August 24, 2010

Obsession du Jour - Pop Quiz Math Clock

This is for the inner geek in me. Ok, ok, not so inner and hidden. I'm a proud geek!

More brainiac stuff is available on ThinkGeek. I wonder if D. would mind if I hung that in our apartment....

August 15, 2010

Claim to fame

It's quite obvious that every girl believes that her own story is the epitome of fairy tales. So did I, of course. But my very down-to-earth, realistic me also knew that our story, albeit having some cheese-factor to it, was just one amongst a plethora of love stories.

When I decided to answer The Knotty Bride's call for engagement stories, it was more out of shits and giggles and because I liked the idea of bringing this life-changing moment to paper, making it last forever - for me and the endless cyberworld.

I forgot about it and when I got an email from a girl named Alison, it took me a minute or two to connect the dots. She said something about "congratulations, I featured your story."
Huh?! What story? I clicked on the link only to realize that - holy moly - our story was featured on one of the coolest wedding blogs out there...

On top of being among the chosen ones from, I'm certain, hundreds and hundreds of entries, the responds and comments to the post were just the perfect icing on the cake.

So thank you Alison for making my weekend (despite being bed-ridden due to flu!) and thanks to the readers who took the time to read through my novel of an engagement story and to those who only had sweet words to say about it.

August 6, 2010

Obsession du Jour - Sleeping Bag

I have no plans on going camping in the wild anytime soon, but if I did I'd get me one of these ultra-stylish sleeping bags

August 5, 2010

Where are you from?

You would think that with full-blown globalization hitting us from every corner and intercultural being more than just a trend word but rather a reality, a question such as "where are you from?" would be outdated. Well, it isn't.... I've always had a hard time dealing with this question and used to have an inferiority complex for not being able to answer it straightforward. A perfect stranger would ask me this, hoping for some smalltalk with no malice intended, and I would simply sink in to a deep depression manifested by an utter identity crisis, prompting me to shout "I don't know! Leave me alone". Ok, that's exaggerated, but in essence that's it.

A while back I realized I wasn't alone. For one, there was my sister. And then I found out there was even a term for us "Third Culture Kids". We're more than just halfies. We're thirdies, quarties or more....

Where are you from? can generate some interesting answers:

I love it when people argue with me as to where I'm from.
"No you can't be Chinese, you sound American!"
"Actually by nationality I'm British, but my parents are both Chinese."
"So you're not American?"
"Not really, no."
"Are you Canadian then?"
"Are you SURE?"

When I am asked this question here in the US, I tend to say "I am from France", since I first came here as an exchange student from a French University. When I am asked where in France... that's when it gets complicated. My parents are living in Paris, so I would go with that. If the person asks me where I was born though... ugh! Brazil. "Oh, wow!" is the usual reaction; since I live in South Texas, people eventually speak Spanish at one point, and I will reply in the language. Ugh again. "Oh my, how come you speak Spanish? Cause you were born in Brazil?" UGH! No, Portuguese is the official language in Brazil. I speak Spanish because my Mom is from Spain, and so am I. Last and most common question: "Where is your last name from?"... triple ugh! Russia. My father's family migrated from Russia to France before WWII. At that point, the person is completely lost and will 1) either try to repeat all I said (and fail); 2) or just make a grumpy look and throw a "oook..." (hence, he/she did not follow what I said).

"Your accent, you're American right?"
Me: "Uhm no"
"Really? You sound like a California girl"
Me: "I was born in Japan, but I spent most of my childhood in South America"
"But your English..."
Me: "International School and then college in the states"
"Ah! That's the Californian accent"
Me: "Actually New York City. (sigh)"
"And now you live in Japan where you are really from?"
Me: "I was only born in Japan, the rest of the time was just me wandering this magical's only one planet after all."
"Now I'm really confused"
Me: (shrug)

Other possible answers:
- Somewhere out there
- Do you want the long or the short version?
- Pick a country - any country!
- Are you where I was born, where I grew up, where my parents are from or what kind of passport I have?
- When I find out I'll let you know
- Um, it's kind of hard to explain
- Do you have enough time for this?
- You know, I wish I knew
- Um, it depends
- I don't know

Nowadays I can answer this question in my sleep and often I just let D. explain it for me. I still feel confused and non-belonging at times. But I have accepted it. I see envy in people's eyes when they hear my story. I envy them for knowing exactly where they belong. We all want what we don't have.

August 2, 2010

Obsession du Jour - Book Clutch

Isn't geek chic the new in-thing on the runways nowadays? For those who are fashionistas and bookworms at once check this out:

Kate Spade's book of the month clutch

Also comes in the versions "Great Expectations" and "The Importance of Being Earnest". Two more "books" are yet to be launched....

Me. Want. Badly. But at $325 a pop, I'll have to be satisfied with just the pretty pictures.

August 1, 2010

Obsession du Jour - The Cool Hunter

Quirky design and architecture from the Cool Hunter. Amazing what people can come up with. Makes me regret that I do not have much of a creative bone in me.

Whenever you feel like a quick nap

D.'s dream kitchen

Bookstore in a church

Cafeteria for a guaranteed headache

The crisis

I've made my peace with Manila and was proud to say that homesickness didn't affect me anymore and that I could call Manila "home". I felt out of place last time I visited Munich and was looking forward to come back to the Philippines were for a while now things seemed more comfortable, more familiar.

Until 2 days ago. Unsuspecting, I hailed a taxi after my pilates work-out. I had a good day, a good training session and was feeling invigorated. Barely sitting in the car, my happy day turned into a nightmare and I have yet to sleep through the night without visual flashbacks.

The short version of the story is that the taxi driver got into a verbal fight with a pedestrian who dared crossing the street in front of the car. After some shouting and lots of bad words, it got physical and the pedestrian kicked shut the door and side mirror before walking away. The taxi driver popped open the trunk, and I first assumed it was accidentally because of the door slammed that pushed him back inside. He was fuming and I tried calming him down. But instead he got out and to the trunk and pulled out a gun and ran after the pedestrian, leaving me in the running car on the middle of the street.

I grabbed my bags and got out of there as quickly as possible. I was scared he might come back and I had to intention in being in a car with a mad man. What if he's ran after me because I saw what he did? I just walked away and around the corner to get away. I didn't hear any gunshots, but I was terrified nonetheless. My body was shaking and I could feel the tears swell up in my eyes. I wasn't physically capable of hailing another taxi, so I just walked back the few minutes to my office and calmed down there. D. picked me up a while after.

Growing up here, D. was worried but not shaken to the core as I was. People seem exposed to that type of crap around here. I had never even seen a gun until I moved here. These type of stories make the news in Munich and I don't know anyone who even knows anyone to whom something remotely similar happened. So how does one get over this experience and move on?

I had to ride another taxi going to work today and my pulse was racing throughout the trip.
If I were unpractical (and rich), I would pack my bags and hop into the next flight to Munich or Paris. I find myself wondering if I could deal with such things in the future. Can I raise children in such an environment. D. wants me to get a car, but there have been plenty of carnapping stories in the news lately and I'm not talking remote areas in the middle of the night, but streets I pass regularly. Is safety a sacrifice I have to make living here?

I want to forget about it sooner rather than later and be able to live without wondering if I'd be better off living in Europe. I used to see all the advantages of living in Manila, now all I see is the negative. I still hope prevails that time will heal wounds and erase memory.


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