsoon is old and overweight. Does that sound familiar? I can't help but notice. Sh*t, that's me!

What I really meant to say was, she doesn't fit the typical heroine of Philippine movies or TV shows. I do know that this show is a remake of a Korean drama, which I still have to see, not for comparison, but just for the sake of watching. Samsoon is poor, a stress eater, a loud mouth, somewhat neurotic, and a poor dresser. But what I like about her is that she fights back and that she is upfront. I like the part where she looks Cyrus in the eye and asks him if he loves her or not. I was taken aback and shouted, "You go, girl!"

I have not seen a lot of Filipino movies or shows in the past 12 years, so in my few years of watching Philippine movies, this is my first time to see an overweight Filipina heroine. If you have seen one, please let me know. In "Ako si Kim Samsoon," the issue of being overweight is placed at a certain limelight; Samsoon is accepted by few and is treated with disdain by a number of characters. The show depicts how overweight people are often times treated by unknowingly insensitive people. Will the viewers who love and cheer Samsoon be able to emanate that same acceptance to real-life overweight people? Will this show be able to convince viewers that overweight people have feelings and that they deserve to be loved too? Or, is this the part of me dreaming?

At first, I was excited about the idea of a nonconformist Filipina heroine, and I thought it was a breakthrough in Philippine television, but I came to realize that the Filipino version was made because its Korean counterpart garnered good reviews and a lot of viewers. In reality, the show was made to make money, unless someone can convince me otherwise. Part of me still wants to believe that the Samsoon character was made to exemplify people who struggle with their weight, who are often times kept in the dark, and are often times the subject of jokes in a number of movies and shows. In my experiences, being overweight is something that is unacceptable to some people.

As I watch the episodes of Kim Samsoon, I empathize with her pain and struggles. I really don't care about the cartoonish scenes, countless OA moments, and the fakish fat look of Regine Velasquez. Some call it baduy, but any day, you'd find me rooting for Samsoon to win her fights and find her happiness - whatever that is.