12 February 2019

I’m not into Valentine’s, but…

by misslampa

20190209_152924Skies were overcast and it was snowing last Saturday here in the lovely hipster town of Higashikawa, but I geared up, headed out, and went cross-country skiing anyway.

It’s not that I’ve fallen in love with the sport, but classic クロカン (read as kurokan and short for “cross-country”) skiing is beginning to have the same effect that running had on me when I took it up about seven years ago. You step forward with your left foot and then with your right and then again with your left and soon enough, your head is clear and that immediate next step is all you think about. I’m not there yet, but I imagine cross-country skiing will have a similar meditative lightness to it.

I’ll also be joining my first cross-country skiing race in less than a month, and I have every intention to progress from waddling to sliding before then. Because given that I signed up for the shortest course (only 1km long!) and will be skiing with babies and toddlers and their parents mostly, my motivation to become better is fueled by this burning desire to not fall and squish little people come race day.

I guess I was too focused on that while I was out skiing because I was already back in the parking lot when I realized it was the weekend before Valentine’s Day, and all I have for company are my skis and all this vastness around me.


That thought stayed with me during the drive home, and I remembered what my best friend suggested I tell people when they pry into my (lack of a) love life: that skiing keeps me busy.

It can be your alibi, he told me in jest.

This, after he also just reminded me to be more open to romantic love instead of saying no to possibilities even before exploring them. Several chat lines after, being in love has suddenly turned into a crime but thanks to cross-country skiing, I can enter a plea of not guilty?

It amused me, his not-so-subtle use of reverse psychology. So I smiled while insisting I didn’t want an alibi because this time, I’d rather find and be found.

I wanted to listen to Jollibee and have faith in love, I said.

It was cheesy and all, but he was kind enough to laugh. And then we ran out of things to say, so we just left it at that.

27 January 2019

Waddling in Winter Wonderland

by misslampa

I tried cross-country skiing for the first time last Wednesday. And by that, what I mean is I managed to waddle back and forth on the school playground in my skis without falling…while kids up to thirty years my junior had a terrific time taking on the short and long groomed trails around me.

It was more my overly judicious use of ski poles than my good sense of balance that kept me upright, truth be told. But I was more on my butt than on my feet the one time I tried downhill skiing, so I’m still going to say this is a clear win for me.

Winter play

Prior to “ski-waddling,” this was my idea of winter fun.

We only had a little over two hours and I wanted to let the kids go first so as to stay out of their way, so all I’ve really done is go from walking with the help of ski poles to waddling without. Which isn’t really much, if you think about it. But whatever little progress I made sent me over the moon.

A slight spring in every small, slippery step – quite literally.

And when the bell rang to signal the end of PE class, the doors to the school entrance couldn’t look any less inviting.

I felt my sun-kissed spirit detach from the rest of me so it could do a double take. Am I warming up to winter, finally?

Maybe. Or maybe any day now, the world will go Bazinga! on me.

Until then, I’ll tell myself to just keep waddling.

13 January 2019

A Pet Name for Me

by misslampa

My nephew Coco now has a pet name for me.

He’s been calling my Mama “Lola” (grandma), my Papa “Lolo” (grandpa), and my older sister “Ninang” (godmother), but for the longest time, he didn’t have a term for me. The few times we interacted via Skype, he danced with delight while I sang “Baby Shark” and learned how to stick his tongue out by mimicking me, but he never got around to calling me anything. He probably thought he was just watching another YouTube video.


You’ll really end up second-guessing yourself when even face-tracking filter apps refuse to acknowledge you.

I got to play with him a lot when I went home last Christmas, though, so I guess something finally stuck after hearing everyone repeatedly refer to me as “Auntie” in the hope that he’d say it, too.

He found me washing dishes in the kitchen one Sunday afternoon and wanted to play tag, I think, so he stood a couple of feet away from me, said “Auntie-ya” loud and clear, and held my gaze for three seconds before running back into the living room giggling, fully expecting me to run after him.

I did just as expected and rushed to where he was, of course. I shouted “Coco” repeatedly and captured him in a big bear-hug, like I had every other time we played this game.

But my heart knew that that time was unlike all those other times, too, because it was when my darling little Coco finally decided to pluck me from anonymity.

Later on, while appreciating how the name is actually an amalgamation of “auntie” and “tiya,” I realize that he uses the same term to refer to black ants, too. “Oh no, oh no! Ant-ya!” he quips while pointing at them with his forefinger.

But no matter. I’m still going to mark this Christmas as the Christmas an angel settled on a nickname for me.