Wednesday, August 17, 2005


The house we live in is a sort of duplex, but instead of being beside each other, the units are perpendicular to each other. The Hubby and I think this was one big house before, and the owners just put up a wall in the middle (which explains why there are weird pillars in the middle of nowhere in our dining and living rooms).

The entire building is on a corner lot, so we have separate entrances. Even our street addresses are different. On our side of the street, it still looks like one huge house. Their floor-to-ceiling window is on our side of the yard. When we moved in, it freaked me out because I thought there was a mystery window that you can't see from inside the the house--with people that you can only see from the outside. Now the neighbors keep their blinds closed.

I think we have the better layout though. Our front is a small yard and garage, and our service area is in the back (so we don't have to air our dirty linen in public). The neighbor's service area, however, is an extension of their garage. If you walk by their street, you can see their laundry hanging in the garage. Not ideal. Imagine all the exhaust on fresh laundry!

And speaking of laundry, since our service areas are separated only by a cement wall about eight feet high, we can pretty much hear everything going on in each other's service areas. Which means, since we do laundry at the same time, we can hear when one's spin cycle ends and so on. Which means that I can hear all the music they play on their side of the world.

First on their laundry playlist is some good old Star FM. But thankfully, this is just the warm up. Soon they move on to classic Air Supply. Now I admit to growing up with Air Supply. So I know that there are two less lonely people in the world, and that you can make love out of nothing at all. After the entire Air Supply concert series, they start to play Bob Dylan reminiscing about this house on in New Orleans, that they called the rising sun. Next, Rainbow tells of how one day in the year of the fox, there was this guy searching, seeking, and he ends up in the temple of the king. Then the grand finale: Tom Jones wailing why, why, why Delilah.

This is their playlist. Every. Single. Week. I can tell how far along their laundry they are by what song is playing. I tried playing my own music, but my musical posse always gets drowned out. I once briefly considered going over to ask them to tone down their music, or at least change it. I thought of sending over a paper plane with a note made of letters torn out from different papers, ransom style, "If you know what's good for you, you will cease to play such music..."

Finally, one Sunday, I couldn't stand it. I just couldn't.

I started singing along. Forgive me Delilah, I just couldn't take anymore.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Violent Streak

For the first time in over a year, I put on my boxing gloves and gave my punching bag a good beating. Never realized till now how much I miss beating the crap out of something.

I don't even remember why I started boxing. I just know that after one session in the ring, I shelled out money for my 12 oz gloves, wraps, and a membership at Red Corner. Then for some reason, I transferred to The Spa at RCBC Plaza (now Fitness First Plus), got into the kickboxing/street defense class--and discovered I had a violent streak.

I can't describe how good it feels to hit something. When I hear the thwack of my gloves on the pad or bag, when I feel the dull pain on my knuckles and the jarring force travel down my arm, when I feel whatever I'm hitting give a little--it's sheer release. Exhilirating.

Then there's the mental workout I get. I have to react quickly. I have to calculate my next move. I have to duck. This part, admittedly, needs more work. I have always been on the slow reflex side, since my tendency is to analyze and break down the situation before I do anything (which is why, I think, I don't make an excellent driver).

Three minutes of actual sparring is more exhausting than three minutes of padding because thinking of your strategy--to score without getting knocked out--burns hundreds of calories (disclaimer: this is my personal theory only). Then you have to act out your strategy. Or at least attempt to.

Fear also burns calories. Everytime I go spar with someone, I'm scared of getting hit. Sure we have body armor and gloves. And we aren't allowed to hit above the neck. But what happens if you duck the wrong way? This happened to a good friend of mine--he bobbed right into my jab. Broke his nose. I feel guilty about that; though in an evil sort of way, it felt good too, the realization that I had the power to do such damage.

Not that I come out unscathed. I know what it feels like to have my breath knocked out of me, thanks to a jab-straight to my chest and a front kick to my stomach. I've had roundhouse kicks to my un-armored sides. I have flown across the room, wiping the floor with my butt. I have also walked around with shoeprint bruises on my arms and legs.

I guess that's one reason I enjoy contact kickboxing. I'm a wuss when it comes to pain. So sparring lets me face my fear head on. You feel the pain, but you shake it off and fight on. To sort of steal a line from Kenny Rogers, there'll be time enough for cryin' when the match is done.

Sometimes I think, when the actual need for punching someone comes up (no, this does not apply to The Hubby; I think it's in our marriage contract somewhere--he made sure), will I be able to do it? Will I be able to remember the right combinations? Or will I freeze? Though I can't imagine being in that situation, I hope I kick ass like Charlie's Angels, Sydney of Alias, Lara Croft and Mrs. Smith. And I want to look as good too.

Today, after I did my drills, practised some combinations, and drove The Boo crazy with the punch bag (he kept running around me, looking for the enemy), I felt so good. I know I'll be in pain tomorrow, but the exhiliration is back.

Anyone want to start a kickboxing class with me here in Merville?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Two Hundred Peso Challenge

I look through our cupboard and I see canned goods, instant soup and sauce mixes, and some junk food. In our ref, we have some veggies, frozen ham, fish and meat. Who's to think that a couple of weeks ago The Hubby and I had only P200 to spend on five days' worth of meals?

We've been having some cash flow glitches lately, and a couple of weeks ago was the worst. For two people used to buying things at will, The Hubby and I were in new territory. He'd gas up P100 at a time. I hunted down loose change around the house before I could go to the neighborhood grocery. We had to prioritize and reprioritize which bills were to be paid first.

Then we had that Extra Challenge/Survivor thing: Five Days. Fifteen Meals. Two Hundred Pesos. Will they make it? Stay tuned!

Well okay. It wasn't that bad. We didn't have to buy basics like rice, and I still had some leftover tomato sauce and cheese; and we had some cereal and milk in the house, which took care of the two breakfasts. And The Hubby didn't eat lunch at the house for two days. And we skipped dinner and just went to sleep once. So that's still about 10 meals.

The first challenge was to decide what to buy. We ended up with:
  • eggplants
  • sitaw
  • kalabasa
  • okra
  • tomatoes
  • Baguio beans
  • potatoes
  • eggs
  • small, tiny tin of mushroom pieces
  • half a stick of butter
  • 1/2kg ground pork

Then next was deciding what to cook. I think this part was the most fun. Made me cook creatively. And the best part was, The Hubby HAD to eat everything I prepared. He had no choice! I came up with:

  1. adobong sitaw with ground pork
  2. some kalabasa with ginger recipe of The Hubby, which didn't turn out too well, since the only ginger I was able to locate in the house was a shriveled little piece
  3. okra with tomatoes
  4. ginisang beans with tomatoes and some ground pork
  5. eggplant parmigiana
  6. tortang talong with ground pork
  7. tomato omelet (turned out rather nicely!)
  8. dill potato soup with--surprise!--ground pork - this was a surprising hit; a hearty soup that's a meal in itself, and super easy to prepare (actually all the stuff I made are idiotically easy to prepare)
  9. cheese omelet
  10. fried eggs

The amazing thing was (aside from the fact I didn't lose weight, despite the fact there was no more junk food in the house), through all that, we always had just enough. The Hubby had enough gas money to get him to wherever he had to be. There was enough money to buy food. And pay some of the more urgent bills. And though things were tight, we never felt poor. Broke, yes. Poor, no.

I felt like one of those Israelites wandering around the desert. When they woke up in the morning they got manna, just enough for their needs. And on special days, they got the Old Testament version of spring chicken. For water, Moses just needed to speak to some rock. They knew that God wouldn't put them through all the drama of leaving Egypt just to let them starve in the desert.

I guess that's the real challenge. Having the faith that God will provide for our needs (note to self: want radically different from need). Because he really does. It may not come in the form that we want or expect, but I know that God is always looking out for me. He will always provide.

Actually that's the one thing that God tells us we can challenge him on--provisions (try challenging him on anything else, you might end up zapped!). And The Hubby and I are taking God up on this challenge. We are. We pray that he gives us more than enough. Beyond what we ever could think for ourselves. Then we could just pass on the excess to others who need it.

That's the next challenge.