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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Top 10 By 40 List

For lack of better things to do while waiting for my lunch to be delivered, I thought I would start a “Top 10 Things To Do By The Time I Reach 40” list.

FYI: This list has in no way encompassed everything I plan to do in the next 9 years, 4 months and 21 days. (It was tough narrowing it to 10 items!) Although it is a good indication of where I would like to be by the time I turn 40.

1. Definitely have kid(s) and enjoy them – my husband and I are still debating the merits of having either 1 or 2. (Almost impossible for me to have twins since I have twin siblings - they say that although having twins runs in the family, they skip a generation. Having twins would certainly be great compromise to our debate though!)
2. Be an established, recognized and (hopefully) published Training and Organizational Development Consultant.
3. Go back to school and take courses to improve my professional skills (Birkman Certification, Certificate in Executive Coaching/Leadership Development, become a Certified Trainer, etc, etc.). A Ph.D. is out of the question for now.
4. See as much of the US as I can with my hubby. Top things I'd like to do include: Ski in Aspen, Colorado; Celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans; Drive thru Fall Foliage in New England; See the Grand Canyon in Arizona; Visit Case Western Reserve in Ohio (where my mom got her grad degree) and Ann Arbor, Michigan (where my parents got married).
5. Travel to Europe, China, Australia, and/or South Africa for our “second honeymoon” (I don’t mind a repeat of our first honeymoon where my whole family and best friends came along!).
6. Take courses just for fun (culinary courses, crafts courses like jewelry making/beading, wine appreciation, interior decorating, post-college literary courses, golf lessons, and ski lessons - for that trip to Aspen).
7. Re-do our garage and make it into an entertainment center / game room.
8. Actively volunteer at my local parish, civic or community center and be a part of a group that does something good for others.
9. Join a Book Club that meets regularly to discuss interesting and insightful books.
10. Go home to Manila for a grand reunion with family and friends (especially for my dad’s 60th birthday!!!).

Interestingly enough, some of the items here I’d like to happen sooner than later – while the others, I can wait till I’m oh about 39 years and 11 months old!

Check back with me on January 21, 2015 and I’ll let you know how many of these I’ll be able to check off. (Yup, the pressure is on!).

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Sunday mornings (the last one was no exception) are reserved for sleeping in and having a leisurely breakfast. But once the coffee kicks in, my hubby and I usually get started on our household chores. It’s our designated “time-to-do-our- week’s-worth-of-household-chores-in-three-hours”. Between the two of us, we typically do our laundry, clean the rooms, change the sheets and towels, get some gardening done, vacuum the rugs, and store the dishes, cups, pots, utensils - everything used during the week that’s still loaded in the dishwasher. It’s a time to clean the bathrooms, mop the kitchen floors, sweep the front porch and backyard patio, take out the newspapers and the trash, and dust the living room and family room shelves. All the fun stuff.

My first year in the States was actually quite a learning experience when it came to housework. I had to learn how to do most of the things that I now take for granted. Back then, I honestly did not know how to do laundry. My first few weeks at Berkeley had me using pants that had shrunk in the wash, white shirts streaked with shades of pink (as a result of mixed color laundry loads), and colored shirts with streaks of white (as a result of using bleach). My culinary skills were also quite lacking and I survived on the essential 5 "C's" of nutrition (cold cuts, cereals, canned goods, coffee, and Cheetos). I sprayed Lysol in the bathroom, kitchen, and every nook and cranny of our apartment and considered myself done with cleaning. I tried to do my share of vacuuming but it really never occurred to me to empty the vacuum cleaner bag and so I guess for a while I was just dragging dust bunnies around the room. I had to buy hangers for EVERY piece of clothing I owned (sweat pants and pajamas included) since hanging them up while they were still warm from the dryer saved me from having to learn how to iron clothes or fold them properly. The list of my pitiful housekeeping attempts was endless.

Luckily I had a wonderful roommate who didn’t mind showing me the ropes and picking up where I sadly left off. And then when I moved to Los Angeles and had to live alone, my hubby (then my fiancĂ©) and (my future) SILs would stop by and help me through some of the basics and it was awesome that they lived close enough for me to stop by once in a while for home-cooked meals. Of course, countless long distance phone calls to my mom, (who would walk me through how to marinate porkchops or teach me the best way to remove food stains from a shirt), helped get me through my latest crisis until she and my older sister could come for a visit (a.k.a. general cleaning).

In all honesty, my lack of domestic ability was not a case of my being too lazy to do housework – (and least not in most cases!). It’s just that I didn’t know any better, since I pretty much grew up without really having to bother with that back home. First of all, I had a mom who was an incredible homemaker and second, we were very fortunate to always have maids, drivers, gardeners and yayas (nannies) to do things for us. I would be picked up from work, taken home where I’d have my dinner ready, my room and bathroom would be pristine, clean sheets and towels in place, my laundry would be done and folded neatly in my closet, my shoes would be shined, my lunch for the next day would be prepared for me to bring to work. I know in many ways I’ve taken all that for granted. So sad but so true.

These days, I know I’m still not the world’s greatest housekeeper and my home (as charming as it is!) may qualify but probably not win any cleanliness awards, I can now cook a decent meal but still have a pretty long shot at winning any cooking contests, and while I pride myself on being an accommodating host, it is unlikely that I will be featured in Good Housekeeping as the next Martha Stewart any time soon. But I can honestly (and proudly) claim that I’m much, much better with housework and that I’ve come to really appreciate the time I spend doing things for myself. And, while I cannot deny that I am grateful and occasionally miss our helpers (Manong Danilo, Manong Reto, Jun, Manang Mercy, Mary Jane, Dora and Rosita), I do cherish my newfound independence and the sense of accomplishment I feel when praised for my domesticated endeavors.

My parents sent me to the States with the hope that I would receive a better academic education. And while that did happen, my 5-year stay here has taught me so much more than what I gained in school. I’ve learned more about myself and more importantly what I can do for myself. In retrospect, I’ve certainly learned more in the last 5 years here compared to my first 25 in Manila.

And as I said earlier, I am in no position to brag about my being a homemaker extraordinaire. But I will brag about what my mom said during her last visit. She praised me on my well-kept home, my good cooking, my entertaining skills, and my ability to manage and organize a household – and coming from her, THE ultimate homemaker extraordinaire herself, it is more than enough praise and assurance for me to know that I have indeed come a long way – and am on the right track.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Reading List

I found myself rearranging my nightstand and bookshelf last night. Every once in a while, as my stacks of books pile up, I sort through them and decide which ones are my favorites that get to stay on the shelves; which ones are good enough to store (in our garage); and which ones I can live without and are donated to the public library.

In the last 6 months or so I’ve read a lot of books in my free time – not surprising, since I have always loved to read. But what was surprising is the kind of books I’ve been reading.

I guess my reading list falls into 2 general categories.
“FOR FUN” books: light-reading, usually fiction, page-turners, highly entertaining, NOT a lot of learning involved.
And “FOR LEARNING” books: Not light-reading, usually NOT fiction, NOT page-turners (at least not for me), Not highly entertaining, typically a lot of learning involved.

Here was my reading list (give or take a few books) for the last 6 months (give or take a few days):
“FOR FUN” Books:
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Geisha, A Life by Mineko Iwasaki
Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
Deception Point by Dan Brown
Schlott’s Original Miscellany by Ben Schlott
Are You Afraid of the Dark by Sidney Sheldon
A Venetian Affair by Andrea di Robilant
The Testament by John Grisham
The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby
When Will Jesus Bring the Porkchops by George Carlin
Napalm and Silly Putty by George Carlin
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook
Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich
Empress Orchid by Anchee Min
(Re-read) The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
(Re-read) Double Fudge by Judy Blume
(Re-read) Everybody and A Kite by Ray Romano

Good to Great by Jim Collins
Crucial Conversations by Kerry, Pattersin, et al
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
Invitation to Lead by Paul Tokunaga

Well, it's not a bad list but it's certainly not an impressive one either. I mean, for every “FOR LEARNING” book I read, I read 4 “FOR FUN” books. (Ratio = 1:4). Not exactly intellectually stimulating material.

Back in Berkeley, my Turkish roommate who was learning English, asked me why I read, what she termed, “story books”. She said that if she had my grasp of the English language, she would read books that she could learn from and use to improve herself. I think I told her that I read “story books” to give me a break from all the learning we were doing in school.

But now that I am done with school and spend so much of my time working, keeping house, building a family, and living my life … where does that leave my intellectual growth? Yes, of course there is a great deal of learning that comes with one’s career, life, experiences, relationships, ... I’m not discounting that. And there is probably some type of learning from “FOR FUN” books too. But apart from that, I was not really expanding my knowledge nor was I really educating myself literary-wise.

Hmmm ...

As always my hubby was the sounding board for my insights and for my newly formed resolution. In order to progress my use of reading time and for my self-learning, logically I would have to improve the ratio of my “FOR LEARNING” books versus my “FOR FUN” books. Instead of 1:4, I would make an effort to change it to 1:2. (For every one “FOR LEARNING” book I read, I would read only 2 “FOR FUN” books).

My hubby then suggested that for optimal learning my ratio should actually be 1:1. I look at him like he’s crazy. 1:2 is a huge step! Besides, I rationalized that my 1:2 ratio makes sense since I take twice as long to finish a “FOR LEARNING” book anyway.

So, in keeping with my resolution, I’m now working on a list of books to get the next time we hit Barnes and Noble.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Weekend Bazaar

We spent last Saturday at the Orange County Marketplace in Costa Mesa. It was fun, after all it was one huge bazaar (known as a swap meet in the West Coast, flea market in the East Coast, and tiangge back home). I absolutely love bazaars - going through stall after stall, looking for bargains, and then negotiating the best price with the sellers. My sisters and I have been to every tiangge, flea market, & swap meet back home – from the Xmas bazaars at the Peninsula and Intercon, Weekend bazaars at Makati Sports Club and Forbes Park, the good old tiangge in Greenhills, Home and Gift fairs at the World Trade Center, the stalls at Tutuban and Divisoria, even our parish’s tiny annual tiangge was too good to pass up! It has been ages since I have been to one and I spent most of Saturday making up for lost time.

The OC Marketplace was huge and sold everything from clothes and shoes, to paintings and furniture, to even yachts and mobile home trailers. The stuff for sale was ecclectic and a bit kitschy too - but a lot of fun. (I wished my sisters were here!) There were good deals and friendly salepeople. The event was incredibly well attended too, even on a hot summer day in the middle of August. There were food stalls that sold orange juleps, hot pretzels, beef brisket sandwiches, frozen bananas dipped in fudge, and fresh lemonade. Live music from different artists stationed every couple of meters from each other. It had a very county-fair-like atmosphere.

My hubby and I started off together but found that (as usual) our shopping pace and taste are actually quite different. So in order to keep our peace and sanity, we had to split up a couple of times.

At the end of the day, my hubby got cell phone cases (his is a cool looking black leather one, while mine is a very girly-looking pink and silver one – not quite my style, but the look kinda grows on you). I got a hardbound version of Amy Tan’s the Joy Luck Club for $1.35 and found my hubby a collector’s edition of Superman comics for 99 cents! How can you not love these types of bazaars? We also got some stuff for the house – little odds and ends. Contemplated buying two huge terra cotta pots on stands for our porch, but later on decided we did not want to carry them out to where we parked - half a mile away!

When we got home, I looked through the bags of things we bought and found that most of what we got (aside from the books and cell phone cases) were stuff for the house. Not surprising since most of the stalls I really lingered in were places that sold paintings, decorative mirrors and knickknacks, candles, garden accessories, wicker furniture and kitchen stuff. (My gosh, Mina, I think you are right, I am turning into a Stepford wife!). Yikes! When did this happen???

Gone are the days when shopping means going into a store and splurging on clothes and shoes and jewelry and make up. These days whenever we go to the mall, I browse a lot in stores like Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, and Sur La Table. I have been even known to pass the Women’s Department in Macys and Robinsons-May to head straight to the Home Section. I told my husband that I think I am turning into my mother! Seriously.

I recall how my family used to spend some of our Sunday afternoons at the mall. These were special times when my dad would generously allow all of us to go choose any one item we wanted to buy. Anything at all. Once my dad said those magic words, we would be off and running. We would all go off our separate ways and come back with a million and one different ideas on what was the one best thing to get. For us kids it would be either books, shoes, clothes, CDs, or occasionally toys.

But for my mom, it would undoubtably be something for the house. No fail. Either new kitchen gadgets, cook books, towels, sheets, serving platters, decorative pieces, etc, etc. It was always a wonder to me why she would never get anything for herself. I'm sure I’ve asked her a couple of times but don’t really recall what she said. Come to think of it, I don’t think she’s ever really given me a straight answer. It was just how things were. And in this case, it seems it is how things are all over again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A belated welcome to my blog!

I was talking to my parents over the weekend and found out that they have asked their friends and our relatives to check out this blog. My husband has also advertised my blog to his family and friends. All this before I told my own friends and extended family. Now I get emails from my dad and mom asking me to update my posts more regularly as there apparently is a demand for them! :)

Isn’t that sweet? Talk about parental and spousal pride!

I’m touched … but at the same time … also quite pressured! Now that I know I have such a “huge” audience … hmmm …

But seriously, this is awesome. I mean the main reason I started my blog was so I could keep in touch with everyone from back home as well as with friends and family based all over the world. Not only that. It’s even for my friends who live here in Los Angeles. We live such crazy busy lives that sometimes we get to catch up with each other only through our blogs!

So, to my family, aunts, uncles, grandparents, titos, titas, in-laws, cousins, friends, family friends and to whoever else happens to stumble across my site: a belated WELCOME to my blog, Junarakasa's Story! I am really glad that you found some time to stop by and read what I have to say. Of course, your comments are always welcome!

P.S. For those who are curious, “Junarakasa” is what my dad used to call me when I was really young. It’s a name he coined because I was so fond of Japanese cartoons back then. Junara was one of the characters I liked, and at that time I was part of “casa” (preschool) at OB Montessori. Hence the name “Junarakasa”.

FYI, when I moved to ICA for kindergarten, my name was subsequently changed to “Junaraika”. (Un)fortunately the nickname did not extend to my years at Ateneo, Berkeley and Alliant.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Time Difference

Getting ready to go out …

My hubby takes a shower, brushes his teeth, and grabs the first shirt he can find.
I take a shower, brush my teeth, pick out clothes, discard, pick out second choice, discard, pick out third choice, discard, go back to first choice, pick out jewelry, shoes and bag to match, blow-dry my hair, put on moisturizer, foundation powder, eye cream, lipgloss, blush, and a spritz of cologne.

Going to bed …

My hubby brushes his teeth, changes into shorts and a shirt, gets into bed and falls asleep.
I brush my teeth, use cream to remove my make up, wash my face, apply facial cleanser and moisturizer, remove my contact lenses, change into pajamas, get a drink of water, get into bed, read a little, and then fall asleep.

Buying shoes …

My hubby parks in the first spot he finds, goes into the mall, zeroes in on the exact store and tries 2 pairs of shoes, decides which one he likes best, pays for the pair and is done.
I circle around the parking lot trying to find the best spot, walk into the mall and stop along every shop that looks interesting, try on shoes and shirts, stop by make-up counters and sometimes get “makeovers” done, look for anything on sale, browse bookstores, stop for coffee, walk into the shoe store where I was planning to get something, try about 10 pairs, decide which one I want, have second/third/fourth thoughts, get my hubby’s opinion, get the sales clerk’s opinion, eventually decide, pay for it, go home, and possibly decide to return it the next day.

Preparing dinner …

My hubby cooks rice, then opens a can of corned beef, dumps the beef into a pan with a little oil, then calls me to dinner.
I take out the frozen porkchops the night before, defrost then marinate them in Worcestershire and grill seasoning then place them in the chiller section wrapped in foil. The next day, I grill the chops on our George Foreman and look in our fridge, freezer and cupboards for side dishes. Take out fresh carrots and green beans along with frozen peas and canned corn, blanche the vegetables in hot water and add a dash of Molly McButter and season with Essence of Emril. Take out a packet of powdered egg drop soup base, mix it with boiling water, drop a beaten egg. Make the rice, wash fresh fruit for dessert, and then call my hubby to dinner.

Eating out …

My hubby usually knows what he wants even before we get to the restaurant. Or will scan the menu and predictably order either baby back ribs, roast chicken or steak.
I will look over the entire menu. Think about what I ordered here last time so I can try something different. Ask the waiter for the specials and what she recommends. Look around to see what other people ordered. Decide and then change my mind twice or thrice before the server arrives to take our orders.

Last Sunday afternoon …

My hubby studied for his CISSP certification course.
I went to Big Lots and then K-mart to see if they had outdoor benches (we need one for our porch), went to Kohls to return a shirt, got iced coffee from Coffee Bean, got home, logged on to check my email, wrote a few emails, read a few of my friends’ blogs, confirmed our hotel reservations for our Thanksgiving trip, had a handful of corn chips and some sparkling lime water, started reading Empress Orchid, took a shower, watched some tv, and talked on the phone with a friend.

The point of all this …

My hubby said that he would like to start a blog too, but unlike me, he just doesn’t have the time .…. :)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Dental Work

I can think of a hundred and one (make that a thousand and one) things I would rather do than spend an afternoon in a dental chair having my teeth drilled. And yet, today, I found myself doing just that.

Let me explain how I got there. Last Monday, my hubby and I were debating about what to have for dinner (you should know we take these debates very seriously). I was looking forward to reading Must Love Dogs and didn’t want to bother with cooking so my vote was for frozen pizza. No judgments, please! I am not some horrible wife who serves frozen dinners all the time. Once in a while maybe – and besides, in my defense, Freschetta’s brick oven pizzas, especially the one with 5 cheeses, can almost pass for restaurant quality.

Hubby, on the other hand, wanted something home-cooked. However, since I was eventually going to end up doing the “home cooking”, I argued the merits of thin-crust pizza and even magnanimously offered to compromise and pick a pie with his choice of toppings. And so pepperoni, olives and green peppers it was! I considered pizza for dinner a small victory.

My victory lasted till the next day, since I had the leftovers for lunch. Personally, I think pizza is better a day old - straight out of the fridge - cold, tough and chewy. Unfortunately the slice I had was a little too tough and I ended up losing the filling in one of my back molars. So I guess my dinner-choice-victory actually landed me in the dentist chair. The moral here is obvious … (fill in the blank with what you think it is). FYI, it’s NOT that you have to give in to your husbands’ every dinner request.

So there I was sitting in the dental chair, with my dentist shaking her head. Not a good sign. First, the molar where I lost the filling could not be “re-filled”. Turns out the bone matter was very thin and could not hold the filling - what I needed was to have a crown attached. What’s worse, the tooth right before the molar also had a huge cavity and that needed filling too. Just great! It’s amazing, I can walk into my dentist’s on any given day and she will always find something to work on! No fail!

While waiting for my crown, I realize that this marks yet another significant time in my life. Looking back at my dental/life history, it started with regular visits to Dr. Ang in Greenhills. She was my first dentist, where I got fluoride treatments and had my teeth cleaned. Ironically, I would always get candy after a visit with her. Then when I was a teenager, I switched to Dr. Sunglao in Bel-Air, who also gave me fluoride treatments, and marked my entry into young adulthood by filling my cavities! Getting those silver-black fillings really made me feel like a teenager. All my friends had them. It was as close as I could get to wearing braces which all the cool kids wore but I was “unlucky” enough not to need! I must have gone to a weird school cause where I went, braces defined coolness!

This time, I have a new dentist (Dr. Reyes) and am getting a new procedure too. I think I am now officially in the beginning of my mid-life! After all, I got my very first crown today!

I used to hear my parents and aunts and uncles talk about getting “crowns”, root canals, caps, bridges, and eventually dentures! Back then it sounded like something really old people got. And now, here I am getting one myself! Boy, talk about feeling old.

Not only did getting the crown age me – it also set me back $750.00! Yes – you read right. Seven hundred and fifty dollars - and that's after my discount! No wonder they call it a “crown”! Gosh. Getting my tooth filled cost $170.00 (that seemed reasonable) but the crown – sheesh! I actually felt bad having the crown on my second to the last molar – all the way back in my mouth. For that price, I may have to practice smiling with my mouth wide open and give people a glimpse!

Monday, August 08, 2005


Funny thing about weekends is that there is so much anticipation before they arrive, they go by so quickly, and then we spend so much time reliving them. It’s almost like most of our workweeks revolve around weekends! Mondays and Tuesdays are spent wishing it were still the weekend, while Thursdays and Fridays are spent planning the upcoming weekend. At that rate, Wednesdays are the only days we actually get any work done!

Okay – maybe that’s an exaggeration. But you know what I mean.

I just had a great weekend. Highlights include: browsing for books at Borders and my hubby treating me to 6 good books (I love finding good books in the bargain section); catching a movie Friday night; discovering Mitsui, a great hole-in-the-wall Japanese noodle shop (bento box with broiled eel, sushi, pickled green beans & beets, and cold soba noodles with a sweet tamari-based sauce topped with prawn tempura & grated radish, plus miso soup for just $10.99 per person!); a lazy Saturday afternoon spent reading in bed (two thumbs up for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time); Saturday night dinner at P.F. Chang with the whole family; playing cards and having drinks with my in-laws till 2 am; sleeping in Sunday morning; and an impromptu backyard volleyball game to round out the day.

What’s not to love?

Every Monday morning, don’t we all find ourselves saying, we wish it were still the weekend? I was guilty of wishing that at least thrice this morning. The first time was when the alarm went off at 6:30 am, the second time was when we encountered traffic on the 110 freeway, and the third time was halfway through our 9:00 am staff meeting. But then I had to think about it. Did I really want 7-day weekends all the time?

I remember after grad school I had a 6-week break before starting my job. It was great at first. Shopping, fixing up my new apartment, hanging out with friends, having family over, reading all these books I had put off due to school, sleeping in, watching TV, cooking good meals … But around the second week I was starting to get bored. By the third week, everything I enjoyed doing seemed trivial and just a way to pass the time. And by the fourth week, I was itching to get back into the working world and was counting the days before I had to start my job! (That feeling seems so strange and distant now).

My parents can often be credited for their wise words and keen perception. This case is no different. They always tell me that we sometimes experience low points in life so we can appreciate the high points. It’s the whole “bad things make us appreciate good things” theory. I guess it’s true, how can you really know what it means to be happy, if you’ve never really been sad before.

So my rationale here is the worse our workweek is, the better and happier the weekend will be. One must precede the other. It’s the way things are. Without stressful, deadline-ridden, hectic, and nerve wracking workweeks, we would not have fun, relaxing, peaceful and enjoyable weekends.

So, in that light, thank you to the rush hour traffic on the 405 and the 110 for my over 2-hour daily commute. Thank you to my overbearing clients who demand so much more than their programs are worth. Thank you to the huge stack of papers in my IN box and to my never ending to-do lists. Thank you to the hundreds of junk emails I have to sort through to get to my mail. Thank you to the deadlines I have to meet and the sales calls I have to attend. Thank you to the endless list of phone messages I need to return. Thank you to all the early mornings I have to wake up to and to all the late nights I spend trying to finish all that I need to do in a day. Thank you to all of my middle-of-the-week errands and for all the dinners I have to prepare. Thank you, thank you, thank you to my harassing and ever busy workweek for without you I would not have fabulous weekends that I can truly enjoy guilt free!

Friday, August 05, 2005


Okay, so last night was my first yoga class. I was there 15 minutes early trying to scope out the place and stake out a spot where I would not be too conspicuous. I settled my mat behind two other mats that had been set up, thinking that the middle of the room was a good spot to blend in. A few minutes later the rest of the students walk into the Fitness Room. There were about 10 other ladies in the class. Most of them seemed older than me, although there were 2 ladies who looked my age. Some of them appeared to be not too "physically fit" either. I was slightly relieved. I was totally worried about joining a class where everyone would be built like Barbie dolls and be yoga experts.

The instructor, Charlene, walked in exactly at 6:30 and immediately dimmed the lights and popped a CD into the stereo. She then laid out her mat directly next to mine. Apparently she taught the class from the middle of the room - so everyone could see her better. So much for my inconspicuous spot. Now that I was beside the instructor - everyone would be looking my way! Sheesh - talk about pressure!

The music started and we did some light stretching exercises. I managed to somehow act graceful and limber. At least I think I did. Charlene gave me a few encouraging nods as I did my best to "flow with the music" and "become one with the movements".

Then came the power yoga part where the real stretching, "flowing" and "becoming one" happened. It is quite hard to maintain one's grace and limberness when one can not seem to find balance and when one's knee joints pop when lunging forward. In the silence of the room, with only very soft music playing, my knee pops sounded so loud I was sure half the class heard it. Luckily while in the midst of most exercises, Charlene would encourage the group to close their eyes.

The group did keep their eyes closed for the most part. I know because I kept looking around trying to look at everyone else. Which may be the reason why maintaining my balance was so hard! I could not help sneaking peeks even after Charlene caught me doing it a number of times.

We did a lot of exercises on floor mats. Most of the women brought their own. But since this was my first class, I had to use one of the mats in the gym. We had one exercise where we had to lie face down on our mats and raise our upper torso as well as our legs. Charlene kept telling us to imagine that our bodies were forming the letter "u" , I kept imagining what kind of germs I was picking up by rubbing my face on the blue mat.

Then came the wall exercises which I liked much better. Pushing against the wall made me feel a lot more balanced. It was actually a good feeling to stretch and get the kinks out of my tired muscles and joints.

The class ended at 7:30, which surprisingly came sooner than I thought. That, for me, is a great indication of a successful exercise class. Usually while doing exercises I find myself looking at my watch and counting the minutes till the class ends. But last night, the class was over even before I had the chance to notice the time. Definitely a good sign.

All in all the class was a good start. I can't say that I am now a yoga junkie but neither was I turned off by the class. There were definitely good and not so good points. But overall, I feel pretty great about myself and did not mind so much that my body hurt a bit when I woke up this morning. I will definitely be back to attend a few more classes and will have to make do with using a towel on the mat at least until I get my own mat!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I am a lucky wife!

Let me start off by saying, "I am married to the sweetest and most awesome guy!".

Now, let me explain.

Last night, my hubby and I were taking our usual after-dinner walk around the neighborhood. While walking, he tells me that our anniversary is coming up.

Before I go further, let me clarify that August 18th marks our 6th year as a couple. Although we got married on December 18th, we were obviously a couple before then. So if one really wants to get technical, on the 18th of August we will be celebrating 5 years & 4 months of couplehood and 8 months of marriage. And yes, we are one of those couples that still celebrate "monthsaries"!

Back to my story. My husband tells me that for our anniversary he has gotten me .... (are you ready for this) ....Tickets to the theater ... "LITTLE WOMEN" ... at the Orange County Performing Arts Center!!!!!

At this point, you may collectively be groaning and saying to yourselves that this is too much hype over receiving tickets to watch a 2-hour play.

Not for me!

First of all, Little Women is my absolute favorite book of all time. I loved the children's version that my mom got me when I was younger, and I loved my Lousia May Alcott copy when I got older. It's actually one of the few books I brought over from back home and I still read it all the time! I even loved the movie version with Susan Sarandon and Winona Ryder. It is one of my all-time favorite movies too.

Second, I love, love, love musical theater. Miss Saigon, My Fair Lady, The King and I, Les Miserables, Grease, Mamma Mia, Hairspray, and The Lion King are my favorites!

So to get to watch my favorite book as a musical is just AWESOME! I can't wait.

Now here's the creme de la creme -My hubby who does NOT like "girly" movies, does NOT like musicals, and does NOT like theater is actually looking forward to it! That is the BESTEST part.

We are talking about a guy who fell asleep while watching Titanic, who I had to drag to watch The Lion King, who almost refused free tickets (FREE TICKETS!) to The King and I, who rolled his eyes while I gushed about Rachael McAdams and Ryan Gosling in The Notebook, and who chose to nap in our hotel while the rest of us watched Mamma Mia. Yes, THAT guy :)

Really, when I think about it, the gift is not the tickets to the play (any guy could do that). Rather it’s the thoughtfulness of getting me something I love. It’s the excitement on his face as he watched mine when he told me the news. It’s his good naturedness about the whole idea. (Don’t you hate it when someone gives in to what you want to do but then sulks or acts all martyr-like?). And most of all it’s his willingness to do something I want to do – instead of the hundred and one other things he would normally do on a Saturday night. (Have I mentioned it’s also giving up a Saturday night!?). Now, that’s LOVE.

And that is why I am married to the sweetest and most awesome guy!