or: Sana’y Lumigaya Ang Lahat!
My birthday was the other day. The second birthday I have had in this country, and the first one as a Peace Corps Volunteer*. It was a very strange day. A good day, but a strange day.
First, I woke up. I woke up at 5am which is pretty typical, but it was my birthday. Thus, I forced my eyes shut until I was unconscious again. My body revolted at 7am. I was not pleased. I did NOT want to get up, so I just stayed in bed until about 9. I stood up and surveyed my room for awhile. I was confused. I felt like I was supposed to do something, but nothing was planned.
So, I finally decided that I needed to snap out of it and at least cook breakfast. My birthday breakfast: Fried potatoes, rice, soy sauce, and half of a fresh cucumber. It was pretty good! The texture of the meal was enhanced by the crispness of the cucumbers and the soft and slightly crunchy exterior of the potatoes. Maybe someday I’ll make it for you. You’ll love it!
Though cooking wasn’t without some mishaps. First, I was constantly electrocuted by my electric stove. I don’t know what is wrong with that machine. I think it may be evil. Every time I wanted to add something to my pot, I had to unplug it and then proceed. Well, it came time to oil the pot. I heated the pot and then poured the oil inside. In hindsight, I should have done this the other way around. I picked up my pot and swished the oil around in order to glaze the entire container. A little oil spilled out and landed on my thumb. I knew the pain would be intense. I watched it happen in slow motion. The entire event probably only lasted for a split second, but in my mind it went more like this:
(Holy crap, there is hot oil on your thumb. I bet that is going to hurt in just a- &^%$%&^#$%@!!!!!!! Heavenly ^$#@$%$!!!!)
After exclaiming a choice expletive and apologizing to the air, I continued cooking.
[I was going to add a picture of an oil burn here, but the pictures are disgusting. Plus, mine was fine. It just hurt a lot.] <— That Allie is one funny kid.
Next, I was still kind of confused. I knew it was my birthday, so surely I should be doing something. However, my original plans fell through, so there was nothing for me to do. I thought about doing some work for school. I sharply reproached myself for such a thought. Instead, I wrote a song, I wrote in my journal a little bit, and then surfed the web awhile.
I was happy to see some happy birthday messages and texts. Then, the moment I was waiting for came. It was time to celebrate!
One of my Filipina friends is named Gac. She is really cool and maybe someday I will devote an entire blog to her, but right now, she is just a buddy. She invited me to sing videoke and to eat spaghetti! It was a dual party because we actually share a birthday. She attributes our occasional disagreements to the fact that our mothers gave birth on the same day.**
Everyone was drinking and having a good time. I was sitting next to another Filipina friend Monet. Monet was very talkative, which was nice because it made me feel like I was part of the party immediately. As is customary I was served the spaghetti (for long life***) and I would’ve been given pancit if they had it.
We drank brandy and sang songs on the videoke machine. It was a really great time.
Time passed quickly. Soon, the sun was beginning to set. My favorite time of day is twilight. What annoys me is the word ‘twilight’ now brings to mind teen vampire fiction. When I think of twilight, I think of rolled down windows and music and staring down the road to watch my pink-orange suburb fade behind skylines. Not this:
A few more people decided to come over and more pulutan (food you eat while drinking) came out.
There are a lot of foods that I have avoided in this country. I haven’t had balut yet, I haven’t had the courage to pop a fish head or eye into my mouth, and I try to avoid pork at all costs.
Well, I was sitting there waiting for my next song to show up on the videoke machine when a bowl was tossed in front of me. The word, “delicious” was said by one of the new attendees.****
I looked at the bowl and immediately burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. This was quite shocking to the other party-goers. They found my amusement amusing, but then picked up the contents of the bowl and started to eat. With a bone sticking out of her mouth Gac looked at me and said, “You like Adidas?” I thought to myself, “Well, I guess. I used to have a sweet pair of hemp shelltops back in the day” Then I realized they were not speaking of shoes. They were speaking of a Filipino delicacy.
Chicken feet! Yes, I am a vegetarian. However, I do try to stay as culturally open as possible. Unfortunately, this means I end up eating things that I would normally never eat otherwise. Like dog meat. Did I ever tell you I was tricked into eating dog meat? Well, I was.
Moving along, the chicken feet marinade was actually very delicious. Nonetheless, chomping on a chicken foot is a less than pleasant experience. Feel that fleshy part of your palm. Go ahead. We can wait. Ok, now imagine it was a little tougher. Adidas (aka chicken feet) has that texture. So yes, I truly felt as if I was eating amputated baby palms.
After that, everyone was quite tipsy. I was decidedly less drunk than the other people there, but there are two things to consider. 1.) – The party was mostly women. and 2.) The few men there had been there much longer than I had. I sang ‘Beautiful Girls’ by Sean Kingston on videoke and they thought I was amazing. Eat your heart out, Sean Kingston. One woman decided that I needed to dedicate a song to her since everyone was focused on the birthday people and not her. As a joke, I picked ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ by Fergie. I was trying to tell her that an adult shouldn’t be complaining about things like that. I don’t think anyone got it.
Well, as I was singing they decided that it was time to dance! I was forced to stand up and kind of move back and forth in an awkward motion while the rest of them threw their hands in the air and danced around. Then, suddenly something very strange happened.
Remember the lady I mentioned earlier? Well, she is a middle-aged woman who is married with children. Please, keep that in mind as I continue my story.*****
We were dancing when someone grabbed the lady I sang a song to and directed her to dance in front of me. I laughed and decided to focus on my singing … I was REALLY focused on my singing. Well, they then decided to push the upper half of her body down. In other words, they made her bend over. Next, they took her by the waist and forced her to gyrate near me. In other words, they were attempting to make this happen.
Though, instead of that, it was awkward, and more like this:
I just backed up, laughed, sat down, and shoved another chicken foot in my mouth.
Other events: (In no particular order)
My parents called. (I miss them)
It rained on us for a moment. (It was quite pleasant)
I made popcorn for the party. (It makes for a great pulutan)
Simone (Topanga) called. (Mostly frustrating because the call kept getting dropped)
I fell asleep with all of my clothes on. (I get lazy when I’m tipsy, but not too drunk. When I’m drunk I can be strangely productive. Once, I cleaned my entire bedroom. Sure, things were in strange places in the morning, but it was still nicer than it was before!)
All in all, a pretty good birthday!
– Brandon Holly –
*I was merely a trainee during my first birthday here.
**Though technically speaking, they didn’t. September 12th in The Phillies would’ve been the 11th in The States. Well, at least for several hours.
***I’m assuming because the noodles are long. The, um, “longness” of the noodles will extend the, um, “longness” of your life.
****I actually like how the Filipino accent says the word delicious (Duh-lee-shoes)
*****The other day there was ANOTHER birthday party. This woman kept trying to get me to sit next to her. When I finally succumbed she kept hitting on me. I said, “‘Di ko gusto maging galit ang asawa mo talaga!” (Translation: Seriously lady, you better back off because your husband is going to end up trying to kick my behind)