St. Patty’s weekend

This weekend has been fantastic in many ways. It started with a low-key Friday, catching up on sleep with a nighttime nap ending at 3 am, wee-hours reading and Audible shopping, resuming sleep at 5 am to wake up at 8 am and get ready for the busy St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

While I first I thought there isn’t enough time to meet everyone I was supposed to meet– girls who I used to be neighbors with back in Manila, some relatives who I haven’t seen in years, a friend of California coming to town who I haven’t seen in months… and they day wore on without actually meeting up with these people. I spent the whole morning studying, and during intervals when my brain requires respite, I would check my phone and figure out what the plan for the day was. Some people were in bars, others walking down the street looking for bars to get into, some in mid-transit to Chicago, and others were roaming around Chicago with a detailed tourist itinerary, oblivious to the fact that it was a busy St. Patrick’s day despite the streets being swallowed in green.

At 7 p.m., Terence and I found ourselves walking to a bar that we knew wasn’t too crowded nor charges for a cover. We had pairs of Irish car bombs and beers, moved to the loud music spewing out of the speakers by the dj booth behind us. We grabbed dinners afterward, and since we each had separate party plans– we went our own way to wherever we were invited to, locations that were one train stop from each other… and both of which turned out to be bust.

His party was an invite-only French party which ended earlier than when they got there. Cops showed up and broke the party, so he ended up going to a friend’s place to hang there. I got to the area of town where my Mandy who just got in town from LA was eating dinner with some of her Chicago friends, but due to wonky mobile reception, erratic internet connection and miscommunication—and irritation toward people in the area in general– I ended up hopping back on the train, choosing to go back home than deal with the Wrigleyville scene for which I had no patience.

Sunday was a little better– though I didn’t wake up at my ideal time to wake up (6 am), I woke up from a good sleep feeling well-rested, which Sundays should always be for. As soon as I woke up, I made my way to the gym, and after that, spent some time sitting on the balcony floors, basking in the sun with an iced water and Kindle in hand.. balcony reading at its finest. I had my version of Salad Nicoise– salad, shredded carrots, white mushroom, greek potatoes and lemon dill tuna. It was the perfect Sunday lunch. Right after lunch, I went to the Willis Tower to meet relatives from St. Louis. They were: my dad’s brother, sister-in-law and their kids and grandkids, most of whom I haven’t seen since I was a little girl, and some of whom I was meeting for the first time.

We went up the Skydeck, where we saw the breathtaking view of the city, although after being to so many similar towers and having experienced similar sights, this was a little less special. It might have also been because we spent more time catching up on the benches, watching people take pictures of each other by the glass deck floors. After more than an hour of chatting amongst ourselves, they wanted to stay for a few more minutes, but since it was already late afternoon, I excused myself saying it’s time for me to go home… I still had chores to finish before the week begins.

Though I missed to see some friends, I like weekends like this because it allows us the chance to connect, if not in person, by phone. This is the type of weekend I like, and I have to remind myself to seek others out more often, especially those who I already know and spend more time together, more frequently 🙂


The artist within us

There are people who like art because of the status that liking art brings, and there are those who feel a connection to the artistic process by some past influence or experience with a piece of artwork. I am taken and humbled by my own observation of art, how it redefines my experience of the world, how it can set the tone for the day or leave us with a nagging thought that we could carry for several days.

I realize that art doesn’t have to be lofty or ostentatious. It serves more important purposes other than to merely build status. Art is about leaving an impression, a mark on the individual that cannot be imprinted by anything else.

Stones organized in a clean, uniform, linear fashion

There is always art in everyday. The reflection of light on concrete evokes a feeling of warmth, a snapshot unleashing a summers’ worth of memories. A leaf on the ground hints at discovering what is, at once, both natural and unexpected. Anything and everything can inspire art, or can even be imagined as something that comprise art. Where is the art in your everyday?

These stones actually have irregular shapes and convey the opposite of its minimalistic portrayal in the previous photo

Art pushes boundaries

There are some works of art makes us feel uncomfortable. It can provoke an emotion, whether negative or positive, real or imagined. Some delight us, while others puzzles us. The art that I am most intrigued by is the one that irreverent and pushes the convention of its time. In order for something to be revolutionary, it has to invite questions and incite doubts.

Art promotes well-being

My experience of art is akin to yoga and meditation. Art helps clear my mind and cleanse my spirit. It is a great stress reliever. It helps me escape, through the concepts an art work symbolizes, and it grounds me as I experience the physical installation– visually and sometimes through tactile experiences. It helps develop ideas

Art illustrates human capabilities through skill and intelligence

Perhaps more than any other purpose that art serves for me, it is its illustration of what humans are capable of that tops the list. To realize that human beings are so gifted as to have the capability to create.— I am filled with gratitude whenever this realization visits my mind.

In defense of the American question

Americans are always the target of ridicule regarding work/life balance. The world sees American corporate culture as the antithesis of a life well-lived; the rat race is often brought up signifying a mentality of corporate clones working toward a capitalistic values of greed and dominance. People around the world scratch their heads at the common question most Americans ask each other when meeting someone for the first time: What do you do? It is a question that requires an answer tied to one’s form of livelihood, and thus, connected to money.

In defense of that quintessentially American question, I think one of the reasons why Americans place emphasis on what one does for a living is because they assume that what a person does for a living is what he or she truly wants to do in life. In the States, there’s a focus on the individual, that his or her destiny is determined not by external factors or his or her environment, but by his or her own choices and decisions. Hence, one would think that what a person does at the moment is a product of that person’s own decisions. There is always an implied choice.

Americans also value hard work and commitment. Taking pride in what one does is a truly American value. One hears everywhere that one must follow his or her passion; as if it’s an imperative, a duty to oneself. Around the world there is more of a separation between work and life, and it is not necessary that one chooses her passion as his or her profession, since profession to them is just work, a means to money that will fund the other side of the coin, a personal life.

To fault Americans for focusing on what one does for a living during conversations is to assail what the kind of life they give importance to: aligning their passion and purpose as the foundation of a well-lived life.