Lessons My Father Taught Me (or What Almost Was a Restaurant Review)

Tonight, I took LilDude to a new Filipino restaurant that just opened. He’s actually not into Filipino food but in the spirit of “adventure” and trying something new aka just get tf out of the house for a change, he agreed to go with me. I always tell him we need to support local business and this place has been on my to-do list since they did their “soft open” two or so weeks ago.

Well, turns out I overhyped the place in my head.

I’ve never been so disappointed in a $42 (including 20% tip – I don’t remember what the details were because they didn’t give me a receipt) dinner of glass noodles with mushroom and chicken nuggets coated with potato flour and cornstarch that was so dry you could still see the cornstarch… or was it the potato flour? I could have forgiven the food being so blah if the service wasn’t terrible.

Those square plates and the silverware? You have to get them yourself from a table in the front. I wasn’t expecting much but I also wasn’t expecting a serve-yourself experience when it came to the silverware and napkins.

When the owners pay more, if not all their attention to their friends instead of strangers who walk off the street willing to try them out, that’s terrible service. The owner never even said hello to us. He spent the last five minutes we spent there talking to his friends. All he had to do was turn to us and ask us how we were doing. But no, the whole time only one person asked us in two seconds if everything was okay before turning all her attention to the table where all their friends were having dinner.

My son wasn’t thrilled about the small piece of chicken I put on his plate. He played with his food the whole time while I did my best to be objective. But then, I did twist his arm to come with me so I can’t blame him for not being too thrilled.

I did realize that I’d suddenly become a food critic because I had no choice. Was I enjoying the food? No. Was I liking the ambiance and the DIY setup? Not really. Did the employees look like they didn’t want to be there? From the lack of the barest hint of a smile from the guy behind the Square register, yes. Was the lack of attention from the staff becoming glaringly obvious with each passing minute? Hell, yeah.

When we walked out of the place, no one said thank you or even acknowledged us at all. Since you pay first before getting your food, I guess it’s understandable but once we got in the car, I suddenly remembered my father who died five years ago. I had a What-Would-My-Father-Do (WWMFD) moment and without hesitation, I demonstrated to my son that this is what his late grandfather would have done had he owned or ran that restaurant.

My father would have walked around the place and checked on each table. He would have introduced himself and asked the guests if everything was okay, or if they were enjoying the food. Most of all, he would have THANKED THEM for coming in and giving his little place a try. He would have done all this with his usual wide grin that could light up any room. He would have made every single person there feel SEEN and HEARD.

While I know not everyone is like my dad, a little effort would have made a difference today. I just know I’ve never felt so disappointed not because the food was mediocre but because we were mostly ignored.

But at the same time, I’m also grateful.

It made me remember my father and the things he taught me. Finish everything on your plate. Be grateful for what you have. Don’t be afraid to pursue what you want. Love what you do and treat everyone the way you’d like to be treated. Most of all, listen.

This is the last sunset I enjoyed with my father in 2008. We were waiting for the last boat that would take us from the island where he lived to the main city of Davao (where President Duterte used to be Mayor before he was elected President). I remember how intense the colors were, something the camera could never capture. It makes sunsets bittersweet for me, but it also brings back the lessons he taught me.


A Bit of Nature

Another day without a laptop or a computer… can you tell?

Today, LilDude and I went hiking again. Our goal was to reduce his fear of “bugs” since the last time we hiked, he was running away from any “bug” that happened to cross his path be it a dragonfly or a butterfly. So I told him we needed to work on that so he’ll get used to “bugs” because it’s not like they’re going to hurt him or anything.

It was a nice walk and he was actually looking forward to it!

On the writing front, I haven’t written much but I have been “writing” inside my head. After all, not all writing as a writer has to be “butt in chair, fingers on keyboard.” Sometimes all the action is inside my head as my characters slowly reveal what they’re made of after I’ve put them through their paces. I also do a lot of handwriting on my Rocketbook –notes here and there about this or that.

I guess to a casual bystander, it looks like a lot of “doing nothing,” but the moment I do get to put my “butt in chair, fingers on keyboard,” then off I go like a sprinter at the crack of that starting gun. Goodbye laundry!

It’s Monday or Day 5 Without a Laptop…

Day 5 (or is it 6 because it feels like 6 or 60) without my laptop and I’m feeling the withdrawal symptoms already. Even though I can still type as fast on my wireless keyboard and write on my iPad since thank goodness, I have my trusty writing apps that work on both the Macbook and all my iOS devices, it’s just not the same having a laptop to work with.

So I’ve been doing the laundry, cleaning the house, and wondering how on earth I get to tidy up our tiny house yet fit everything in it. I should be writing–and I have but it’s just not the same on my trusty ol’ Macbook!

But I’m not giving up just yet.

It’s only Monday.

Why Do You Write Love Stories, Mom?

On the drive to school this morning, Lil Dude asked me why I write “love stories.” He’s just turned nine and has seen my books and keeps the first editions of them (the not so steamy ones) on his shelf.

I didn’t answer his question right away. I kinda hemmed and hawed before I realized that I was a bit embarrassed to write love stories instead of serious literary fiction ones. So I told him that I didn’t use to write love stories when I started out. I wrote women’s fiction, historical adventure fiction specifically, and then paranormal stories about vampires, changelings, and ghosts.

He made a face when he heard this but I added that with all the stories I wrote, many readers said the same thing: You write about relationships very well.

So to make a long story short, my readers made the decision for me. Sure, I write stories that have adventure, mystery, even a ghost or two depending on my mood, but in a world where everything needs to be put in categories, genres, and tropes, my readers helped guide me to the right lane.

I write love stories. Real and honest romance, as a few of them have said.

“I like your love stories, Mom,” he said and my day has been going great ever since.

Every Breath: A Valentine’s Day Slice-of-Life Novella falls on the very very steamy side of romance and will most likely not end up in LilDude’s bookshelf, but if you like steamy love stories, then definitely check it out! It’s scheduled for release on February 8, 2019.

Who Let the Dogs Out?

We attended a 50th birthday party of one of hubby’s friend last night. It was held in a beautiful 100-year-old home just a few blocks away and it was nice to finally put faces to the names of some of my hubby’s acquaintances and friends. Good food, good company, and interesting conversations, one that has me thinking things over this morning.

Anyway, less than an hour into the party, someone let the dogs out to join the festivities and ten minutes later, my allergies kicked in. By an hour mark, I was wheezing and hoping someone would bring the cake out so we could sing happy birthday and I could leave. They did but I didn’t get out until another twenty minutes later. This time, I didn’t even wait for hubby to say his goodbyes. I simply stepped outside because while I did have my asthma inhaler with me, I didn’t have an Epi-pen or a Benadryl.

The last time I experienced a near-anaphylactic reaction was over four years ago and that was scary. I didn’t go to the Emergency Room because I didn’t realize what it was. I just thought I was having a nasty asthma attack and so I used my inhaler a lot. Forget that asthma inhalers have ephedrine and basically make your heart race, but I should have known it was an intense allergic reaction when my eyes swelled shut and my lips and tongue swelled up, too.

That’s when the doctor gave me a prescription for an Epi-pen, one we renew every year.

But I don’t bring those Epi-pens with me, although after last night, I really should—or at least, even Benadyryl (as long as I’m not driving because it knocks me out).

So… lesson learned.

But there was one exchange that bothered me last night and I’m trying not to let it bother me this morning. One of the women was surprised to learn that hubby had gotten married. She even said this when we were getting ready to leave. She said she never would have thought he would find anyone because, and this I’m interpreting her words, he’s simple-minded. It wasn’t the first time she alluded to it.

The first time we met as our kids played together (her 7-year-old teaching my 9-year-old son a card game called This is War), she said that when her hubby told her there’d be two other boys at the party for their son to play with, her automatic thought was, oh, the other kid must be X, right? And she laughed like it was the funniest thing she’d ever heard.

This morning, I woke up with a much clearer head and the memory of her words sting even more. Maybe X is simple-minded in her and her husband’s (and maybe even his fellow friends’) eyes… but why tell this to X’s wife more than once?

So anyway… deep breath.

I should have left the party sooner. It would have saved me from the misery of my allergies last night and more. I’m actually glad now that he didn’t return to the party to rejoin his “friends” which had been his original plan before he decided to stay home because I was in no position to keep an eye on Lil Dude after I took my allergy medication.

I have to assume she didn’t mean anything by it. At the very least, I need to let these types of conversations go and not bother me. People will think whatever they want to think.

Or maybe I should just put her in my next book.

Procrastinating On the Beach

Today was procrastinating on the beach day.

I was so tempted to just lay out a blanket and hang out for hours like I used to when I lived one block from the beach. I still live a mile away from the beach but we have a breakwater where I live, unlike Hermosa Beach which doesn’t and so you get this:

Of course, there are pros and cons to living this close to the ocean. Sometimes, the tide gets too close to your front door but that’s when the city berms the sand right in front of your house during certain parts of the year. And other parts, you get the clear view of the waves the hear them from your bedroom window.

That means I haven’t been writing. After spending yesterday celebrating Lil Dude’s birthday, I was too tired to do any writing after he went to bed but I’m hoping to do some catch-up today. Got my cover for the first of ten novellas and I should get started with it. The goal is 17K (actually it’s 15k but I’m giving myself some leeway) and it’s going to be an exercise in getting a full story down in 15k words.

I’m actually looking forward to it. I just have to tell myself not to look at the two other novels that I’m supposed to get written by March!

Merry Christmas!


To those who celebrate, Merry Christmas!

The presents have been opened in our house at least and now it’s off to the grandparents’ house for lunch and the exchanging of presents.

Last night, I found the phone number for NORAD so the Lil Dude could ask when Santa was going to deliver his present in Southern California, and the helper elf who answered said that Santa has no set time but it’ll be between 9pm to midnight. BUT she said, if he’s not asleep, Santa will move on to the next house and boy, did he go to bed quickly!

Who knew that would work? Why’d I only think of doing that now that he’s eight?

But better late than never, right?

Now I have to figure out what will work for the rest of the year…