Contradiction in Terms
You say to-may-toe; I say toh-mah-tah. Deal with it.
Tuesday, January 31, 2006


(part four of a four-part short story)

“How long did you think you could conceal her nature beneath a fountain?” the leader asked Madame Astranzia contemptuously, even as he viciously kicked in the door to the Vermilion Room, the lovers’ haven of choice for that evening.

The normally-genteel doyenne bristled with outrage as she replied, “You are mistaken, I assure you; and you will regret this violation of my place of business! Your superior is a frequent guest here—”

As Astranzia thus loudly attempted to stall for time, Nicolas was already in motion, having thrust Sorrow to the far corner of the room and leapt across, still unclothed, to retrieve his previously cast-aside blades. For a moment, when the battle was first joined, it almost seemed that he might win, so experienced a fighter was he… but he was naked, and they were in armor; and he was weak with love and sudden, sick terror while they were strong with conviction and duty; and there simply were too many of them, in the end. It was the fourth or fifth soldier that ran him through, piercing the unprotected flesh of his stomach and spattering the hectic walls of the Vermilion Room with the brighter crimson stain of freshly-spilled blood.

And the courtesan called Sorrow erupted in flame.

It began with her eyes, the eternal solemn darkness of them turning suddenly bright enough to elicit answering sparks from the exposed swords and cuirasses of polished steel massed before the narrow doorway. From there the blaze grew quickly—so quickly!—barely giving her own flowing hair time enough to rise, halo-like, in the air before crisping into soot; turning her skin to burnished bronze and then to purest fire as it devoured her face, arms, torso, feet; making of her a living effigy, at once glorious and terrible and indisputably Wild. And from her body the conflagration spread all but instantaneously—in a moment scarcely more than the moment between heartbeats—outward, ever outward.

The Vermilion Room was engulfed before any save Madame Astranzia could think to turn and flee. Even she was not quick enough to slip out the door—yet the flames did not touch her, nor the grievously-wounded Nicolas, nor any of the courtesans of that incomparable and ill-fated House. But the other soldiers burned, so swiftly and absolutely that they had not time even to utter a cry before they were seared to ash in their armor; and even the extraordinary stone walls, presumably proof against all but the most outward ravages of extreme heat, were lit and consumed as though they were flimsy as mere parchment. And the once-green lawn blackened and charred to powder; and the conflagration grew, and grew, and grew.

“My name is Malaya,” said the woman once known as Sorrow, before she became indistinguishable from the rest of the burning.


Velvet healed me, of course, when we found one another outside the House at the smoldering break of day—after which she, Astranzia, and the remaining disheveled courtesans fled to the compass points, to avoid being captured for complicity in the cataclysmic debacle. Even so, the injury and my unblemished record were sufficient to attain the honorable discharge I later sought—or perhaps the bureaucrats were merely all too occupied to intervene over a trifle such as mine, troubled as they were with the complexities of transferring the seat of governance to the new capital at Aylanar.

In recent years, they have been more troubled still; struggling, for one, against the self-proclaimed “true” Emperor, who has mustered an upstart militia of his own in the once-echoing ruins of the cindered old court.

For another, even a retired officer such as myself has managed to catch wind of the inadequately-suppressed rumors—that numerous SkyWild slaves have been escaping from isolated ships at sea, aided by an inexplicable band of renegade Wild who are led, it is recounted, by a bald yet inarguably beautiful woman, with skin of bronzed honey, and eyes marked even in triumph by some fathomless, ineffable grief.

It is further said that she is attended, among others, by a girl-child of twelve or so years, who carries their company aloft upon winds of her own creation; who calms the oceans simply by speaking to the waters in a strange, susurrant tongue; who breaks the crafted chains of Cantment with a gesture once thought dead and gone with the last of the hunted EarthWild. She is believed to be the bald woman’s daughter; for though her hair is long and lustrous—charcoal-dark—her skin is of a similar, if slightly lighter, honeyed hue.

But I like to imagine that she has my eyes: illuminated, yet not consumed, by sorrow.
This story was originally published in Dean Alfar's Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology, on sale now at Comic Quest and better bookstores.
Check out the rest of the posse!

Nikki bit in at 1:43 PM :: ::
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

And Now We Do the Dance of Joy

The wonderful people over at Our Own Voice have decided to publish my short story, Heritage, previously seen in this here blog. Gracious editor Reme just emailed me out of the blue--which is probably the absolute best way I have ever gotten any work of mine published, because I didn't have to write anything new, and I didn't have to go through the anxiety of wondering whether my submission would pass muster.

I must have done something good recently, though for the life of me I can't think what.

In other good news on the lit'ry front, spec fic god Jeff Ford has plugged Dean's Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology over at his blog. Since I did have to write something new and go through anxiety to get in the book (despite sleeping with the editor, can you imagine?), I'm delighted.

You can check the plug out here--of course, Jeff failed to say anything like "Nikki Alfar is brilliant and beautiful", but I live in hope.

Maybe if I find another good deed to do?
Nikki bit in at 12:59 PM :: ::
Tuesday, January 24, 2006


(part three of a four-part short story)

“I love you,” Nicolas said to Sorrow, as they lay in the starlit dark of the Ebon Room, the sourceless chirping of crickets becoming audible once more in the aftermath of their first time together. He was fresh from yet another victory at the front then, and nearly swaggering with it before he first caught speechless sight of her in her fountain-pool, glistening-wet and faintly steaming. From that moment, he had felt as though he were the one submerged, drowning in the scent of her, the taste of her skin, the feel of her hair, the burnt-sugar sea of her somber eyes. “Let me take you away from here. We can marry, if you want; or not, if you don’t. I know the quality of your Madame Astranzia—she’s an eye for profit, but she will not bar our way.”

Sorrow answered him as she had responded to countless other declarations of blazing ardor. “You do not love me,” she said; and though he could not clearly make out her face in the evening dark, her voice was not unkind. “You love what you think of me—and for that I thank you, and for the generosity of your spirit. But do not think, please, that lovemaking makes love, for we have known each other, yet we do not know one another. And I am well with that.”

“I love you,” Nicolas said again, greatly daring on their sixth night together, this time upon the sandy shoals beneath gently undulating seaweed and drifting glimmerfin replicas of rare fish in the Aquamarine Room. His need to be with her had led him to greater and greater feats in the fulfillment of his duties, such that he had been promoted so often that he no longer required monetary rewards to afford Madame Astranzia’s costly hospitality. He had also fallen, nearly, into Sorrow’s manner of speaking, so frequently had he recalled and reviewed in his mind their all-too-sporadic shared moments of communion and conversation. “Let me purchase your contract, please, so that you need no longer be required to entertain any guest but myself. If you insist on remaining here, then let it be at your leisure, and our pleasure, yours and mine.”

Sorrow gazed at him as he gazed at her, enthralled anew by the shifting tones of her honey-cream skin in the wavering undersea light. “We dare not love,” she said. “Perhaps you might love me, and perhaps love may turn the world, as it is said—but at the other end of the world we would find the Empire still. And do not think, please, that we can belong to one another when we belong foremost to the realm. That is the way of things, and coin will not change it.”

“I love you,” Nicolas said to her on their seventh night together, their mingled scents wafting away into the fragrance of living pines, grass, and wildflowers in the Viridian room. His zeal for his vocation had diminished significantly since his assignment to a command post overseeing a spice-wealthy archipelagic protectorate. It was the humidity, he often claimed, both out loud and to himself; but by the solitary light of his utterly-unnecessary fireside he could acknowledge that he was troubled by the natives’ vague resemblance to his beloved Sorrow. And even the unending fire of his passion in the heat of that island air could not assuage his growing cold suspicion that he was not, perhaps, the hero his Empire presented him to be. “At least tell me your real name,” he implored.

Sorrow wept, unexpectedly— and beautifully, of course, her tears turning to vapor nearly on the instant that they touched her flawless, glowing cheeks. “I have given up striving not to love you,” she said. “It is futile, as striving to love is also futile, for we are neither of us who we are; nor can we be one when we are each of us less than half who we should be. So do not think, please, that my true name is of moment when my true self is not who I am. Love is for those who live.”

On the ninth night, the soldiers came.

(to be concluded next Tuesday)
This story was originally published in Dean Alfar's Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology, on sale now at Comic Quest and better bookstores.
Check out the rest of the posse!

Nikki bit in at 12:14 PM :: ::
Monday, January 23, 2006

What would my Movie Biography be Called?

I don't usually do the quiz thing, but I spotted this one over at Alex's, and the result was just too funny for me not to post.!

Take this quiz at

Cue earthquake-calamity footage with Twin Peaks soundtrack.
Nikki bit in at 1:48 PM :: ::
Thursday, January 19, 2006

Why I Love Pratchett

...If you trust in yourself... and believe in your dreams... and follow your star..."


"... you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy.
--The Wee Free Men, Terry Pratchett

This is probably the smartest thing I have ever read in a written work meant for young audiences. Mr. Pratchett is so much "my man Terry" because he's never afraid of being complex, sardonic, and incredibly incisive, whatever age group he chooses to write for.

Now if only I believed there was room for the same kind of thing in Philippine children's literature.

Or maybe we can make room. We'll see.
Nikki bit in at 2:45 PM :: ::

Why I Love My Husband

Because, among myriad other reasons, Dean has seen fit to order us up a DSL connection that at last saves me from the agony and frustration of dial-up--and saves you, fellow blogger, from my unjust ire when I have spent seventy years patiently waiting for your blog to load only to learn that you have posted nothing new.

(Note that I am hardly innocent of this crime myself; but I did say "unjust", didn't I? Certain crimes are forgiveable to me when I do them, but not you. Life's a bitch that way; and we all know I am, too.)
Nikki bit in at 2:35 PM :: ::
Tuesday, January 17, 2006


(part two of a four-part short story)

Here, atop an irysk-fur rug mottled a pleasing indigo and cream, was strewn a sultan’s ransom of pillows hand-stitched by the otherwise-violent desert tribeswomen of the distant South; each pillow encrusted with semiprecious gems and thread of silver and gold, yet soft to the touch as the skin of the aptly-named courtesan Velvet, who hailed from that region and reclined upon those very cushions when she was not otherwise occupied entertaining her gentleman visitors. It was said that every available inch of Velvet’s dusky body—saving only the harder tissues of her nails and teeth—was so smooth, so supple, so yielding that even the harshest scars inflicted on a man in battle would melt painlessly away upon contact with her, leaving only skin as unblemished as Velvet’s own, and a spirit similarly healed from the rigors and weariness that all too often shadowed a soldier’s career.

There, in the opposite corner, hung a profusion of rare story-silks created by the spider-people of Eastern Chiensai, who spend half of their lives suspended from ropes in mid-air so that they may use all four of their double-jointed limbs to craft those gossamer-fine, intricate tapestries of weave and wonder. In the House of Bliss, these finished silks were twined about pillars painstakingly carved from whole whalebones, also with scenes from stories of the Oriental demesnes. The courtesan named Lithe was often to be found perched elegantly atop these pillars, or entwined among the sumptuous silks of her homeland. Her porcelain skin and refined features were as delicate as the masterpieces that surrounded her; yet her limbs were every bit as honed as those of the spider-people, and capable of all manner of acrobatic contortion within the more clandestine chambers of the House—including the famed Cerulean Room, where expensively-maintained Cant rendered the earth’s pull so weak as to be negligible, so that guests with a taste for adventure might be freed from the weight of their burdens in an ambiance of literal weightlessness. Lithe’s companionship was often requested in tandem with a reservation for use of the Cerulean Room; and it was said that the experience was itself a tale well worthy of chronicle in any story-silk or scrimshaw.

And of course there were the more commonplace beauties—fair of skin, blond or brown or red of hair—though not a one of them could truly be dismissed as merely commonplace. Golden-tressed Aria, for instance, tended to sing rather than shout her pleasure, in notes of such surpassing sweetness and purity that she was of necessity designated a room all her own, in which the mirror and window glass had been especially prepared so as to withstand the reverberant onslaught of her passions. And the higher and louder the note, it was knowledgably reported, the higher, as it were, a man found himself rising to the occasion.

But the center of the reception chamber was devoted to Sorrow, so named because the depthless solemnity in her eyes belied their appetizing color of burnt sugar, as the charcoal-dark of her hair formed a cloak of nigh-impenetrable mystery over skin of delectable honey, kissed with cream. She alone in that entire room was wholly, perennially naked, for Madame Astranzia claimed that the fountain of perfumed water in which Sorrow basked was necessary to counteract the emanating heat that had been steeped into her very pores by the tropical sun of the island territories from which she hailed. She was accounted by all and sundry to be as dangerous as she was alluring—surpassing even the awe and dread tendered to her crueler colleague, Cicatrix of storm-scoured Odanis—for it was held that any man, having once been consumed in the fires of Sorrow’s fervid embrace, would thereafter yearn and burn for her touch till the end of his days, though he should be detailed to the farthest northern reaches of the Empire, where even the mightiest glaciers would prove incapable of quenching the flame of desire from his scorched and shattered soul.

One such unfortunate was a certain Nicolas, a bladearm of some repute from the 47th detachment of the Western brigades.

(to be continued next Tuesday)
This story was originally published in Dean Alfar's Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology, on sale now at Comic Quest and better bookstores.
Check out the rest of the posse!

Nikki bit in at 2:38 PM :: ::
Friday, January 13, 2006

New Year's Resolutions

Yes, I know this is a tad belated. Blame it on the jet lag.

1. Lose the seven pounds I gained over the holidays. Stupid American-sized food portions. Now I utterly have to do this or risk no longer being able to slip my calves into my sexy new black boots. Will go back on the diet next week (because the mango cream pie someone gave us prevents my doing it now!); am up to 60 ab crunches a day, and working up to 75.

2. Learn to juggle.* I try to learn a new skill every year, but utterly failed last year because my so-called "language learning partners" wussed out on me. Not that this qualifies as a good reason, but it's hard to learn a new language without anyone to converse with, which is why, alas, I remain unable to speak either Spanish or German. This year's project is juggling--I can already sort of do a two-ball cascade, and will be working up to three.

3. Wake up in time to give Husband his vitamin and pseudo-breakfast. Events over the course of the last couple of months have reminded me how really lucky I am with this man, so a little geisha-girl service is not out of order. Note, however, that I am fully aware of my inability to make actual breakfast (or even sense, really) before 10 a.m., and thus will not even try. I even missed the vitamin-and-O.J. yesterday. Not a good sign for this resolution's longevity.

4. Fix my blog and those of my flock (Y'all know who you are) to work in more screen resolutions. The funny thing that happens with Blogger's search bar in 800x600 resolution is screwing with my designs, though of course Dean claims no one but Vin uses 800x600 anymore. (Constant Readers, is this so?!) Dean himself uses this insanely high resolution on his teeny-weeny new laptop, which makes the blogs look strange and incomplete. In the words of a cinematic Roman Emperor, "it vexes me".

And we do not wish to spend the entire year vexed, now do we?
*Why juggling, you ask? Because I'm hoping it will build up my physical and--being a sort of Zen-like activity--mental dexterity. Besides, here I am, a wife, mother, writer, etc., etc.--with all that juggling, how hard can the actual physical act be? In the words of Terry Pratchett, "it's just a matter of comprehending where everything needs to be." Heh.
Nikki bit in at 10:27 AM :: ::
Thursday, January 12, 2006

Keywords are Key

Okay, this is for my friend Gigi, who wanted to know if she should know about “anything blog-related beyond posting or simple design”. Now I happen to think everyone should know about keywords, but not many people do. So here we go…

Quite simply, the “keywords” meta tag* allows web spiders** to find your site. (If that sentence didn’t seem “simple” to you at all, zip down to the bottom of this entry for definitions.) By specifying certain words which are relevant to you or your site, you basically up the chances of your site popping up when people type those words in a web search.

For instance, if you type “Nikki Alfar” in the Google search box, the first three entries that will pop up should point directly to my blog. If so, it means that I’m using keywords effectively. If not—or if it’s not the case for you—then the keywords element needs to be worked on in the template.

So how do we do this? Open your blog template. (In Blogger, this is one of the tabs near the top of your screen.) Somewhere near the top of the code here, you should find a whole slew of lines that look sort of like this:

meta name=”blahblahblah” content=”blahblahblah”

One of these (probably the last) should read:

meta name=”keywords” content=”blahblahblah”

All you have to do now is replace “blahblahblah” or whatever with the appropriate keywords relevant to you and/or your blog. In my case, I have things like “Nikki Alfar, Nikki Go Alfar, Filipina, Philippine, woman, women, female, writer, writing, grammar, comics, comic books, grafiction, reading, books, literature, gaming, wife, mother, mom, daughter”.

As you can see, you need to include every permutation you can think of relating to the topics you want included. Just separate each topic with a comma and you’re good.

If you don’t have the keywords meta tag already included in your template, go ahead and follow the format above and just stick it in your template directly below the other meta tags. (Do remember to put it in brackets like the other meta tags!) If there are no meta tags in your template, your blog was designed by a schmoe and you need to email me.

Finally, if, having fixed up your keywords, you don’t find your blog popping up on web searches right away, chill out. It’ll probably take a few days for the web spiders to seek you out, but they will eventually, making your blog (or site) that much more accessible to the reading public. Which may well increase your readership, which is (mostly) a good thing.

Oops, wait, one thing more! Whatever you do, do not be an ass and put in keywords which have nothing to do with you, but which you know will draw hapless surfers to your blog. You know, like “free pornography”, that kinda thing. It is the lowest form of pathetic misrepresentation and we will all be forced to dislike you immensely if you engage in it.

Not that any of my readers would, I’m sure. My readers have class.
*meta tag = an element of your page/blog template. Meta tags “talk” to the browser, conveying information that doesn’t necessarily show up on your site, but has impact on how the browser treats it.

**web spiders = programs that trawl the web on behalf of search engines and the like
Nikki bit in at 5:31 PM :: ::
Tuesday, January 10, 2006


(part one of a four-part short story)

You must understand that all of this occurred some thirteen years ago, when I was young still and the Empire had but newly begun its campaign to rid the realm of the Wildness.

We were told—and not without foundation—that the Wild represented a threat to the ongoing unification of the realm, dispersed as they were throughout the lands, yet uncontrolled by any form of sanctioned governing body. Moreover, rumor had persisted over a course of decades that certain of the Great Families had been pursuing some sort of complex schema of interbreeding, intended to result in the birth of a child with unprecedented affinity for all aspects of the Wildness. It was therefore generally agreed that reining in the Wild, particularly among the Families, was not merely a judicious course, but a necessary one in order to ensure the continuance of the Empire. No one strongly objected, as I was far from the only one who had heard some story or knew someone who knew someone who had experienced some calamitous upheaval wrought by an untutored expression of the Wildness.

It is known, of course, that not all of the Wild were eradicated. Some of the affinities were deemed to be of use to the realm and therefore permitted to endure, albeit under the constraints of that wondrous Cantment that regulates every moment of its subject’s life, from breeding to breathing. To this day, maritime commerce and conquest alike are sped onward by the billowing winds summoned by the indentured SkyWild, always with a stalwart adept of Cant at hand to ensure that his charge’s Cantment is loosed only enough for the time and task required. The FlowWild, likewise, are kept in isolated reserve against instances in which rain may be required to alleviate drought; or conversely, when torrential downpours threaten the more flood-prone cities of the realm, such as the densely-packed, haphazardly-grown capital itself.

But now I misremember, for that was the old capital. The new one, it is said, is a triumph of planning and architecture—brilliantly conceived, meticulously executed. I have never been there myself; it is the old capital that I remember, and of which I speak.


There is always work for soldiers in an Empire so vast and so ancient that any other name it once had has long since been forgotten; in those days, however, the Wildness campaign kept the garrisons so busy that entire companies of soldiers were constantly in and out of the capital city, conveying intelligence, receiving orders, reporting for direct commendation or censure, and so on. They were celebrated by the general populace as well as generously compensated during that time, more so those that had managed to especially distinguish themselves on campaign. These heroes of the Empire were frequently accorded promotions upon presentation at court, and invariably awarded a significant purse in recognition of their valiant efforts on behalf of the realm. And the contents of very many of these purses inevitably found their way into the coffers of Madame Astranzia’s House of Boundless Bliss.

Then, as now, there was of course a plethora of pleasure houses to be found across the capital, and indeed throughout the realm wherever soldiers were known to be detailed. Many of these boasted courtesans reputed to be every bit as lovely and willing as those at Madame Astranzia’s; and every one of these other establishments was certainly considerably lighter on a man’s (or woman’s) purse. But the House of Bliss was exceptional, and not only because one of its ladies was rumored to be the favorite of the eldest prince of the realm.

From the outside, it appeared to be no more than another luxury establishment amid the prosperous hostelry district in which it was located. It was crafted of costly stone, with tasteful fretwork at the eaves and true glass, not shimmersheen, at each of its sumptuously curtained windows. It had a modest yet lush lawn, well-maintained with a carpet of green grass regardless of the heat or cold at any given time of year, though not a single flower graced the House’s premises on the exterior.

For the flowers were all inside, Madame Astranzia was wont to say—with a lifted eyebrow and complicit smile—and bloomed best out of the heat and light of the noonday sun. Indeed, of the residents of that House, none but the domestic staff and Astranzia herself were ever seen outside its rose-colored walls. But any male in the capital above a certain age could recite, whether from hearsay or experience, the use-names and descriptions of every coveted courtesan behind that discreet façade.

Once inside, it was said, one instantly perceived that the much-observed walls were in fact pared from stone so fine as to allow sufficient illumination from both moon and sun to bathe the interior in a muted roseate glow. This hushed incandescence was augmented as necessary by Cantment-crafted glass globes, which floated obligingly along to follow each courtesan and each guest, if they so desired; and in which floated, as if stirred by some internal current, infinitesimal glowing motes of that precious mineral called lambent, which even the highest Families of nobility possess only in short supply.

In either the muted or immediate glow of these light sources, the reception chamber of the House was revealed to be a most marvelous amalgamation of the most opulent indulgences from all corners of the Empire. Fine wines, cheeses, fruits, and sweetmeats—including, on occasion, such exotic delicacies as pickled slivers of adarna tongue or the cloudy, heady liqueur distilled from the potent tears of lung—were served to guests awaiting their favorite companions, or suffering an agony of indecision over which exquisite beauty to select for the night’s pleasure.

(to be continued next Tuesday)
This story was originally published in Dean Alfar's Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology, on sale now at Comic Quest and better bookstores.
Check out the rest of the posse!

Nikki bit in at 6:35 AM :: ::
Friday, January 06, 2006

We're Baaack...

...from our two-week sojourn in Florida, visiting my mom, stepdad, brother, and sister-in-law for the holidays. We generally had a hell of a time, though mostly all we did was shop* (which I'm sure my friend Gigi would agree does indeed constitute "a hell of a time"). We did manage to find time to go to a few parties, and visit the nearby (in Florida terms, that is) Alligator Farm. Contrary to appearances, the nature-apathetic Alfars do actually enjoy animals and that sort of thing--in their proper place, which of course is a zoo where you can smoke, buy soda, and eat foreign hotdogs (which everyone knows are vastly more exciting than regular hotdogs).

Lessons Learned (Some Re-learned) on this Trip Abroad:

1. Traveling with a three-year-old is easier than traveling with a one- or two-year-old. Sage was a little darling; dazzled everyone with her vocabulary, singing, dancing, and sense of humor; and generally did the best job possible of making the whole journey as non-harrowing as possible for her parents. It really isn't her fault she was born to people more accustomed to nurturing paper children than a flesh-and-blood one; still, we have sworn not to travel abroad again until she is able to read, bathe, and eat on her own--and possibly smoke as well, haha! Oh, and the 37-year-old kid behaved himself pretty well, too.

2. I adore my wonderful mother. But not if I have to live with her for more than two weeks. Lemme put it this way: two grown women, one kitchen = not a good equation. I bet Sage will feel the same way in the future, which will just about serve me right.

3. I can live without yaya, cell phone, or Internet connection. But again, not for more than two weeks or so. Laptop mine, how I love thee!

4. Getting a diamond ring for Christmas really helps when dealing with the concurrent needs of daughter, husband, mother, and stepfather. All I have to do is look at my hand and the world seems a little sparklier. The experience is highly recommended.

5. It takes five or six visits over the course of two weeks before the Alfars have their fill of Barnes and Noble bookstore. And even then, really, only due to cash and gift card limitations. It only took me two visits to be content at Sephora, but we're going to have to buy a new bookcase to accommodate all the new head candy. Even Sage is running out of shelf space.

6. The phrase "happy homemaker" is oxymoronic. Especially on Christmas Day, when the routine goes something like this: wake up, make Christmas meal, wash up just in time to start preparing next meal. Rinse and repeat twice for lunch and dinner, trying to make time for opening presents and making oneself vaguely respectable-looking for the inevitable photo session. Gah. Did I mention I missed my yaya?

7. My new dream in life (having acquired aforementioned delightful diamond from likewise delightful husband) is to be able to take a hot bubble bath whenever I damn well feel like it. If you don't understand, you either (a) have a bathtub of your own and have become blase about the orgiastic decadence of it, (b) have just never done it properly, or (c) both of the above.

8. Americans suffer from obesity because everyone serves you just too damn much food. I think I have gained about as much weight as the sum total of our balikbayan boxes. Okay, that's an exaggeration; but if I intend to be seen in a swimsuit anywhere come summer, carbs and I, regrettably, must once again part ways. After I gorge on the chips and chocolates we brought home, of course.

9. It is very clever to seal one's packages only lightly in case one has to redistribute items due to weight limitations. It is not so clever to forget that one has done so, and therefore submit said packages for loading, thus leading to around 14 hours of stress and worry over the state of one's new possessions. We tried to put it out of our heads during the flight, but now and then panic would strike: What about Vin's birthday present? What about the DVDs? What about my Rosebud salve? Most of all, dear Lord above, what about the books?! Fortunately, God heard us and all our luggage arrived in Manila safe and sound. (Maybe it's because I actually went to mass on New Year's Day for the first time in... what, five years?)

10. All the good food, hot bubble baths, and sinful shopping in the world do not hold a candle to being home. Where your friends are just a non-roaming text message away. Where you can sleep in your own bed, decide on your own schedule, and sit around smoking and vegging out at your computer in your bra and panties. For as long as your husband leaves you to it. Which--not having to worry about your parents suddenly knocking on the door--is probably the best "thank-God-we're-home" pleasure of them all.

Man, it's good to be back.
*Take a gander at the freshly-updated sideblog to check out all my new loot! (I'll post entries on the books as I plow my way through 'em.)
Nikki bit in at 1:16 AM :: ::
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