Thursday, September 30, 2010

acceptance & contentment

Stop comparing and start living and you'll be happier with your life. (Bo Sanchez)

Thank you, Kuya Lowell, for the forwarded e-mail.
Thank you, Bo, for opening my eyes.
And thank you, Lord, for making me a perfect creation.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

paos

Since I woke up on Saturday morning, my voice has been hoarse and husky. My throat isn’t hurting and I don’t have a cold; I haven’t even been drinking ice cold drinks lately, nor have I had sweets (err...except maybe for the slice of Oreo Cookie Bash from Gourmet Burger Kitchen last night). The only reason I can think of is because hubby and I were asked to host the first part of a friend’s daughter’s 7th birthday party last Friday night.
Because the guests were not all Pinoy, we had to speak in English so that everyone could understand (nosebleed!), and getting the attention of about 25 boys and girls (dressed up as princes and princesses), ranging between 1 and 9 years old, telling them what to do was, of course, no simple task. We had to repeat everything we said!
It was fun, but now that I’m on my 4th day of having a “bedroom voice,” I think I’d rather leave the hosting to the pros and enjoy being a simple guest instead.

assessment test: passed

Yesterday, I left the office early because my Assessment Test was scheduled for 3:30pm. Since this test is similar to the Road Test, I was expecting to take it with 3 other students. I was wrong...I was the only one with the lady examiner.
Once we were in the car, I did the regular checks with the seat, mirrors and instrument panel, fastened my seatbelt and turned on the engine. On her signal to start, I put the handbrake down, shifted to reverse gear, pulled out of the parking space and started driving.
All throughout, I kept reminding myself to relax and stay calm. All I heard from the examiner was either go left, go right, take the U-turn, etc. There were turns, roundabouts and merging lanes that I had to go through as well.
After about 7 minutes, she told me to return to the school and park the car. I made a mistake then because I didn’t understand where she wanted me to park it, almost ending up in a slanted position. Fortunately, I was able to adjust the car into the box where it was parked earlier. As soon as I turned off the engine, she gave me her comments. She said my driving was generally ok, but there were times when the positioning of the car was not correct, particularly when we were turning right at a roundabout and when I was making a U-turn. She didn’t say if I had passed or not, so I was still nervous when we went to her office.
Finally, once we were seated, she wrote ASSESSMENT TEST PASSED on my paper and signed it (it was supposed to be stamped but she couldn’t find the stamp). I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief! She said she would schedule my Road Test for next week and I should continue to take my driving classes until then (which means I have to pay a bit more for the additional classes).
So...Five tests down, one more (and hopefully the last) to go.

Monday, September 20, 2010

going to church isn't as easy as you thought

Yesterday for the first time in a long time, Guchi and I were able to attend a complete mass at St. Mary’s Church. By “complete,” I mean with singing, the Prayer of the Faithful, and most importantly the priest’s Homily. It was nice, and I realized only yesterday that I missed the experience.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

rules of life

During our household last week, one of our sisters told us about a speech that Bill Gates gave to a group of high school students recently. However, the “11 Things That They Don't Teach in School” the Microsoft Chairman talked about actually came from Charles J. Sykes. Here’s the list as it was written and compiled by Mr. Sykes (including the last 3 that Mr. Gates didn’t mention):

1) Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teen-ager uses the phrase, "It's not fair" 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids.
2) The real world won't care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It'll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain it's not fair.
3) Sorry, you won't make $40,000 a year right out of high school. And you won't be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn't have a Gap label.
4) If you think your teacher is tough, wait 'til you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he's not going to ask you how you feel about it.
5) Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word of burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren't embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain or Britney Speers all weekend.
6) It's not your parents' fault. If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of "It's my life," and "You're not the boss of me," and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it's on your dime. Don't whine about it, or you'll sound like a kid.
7) Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom.
8) Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn't. In some schools, they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone's feelings be hurt. Effort is as important as results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.
9) Life is not divided into semesters, and you don't get summers off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don't get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on. While we're at it, very few jobs are interesting in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to self-realization.
10) Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends will not be as perky or pliable as Jennifer Aniston.
11) Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.
12) Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you're out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That's what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for "expressing yourself" with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.
13) You are not immortal. If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven't seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.
14) Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school's a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you'll realize how wonderful it is to be a kid. Maybe you should start now.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

that plastic card

Up to this day, I’ve never really owned a credit card that I could freely use whenever I wanted.
I remember when I had just graduated from university, I received a credit card in the mail with a letter stating that since I was an alumni from this reputable school, I was automatically eligible to have this prestigious credit card; no joining fees, no annual fees, and so and so credit limit. All I had to do was call the call center and activate it. I never did.
There was also a time when I worked for a credit card company in Makati. After the probationary period, all the employees are entitled to have a credit card; again no joining fees, no annual fees, and so and so credit limit (depending on the rank/category). I never bothered to get one. Even when my colleagues and friends were saying that I should get one so that I have something in case of an emergency, I wasn’t convinced.
When my older sister started working in Dubai, she got a credit card and made me and Mama her supplementaries (or whatever you call it), so automatically we got credit cards as well. Since she was the one who was going to settle the bills, we only used our cards if she wanted us to buy something for her or if she told us to withdraw money and use that for our expenses. Mama and I never used our cards for anything else.
Now, I’m here in Dubai and from time to time, I get calls from all these banks offering me credit cards with all these perks and benefits. Usually as soon as they say that they’re from so and so bank, I immediately cut them off and tell them that if they’re offering their credit card, I’m not interested. That ends the conversation short right away.
Don’t get me wrong. I know the card has its advantages: you don’t have to carry large amounts of money, it’s very helpful especially during emergencies, and nowadays bookings or reservations have to be guaranteed through this piece of plastic. I remember when hubby (who was still my fiancĂ©e then) and I checked-in at the hotel for our wedding preps. The hotel required a security deposit and they didn’t accept cash. I thought this was silly but since this was the rule, Guchi presented his credit card and my sister presented hers. When we checked out 2 days later, we settled the bill in cash.
The thing is, I’ve never really liked credit cards. I’ve heard stories and seen so many people practically drowning in debt because they lost control and overspent. There are those who, just because they know they have this card which is easily accessible to them, immediately purchase or pay for things without even stopping to think if they really need them. Then after a day or two, that’s when they regret making the wrong decision and there’s no way to get the money back.
Between the two of us, only hubby has a credit card. During the rare occasions that he does use it, I always make sure that the full amount is paid before the due date. This way, we won’t have to settle any more payments with unnecessary interests.
Because I don’t have a card, I’ve disciplined myself to save money if I really want to buy something...even if I know it will take some time. At least this way, I make sure to think things through, whether I need it or whether I want it bad enough, and if I’ll be getting my money’s worth.
I know one day I will have to get a card (especially since it’s becoming a necessity to own one), but for now I’m happy that I don’t have to worry about any card payments I still have to settle.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

eid al fitr date

For the first day of Eid Al Fitr, hubby and I went out on a date.

In the morning, we went to the Galleria Ice Rink at Hyatt Regency. It was the first time for both of us to actually ice-skate, so for the first 30 minutes, we were just staying at the sides of the rink. After I became used to the skates, I began to boldly let go of the sides bit by bit, until I was able to go into the center of the rink. Hubby, having had no experience at all even with roller blades, kept staying near the sides most of the time. There was an instructor teaching a student how to skate, so hubby tried copying what they were doing. I landed on my butt once and hubby fell twice. It hurt, but both of us were enjoying ourselves too much to dwell on the pain. It was a good thing that there were just a few of us using the rink, ‘cause it gave us enough space to skate around at our own pace. We kept laughing at ourselves every time we fell or slid around to maintain our balance, it was like we were kids again.
Finally at 12nn, we decided to leave and have lunch.

We went straight to our favorite mall (Dubai Festival City) for subs at Charley’s and ice-cream at McDonald’s. We had planned to go bowling after lunch, but when we passed by the cinema and saw that Step Up 3-D was already showing, we decided to watch that instead. However, we had to wait for more than an hour because it had already started, so we just walked around the mall to pass away the time.

We went window shopping until we ended up at Toys R Us where hubby played PS3 and I tried fencing and bowling on Wii. I would have played longer if not for the little boy who went up to me with his hand out, saying “My turn! My turn!” We finally decided to leave and head for the cinema since the movie was about to start.

It was our first time to watch a movie on 3D so we were both excited. We thought the 3D glasses they were going to give us were the typical cardboard ones with blue and red lens, but what they gave us were actual 3D glasses. The story was similar to Step Up 1 and 2, but it was entertaining just the same. The effects were amazing and the dance steps were really cool! I wish I could dance like them. After the movie, I just had to have a picture beside the movie poster with my glasses on. I didn’t care if there were so many people walking around or looking at me. I wanted a remembrance of my first 3D movie.


We then headed to HyperPanda for groceries, and finally went back to our apartment to a dinner of take-home California Maki and leftover pizza.

It was a great day and I think it was a first for both of us to go out where we did so many things that we enjoyed doing together. I wonder when our next date will be?

Eid Mubarak everyone!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

on the roads of dubai

Good news! Our DGM just approved my request to adjust my work timings every (working) Saturday, Monday and Wednesday so that I could take my driving lessons during the week.

I thought he would insist that I should take the lessons during the weekend only (which would cost more), but fortunately he accepted my plan to come to work 1 hour early so that I could leave at 4pm. Hurray!

Just an update on what I’ve been doing lately during my lessons...Ever since I passed my hill and 2 parking tests, I’ve been taking the car out on the roads of Dubai. On the first day, Mateen told me to just drive around the area near the school where I could practice humps, roundabouts, left turns and right turns. The second day, we ventured towards Lamcy and Creek Park areas. Yesterday, we went really far...to the Fruits & Vegetable Market area in Ras Al Khor. Picture me being really stiff and nervous almost the whole time, especially when big cars and trucks were driving by. There was a car that overtook us and went in front of our car, so Mateen told me to overtake it and go in front of the car as well. He kept telling me to speed up, until I realized we were going at more than 100 kph! That’s when my palms starting sweating and I had to ask for tissue. Good thing we were approaching a junction so I had to slow down.

Anyway, looking back, I could say that I’ve improved a lot. I may be making some mistakes (especially when making turns), but at least I’ve become a bit more confident and relaxed when driving. It may not be much, but at this point in time, I'm really proud of myself.

Monday, September 6, 2010

signal test: passed

I took my signal test this morning.

Normally, the student would go in, wait for a few minutes until her name was called, then take the test (for a maximum of 10 minutes). Right after answering the last question, the computer would show whether the student passed or not, and the Police Examiner would stamp accordingly on the driving permit. The whole procedure was expected to take less than 12 minutes. I was wrong.

My test was scheduled for 8am, but since hubby told me that I should arrive early just in case there were a lot of us who were taking the test, I arrived at the school’s Ladies Waiting Area at 7:30am. I took a seat at the front row, and after a couple of minutes, a lady called us in a room to submit the papers. Apparently, not everyone there was going to take the signal test. There were others who were going to take their road test or assessment test.

I was the first one to give my paper for the signal test so the lady told me to sit down in front of the computer and enter my details, which I did. However, the screen showed that I wasn’t registered to take the test that day. The lady tried again, but the screen showed the same thing. She then told me to go the Test Counter and inform them of the problem. I did, but only the Office Boy was there, so he took my paper and told me to wait until someone would call me. I waited...and waited...and waited until it was already 8:05am, then I went to the counter to follow-up. There was a man there who was explaining to a lady to go to another room and speak to the RTA person. When he called my name, he told me to go to the same room because the lady and I had the same problem. Upon entering Room 3, there was nobody there even though the office hours on the door said it would begin at 8am. Augh!!! Following both of us was another lady and 2 men. We all had the same problem. Again, we waited...and waited...and waited, but nobody from RTA came. We went back to the counter and they referred us to another room. The person there told us to just wait at Room 3 because only they could help us. We went back, waited for another 5 minutes, and stormed out. We went to the person at the Customer Service counter to complain, but he wouldn’t help us either. They were sending us on a wild goose chase. It was ridiculous!!!

Finally (after going back and forth between people and rooms), the person at the Test Counter took our papers and told us to wait until 9am when the Police Examiner would arrive because she was taking students for their Road Tests. The time was already 8:45am, so I had to wait for 15 more minutes (more or less). As soon as I saw her arrive, I went to the counter and told the man she was there. He told me he would give our papers to her right away, so I went to the Testing Room and went to the lady. Again, we were asked to wait because she didn’t have our papers yet. I was really running out of patience this time but since I didn’t want to get on her bad side (hey, she might be the one who will be giving my assessment and road tests), I did what she told me to do. The man at the counter finally gave her the papers after 15 minutes (that’s their definition of “right away”). Fortunately, my paper was at the top so she called out my name first. I entered my details, started answering the test, and when I was done in less than 5 minutes, the screen showed that I had passed. Hurray!

The Examiner stamped my permit and I was out of the school in no time, rushing to work because I was already more than an hour late. Luckily, my colleague had told my manager that I was not feeling well when I woke up but assured him that I was still going to work today just as soon as I felt better. I arrived at the office by 9:25am, with no questions from my manager. Whew!

Four tests down, two to go!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

love you forever

This afternoon, while I was working away at my desk, our office boy dropped off an envelope in my tray. I thought it was just ordinary mail (an invoice or contract or newsletter) so I didn’t bother to look at it right away. It was only after I had finished everything I needed to do that I found time to check out the orange envelope. And, boy was I surprised! As soon as I saw who it was from, I opened it immediately...and here’s what I found:


“Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch...autographed by the author himself for me!

I wanted to jump for joy! Of course, I couldn’t (it wouldn’t be appropriate since I was at the office). Instead, I showed it off to my 3 colleagues who were also mothers, telling them that this book is a really nice story to read to their children.

I’m so excited to read this to Caila. Actually, when I first heard about this book from n@w early this year, I began reciting the verses of the song to her every day…and then the time came when she would join me in saying “baby - bee” when I would reach the last line. It’s so cute!

I hope that when she’s back with us next month, she’ll still be interested to hear the full story...and join me again each time I recite the verses of the song.

flower hotdog

Yesterday, I came down with dry cough and colds. I think I got it from hubby because he had it since Wednesday. In the morning, I just began to cough from time to time; but it got worse in the afternoon because the a/c of the car I was driving was directly hitting my face and it couldn’t be adjusted; I couldn’t turn it off either because the weather was scorching hot.
As soon as I arrived at home after my driving class, I changed my clothes and plopped myself on the couch beside hubby with a pillow and blanket. He had put on some episodes of Glee, but since I had already watched them, I took a nap instead.
By 6:30pm, he had finished watching and started to prepare dinner. There were a lot of leftovers that just needed re-heating so he cooked hotdogs for our lunch the next day. I had already woken up and was just staring at the TV when he sat down on the couch beside me and said “Mahal, this is for you." And this is what I saw:

Cheesy, I know, but I really appreciated it. Maybe I was miserably sick, but his gesture was really sweet and thoughtful. It didn’t help me get better, but it sure lifted up my spirits.
Thank you, Mahal. I love you *huge smiling face* (hehehe).

garage parking, side parking & hill tests: passed

I took my first 3 tests last Thursday afternoon, along with 5 other ladies. One by one, we were required to get in the car, do a test, then go out of the car and wait for our turn to take the next test. It started at 4:30pm, and we were standing out in the sun while waiting for our turns with no shade. It was soooo hot!

The Garage Parking Test was first, which all of us did with no problems.

The Side Parking Test was next. The lady who took the test ahead of me forgot to return the steering wheel to the original position and I only noticed it when I had started reversing. Fortunately, I was able to adjust the car and bring it inside the “box,” giving me another PASSED stamp on my paper. There was 1 who failed this test because she had turned the steering wheel too early, ending up with the car outside the box. We all thought the Police Examiner would give her another chance, but unfortunately it was just one chance for each.

Last was the Hill Test where we had to take the car forward up the hill and back in reverse. I was getting really nervous this time, because: 1) I had only done this for 2 classes, unlike the others; and 2) contrary to what hubby had told me (maybe just to boost up my confidence) not everyone passes these tests. The lady who took the test before me had failed because she mixed up the use of the accelerator and brakes, and she kept turning the steering wheel, ending up too close to the side. When my turn came, I adjusted my seat and the mirrors and put the seatbelt on. Again, the lady before me had forgotten to bring the steering wheel to the original position (which I didn’t notice again!). Luckily, I was able to adjust the car to its proper position. As soon as I was ready to move the car, the Examiner told me to bring the gear to neutral, and accelerate. I was confused because I knew that I had to be on driving gear, but I did what she instructed...which was wrong of course. She told me how could I expect to bring the car up the hill if I was on neutral. I wanted to tell her “DUH!” but instead I kept quiet, brought the gear to D, accelerated, put the hand-brake down, stepped on the brakes when we reached the other side of the hill, and put the hand-brake up. I proceeded to do the same thing in reverse gear to go back to where we started while checking the mirrors and the back of the car, and adjusting the steering wheel to make sure we were in the middle of the road. Finally, she said the best words I heard all day: “Congratulations. You passed all 3 tests.”

Whew! Three down, three more to go!
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