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Friday, December 28, 2007

I wish I was a kid again


Actually, I’m perfectly content with where I am in my life – less insecurities, less concerned about what people think of me and simply happy to be a healthy person with great friends and family. Except that every now and then, a child or a young adult says or does something that makes me wish to be a kid again and experience life from their eyes.

Take my niece for example. At Christmas she put out her milk and cookies for Santa. The next day, my brother was drinking his tea in the living room when my niece rushed from her bedroom to the Christmas tree. Not only was she excited that Santa had enjoyed her milk and cookies but she found a present and a note which she showed to my brother – if you’ll be a good girl in 2008, next year you’ll get even a bigger present.

Thrilled, she asked my brother, “When Santa comes down from the chimney, won’t his clothes get dirty?

My brother said, “yes, but he washes them.”

“Where does he wash them?” she asked.

“Why in our washing machine. He then throws them in the dryer and waits for his clothes as he eats the cookies you left him.”

She smiled and began opening her present.

Then there’s the story of my teenage cousin who emailed me on his Blackberry from the airport on his way to New Orleans, and when I responded from my iPhone (I was one of the first iPhone owners), he wrote – “OMG, you got an iPhone. I’m so jealous. Do you love it or do you love it?” By the way, for those of you who are from a different generation, OMG means oh my god! Now, mind you, I bought an iPhone because my ancient phone fell and broke, and I decided it was time for me to keep up with technology, to keep my files organized, and to stop my emails from piling up on my desk top; that’s all. But in my cousin’s eyes, I was suddenly cool and had joined his generation as he put it. We texted back and forth, he being a teenager that he is, and me pretending to be the teenager that I’m not. Finally he had to board his plane with his parents and we said goodbye.

And so, yes I’m happy to be where I am but sometimes, I love seeing the world through the eyes of a younger person.

Monday, October 15, 2007


The end of this month will bring with it Halloween, which opens the door for Thanksgiving followed by Christmas. Yes, I know, you’re not ready yet. Wasn’t it summer only a few months ago? But here it is, like it or not! And in case you were wondering how Halloween started, I’m going to give you the short version.

There are many narratives and I cannot say with certainty which one of them is true. So, here’s one – Over two thousand years ago the Celtics, who lived in European rural areas, celebrated their New Year and their ancestor night on October 31 by festival of Samhain (means summer’s end) to give thanks for their harvest and to remember their beloved dead. It was said that the veil between the world of life and death is thin the night of Oct 31st and the spirits of the dead can freely roam among the living. The Samhain festival was associated with bonfires, costumes, and leaving food out for the dead. To give nothing meant that the hungry and irritated spirit might intrude upon one's house and help itself to one's belongings. Leaving out food that had spoiled was also considered an invitation to disaster. Therefore eventually came, the ritual of trick-or-treat.

When the Romans conquered the Celtics, their festivals merged with Samhain, particularly the festival of Pomona where they picked apples without using their arms. As time passed and Christianity spread, November 1st became All Hallows day (all saints day) instead of may 13 in an effort diabolize and get rid of October 31st celebration and to replace it with one not associated with pagan rituals. Not only did this effort fail, but All Hallows eve became Halloween. As Europeans migrated to America, especially the Irish, they helped popularize the celebration of Halloween.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Walking in LA

Walking in LA can be a dangerous exercise. Taking into account the size and the traffic of Los Angeles, it’s no wonder people spend more time in their cars than they do eating, sleeping, spending quality time with their friends and family and enjoying life. These frustrated drivers, after sitting behind a light that changes six times, gas their cars with boiling tempers at the first glimpse of opportunity without regards for pedestrians’ limbs. So, in order to help out oblivious visitors with their cameras, I have come up with some helpful hints to save their lives.

Rule#1: Do not depend on walk signs because a walk sign to a driver means in case you hit someone, take off quickly so that the victim can’t sue your behind.

Rule#2: If you’re crossing the street, watch out for people making left turns and make sure you make eye contact; otherwise as soon as the road is clear of cars, they will make their turns regardless of whether or not you’re in their way. And if one of them happens to see you by chance, he or she will either give you a dirty look and flip you off or shrug and mouth the words, “sorry but I didn’t see you,” as if that makes it okay for him or her to run you over.

Rule#3: If you see cars trying to make right turns and you have the right of way, sprint or run. If you walk at a leisurely pace, they will cuss you out and if you’re lucky, they’ll brush by your pants instead of your legs.

Rule#4: If you’re planning to walk between the hours of 7-10 AM or 5-7 PM, wear an oxygen mask or start chemotherapy right away.

Rule#5: Never get in the way of drivers talking on their cell phones unless you have already drawn up a living will and are planning to commit suicide.

Rule#6: Pray, pray and pray that when you’re walking, there are visible policemen or policewomen around. And I don’t mean the ones who hide in alleys and under trees to clock drivers but the ones who drive out in the open for everyone to see. Because if there’s one thing Angelenos hate is to get tickets and have their insurance rates climb up. Hence when there’s a cop around, drivers stop quite nicely and wait for you to take as long as you please to cross the street. You can even halt and do the Salsa in front of them without hearing a word of complaint.

Well, here were briefly my rules of staying alive while crossing the streets of LA. Good luck and may the force be with you.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Bestsellers and Worst-sellers

What is it about writers, awards, reviews and ratings? If you win an award, you’re so ecstatic that you can’t focus on your writing. A good review leaves you hungry for more. Ratings are never enough. If your book ranks #20 on New York Times bestseller list, you want to be #15 and when #15, you want to be #10 and so on. Why do writers need the outside validation of their existence? We should be enough but we’re not.

In our desperate search for approval, we throw our talents to the wind and worry our hearts out to make it to the top. But what’s on the bestseller list is not necessarily better than the books that never made it to the list. To make it all the way up, you need either money or luck. If you have it, you flaunt it while pushing everyone else’s ratings down in order to get yours up and if you don’t, tough luck.

As a result, books get commercialized to death and many talented writers fall to the bottom of the slush pile and some even give up on their art. Perhaps the best thing to do is not worry so much about reviews, awards and ratings and instead keep our eyes on the ball – hard to do in a world where success is measured by our popularity and the amount of money we make. But perhaps if we stopped being concerned about the outside acceptance, we would free up our minds and could actually write something meaningful.

I don’t know and don’t have the answers. I’m just someone ranting away to no one in particular. But there is one thing I know and that is – in order for there to be winners, there must be losers, for there to be great books, there must be terrible books and for there to be bestsellers, there must be worst- sellers and so the entire winning and losing, great and terrible, best seller and worst-sellers at some point becomes nothing but a poignant agony.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Where does time go?

I wish I could bottle up time and make life go by slower. I never seem to have enough of it. One minute it’s morning and I’m enjoying a hot cup of tea and next, I’m watching Frasier at midnight while brushing my teeth to turn in. I have no idea where time goes but it goes. I was telling my friends the other day that I wish there was a way we could buy time. “Excuse me; I have some extra time, would you like to buy it?”…“Yeah sure, how much do you charge?”…“Thirty dollars for one hour.”…“I’ll buy 2 hours.”...“Anyone else who needs to buy time?”…“I need time to finish up a project at work. I’ll buy four.”…

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way and even if it did, the price of time purchase would probably skyrocket the way our gas prices have been soaring relentlessly. I guess for now, I just have to learn to enjoy the time I have. Which reminds me, I have to go now to meet up with a friend. So, cheers to all of you out there and may the universe grant you all the time you need.