notes + observations + star addresses
Happy Birthday, Gabby!
BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY, LITTLE GIRL
The following is an article I wrote for my niece when she turned 10 years old. Today she turns 21. Pass the tissues, please...
While most people dread a four a.m. wakeup call, for nine-almost-ten-year-old Gabriella Gajo (she’ll hit double digits in one week) last Saturday couldn’t have started early enough. With her doll Samantha tucked under one arm, the young Florida resident flew from Orlando to New York to live out the American Girl dream.
Accompanying Gabriella was her grandmother, Julieta Gajo, who told West Orlando News: “When Gabby was six I promised her that if she were a good girl I would take her to the American Girl Place to celebrate her 10th birthday.” Fast forward four years, and there they were in the Manhattan boutique and café sipping milk from tiny teacups and eating chocolate mousse from itty bitty bowls.
A Flight Attendant's Perspective
A PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTER ATTACKS
Some of the things I learned at flight-attendant training:
How to extinguish a fire.
How to do the Heimlich manoeuvre.
How to inflate a dinghy.
How to prepare passengers for an emergency landing.
The module regarding hijackings was notably light. We watched a video, and briefly discussed the possibility. But what they didn’t teach us, or rather, what nobody could ever learn, was how to deal with the terror in terrorism.
A TRIBUTE TO AN ICONIC MONUMENT IN PARIS
I took this photo exactly one month ago on March 15 from inside the Shakespeare and Company cafe. I had come from my dentist’s office in search of a hot chocolate (doesn’t everyone go for hot chocolate after a dental appointment?). Waiting in line, I looked out the window to admire the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris and, as I often do, felt both grateful and inspired to live in this beautiful city.
It’s fitting, I believe, that "Point Zero" or “the centre of Paris” is just in front of the Cathedral; in many ways Notre Dame is the heart of the city. When flames pushed out of her roof and poured over her walls, journalists commented over and over that she was “bleeding”. And I think this is how we all felt, slowly dying.
Walking on the top of that tower felt like walking on the moon
Just before my son was born, I took it upon myself to climb the 387 steps up one of the Cathedral’s towers. I did so, grunting and hating myself every step of the way, but then proud of myself as I stepped outside and inhaled one of the most exhilarating views. Walking on the top of that tower felt like walking on the moon.
It is sad to see buildings burning, sad to witness what we know is irreversible, sad to see such damage that we know is permanent. France and Macron and Madame Hildago will likely make it their mission to rebuild and restore the Notre Dame, but that is far away from today. This fire is a cold reminder of how these precious things we revere are so fragile, how powerless we are in the face of nature’s flames, how Paris’s most compelling attribute is her survival, and how a little piece in everyone dies when she bleeds.
FILIPINOS DON'T MERELY CHOOSE BABY NAMES, WE DESIGN THEM
Ah, the frustrations of finding that perfect baby name. Even before conception, parents debate the potential doom of names like "Richard" (oh, but then they'll call him Dick), "Lise" (no, no, no, it rhymes with sleaze) or "Penelope" (my ex-girlfriend's dog was Penelope) - this last one being a double whammy. For a name not only decides the identity and fate of an innocent baby, it demonstrates the creativity, originality and sophistication of his or her parents. My family could, single-handedly, win awards in all three of these categories. We Filipinos, you see, are masters of name poetry. We don't simply choose names for our children; we design them.
FEELING ALL THE FEELS ON FEBRUARY 14
I love capturing happy couples in their most tender moments: a kiss at midnight, a tête-à-tête before sunset, a hand-in-hand stroll, a snuggle on the terrace of a cafe. Is this overly gushy? Yes. An invasion of privacy? You bet! But I started collecting these stolen snapshots around the world because they remind me of the vibe and the joy that I felt just being there. I’m sure you have a few lovey-dovey memories of your own. Can you name the place and city where I photographed these romancey-schmancey moments - before reading the caption? What metropolis speaks of love to you?