Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Transition phase

Six days in Wenzhou, two weeks in Quanzhou, two weeks in Fuzhou, and perhaps eventually settling down in Quanzhou if the big boss can make a decision for good. Teachers are shuttling around, some have left, new ones are entering into probationary periods, and I, as the understanding, flexible one, am being asked to hop around the different centers till they can figure out which center needs me more. Which means I also have to make decisions about what to bring, so I don't end up short on underpants.

If there's anything I over pack, it's the undies. Bras, panties, have to have enough. More than enough, I found out I brought pretty much every six pack of Hanes I had bought from Landmark or SM in the last year. About 6 packs of them, which meant, I wouldn't run out of clean whites for over a month. But it's remarkably bulky, undies. As I go through the large bag of undies I had in storage while I was away for two weeks, I realize I've got to cull. Undies are stubbornly unwilling to be tossed though. It's hard enough to find a t-shirt here that looks normal enough to wear, not to mention the right fit, what more cotton whites? What will I do if I can't find them? I pack all the undies away again and cast a glance at some of the clothes that I don't wear often enough.

My wardrobe is as boring as heck these days, and I'd love to toss the whole caboodle into a recycling bin, if not for the fact that they are still serviceable (hideous word) and there's no reason not to wear the blasted things. I give thanks for fall and winter as it lets me pull out my scarves which will add a bit more pizazz. I might give in and start buying some pieces of jewelry to stave off my lack of adornment. Or one of those cute knitted bonnets with crocheted gewgews on them when the silly mood strikes.

I'm looking forward to the changes, but they don't come without some sacrifice. Lack of a proper kitchen for at least 5 weeks, dragging my suitcase all over the place, and the cost of finding new digs after all this hullabaloo is over. Just discovered that hullabaloo only has three l's. Good to know.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

First one I remember seeing on this topic was Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant; this year another book on the same theme, What We Eat When We Eat Alone, pursued the idea of what sole diners munch on, and now famed editor Judith Jones has released a book The Pleasures of Cooking for One. The idea of eating solo is nothing new, but for three books in a matter of two years to focus on it, seems to highlight the fact that there are more lone diners out there.
Over the last few weeks, I've encountered more people, men in particular, who pointedly spoke out against eating alone. "I hate eating alone." They're grown men, so perhaps they just feel that dining alone is a social anomaly. One of them seeks company out for lunch no matter who he can corral. Let's just say I've avoided the opportunity to watch him masticate.
I've eaten alone too often in my life, and I don't mind the quiet. I also like to read when eating, sometimes not a good idea if it contradicts the eating and focusing on what I eat. But I prefer the company of a good book over a noisy companion. And many of the meals I've posted in this forum are just that, meals eaten solo. I don't need anymore books to tell me that they are pleasurable in themselves.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

In hindsight

"How could you stay so calm?" he asked me. To be honest, I replied to him, thinking back to the events of Saturday and Sunday, I really can't say why I wasn't freaking out. Probably because there was little I could do, so in the face of a lot of craziness, you either let things roll or fight it so much you lose track of what's important.

Most people have their share of stories about facing difficult moments. The last weekend will definitely generate enough to fill volumes. Mine tends to be dependent on whether I'm alone or if I have to take care of people, and Saturday and Sunday was about the latter. The first case came when I was asked by two travellers to help them get to their hotel or as close to it as possible. I was willing to do as much as I could, but I also knew it could be a difficult situation for everyone. I didn't really know the extent of Ondoy's fury and the floods that were killing so many people. All I knew was that roads were blocked, traffic was hellish, and that I was lucky to have use of a vehicle. My temporary guests were kind enough to chip in for gas and I made sure everyone was fed and watered. We didn't get them to the hotel, but they got through with some fortitude, a willingness to brave EDSA on foot (once we got to the corner of EDSA and Macapagal, all was at a standstill), and the MRT (thank goodness for the light rail!). I was not so lucky, as my driver, my dad's secretary and I were in for a long night. We got dinner first, then attempted the roads leading into the heart of Manila. All routes were blocked by the high water. We chose to take shelter at a Petron gas station, which wasn't perfect, but it had lights and a bathroom. Having to wade in a foot of water deterred me from needing the bathroom, and thankfully I hadn't gulped down gallons of water. Sleeping in the car wasn't ideal, but the winds made it cool, and the location was safe. I did a few rows of my knitting project for good measure. But most of the time I was dozing, watching the shadows and light, and thinking how my two companions wished they didn't have to be where they were.

By early morning, the water had subsided a bit, we tried a few routes again, but traffic was still too much. Having been in the same clothes for 24 hours, I needed at least a shower, and we searched for a hotel that would have any occupancy, resorting to going in Victoria Court. At the back of my mind, I knew my dad would have a conniption fit if he knew we were there, but it was a far better choice than staying out on the streets. A few hours of sleep, hot water, clean toilets, and food, and we finally made it home around 4 pm. All of us had been on the road since 11 the day before, so it was a welcome relief to not be in a plane or a car.

Under different circumstances, I'd probably have been less stoic, but living in a country so full of natural disasters has its advantages. You learn to live with the punches, and you face the downturns with more grace. Sometimes you give up too fast, and expect less than you deserve. I sometimes know that I shouldn't be too fatalistic, but I think I'm getting to a point in life that it makes little sense to keep beating my head against a wall. So, perhaps my sense of calm starts from having given up control over everything. I'm still learning when to fight, and I still misjudge matters, but I'm still alive, I've still got a chance to be better, and I'm not going to get hysterical about it.

Pike Market Peonies

Pike Market Peonies