Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Jesus, You've Got Mail.

I've mentioned before in an earlier post about wondering why and how did Sandra's teachers and guidance counselor took a special interest in the fact that her parents are separated. And now I know why.

Went to her school for Parents' day. The ex and I agreed (well, we fought first. sigh) that I should be the one attending it, you know, to avoid making a scene. I was late as usual. The classroom was already packed with earnest kids and matching doting parents, the sight that would be teeth-tingling if I totally lacked any wholesome Brady Bunch family empathy. I was alone, but okay. Maybe just a wee bit envious, but I thought if I can just go through the motions as quickly as possible, this event would be painless.

Or so I thought.

There were lots of cards displayed on the class bulletin board. Parents' day cards with a Dear Jesus letter. I thought it would be a great idea to go scoot over there and look at 'em cards and avoid socializing altogether. I caught the teacher making a sideways glance at me as I approached Sandra's card. And before I could say Holy Press Release, I caught The Dear Jesus part in her missive. I don't want my parents to have problems and pls try to put them together and love each other agin (sic). Talk about bringing in the big kahunas, my daughter is now asking Jesus what she couldn't ask me. The thing is, THIS card isn't a personal letter, it's a class project for the teacher, the whole class and all the other parents to see. I glanced at the teacher again and she smiled at me. Hmmm... So this is what it feels like to star in your own reality show. LOL

At home, I asked my daughter about the card, and she told me not to worry about it. "Besides, I asked Jesus, Mommy. Not you. You don't have to do anything about it".

I wish it were that simple. I wish I can call on divine intervention and have my prayers answered. But even the most pious of people cannot afford to have that much faith, or be just fatalists. And oftentimes, people being human, would pray for the wrong things anyway, and God knows (if and when he's listening) if he'll take these prayers seriously.

I thanked Sandra for the prayer. Yes, maybe Dad and I shouldn't fight anymore. I'd pray for that. But right now, just that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Breakables

UPSIDE: Wow! They're finally giving the trophies away!
DOWNSIDE: Um, Er... Where should I put them?

Lots of changes happening now. Our Chief Creative Officer is revamping the Creative Department -- not just the organization, but also the decor. Among those eased out were the old trophies from the past Ad Congresses and Creative Guilds Awards. So when they announced if it has your name on it, you can get it , I grabbed mine. Having them now fills me with both pride and regret. I remember being a young writer, winning an award and feeling like a hotshot. But now that I'm handling accounts that are more hungry for profit rather than accolade, it's harder to get this chunk of glass.

Anyway, since I don't have the space in my flat (and would be petrified having breakables around) they now sit on my cubicle window. So when I get writer's block or when I feel blue I could always say hey you, you didn't do too bad. .

Friday, August 17, 2007

Here Comes The Rain

It's more like a storm, actually. It's been raining for days, and I've been coming to work drenched to the skin. The city I love is engulfed in a dull gray hue, even after lunch, which is when I snapped this pic. Being a closet clinically-depressed person, I took pains to appear peppy in times of gray. I play music, I put on make-up, and unlike the UV-ray avoiders here, I am the only one in the creative department who'd pull up the window blinds. I like looking at the cityscape, the coastal view, the sunset. It really takes so little to cheer me up. Blue skies and white puffy clouds enchant me most of the time and I stare at them when I'm brainstorming by myself. But now, with the skies so dim, so is my disposition.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


UPSIDE: People mistook me for a very educated Japanese American with an L.A. valley girl accent, thereby sealing a preconception that I must be a sophisticated, cosmopolitan woman.

DOWNSIDE: Except for being educated, I am not any of these. And I'm not comfortable being in a social circle that only accepts me because they thought of me differently. Like, "she can't be pinay, because she doesn't project 3rd world".

The international community would often perceive Pinays to be either dowdy, or if they put on some bling they must be hookers. Only the mestizas and Eurasians can get away with flash. That's Manila for you. Perceptions haven't changed since the Spanish Era of colonial brain washing.

But globally, cultures are accepting change and cities are becoming diverse. So to some, my own eurasian look and accent are misleading, but to others, these are just manifestations of being a global citizen. One who works in an international community therefore must have the look (and in my case, accent) that is acceptable and understandable.

I am Pinoy as one can be, with an improved system and packaging.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Magic of Roses

I must've looked like I'm at my wit's end for someone to hand this to me. I would rather get pity, or money, or make-up --anything. But Flowers are different. They symbolize a lot of things, and open a lot of questions with answers I'm not sure I want to know. Flowers have the power to make me gush, a feeling I almost hate to admit. Historically, I only receive them when there's an occasion (get well, valentine's, birthday, mother's day) but never without one. When asked what's the reason for this, the answer was charity. A forlorn rose peddler with no sale was the subject of pity. And the second subject was me, with my obvious streak for glum, paranoia and lack of confidence, I must have been the perfect recipient. I placed them in an old crystal vase, in between bills and clutter. And in the middle of that disarray, was a ray of light. a thing of beauty. It's like seeing hope.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Trip to the Guidance Counselor

There it was, a note on her student diary. She has been interviewed by the guidance counselor again. Those words filled me with apprehension. What do they want with my daughter? Much as I'd like to think of her school as just another mass money-making educational facility, I am slightly pleased, surprised and yet scared -- yes, very much so in fact -- that they have taken an interest in my daughter's psychological well-being. An interview means they're making assessments. Of what, I have no idea.

So I asked her. She replied carefully, in short sentences, as if she was focusing on keywords and thinking about editing them if I make the slightest wince. They talked about her favorite subjects, where she lived, playmates if any, etc etc etc.

I was cutting pictures for her art project and I was hoping to keep my hands steady. I'm quite certain they asked about me, about her Dad. For crying out loud, they have 13 sections on the 2nd grade, why this particular interest on my daughter? They must be taking into account that she's a product of a broken family, and therefore needs special attention. And I was right.

"Mommy, there are three of us in my class who have separated parents, and they talked to all three of us", she said. Aha. Oh well, I expected that.

"So what did they say to you?" I asked.

She smiled and shrugged, "oh stuff I already know. They told me IT will be ok. And I already know that".

I hugged her. Yes, darling, it will.

On Dina Lohan and Lynne Spears

I stumbled upon this article a couple of days ago at and got a bit affected by it. People are just quick to dismiss that a child is the way he or she is because of the mother (and just the mother, as if dad has no influence whatsoever!)

I guess what struck a nerve is I do have something in common with these moms (and no, my child is not a superstar). I am like them, a single mom, human enough to do the occasional partying -- though I hardly drink and I don't smoke -- I try to raise my child as protectively as I can, but I am the unconventional mother. I urge my child to question, to fight back, I drill her with schoolwork but at play, I allow her to make mistakes. After all, children as well as mothers are just human. And the mistakes will happen, whether you're a fun-crazy mom or straight-laced tight-assed matriarch.

Published: July 29, 2007

“I FEEL bad for Lindsay. I feel very strongly it it her mother who is her worst enemy. She has planted that seed in her that the party crowd is the place to be.”

“i blame her mom. father wanted to do the wright thing.”

“her mom doesn’t even act like a mother figure, she acts more like a sister to lindsay!”

On Tuesday morning, just hours after Lindsay Lohan was arrested on charges of driving with a suspended license, driving under the influence and felony cocaine possession, the typically vituperative posts (also, typically, grammatically challenged and typo-ridden) showed up on celebrity gossip Web sites like TMZ and Us Weekly.

Dina Lohan, Lindsay’s mother, was their target — not her father, who has served time in prison, battled his own addictions and was mostly absent during Lindsay’s childhood. While some people may point fingers at him for her problems, most bloggers and celebrity-gawkers see him as a lost cause, and put the onus on her mother.

“People like to blame Dina Lohan,” said Janice Min, the editor in chief of Us Weekly. “I think there’s a belief that mothers will do anything for their kids, while fathers come and go.”
(Dina Lohan did not respond to requests for comment for this article; after her daughter’s arrest, she told the celebrity news TV show “Insider,” “We are doing everything in our power in support of Lindsay and I won’t give up. This is my daughter and we love her.”)

She is hardly the only mother of a high-profile daughter to be verbally tarred and feathered. Kathy Hilton, the mother of Paris and Nicky, and Lynne Spears, who is now estranged from Britney, have also been held publicly accountable for their daughters’ wild-child antics like homemade sex tapes and padding around public restrooms barefoot.

And though Dina Lohan told Harper’s Bazaar earlier this year, “You can’t blame parents for kids,” in the same interview she chastised Lynne Spears for not defending her daughter after Britney’s quickie first marriage fell apart.

What have Dina, Lynne and Kathy done wrong in raising their daughters? That’s what the media and bloggers want to know. Meanwhile, most of the public doesn’t even know the fathers’ names. (Michael, Jamie and Rick.)

Mother-daughter relationships have long been a topic of Hollywood and media fascination. And mothers have always been an easy target for public condemnation, said Devra Renner, an author of the book “Mommy Guilt: Learn to Worry Less, Focus on What Matters Most and Raise Happier Kids.”

“I think most people feel they can give a more informed opinion about someone’s parenting than about the Hollywood industrial complex,” she said. “And, of course, moms are still seen as the primary parent.”

Indeed, though statistics show that fathers are now more involved than ever in their children’s lives, the perception remains that mothers are ultimately responsible for their children’s behavior. Not to mention that experts say that since the 1980s, expectations of what a so-called “good mother” should do have grown.

“We have a long history in this culture of mother blame,” said Susan J. Douglas, an author of “The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How it Has Undermined Women.” In World War II, women whose sons wouldn’t fight were condemned for tying them too closely with their apron strings. A host of illnesses, including autism, were once traced to mothers, often with dubious scientific proof.

And without mother blame, where would Freud be? “An ideal was set in place by pop psychologists and Freud that the big problems in American society could be traced to excessive mothering,” said Beryl Satter, an associate professor of history at Rutgers University, Newark. “Mothers who smothered their children with affection created unstable characters,” she said, and yet mothers who were withholding were perceived to have created problems as well.

To be sure, it’s not as if some celebrity mothers haven’t brought an extra level of scrutiny upon themselves by seeking the spotlight. Ms. Hilton was the host of a reality TV show, “I Want to Be a Hilton.” Ms. Lohan, Lindsay’s mother/manager, or “momager,” is not exactly a shrinking violet when it comes to media coverage.

Most mothers don’t ask for that kind of attention. And media images of the “bad mother” serve to police all mothers, said Professor Douglas, who is the chairwoman of the department of communication studies at the University of Michigan.

By portraying Lynne Spears, Kathy Hilton and Dina Lohan, who was essentially a single mother raising four children, as bad mothers, “we get these class stereotypes about bad mothering that are meant to flatter middle-class mothers,” she added. “What Britney Spears evokes is this whole down-market, ‘trailer trash’ upbringing. Paris evokes the opposite — very rich parents who spoil their kids rotten and set no boundaries.” It’s as if these “bad mothers” couldn’t achieve the balance that middle-class motherhood prizes. They did everything for their children — but maybe too much. They became their friends — but maybe to an extreme.

Worse, perhaps, is that they refuse to apologize for their unconventional behavior. Ms. Lohan freely admits to partying with Lindsay at clubs when her daughter wasn’t old enough to drink.

No one is saying that parents are blameless when it comes to their children’s risky behavior. “Parents are the strongest influence, positively or negatively, in decisions by a young person to engage in drinking, smoking or drug use,” said Susan Foster, the director of policy research and analysis at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

But the amount of derision directed at mothers seems out of proportion.

“We still have a virgin-whore binary in American pop culture, and this governs motherhood as well,” Professor Douglas said. The same way in which girls are labeled either good or bad, so are mothers. The same level of censure does not seem to apply to sons, whose risky behavior is often seen as merely a rite of passage.

Professor Douglas thinks the reproach directed at some celebrities’ mothers speaks to the particular kinds of lessons that mothers are supposed to teach their daughters — lessons Lindsay, Britney and Paris seem not to have learned. “It’s supposed to be a mother’s job to train her daughter into how to domesticate her various desires,” she said. “If we see a young woman who hasn’t done that, the mother has failed her tutorial.”

Part of the anger toward seemingly bad mothers may be an outgrowth of the fact that the mother-daughter tie is the strongest of all intergenerational relationships, said Karen L. Fingerman, an associate professor of child development and family studies at Purdue, noting that research shows that this is because both parties are women, and women are the ones who are taught to nurture relationships.

Mothers are now seen as responsible for their children well into adulthood, Professor Fingerman said. Ms. Lohan’s detractors are “not just saying that the mother screwed her up but that the mother should still be there — that’s a societal shift,” she said.

From the mid 19th century until the 1920s, Professor Satter noted, middle-class mothers were held up as some kind of ideal, one that working-class mothers were supposed to aspire to. But she noted that many women realized this wasn’t a good strategy. “The more politically minded and savvy understood that blaming other women for not being good mothers was ridiculous,” she said.