Saturday, October 28, 2006

This heart is already taken

Glen Park
I found a letter on the front steps as I was leaving home for work. I noticed the handwriting was strangely familiar. I've seen this before. It seems similar to the first letter I found on the same spot not too long ago. It was a very short note, I remember.

Was this supposed to be for me, for someone else?

All the things you wrote, that was kind of you. That was actually beyond kindness because while I think I am a reasonable person, you don't know me personally.

Are you a neighbor I haven't officially met yet? Are you the lean jogger who runs around the neighborhood every evening and says 'hi' to me while I water our young tree on the side walk? Or the charming dog owner at the neighborhood park who returned my tennis ball with a cheery smile? Are you the home owner on the adjacent street who asked what I think about the paint job on your garage door? Or the dressy, chatty fellow who takes the same train in the morning?

The letters, those thoughtful words, they're not meant for me. Someday you'll find that special someone who you will write about and will offer those verses to.

Whoever you are, I hope you'll stay as friendly as you are now. I wish you all the best.

This heart is already taken.
(The picture was taken in San Francisco's sleepy Glen Park with the view of the Excelsior District of the city on a perfect Fall evening.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

We are now half-way through the Beginning Italian 1A. In nine weeks, we’ve had two quizzes, finished six laboratory audio and video manuals, and eighty three pages of grammaticali, incontri, attiviti, e vocabulari. I teasingly tell the Salvadoran that the Italian class has become my new job.

When I started taking Spanish lessons years ago, I remember I had to translate my ideas from Tagalog to English to Spanish. It is the other way around when reading instructions in Spanish. The translation used to take a long time, a lengthy process. It was incredibly frustrating to see my more advanced language partners lose their patience and I used to cringe when they end up finishing my sentences for me. (I also had to unlearn lots of Hispanized-Tagalog words because the meaning has evolved a lot differently from the Spanish word it got borrowed from). But we know that this story ended well because I am so eloquent with my Spanish now. (Of course, I'm only kidding. Seriously, I want to get there someday).

What’s amazing was that in the course of learning Spanish, my spoken and written English was revitalized. I don’t know how or why, but it did. Now that I’m learning Italian, I find my Spanish getting even better. I also find it much easier to learn Italian having already learned Spanish. Not only because the two are almost identical in construct but also the learning techniques I acquired from Spanish can be applied to Italian as well. Writing journals, watching movies, listening to music, and keeping notes in index cards can be employed to immerse myself with anything Italian.

There are times when I think Spanish is a more difficult language than Italian and there are times I think it is the other way around. I am discovering that Italian, like the other languages I speak, has its own peculiarities.

The Salvadoran is taking the class with me so I am also discovering things about him. Petty, amusing things. For someone who has a short attention span, he seems to be enjoying, at the same time, doing well at the Italian class. Generally, his interest is destined to be short lived however fascinating the class may be, but not ITAL1A. He still blushes when called by
la professoressa to answer an exercise. While his nose gets bigger when reading the dialogues, I chuckle when I hear his improvised Italian accent. It is kindof sexy!
I don’t think he means to poke fun at other people but he laughs when someone mispronounces the words which is something I share with him. Sometimes I think we only go to class to be entertained.

We'll have another quiz next week.


October is almost O-V-E-R

Even though the days are drenched with sunshine, the evening breeze from the Pacific Ocean brings cool mornings and cold nights.

It gets dark earlier nowadays.

I can feel the season is changing.

My herb plants are slowly wilting. I better harvest them next week.

We missed out on the grape stomping events in Sonoma and Napa. Again!

- ral

(This photo was taken in our backyard on a beautiful fall evening.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bloomingdales, 10 years in the making

Long lines at the ATM. Long lines to get a bite to eat. Longer lines to the bathroom. This is like going to the ballgame. It's an absolute madhouse. This was, and still is, the scene inside the newly opened Bloomingdale's in San Francisco's shopping district. SF people call it 'Bloomies'.

It opened on 9/28 and the Salvadoran and I, as expected, were at the mall around lunch time that day. Having come from Manila where the city's past time is going to malls, pushing through glass doors gives me a natural high. It wasn't a surprise I was absolutely thrilled to walk on the pearly, shiny floors. Hear the noise of the crowd that is having an equal amount of high. And to smell the smell of a mall! Going to Bloomies, at least for me, is an endorphine inducer. (I don't know why I am embarrassed to admit that.)

Just like any other 'opening' in this city, it drew mixed reviews. Some folks say the city does not need another mall and it is just a glorified extension of Nordstrom. The media calls it 'Fashionistas and Foodies unite'. Others think it is what SF needs to revitalize the area between the Civic Center and Union Square. For me, it is just another means to spend money and be broke (read as 'I am going to look even better at work').

Honestly, I am quite impressed with the domed rotunda which has a lot of history in it and I think they did an excellent job with the neoclassical facade on the side of Market Street. Apparently, the facade is a remnant of the 1896 Emporium . As a matter of fact, I have never been to a more beautiful mall than this ( I have yet to see the one in Millan, Italy!) There were an orchestra playing classical music directly beneath the dome on the first day.

It is a feast for the eyes. That's literally true because I couldn't afford anything I like, not even that lightest checkered scarf or that stove top espresso maker. But that never stopped me from trying on an expensive jacket, a pair of Marc Jacobs boots and checked out two or three Jack Spade bags.

I almost shouted 'Amen!' when I overheard someone saying you have to own one expensive jacket and a pair of expensive shoes in your lifetime. Santa, can I have that 2K worth of wool coat?

Before the Bloomies opened, there were only two malls in the city - the San Francisco Center in Union Square and Stonestown Galleria on 19th Avenue in the Sunset district. I don't think I can count the Metreon as a mall. The Embarcadero Center is not enclosed so it is not considered a mall either.

I used to think this city abhors big malls and prefers the outdoor shopping just like it frowns at the giant restaurant and coffee chains and go for the mom-and-pop type of places. Bloomies is obviouly an exception.

I ran into a local KTVU traffic reporter (Sal Castaneda) inside the mall and he stopped and said hello to acknowledge my greeting.

In my ten years of living in the city, I had witnessed major events that added more pride to San Francisco and also totally changed the way we live - the SFO Airport BART station, ATT Park (the home of the San Franciso Giants), the world class De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, Conservatory of Flowers also in GG Park - and some minor earthquakes. Maybe I'll still be here when the city finally hosts the Olympics. For now, I am just going to wait and hope that the Giants and the 49ers clinch the World Series and the Superbowl respectively.

There is a tea store inside the mall called Lupicia that I would like to spend more time in. The upscale grocery place called Bristol Farm seems worth the exploration. Maybe the hype about Bloomies will die down in a couple more weeks and the Salvadoran and I can finally go back to check it out some more.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Cuando las últimas ferias de la ciudad terminan, las significan el fin de verano y el principio de nueva estación. El otoño está aquí. Los tardes hace sol pero en la mañana y la noche se necesita llevar otra capa porque hace frío. La temperatura baja grandisimamente. Las hojas se vuelven amarilla, roja, naranja, y marrón. Es una buena vista! Las hojas finalmente cairán al suelo. La lluvia y a veces nieve, cairá tambien.

El otoño comenzaba dos semanas pasadas. Es el tiempo que las uvas y otras cosechas en los valles son recolectada. Es el tiempo también que los días son mas corto de las noches. Los pajaros emigrarán a los paises de sud. En pronto, esta estación terminará y el invierno seguirá. Me parece que la naturaleza está preparandose para hacer un sueño profundo.

(Esta foto fue tomada en el Castro Street Fair que ocurre en el primero domingo de octubre).