Sunday, October 30, 2005

it's a sad day when...

you get a wicked, dime-sized scrape just below your wrist, your beloved dog is too busy checking out another dog, and the one person who could kiss it all better is fast asleep and must not be woken for the next two hours.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Singing Spanish badly

I promised Luz I'd record something in Spanish this weekend. Which is why I am now hoarse and short 2.5 hours of my life. Yes, this shameless self-recording artist is now taking requests.
~Corazon Prohibido~


No one ever told me that my gray Nikes made me a better worker. For the record, I am damn good at what I do. Since I became department manager, inventory is down, sales are up and the department is as neat as can be: every item arranged by size and color. When I was first promoted, I consistently topped the district honor roll for sales increases by percent.

So it really really annoys me that every other comment on Thursday was either "How are you going to work in those shoes?" or, more presumptuously, "Looks like Farah's not going to get any work done today." And today when I came in it was "Oh good, you've got your work shoes on today."

My job is customer service and hanging up bras and panties. Now, how exactly do 2-inch heels hamper those tasks?

just an update

the fabulous Fortasha has resigned as apparel assistant manager to become a probation officer.

they forgot how to write Elena for Zorro 2. How disappointing. I think I want to watch "Shopgirl". It seems a quiet, wistful sort of movie.

We got a washer and dryer (finally!)

David in Housewares will be undergoing a heart procedure next week and it has put the fear of God in him. Please pray for him.

I am encountering discrimination at work. Because of my shoes. Un-effing-believable.

more later,

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

it's almost midnight

and i didn't want my bedtime thoughts to be about Rosanna Roces' 15-year-old daughter's pregnancy.

so here are movie subtitles so stupid, they're funny.

Episode III
...and more

Batman Begins

You can thank Jessica Zafra for starting all this.

Monday, October 24, 2005

the God I believe in

Among my religious friends I am something of a heathen. Among the godless I am perhaps a bit pious. Where is the balance?

I consider myself a spiritual, non-religious person. I would be religious, were I to find a religion aligned with my own beliefs. But I don't seem to need religion to find God.

I have felt God in churches, yes. In ornate cathedrals peopled by cherubic stone angels and majestic sculptures. But so too have I found Presence in small chapels with plain pews of burnished wood, a strong tenor's voice filling the room and rising on sunbeams towards God.

I have never seen God. But I know when I am close. I would walk past quaint little houses, down a quiet street and over a guardrail to be with God, to sit on a craggy rock overlooking the Puget Sound, seagulls overhead, blue sea lapping at pebbled shore, reclaiming stranded starfish. The place is awash in light, and kissed by God.

Once in the midst of a writing contest, I tapped into something. I had been cramming all week, studying technique, expounding on various themes. The clock began to tick at the start of the event and I began writing furiously. In the midst of the first draft time seemed to slow, and it was as if a light had opened up and was pouring over me. My pen seemed lighter and I was writing (riding) on a higher plane. I could not tell you what I wrote; it was as if I was no longer writing, but being written through. The beacon of light was fixed on me and on this light was my direct dial, high-speed connection to God.

Once in a chess game in which I was plainly overmatched, I gained that same instant, preternatural clarity. My opponent was girl my own age naturally gifted at the game. I'd been studying for the past month, challenging anyone who knew how to play, reading any books I could find until chess notation began to scroll on the backs of my eyelids as I slept.

But when the game began my sight opened up, and on each piece I could see paths and possibilities extending several moves in advance: attacks, defenses, counters. The game ended in a draw, and I lost the match. Still, it was the most exhilarating chess I've played to date.

I guess you could say I believe in the Creator, in God as a creative force that forms, shapes and moves us and through us. He (She? It?) is an artist's God, who delights in quirky things like sunlight playing on the waves, "Shave and a Haircut, two bits", zebra stripes and rainbows.

There is an old monastic adage "Qui bene cantat bis orat": The one who sings well, prays twice. In a way, we've always known that the act of creating --whether by song, dance, food or birth -- is how we best serve and celebrate the Creator. Art is its own prayer, and creative work the most earnest worship.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

noblesse oblige

Previously, I've incorrectly attributed the following to Nelson Mandela:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

~Our Deepest Fear, by Marianne Williamson
from "A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles"


I was clinging to the bins at work in a less-than-worksafe way trying to get to items that were just out of reach. And then he said it. "Don't fall, Farah. Some of us here admire you."

It's not the first time he's said it, or something similar. But it is the first time it occurred to me that he just might mean it. Something like this is usually a flag that it's time for me to go.
I am surprised and ashamed. Why me? I have done nothing to deserve admiration. In the world of me, where the hallmark of achievement is maximization of one's potential, I wear mediocrity the way a pretty girl wears extra pounds or unflattering clothes and no makeup: to keep herself out of the running.

I tell myself my greatest fear is of being judged and found wanting. But the times I've run away have been because I'd been judged and found worthy. Worthy of emulation.

I am no role model. Nor do I have one. It would be a lot easier if I did. No, don't look at me -- watch him. Or her.

I like to sing when I think no one's listening. Can no one watch so I can just live? I probably would have continued on to earn my silver badge. "A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them. And all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire." (LOTR)

I stayed but a year in nursing school, the school of my mother and uncle and multiple aunts. I would have been there three years and graduated, but one classmate, torn between staying and leaving said "Well, if this school's good enough for Farah..."

Paul Tillich has said, "Everyone has a calling. Everyone is called to fulfill a purpose. Man is asked to make of himself what he is supposed to become to fulfill his destiny." But the older I get I find that choice is illusory, and there really is just the one task. Life is too short not to do the things we are meant to do.


I just realized that if I feel old it is becauze I am really 26 going on 46. The number to beat is still 172.

Friday, October 21, 2005

disquiet, distractions and the done deal

The day was just the way they like it around here: sunny but cool. The sky was a beautiful bright blue with barely a cloud, and it felt just right under the sunshine but if you stood in the shade you'd feel the autumn chill.

The carpet at work has been replaced with wood flooring, and now my area feels like a dance studio. It is brighter but colder somehow too. Also, there's been a policy change. No more PA's. There goes my chance of being accidentally discovered by a voice talent scout while paging for assistance at the jewelry counter.

I do not like this rollercoaster i've been on. I do not know what to ask for. To be let off, to figure things out for myself? Or to stay at the bottom, so i know it can't possibly get any worse?

Anger, resentment, fear, despair. Boredom, longing, disappointment. Useless. Inutile. Funny how it's the same in Tagalog. Inutil.

Too much to process. I could just be tired and sad and overworked and underused. It's possible too that i'm in mourning, since I've finally finished "Sex and the City". I'm gonna miss those fabulous, funny, sassy, vulnerable girls.

Patrick's been so very happy and excited about the new(-to-us) car. Check it out:

Luz brought some really good crispy (!) peanut brittle today.

Currently I am Sam & Libby, Nine West, Naturalizer and Rampage with rubber or rubberized plastic soles. Someday I hope to be Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin and Bottega Veneta with leather soles.

This made us laugh today, Patrick and I.
Dear God,

If it looks like a slim gray column, please hover over it until a square with an orange square and blue arrows appears. Click on said square to expand the pic.

Dear God, can I please win the lottery jackpot tonight? I've been betting for the past 12 years now and haven't won yet. I promise if i win, i will sing even though I am scared, and offer it all up to You. Even if I don't ever sing gospel or Christian music.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

art or advertising?

Prada Marfa opened (or, shall i say "was installed") in a West Texas town this October. Tell me what you think.

Official Site

Reactions have been rather it really about art then, or personal perspectives on and frustrations with money (or the lack thereof)?

It was robbed the next day and has since been restored.


i need sleep.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Apparently I spoke too soon

I forgot all about this little thing known in retail as "Black Friday" i.e., the day after Thanksgiving. A.k.a. the official start of the holiday shopping season, and the day that stores that may not have been profitable thus far finally get to note the bottom line figures in black as opposed to red (hence the black in "Black Friday").

No chance of a long weekend until after the 3rd of January.

So it looks like we won't be seeing Atlanta anytime soon. Neither will we be moving for at least a year, unless they waive the tech degree requirement for the position patrick's aspiring to.

Ah well. It was fun to think about travel for a while. Since it looks like I won't be going anywhere for a while, y'all come to Texas, y' heah?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Voiceover work is unexpectedly tricky.

It would be interesting to explore this avenue further. But as always, stage fright and lack of a driver's license stand between me and the dreams i might pursue.

Voice acting is still acting. And though I love romancing the mic, i am not at all comfortable with acting. Never took a lesson, and all those skits we had to do in high school always left my hands cold and shaking with stage fright.

They said they were looking for a voice with personality enough to pull off the protean role of Carrie. And yet she's a 38-year-old smoker, so one can't sound too young and perky. Plus, the script given was a rather troubled and contemplative one: her struggle with the secret burden of an affair with the married Mr. Big. All this in a 30-second TV spot.

My hopeful contest entry, as promised.
Sex and the City Voiceover
I don't know why it skips upon first play, but runs fine when you restart the piece.

If I never hear from them, I can always tell myself it was the wrong bit rate and I simply didn't have the time to get it right. Still, "ihopeiwinihopeiwinihopeiwin..."

Monday, October 17, 2005

Happiness is... a favorite meal for your favorite person.

...entering a voiceover contest for a TV series you absolutely love, love, love.

Sex and the City Voice-Over Contest

Too bad I only found out about it tonight, the one night in months I've had to work the graveyard shift. Rushed it, and am not too hopeful. I'm not even sure it's recorded at the proper bit rate. It would be nice to win, tho. The grand prize is the opportunity to voice Carrie in an animated something (version? TV plug? ) of the series. I'll post my own entry tomorrow when the contest closes. You never know.

The second great part about the prize is that it entails a free trip to Atlanta for the recording. One of Patrick's best friends from high school and said friend's newly-expectant wife (kaway jen, kaway!!!) live there. Coincidentally, the two hubbies were chatting last night and Patrick and I were invited over for Thanksgiving weekend.

Why oh why did I stop entering contests? Why did I have to find out about this tonight? And why hasn't the smell of chili woken Patrick yet?

You were right, h. Lots of little questions.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

the bottom line

(Because I need reminding. If I repeat this to myself enough, i just might believe it.)

Have you read Guy de Maupassant's short story "The Necklace"? Well, I feel like we've wasted five years of our lives paying for someone else's necklace. We didn't even dance with it.

We are 26 years old, live paycheck-to-paycheck, and have $15,000 in unsecured debt. We have been married for almost five years. We have no savings, other than my 401(k) plan, and it is hard not to feel envious of others.

I seem to forget, probably because I do not want to remember, that we were used for years, to the tune of $30,000 in money we didn't have. That we emerged with only $15k in debt and a car that is fully paid for, is something to be proud of. I guess.

It was hard, and it was humiliating, living under the in-laws' roof, all their friends (and people in general) under the assumption that we're living off of *them* (HA!) and the in-laws of course not correcting that assumption. It's ironic that our rent payment every month is exactly the same as the check we used to issue to them: $830 a month.

The ugliest part of "helping out" someone else financially whilst living under the same roof, is trying to ignore their spending habits. The Kirby vacuum -- who the fuck needs a $2000 vacuum? The new $800 sofa "because that room looks so empty, and anyway there are no payments until 2006". The weekend shopping sprees. ("Alam mo ba sale ngayon?") Why do they need a Wolfgang puck dinnerware set or Henckels cutlery? She doesn't even like to cook. She cooks maybe once or twice a week. And of course there was the big white elephant staring us in the face: the necessary expense of a $385,000 house (5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 3 car garage) with plenty of extra rooms for out-of-town guests to stay in as they admire the beautiful house.

For illustrative purposes: my mom is a nurse, my dad is a realtor and receives a pension from the Navy. My father-in-law has not held a job in over a decade, the mother-in-law makes a third what my mom does. And yet on one-sixth the income, with no money down, the in-laws purchased a house that costs four times what my parents paid for their home. Guess who picks up the slack? The kids, of course, because "we're all in this together".

And so we would nod sympathetically when asked to loan $20 gas money now and then, or buy rice or groceries because it isn't quite payday yet and of course, farah works in a store.

We do not shop, we do not travel, we do not party. We love Japanese food, sashimi in particular. We eat out once every three months, always during lunchtime on weekdays, when the buffet is half-price. $33 after tax, once every three months.

We do not have a land-based phone or cable/satellite TV. The last time we went to the movies was last month, and only because i'd won free tickets from Normally we wait until a movie comes out on DVD, and just rent it from Netflix. The Netflix subscription? Won in a contest. Same goes for the portable DVD player, iPod photo, and monthly fruit box from Harry and David.

We used to share a prepaid phone, which we'd recharge with a $25 card every 2 months. I won the phone in a contest too. When we moved into this apartment, our usage went up considerably, and so we decided that it was cheaper and less restrictive to share a wireless family plan ($60 a month) versus a landline ($45 a month, i think) plus prepaid at $25 a month.

Our big splurge was the cable internet connection: $53 a month. Digerati that we are, a fast internet connection is essential. Our primary entertainment is playing "Guild Wars". We spent $130 on the two games: his regular price at $50, mine $80 for the collector's edition. We have been playing for months, at an average of 3 hours a day each. Ninety days at 3 hours times two people...24 cents per hour of entertainment and counting. We didn't even have to drive to a theater and stand in line for tickets.

We have been living on next to nothing for years. After "rent", credit card payments and the ridiculously large ($685) car payments that the in-laws "helped" us get in their name, so Patrick could pay off their Montero for one year, there was hardly ever anything left over. It's gotten old. We despair of ever having money, of ever getting out of debt, of ever being free of payments, of seeing beyond the current pay period.

Numbers, however, do not lie.

By my calculations, our net worth over the past few years our net worth has increased by an average of $5k every year:
2002: -14,983.54
2003: - 9,724.48
2004: - 6,362.80
2005: - 1,000.00

This time next year, we will be debt-free (with the exception of the new car loan); our net worth will be positive for the first time in our married life; I will be back in school; and there will be $3,000 in my retirement account.

Friday, October 14, 2005

intimate details

among the dubious privileges of managing the Intimates section is being privy to the vital statistics and lingerie-related problems and preferences of one's co-workers.

Consequently i now know that one of my workmates has only one bra which she washes nightly. I'm also well-aware that several of my coworkers are double-Ds who complain oh-so-loudly that they can't shop in my section because the department "doesn't have my size". Which is odd because I have 36DDs all the way up to 50 DDDs. Oh, and let's not forget the skinny-minnie in size 0 pants who, when asked if she had as much trouble finding bras in her size, looked at me blankly "No, we carry 36Bs; what size are you?"

The truth is, I look to eBay for my underwire-reinforced, padded or liquid-filled AAs from Frederick's of Hollywood or Victoria's Secret.

I have also learned that guys find it kinky that a girl should spend forty hours a week rearranging lingerie. WTH? It's Wal-Mart - we sell Hanes white cotton undies and granny panties. Tips for the gals: yes, guys really do like to see us in thongs and black lace and thigh highs with garters.

And then there are the prank callers. Guys who have me repeat the instructions on getting a woman's bra size over and over. For the girlfriend, sister,'s always someone different each time. Oh, and then the perv gets really breathy. Ugh. I eventually wised up and learned to say point-blank that (1) Wal-Mart doesn't do bra fittings, but fine department stores do; (2) i don't know how to measure for bra sizes; and (3) fits vary among manufacturers, and that's why ladies use fitting rooms.

I need a different job.


The State Fair is in town. Let's go sometime.

~Take Me to the Fair~ (from Camelot)

~Wishing you were somehow here again~ (from Phantom of the Opera)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

i had it right the first time

life is hard. everything is as it should be.


Envy, frustration, depression, regret...this seems to be my emotional cocktail for the season.

~I don't like Mondays.~

Guild Wars pictorial

The cast of characters (left to right)
Cherish Clarity Mo/R20: the responsible firstborn daughter
Crystal Masque Me/Mo15: the middle child
Drendeth Doomskull: Dean's character
Jansport Backpack W/Mo1: the pack mule

Cherish Clarity
A day at the beach: sitting at the water's edge at Sanctum Cay
Look Ma, glowing hands!: Dancing on the water at Bergen Hot Springs
What's this, an ancient weapon you say?: discovery of a large but otherwise useless flashlight in the Crystal Desert
Out, out of the picture, damn cat: Cheering just outside the Ice Caves of Sorrow

Crystal Masque
Malayo ang tingin: Looking out towards the desert from Amnoon Oasis
This one's for you, cupcake!: First (and only) sighting of a sweet doppelganger at Serenity Temple. Medyo malabo, but her name is "I Am Your Cupcake".

Monday, October 10, 2005

gone up in smoke

the whole cigarette plan, that is. Patrick vetoed the idea this morning, with no chance for appeal.
tomorrow's my saturday and i've been asked to come to work. Two hours earlier than usual.

I am tired and discouraged and worried and sad but my red shoes, silly things, are happy. I wore them to work today with a long black skirt that showed them off quite nicely. The shoes got male attention today: from "Nice shoes" (which i think is guyspeak for "Those heels are fabulous!") to "Pointy red shoes!" to "How in the hell do you walk around in those?"

I hurt my shoes today. They have since forgotten and are still basking in the memory of the day's outing, but when I look at them and remember I am sad. I stumbled backwards earlier and caught the back of one heel against a metal edge. The patent leather is peeled back just a bit, the size of this O, revealing white plastic. It's only been the third day I've worn them.

A male coworker who's probably my age asked me today what color teal is. Why don't guys know shades besides say, puke green and gunmetal gray?


Currently crazy about:
getting people to vote on the proposed texas constitutional amendments, which reminds me...


Nov 8th is the November 2005 Constitutional Amendments Election. If you're registered to vote in the state of Texas, or know someone who is, do make sure that you do your part. Of particular importance is HJR 6, which would "provide that marriage in Texas is solely the union of a man and woman, and that the state and its political subdivisions could not create or recognize any legal status identical to or similar to marriage, including such legal status relationships created outside of Texas".

Nov 8, get out and vote!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Going sane

I think I will explore a different tone in my blogging. I've given myself license to write a little crazily. The way I see it, it beats keeping it all inside and one day going stark raving loony, picking up the PA system at work and singing something like "I don't like Mondays" or "Jeremy" or maybe even simply enumerating everyone's faults and revealing their secrets until they rip the phone out of my hand. The again, I feel so off-balance right now, who's to say I'm not going sane?


For the past two weeks I've been craving a cigarette. It's odd because I haven't smoked in years and even when I did it wasn't a habit; I simply smoked socially. The only thing to which I can attribute this sudden yen is the coffee at work, which they recently switched to a strong decaf that leaves my mouth tasting of cigarettes. Patrick caught me off-guard the other day. "Funnyun, " he asked "how would you feel if I started smoking again?" Apparently it wasn't the coffee, and it's not just me.

All media imagery aside, smoking is a nasty, dirty, smelly, disgusting habit. Because I smoked secretly, I made it a point to erase any evidence of my smoking. That meant scrupulously brushing my teeth, flossing and gargling with Listerine twice a day; scrubbing my right index and middle finger to rid myself of the nasty yellow nicotine stain; wearing a lot of perfume; and changing clothes frequently.

I suppose I'm lucky that the tingi system of retail isn't popular here. Thus, I am forced to fork over $3 for a pack of cigarettes if I do decide to give in to this craving. The alternative being to mooch a stick off a smoking non-friend, consequently (1) alienating nonsmoking friends and (2) opening the door for future invitations from the smoker clique.

I'm thinking of maybe burning through a whole pack, to be done with the whole craving mess once and for all. I know exactly what I want: Capri Menthol Lights Superslims and a Shiner Bock, which is already chilling in the fridge. Tomorrow's my Friday, and I'm seriously thinking about spending Monday evening smoking, drinking and maybe even cussing a little.


Stray thought of the day:
When your too-ready smile falters ever-so-slightly, it is with surprise and relief that you realize -- there is still a real you, beneath it all.

Currently crazy about:
Boston creme cake
Recording my voice

Friday, October 07, 2005

they've broken in nicely, thank you very much

apparently i had no cause for concern. The new shoes are quite comfortable now. I've discovered the solution to the clenching problem: arch support. It seems that grade school ballet lessons gifted me with high arches in addition to above-average flexibility.


An elegant lady gushed over my shoes. (I just love them!) These kicks were worth every penny.

One of my coworkers told me I didn't need a ride home (?) "Really, Farah. All you gotta do is click your heels together three times..."

Now I want red sequined heels too. Or maybe a Christian Louboutin shoe collection, so I can flash red no matter what color the uppers are.


I felt like singing today.

= Dahil Sa Iyo (composed by Mike Velarde)

I have an inchoate* vision of myself playing the role of a glamorous lounge singer in a big-budget Filipino movie (HA!). It's a cameo role of course, since I'm already a famous singer in the dream. Maybe it's a grand hotel ballroom on New Year's Eve, and I'm being accompanied by a big band. In any case, I serenade the well-dressed crowd with this song while the hero and heroine dance and fall in love. Lakas mangarap, 'no?

= I Just Fall In Love Again (The Carpenters)
I've been told I could find work as a Karen Carpenter voice impersonator.

= It's Her or Me/Now That I've Seen Her (from Miss Saigon)
Though Kim is my dream role, I have a yet-unexplained affinity for the cold, unyielding American wife.

= In My Life (from Les Miserables)
...I thought this was pretty funny. I sang all four parts: Cosette, Marius, Eponine and Valjean. They sound alike.

* sorry, it was Word of the Day earlier this week

Thursday, October 06, 2005

red dread

I daresay D'Orsays are my favorite shoe style.

I love shoes and hate my feet. I know, I know. The poor, hardworking things that support me and get me from place to place despite being overworked and underappreciated. Not to mention crammed into pointy spaces that correspond little if at all to the feet's natural shape. I don't like to see them. Particularly toes and heels -- ugh! D'Orsays keep them out of sight, where they belong.

The day I broke in my new shoes I decided I was going to look more professional at work from now on, and that I would wear heels at least twice a week.

A week has past and I am dreading slipping The Red Shoes back on. The balls of my feet are slightly callused, and there is an odd clenching in my feet that a week's trudging in Nikes has not relieved. The shoes themselves fit wonderfully. It's just been a really long time since I've worn heels.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

the surprise

Over the weekend I called up my younger sister, who tells me that our parents' marriage seems to have caught a second wind. They might even (dare I say it?) love each other, after almost 30 years of marriage. It's very "Fiddler on the Roof", I know, and I am glad to hear of it.

The last time I moved back in with my parents, I was fleeing a relationship that was already over, though neither of us admitted it. Stupidly, I didn't want to be there to see it happen, so I left. To "sort things out".

My parents' own relationship wasn't faring much better. All the world was falling out of love, it seemed, reluctantly admitting that it's not working.

Even now, marriages are falling apart all around me, and my own relationship is changing. I have been so happy, things have been working out for us so far, and I am fearful of what these changes might mean. But knowing that Mommy and Daddy (yes, that's what I still call them) are falling back in love gives me hope.

Monday, October 03, 2005


It should not have happened. But it did. Or maybe it didn't. In the conventional sense, nothing really happened. A few months ago, if someone had asked me if I'd gotten involved with someone who was already in a relationship, i would have answered no. Funny, the things we block out of our past.

I was 15 years old, a college freshman, a provincial girl in the big bad city. He had money, a car, and was three years older. He was from the city, and he could sing.

We would talk between classes, and sometimes during. One time a teacher didn't show up and we ducked out. He treated me to maruya at Mang Gerry's. I had never had a boyfriend, but he had a girlfriend and I figured he knew what he was doing.

He sat crosslegged on the floor outside the DAC, eyes closed, earphones in his ears, head leaned against the wall, smiling slightly to himself. Opening his eyes, he saw me, and motioned me over. "This is my girlfriend's singing" he said, offering an earphone to share. She was a music major, and her voice was heavenly.

We began to hold hands, if that's what you'd call it. I don't know how it happened. Perhaps his hand came to rest on mine one day, or our fingers brushed against each other, or something. We began, our hands teasing, stroking, caressing during class. We could not look at each other. Running through ,my mind "Is this foreplay?" We could not talk about it. "Your touch is so...intimate," he said, and that was it. We were so young; we didn't know what the hell we were doing.

We were in the chorale together, and some nights he would walk me home down Padre Faura, the streets still slick with rain. "~Pagmasdan ang ulan, unti-unting pumapatak~". We were singing it long before the Eheads or Regine V brought it back.

I met his girlfriend once. She was beautiful and gracious and expensive, and everything I was not. He was introducing her to our classmates when I arrived, fashionably late as usual. "Oh, and this is Farah," he said meaningfully. I got the feeling she knew more about me than I did about her. "Does she know??" I wondered.

It ended on a star-filled night on a grassy bank in the lee of a waterfall. It was a class hiking trip and late at night. Everyone was tired but too wakeful for sleep. We all sat in a circle, trading stories and jokes. He sat beside me on a log, with me half-leaning against him. He put his arm around me and I straightened up stiffly, allowing his arm to drop. "Yakap,"he pleaded. "May girlfriend ka e," sabi ko.

We stayed in the chorale and ran for the student council together, but drifted apart. He grew close to another classmate. I don't know if he and his girlfriend stayed together. But somewhere in my college belongings is a recording he'd made, his favorite songs from our "Big Three" -- musicals we both liked: Miss Saigon, Les Mis, Phantom of the Opera.

Paolo, that was very sweet of you. Thanks for everything.

Saturday, October 01, 2005