28 February 2006


Because we're such an eclectic mix of people, we celebrated Mardi Gras at the office today with lunchtime festivities (where they served Greek food -- go figure.) The oasis (a.k.a. pantry) was cheerfully decked with banderitas, masks, paper pineapples, Mardi Gras beads (those beads men give to women in exchange for flashing themselves!), noisemakers, and Joao Gilberto blasting on a CD player.

Did you know that Mardi Gras is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday? It's the last day before Lent starts, so people try to get all the sinfulness out of their system -- hence all the wild merrymaking. (Ah. That explains all the flashing! :P) I wonder why we don't have it in the Philippines.

And just to share my favorite picture of the day... don't you think we look like a Benetton ad? Ehe.

25 February 2006

how to use a fire alarm

1. Watch a cooking show where they are grilling fresh atlantic salmons for a fancy schmancy New York-style house party.
2. Think you are a chef as well.
3. Decide that for lunch, you will cook yourself and your roommate that fancy schmancy salmon with the perfect grill marks.
4. Halfway through, realize that stove top grills don't quite produce any grill marks, but can produce an awful lot of smoke.

*fire alarm rings*

5. Panic.
6. Roommate will run out at this point. Ask her to call security since you have no idea what to do with the fire alarm.
7. Take the grill off the stove (which somehow produces even more smoke), run out to the balcony in the freezing winter wind, and practically toss the grill outside (more smoke ensues).
8. Roommate throws open the front doors. Fire alarm is still screaming.
9. Run back to the kitchen and wave a towel at the fire alarm in the hopes of diverting all the smoke.

*fire alarm stops*

Ehe. Well, at least you can say I used all the "features" of my apartment. The salmon actually turned out delicious, with a wonderfully smoked flavor. I have to figure out how to cook it that way again, minus the fire alarm of course. :P

Oh, and here is a picture of my attempt at a fancy schmancy dinner:

20 February 2006

first day funk

The team celebrates our arrival with Asian fusion cuisine at Spring Rolls,
a small restaurant along Yonge, just south of Bloor.

18 February 2006

on the street where i live

We're staying at a condominum in North York, which is a ten-minute walk from the office. The building is quite fancy schmancy, with a large gym, tennis courts, bowling lanes, billiard rooms, golf putting ranges, and... *ding ding ding*... a pool. Jackpot!

Our two-bedroom unit overlooks the ravine along York Mills and southern Toronto. There's something so blissful about waking up each morning in the cold winter air, watching the world lie peacefully under a fresh coat of snow. After sunset, the view paints a different story. The buildings of downtown Toronto glimmer in the distance, their lights a constant reminder that life is still going on somewhere out there. It's beautiful, yet at the same time sad. It gives me that same feeling of watching the world from an airplane -- the wistful, lonely feeling of being so near, yet so far from something.

This is the life.

17 February 2006

the beginning

"When you first arrive in a new city, nothing makes sense.
Everything's unknown, virgin..
After you've lived here, walked these streets,
you'll know them inside out.
You'll know these people.
Once you've lived here, crossed this street 10, 20, 1000 times...
it'll belong to you because you've lived here.
That was about to happen to me, but I didn't know it yet."
- L'Auberge Espagnole

As soon as the smell of winter chill and the first blast of icy wind hit my face, I knew this was it. I was home.

For the next three months, at least.

Toronto is cold and strangely beautiful, just as I remember it. People rush past, bundled up against the cold. Snow flurries dance in spirals, buffetted by the the winter wind.

Beside me, Iris is exclaiming "We're finally here!", as if she couldn't quite believe it yet. I can't blame her. All this, from the plane flight to our new pad, seems almost surreal.

Our car rushes past the highway. Lake Ontario's waters tumble in the distance, and I begin to see the familiar outlines of the CN Tower and downtown Toronto against the infinite greys of the sky. Once unknown, these places now reside in the recesses of my mind, tucked away between all those wonderful moments and memories.

It's both foreign and familiar, like I had seen all this in another lifetime. And I have.

But this time it will be different.

This time Toronto will belong to me.

why airplane flights are better than speed dating

"Hi, I'm Alex."

My seatmate extended his hand just as I was fiddling with the controls on my plane seat. I shook his hand and tried to hide my pagkajologs by attempting not to look surprised when my seat started reclining by itself.

Yes, I flew business class. Northwest had just given me WorldPerks Elite status -- which meant that I could check-in at the business class counter and bypass that looooooong economy class line, relax (and pig out) at the WorldClubs lounges, and get free upgrades if there were any seats left over. And what do you know... they gave me upgrades for the Manila-Japan and Detroit-Toronto legs of my flight!

Wooohooo! Or, as my seatmate exclaimed just as we were taking off, "I loooove business class!!!!!"

So, what's the connection between airplanes and speed dating? Well, they're two entirely different things, but I was just trying to make a point to Iris (my sidekick/housemate for the next three months) -- my point being, there's no need for speed dating when there are so many opportunities for you to meet new people. Like plane flights. ;)

Just think. When you go speed-dating, you actually have to pay to meet other people. Plane flights, on the other hand, are completely free and they offer a HUGE window of opportunity. You've got 10++ hours to chat up with your seatmate, get to know him/her, and, if your lucky stars are aligned, maybe even find true love. (C'mon, haven't you watched A Lot Like Love?!? Hehe.) If it bombs, you can always pretend you're exhausted and just sleep through the flight.

Not that I hit on strange guys in airplanes. :P

Now back to my seatmate. Being the autistic* person that I was, I had no idea who my seatmate was, until he started talking about basketball. That was when I recognized him as the basketball guy from one of those cheesy CoffeeMate ads -- it was Alex Compton. Hahaha. I'm so not a fan of basketball. The only reason I know him is because I hated those CoffeeMate ads and how he butchered his lines in his foreigner-twang Tagalog. But, Alex turned out to be extremely charming (he regaled me with stories about Assumptionista prom dates, overachievers, and me snoring) and surprisingly spoke excellent Tagalog. I like the guy (not in the fangirl/crushie sort of way -- too old, pero ibubugaw ko sana kay Iris. Hehe.), so now, I will just blame those CoffeeMate advertisers for that horrible ad.

The Japan-Detroit leg of the flight, I spent with Travis, who was coming back from his first business trip to Japan. He's so amusing -- he was so enamored with Japan that he spent the next ten hours sharing everything Japanese he had learned with me. We even traded business cards the Japanese way. (Choy, sabi ko sayo may silbi ang business card e! :P) Plus pogi points when he explained to me why the sun always set faster when you're flying to the US. Haha. I'm such a nerd.

So there. I made two new friends on a single plane flight. Travis and I even bumped into Alex while we were getting some water, and what do you know. It turns out they went to the same school.

It's a small world after all.

* autistic - adj. (slang) a person living in his/her own world

16 February 2006

leaving on a jet plane

So I'm finally off to Toronto then.

It's funny how the reality of this kind of rushes into your face, no matter how much you think you've prepared for it. I'm thrilled. I'm scared. I'm sitting here at home yet I'm already feeling the first twinges of homesickness.

I will never comprehend why some people would actually want to leave all this behind. I realize now, that no matter how twisted it may sound, and no matter how aimless I may seem, the truth is... I love my life. I love the people who surround me. I love this country, despite its blasted goverment offices and all.

Sigh. I already feel lonely just thinking of the months stretching ahead.

So... wish me luck. Drop me a note. Keep me company, even if I'm thousands of miles away.

I'll see you in June. :)

03 February 2006

the whisper of a thrill

So, this week was capped by a pig-out dinner with the Friday Night Losers and quality time with my laptop. I'm in a backlog of work, partly my fault due to an acute attack of tamaditis and a visit from the local office nognog. (Hernan, kaya tayo hindi mapro-promote nito e! :P)

The midnight breeze was beckoning to me (along with my to-finish-before-the-weekend list), so in an attempt to simulate work-life balance, I decided to set up office out on our veranda. Brilliant. Working in IT, or in any corporate job for that matter, can dehumanize you. There's something both calming and grounding about working there on the veranda, underneath the stars as the night wind revolves in the sky and sings. (Okay, I stole that last phrase from Neruda. :P) Add a hot cup of raspberry caffe mocha (Valentines puts me in the mood to consume anything with chocolate and berries in it) and the stress of the week just melts away.

The only downside is I cannot sit with my feet propped up on the chair lest the neighbors are scandalized by my lack of breeding. (I can already imagine it: Honey, why is our neighbor seated like that?!?!) And having to bring my laptop inside whenever I have to go pee, just in case some evil souls are plotting on stealing my laptop while I'm peeing. Heehee. Praning.

Still, I'm seriously loving this.


In a few weeks, I am shipping off to the land of milk and honey... er, actually... the land beside the land of milk and honey. No, I'm not running off to be a nurse or a caregiver -- no offense to nurses & caregivers out there! I'm moving to Canada for three months to complete a project at work and to seek revenge on my boss for making me miserable this past year. Nyahahahaha.

The reality of it is just beginning to hit me. Just when I've gotten used to staying at my parents' home again, I need to learn to fend for myself once more. I have this queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I can't quite tell if it's excitement or apprehension. I've experienced semi-independence back in college, but living in Toronto is a whole new league. Take away the familiar surroundings; take away my comfort zone; take away my entire support system -- was I really ready for this?

To distract myself, I'm currently attempting to figure out how to fit three months worth of clothing into two maletas. (I can only bring two luggages because of the airline policy.) I've started digging out my winter clothes from the depths of my closet, and I have come to an awful realization. I have too much winter clothing. It's horrible, really. Some of my lovely winter sweaters will have to stay behind -- they will never know what winter feels like. (There goes my dream of being decked out in a different ski-bunny outfit every day. Hehe.)

Of course, why I would have so many sweaters and jackets when I live in a tropical country is another story. :P