Never Meant to Be

About a month ago I remember Marcus stepping out of his room. It was morning, he just woke up. His smile was all over his face despite still obviously sleepy. He walked right out of his door, hair unruly. He was ready to face the day.

The other day we found the opportunity to grab a bike. Each his own. We had friends though everyone I barely knew. But that didn’t stop us from racing one another. That afternoon was fun even if I almost fell into a muddy patch when I tried to beat Marcus by cutting off the street curb. Boy he pedalled fast, very fast.

Each day I am looking forward to all this. I know these will happen once more, I wish it’d be more often than before. At least in my dreams again.

These scenes have been very vivid lately. Everything was life-like, so real I can feel Marcus’ energy. It was the closest I can get to see Marcus without his Xbox controller, away from his spot in our old sofa. Away from his crippling DMD.

With his twist car and Duplo gun.

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks! (Been spending more time with him playing Call of Duty.)

Advertisements

Cars and the Rain

I had this small talk at work with someone while waiting for her to sign all the papers–dreaded documents–I’ve been submitting almost regularly lately. Looking at the pale pink dawn sky outside their office window I said, “Nice to see the sun again.” She replied, “I’m a rainy day fan so I really don’t like the sun even back when I don’t have a car.” Well, I had the same sentiments. Had.

It’s been raining for almost two weeks already and it’s effect has become more of a nuisance than a benefit to me. I like driving in the rain but the heavy downpour has taken its toll on the roads where I drive daily. It has exposed once more the substandard asphalt that our dear public contractors have tried to pass as acceptable. Happens every rainy season and this time the potholes are bigger and deeper. Corruption was never gone. Shame.

Then there’s this annoying leak in our car. And it’s now in two places. It used to be only in the driver’s foot well but it’s now also in the trunk. Best excuse to keep me considering a mortgaged brand new compact sedan. Snap, snap. While my trunk now looks like nothing happened to it after a bad rear-ender months back, I realized Servex’s workmanship wasn’t as good as they promised. Servex is Kia Sto. Tomas delearship’s multi-brand shop. No thanks, not returning it for a back job.

Now I’m waiting for clear skies before I go back checking where these leaks are coming from. I was able to find cracks in the trunk and have sealed it but I think I missed a couple more. For now, I’m not wearing flip-flops while driving, else soggy feet.

On a different perspective, all this inconvenience seem trivial. Would I rather take public transportation again than drive a car that has obviously seen better days? And put myself under the mercy of reckless jeepney drivers? Ok, leaky car, I’m still yours, you’re still mine.

Come to think of it, it’s all in the mind. It’s also about influence of the environment. Few months ago Marcus, who by the way is a big fan of fast cars, and I watched on Netflix Paul Hollywood’s Big Continental Road Trip. It’s rated 13+ although there are mature humor in some scenes. The show features cars and culture of different countries and it was the France episode that struck me the most. Despite stature, those who live in castles and play golf on weekends, these French people do not drive luxurious cars. They don’t mind a simple fender bender and nudging a car to get a parallel parking space seems very common. I think I should live in France.

Still on cars, I’ve been trying to get back on writing so I read lengthy posts of James Deakin on Facebook and other pages that talk about cars. I’m a frustrated car magazine writer and almost landed as contributor of a car forum several years ago but the topic they assigned as test piece wasn’t my forte so I didn’t pursue it. This week I read two articles of this automotive Facebook page and it made me wonder if they have an editor because the articles ended abruptly, definitely were half-baked, rushed pieces just to hit the required number of words. I miss writing all of a sudden. Should I start about cars again then? Well, as soon as I’m done writing these papers at work.

***

Here’s a video showing my close encounter with what Marcus identified to be a Mercedes-Benz AMG GTR which he said he owned before in his XBox Forza game. Google shows that this car is 2018 model worth $167,000 or Php8M. I’m sure this car doesn’t leak.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Was able to hit 5K despite gloomy skies.)

Run with the beat

Seldom that I set goals, financials especially. Don’t take this against me but I was never a guy who would plan. I’m not lazy but it’s just that I live one day at a time. I’m a self-declared minimalist, I’m contented. If I can avoid planning, I won’t do it. This year, however, was among the few exceptions. I had a simple goal in mind.

I passed up on running events no matter how tempting to prove myself. At an average, registration would set anyone back by Php 700. That’s for participating, finishing within the time limit and getting a medal just because you finished. You can sense my sour graping here by now but hear me. I was saving for something.

AfterShokz Titanium black

Instead of getting medals to show off that I crossed the line, I set my sight on getting an AfterShokz Titanium. The benefit of listening to music while running and at the same time still being able to hear the surrounding got my attention the first I read about bone conduction headphones. I didn’t have any doubts that bone conduction is possible as I read an article that explains why most people hate the sound of their voice when they listen to it from a recording.

It didn’t take too long before she swiped her card in this Hong Kong airport gadget shop.

Most of us are not aware that sound does not travel through our ear canals alone. In fact, the sensation of sound is also conducted or vibrated through our bones which is why there’s better experience when we both hear sound and feel it as well. Think deep base, think Atmos technology in cinemas.

And this is what AfterShokz headphones are all about. Instead of plugging the ears to feed sound directly into the opening, AfterShokz uses bone conduction technology to allow the ears to stay open thus letting runners enjoy stereo music and at the same time stay aware of sounds coming from cars or pedestrians that could be potential running hazards if unnoticed.

Here’s my run this morning with the AfterShokz.

AfterShokz Titanium costs close to Php6000 here in the country but it was cheaper by Php500 in Hong Kong. I’m aware that I haven’t skipped that much running events but the deal and the urge to get something at the airport shops was overwhelming. There goes minimalism. Oopss.

I have done two runs using this Bluetooth bone conduction headphones and it does deliver clear music even when in motion. The headphone isn’t annoying unlike when running with a wired earpiece that dangles back and effort. It is of course water resistant so I never worried if I had to pour water on my bald head while running. The manual shows the battery lasts 6 hours on full charge so I guess it will keep playing during a full marathon which by the way is probably my goal for next year.

***

Mood: 4/10 Honks! (Feeling lethargic after that chocolate muffin for breakfast.)

HK Day 2: Leg Day

I was expecting to taste authentic Chinese cuisine since we landed in Hong Long but I think we didn’t had any. At the airport we ate curry, the best curry I have tasted so far, and a chicken with mushroom menu which were surprisingly very good although heavy as both were served with rice.

Then last night’s dinner was also rice and pasta that I had so much carbs to burn just on the second day so I was eager to go to the gym.

Our hotel doesn’t have the gym but I was advised it’s in one of the affiliate hotels. Disney Explorers Lodge which is less than half a kilometer away from ours appears to be where the muscles are formed but it’s not here.
A few minutes more away from the second I found myself standing in front of Hong Kong Disney Resort Hotel.
And this pink corridor leads to the gym.
Even the gym room doesn’t look like any of those I’ve seen before.
The gym has complete and functional equipment. And it was cold. Will make me pick this anytime than the humid park.

I racked up 5K on the treadmill, did some weights and returned to Hollywood Hotel. I arrived with Marcus up and awake and everyone else eager to check out for the next phase of our Hong Kong trip.

Today’s main plan was to find stuffs on sale. It would be a long day. We transferred to Stanford Hillview Hotel which we accessed mostly by HK’s train (MTR) all the way from Disneyland station. All of us were spent (and silently grumpy) when we reached Jordan train station so lunch was the immediate agenda.

It was another meal that didn’t come close to what I had in mind for Chinese food. Specifically noodles. Marcus was looking for McDonald’s and found one so we settled for it as well. Nothing special there, FYI, except for the sight of expensive cars like Ferrari, Porsche, and Teslas passing in front of the fast food that kept Marcus entertained.

Our hotel was a short taxi ride away. We could’ve even made it on foot but everyone voted against and it was good decision. We didn’t waste much time upon checking in. We hit the streets with the first challenge of wheeling Marcus on a road with 1.5 slope that extends for several meters.

Pushing the wheelchair down and up is a challenge.

Initial destination was the museum with some side trips. We passed by Kowloon Park to check out the aviary. There wasn’t much to see there except for groups of familiar Filipino faces huddling together on their day off.

We reached the museum but scrapped the plan to get inside. Firstly, it was packed, then we learned there’s a schedule, and from outside I can see stairs. Not a place for Marcus. It was just about 3 PM so we decided to take the ferry to Central Hong Kong. Learning that it’s where there’s Jollibee for Marcus and cheap chocolates were compelling enough to stay exposed to the weird weather.

Clockwise from top left: Marcus on his first ferry ride; Posing in front of Hong Kong eye; View from our room; The iconic Hong Kong skyline.

Hong Kong Central was more crowded and busier. It was common to see people dragging luggage which I later figured are meant to store stuffs that they bought from the stores. Plastics are charged extra so it pays to bring luggage if you’re in for some shopping spree.

We covered almost 18 kilometers, ferry rides included, that afternoon.

It rained heavily in the afternoon so Marcus and I had to seek shelter while wifey and her sis did the bargain hunting. After what felt like hours we saw their faces emerge from poorly lit and crowded part of Worldwide House and with them was a bag full of chocolates. Never been happier to get out of a mall.

Arrived alive at the hotel.

Sun was still up but it was almost 7 PM when we reached the hotel. By then it already felt like I have used up every extra calorie I stored from eating magic cone that Marcus didn’t finish and scoops of White Rabbit and choc mint ice cream back at the ferry station. The last stretch running and pushing Marcus up the steep road had me accept that Jollibee chicken bucket was best recovery food that evening.

***

Mood: 8/10 Honks! (Pushing away writer’s block.)

HK Day 1: Finding Mickey

Marcus once again had the opportunity to see the world outside our house, outside the country. Last weekend, with his now blue wheelchair, Marcus went to Hong Kong for his first Disneyland adventure.

The blue wheelchair gets its first airport sticker.
As expected Hong Kong was gloomy.
Our first taste of lost in translation.
Reached Disneyland Hollywood Resort Hotel to drop off our bags and go directly to the park.
First glimpse of Disneyland’s gate.
Weather was hot and humid, stress on humid. Later learned that HK being close to the sea has a lot to do with it.

Marcus watching the Toy Story parade away from the splashes.

Parade that afternoon featured Toy Story. The floats and characters sprayed water so we had to get Marcus out of range to avoid him and his wheelchair from getting soaked.
Our first Disneyland ride.
Waiting to enter the Iron Man Experience virtual ride.
Still reeling from the heart pounding virtual 3D experience.

Our check-in time at the hotel was 3 PM so we had to get out of Disneyland theme park coming from the Iron Man Experience with the plan to return right after we’ve settled.

Clockwise from top left: souvenir shop inside the hotel somehow made up for our lost opportunity to see the other Disney characters; Marcus got a discounted Simba plush toy; Food was pricey so we settled for something less expensive and doesn’t require reservation; Meal was heavy and Marcus was bored so we checked the pool out.

Hotel check-in was a breeze. We got room 6716 which has twin beds. It was comfy, so comfy that I woke up close to 8 PM. Nobody woke me up so I guess everyone wasn’t just vocal about it but the humid park wasn’t worth the return. I concur but it was a pity we didn’t see Mickey up close and personal.

The Garmin came handy in tracking places we visited. It recorded that we walked a total of 4 km just in this portion of the park.

To be continued…

***

Mood: 8/10 Honks! (Been a while since my last post. Was busy and this HK trip was a blessing. Thanks wifey.)

I Have New Wheels. Sort of.

Karma must’ve caught on me. Our newly painted Honda City ’08 was a wreck after last week’s rear-ender. It happened fast, I didn’t see it coming. It was all routine drive until boom, everything inside the car got messed up. Coffee mug was thrown out of the cup holder, my shoulder bag went from front to the backseat, pairs of shoes mixed up, and the dashcam dangled like a pendulum after it got dislodged from its windshield mount. Saw all this after I found my phone somewhere on the floor. I wasn’t meant to be in the office that night.

Cars involved in the collision minus the truck that caused it all.

Good news is I’m still alive and writing and won’t be taking jeepney rides under this cruel tropical summer sun (heat index registering at 40 degrees Celsius lately) as the trucking company owner shouldered everything plus the loaner car. It was a bad experience but this guy lessened the stress of going through the police report and the repair process. God is good. As of this moment, my car’s damage is being taken care of at a Kia dealership that caters all-brand services.

Didn’t expect that a loaner car was an option in cases like this.

What I find funny is that this year we’ve been thinking of either getting a van or a smaller car–wherever that budget will come from is another story–that fits our garage and that could carry a wheelchair. Now it happened, I’m back to driving a Kia. This must be why they say be careful what you wish for.

So far I’m loving the automatic Picanto. It’s fun to drive, it’s easier to park and it can carry all three of us plus the wheelchair. Just this Monday the red compact car got the three of us to watch Avengers: Endgame. I just wonder though if 15 km./li @ 80 kph average speed is the best it can do. The old Honda City have done better. Think think.

(Draft first posted on my Facebook account.)

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (It rained and looking forward to see how the small tires would handle wet road.)

Marcus Got New Wheels

Marcus eventually outgrows his red wheelchair after three years. Last year he started complaining that his knees are already rubbing against the frame especially whenever I take him running with me.

My wife had this ingenious idea to cover the wheelchair’s area with bike frame foam padding. Of course, thanks to Lazada online shopping we acquired it with less effort. But it was only temporary. Marcus is growing fast, not fatter but just taller and heavier. He’s lean. He’d be about 5 feet tall if only he could stand.

He was all blue the day we got the wheelchair.

So last week, after weeks of waiting for the stock to be available, we met up with someone at the Festival Mall to purchase Marcus’ wheelchair. This time it’s blue, lighter than the old red wheelchair. And it is cheaper as well at P6000 only. Not bad except that the front wheels rub the foot rest when pulled backwards. We can deal with it.

Still using the trusty red wheelchair. Taken recently at a nearby carnival.

The new wheelchair comes with a lap belt which could come handy if ever we take it out for running. I also realize it will help when Marcus’ core muscles weaken further. Like last week he fell face first after slipping while seated. He got his lips cut but never cried–brave boy. It was scary for us though, signs of things to come. I can only pray the progression slows down.

This week is Marcus’ birthday. He’d be eleven. One day my wife asked, “What’s your wish?” “Last year I wished that I can walk, it didn’t happen,” Marcus simply replied. I looked at my wife faking a smile. His statement stings, we just don’t have an answer.

For now the wheelchair is what we have to make him mobile. We have the same wish for him, maybe dream is the appropriate word. I’m not pessimistic but I have to accept that him being able to walk will not happen in our lifetime. I just hope this new blue wheelchair brings us adventures and better memories.

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks! (Monday. Marcus’ new therapy schedule.)