Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One Third

I look back on the decade that is just about to pass and have found that my life these past ten years has been defined by one major thing: Medicine.

Considering that 10 years is roughly one third of my current lifetime, that's a heck of a long time.

Unlike other med people - probably more well adjusted than I was - entering medicine was like going into a state of suspended animation, a kind of extended adolescence. Life and the world marched inexorably on as I was immersed in an educational system that looked more like high school than it did university - same classmates in one huge lecture hall within a small campus, volumes of books to read, endless exams, day in and day out.

My world, not already incredibly big to begin with, grew ever smaller - maybe partly by necessity, but defintely because of circumstance.

It didn't change much with the transition to hospital life. 24 hour duties, 36 hour days being flat out with patient care on top of the academic load didn't really leave me much time or energy to spare. Add to that the fact that most of my friends were from this little world as well, and there really wasn't much impetus to see what else was beyond it.

For me, staying focused on the end-goal was also defending my sanity - something that kept me from questioning why the hell I was doing what I was doing. Which is probably why I railroaded myself straight into residency, 3 more years of same as the above.

It's no wonder that I was a certified basket case at the end of it. MD and Diplomate cerificates in hand, to be sure, but a basket case nonetheless, scratching her head in bewilderment at where all the years had gone and wondering if she even ever wanted what she got.

I decided two years ago to break the pattern, do the unexpected, and get the hell out. In a manner of speaking. Which has brought me here.

I've spent the last two years of the decade out in the real world, but with one foot still inside the door of medical life. Oddly enough, I must admit to feeling a little lost now that my work has stopped being the defining force in my life, but it has been a good time. I still haven't quite figured out if I want what I've gotten or if I really want to go where I'm going but I've found that I can ease up on the quest a little, enjoy the slower and meandering pace, and still keep my sanity.

All that being said, guess what? I'm going back to training next year. It will be, basically, starting from scratch. As if ten years weren't enough.

Crazy, I know. I guess there's a very real, very influential masochist living inside my head. I'm doing it partly because I don't see any real reason not to and partly because it's the only logical way I can actually stay here for the meantime. I'm still not sure what I real end goal is... but hopefully, it won't take me another ten years to figure things out.

Wish me luck.
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Studying Out

I have recently discovered the joy of literally studying out.

I have the really bad habit of needing to be outside the house to be able to get some decent studying done. Which sounds like a paradox to people who need quiet and isolation to focus, but makes perfect sense to my kindred souls who need stimulation apart from our reading material to keep us awake. That and absolutely no access to the temptation of our beds. I learned to devour academic data in coffee shops through med school and residency, and Starbucks has my undying gratitude for helping me pass two major medical boards.

Unfortunately, there is no Starbucks in Perth - and no coffee shop that would be sympathetic and allow anyone to park at a table all day and night after ordering just 2 cups of coffee. Sure, we have libraries, but even quiet libraries can sometimes trigger a really bad case of claustrophobia.

Fortunately, a picnic blanket spread upon the lawn of any of Perth's beautiful parks is almost just as good, if not better.

I'm not going to lie, studying somewhere surrounded by beauty and activity can be quite distracting. But once you've gotten into the swing of things, it's just like being in a coffee shop - only you're sprawled on a picnic blanket instead of hogging a table.

The downside to this is that this study position is conducive to unscheduled naps - and the propensity towards sunburn. The upside is that it's free... and you can even bring your own coffee. And people-watching serves as a great sanity break.

I really can't wait for Spring.
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Sunday, August 02, 2009

My Yellow Ribbon for Cory

I'm breaking my silence to tie a virtual yellow ribbon for former President and heroine, Corazon C. Aquino.

I wasn't even in first grade when Ninoy died; was just barely in grade school when the EDSA Revolution happened. The years of Cory's presidency were for me, a young girl with a very short-sighted view of the world, a long series of coup attempts and hours-long power interruptions.

It used to always make me wonder why Dad, who usually views politicians with well-deserved cynism, continued to view Cory with utmost respect and only admiration. This, despite the fact that towards the end of her term, her beleaguered administration was derided by the critics from all sides. But for all that can be said about her administration, Cory remained straight - and relinquished power at the end of her term with the same grace she had reluctantly taken it.

It was only on hindsight many years later that I actually came to appreciate her legacy - and how her courage to stand as a beacon in what seemed to be unremitting darkness allowed me to now have the freedoms that I enjoy today.

Whether one believes in Fate or in God, it cannot be denied that her passing comes at a time when the memory of that one glorious moment in time - when the Filipino people came together and showed the world the best of themselves - is so sorely needed. As we remember her and mourn her passing, I hope that in recalling her life and what she stood for, we may be inspired to be our best selves and once more take hold of our nation's destiny with the same courage and conviction.

Paalam, President Aquino. You make me proud to be Filipina.
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Thursday, June 04, 2009

The More Things Change

Oh. Just in case you guys missed it... yes, I'm back home for my first visit in over a year. And, yes, despite my current infatuation with the city I've been living in for the past year, the Philippines will always be home.

It's only been a year; nothing much has changed. There's still too much pollution, too much traffic, too much noise, too many people crowding the streets. Not much has been added to infrastructure, except perhaps another slew of newly opened super malls and new "in" places for the well-heeled to hang out. A year is not such a long time to be away after all.

But time has definitely marched on for the people I love and have come home to.

My parents look a lot older than they did before I left. My dad's hair is a little bit grayer and he moves a lot slower now. My mother has a few more lines on her face than she had just a year ago.

Change has been making the rounds among the friends I left behind, too. Suddenly tables were now filled with new faces - babies, husbands and boyfriends accompanying friends who used to come to them alone. My batchmates, who are all a year and a half into their fellowship training, are different because of the experience and knowledge that they have gained.

I sit among them, thinking of these changes that I see, and wonder if they see any changes in me. It's odd, because I feel that in a lot of ways, ever since I got off the madly spinning world I was on, I have been standing still. Despite my desire to live more of life by being in my limbo, part of me feels that my life is still on hold.

All of them seem to be pretty clear about what they want and where they are going. I haven't quite figured out where I want to be a few months from now.

And yet despite the changes, I am glad to be here with them again. My life has been blessed with the people I've met and become friends with in my new city. But it is good to know that there are people I can always come home to and know I'll always be welcome.
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Monday, June 01, 2009


Manila Traffic photo by tadzima

There is no other word to appropriately describe Manila traffic.

I'm going be the annoying, complaining, stereotypical Pinoy ex-pat just this once and not be apologetic for it... I need the stress release after just having had the most harrowing time trying to get back into the Pinoy driver every-man-for-himself mindset - easily translated as "Kill or be road kill."

Maybe cars don't go quite as fast in Manila as they do in Oz. But over there, I don't have to contend with fellow drivers who think they're either in some rally race or in Enchanted Kingdom's bumper car ring. There are no jeepneys that swerve from the middle of the road to pick up passengers on the sidewalk with absolutely no warning. There are no buses bearing down on you like huge angry monsters trying to bully you into submission by using their size.

There are no insane pedestrians that come out of nowhere and dart in front of your car just as the lights have changed. No motorcycle drivers or cyclists with death wishes who use the narrowest of spaces in between cars with no caution or heed. And it's unheard to sit in traffic for one hour covering a distance that can actually be driven in 10 minutes elsewhere.

It's utter chaos.

Try as I might, I don't think I'll ever understand the psychology of Manila traffic. Allowing one car to move ahead of you in a traffic queue seems tantamount to having one's teeth pulled. "Giving way" is a concept that seems completely foreign to us Pinoys driving in Manila - probably because any driver who practices "giving way" here will never get anywhere because other drivers will mark him as a wuss and run all over him.

I'm not sure we've realized the sheer ill logic of our behavior. We refuse to follow traffic rules because we figure no one else does so, hence not following the rules will probably get us to where we want to go in a shorter amount of time. But it's actually our refusal to follow traffic rules that increases traffic snarls exponentially - and gets all of us stuck in our cars, wasting precious time sitting in traffic jams unimaginable to anyone who's never been in one.

Driving in Manila again after just six months of driving in Perth, where traffic rules are not merely suggestions and where "rush hour congestion" means moving at 60 kph on an 80 kph road, has been akin to being thrown back into hell after experiencing a fleeting taste of paradise.

This is definitely not something that I've missed.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

An Exercise in Futility

Must buckle down. Must your get ass in gear. Must find some direction.

Maybe later.

Not getting any younger. Life's not getting any easier. The world is passing you by. Everyone is moving full speed ahead while you stand there, contemplating the next course of action.

So what?

It would be healthy if you were standing still for the right reasons. But are you sure you aren't just letting your fear of screwing up your life keep you from going after what you really want?

But isn't that the problem? I don't even know what I really want. How I can I go after something if I don't know what to go after?

You're just making excuses not to apply yourself again. What are you afraid of?

What about getting something then realizing that it's not what I wanted after all?

You're hopeless! I give up!

That, at least, is something we agree on. I think it may be time to look for a therapist...

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009


My year here has gone by with astonishing speed. I've made no secret of the fact that the time I've spent here has been nothing short of idyllic. Despite working a steady job and finally getting a life, my time here has been something of a vacation.

In this meantime, I've been able to hold off making some major decisions. I've been able to settle into life without a plan, without a map, and no clear vision of what I will be doing, say, 5 years from now. It's all still an absolute blank.

Is it all the open-endedness that is making me suddenly feel very antsy? Or is it because I am more of a free spirit than I actually thought and that the possibilities are the driving force behind my vague restlessness?

It's crazy. It's radical. It may be the by-product of an insanity resulting from suddenly being lost after being stuck on a plan for most of my life. At an age when I should be thinking about settling down, acquiring assets, making a family... I'm having fantasies about leaving medicine and working as a barista as I move from one country to another, seeing the world one city at a time.

Okay, maybe that's a little bit extreme... but you guys sort of get the picture.

I'd been conditioned to have very definite views on where I would be at this particular point in my life... done with my schooling and on the way to being established in my career; married to a stable, reliable guy; getting started on the 2.5 kids - pretty much on the way to living a comfortable, if ordinary, happily ever after. I'd always fancied myself as a home-and-hearth type of person, and I know I'm the kind of person who will always need to put down roots. I won't lie that I don't want all of the above someday - because I do. But...

Maybe not just yet.

I recently had lunch with a younger but wiser friend of mine - who has lived a much more interesting life than I have even if I have almost a decade of living over him. This is one of the perks of living in a land where people are all raised to indulge their wanderlust. Ozzies, I've found, are born nomads. Maybe it's because they have so much space to roam in.

There I was, whinging about how lucky he was that he could just up and go wherever he wanted on a whim, when he cut me off with a very succint, "And who told you that you couldn't?"

I started to give him a list. Society, family, my own need for security, blah, blah, blah... to which he countered, "But all of that is in your mind. Can't you do what you want and still be living up to people's expectations?"

Tantalizing thoughts.

His last piece of advice to address my restlessness? "Maybe it's just time for you to move again."

The roads are open, the possibilities - while not endless - do exist.
This is not me. I hate change. I don't want to go to another city and start over... do I?
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Saturday, May 09, 2009


Part of the Bibbulmun Track going through Pemberton's karri forest, Pemberton WA.
Taken with my Nikon D40.

I got this off a Facebook tag that one of my friends completed. Since I've always loved those sentence completion psych evaluations, it was too good to resist.

But apart from being such a good writing prompt (yes, I am still smack dab in the middle of writer's block), I like its congruence with my current thoughts as I look back on this past year - and look forward to growing another year older, if not much wiser.

1. I've come to realize that my hands... do good work.

2. I've come to realize that my job... is something that I actually enjoy most days despite my protests to the contrary.

3. I've come to realize that when I'm driving... I am comfortable with not really knowing exactly where I'm going and enjoy the journey wherever it takes me - even if I get lost every now and then.

4. I've come to realize that I need... to be more confident in myself about what I can do and what I can offer and be proud of how far I've come - and be less reliant on the approval and opinion of others.

5. I've come to realize that I've lost... some tinting off my rose-colored glasses.

6. I've come to realize that I hate it when... people don't do what they say they're going to do when they say they're going to do it.

7. I've come to realize that the person/people I like... give me a different perspective of life as I know it.

8. I've come to realize that money... makes it easier for a doctor in training not to feel pressured about getting to the next level of training.

9. I've come to realize that people... respond well to being wished a good day, even by a complete stranger.

10. I've come to realize that I'll always be... a person who will value having roots.

12. I've come to realize that my mom... does the best she can.

13. I've come to realize that my cell phone... is often better off inside my locker the whole day.

14. I came to realize when I woke up this morning... that I'd have another sleepless night tonight. Arrrgh, night shifts!

15. I came to realise last night before I went to sleep that... I am causing my muscles to tighten up by sleeping on the office chairs.

16. I've come to realize that right now I am thinking about... whether or not I'm ready to move on to the next level - and another place - and I'm terrified.

17. I've come to realize that my dad... means well but worries too much.

18. I've come to realize that when I get on Facebook... it closes the distance between me and my friends.

19. I've come to realize that today... I've put off doing things that needed doing - again.

20. I've come to realize that tonight... I will be working again.

21. I've come to realize that tomorrow... is overbooked with friend-time after having days upon days to myself this past week.

22. I've come to realize that I really want to... explore the possibilities for a while longer.

23. I've come to realize that life... is much richer when you go at it full on.

24. I've come to realize that this weekend... is such a gift of fine weather on what should be the middle of fall. Yes, my beaches beckon!

25. I've come to realize that (my ex) all my "never was-es"... was just Fate's way of leading me here.

26. I've realized the best music to listen to when I am upset... would be something I can sing to.

27. I've come to realize that my friends... the real ones, will always be my friends.

28. I've come to realize that the past year... has seen my life open up in ways I never imagined.

29. I've come to realize that the last person I kissed... sadly, I probably won't get to kiss again.

30. I've come to realize that when people walk out of my life... they leave a space that no one else will ever be able to fill.

31. I've come to realize that my most memorable age was when I was... this year. :)

32. I've come to realize I will not trade... financial security for happiness.

33. I've come to realize that I like... being me.

34. I've come to realize that I cannot leave home without... a sense of adventure and a sense of humor.

35. I've come to realize that the sports I like... I have to completely zone in to - and lets me forget everything else going on in my life while I'm doing them.

36. I've come to realize that the top three things I find attractive are...
someone with an insight born of having lived life to the full and appreciating all that he's experienced so far, a sense of humour, and a positive outlook.

37. I've come to realize that ... even at my age, I'm young - and life has really just begun.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I Don't Feel Like Dancing...

For most of this year, I've felt positive, energized, and empowered.

Today just hasn't been one of those days.

I should be thankful that my city by the water has made it so easy to embrace solitude. It's hard to feel lonely alone when surrounded by reminders of how beautiful the world actually is. I get worried sometimes that being here has made it so frighteningly easy to be content in my own company.

But there are days when even being close to my beloved ocean, running by the river, or lying on the grass in one of Perth's myriad open spaces staring at the bright blue sky all fail to soothe.

And those times I just feel alone - and wonder what the hell I'm doing here.

Middleton Beach, Albany early on an overcast morning, taken with my Nikon D40

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blogthings 2

You Should Date An Australian!

You're a down to earth, outdoorsy kind of girl

And you need a guy who can keep up with your adventures

A rugged Australian guy is just your style

Better start learning how to surf!

Looks like I've managed to come to the right place! :)

I'm sorry... I've been suffering from a case of writers' block. I blame it on overdosing on physical activity and recuperating from a really bad cold. Oh, and maybe an excess of Facebook.

Speaking of Facebook, if you're a friend of mine over there, you'll know just how addicted I am to the quizzes. That is, if you haven't deleted me from your news feed just yet. I know it's ridiculous - some of those quiz-makers can't ever spell right! Still, I find the quizzes hard to resist. And so do a good number of other people, otherwise there wouldn't be such an application.

In the spirit of my quiz addiction, I am breaking my blogging drought with an onslaught of quiz results from Blogthings. How close to the truth are they? You decide. ;)

As for the dating an Australian... got to find him first. Maybe I SHOULD take up surfing...!

You Are Rocky Road Ice Cream

Unpredictable and wild, you know how to have fun.

You're also a trendsetter who takes risks with new things.

You know about the latest and greatest - and may have invented it!

You are most compatible with vanilla ice cream.

You Are a Burrito

You're not a picky person. You're able to go with the flow and really enjoy life.

You have a taste for the exotic, and you're quite adventurous. You're willing to try almost anything.

You're very low maintenance. You don't mind getting a bit messy if it means having fun.

You aren't superficial or easily impressed. Someone has to be the real deal if they're going to impress you.

Your Heart Doesn̢۪t Need Love Now

You are attracted to those who are unbridled, untrammeled, and free.

In love, you feel the most alive when your partner is patient and never willing to give up on you.

You'd like to your lover to think you are loyal and faithful... that you'll never change.

You would be forced to break up with someone who was emotional, moody, and difficult to please.

Your ideal relationship is lasting. You want a relationship that looks to the future... one you can grow with.

Your risk of cheating is zero. You care about society and morality. You would never break a commitment.

You think of marriage as something precious. You'll treasure marriage and treat it as sacred.

In this moment, you think of love as something you don't need. You just feel like flirting around and playing right now.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dreams in the Dusk

Dreams in the dusk,
Only dreams closing the day
And with the day’s close going back
To the gray things, the dark things,
The far, deep things of dreamland

Dreams, only dreams in the dusk,
Only the old remembered pictures
Of lost days when the day’s loss
Wrote in tears the heart’s loss.

Tears and loss and broken dreams
May find your heart at dusk.

* * * *

Sometimes a sunset is a beautiful counterpoint to true solitude. Sometimes, it is somewhere where one's heart can feel loneliest.

To me, it's often a little of both.

(Woman on Sorrento Beach at dusk, taken using my Nikon D40.)

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Somewhere to Go on a Day Off

It's true, almost all malls here close at 5pm except on late night trading days and aren't even open on Sundays. If you don't like the scene at your local pub, you have to drive a good bit to get to where the real night life is (a bummer because it puts a crimp on your drinking). The central business district is literally a ghost town by 6 pm. I've been here almost a year, and some of my friends still can't fathom how I can survive in a place totally devoid of the buzz and bustle that is Manila without going out of my mind with boredom.

But what do I need all of the above for, when I can get to my own patch of paradise in less than an hour whenever I feel like it?

Due to the vastness of the WA coastline relative to the number of people living in it, you can pretty much drive anywhere along the coast, pick your patch of sand, and stake your claim on it for the day. It's almost as good as having your own private beach. And because Perth often gets picture-perfect, clear-blue-sky weather for most of the year, blowing a day off on the beach is just too hard to resist.

No wonder living here has totally fed my addiction.

This particular piece of paradise is on Safety Bay in the city of Rockingham, about a 60 minute drive from the Perth CBD but just a little under 40 minutes via freeway from where I live - and obviously one of my most frequent stops.

Creamy sand, clean blue-green waters, and a gently sloping shoreline with no dangerous undertow and no surf - yes, reminiscent of Boracay. It's perfect for forsworn water babies who aren't very strong swimmers like me. And because it's a fair distance from the Rockingham cafe strip, even on perfect summer day, I hardly have to share the beach with anyone.

Less than a ten minute drive up the road takes you to Shoalwater Marine Park, where scuba divers and snorklers can have a field day among shipwrecks and cavernous reefs surrounding the islands. I've never done it myself - but give me time, I'll get around to brushing up on my swimming skills and getting down there eventually.

In the meantime, I get my eye candy even on land as the scenic drive itself packs a wallop. The following shots (including the one above) were taken off the lookout on Cape Peron, which is also part of the Shoalwater Marine Park and a popular snorkeling spot. Even then, there aren't too many people - and it's so easy to get lost in the feeling that there's no one here but you and nature.

Back home, to get to somewhere similar to this, you'd have to travel at least as far out as Batangas - which means two to three hours of aggravation on the South Expressway.

And to think that this is just one of the stretches of coastline I frequent when I find myself staring a beautiful day in the face with no definite plans. I know, I know, I'm biased, being such a self-proclaimed beach freak living in a place where I can choose a beach to suit my mood. And once I've found my spot, it's mine, all mine!

Yes, I'm spoiled. Is it any wonder why I am absolutely in love?
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Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Therefore, dear friend, embrace your solitude and love it.

Endure the pain it causes and try to sing out with it. For those near to you are distant, you say.

That shows it is beginning to dawn around you; there is an expanse opening about you. And when your nearness becomes distant, then you have already expanded far: to being among the stars.

Your horizon has widened greatly.

Rejoice in your growth.

No one can join you in that.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

* * * *

Taken in Middleton Beach in Albany, WA, early on an overcast morning, using my Nikon D40 Click here to read the rest of this post.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Living in my Now

with my race buddy, Adam

I did it! Number 824 finished her 10 kilometer run in one hour, nine minutes and change, and hardly winded at the finish line. Who'd have thought I'd be doing something like this just one year later? Certainly not me.

I know, I know, 10 kilometers is hardly a marathon - and, to hard-core running enthusiasts, not really much to crow about. But if someone had asked me this same time last year to put on a pair of track shoes and gear up for a 5 kilometer WALK, I'd have told them that they were out of their mind.

I've always been a big fan of metaphors for describing my life. And, to date, there's no better metaphor for my now than having finished a 10 kilometer course, running all the way. Something I'd never even dreamed of doing - and have now done.

My list is hardly be the stuff adventure movies are made of, given what a sheltered, limited life I've confined myself to so far. It's been a huge effort to lock away my inner mouse - that afraid, high-strung part of myself that's always telling me I should be serious and get back into the rat race because I'm running out of time - and to embrace my impulsive, fun-loving, i-can-do-anything inner goddess just looking out for the next new adventure.

The transition from being a mouse to goddess (ha!) takes a bit of easing into when one has been living the life of a mouse (and by choice) for far too long. My mouse and my goddess often have roaring fights, let me tell you, and I still find myself stuck and dithering smack in the middle. But I'm making the effort to choose the braver option more and more.

Like driving at speeds greater that 100 kilometers per hour. Flying off to the other side of the continent on impulse. Wearing a bikini top (but with board shorts, hey! I wouldn't want anyone to lose their lunch) at the beach. Exploring my new city completely solo - and loving the whole experience. Being utterly comfortable being on my own. Opening myself up to the option of uprooting myself once again and starting over in another city.

I've heard it said somewhere that the most important journeys lead us further into ourselves - and they usually happen exactly where we are at the moment. I had to travel 5,179 kilometers from home to take that journey - and while I haven't found all of myself yet, I'm slowly but surely getting there. And adding more to my list of never-would-have-dones along the way.

Yes, I can say that my middle of nowhere, as I live in my now, is a truly great place to be.

* * * *

A contribution to Ligaya's The TBR MD's: Their Lives and Letters.

As a post-script, to make this post fit in to what she's looking for - and for the curious to find out exactly where I was just a year before, I've linked some key blog entries chronologically leading up to this one - just so you guys have an idea what a long journey I've been on since a year ago, if you have the time to read. :)

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Friday, April 03, 2009

100 Truths About Me

I know I shouldn't indulge my emotional exhibitionism more than I already am, but these tags are just so hard to resist sometimes!

Marj, knowing my Achilles' Heel and guilty pleasure, has sent me a king-sized one to romp around on.

001. Name → Mariclaire (no, it's NOT Marie Claire, it's not Mary Claire - I have yet to see someone with a spelling like mine. It's good in theory to have a uniquely spelled name, but you won't believe the troubles I run into when I'm applying for official stuff. News Bulletin, folks, I've been in school for more than half my life... I know how to spell my own name!)

002. Nickname(s)→ Claire, Clairebear, Cleng (don't start!)

004. Zodiac sign → I am a textbook Taurus

005. Male or female → Guess. :P

006. Elementary, 007. Middle School, 008. High School → Poveda Learning Centre

009. College School - University of the Philippines Diliman for pre-med... then UP Manila for medical school and residency (12 years in the UP system, my gyud!)

010. Hair color → Dark brown

011. Long or short → super long now. I can't wait to get home and get a styled cut!

012. Loud or Quiet → Loud. Sometimes my friends wish I have a volume-control knob. It comes from being a part of a loud and argumentative family.

013. Jumpers or Jeans → Jeans! (Will anyone really answer otherwise?)

014. Phone or Camera → depends where I am, what I'm doing, and what my mood is. :)

015. Health freak → I try! But I can't shake the poor eating habits...

016. Drink or Smoke? → smoke, never. drink, when the occasion arises, I drink a fair bit.

017. Do you have a crush on someone? → Are we talking celebrity crush or real-life crush? I *heart* Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) from Supernatural. As for a real life crush, my life is totally devoid of regularly seen eye candy at this time...

023. First piercing → The only ones, actually. Both earlobes, as soon as I was born. And I have no plans of getting any more, thank you very much.

024. First best friend → Angel, our next door neighbor. We've lost touch, though. :(

025. First award → good question. I cannot for the life of me remember! :)

026. First crush → I started fairly late, celebrity crushes or otherwise! I remember finding Charlie Sheen really cute a long, looooong time ago - when I was 11, I think.

027. First pet → we've always had dogs at home. Lady, our German Shepherd, was probably the earliest one I could remember.

028. First big vacation → Melbourne, Australia, 1982.

030. First big birthday → My 18th birthday (come out party), complete with the princess gown and the cotillion de honor. If only I didn't let myself be steamrolled into picking lilac as theme - I wanted blue! But it turned out nice anyway. The most fun I've had in a party without any alcohol! ;P

049. Eating → leftover vegetarian pizza for breakfast(i know, i know - why did i bother, right?)

050. Drinking → a can of Coke Zero - my caffeine shot for the morning

052. I'm about to → take a shower and prepare for work (bummer!)

053. Listening to → the sound of that strong wind howling outside

054. Plans for today → Work, do a light work out at the gym on the elliptical machine and lift some weights, have an early night because I'm working Saturday, too.

055. Waiting for → my housemate to get out of the shower so I can use it.

058. Want kids? → I think so. Though raising one seems like a terrifying idea.

059. Want to get married? → I think so. Not quite yet, though. Not just because I haven't found the right person (which is a pretty valid reason!), but because I've just learned to really enjoy being single. I'm just going with the flow in regards to this issue these days...

060. Careers in mind → Already a doctor and internist... but as to where I want to practice? still all the way up in the air.


068. Lips or eyes → Eyes. I like the deep dark eyes of my Asian origins, but if I go Caucasian, I am very partial to blue.

070. Shorter or taller - Taller than me. That won't be so hard!

072. Romantic or spontaneous → A bit of both, I think. But if i had to pick one, spontaneous. I don't think pathologic planners would appreciate my flights of randomness...

073. Nice stomach or nice arms → It doesn't really matter much, really. :P

074. Sensitive or loud → A sense of humor that I get!

075. Hook-up or relationship → I don't think I am capable of a casual hook-up. I tend to get attached!

076. Trouble maker or hesitant → a bit of a trouble maker, but not a too-serious one. I sometimes need a bit of a push to try to new things outside my comfort zone!

080. Lost glasses/contacts → Don't wear either.

081. Ran away from home → Never. No enough of a rebel, I'm afraid!

082. Held a gun/knife for self defense → Our nanny once gave my sister and I a knife each when we wouldn't stop fighting and told us to kill each other. It was a pretty effective way of getting us both to stop.

083. Killed somebody → When you're starting out as a doctor, there's always a part of you that blames yourself for everything that goes wrong.

084. Broke someone's heart → Probably not.

085. Been arrested → Never. I have managed to wheedle my way out of traffic violations here and there, though.

087. Cried when someone died → Always.

089. Yourself → On occasion. Most of the time, I always think the worst.

090. Miracles → Yes. Some things feel too much like "gift" to be coincidence.

091. Love at first sight → No, I think it's just a Hollywood ploy. How can you love someone you don't know? How can you know someone you've just met?

092. Heaven → Yes

093. Santa Claus → until I was 7 and I caught my parents out.

094. Tooth Fairy → Never. I missed out on that particular money making scheme!

095. Kiss on the first date - I don't know... probably not. Conservative! ;P Then again...

097. Is there one person you want to be with right now → I can give you a whole list... not hard to do when you live so far from home.

098. Are you seriously happy with where you are in life → At the moment, yes! But I'm beginning to feel a familiar restlessness coming on...

099. Do you believe in God → Yes

What happened to number 100? Oh, I'm supposed to tag people. Anyone who wants to grab the tag can grab it... come on, you know you want to!

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Uh Oh

Look what came in the mail today.

I can't believe I've actually signed up for my first ever organized run. And, what's more, committed to doing a distance I've never even managed to do to date - 10 kilometers. I haven't even been running that regularly or properly these days! Just doing 5k has been an absolute struggle. What if I come in dead last in a field of 1000 plus?

Maybe I've bitten off more than I could chew. Maybe I should chuck the number in the bin and just forget about the whole thing.

On the other hand, who the heck will care if I come in dead last? Even then, it's already pretty amazing if I finish it at all whether at a walk or a run - considering where I was (both in my life and fitness-wise) exactly this time last year.

Backing out would be an insult to the person I've grown up to be this past year. And wasn't it just last year, when I was preparing to come over, that I also felt like I'd bitten off more than I could chew?

So, yeah, I guess I am going to be keeping my number - and pinning it to my singlet next Sunday when I do the run. I may be the slowest one there that day, but by hook or by crook, I am going to make it across that finish line... just to prove to myself that I actually can.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Song for the Meantime

It's probably a reflection of the loss of my expressive abilities that I constantly relate my life-in-progress to existing songs. I guess it's easier for me to use someone else's words and music rather than thinking up some of my own - because it's not as if I would be saying anything that hasn't been said before.

These days, I've obviously taken to channeling Sarah Mclachlan. Her haunting voice and the poetry of her songs are a perfect foil to where I am at the moment. The song that follows is from her "Afterglow" album, which is, for me, probably her best one. Moody, brooding, painfully honest songs that hit the heart of the matter, dead center.

Some things, like heartbreak and music, are simply universal.

Sarah McLachlan

Night lift up the shades
let in the brilliant light of morning
but steady there now
for I am weak and starving for mercy
sleep has left me alone
to carry the weight of unravelling where we went wrong
it's all I can do to hang on
to keep me from falling
into old familiar shoes

how stupid could I be
a simpleton could see
that you're no good for me
but you're the only one I see

love has made me a fool
it set me on fire and watched as I floundered
unable to speak
except to cry out and wait for your answer
but you come around in your time
speaking of fabulous places
create an oasis
dries up as soon as you're gone
you leave me here burning
in this desert without you

how stupid could I be
a simpleton could see
that you're no good for me
but you're the only one I see

everything changes
everything falls apart
can't stop to feel myself losing control
but deep in my senses I know

how stupid could I be
a simpleton could see
that you're no good for me
but you're the only one I see

There's no point in fighting these things, really. All that's left is to ride it out and hope that this song for the meantime will change - and soon.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Welcome to the Real World

To the new set of Clinician Wanna-Bes:

You've probably been waiting on this day for years. Some of you from the day you started medical school; most of you for even longer than that, from the moment you made that firm decision to become a doctor.

After years of hard studying, sleepless nights, and sacrifice, you finally have that crisp diploma in your hand, the hood symbolizing your new status pinned on your toga. Now you can choose to slip on that coveted white coat and apply what you've studied by beginning your practice as you've dreamed of doing.

Congratulations. You've made it through the easiest part of your journey. Welcome to the real world - where the worst is still to come.

Reality is that despite all your exposure and experience as a student, being a doctor is nothing like being in medical school. You will never really know what it is like to be a doctor until you have a patient who is entirely in your hands.

All at once, all the things you thought you knew recedes into the background and everything you know you don't know suddenly takes up center stage. Faced with a patient who hangs on your every word and takes everything you say as gospel just because you're finally wearing that white coat, all five years of learning the science of medicine is negated by everything you didn't learn about the practice of it. And when you need the most to deliver, you are appalled by the thought that 80% of the time, you're bluffing your way through it and praying with all your might that what you did, what you thought, what you said was right.

Reality is that we all have to start out this way... because medicine is about practice and experience, and that the mistakes we make with our patients along the way ensures that we'll be able to make a difference in more patients' lives in the future. Be encouraged by the thought that even the consultants we admire the most or are most impressed with started out exactly the same way.

The more patients you handle, the better you get - at learning, at practicing... and yes, even at bluffing. But despite the growth in your confidence and skill, that staggering terror at the weight of responsibility will never completely go away. Which is a good thing because no matter what we are doing or where we are practicing, it will keep us on our toes. It will drive us to keep our edge, to stay updated, to keep on learning.

You will not always be a young doctor. And doctors only get better with time. But you will have moments - many of them - when you will wonder if your heart can endure the seasoning it will take to become a good doctor... or even if that is what you want to become in the long run. There will be many heartbreaks along the way and your heart will sustain many scars before you are through. And reality is the process of becoming never really ends. It's a lifelong process.

But as real as the challenges are, the joys of practice are also there to be mined to the fullest as well. So take heart and know that it is actually in this real world of medical practice that the best is also always still to come.

Good luck and enjoy the journey!

A contribution to Gigi's TBR at hosted at The Last Song Syndrome - A Letter to the New Medical Graduates

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nine Months

me, trying to bring home an image of Bunker Bay (Dunsborough, WA)

It's hard to believe nine months have passed since I began my "great adventure." Nine months since I'd packed my bags and come to this city I'd never seen with nothing but 2 suitcases and the clothes on my back, armed with nothing but the vague hope that doing this "one brave thing" would open up my life. Nine months into the year I said I'd give myself to breathe.

Time has certainly flown - and, to a great extent, I along with it.

In these past nine months, I've fallen in love with this city on the water, with its slow pace, easy rhythms, and stunning beauty. I've learned to appreciate the value of being on my own and, conversely, to open my heart to precious friends that would once have been so "other" to me. More importantly, I've learned to revel in the gift of this solitude, and to be more forgiving and loving to the "me" that's slowly emerging from her long time hiding place.

Nine months later and I can't believe how far away I am from the straight and narrow road I'd complained about walking on all my life. I've never been more aimless, yet I also don't remember ever feeling as free.

On the other hand, I'm no closer to a definite long term plan now than I was nine months ago. I may have signed on for another two years with my current job, but I'm still thinking in terms of living from the next few months to the next.

I know I have to start sorting out my life, to get into a training track while the opportunities are there. While I love my life here in Perth and cannot imagine leaving, I also know that it's time I started exploring my options. I know I have it in me to start over once more in another hospital, even another city, if that's where the opportunities are - I know because I've done it once.

So, no, I'm not yet up to making plans. But I am open to more possibilities - wherever they may lead me. Who knows where I'll be even just another nine months from now? The thought terrifies me, but it's heartening to realize that no matter where I'll be, I know I can handle it.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Landing with a Splat

Modern pop culture will never run out of material to peddle romantic love upon hapless, easily influenced people. Whether it's in the form of the ubiquitous boy-meets-girl-and-they-live-happily-ever-after rom com movie, the prolific body of romance fiction, the music we listen to, the ads we see... yes, the whole process of falling in love has been beaten to death - and yet, we all still suck it in.

What they don't tell you, though, is that for a good number of people in the world, the whole romantic love thing often ends with one landing with one huge splat.

It's so easy to be cynical about the whole love thing these days. How can't I be when I'm surrounded by long-standing relationships falling apart? I recently took care of a patient who had recently divorced his wife of more than 50 years - he's 73. How does anyone get divorced at 73? Talk about disposable.

I've always been pretty pragmatic about relationships, consistently leading with my head rather than my heart, whether I am viewing others' romances or my long string of never-was-es. Despite never being in one myself, serious or otherwise, I know it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to make things work. But even then, there are still no guarantees.

It makes me wonder sometimes why people even bother trying.

The odd thing is, though, there's still a part of me that believes it is possible. Possible to fall without landing in a big, messy splat. Possible to make things work and go the distance. Possible for relationships to survive even when the amorphous Hollywood love has faded away and grown to become the real thing. And when it does happen - and thankfully I've seen this, too - it's a wonderful thing to see.

Besides, as one wise friend of mine says, "No one has really ever died from a broken heart. You can cry a little, hurt a lot, and then you get over it. You always get over it - and come away stronger and wiser besides."

So maybe that's why, despite the odds, people still keep trying. Because part of us all want to believe it can be possible. And because anyone who is too afraid to let himself fall will also never experience what it's like to fly.

I hope someday I can meet someone who makes me forget all about the ground so far below, just waiting for me to crash land. It must be wonderful to leap off that edge and just let your heart fly.

A late, very late, submission to Em Dy's TBR Round Up on Love.
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Sunday, March 08, 2009


I recently realized that one of the main reasons I love doing Body Balance and yoga so much is because I get to spend so much time upside down. And part of what makes it so much fun is getting to bend and twist myself into the oddest poses that would normally be socially unacceptable for any self-respecting adult to do in public.

It's as good as being a kid all over again.

Don't get me wrong I was never one of those kids who did cartwheels and other gymnastic feats with ease - things that must be taught when you're still young enough to know no fear. Even then, the only place I could do a handstand would be in a swimming pool. And I could never flip myself upside down and back on the monkey bars to save my life.

But I always used to enjoy folding over and touching my toes, let my head hang straight down between my legs, and look at the world from a completely different perspective. I also used to like raising both legs straight up or cross-legged against a wall while lying on my back and pretending I was sitting on the wall sideways. And I always liked lying on the floor and scissoring my legs into the oddest angles, toes pointed like some demented ballerina's.

All of the above I get to do in class - and more! No wonder I find it so much fun.

Serious practitioners may find what I am saying a little irreverent - maybe even sacreligious. Don't get me wrong - the poses are hard work and more difficult than they seem. But being given the license to basically be a carefree child again, even for an hour a few times a week, is part of why it's such a stress-release for me, too.

I suppose the longer I do it, the more serious I'll be and stop doing yoga to relive the joy of being a hyperactive kid. But, knowing me? I seriously doubt that will ever happen.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Billboard Dreams

This was much too fun to resist - and not to share.

I've never entertained any fantasy of having a huge, larger than life picture of myself hanging on the side of a building, but photo-imaging technology these days now makes it possible. Those clever dudes who made Photofunia makes it as easy as the click of a mouse.

Here's another one of the effects in a setting a bit closer to home... and just in time for the summer months, too!

And another of my posters, just in front of a big retail park.

Which one did you like best? Don't just sit there, go make ones of your own - and have fun while you're at it!

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lemonade Love

I'm ending my blogging hiatus - partly due to life-induced writer's block and partly due to being totally inundated with Facebook tags - to say thanks to Marj for this lemonade love she sent me for having a blog with "attitude and gratitude."

I can't say I've been sporting much of an attitude here these days - I've been a touch confused about life lately, hence the utter wasteland that is my creative life. But I am most definitely filled with gratitude for this wonderful affirmation from a spunky blogger and blog buddy whose entries I always enjoy. Hugs to you, Marj!

I've always blogged mainly for the catharsis of it - which is why my little corner of cyberspace has always been as random as I am in real life - and because I have always loved to write. I never expected it to last for as long as it has, nor have I expected to have found so many kindred souls through it who are actually happy to take this journey of growth along with me. And those are more things, huge things, that I am most certainly grateful for.

Now for my turn to spread the love... I am giving my lemonade love to:

1. Megamom - my once-teacher and life-mentor, who juggles the chaos that is her life with triplets and a full-time career with unflappable grace.

2. Manggy - who shares his love for food and life in this visually satisfying but hunger-inducing blog

3. Panaderos - whose insightful entries are bakery goodies of wisdom.

4. Iris - who's spunky and sassy and making her way through life heart-whole

5. Jean - who's always big on honesty and an attitude to die for

6. Abaniko - whose lovely photos of places he's been always inspire a tug of envy but more a dollop of gratitude about being alive in such a wonderful world.

7. Pepper - the ultimate Miss Positive powered by her faith;

8. Merry Cherry - who is following her heart into service to our countrymen.

9. Woobie - no one does attitude like Woobie does. :) No one. When it comes to romance matters, I want to be her when I grow up!

10. Honey - whose attitude towards living life to the fullest cannot be beat. I miss you, sis!

Your turn to spread the lemonade love!

Here are the rules:
1. put the logo on your blog or post
2. nominate at least 10 blogs, which show great attitude and/or gratitude!
3. be sure to link to your nominees within your post and let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog
4. share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.
5. How did you get a great attitude and gratitude

Okay... blogging done, off to yoga now. Have a good Sunday everyone!
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Thursday, February 12, 2009


These Facebook note tags are getting a little bit out of hand for me - probably because my FB friends (of which there is a ridiculously large number - not that I'm complaining) have hit on my weakness for answering almost any tag that's sent to me.

This one, though, was interesting enough to steal off my friend's page and do voluntarily. Having done it voluntarily didn't mean I wasn't going to tag anyone else to do it. Unfortunately, I'm not sure anyone I've tagged on FB for this one has done it. I was hoping the people I tagged would answer them, too - because I really do like to knowing what their personal sevens will be. :)) What can I say? I'm a tag addict.

So I am tagging another seven of my blog buddies and friends for this interesting little tag - Merry Cherry, Marj, Iris, Abaniko, Ann, Ness, and my cousin Anna. Looking forward to reading about your "Sevens!"

Seven Things That Scare Me

1) Dying utterly alone - I've seen this recently, and it's the saddest thing ever

2) Taking risks

3) Being the only doctor in a plane where there's a medical emergency taking place

4) Making a horrendously wrong decision - whether it's professional or personal

5) Going into a coma (persistent vegetative state) for years and years - if this ever happens to me, and you know I can't be pulled out of it, please pull the plug on aggressive life support and let me go. Seriously. This is not life, it's living death, and I want no part of it.

6) Having kids and raising them to become as neurotic as me

7) Heights. I can't do heights.

Seven Things I Like The Most

1) Being at the beach - any season, any time, with friends or alone.

2) Coffee or a meal with friends, topped by lots of laughter and good conversation.

3) Days off!

4) Traveling. There's so much beauty to be seen in the world, and I can't get enough of it.

5) Driving - as long as there is no bumper-to-bumper traffic. It's motor therapy. My car is my inner psychiatrist's couch, my concert hall, and my happy place. Yes, even when I get lost.

6) Doing nothing, just being.

7) The effects of alcohol - when taken in moderation.

Seven Random Facts About Me

1) I have wheedled, argued, and flashed my MD license and talked my way out of getting any traffic tickets in Manila - and am currently batting at a 100%. Unfortunately, you can't do that here in Perth!

2) I read my first grown-up romance novel when I was ten (what can I say, I was precocious) and have been a bit of an addict ever since.

3) My caffeine shot for the morning is usually taken from a 300ml bottle of Diet Coke Lime or Coke Zero.

4) I’m shy around new people - seriously. The strange thing is, I would rather speak in public to a big audience or sing onstage than meet new people.

5) I like sleeping with lots and lots of pillows. The minimum number for me is always two - one to lie on and one to hug.

6) I was always one of the last kids to be chosen for kickball - or any sport for that matter. Hmmm... why is that translating into my real life at this age?

7) I used to speak in rapid-fire English when I was ticked off or upset when I was back home. Now that I speak English most of the time, I find that I lose my English when I'm ticked off or upset and revert to Filipino instead. Weird!

Seven Important Things In My Bedroom

1) My passport

2) My iPod and the cheap dock I play it on

3) My expanding file - which contains all my documents and records from back home

4) My laptop

5) Medical books - Murtagh, Current Peds, and Volume 2 of my beloved Harry (Harrison's Principles of IM)

6) My heaps of pillows

7) Aromatherapy candles

Seven Things I Plan To Do Before I Die

1) See as much of the world as possible.

2) Scuba dive. At least once.

3) Do something reckless and totally out of character - and not when I'm drinking, okay!

4) Fall in love, utterly, utterly - without caring if I land in one big splat. (I have yet to meet anyone who can make me feel this way)

5) Write a novel

6) Learn to lapdance. Seriously. :) Or at least take one lesson!

7) Live by the sea. To literally have the sea in my backyard.

Seven Things I Can Do

1) Run 5 kilometers - on a good day. On a bad day, I struggle to even get to 3. How am I ever going to get to 10!

2) Sing!

3) Be drunk and passed out at 4AM and still be up at 7AM and at the gym working out by 830. (Yes, this has actually happened.)

4) Cook a very good lasagna.

5) Sound quite intelligent about something that I have no idea about.

6) Have "dumb blonde" moments quite often.

7) Touch my tongue to my chin - but not to my nose.

Seven Things I Can’t Do

1) Stick to a strict diet. I love my junk too much.

2) Dance - but these days I'm doing it at the gym anyway. ;P It's heaven working out somewhere you are so sure you won't bump into anyone you know!

3) Get rid of my tummy, no matter how hard I try. *sigh*

4) Express myself when the issue is an emotional one. I just tend to hold it in and be frustrated.

5) Stop crying once I get started. Which is why I hate to cry.

6) Drive like a guy. I admit it, I am someone who gives women drivers a bad name.

7) Do something without overanalyzing it to death first.

Seven Things That Attract Me To The Opposite Sex

1) A sense of humor that jives with mine. He has to be able to make me laugh!

2) A fair degree of intelligence or at least street smarts. We have to have interesting conversations, and he has to be able to stand up to me in an argument.

3) He's someone I should be able to look up to and respect.

4) A good smile and nice eyes.

5) Someone who can sing or play an instrument always has heaps of bonus points from me.

6) Treats his mom, sisters, and girl friends well, without exception.

7) Someone who's responsible, goal-directed, and knows what he wants out of life. (It sort of balances out my indecisiveness.)

Seven Things I Say The Most

1) "Fudge!" (curse substitute!)

2) "I'll do (supply verb here) after 5 minutes." (And then after 5 minutes, I ask myself for 5 more minutes... the mark of a true procrastinator.)

3) "We'll see how it goes..." (This is very catch-all!)

4) "Bloody (supply noun here)!" (Yes, I use "bloody" - pretentious-sounding as it may be with my confused Pinoy accent and I have been using it for years, long before I came to live here. I picked it up from my Oz uncle on the many visits I did before actually coming to stay.)

5) "Oh... my... God...!" (Pauses are included for emphasis.)

6) "Have a good day!" (My new automatic "goodbye" to complete strangers - something I have learned to do over here.)

7) "What the...!"

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

If Heaven Were a Beach

I've never made any quibbles about my love for the sea. I have a passion for discovering beautiful beaches, and I've been quite lucky to have been to quite a few. But I must say that if heaven were a beach (and to me, it most probably will be), it would definitely look like this.

This is Bunker Bay, just a few kilometers off Dunsborough, on the amazing Southwest region of Western Australia. It's white sand, turquoise waters, and calm, sloping shoreline make it as close to paradise a beach can get. Near enough to be worth the drive but far enough to remain undiscovered. I will most definitely back here someday. If I had a choice to stay here, you would have had to drag me away kicking and screaming.

I will, most definitely, be back.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

More Tag - 25 Random Facts About Me

I used to think that this whole tag business was confined to the blogging world, but lately several of my friends on Facebook have tagged me with this 25 Random Facts tag. I figured it was time to do the tag and tag back. I remember already doing a 10 Random Facts tag here a few months back, but I figure that since I'm doing this one for my FB network, I might as well post it for my blog buddies to feast on as well. As for tagging my 25 - already done that... but you're free to grab the tag if you want to do it, too.

At the very least, it will get my mood up... I hope. It's not easy settling back into real life after being oversaturated by the sight of beautiful places - post-travel blues.

Copy. Paste. Share your 25 and tag 25.

1. I am currently suffering from serious post-travel blues at the moment. Coming home after a great trip is always a bit of a let-down.

2. I love my Body Balance classes at the gym and am thinking of doing serious yoga one of these days.

3. I was almost cast as Nova Villa and Freddie Webb's little girl in the sitcom "Chicks to Chicks" when I was five - only I suffered from a serious case of stage fright when I saw the studio lights.

4. My latest driving credits include country driving at 120 kph for at least 200 kilometers from Konojup to Armadale. Yes, granny driver Claire now knows how to zoom-zoom down the highway, yeah!

5. I love the beach and the ocean at any season, not just to swim but to simply watch the world go by. It's my recovery room. I just visited some of the best beaches I have ever seen this weekend... I wish I could have stayed at any one of them forever.

6. I have become a bit obsessive about facial sunblock since I moved to Australia. I need a supply!

7. I still have no idea what I will be doing a year from now, where I will be doing it, and whether or not what I will be doing will lead me to home. It's quite an experience living from one day to another...

8. I miss my spur-of-the-moment coffee dates with the Five O'Clock Club or my other girl friends at Starbucks. But I'm glad that I have new friends here to share coffee with when I really need it.

9. I can spend an entire day doing absolutely nothing important. I'm a professional time-waster!

10. I don't like taking risks in anything and always like going for the "sure thing." So it's nice when circumstances sometimes force me to be a bit more spontaneous - which is what this year is really all about.

11. I have more regrets that are tied to the things I didn't do rather than the things I have done. I'm hoping I can reverse that ratio as the years go by - because it would mean that I'm actually learning to live my life rather then continuing to hedge my bets.

12. I am a cynical romantic. I believe in happy endings and forever, but I'm also very pragmatic about the whole romance process and tend to keep my expectations low. Yes, I subscribe to the gospel of "He's Just Not That Into You!"

13. I haven't gotten past running 4 kilometers for the past few weeks and here I am hoping I can do a 10 kilometer run by April. ASA PA AKO!

14. I hate change. I like security and certainty and making plans - which made me a little square stuck in a deep rut for a good long while. But, thanks to my new moves, times are changing. I've come a long way, baby!

15. I have been in one major car accident (a school bus wreck when I was five - I got windshield glass in my forehead) and am crossing my fingers that I have reached my quota for a lifetime.

16. I used to cry over my patients and thought I'd gotten over it after residency - but apparently, there are still some patient stories that can pull me towards the brink of doing so.

17. I would like to be able to see a good deal of the world before I die. I would like to be able to see a huge chunk of Australia before I go home (if I decide not to settle here). I love to travel!

18. I have an addiction to pulp fiction - bestselling romance novels and murder mysteries being on the top tier.

19. My top 3 comfort foods used to be ice cream, premium chocolate, and cheesecake. These days it's my pork rasher adobo or Woodies roast chicken in spicy Mang Tomas lechon sauce. Tastes like home!

20. I rarely watch TV but when I do, it's more likely to be a crime show or procedural. I love mysteries - probably the influence of all the Nancy Drew I read when I was in 3rd grade.

21. I used to read the encyclopedia for fun. What a nerdy kid! Thankfully, I outgrew THAT eccentricity.

22. I've been meaning to learn more constellations for years, but for some reason I've never gotten around to spotting anything other than Orion (which for some odd reason, people here call the Saucepan).

23. If I ever get married, I'd rather elope and then spend all the moolah we saved on a big wedding on a major travelfest of a honeymoon - maybe somewhere in Europe... Venice comes to mind.

24. One of my biggest dreams is to have a house by a beautiful beach someday. I would love to be able to wake up to the sound of the ocean and a sea breeze every morning!

25. Since the start of this year, I've been trying to work my way out of the box and live my life from experience to experience, triumphs and heartaches included. So far, it's been a very interesting ride - and I'm glad I've finally decided to take it.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Alphabet Tag

My blog buddy Marj sent me my first meme of the year, and I figured I'd take a break from contemplating my status as a figurative "dumb blond" by playing along.

(Who am I kidding? I love doing this!)

So... here's the ABC of everything about me.

A. Attached or single?
Do I even have to answer this question?

B. Best friend?
Isa, who became my friend in college, and is the most collected, together, and serene person I know. She's the perfect foil to my scatter-brained, flustered, hyper self. I miss her heaps.

C. Cake or pie?
Cake! Cheesecake, mudcake, shortcake...

D. Day of choice?
A perfect day on a perfect beach.

E. Essential item?
My iPod. Mobile phones are a dime a dozen, but I'd be devastated if I lost my iPod!

F. Favorite color?
I love blue, but I find my closet is currently stocked with different shades of pink. How did that happen?

G. Gummy bears or worms?
Gummy bears!

H. Hometown?

I. Favorite indulgence?
A full body massage at In Sense spa (which I haven't had since I got here!)

J. January or July?
January. July always brings nasty weather - whether it's in Manila or Perth.

K. Kids?
Hope so!

L. Life isn’t complete without?
Quality alone time.

M. Marriage date?
I stopped giving myself a deadline years ago!

N. Number of magazine subscriptions?

O. Orange or apple?

P. Phobias?
I don't like heights.

Q. Quotes?
Don't really have one.

R. Reasons to smile?
There are heaps! It's just a matter of looking for them. :)

S. Season of choice?
Fall, in a place where the leaves turn. I love the colors of autumn!

T. Tag 5 people -
Raymond, Sonny, Jean, Pepper, and Marlowe

U. Unknown fact about me?
I can drink half of a 750ml bottle of Absolut Vodka and still be (somewhat) lucid by the end of the night.

V. Vegetable?
Sun-dried tomatoes (yes, I know it's technically a fruit, but humor me.)

W. Worst habit?
Jeez, I have to pick one? They're all terrible! Erm... nail biting to the point of bleeding. (Gross, I know...)

X. X-ray or ultrasound?

Y. Your favorite food(s)?
Dessert. Any kind. To my detriment.

Z. Zodiac sign
Taurus (and I'm a textbook one).

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Disaster Queen Strikes Again

It's the last day of my long weekend, but, despite not having gone off somewhere far away as originally planned, I've had a fairly good one. Apart from the fact that I almost got hopelessly stuck in a beachside city of Rockingham last Friday with only twenty cents to my name after my car keys disappeared.

How could she be so stupid?, you must be asking yourself with a shake of your head. Believe me, I asked the same of myself several times the next few hours that followed.

The day started out pretty great - I'd managed to drive all the way to Freo to have lunch with a friend of mine who works there (her treat, which is always a good thing) and, as part of my resolution to use my long weekend right, I decided to go further afield to somewhere I'd never been before, let alone driven to. As I drove along Stock Road, veering towards the southern beaches, I even flirted with the idea of going as far as Mandurah - which is almost 80 kilometers out of Perth - but settled for Rockingham, which is just around 50 kilometers out.

As soon as I saw the almost swimming pool calmness of the turquoise waters and the golden sands from the foreshore, I was in love.

Much as I love the beautiful Aussie beaches, this was the first one I'd seen that had absolutely no surf. Which is a god-send for me because, while I know how to swim, I don't consider myself a strong enough swimmer to really spend too much time in the rough and ready waters of the beaches to the north. So, understandably, I completely abandoned my plans for sight-seeing and photo-ops for a chance to hit the beach instead.

I had a fun couple of hours just floundering alone around in the clear, calm water and doing a bit of baking in the sun (what's summer without a bathing suit tanline?). I had decided on a run along the foreshore to top off my idyllic summer day, having brought both my beach gear and running gear (one of the best things about having a car is that you can bring EVERYTHING with you), so I got out of the water with just enough time to spare for a shower, a run, and still be on my way home before dark. After walking in ignorant bliss to my car to get my running gear, I was completely shell-shocked to find that MY CAR KEY WAS NOT ON ME AT ALL.

So there I was, the solo traveler wannabe, staring helplessly at my locked car - where my handbag and wallet and all my money were - dripping with sea water from my afternoon frolic in the sun and close to tears. I could have sworn I had taken my car key with me when I changed into my bathing suit. But after having gone through each item inside my beach tote and laying them on the hood of my car one by one, I had to face the fact that IT WAS GONE.

In a stunned daze, I went to the shower rooms to change back into my street clothes to give myself time to regroup and figure out what to do. All my money was in the car, so I couldn't take public transport to the house (a two hour trip one way at least!) to get my spare key. There was only one way to get out of the scrape - call for help. Thankfully, I had the foresight to have my mobile phone with me, and promptly rang one of my co-residents the only person with a car who lives in my suburb.

Just my luck - he was on duty until 11 pm. Of course it was out of the question for me to wait for him until 11pm - this being Perth, all establishments close at 9pm at the latest. So we hatched a plan for me to get a cab back to Armadale, which he would pay for when I got there since I had no money on me, then drive back to Rockingham after his shift with my spare key so I could take my car home.

When my other Pinoy friends caught wind of the trouble I was in, they vetoed the plan and proposed an alternative - for them to pick me up instead. They would go to my house (at least 18 kilometers from where they lived) to get my spare key then drive the rest of the way to Rockingham (another 30 to 40 kms away). And they wouldn't take no for an answer.

It was so embarrassing to have to be rescued. Nonetheless, I was just so glad that I was near enough for them to be able to rescue me!

As a mortifying postscript to an already mortifying travel disaster, I found my car keys the next day under the piles of stuff inside my trunk. It must have fallen from my pocket or I must have tossed it in withe rest of my stuff when I was so excitedly preparing for my swim. OH MY GOD.

Er... Is this someone who thinks she can actually go on a solo holiday somewhere in the woop-woops? Go ahead, you can say it. Claire is a disaster area. I must be out of my fricking mind to even consider it!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Tuesday Morning

(WARNING: When I say random, I mean random. Don't throw shoes at me when you get to the end of this and think, "And what exactly was the point of all that?")

It's been a while since I last struck up a conversation with you guys.

Not really because there hasn't been much to talk about, but more because since I no longer share quite as anonymously as I used to, I've had to be a bit careful about giving into my verbal diarrhea and emotional exhibitionism. There are just some things that I'm not quite as comfortable sharing with people who know me - or maybe it would be more appropriate to say, people who think they know me.

So why am I doing in front of my laptop instead of using this extra morning time (because I set my alarm too early) to blow-dry my hair?

Because I can't help these occasional descents into random babbling, that's why. Even when the only audience is my keyboard.

I've been toying around with the idea of taking up pole dancing. Seriously! It's supposed to be a great upper body and core work out and heaps of fun - and I just may be light enough these days to actually lift my body weight on a pole without pulling my arms from out of their sockets. Plus, and more importantly, it's something I would never do back home - something which is fast becoming my battle cry these days.

I have no illusions about my dancing ability - as one of my friends put it, I have the grace of a pregnant elephant. But it sounds like fun. And while dancing is probably at the bottom of the barrel as far as my skills go, I actually love doing it especially when no one else is watching. Or at least no one who knows me (and knows I can't dance) is watching. So what better place to learn to pole dance but in this city where no one knows me, in a country where one of the prevailing philosophies is, "live and let live?"

Obviously, it's really self-consciousness that's a curse. And for some reason - I don't really have a lot of time to do actual research on this right now, but I'm sure it's written down somewhere - Filipinos seem to have an overdeveloped sense of "what-will-people-think-itis." Probably because, as a people, we Filipinos have no qualms scrutinizing the lives of perfect strangers and indulging in thoughts along the lines of, "what-in-the-world-are-they-thinking-doing-that-itis!"

Which is why most of us just sit in the sidelines and watch the brave, crazy people doing their thing and having the time of their lives - not really caring that they look funny doing so. And why most of us may laugh and pretend to be appalled by what we see, but inside, we're really just that little bit envious and wishing we had the guts to do that, too.

I'm currently reading a self-published booklet of thoughts written by a 36 year old man who is terminally ill with ALS - like Morrie in Tuesdays with Morrie. He's the very good friend of one of the people I share a house with, and it's the copy that he gave her that I'm reading. He's been battling with the disease for two years now, and, suffice it to say, he hasn't been winning. Which is why he's decided to distill his take on the meaning of life into that little booklet.

It's been interesting reading so far. At times he gets very abstract and a bit difficult to understand - or maybe that's because I was plodding though some parts at two in the morning - but it's a very real reminder of how short and how precious life is coming from someone who knows that his time may soon be up.

One of the things he cites is how toddlers - who are almost as mobile as us but still not fully verbal - live their lives so differently and so naturally compared to how we live them as adults, trapped in all our abstractions. As he puts it, toddlers' only pre-conditioned physiologic motivations are to QUESTION, MOVE, EXPLORE, CREATE, RELATE, and feel JOY.

"Joy is the natural outcome and quality of the organism, expressing and doing what it desires to unimpeded by external guilt or shame."

Basically, he points out that with all our complicated, adult verbal views and self-conceptions, we've basically managed to limit ourselves from drawing on those basic motivations and finding joy - or basically, living life.

And he poses some interesting questions as well.

"No matter what you do, how much you save, who you know, where you go, what you believe - you're going to cease to exist, always sooner than you think. Do you do what you do because you assume (it will) make you live longer? Or do you live knowing your life is on loan, and the only thing that matters is your daily experience of your life?"

As I said, interesting stuff.

All that being said, I hope that the pole dancing school will get back to me on the whether we can get around class schedule issues that conflict with my weird roster. And if it doesn't? I'm sure I'll find something else.

Okay - off to work now!

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