I got many e-mails and text messages about the wish list that I came up with last week but one reader actually wanted to find out how I composed it. Was it a well thought-out process, she asked, one that required me to go about my daily activities with pen and paper always handy, just in case a wish popped up from the place that is my heart? Did I list down just a little every day for a week maybe?
Well, Trina (that was the e-mail sender’s name), you can do this and that, but what I did was go to a quiet corner of the house, which that day happened to be my side of the bed, at a time when the whole house was asleep, and just started listing everything that entered my mind, at random. That is how I came up with the entries on my list, all 101 of them, and all that in maybe just a little over an hour. I did not think long and hard about them, I just wrote them as they tumbled out from heart and mind. But yes, please do it any way, and simply be true to yourself. There really is no right or wrong way, only your way.
A friend of mine from college also sent me a text message to ask why I would want to buy more Mongol pencils and Bic ballpoint pens and Faber Castel erasers. She said she would have just given me that for Christmas. I don’t know, there is just something about Mongol pencils and nice chubby erasers that make me smile. They are like the school supply version of Choco Mallows and Chippy and I do not have any legit reason for wanting them except that they popped into my mind while I was making the list. And when they did, it brought back happy school and childhood memories. I also believe that the first time I realized I had the makings of a happy O.C. was when I consciously appreciated the beauty of those newly and uniformly sharpened bright orangey-yellow pencils lying smartly side by side in my fat, chunky My Melody pencil case. The latter, with its many multi-level compartments, was my elementary school life’s treasure. Mommy and Daddy always taught and reminded us to take care of our things and I loved keeping that little box neat and well-stocked. When Lola Apyang, Daddy and his siblings’ nanny, would stay with us she would often give me five pesos to buy more pencils. That always made my day. My penmanship would depend on how well the pencil I used was sharpened and how neat my pencil box was. When things were the way they should be in my little My Melody pencil box, I was also inspired to complete my schoolwork neatly. And I studied my lessons as best I could because what was the use of a nice penmanship if I did not know my lessons and answered the test sheets all wrong?
My neat little pencil box was the start of my neat school life. That may sound strange to some, but it is so true. I see this habit resurfacing, quite often, in other areas of my life now. The pencil box can be the rooms in the house, my to-do list, my wallet, the closets, the files in folders, other housewife-y little details that every homemaker is faced with.
Scissors: I have many of them. And yes, Banny (who wanted to know why I seem to have many scissors and why I would throw away the ones that are no longer sharp), this year I will really only keep the sharp ones. I try to keep one in every room in the house because it simplifies my life. But I am always amazed at how often some of them are all still always misplaced. Sometimes it can be a lonely battle, really, trying to keep things in the household flowing in a certain orderly way. The serious rules are followed, but the small, trivial ones? Not always, not really. For instance, I do not understand why people do not return things after they’ve used them. Growing up in our house along Bonifacio St. in Ormoc City, I remember clearly how the household functioned well with only a pair of very sharp, stainless-steel scissors. The scissors were large, maybe 10 inches long, and everyone used them, from Nanay Kessen the cook who needed them to open packages, to Yaya Hilda and Yaya Juling when they did their crocheting and mending and sewing, to all four of us schoolchildren when we had to do our projects.
That pair of scissors never disappeared, they never got lost or misplaced, and I now realize that was a feat, perhaps even an art, which seems impossible in my own household now. To this day I can still clearly hear daddy say “Always return things to where you got them.” Yes, Dad, you were so right. Please come to Manila soon and tell everyone in my household to do just that. No, teach them to do it because they always just say “Yes,” but they never seem to do it. You know how much time we waste just running around the house looking for a pair of scissors? That is why I keep so many of them.
Another thing my very-organized dad taught me is to list down everything I need to do. I do that, but whereas my sister (who is the most organized and efficient person I know after my dad) did it the moment it was taught to her (at age eight maybe), I have been doing that for only the past eight years. It was only when I got married and had a household to run by myself that I began to appreciate the wisdom of Daddy’s teaching. Now I write down notes to myself and I fill whole pads with them. I classify them according to work and worth, segregating those that need immediate attention from those that are relatively long-term. I mark them with a pink highlighter as soon as they are accomplished and I do not throw away the list until all the entries are pink.
And guess what I forgot to put on my wish list for 2008? Another baby! I want another baby so much I breathe and live the desire. It is part of me, more than just a wish. Oh, yes, please God, if the time is right and it is in your perfect will for me and Richard to have another baby, then so be it. We will patiently wait, as we have for almost seven years, and we can wait some more. But I hope that really is coming soon, and that by next year we will already hear the sound of little feet running up and down our home.