Thursday, May 31, 2018

Summer Be Gone!

Summer is not my season. I’ve never enjoyed it. It’s too hot, it’s too humid…you can see steam from the pavement and you can feel the hot air suffocating you whenever you go out of the house. It’s never been my thing. I think I need to move to another country. I heard the UK weather is the kind that would fit me. Too bad I can’t live there permanently (or can I?).

so hot even in the shade...

My friends love the summer. They love going out to the beach and indulging in all these outdoor activities fit for the weather. They always try to include me in their plans. I try my best, on the other hand, to avoid them. It’s just not my thing. I’m too fussy, especially if sand is involved. I hate the feeling of it being stuck to my clothes and I don’t enjoy swimming in salt water. Give me a chlorine-filled pool anytime (although even with that I can be picky…I prefer private pools). Beaches are not my thing. Not even Boracay could change my mind about that.

The only thing that I like about the summer season is that I don’t have my old-person issues bothering me. When it gets cold, and I mean really cold, I get pain in my hands. Some friends suggested that it’s probably carpal tunnel from working on a computer for so many years but I’m thinking it’s arthritis. Then again, isn’t that the same thing?

This is actually a new one for me. The pain – where I feel like the cold seeps into my veins and causes unimaginable pain in my hands -- started last year (this is what I get for my 40s I guess). I cried the first time that it happened. It was at night and I woke up to the pain that would not go away. I wanted to drain all the blood from the veins of my hands – it was that painful! I don't know how to describe it...let me put it this way: my threshold for pain is very high but this pain still made me cry (oh look, that rhymed!).

The pain doesn’t happen often, only when the cold is a bit on the extreme side. I think I only had it a couple of times last year. I still haven’t gotten around to seeing a doctor about it because I can’t accept that I probably have to take additional medication for this (as if my current lineup of meds is not enough). I’d rather lay off the meds because I think I’m taking way too much already for my other medical issues, but I can’t help but want to take some when the pain gets to be too much. 

With temperatures rising to 39C, you can’t blame me for not liking summer that much. You already have a fever with a temperature like that! So, despite the arthritic hands, I still prefer the cold season. The rainy season, to be more precise. 

I love the sound of rain falling on the ground. I love watching it fall from my bedroom window. I love the cold breeze that comes with the season. Even the stormy kind of rain feels good to me, calming even (as long as it doesn’t cause flooding and power outages). That’s my kind of weather. That is the weather that I love and gives me comfort. 

I can’t wait for the summer to be over. I’d love to see more rain soon. I'd take a couple of painful nights if it means having it back. There's always Flanax, right?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

My Hamilton Obsession

I mentioned in an earlier post that I sometimes use sound apps or music to focus and write. There was one time a couple of years back that this strategy helped me with an urgent and very draining work project that I needed to finish. At the time I was on a musical trip and had been listening to the Waitress cast recording when I decided to try one of the suggested albums: the Hamilton Original Broadway Cast recording. 


I listened to the songs as they were performed in the musical and it was the most amazing experience for me. At first, I appreciated the tone of the music because it helped to push me with my work. There was a sense of urgency in the story of Hamilton that resonated with the music and the songs that pushed me to work harder and I loved that.

By the time that I was midway through the musical I surprised myself by realizing that I was able to follow the story of the musical even if I was only using it as background music. I was in the middle of typing something when I listened to Say No to This and I found myself gasping at the turn of events. Still, I continued working…until I found myself stopping during the end of Blow Us All Away and during Stay Alive (Reprise). I was so moved by the moment of Philip’s death. I kid you not, I had tears in my eyes. I had to stop working for a bit during that part. It was such a powerful moment, I can’t imagine how much more I would have been moved if I had seen it live.

Since the time I first listened to the cast recording on Spotify, I have become a huge fan of Hamilton and Lin Manuel Miranda. Even my niece is a fan now. Hamilton the musical is this gift that keeps on giving. During the original Broadway performances they would regularly have the Ham4Ham performances, which were done when they had a lottery for tickets to the show. There was this one performance which was a digital Ham4Ham that they did in the White House that was a favorite of mine, because it featured one of my favorite songs in the show, Schuyler Sisters:


They have also released The Hamilton Mixtape and gave fans a contemporary take on the songs in the musical (along with some songs that didn’t make it to the musical). It was mind-blowing to find out that the song Helpless was inspired by the duets that Ashanti and JaRule used to have back in the day. Here is their version:


These days they’re also releasing Hamildrops: monthly release of songs starting January 2018. So far, my favorite Hamildrop has been First Burn, an earlier version of the song Burn from the musical as sung by five actresses who have played/been playing Eliza (including Filipina Rachel Anne Go). I love how much more R&B sounding this song is. It is much sassier than the musical version. I love it!


I hope that Hamilton will find its way to the Philippines someday soon. I can’t wait to go and watch it with my niece. It would be a highlight for me to be able to watch the musical and enjoy it while it is actually happening. I heard that the original Broadway cast has a recorded performance that will be for a planned future release (DVD?). Honestly, I don’t know what they’re waiting for, I’d love to have a copy of that now if I could and I’m sure many of the fans of the musical would want that too! 

If you enjoy musicals and you haven’t heard or listened to Hamilton, you are missing a lot (plus, where have you been hiding all this time?). This is truly one of the best musicals of our generation.



Video Credit: Hamilton: An American Musical Youtube Page

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Long Walks

One of the things that I appreciate about my life here in the province, especially in our neck of the woods, is that we can take long walks. Sure, you can do that in any part of the country, but where I’m from, I can do it without worrying about pollution, traffic or getting mugged/robbed (something that I was concerned about when I was living and working in the Metro). I think it helps that I’m from a place where everybody practically knows everybody. There’s always around 3 (or less) degrees of separation between you and any person you will run into in the neighborhood. 

When I first moved to the province, I had to adjust a bit to the whole walking thing. When I lived in the city I didn’t do much of it even if I did commute because there was always a public utility vehicle I could take to get where I needed to go. Here in the province, if people can walk to the destination, they will walk. It was surprising to find out that when you ask directions and they say you can walk to that place, they sometimes mean it is a long walk. A REALLY long walk (which is normal for them by the way). That caught me off-guard, but I’m used to it now (as opposed to the whole huffing, puffing and midway complaining that I would do wondering how much farther I had to walk to get to my destination).

a view of 1/3 of my morning walk to work

These days I walk 5-10 minutes to get to the main road where I can get a ride to and from work. Sometimes that walk can be brutal (given the summer heat these days, it really is) but sometimes it can be a good thing. During my morning walks I run into parents sending their kids off to school. Sometimes I run into a bunch of kids who are walking to school and I hear about what they were excited to do that day. Other times I’ve seen farmers getting ready to go to work on the fields and farmers who were already working on the land with their carabao. 

On my way home, my walks end up with views of people outside their homes catching up with their neighbors. Or kids on their way to the basketball court to play with their friends. I run into people and sometimes people just smile in greeting even if you don’t know them (and it’s perfectly fine/normal). It’s not creepy and it’s not weird at all. It’s a neighborly kind of thing, something that I had not experienced much of when I lived in the city.

Not only do I get to observe people (which I happen to enjoy doing) during my long walks but they also help me to have time for myself. It’s the only time when I don’t have the noise and pressure of work in my head. It’s the only time when I don’t have every responsibility hanging over my head in my thoughts. It’s just all about the walk. It’s all about me. I get to think, decompress and relax as I appreciate the world around me. 

Another thing that I love about my long walks is when I get to leave the house early or when I go home a bit late. During very early morning walks I get to see morning dew on the leaves of the tress I pass by. There is a different glow to everything early in the morning just as the sun has come up. It’s beautiful. I also get to see the beauty of mother nature when I go home just as the sun is about to set. The colors in the sky shifts from blue to various shades of orange, pink, purple and dark blue…it is never the same color every time. It’s amazing.

If not for the intense summer heat, I’d be walking a bit slower and enjoying it a bit more. These past few weeks have been too difficult for me to stroll the way I normally do. These days I tend to power/brisk walk to get to where I need to go. The faster I can get to an airconditioned room, the better. The heat is brutal!

I wish the summer would end so that I could go back to my normal walking routine (yes, I still walk even when it’s raining, which is a different experience altogether). I miss enjoying this experience. I’d love to have it back!

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