Wild Eye For A Straight Guy!

I said I wanted something with red! I totally left everything to my daughter Ala to conjure something up. “Surprise me”! That’s all I said. Well lo and behold, you are now looking at my redesigned and retitled blog.

I love the 70’s Hare Krishna look! The picture was taken in India in 2001. Imagine three hundred people– men, women and children of all ages under a tent that had been put up for us. There we were in a town in rural Jaipur as special guests of the village. After welcoming us with some tea, an old man went up to all the guests and put on some rice bindi ( the mark on the forehead) on us. After that, he put turbans on all the males in the group! Thus, the picture.

Love the moving eyebrows!

Ten Thousand Things, I am presuming successfully suggests to the readers that this blog will contain a wide variety of topics, from the mundane to the enlightened (hopefully).

Thank you Ala for such a striking makeover for my new blog! If this were part of a TV show, it should be called Wild Eye For A Straight Guy! Ha ha!!

Women Of Substance

Went with Lydia, Ala and Mio to Isa Lorenzo’s photo exhibit at the plush Pacific Plaza Tower last night. It was a fundraising cocktail hosted by breast cancer survivors. There they were, women of different ages, sizes and shapes, most of them cancer graduates. They exchanged stories and experiences not unlike the way Vietnam or Iraqi veterans or survivors of some other life-changing event would, talking about their histories,wounds and scars, their medals of valor. The most recent survivors, like Lydia still had short hair, a tell-tale sign of recent chemo. I met others who were 5, 9 years in remission. It was inspiring to see them together, this Band of Sisters animated and basking in each other’s heroism.

Lydia and I were asked to give a short talk. She read a speech which she had prepared earlier about her bout with the Big C. She talked about acceptance, centering and gratitude—three things that helped her through it. I decided to go extemporaneous and I mentioned my three things; first, I pointed out that “..actually, Lydia did not have cancer, WE had cancer”, to explain how much we wanted to make the trials and anxieties of it a shared experience. Second, I talked about how paradoxically, something that brought much dread and terrible pain such as breast cancer actually turned out to have gifted us with the opportunity for greater intimacy, closeness, and prayerfulness as a family. Lastly, I expressed that the possible loss of life opened our eyes to gratitude for each day and every moment that we are allowed life together. Half- jokingly, but with a grain of some seriousness, I told the crowd that if survival could only be guaranteed, I would recommend cancer to everyone for what it has done to Lydia and our family!

As I talked and looked at the faces of the women, I could see wisdom and inner joy in many of them, and a kind of steely calm shaped by the fires of suffering and the trial of having stared death in the face and survived it. Many of them, I imagined, were just regular wives, mothers, working women, socialites who before cancer were lost in the mundane world of undramatic living. And now, here they are, transformed into women of substance and experience, cancer warriors who have taken it upon themselves to help the materially less fortunate go through the ordeal of treatment.

Much can be said about tragedy. But when handled well, it can be a great tonic for a more meaningful life. As Scott Peck so aptly put it, “sometimes, the decline in your fortune is the start of your spiritual journey.” Paradox is one of God’s crazy gifts that we must unravel and discover to appreciate. And when we do, there lies the treasure. One can almost say that there are no tragedies really, just opportunities for greater spiritual growth.

After the cocktails, we descended to North Park, a small Chinese restaurant— a venue with air less rarified than the 33rd floor of the plush Pacific Plaza Towers. It was also a good, mundane venue to digest the manifestations of the divine we had encountered earlier.

the lolo syndrome!

I have the Lolo syndrome!

I catch myself doing crazy, inane things like talking to Ananda, my grand daughter, sometimes for 20 minutes even when I don’t get a single decent word, much less a real answer from her. I gaze at her almond shaped hazel eyes which speak of a thousand wonders that she sees around her world, her killer smile that can only be caused by the presence of all the invisible angels surrounding her, and her tiny squeaks, peeps and noises that must contain more profundity than all the blabber she gets from her Lolo. By now, I surmise you’ve kinda caught on how crazy I am about my apo, how this little princess has me wrapped around her tiny fingers.

Babies have to be the most powerful people on earth! They cry and the whole house goes in a tizzy with Lola Lydia, Lolo Jim, Tita Ala, and Tito Mio all asking her mom Erica and yaya Cita what’s wrong. Sometimes, we all need to even go rushing by her side to investigate and ask in our best silly baby-talk a heartfelt “what’s wrong, baby?” I may have a headache, a bad day, busy doing something or be very tired from gym or any other activity, but the mere presence of Ananda in the room gets me up and about in a lolo mode, hovering around her and acting silly. Sometimes I wonder if Ananda ever asks in her mind why everyone in the house talks to her like she’s an idiot!!

My grandfather on my dad’s side was a lot of fun. He used to play his lolo role to the hilt. He was magical and funny and he liked to make up claims which we all liked to believe to be true. For example, he had us believing that he had no ticklish spot in his body save for his thumb! Or that one time he had suspenders so tight that his feet were floating above ground! And he had a library that was full of wonder and treasures in the eyes of this young boy who was at that time below ten. He had old stamps, “Japanese-time” money, samurai and fencing swords, strange collections of this-and that. But my favorite was a garapon, a see-through bottle which contained a lot of marbles. He would ask me to shake the bottle around so the marbles would move and expose what was hidden inside. He would laugh aloud when his young apos would blush seeing that there was a statue of a naked woman behind the marbles. An exposed boob here, a leg, a thigh there while we were all screaming with both embarrassment and guilty pleasure!

He was also very kind. He always had time for people, most especially his apos. He would sit with us and tell us fantastic, funny stories and surreptitiously put some candies or money into our pockets.

So Ananda, you better watch out! Grandfathers are more fun than parents and yes, crazier too! Your Lolo Jim had a great role model, and I intend to pass on this great legacy!