Sunday, January 31, 2010

If Only I Could Write

When I was younger I heard a little voice in my head telling me a story. So I listened. The stories came regularly and continued until today. The little voice spoke during my time of solitude, during those rare quiet moments, or times when I find myself alone, like when I'm driving to and from work. Over the years, I have jotted down on paper some of these stories -- not one of them complete. It was up to me to write the rest of the stories.

Gosh, if only I could write, I'd have my own Harry Potter series of books (LOL)!

Friday, January 29, 2010

When You Can't Verbalize Your Feelings, Go With A Song

Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)
by Greenday

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it's worth it was worth all the while

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life. I

t's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ahhh, Decision....Decision....

The Road Less Traveled
By Kit McCallum

How often we must bear the challenges of life;
The endless roller coaster between happiness and sorrow;
The constant ups and downs of daily strife.
And always the question remains .... why?

Life is not an easy road for most;
It twists and turns with many forks in the road,
Although always, and inevitably, we are given a choice ...

Do we turn to the right ... or the left?
Do we take the high road ... or the low road?
Do we take the easy path ... or the difficult one?

Decisions are not easy for those struggling for direction ...
And sometimes the many choices and signs become overwhelming.

While standing at a crossroads in life,
The urge is to take the most comfortable path;
The road with least resistance ...
The shortest or most traveled route.

And yet, if we've been down that comfortable road before;
Have gleaned its lessons in life, and learned from our experiences;

Do we yet again follow the known?
Or does our destiny lie in another direction?

The fear of the road less traveled is tangible and all too real;
It manifests itself in many ways,
And tends to cloud the issues that might otherwise be clear.

It is in these times of confusion,
That we must seek peace and solitude;

Time to contemplate on our life,
Our experiences and our choices past;
Time to look back, and reflect on what we have learned
Without fear or confusion.

For only each of us knows our own personal thoughts;
Our unique past and personal history;
The experiences that brought us to the crossroads we now face.

We can always learn a small degree from others experiences,
And yet ... no one person can walk in our shoes,
Others know not, the trials and tribulations faced in private ...

For each is individual ... unique ... and personal.

And that is why ... while standing at a crossroads,
Only "we" can formulate the decision for ourselves;
The true direction that lies within;
The choices we must deliberate on with clarity and wisdom.

For it is only through personal reflection,
That we can now choose our destiny;
... Our next adventure;
... And the future we will embrace.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Neflix #2: The Ugly Truth

The truth about The UGLY TRUTH is that it's truly ugly. The acting was ugly, the dialog was ugly, the story was very ugly, and there is no chemistry between leading man and leading lady. A total waste of sleeping time.

Even though my second rental for this year was a thumbs down, I hope it's not the trend for the year.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Summons

What would you do if you found boxes and boxes of money amounting to $3 million in cash in your dead father's house?

That is how the story of my first book of 2010 started. The book is called THE SUMMONS, a legal thriller written by John Grisham in December of 2002.

The protagonist is Ray Atlee, a lawyer who opted to teach instead of practice law. His father, Judge Atlee, died before Ray arrived. He has a brother, who is in and out of rehab. Both brothers were summoned to appear before their dying father to discuss matters regarding the old man's last will and testament. Except that when Ray arrived, he found his father dead and boxes of cash - money he cannot explain; money that none of his father's papers could explain. Ray couldn't tell if the money was dirty, if his father was accepting bribes. And the story goes...

MY TAKE: I haven't read a Grisham in a long time. I can't even remember what Grishams I have read before.

The Summons paints a realistic take on life. I thought the way the author wrote the Atlee character's reactions and responses to the money was truthful and very human. The story did take a little slow to unfold, I thought. The conclusion caught me off guard (a good sign, isn't it). However, I still preferred the ending that I had come up while reading this :)

All in all it was an interesting read. I did not finish this in one sitting, more like a few pages every night. You can take that to mean that it's an average read that can be picked up anytime a free moment comes up.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Am Now A Believer

I never pay attention to the hype. Not even when millions of people all over the globe spend millions of dollars or pesos or euros to support the hype. It's just my attitude to not go with the flow, which explains why I don't own an Ipod nor an Iphone.

Still I was curious, and more importantly my husband was panting in anticipation. So okay I said let's go - go with the flow- and see Avatar on 3-D after it has been announced the winner of the Golden Globe Best Film award.

The verdict? I. completely. totally. love. love. love. it. I really did. It's not just the computer-generated imagery, it's the story as well. It was a well-crafted movie. It's not what I expected from the director who's other movies Terminator (too violent, and too much Arnold) and Titanic (too mushy) were never my favorite at all, so I was really hesitant to see this. But I'm glad I did.

And to think that this movie after weeks of run still gets sold out is the amazing part. In this economy paying $13 for 3-D can be a pain, but I think in this case it was worth it.

A little tidbit about the movie: Is it just me or jakesully in avatar form sounded so much like Matthew McConaughey? No kidding. I thought I was hearing Matthew the entire time. And if given a choice between 3-D and regular screen, I'd opt for the regular screen. 3-D kinda freaks me out a bit :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Starbucks Experience

My experience here in the United States taught me that people tend to make small talk, polite conversations, usually about mundane topics such as the weather, when in a public place, while waiting for something, the bus, or your coffee. And I liked that. I thought that was really friendly. I don't usually instigate the casual conversation but that day I did.

We were driving back from a pleasant afternoon in Napa when we spotted a Starbucks store. Needing a caffeine boost, we stopped. This one did not have a drive through window. So we went inside. The store was as expected at about 5 pm empty except for two or three people ahead of me in the line. When it was my turn to give my order, I thought it would be nice to chit-chat with the barista. My husband at this time was using the facilities. So I asked this lanky pimply-faced young lad who looked like he's not old enough to drink coffee what they put in my Americano. Cafe Americano is my signature drink when we go to Starbucks. Not only is it priced modestly, I also enjoy its taste, which is very important. I don't go frap or something, I get shocked thinking about the calories in each of those ventis. Anyway, he must have not expected me to say something else outside of my Americano venti order so he asked if I could repeat what I just said. I did. I asked him what do you put in your Americano? The lad found his composure and confidently answered: "Hot water and coffee beans."

My husband caught the last part of this conversation and could not help but give out an audible chuckle at the response. He chastised me; he said I got what I asked for. He said I asked a stupid question so I got a stupider response. Did you think my question was stupid? Maybe I did not phrase it correctly. I wanted to know what combination of coffee beans they use for their Americano, so I could copy that when I brew my own at home.

Enough for chit-chatting with baristas. I learned to just smile and comment on how glorious our weather has been. It's a much safer topic for everyone.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Just A Thought

So I ask myself, "What if you blog daily?" Myself answered back, "Do I have something to say on a day to day basis?" and "Would I find the time to do so?"

Okay so maybe daily blogging is pretty hard core, but I'll try to come out with more posts. So get ready for more senseless ramblings.

Here's something I want to report. I have seen my first movie of the year - courtesy of Netflix who else. It's PUSH. It quite entertaining especially if you are like me who loves sci-fi. I like to be entertained by a movie showing people with extraordinary powers to defeat the evils of this world. The protagonist Chris Evans is too cute, and I didn't recognize him even though I have seen Fantastic Four, where he played as the human torch. The surprise in this film came in the form of Dakota Fanning who in the film is so grown up. I really like that kid's acting. All in all, it's one cool film. Nice start to my movie watching career of 2010.

Also, last night was the 1.5-hour Atlanta audition show of American Idol. I remembered laughing out loud everytime Mary J Blige could not contain laughing at the contestants. However, I could not remember any one from the audition. Sigh.

Oh the fog is back. Drove out of the driveway in heavy fog, which disappeared somewhere midway to my commute. I just love foggy days.

And by the way, I will try to write even though I have a party to prepare. We're expecting some people over for an afternoon of wine tasting and munching on tapas. I hope we prepare enough food and drinks. Wish me luck. At last count I think there's somewhere around 20-30 people sipping pinot in my house this Saturday.

Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's Baaaack!!!!

So American Idol is back on. Last night (Jan. 11) the season (which number is this?) began with a 2-hour Boston audition. Having been a follower from season 3 (still the best season for me), I knew what to expect. I knew that the formula for the audition shows are the same - show the ones that sing badly for entertainment purposes (don't we all love to hear someone make a fool of him/herself?)

Thank goodness, however, that they did not invest too much time on the lousy singers as they did in the past seasons. Instead they had a good sampling of the audition population.

It was boring. Yes, that's my take on the initial show. The show may have run its course and when Simon leaves I don't think the show would survive without his acerbic yet truthful estimation/comments.

Anyway, they did show a few shots of the city of Boston, one of the places I would really love to visit someday.

Now I feel really bad writing about AI when yesterday Haiti had a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed tons of people. Last week, the north coast of California had a 6 point something earthquake. Little damage to that and as far as I know no casualty.

Every time an earthquake hits any where in the world, my heart starts pounding, fearing that the Bay Area is bound to have one pretty soon as well. The last major one was in 1989, and people in the know are expecting something coming sooner. Which really is scary.

I had experienced the worst earthquake of my life during the earthquake of 1990 in the Philippines that hit Nueva Ecija and Pangasinan, Dagupan City in particular. I am from Tarlac and we were in the middle of those two major sites of destruction. That earthquake was an experience I don't want to revisit.

Still, it pays to start preparing for it. But I am afraid.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Let's Talk Movies

Inspired by other bloggers' posts about movies they have seen and have been reviewing, I thought writing a post about the movies I have seen in 2009 would be a documentation of sort in case I need to refer to it later on (no clue as to why).

The rising cost of movie tickets coupled with the skyrocketing price of popcorn and other theatre eats have limited our ability to watch movies on the big screen. Hence, we only watch big blockbusters with awesome visuals, etc - those that would be worth watching in the big screen, so that leaves all non-action, non-epic movies, like chick flix out of the question.

This is where NETFLIX comes in the picture. For $9, you can movies for a month, one at a time, and you can also watch online. Not a bad deal. However, it's problematic when you have no time to watch. Well, that's another story.

I have been a Netflix customer for a few years. So, I am basing this review/recollection on my rental activity, because I don't remember how many movies I have seen on the big screen (not many).

In 2009, I watched a total of 32 movies (down from 56 from 2008). The first movie I rented was Get Smart and the last was Knowing.

Here are my 5 favorites:

1. The Lover

2. Raise the Red Lantern

3. Knowing

4. The Duchess

5. A tie between Slumdog Millionaire and Benjamin Button

Here's looking forward to more thought-provoking, emotionally-touching, life-inspiring movies in 2010.

Monday, January 4, 2010

What's New For The New Year?

Well, I have decided to write down goals for the year. Not resolutions because I don't do them. I haven't done them outside of a class assignment in grade school or even in high school. So here's what I have come up with.

Goals for the New Year:

1. Be more prayerful. Live a Christian life practising selflessness, generosity, and kindness.

2. Set a goal. Something to work for. Just writing this post down has accomplished a step in the right direction. A goal will keep me focused on something, minimizing if not totally eliminating idle time on my hands.

3. Learn something new. Either enrol in a class for formal learning - which would include taking photography lessons - or finally learning how to knit.

4. Be good to myself. Exercising and eating the right kind and amount of food are paramount to accomplishing Goal #4.

5. Continue to practise "waste not want not" philosophy. Think about the money I can save by not throwing out left-overs or finding some use for old stuff.

6. Be more aware of the society I live in and be a part of the solution to its ills rathen than be the cause.

7. To explore the Bay Area, to hike its endless trails, to visits its many parks, to walk its beautifu beaches, and to savor its unparalleled grandeur.

8. To embrace household chores and make it a habit to keep a clean house, a kitchen smelling of delicious aromas, and a garden brimming with blooms and fruits.

9. To take time for meditation and/or set aside time to be quiet.

10. To enjoy Christmas Season, to embrace the rush and chaos and everything associated with it. To make it my favorite time of the year.

I'm done. What about you? Do you have goals for this year?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

I have an on-going yearly New Year's date with a group of people. I believe it's on its fourth year today. What we do is we go out either on the eve or on New Year's day for a meal. Each one take turns in paying for the meal. It's our turn this year and since we have a new house and we wanted to entertain, we thought we'd just have potluck at home with the same people. Turned out better than expected. People arrived, most of them anyway, at about 6 pm and they left after 9, which isn't really bad. The meal was wonderful more so because we were sharing it with friends.

And so it was just hubs and I ringing in the new year with Ryan Seacrest. Luckily last night, there wasn't too much left over - we have people take some home - and so cleaning was a snap. Everything went to the dishwasher, that's a very good thing because I thought I had way too much to drink.

Two bottles of beer is too much for me you see, but last night I had champagne, lambrusco, beer, and ouzo. Yah, I could say I did ring in the new year in high spirits.

Happy New Year every one. Hope this new year and new decade will be kind to all of us.