Monday, January 16, 2006

Too Much!

It bugs me, the way my face keeps staring at me all the time from over there on the right. I put it up a few days ago, thinking I looked very cute, but now I realize that it's a snigger, not a smile, there's a malicious glint in my eye, and that my teeth look monster-size and too white. Then there's the fact that I present proof of being a camera whore everywhere I post a comment on blogger. Aside from the hi, hello, i luv what u wrote!, I also leave this statement: left profile, chin slightly down, 'yan, best angle ko 'yan! Time for cosmetic surgery, then. I think I'll just put up a picture of my cats...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Name Game

Rosalinda Pertierra Lejano is the name I was baptized with. My husband loves telling that to friends and acquaintances, having them try with their Francophone tongues to pronounce all those hard consonants and abrupt vowels, especially attempt to roll their Rs. And then the coup de grace: He tells them that the name means "beautiful rose from a land far away."

"So, your life, it is predestined, yes?" Cesar proclaimed the other night. Naturally immensely flattered, I preened and I smiled, may have even fluttered my lashes ohmigosh, all in the effort to channel the spirit of Jeanette's blush pink Rosa alba.

Then yesterday the universe decided that lately I've been having too good a time and made homesickness strike. I woke up this morning cursing my parents for not having had the foresight to name me otherwise.

My preferred options: Sampaguita Satabi Ngcornerstore, Gumamela Sa Kabilangkalye, maybe even Bougainvillea Ngkapit Bahay.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Starting the New Year Happy

An indispensable tool for survival, wherever you are, whoever you're with, is the ability to have fun. So New Year's Eve we drove some 70 kilometers to a vineyard near Fourques, to welcome 2006 with three dozen others, majority of whom I was meeting for the first time, and whose names, I have to admit, I now forget. It didn't matter, as all together we gorged on oysters, drank a tremendous amount of alcohol, and danced till our feet hurt. Bonne annee!

(Top to bottom: Don't ask me who my dance partners are. With my brother-in-law Rudy. Our first New Year as the Massebieaus! Me, just after doing a Bonnie Tyler.)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

O Eto Na, Tars

Having a major lightbulb moment.

Tara called Friday, asking me to post epiphanies, those lightbulbs whose illumination we cheer as if we were stuck in Boracay in the nineties during a month-long brownout. It was my thirty-third birthday after all. So, sige na nga, eto na. And since this is for Tara, lover of lists, I enumerate:

1. Learning French is easier than you think. "C'est tres difficile, le Français," I've been told by the French themselves so many times, told with a certain air of smug superiority I might add. Well, I've been here seven months and speak well enough to be funny at dinner parties. Having spent previous vacations here, my ear is used to their nasalities, but I only really applied myself last May. There lies the secret, I think. I applied myself. It's the truth of clichés that makes them clichés: You put in the hard work, and you can do most anything you want. Plus this: It was a matter of survival. Learn French or lose my mind? I'd long ago done the latter, so there really was no other choice.

2. Dirt under my fingernails makes me happy. Seeds thrown into holes in the ground turn up in salad, stir-fries, and stews on my dinner table. There's some magic at work there. Now if only I can find a spell for ridding the garden of those nasty slugs...

3. Marriage is calming. You have to ask yourself, "Do I want to spend the rest of a lifetime getting upset because somebody plays his music too loud/leaves his dirty socks lying everywhere/disagree with me using a tone of voice I find displeasing?" You answer no, and you go out to buy headphones/think about hiring a yaya/ever so subtly raise an eyebrow in that way he knows is the signal to shut up.

4. If I were a Miss Universe contestant, I'd say "Tolerance." That should be the goal. Part of the minority for the first time in my life, I've become hyper-conscious of signs of racism. I've not found blatant discrimination against les Asiatiques, but stereotypes abound. We are perceived as a mysterious lot possesing arcane knowledge, wily and clever, the women seductive temptresses to boot, everyone capable of some mean kung-fu. Gosh, I took up some kickboxing at the gym back in Manila but that's about it.

5. Even long-distance, friends are important. Tara called yesterday, Maya remembered to pray for me. They're so sweet they make me want to cry.

6. You can take the girl out of Manila, but you can't take the bakla out of the girl. Part of New Year's Eve was spent singing Bonnie Tyler all-out, holding a blue Bic ballpoint as microphone, up the bar top and down again, then up and down the hall pausing to gently toss a balloon here, run my fingerss along some confetti there, belting for a captive audience of thirty Frenchies, many of them strangers, those not singing along looking completely stunned wondering what just hit them. Me answering, "Nothing I can say... total eclipse of the heart."

Oh, and did I mention that last week I met a real-life girl named Lavinia?

7. Nothing beats a husband who supports all your endeavors. After I'd made a complete spectacle of myself, bowed and let go of the Bic microphone, Pierre comes up, gives me a kiss, and says, "Baby, I'm proud of you."

8. You can just say no. There's this New Wave song that goes, "Why do I spend so much valuable time, with people who don't care if I, live or I die." On hindsight, that was the soundtrack of my twenties, when what my momma taught me since I was little had such strong hold, and I did my very best to smile all the time and be nice, brainwashed to think that not to like anything or anyone was a crime. The problem was exacerbated when in my late twenties I got myself a boyfriend who would go to the opening even of envelopes. Dragging me along, of course. Now, I've realized, life is precious, my time is limited, and I really don't have time for all that crap.

9. In my next life, I'm coming back as a cat. They sleep sixteen hours a day and never have to take baths. Need I say more?

10. You know you can't have all that you want... (Back home I drove a kick-ass car, a Lancer GSR, but with the impossible traffic I'd consider it driving super fast if I manage ninety kilometers an hour. Here in the country of first-world autoroutes, I clunk around in an old box-type Ford that begins to shake once I hit 120.) ...but that doesn't mean you can't keep trying for it. (New Year's resolution: Buy a red Mini-Cooper!)