Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Musings

Friday gets a new meaning to me since my surgery. Two weeks ago today I had my surgery. And I feel like the old me. I feel I'm ready to take on my regular routine of work and everything else. I am so thankful for the relatively painless recovery and a very quick one it seems. But of course I am not going crazy. I am aware that I have to let my own body heal in its own time. I don't want to hurry it up for my own agenda. So I must still keep on staying at home for another 2 weeks.


GET TO KNOW ME:

* My favorite lipstick (and the only one I use) is CLINIQUE'S NUDE BEACH.

* If I am wearing a perfume (I don't anymore, got allergic to perfumes a few years back, which is a pity really) I would wear BEAUTIFUL by ESTEE LAUDER. I used to love that scent a lot and I even use the Beautiful lotion. Not anymore.

* I go to STARBUCKS only to get the generic house brew or the Americano. I used to go for the fancy concoctions, but once I realized how much calories each drink contains, I took a hands off policy to all of those "empty calories".

* I have never outgrown my fascination with sweet smelling and cute stationery products :)

* I still send greeting cards via snail mail. Our tribe is dwindling.

* I cannot stand long lines at the grocery store check out counter.

* I spend way too much time lurking on FB. I cannot get enough of people's (my friends okay?) vacation pictures.

That's all for today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Idle (or Idol) Opinions

Last night the top 11 of American Idol took the stage to the theme of Billboard #1s. I don't know how many of those numbers ones are really available for them to sing, but the song choices were more of the miss kind than the hit kind.

Anyway let's see what I got to say:

Against All Odds is a song that's easy to listen and people think easy to sing. But in my years of watching AI the song has been attempted almost every year by aspiring idols and if my recollection is accurate no one really slammed or as Randy would put it "slayed" the song. So if no one ever given justice to this song, why then every year, the song gets chosen? Do not misunderstand me. It is one of my all-time fave songs. It's such a romantic song with easy-to-listen melody. And I would like to hear it from someone who would give an outstanding take on it. But if you choose your song, it must be one you can do justice to and excel in. Sorry to say that Paige Miles did an awful rendition to the song. As she was starting to sing, I was wincing and I told my husband who was eating dinner with me as we were tuned in to the tube that Paige would not get a single positive reaction. I knew.

(Trivia: I just found out the prior to Paige Miles there were 6 other idols who covered this song on the Idol stage, making this song the most covered song in Idol so far.)

Crystal Bowersox is in a league of her own. It's a shame that she wasn't discovered before Idol because I feel that she's so ready for the real thing. Her singing and her style is right up my alley. My husband said it best: I would buy her records. True, hubs and I don't buy music but like him I feel that I could pony up some cash to get her records, that's how much we love her music and how much we feel she's that good. And the song she chose was perfect. I only heard of the song, Me and Bobby McGee a few months back when it went on the radio and it had this line that says, FREEDOM'S JUST ANOTHER WORD FOR NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE, and that line resonated with what I was feeling when I heard of it and I wanted to hear the song again. I'm not voting, but it would totally suck if people don't vote for her.

And the rest, what can I say. This household still heavily favored Siobhan Magnus although that screech at the end of her performances which is becoming a trademark can be a little irritating sometimes. I didn't dig her song choice, but I thought that she performed wonderfully.

Didi Benami got no love from the judges, but I thought she did a good job. And I liked her voice in that song. Am I missing something here?

Casey James remains my sentimental favorite after singing Heaven in his first Idol stage performance. But I must concur with Simon that his cover of Huey Lewis and the News's song was nothing but that: a cover. And also his smile and his smiling eyes distract me from listening intently to his performance. Can a person's good looks be a negative factor? I think he's too good looking to be taken seriously.

As for the rest, not one performance stood out as good or bad. The bottom three tonight would be: Paige Miles, Andrew Garcia, and Tim Urban.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Am A Slacker

Today marks the beginning of my second week of medical leave. The first week consisted of surgery and stay in the hospital, with the rest of the week spent taking it easy and blogging - unfortunately not in this site, which is indeed a pity.

I must say that the recuperation process has gone so well so far. Much more positive and progressive than I could have expected or imagined. Much less pain than I ever worried about. And I have to say that many people have been praying for me and my full recovery.

It's funny that prior to my surgery while I was getting my affairs in order at work - well getting some people to take over my duties while I was away - a co-worker has told me she's going to pray for me. I really felt touched by that simple gesture. I do say those words when someone is ill or depressed or downtrodden. Most of the time I pray for the person. A few times I must admit that I don't, or forget to say a prayer for that person. But you know what, whether or not that co-worker prayed for me or not, I felt better. I felt her concern. And I guess because many people have sent cards - yes there are still people here in USA that uses the postal service and mail cards - I felt really empowered to conquer my pain, my discomfort. I am thankful for my community of co-workers and church members.

Unfortunately, this blog has been left alone for a while. I just can't think of a thing to say. I almost blogged last week when I was bored to death of nothing to do. But of course what else can I write about when I'm homebound, internet and tv as companions day in and day out.

I invited my nephew's dog who also just came off surgery to visit and enjoy the spacious backyard so while I chitchat with his person, the dog could run like crazy in the backyard.

I hope to be able to blog more often. So far, I don't have pain anymore. I watch a lot of tv and bloghop a lot too. See you later then.

Monday, March 15, 2010

What's Going On?

I've been gone a few days and I'll tell you what's been going on. I had surgery - a procedure that lasted 2.5 - 3 hours. A procedure that kept me in the hospital for over 48 hours where there was no wifi connection. I am fine now. On the mend. Staying home for the next month or more.

My stay in the hospital following the surgery was pretty easy. I slept most of the time. I was drugged so what can you expect. Thankfully, I am back home with a list of must-do while in recovery. One of them to is to keep hydrated. I am not good with getting hydrated. My choice is coffee, but a day before the surgery and up till now I have not had any caffeine. I don't want to be jittery and nervous during the surgery and after so I decided to forego my favorite drink.

Today is my first full day home. My husband is still off today so he stayed home with me. He is very good at taking care of me before, during, and after the surgery. He made breakfast and all the meals and making sure I take in enough water.

Anyway, here's what I found really frustrating with having surgery:

  • Coughing sucks a lot. It hurts to cough.
  • It took a lot to get you to pass gas.
  • Getting up and down the bed is a workout.
  • Taking the stairs is a gym activity.
So far it's only one day, but I am already bored. I have planned on taking on a new project. If you are interest to know, it's a cross stitch project that I purchased at 40% off from Michael's a few weeks ago. I have been whining about how much I loved to cross stitch and how little time I have for leisure that none of it could be allotted to cross stitch. Now that I am looking at being homebound for a month, I thought it's high time to pick up my needle again.

That's what's been happening in my world. How's your world this past week?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Email From Bernadette

I have a friend and colleague who went on an adventure of a lifetime - teaching Chinese kids English. She wrote/e-mail me wonderful stories of her adventures. I kept most of her e-mails and when I started to blog about 5-6 years ago (Friendster first) I asked for her permission to post her emails. She said yes. I didn't pursue my first blog long enough for emails to be shared, so I am sharing them with you now.



Summer Camp 2004



While most foreign teachers are back in their home countries I preferred to stay behind for the summer break. I opt for December as a better time to go back to the Philippines since it is Christmas time. Besides that, July and August are rainy months and school has just started so most of my friends are busy.



Fortunately, I was accepted to teach at a summer camp for two weeks. It was an opportunity to see Minhou County and to earn extra money as well. The summer camp was organized by the Fujian Adolescent Activity Center. The participants were middle school students from all over Fujian province. These young people were eager to learn and practise spoken English.



On July 8 at 3:30 in the afternoon, a bus brought the foreign teachers and the students to Minhou County. It had been a very pleasant one-hour trip of getting away from the bustle of polluted Fuzhou and of watching the picturesque countryside of mountains, rice paddies, rivers and villages unfold. The Earth village was to be our home for the next two weeks. We were told that it is privately owned. It must be a popular place for summer camps since there were several groups of students when we arrived. We later found out that they were having a military training. Much to our surprised, there were also children who were between the ages of 7 and 10 having their summer camp. It was indeed very delightful to watch them marching and following their leaders. After exploring the place, we found it to be considerably large. Beside the main gate is a castle-inspired building where we were housed and had classes. The multi-media and the main buildings are designed after the hakka (roundhouses) architecture. The small lake is one of the most pleasant spots. It has two bridges leading to the smallisland at the center of the lake. Several times we saw some locals fishing in the lake. We even had the chance to go boating with the students one afternoon. It had been our after-dinner ritual to sit by the lake and enjoy the beauty and the serenity of clear blue skies and mountains. Most of the time the students would come to sit with us and have a conversation. Janet and I found that they were more at ease in speaking in English in a more relaxing atmosphere like this than in the classroom.



For the next two weeks the students learned from and practised with Janet, Patrick, Nick and me spoken English. We played games, had film viewing and English corners. The student teachers taught them English songs. I brought them to the bamboo forests several times for our lessons and outdoor games. They seemed to have enjoyed it. One time a class was so fascinated with a yellow caterpillar that I had to stop the lesson and let them watch it. It gave me an opportunity afterwards to integrate in the lesson caring for all creatures. The highlight of the summer camp was the speech contest. The students were given the topic "My Most Unforgettable Person". What was heartwarming for me was the speech of Sunny, one of the girls from Class D. I was her most unforgettable person. My lesson on making choices must have left a deep impact on her. To have helped a soul to get in touch with something intrinsic in our being human is indeed rewarding.



The heat and the food however affected us after several days. The food was awful and it didn’t change all the time we were there. After the first week we asked for an afternoon off. The four of us came back to Fuzhou to have some proper food, do our laundry and check e-mails. The organizers were so kind to provide us transport. They also cancelled some of the activities because the students were starting to get sick. They complained about the food and the accommodation. After classes we explored the nearby village. We went for a boat ride down the Da Jiang Xi, a tributary of the Min River. It is on this river that the barges collect the sand to bring to Taiwan and Japan for construction purposes. Another time we went to check out a hot spring. Janet and I were dismayed when we found out that it was inside a building. There were some locals who were bathing and were wearing not a stitch.

It took us awhile to compose ourselves and come to terms with what we saw. The most enjoyable afternoon was when Janet, Nick, and I went to Rabbit Ears Mountain. A boat took us to the other side of the river and where we got off, a woman gave us an entrance ticket for 15 RMB for each person which included the payment for the boat ride. We climbed for about an hour towards the top. Just like the other mountains I have climbed before, there were paths to follow. There were pools along the way where people can swim. The water was very inviting. After the disappointment of the dirty swimming pool at the Earth village, a dip into clear mountain water was indeed a treat. We were almost at the top when Janet and I decided not to go on further. The path was steeper and we were getting deeper into the thicket. It was also starting to get dark. So Janet and I came down and waited for Nick in one of the pols. The family who had been there earlier left and we were the only ones there. I took off my shoes, pulled my jeans up and dip my feet into the cool water. The water was so inviting that I went for a swim in my jeans and top. It was truly a relaxing and wonderful afternoon. The orange sky cast its glow on the water as we headed back to the village on the same boat.



I am back in my apartment. I am glad the summer camp is over. It was not an easy work for us. We had to be very innovative to keep the students interested and entertained as well. We had to put up with the food. The organizers tried to adjust the schedule to make everybody happy. In fact they brought fruits for all of us because they know that we were not happy with the food. We even had a barbecue one afternoon. We wanted to bring the students to Rabbit Ears Mountain but they were so concerned with the safety that even a walk down the village was not allowed. They had all sort of excuses. There were times when we got lost in the translation that we didn’t bother to ask. During the farewell party selected students were given prizes for being outstanding in class. They were probably chosen by the student teachers because we were not even consulted about it. What surprised us was the fact that some of them have not really made themselves heard in class. Those who we thought were deserving of the award were not at all in the list. Nick concluded that family status was the criteria used. It was a bit disappointing for us. We just hope that the other students would not think that we, the foreign teachers had something to do with the selection. There are realities we had to put up with being here in China. But just as said earlier thank God it’s over.



I have gained new friends in this summer camp. Janet promised to call after she gets back from her holiday in Thailand. Sunny has been sending me e-mails. She is now back in Zhangzhou. It has truly been a wonderful and learning experience for
me.



bernadette


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Girls Night 2

The night was enjoyable for me. I again share with you what I thought.

FAVORITE PERFORMANCE OF THE NIGHT: Tie between Crystal Bowersox who sang a CCR song that I never heard before, but I totally dug her performance, and Siobhan Magnus who rocked an Aretha song.

Methinks I have found the performers I would be supporting this year. Usually I don't pledge support for any one until the Top 12 were chosen. Top 12? Or was it Top 10. I can't remember. But this early, I knew that I liked both girls' styles and voices.

SURPRISE OF THE NIGHT: Katelyn Epperly who accompanied herself on the piano to the tune of Scientist by Coldplay, another song I have not heard before, but the performance spoke to me. I loved it.

DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE NITE: Lacey Brown, who for the second week in a row did not live up to the standards of the Hollywood week. It's really a pity. I like the girl, I like her look, I like her quirkiness. Wake up!

That's all for today. And I'll try to come up with something else to post other than American Idol-related blabbers.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Boys Nite 2

It's AI performance show time again. This week the schedule is switched because one of the girls had medical emergency. So tonight it's the boys show.

FAVORITE PERFOMANCE OF THE NITE: Lee Dewyze. I really like the tone and timbre of his voice.

DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE NITE: Casey James. What the heck is this guy thinking? Sure he has showed his prowess on the guitar. He sure is good with that. But the singing was very amateurish tonight. Hope he bounces back next week.

Overall, the night was way better than the first boys night. There were more enjoyable and easy to listen and watch performances.