Saturday, July 13, 2002

Born On The Month Of July (When It Rains, It Really Pours)

One of my favorite movies is “You’ve Got Mail”. It’s one movie I don’t mind watching every time I catch it on HBO, especially the first AND last ten minutes. (The Cranberries’ “Dreams” sequence – Tom and Meg starting their day not knowing how many times they had bumped into each other yet thinking of each other’s emails; as well as the happy ending – “I wanted it to be you.” So Hollywood, yet so effective for me!) It is relatively well-written for a romantic comedy and the movie soundtrack has a lot of feel-good songs. Okay, I know what you’re thinking – that I am partial to it because the protagonists communicated through e-mail. :-) Guilty! I like it infinitely better than “Sleepless in Seattle”. This message is not about why I prefer the former to the latter, though.

In one of his messages, Tom Hanks’ character wrote to Meg Ryan’s character that he loved the smell of spring because it reminded him of his schooldays. He said that if he knew where she lived, he would send her a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils. Meg Ryan walked to her little bookstore on the corner carrying a bouquet of flowers she bought and her Tall Decaf Cappuccino from Starbucks, all the while mumbling to herself about spring and pencils. She then proceeded to happily sniff at a roll of Scotch tape, apparently to remind herself of her own happy memories about school opening.

I have fantastic memories about the first few days of school, especially during my grade school days. I hated summer vacations because we were made to stay home and read classic books and play classical pieces on the piano. I didn’t have a province I enjoyed going home to. I didn’t have an annual summer childhood sweetheart to spend the long days of April and May with. Whenever I compared notes with my classmates come school opening, I always felt like I was missing out on a lot of things because of my upbringing. Believe it or not, instead of learning how to ride a bike, I was enrolled in PROSEC for two consecutive years – Professional Skills Enrichment Center. For two summers, I went to school to take speed-reading, effective writing, and enhanced vocabulary lessons. I could hear my batch mates playing soccer and volleyball outside our summer classroom. I could not join them for I was busy learning how to become a writer. I topped my summer class for both years with exemplary marks. The following year, I even joined a summer journalism class in Ateneo and became Editor-in-Chief of my batch. But to this day, I can neither play ball nor ride a bike. Life’s full of tough choices, ain’t it?

Imagine my excitement then whenever my Mama bought my books for school, for it signaled the end of boredom. I always devoured my books so that whenever school opening came, I had already read them all at least once. (I sense that the words “Deprived Childhood” and “Nerd! Nerd!” have entered yourconsciousness. I don’t blame you, but please defer judgment until JudgmentDay. :-)) I was the most excited girl to go back to school. I wanted everything to be new from head to toe. If not new, at least they had to be sparklingly clean. I used to scrub my umbrella, sharpen my pencils, and mend my uniforms so that I could walk inside my grade school classroom looking my best. I believed in the power of first impression with myteachers. My tricks always worked with them.

June was a time for me to buy new shoes, too. Come July, however, the new shoes always had to be put aside because the rains might ruin them, only to be re-used after the storms of July. Being born on this rainy month, I wasa beneficiary of the ningas cogon mentality. During the early part of thes chool year, students always want (I suppose they still do) to decorate their classrooms with bulletin boards announcing birthdays. My birthdays were thus always a blast because students were still in the mood to celebrate, not being too busy with schoolwork. In my family, the six other members were born between the months of November to February. I was the only one born during the third quarter of the year. I thus had a birthday party every year, and people had the budget to buy me gifts.

School opening and the rainy season always signaled a time of blessings for me, then.

In high school, I lived a normal life and blended perfectly with my batchmates. I stopped aiming to achieve academically, after my catastrophic grade school days, so I gained a campus girl reputation in high school and pleased my friends more than my teachers. I was no longer deprived; neither was I considered a nerd.

Up until college, I only bought shoes annually, if at all, and that was in June. Almost always, heavy rains and instant floods baptized my new shoes, especially during those days when I had to commute everyday from UP to our house in Sta. Mesa. Yet, there was no other time to buy those shoes; it had become a personal tradition to get them only during school opening. It even became a joke among my best friends whenever I arrived wearing new shoes that a storm would be coming soon to wash the newness out of my shoes again. It never occurred to me to change my shopping habits, however. My love for school supplies escalated when I entered law school. I became obsessed with tape flags, highlighters, and almost all 3M products, which I do sniff occasionally up to now. (Confessions of a 3m addict would be a good second sub-title to this!) Needless to say, this time of the year has always been special for me. No matter how tragic the rest of the year becomes, I know in my heart that come June and July, sometimes even up to September, things would fall into place and I would be happy again.

Last year, my birthday month was the happiest time of my life. A dream came true. I finally became a lawyer, free to practice my profession any way I wanted to. I also had two surprise parties, and 98 other dreams that came true.

Perhaps it’s a reward for my expectant faith or just a seasonal blessing,but my time of favor seems to have come again this year! I started June with a new job at the Sandiganbayan. Out came my school supplies again as I had to re-learn some laws that I last read while still in law school, this being a major shift in my career. I have rediscovered my love for the law and am having the time of my life at work, despite all the quirks that go with working for the government WITH government employees. :-)

Expecting to receive my salary after several months of drought, I indulged myself with a new pair of shoes last weekend, which I eagerly wore today. Guess what happened? The fattest drops of rain ever to have formed this year fell on my part of Quezon City. As I walked through several puddles of water and attempted to salvage my new shoes this afternoon, I couldn’t help but smile at my God. It was His not-so-gentle reminder of His faithfulness to me. He spoke through the downpour, telling me that this was how much He knows and loves me, that the things that made me smile for decades (ouch!) are here again, despite the heart-wrenching pain I had gone through for the first half of the year 2002.

I am not saying I have lived a privileged life. Far from it! Failure has been my middle name, along with Anxiety, Depression, Heartache and Disappointment. But God is true to His word – He sends the summer to send light to some people’s lives while He sends the rains to shower me with His abundant blessings. I, Ella, have been fearfully and wonderfully made, as the Psalm goes! I have reason to celebrate and to personally thank God, for I am richly blessed!

I was able to sing like I’ve never sung before (thanks to my generous brother/partner Sunday!) last Saturday in front of my fans (entire family plus high school best friends plus Lingkod!).

I was able to dance, twice!, and release all my happy energies in celebration of two wonderful years with God’s community. (It’s ok that I’m not into sports, then, I happily tell myself now, for God made up for it in other ways!)

My father got well after a quadruple bypass operation and valve repair! My family is at our happiest best. :-)

I was able to find a job in no time after I resigned from my previous job with no inkling as to what I wanted to do. The story of this new job, well, I already told you about.

I have been invited to write for my favorite Catholic magazines! Three summers of writing have finally paid off.

I was able to teach a choir again, the Lingkod Chorale, after a decade! A whole lifetime of playing the piano has finally found its outlet, the MusicMinistry of LingkodQC. I have come to appreciate all the things my parents taught me because they make me happy up to now!

I have more friends, brothers and sisters than my heart could carry.

I see love everyday and everywhere. :-)

During the early part of the year, I was a mess and people didn’t know what to do with me. I had little or no hope for my future in all aspects of my life. Look how quickly the time of the Lord’s favor has come, just by the change of season! Yesterday, I received a package from my Ate--> her advanced birthday gifts. She sent me an adorable lavender teddy bear and a 1,000-piece puzzle of the “Lord of the Rings”! LOTR, as most of you know, is one of my favorite trilogies in the universe. I spent a few minutes tonight forming the part where it read, “One ring to rule them all, etc.etc.” After I frame this puzzle, Frodo and I can stare at each other in my room until Book Two’s movie is released. ;)

I wrote this because I figured, since I usually bore you with my angst, I want to bore you with my joy and perhaps infect you with it! :-) Today I laughed so hard my insides ached after a scene straight out of “Friends”with Jeni, Sunday, my father’s car, and a big police dog. It was a therapeutic laugh we shared. A while ago, I finished eating a surprise gift from a dear friend – a delightful mini-cake that came in a pink and lavender box, my feel-good colors. The occasion? Nothing, I just deserved it, allegedly. Is God showing off or what?

“Amen, Amen, my heart cries. His word is True! All that the Lord has said,I will do.”

Some of you may be experiencing storms too strong to withstand and are carrying burdens too heavy to hide. I tell you, YOUR TIME WILL COME. It’s a certainty. God knows you and loves you as much as He does me! He will not deny you anything as long as you allow Him to work in your life. Let go and let Him be the God of your life. Ask for anything in the name of ourLord, anything that is within God’s will shall be given unto you. ;-)

I am happy, at peace, and contented right now, not because I am rich, married or famous, but because I have, and I share, God’s love in my heart.There are some stories that don’t have an ending in my life yet. I have lifted them up to God and prayed for them fervently. In one scene I imagine myself a la Meg Ryan, saying to my Tom Hanks and floating with happiness, “I wanted it to be you.”

I know, though, that Jesus has plans far greater than my wild imagination. I can’t wait for the rest of this month to unfold!

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