Monday, May 16, 2011

Lesson from the Warm Seafood Salad

Nothing's different about work even when I am here at the Singapore office. The deadlines haven't changed, the work problems remain --- it's just the office environment that is different. But I don't really notice until I get up from my seat. the only thing that reminds me I'm not in the Philippines office is the absence of Emma's deafening voice and the scandalous ring of my telephone unit.

Given my schedule this quarter, from the time I got here the only place I've been to for sightseeing is the hotel room's bathroom (Yes, the bathroom has a view of the city. The glass walls and windows enable me to watch the world while you shower or pee.) It's good that this time I didn't have to stay at the Amara, which is just a three-minute walk to our office building. The hotel I'm staying in this time is a good two train stations away, and the 15-minute cab ride (or the 5-minute walk to the train station) affords me a view of early-morning and late-evening Singapore.

The only two things I'm sure I will remember from this trip is the visit to my good friend Annie (barely a two-hour stay at her house, but well worth it) and the hotel restaurant's Warm Seafood Salad. I don't know but for some reason the description (which is unimaginatively stated -- no adjectives such as sumptuous and mouthwatering --and without even a tiny picture of it on the menu booklet) had me drooling and craving for it more than any other item on the menu.

grilled prawns, scallop, squid and deep-fried soft shell crab, served with
petite salad & lemon dressing

And so I try ordering the seafood salad along with my mean but the steward tells me "madam, the salad serving is good for two people. you will very full by the time you have eaten your main course and might not be able to finish your meal. So I canceled the salad order, disappointed, but with a promise that I will order it the next night.

And hell I tried, but the steward kept telling me the same thing. I would be too full. Maybe it's because I look frail, slim, and short, that he couldn't imagine me storing all those food in my stomach. I wanted to argue "but there is the word petite in the menu description, and I'm a voracious eater. You should have seen me eat a kilo of deep-fried pork back home!" but I'm so tired from the day's work and too hungry to do so. I simply canceled the order for the second time. The craving for the salad however grew stronger, that I swore I'll never leave that hotel and Singapore until that warm seafood salad gets into my stomach!

So tonight, the third night that I've been lazily dining in the hotel (rather than explore other restaurants), and my last night in the country for this quarter of 2011, I skipped my planned trip to Little India and Chinatown (where I'm supposed to buy goodies for friends and colleagues) -- it rained anyway, just a drizzle, but enough to give me an alibi on why I shouldn't go to the said places -- and went straight back to the hotel to FINALLY consume and be one with my most desired warm seafood salad. No other orders this time. Just that and a good drink to go with it.

I patiently waited, expecting a bloated stoamch and a happy grin on my face afterward.

And so it came. Appealing in it's presentation. Huge crab claws waving hello to me. I started digging into my plate as soon as the steward turned his back on me and cleared my plate in less than 5-minutes. Disappointing. Nothing orgasmic. My appetite was hardly satiated. My happy ending expectations were not met. I called the steward and ordered a burger -- he has nothing to say, just stared at the empty salad plate, and took my order, perhaps wondering how such a diminutive person could be so gluttonous.

What struck me is the paradox that most of the time we want what we do not really want. We put our best efforts, make sacrifices -- even time, for a thing we badly desire that we thought could bring us satisfaction, only to find out later that it isn't really worth it. That it couldn't bring us the happiness we badly expected from it.

I left Singapore with insights into how I should value things in my life. How I should assess my goals, my dreams. My negotiables and non-negotiables. I've been in the country several times, and this stay, is the most boring -- all work, no gimmicks, no new places I've gone to, not even pictures. But it certainly is the ost meaningful -- thanks to Wangz's warm seafood salad.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

Achieving Balance

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of holding on and letting go. (Havelock Ellis)

No, I never wanted to master the art of living. To me, life has no bounds -- it is too short to waste my time on trying to fit in to societal standards. God made every person as unique individuals, not as individuals who should and must conform to what a particular society dictates.

What matters to me most is achieving harmony and balance in my life. But long moments of reflection made me realize the root cause of many of the imbalances and disharmony: I must learn when to hold on and when to let go.

For how long I must learn, I have no idea. The worst irony I'm faced with right now is that I'm afraid to hold on, yet I'm afraid to let go. I'm feeling my way around, hurling myself into an unknown path, unknown destiny, which, I can only hope will lead me to that balance I've always wished for...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Twist and Shout!

Nope, I'm not referring to the dance -- I'm referring to life in general... Oh well, maybe just my life in general. Sigh... I had my life all planned out, and then these unexpected twists just wanna make me shout! and yell and scream and all other verbs synonimous to shout.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Letting Go

At every point in the human journey we find that we have to let go in order to move forward; and letting go means dying a little. In the process we are being created anew, awakened afresh to the source of our being. (Kathleen R. Fisher)

How many times in our life have we let go? This is most painful, but also most liberating... Letting go is closest to dying, but with it comes peace of mind... A line from a poem by Emily Dickinson best describes the ordeal one goes through: first chill, then stupor, then letting go...

My first "letting go" was with my pet dog, Rover. I was 4 then, and the hurt was just unbearable. I felt as if the world's most unfair. I cried over him for days. My dad tried to find ways to comfort me but they're not enough to ease my pain over the loss of my pet. Until a new puppy came along...

Then, when I was 12, my dear grandpa died. He was my best friend, my refuge. There was a feeling of numbness, as well as confusion... The pain of losing a person -- much so someone you love -- is too uncomprehensible to me. At this age, I had learned in concept that people die, and that death is inevitable. But it wasn't until this moment that I realized death is a reality. Everyone -- even people you love -- die. At the wake, I cried and cried until I couldn't breathe. My only rest was when the tears seemed to have all poured out and I'd gotten so tired and fallen asleep. The sadness remained even after my grandpa was burried. There was the numbing realization that unlike my puppy, Grandpa could never be replaced. He was gone for good ...

More deaths followed as I was growing up. More pet dogs and cats came and went away -- then relatives and acquaintances -- I'd shedded tears, but the pain became less and less. Either I'd become more stoic every time, or acceptance of death had sunk in... Or perhaps I had grown more mature and I had learned to deal with grief over loved ones.

When Grandma died, there was a different kind of pain. A pang of regret that engulfed me for weeks. I was in high school then, and I never had enough time to spend with her. I was at that age when I liked doing my own stuff -- stuff I used to do with Grandma had become very dull and boring, so on successive summer vacations (the only time I could go visit her at the province) I skipped (and skipped I did) going to novenas with her, skipped her sewing and crocheting lessons, skipped just about everything I considered back then as childish and haggish. Never had it occurred to me that the summer in 91 was the last summer I was going to see my grandmother again -- with her tied-back long hair, beaded sandals, and pearl earrings. Grandma who always got mad at my mom for scolding me... who patiently waited for me at the beach, while I built my sandcastles and collected shells and wooden flowers... sigh... realization came too late. Sadder it was to learn that letting go was harder when one is filled with guilt and regret. The struggle involved not just letting go of the person and her memories, but letting go of my own guilt feelings and accepting that I had failed to do things that might have made my grandma happy when she was still alive...

After graduating from college, real loss had yet to come. Worst pain I've ever felt. Not just chill, but a trembling that shook the core of my soul. Just right after college, my Dad died of a sudden heart attack. He never made it to the hospital. He was declared DOA. Everything was spinning, wheeling --- I was struck with an unbelievable stupor -- my mind went blank, as if it had stopped functioning. I was merely observing -- seeing but not processing the images and the sounds around me. I wouldn't go into the details, as until now, the pain -- though less -- has not thoroughly ebbed. But Dad's death was a lost wherein a part of me had also been lost. Part of me died with him, and this time, letting go had seemed fictional -- to me it had become nothing but a concept -- a concept conceived by humans to be able to deal with unbearable pain.

It took me a while to accept that Dad's gone. But the ordeal had made me stronger. Unless there's another death in the family (God forbid), I knew then that I have become a different person. No, I haven't become stoic, apathetic, and numb; I'm still a wet blanket -- I cry when I hear sad songs, I cry over cartoons, I cry when I feel alone, but I've learned how to deal with grief. Cry (yes, cry your heart out), let go (there's no other recourse but to do so), and then move on... There's nothing I could do but bear in mind that life is short, people I love may be gone before I can even blink; and that I shouldn't feel very secure within my comfort zone -- as nothing and no situation lasts forever.

To quote Kenneth J. Doka:
"We do not get over grief. But over time, we do learn to live with the loss. We learn to live a different life...with our loss."

Yes, I learned to live a different life with my losses. Pain and loss had every now and then peeked into my life, even in love and relationships (or should I say especially in love and relationships) but that is life. And life, as they say, is riddled with journeys. Letting go is just another step toward a new journey. And though this may sound cliche, no matter how rough the ride, I must learn to appreciate and make the most of each journey -- who knows? maybe the next journey would take me to the one place where I will belong. That one place I can call home...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


The repose of sleep refreshes only the body. It rarely sets the soul at rest. The repose of the night does not belong to us. It is not the possession of our being. Sleep opens within us an inn for phantoms. In the morning we must sweep out the shadows. (Gaston Bachelard)

Years back, when I looked into a mirror I loved the glint in my eyes. Now, it's a daily morning battle to even just take a peek of myself --- dull eyes, swelling lids, creepy shadows --- and oh yes, these scary eye bags that resemble my uncle's bulging belt bag. Vanity led me straight to dermatologist Dr. Sidney's clinic, where I fell off the couch and almost broke a limb after learning how much his consultation fee was. For all my money's (and limb's) worth, I got nothing sensible, except for this piece of advice: have a quality sleep.

Quality sleep, huh? It is supposed to be a sound, peaceful sleep for eight straight hours. Whaaaaattt -- you gotta be kidding! Is there anyone of my age these days that get that kind of quality sleep??? I have to travel hours to the office, spend over eight hours at the office, another two hours' travel time to get home -- and oh wait -- I haven't had dinner, watched TV, done my son's homework. And where do I fit my social life in???

And so the eyebag problem turned into a sleep problem... And I'm writing this because it's been four months since and still I haven't gotten a single quality sleep. Just last night I was once again tossing and turning in my bed --- and just when I'm about to drift off to tranquility, the darned alarm goes off (my alert sound, DJ Unk's Two Step remix, never fails to jerk my head off my pillow).

Guess my mind is too full of cobwebs, and the spideys walk on these cobwebs while I'm trying to sleep. But how, just how do I sweep them off my sleeping mind? Rather than count sheep (or imaginary gold coins), maybe I should count the little spideys in my mind and give each one a face or a tag. Funny, now that I think of it. :)

It's so easy to kid around, but seriously, I think it's only when we're asleep that the ghosts of the subconscious get activated. The things or issues that we refuse to deal with while we're awake are pushed further down the recesses of our brain ... hiding ... waiting for darkness to come. While we seek refuge in sleep, those unrecognized issues surface, begging us to pay attention to them. And we either keep on continually ignoring and kicking them away or have the courage to face them... Only when we are able to make peace with these "cobwebs" can we get that seemingly unattainable "quality sleep".

Oh well, it would take me a while to get full deep sleeps. Unless I wear myself out before going to bed. :D Maybe I should do sit-ups, or read a very boring IT magazine... or, heck ... it doesn't really matter. What's important is waking up with a smile in the morning and feel okay for the rest of the day, not letting the phantoms of the subconscious affect the conscious...