Friday, October 9, 2009

Heading back to Wordpress for a while

I'm moving over to one of my neglected blogs. Revamping it, giving it a shot in the arm, because there's so much more I can do with it design-wise.

For now, I'm back on Wordpress as The Pseudo Expat.

It's live but under construction, i.e. the offspring is making me a header and tinkering with the CSS, so it'll definitely change from time time.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I realize I've never really gotten to share my impressions of what it's been like coming home to America as an adult. I promise to. Really I do. I've been in a pensive mood lately with this business of growing. . . mature.

I was remembering my fascination with the convenience of Check Cards and drive-thru tellers and rows and rows of Coca-Cola choices the other day and realized I've never gotten to articulate my amazement. Now that I've been back for almost two years this September and the novelty has worn off, I'm sure my recollection will be somewhat altered to a certain degree. After all, isn't that what time does to all of us regardless of how old we are?

I didn't get to say much about why we left Orlando and how Nashville happened and I will. Just not today.

Today, I will share an old post I stumbled upon last year, when it was dark, and I didn't think life would get any better.

I wrote this in January of 2008.

January 2009 was when the wheels were set in motion for our lives to change.

And here we are in Nashville.

Thank you, God.

sound playing in the background: the gentle hum of the 24" iMac I get to use at work

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Best Part About Turning 40

I know women aren't supposed to reveal their age but my philosophy is that since I've been told I don't look it, there's no harm in telling the truth. Besides, age is another double standard women can do without living up to. If men can proudly announce how old they are, women should too.

So there. I'm forty.

It's easier typed, than said. Believe me. I was depressed for five minutes, thinking that being a single parent with a daughter almost out of the house and on to her own life, was the end of the journey for me. That and still having unchecked life goals.

Such as:
  • Go back to theater. Even in a tiny role. Or as a production assistant! Or at the Front of House!

Me with orange hair and purple bangs as 5B in Repertory Philippines' Murder for Rent
  • Learn how to play the drums.
  • Run in a 5K.
  • Live in New York.
  • Live in San Francisco.
  • Go home to Portland.
  • Go to London for the 2012 Olympics.
  • Work in radio. Again.
  • Do voiceovers. Again.
  • Write a book.
  • Go back to school.
I shook off the doom and gloom with the thought that the best part is enjoying seeing K turn into an adult. A good citizen. A good woman. A beautiful, talented, smart, funny, creative, artistic, human being who knows her way around a new city all by herself.

Someday, grandchildren.

Yes, here at possibly the halfway mark of my life -- give or take five to ten years -- there is so much to look forward to; checking off these unchecked goals and then some!

But if this is as good as it's going to get, I have much to be thankful for.

I have a big God who will keep taking care of me and my daughter.

Friday, July 31, 2009

First Time at McAlister's

Hoping to get back into regular posting with the new toy, my HTC Ozone on Verizon.

So here's the debut mobile post, a picture of the inside of McAlister's Deli in Brentwood, Tennessee after lunch with some of the office posse.

When I worked as a housekeeper at Governor's Square Mall in Tallahassee, I never got the chance to eat at the McAlister's at their foodcourt. I don't know why. Well, actually I do. It was out of my league. I couldn't afford it on my $ 7.50 an hour, 12-15 hour per week part-time job.

Nearly two years later, I finally set foot in one and ordered a McAlister's Club with a side of potato salad and a Sweet Tea. It was pretty good! $ 10 on lunch is a bit of a splurge for me though so I won't be back any time soon. We'll see. There's a part of me that feels guilty doing stuff without K so if I do go back, she'll be with me. Then that'll cost $ 20-25. Maybe.

We do like foodie adventures. Franchises don't actually qualify as "foodie" destinations but anything that will let me not have to cook? I'm so there.

Sent from my Ozone on Verizon Wireless

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Someone's in San Francisco

Kyera never really bought into this planned joint blog. It was all my idea. Her apprehension had less to do with it being "mom's idea" and more to do with her fear of being compared as a writer.

Foolishness, I said, and reassured her she's just as articulate as me.

But she's just not that into "Exits and Entrances". I'm completely fine with that because she is her own person who's talented in her own right. And I'm very proud of her.

When she followed me to Orlando in 2007 after we were apart for six weeks while her paperwork was being processed at the US Embassy in Manila, she was miserable. The prospect of being reunited with her mother was overshadowed by her sadness at leaving friends and the only country she knew. Ow!

Orlando wasn't exactly either of our dream cities. New York is, so's San Francisco, and so's Portland, Oregon (For me at least because I'm from the northwest). The first two for their great public transportation and culture, the last, because it's where I spent a good part of my childhood.

Orlando was simply a necessity - my aunt lived there and we needed a place to stay. Mickey Mouse had nothing to do with it. (My only Disney World visit was an afternoon as a hired babysitter for the twins and little girl of a wealthy single mom.)

We were miserable in Orlando. To leave someday was the only thing that kept us plugged in at our jobs. And then Nashville miraculously happened, changing our lives once again in ways we didn't expect.

While we both love it here, the cities on our dream list are still comfortably lodged, listed for a hopefully future reality. A reality that Kyera is possibly one step closer to.

It's another God story:
She's been enamored by San Francisco since she watched Princess Diaries. Her dream school - the Academy of Art University - is downtown. She sent for an information packet in '07 and was put on their regular mailing list. From time to time, she gets invitations to their Open House on the East Coast. The last week of June, she got an invitation to their free three-week summer workshop. Free!

Her dad bought her a plane ticket and friends from church helped her find a place to stay. Things I couldn't have done for her. Definitely God.
She may not be necessarily comfortable writing on this blog, but she is definitely in her element on her own site,

So if you wonder where she is around here, you know where to find her. She's busy being her own beautiful, talented, wonderful self.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Part-time Life as a Convenience Store Cashier

Welcome back to America.

I tell myself this each weekend before heading to the gas station where I work.

Many people I know here – both friends and acquaintances – have at one point in their lives worked either underemployed or employed twice over. One would think that that would be the norm in a developing country but I don't know anyone in Manila who held down two full-time jobs, or one full- and part-time job. At least not among the people I knew. And working in radio while playing for a famous rock band doesn't count!

Driving home recently, I remembered when I left radio for good in 2003 to be a corporate cubicle holder and was asked if I would consider staying on the air at night or on the weekend. No way! I couldn't fathom how my body would handle the presumed fatigue.

Paradigm mind shift. Hello, fifty to fifty-six hour work week and tired feet.

So for the better part of the week, I sit at a desk and stretch my mind.

On the weekend, I stand on my feet for eight to nine hours and count money that isn't mine so I can make a little more that will be.

Good times.

Monday to Friday, I'm surrounded by colleagues who inspire me to do and be my best.

Weekends, I'm surrounded by gas station customers who test the boundaries of my luxury hotel guest services skills.

Ah, life lessons.

Ya, gotta love 'em.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Halfway into the Year

I know, I know. What excuse do I have now for not updating Exits and Entrances? I'll spare you my usual sob story of busyness and go straight into the updates. God has changed our lives yet again in ways we never expected.

1. We arrived in Nashville on April 1st. I drove more than 650 miles in the rain. Colleagues from new office came over during a sudden downpour and helped us unload. It was a Wednesday. I kicked into OC gear and had all the boxes emptied and everything in its place by Sunday. Monday, was my first day at my new old job. It's been... amazing. How else can one describe leaving a minimum wage-paying hotel job and moving out of a low-cost housing apartment complex in a crime-infested part of Orlando, into a job I love and a beautifully manicured, security-code requiring apartment in Nashville?

Drove a 21' truck with a 15' trailer more than 800 miles, 650 of which in the rain, to Nashville. Exhausted, stoked, grateful, speechless. from web
Looking out the window feeling like Melanie Griffith at the end of Working Girl. Madly in love with my job, pinching self it's for real. from web

2. Kyera found another job in the same fashion as her first one in Orlando - she was offered one without applying. So proud of my uber-talented offspring. She exceeds me and her father.

3. We adopted a brother for Rocco! We found Kirby at Williamson County Animal Control and fell in love with him the minute Kyera held him and he wrapped his long, lanky mini-pinscher/chihuahua arms around her.

4. Kyera was given a 17" MacBookPro to use for work. Gasp. Wow. An item on our yearly prayer and fasting list gets a huge check! This image is an example of the cool things she can do with her new toy.

5. Yesterday, I was moved into my own office for the next three to four months. Finally, peace and quiet while writing. Today, I went out to lunch and returned to find a 24" iMac sitting in the place of my PC. Gasp. Wow. I'm a Mac! Again! Another item on our yearly prayer and fasting list with a huge check!

Stop by again for the story of my part-time life as a convenience store cashier. Seriously.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Beauty of Silence

It's our final thirteen days in Orlando, Florida. Thirteen days. My head is still spinning when I think about this and I must admit that it hasn't fully sunken in that we are driving north to Nashville, Tennessee to restart life anew.

I can't count the times I thought that we would be stuck here - me in my job as a club concierge at a fancy hotel and K as a receptionist at an eye clinic - or how many times I gave up all hope of ever working in a job that would maximize all of my gifts and abilities; a job that would not feel like a job but would feel like a perfect fit, a glove of my former career.

It was well into my third month at the first hotel I worked at (which is the sister property of where I work now) that I plummeted to the depths of self-pity. There I was, in the first job I could get in the US (not counting my three week stint as a housekeeper) after looking for four months and sending out close to 100 resumes, busing tables, replenishing drinks, making gallons of coffee and preparing buffet presentations for high-paying hotel guests, every day. My fingers would sometimes get smeared with leftover food, my muscles would strain from lifting cases of soda and beer, my mind, seemingly slowed from lack of stimulation.

Of course there were days that I had to make difficult dinner reservations for large groups while giving directions to another theme park to another guest and reading babysitting rates for another. My radio career was good training for entertaining and talking people up!

But wallow in self-pity I did. Each day a divine act of grace to get to and from work with a smile on my face. Each day a wrestling match with my Maker.
"Father, how long is life going to be like this for us?"

"Did I make a mistake in coming to Orlando?"

"Where do we go? What do we do?"
My resumes kept going out and kept getting ignored.

Each day, silence. All I knew, all I sensed, was that God loved, that He was near and that someday, everything was going to be alright.

One day, I was promoted to supervisor at our sister hotel, which is where I work now, and then two months later, I suddenly wasn't. My glimmer of hope was just that.

So there I was, wallowing in self-pity, questioning my ability to hear God when facebook set me straight.

I wrote a quick note to one of my dear pastors, Rey Corpuz:
It's been a tough year readjusting to a country I left as a child of 12. Napakahirap po magsimula sa Amerika! (It's so hard to start life in America!) Not like people who come here on work visas who land jobs on their same career path, I'm seen as a local who lived overseas too long.

So I work at a hotel, the only place that would hire me! No complaints since I just got promoted to supervisor. I'm a club concierge and I love working with guests. (we serve food, buss tables and make restaurant reservations) But a part of me wonders if I will ever get to do what I did before - communications in the ministry.

Perhaps that is the Egypt I must leave behind? I don't know. But with each step of the way, I only thank God for even allowing me AND Kyera to have a job.

(She was hired on the spot when she got her eyes checked for glasses! She's the front desk person for a Christian Haitian optometrist, and she also knows how to measure eyesight with those contraptions!)

She's not in school yet because we haven't been able to afford it but we're believing that next year God will make it happen.
His reply left me in tears:
what a blessing to hear testimonies of His faithfulness to you and kyera. ms menchie and i are so proud of you both exercising God's gift of work. doing your work for God is real worship which i call 'workship'. both of you are 'communicating' the life of Christ in you to people around you. so you haven't left your communications ministry, you're just doing it there instead of manila with the partnership of kyera to boot. and about egypt? the real egypt is in the heart where discontent, murmuring, complaining and dissatisfaction reside. it is the heart that is not most satisfied in the God of creation, salvation and provision. come to think of it, leaving our egypt is not the issue at all; it is removing all of egypt from our heart.
And so I shut up, embraced the status quo, and became... still. No dreams other than wanting to please God, no requests other than having Him by my side, no comfort other than His Hand holding mine.

Suddenly, out of the blue, a message about a possible opening at the US office of my former employers, Every Nation Ministries. A visit, an interview, a job offer, an acceptance and then here and now, the final two weeks in Orlando.

I don't know what else to say. My fourteen months at the hotel has been a most beautifully grace-and mercy-filled season. God allowed for me to stay in a "dungeon" where I had unlimited access to free food; free movie tickets; free entrances to theme parks and concierge perks at expensive restaurants. In His infinite wisdom, He permitted me to work in a job that would show me how much I love people.

And yet every step of the way, I kept seeing what I did not have, friends and a career in communications.

So here I am, humbled, pinching myself that I am returning to the job I loved dearly, in an office I never thought I would be working for again.

We truly, never deserve the goodness He lavishes. Everything is icing on the cake of His Mercy.