Some Days Are Good Enough

It is 5:39 AM as I start writing this post. I’ve been up since 3 AM. There are several reasons for this.

I’ve started taking a medication called Champix, which is supposed to help one quit smoking by somehow reducing the, um, enjoyment one gets from a cigarette and from nicotine. Actually I’d started taking it in November but went off it when my mother died. I’d felt it starting to work and always intended to give it another try and started with it again last week. One of the common side effects is insomnia, which I’ve got. Another is very vivid dreams, which I’ve got. One rare side effect apparently is suicidal thoughts, which so far I don’t have.

Saturday was an average day but it ended up nicely and since people seem to enjoy tales of my daily life, and since I can’t sleep, I figured I’d share it.

I wanted to get over to the Jewish Association of the Philippines for lunch today, but this was also the day to go to my wife’s daughter’s school to collect her report card, which was mostly pretty good. This coming Friday is her 18th birthday and that’s a big deal here, we’re throwing a massive party, called a “debut” (pronounced funny) next Saturday, and we’re expecting somewhere in the vicinity of 100 people attending. I’ve been told that I have to wear formal clothes, which apparently means more than just long pants and socks, and will have to embarrass myself by dancing with her. (Fortunately I have a fresh bottle of Bulleit Bourbon …) Well, for a teenager, she’s been remarkably well behaved, gets mostly good grades and she deserves a good party.

After getting the report card, since we were already in the car and already out of the village (my first time in almost a week, excluding a visit to the supermarket), we figured we’d get some lunch. Somehow I convinced my wife that we should head over to the Greenfield District (a new-ish area in Mandaluyong City) and check out the Yamaha Y-Zone flagship motorcycle shop.

Digression: People look at me, with my tattoos and scraggly beard, and think that I must be Mr. Harley-Davidson. But I’m also Jewish and an only child, so I have practically zero experience with motorcycles. An ex-girlfriend in Thailand tried to teach me to drive her scooter once but got too nervous after just a few minutes. My wife’s brother-in-law has let me drive his motorcycle (what they call an “underbone,” which means you shift gears but there’s no clutch) a few times around my village. And that’s basically it.

My Philippines driver’s license is limited to cars, so I figured I’d get it updated for motorcycles as well. A neighbor told me he’d done it, he’d just filled out forms and paid some money and that was it. So I went off to the LTO in Quezon City, got a new medical certificate, filled out the forms, paid a few bucks, and then … got called to do a driving test. On a regular motorcycle with a clutch. I said, forget about it, there’s no way I could pass without bribing the guy (not saying that was even a possibility) and I didn’t want to do it that way. I need to learn properly, get some practice, and then go back there again. Not many places offer motorcycle lessons; one friend strongly recommended the courses at the Honda Safety Driving Center.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming:

I only need something for getting around in our village and nearby. I don’t see myself taking long trips on two wheels. I figure a scooter will do the trick, even if I end up looking kind of lame on it. If you buy a new scooter from the Yamaha flagship shop, they include registration, first year’s insurance and a helmet.

I quite like the Yamaha Mio Soul i125.

Fuel injection, something called “Blue Core” (no idea but I like blue), and an “aggressive front face,” all for roughly US$1,500.

Some have recommended the newer Yamaha Mio MXi.

That has a liquid-cooled engine (better for longer trips, which I don’t plan to take) and a “muscular and sporty muffler,” for around US$1,700.

Someone else advised me to look at the Yamaha NMAX.

It has anti-lock brakes, which I’m sure are nice to have, but I think the 155cc engine may be more powerful than I need and the cost is commensurately higher, at US$2,400. (It was the most comfortable to sit on, by far.)

Anyway, after looking at those, and at some of the bigger bikes, it was time to head home. Yes, if I can find the time, one Saturday soon I hope to get to the Harley shop on EDSA for some serious fantasizing. But there’s too many other things that are up in the air and need to be settled before I finally pull the trigger on one of these, the least of which is our next visit to Hong Kong, early March, staying for a week. (Yeah, I know, I’d rather be going to Penang or Bangkok or Hanoi but there are things that need to get done.)

So back home, my wife went out to the salon, I put on McCabe and Mrs. Miller and fell asleep in 5 minutes. Not a reflection on the film, which I love, but on my odd sleeping habits thanks to the Champix.

We went out late for dinner. At 9:30 there was very little traffic so we made it to the Uptown Parade (a block-long two-story stretch of restaurants) in BGC in a little over 20 minutes. (During the week this can take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.) I wanted to try someplace we hadn’t been to already and we ended up at Naxional South American Diner. We both thought it was pretty good but I’m not sure I’d rush back there again.

We started off with Pal de Queljo (little round bits of bread with mozzarella cheese and a cheese dip). My wife had the Chipotle BBQ ribs, which were very good but not at all spicy. I wanted to order the Picanha (“Brazilian Style Currasco Steak”) but they were out of that – one of the specials was a similar dish, not listed on the menu, I went for that. Hey, it’s sliced steak, properly cooked, with a side of chimichurri sauce – you cannot go wrong.

Two sides per main dish so we had mofongo, Brazilian fried rice, side salad and what on the menu was called “black beans and rice” but for some reason was just a cup of black beans in sauce (which I liked but … ?). My wife thought her strawberry daiquiri was too sour, I thought my caipirinha was too sweet. Like I said, not bad but not sure I’d rush back there again.

By the time we left the restaurant it was after 11 PM and the temperature had dropped down to a very comfortable 23 degrees (Celsius). We walked past The Palace complex (most discos and nightclubs) and looked at the people standing outside and I guess it made us feel a little bit old, going home at 11 PM on a Saturday night rather than lining up to dance and drink the night away. Such is life.

So perhaps not the most thrilling of days, but a relatively stress-free and satisfying one. And no plans for today except to try to catch up on sleep and have another nice dinner somewhere.