It was a pretty typical day for me the other day. People, whether they are here in the Philippines or not, seem to be interested to know what it is I do from day to day. They are even more interested because I'm not "working" and I can lay claims to actually being busy. They hear this and wonder how can a person with no work (ie: nothing to do) be "busy".
Well, let me start out by reminding everyone out there that dishes, plates, glasses, floors, bathrooms, and clothes do not clean themselves here any more than they do anywhere else in the world. Just because it's the Philippines and domestic help can be quite affordable does not mean that we can afford it or that our schedules allow it. One of us has to be here while the help is here and that doesn't allow much for spontaneous schedule changes.
My typical day begins around 9:00-9:30am and, because the computer sits strategically, I start by checking email. Other morning rituals follow and end with breakfast. Although not necessarily...I'm usually at the computer working on images I've shot. Cropping, resizing, deleting, etc. For an upcoming exhibit, I have been poring over a group of about 50 images I selected from a total field of over 300, in an effort to reduce that number to just 12. Every day or so I go through them looking for those that "just don't fit", those that I can find some flaw in that I hadn't seen before, and those that just "must go in". If you're an artist and have been exhibited, you know what I mean. If you've never done this sort of thing and know no one who has, try this: go to your closet (or dresser, laundry hamper, pile of clothes on floor....) and choose only 2 shirts/blouses, 2 pairs of pants, 1 pair shoes, 2 pairs undergarments, and socks. Got them? Put one of those outfits on. OK, now go through the rest of your home and pick one (1) other item that you will place into a small backpack along with the change of clothes you've already chosen. Now leave the country for the next 3 weeks. You're going somewhere where you can't buy clothes, so the option to get some there doesn't exist. If this all sounds a little like "Survivor", it is. It's a tough choice, isn't it? Especially picking that one other item before you knew you were going somewhere, where that place was, or what item it might be that you'd need. Hope you chose wisely! This is what someone preparing for an exhibit goes through.
So, that takes time...and may cause me to miss breakfast, as breakfast has now become lunch.
Lunch is usually taken somewhere in the surrounding few blocks. We don't have a "working kitchen" yet. (That's OK, I'm not much for cooking, anyway. And, it would just mean more dishes to clean, as well as stoves, microwaves, counters, etc...) I have a lot to choose from in the neighborhood: Just downstairs there's Earle's Deli and an Indian restaurant. Across the street in the PeopleSupport call center building (where your Expedia calls, among others, are taken) are McDonald's, KFC, Starbucks, Tokyo!Tokyo!, and Yellow Cab Pizza--all open 24 hours. In the Convergys call center building are Brothers Burger, Tempura Grill, North Park (Chinese), Max's Fried Chicken, and Jollibee (hamburgers and Filipino dishes). Also nearby is Tropical Hut hamburgers and the entire food court of RCBC Plaza, a 30-40-story tower full of call centers (you've probably reserved a hotel with someone there), a museum, and RCBC bank. Oh, there's another McDonald's behind RCBC. Places like Tropical Hut can sell me a meal faster and cheaper than I can make it myself, so why bother cooking?
With several friends working in the surrounding buildings, I can often find myself with a lunch date.
I know the president of a chain of photo stores (Photoline/PixelPoint) here and often have images printed at their location in Glorietta Mall, which is a good 10 blocks from here. Many days it is impossible to get a cab, so I find myself getting my exercise walking the Skywalk (which begins just 2 blocks from my building) to the mall. A lot of professionals do their work there and their print quality is the best I've ever experienced, anywhere.
Glorietta is just one of several shopping options all interconnected, so any other things we need I pick up while I'm there. SM Department Store/Hypermarket is there, as well as Landmark Department Store/Market, Rustan's Department Store/Supermarket, and Greenbelt (which is mostly food/entertainment). Shopping Malls in the Philippines see an enormous number of people each day, and in Manila it is even bigger. An average 150,000 people shop at Glorietta each day, not to mention the hundreds of thousands just passing through on their way to the MRT (light rail) station connected to SM.
By the time I've returned home from all this it is usually 4:00-4:30. Yes, it can take that long. Nothing moves fast in the Philippines. Traffic can, but only if you're out at 2am. Otherwise, it is pretty much a parking lot much of the day on the EDSA Expressway and other key roads. Waiting at the checkout line is a lesson in patience. Lines in the supermarkets run 3/4 the width of the stores on a weekend and can take 40 minutes. (Yes, all the lanes are open.) At SM, it took 2 hours for 6 items to be rung up and set for delivery when purchasing appliances/electronics, and that's with teams of 3 and 4 sales assistants working for you. Yes, they have that many. I had almost a half dozen sales clerks trying to sell me luggage 2 weeks ago. That was OK, there were 12 to 14 more working there to help the other customers. It is typical to find yourself outnumbered 4-to-1 when shopping in a department store here. They help you to your car/cab with your purchases....it's nice.
Once home I'll either collapse from exhaustion or relax in the pool.
Dinner comes later, and that is usually followed by watching clips from the Daily Show or the Colbert Report to supplement the news I get from "legitimate sources". Ironically enough, the legitimate sources don't seem to cover the news as well as the comedians! It's true. Wait a week or two, sometimes a month or two, and you'll find the real story with the real reasons for something somebody did in Washington, D.C. was reported first by Stewart or Colbert. It's frightening. It's true. They can expose Tony Snow's lies faster than 24-hour news networks! What's with that??
Well, that's my typical day around the house. Of course, I do get the time to chat with friends on the phone and on-line, etc. as well....and now I find I've just spent the better part of an hour typing this blog entry. Hope it's a good one. I don't feel much like proofreading it before I post it!