Sunday, December 31, 2006

Loud Mouths

Can you hear Angie begging, "Save me..."

I've never been able to relate to other foreigners who say that they find the French distant, reserved, very polite. Most of the French I know, they're exuberant people of the south. Take, for example, Pierre's family. Christmas-eve dinner and Christmas-day lunch were, as expected, a riot, with everyone talking all at the same time and doing it throughout the meal, too.

At one point during dinner, the very beautiful but perennial malcontent Cindy, our niece, turned, rolled her eyeballs, and told me, "We're all going to end up deaf, with the noise they're making." I raised my eyebrows. "They? Cindy, you're shouting right into my ear!" I guess it runs in the family.

The volume was upped considerably by Pierre and his mom Jeanette. I always say that in a past life, they must have been married because, in this life, put them together in one room and in no time they're at it, bickering like children. No subject is too innocuous, they'll find something about it to disagree on. To such success that sometimes one ends up in tears, or the other walks out.

On the night before Christmas it was, aptly enough, firewood they got hot about about. (Of course, they had tried numerous other subjects before that, electric heating and children's party food among them. All in keeping with the spirit of the season, you understand.)

Jeanette said, pointing to the unused chimney, "Well, I was sick, so I couldn't cut firewood this winter." Pierre took the bait and responded, "You should have asked me to do it for you." Jeanette had the perfect reply: "And then I'd have had to wait a loooong time before you got it done. You're alwaaays busy." To which Pierre tried to retaliate: "But if you never tell me, it will never get done." And on and on and progressively louder for the next ten minutes.

Now, normally, I would've have just stared at my plate and folded in my toes, waiting for one or the other to give up. But I had had enough. It was Christmas. A time for peace, was it not? Summoning my newly polished language skills (I tell you, I managed to throw a couple of subjunctives in there.), I opened my mouth and uttered half a dozen carefully chosen sentences. Essentially, I practiced my French by screaming at my husband and my mother-in-law, "Shut the hell up!!!"

I felt immediate remorse, but to my surprise everyone carried on as usual, only a tad calmer. Jeanette gave me a warm hug and kisses before the night was out. When I asked him later if it was all right, Pierre told me, "Honey, don't worry about it." Then he went on to reassure me, "You're just turning into one of us." I smiled, but in my head I was still screaming: Oh! My! God!

Oh, And To Really Shock My Manila Friends...

Here is what your hot momma was up to on the afternoon of the 24th. Oh yes, I was baking peanut butter-and-chocolate cookies with Coco, Kaluna, and Angie. For Santa Claus, of course. (Are you guys dying yet?)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Why I Know I'm Getting Old, Part 2

I've started making my own holiday decoration!

2006's theme is kids' stuff, with felt stars and Angie's toys decked out in Santa hats, scarves, neckties, and edible necklaces. All this reminds me of when I was young and my family made it so that Christmases were all about arts and crafts. I like it.

Now a photo of the tree should be here, but, I've not gotten a very good picture. So let's use our imagination: It's all red glass balls and silver ribbons.

Merry Christmas to us all!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Why I Know I'm Getting Old

I went to a party last Saturday, had three glasses of wine and three glasses of champagne, which back in the sturdier days of my youth would have gotten me quite happily drunk but would not have led to what happened in this, my feeble thirties. Sunday, I was so hung over that I had to spend the entire day in bed, too weak to do anything but whine to my husband that I will never, I repeat, NEVER, drink again. He'd get a break only when he'd have to help me up to go to the bathroom where I'd retch my guts out, eliminating all that wonderfully expensive bubbly as yucky gastric juices. (Sorry for oversharing.) A day later, at another party with friends, traumatised by the weekend, in this country where you go to any supermarket and there would be an entire aisle devoted to wine and another entire one devoted to all sorts of other alcohol, I was Mrs. Scrooge, abstaining save for a teeny little bottle of brown beer.

Happy Holidays to you, too.

Speaking of Brown Beer...

Punkbear has a taste for brown Leffe beer, thus the little belly, and would like someday to travel to Japan, specifically Harajuko in Tokyo, thus the orange mohawk. Unfortunately for him, he now lives with my sister-in-law Chantal, who is not much of a traveller but can probably be persuaded to bring Punkbear along when she goes next year to Guadeloupe for a vacation. How will Punkbear's green skin tan?

This adorable weirdo is my first needle-felted creation, accomplished some months ago, but it's just today that I found where I'd misplaced his photos. Punkbear has needle-felted cat cousins, Sandrine, Chantal, and Francoise. Maybe you'll meet them soon. Hey, reader Gina, we have something in common!

Monday, December 11, 2006

We Had A Book Launch!

Philippine Speculative Fiction Anthology Volume 2 is out, girls and guys. My short fiction "Just Another Ghost Story" is in it. If you're my friend, I'm right now using emotional blackmail to make you buy it. If we don't know each other, take my word for it: It's an engaging read.

Dean Francis Alfar writes all about last Sunday's book launch here. Now I'm even more convinced that Dean is a terrific writer. Reading his entry had the miraculous effect of making me miss the great big headache that is Greenhills in December!

Dear Gwyn, it's to be found at Fully Booked, Mag:Net, Comic Quest, Ayala Museumshop, Filipinas Heritage Library, and Booktopia. Tell me what you think, ha.

Monday, December 04, 2006

UN Moments

Because I am unfortunately not the kind of girl to discuss Turkey's inclusion in the EU, here are the bits of international news that I've instead been picking up from my classmates:

1. If you ever go to a Brazilian beach, no matter what you may have heard, DON'T WEAR A THONG BIKINI. The locals are still going to be very friendly (normal, what with your bum cheeks in full display), but they'd actually be thinking, "Poor girl, she is so 1980s!"

2. Don't go saying "Kawaii" in Harajuko now. These days, the Japanese girls are screeching, "Cho kawaii!" From simply "Cute," now they're looking for stuff that's "Very cute."

3. Still in Japan and wanting to insult someone? I don't remember the exact words, but if you know some Niponggo, say the equivalent of, "Your mother's an outie!" Apparently, the Japanese are so polite you can malign someone by the state of his mom's bellybutton. (Because Kat alerted me: an "outie" is someone with a bit of flesh extending out of the bellybutton, while an "innie" is someone whose bellybutton is but a lint-filled hole.)

4. In the streets of Maryland, Virgina, in the US, always expect a certain amount of street harassment. If somebody starts wooing you with lovely muttered lines like, "Do you want to drink my love juice?" I have it on great authority that looking the pervert in the eye and shouting, "Does that get you dates?!" always works to scare the sicko away.

More of this kind of in-depth research on cultural behavior to come later this week. And acknowledgment must be extended to Prof. Abi, Ph.D.F.Ris.Bee for the title of this report.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I Know, I Know...

... I've got to stop it with the language thing already, but it just hit me again how cool it was, when there we were, a Filipina, two Brazilians, a Russian, a Suisse, three Japanese, and a Swede, drinking cups of coffee under the autumn afternoon sun, honestly enjoying each others company in a way we could never have managed had we all not decided to learn another foreign language. Parler Fran├žais rocks.

P.S. Katrina, you're right. If you ever have kids, you have to raise them elsewhere. The twentysomethings I'm hanging out with actually have opinions about such things as whether Turkey should be allowed membership in the EU. I can just see them start hemmorhaging from the brain if forced to watch Eat Bulaga!