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08.07.10; Thursday Teas; 07:59

Unmet expectations during the recent trip to Baguio: 1.) Visit to BenCab Museum. Turns out they’re closed on Mondays; 2.) Lunch date in Bliss Cafe for some vegetarian sisig. As my luck would have it, they’re open from 18:00-21:00 on Mondays but they open from 11:00 onwards for the rest of the week. 3.) Coffee time in Kaffee Klatsch. The wedding singer we’re supposed to meet can’t come to work that night due to sickness. Waaah! Unexpected side trip: 1.) PNKY Cafe for lunch; 2.) San Fernando, La Union for some Krushers and beers.

Dear Niwee.

This study demonstrates the Internet’s power to divert our attention from the enriching company of books. Either that or the most of us tend to be undisciplined. I confess I’ve evolved from a bibliophile to a social networking addict over the past years. This virtual niche used to be a sheet of endless text; recent entries typically include a pallette for images and videos. This compulsion, coupled with short attention span, is bad news. Just like what I’ve said here, I need to go on Internet diet so I can be more productive and so that I can peruse more. Have you seen my book backlog?

T-B: Oscar Wide’s An Ideal Husband & The Woman of No Significance / D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow / Shakespeare’s Othello / Michael Moore’s Downsize This! / Lonely Planet: Jamaica / Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men / J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit / Deborah Ellis’s Mud City / Living with Cannibals / T.F. Sering’s Reconnaissance / Dictionary of Dreams / The Diary ofAnaïs Nin / Dave Barry’s Dave Barry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down / The FLIP Reader / Ang Pamilya ni Pascual Duarte / Kevin Smith’s Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back / Ageless Marketing / The Psychology of Tourism / How To Get Along with Difficult People / Plaridel 2006 vol. 3 no. 2/ Christina Noble’s Over The High Passes / Taboo: Sex, Identity & Erotic Subjectivity in Anthropological Fieldwork / MTV The Real World Diaries / Museums: A Place to Work/ Marketing Communication / The New Other Woman / Consumer Behavior.

Reading may be a solitary activity but the extrovert in me finds group reading highly enjoyable. It first happened in fifth grade when most of my girlfriends went gaga over Sweet Valley and ended when, as my favorite English teacher put it, “we’ve realized there are better literary forms out there”.

It happened again around 2003 when a bunch of voracious readers found one another on GIRLTalk. The Book Club members enjoyed our monthly online and offline diss/cussions (yes, I coined that term) of books from varied genres including Twisted Flicks, High Fidelity, The Secret Garden, Kitchen, Lucky Man, Down with Love and Anna Karenina. Our offline diss/cussions always included brilliant thoughts, good food and book gifting. Sadly, the fellowship died a natural death.

L-R: Earl, yours truly, Grace & Joy.
Taken in October 2003. Cafe Breton in Greenbelt 3. Photo by Joy Cruz.

L-R: Grace & Fristine (back); yours truly, Joy & Earl (seated)
Taken in March 2005. Figaro in Greenbelt 3.

NOTE: Other members included Lyn (Vietnam), Love (Davao), Ria, Vanessa, Tin, etc.

As they say, there’s no point crying over spilled milk. I’m taking with me the lovely memories, the great friendships and the long-gone drive to read. Having said this, you may expect to read more book diss/cussions in the future. Why don’t we start…today?

***

I’m not sure if I deserve a big hand for reading a book that is not included in my book backlog. It was even accidental; I offered to take home my absent co-worker’s book which she left in her workstation. As a book collector, I was worried that it will get stolen over the weekend. If you’re a long-time singleton holding a book entitled “If Men Are Like Buses, Then How Do I Catch One?“, would you eagerly flip page after page like I did?
 

The book began with excerpts from the author‘s journal, conveying frustration over her solitary moments. Any girl would fall for its conversational, hilarious text; this includes being addressed as “sister”, “girlfriend” and even “pssst!”. However, if you’re looking for real-life success stories like, say, how to nab Brad Pitt from Jennifer Aniston or how to make younger men like Ashton Kutcher beg for you or how to convert an unapologetic gay man like Neil Patrick Harris into Mr. Right or how to attract hot dates on dating sites, then this is NOT the self-help book you’re clamoring for. Instead, she compiled biblical characters as references and ended each chapter with a prayer for you. It repeatedly reminded you that God/Hu/Buddha or whatever name you call Him/Her will make your dream romance possible. She also shared her own failed relationships and the fact that she remains “single, sassy and satisfied” until today.

Single ladies, are you still with me? I know 2 women who immediately dropped this upon finding out his fact. Why bother when the author herself can’t even get herself hitched, they reasoned. Good point. In my case, it can’t be that bad. I must admit I’ve been thinking my mission might require too much time and effort; something that a potential mate might not want to compete with. Are you still willing to read the rest of my review? If so, here are the main points:

1. Enjoy solitude. Adam didn’t have a clue God is creating a mate for him. He was busy performing his tasks day by day. As a result, his heart didn’t feel any void or any need for somebody else to complete him.

2. Complete me! Eve was presented to Adam when she was finally done. Ask yourself: are you done and ready for a relationship? Or are you desperate to have anybody? Get better and seek your purpose in life. As the book says, “live each day in purpose, on purpose”. This actually reminded me of the hierarchy of priorities, as per Rev. Noel Tan, Bread of Life Makati’s head pastor: Master, Mission and Mate. Your mate must understand that he’s just your third priority in life; that he must be willing to step aside for you to accomplish your great mission and never demand to be on top.

3. The first move. Let God present you to your man, not chase any man of your liking. Instead of listening to your own desires, seek to hear Him and who He selects for you. Remember that while women fall in love and get married, men decide it’s time to settle down and then look for a spouse. Let them do the chase; they treat the woman they went after better than someone who threw herself to him. Buti na lang torpe ako!

4. Self-Love. Have you heard of the African saying: “Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt”? Similarly, do not expect a dashing debonaire to smother you with love when you find it too difficult to love let alone appreciate yourself. Now is the best time to know your worth!

5. Burn, Baby, Burn! it is no secret that the way to a man’s heart is through his gonads. But this book insists we must all be in good shape not because we want to make their heads turn, but because our bodies are God’s temple, His own creation. This extends to the rest of our appearance – we must make sure to face the world looking like a pampered princess.

6. Fall in love with the Bus Driver first. Establish a dynamic relationship with Him in order to hear His voice. However, do not obey His commandments and expect that He’d give you a man in, say, 5 hours. Striking a deal with Him is out of the question. The book instructs to follow Him because you take delight in doing so. The author even cited an instance when He agreed to expedite somebody’s request…when she offered to give back the gift to Him. In case He takes His sweet time, do not fret. It only means He’s occupied building both parties’ character.

7. Give it a rest. Relax, let Him do all the work. It’s about ignoring the tick tocks of one’s biological clock and having faith in what God has in store for us. Easier said than done, eh?

8. Don’t settle for the wrong bus. This means never take someone who won’t pursue you, who would make you indulge in glandular exploits, who don’t belong to the same spirituality, who shuns long-time commitment, who’s unaware of his responsibility and incapable of being a provider, who can’t respect his own mother, who has irresponsible comrades and who doesn’t have gifts and purpose that complement yours. Also, the author expounded on why pre-arranged marriage is ideal: our own parents can tell who fits the bill and, in contrast to popular belief, “the heart does not listen to reason and should not be allowed to lead in decision making”. Or at least to romantic saps like me.

9. Get to know him well. In relation to the previous point, it is imperative that we gather as many data as we could while dating. Is he worthy of your trust? After marriage, you are expected to submit to your partner’s decisions as, at times, God need not to disclose His plans to both of you.

10. Singles are doubly blessed. Before we start believing we are deprived and pathetic, let’s count our blessings and multiply them by two. Why not? God gave us double portions of time, space, money, possessions and others.

In a nutshell, these instructions aim to encourage affinity with the Creator and self-love. In that order. I’ve heard of couples averring their relationship had reached its heights when they put the Lord above everything else. It must be true. Although I can imagine you stomping your stilletos at the mention of abstinence, parental involvement in partner hunt, domestic tasks and other expectations that any strong woman can easily dismiss as outdated and favorable only to men, I have to stress that the concept of self-respect, in my estimation, will be timeless. I have always believed that it is better to be single than to be miserable in the arms of an underserving jerk.

As mentioned above, this book may not be for every girl out there. If you have insatiable need for the Scriptures and/or if you want to be reassured about God’s grace, then enjoy reading. If you would rather skip such passages and get access to real-life manuals, then you’re probably looking for Elle Woods’s Bible. Please do not be easy to judge me as a last-minute holier-than-thou; I have learned a couple of things in this book that I hope you would eagerly look for, too. In fact, it reiterated some beliefs I have long subscribed into yet gave rise to ideas I find hard to agree with. Perhaps something within me sparked this willingness to finish the book, perhaps it’s the spiritual people who surround me. I am still unable to pinpoint what. Whatever it may be, I welcome this ambivalence. Perhaps I’m getting there?

As one Buddhist proverb goes: When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

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