Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are such fascinating historical figures, known for their great love and happy family life, and a successful, peaceful reign. Yet our main image of the sovereign is that of a heart-broken unsmiling widow in black; the remaining years of her monarchy that of a prudish, albeit prosperous society.

So it's refreshing to see The Young Victoria, the story of her childhood, accession to the throne of England, and the early years of her long reign. With an overprotective mother the Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson), the sheltered young princess grows up strong-minded and willful. She rebels against the undue influence that the Duchess's secretary Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong) has on her mother. The main storyline follows King Leopold of Belgium's machinations to get his nephew Albert to marry his niece Victoria. Thankfully, we see romance and true love develop between the two. One of my favorite actresses, (the much-nominated) Emily Blunt plays the lead, with the handsome Rupert Friend as the sensitive, loving and intelligent Albert.

The supporting cast includes Paul Bettany as Prime Minister Lord Melbourne, an ally and advisor to the new monarch, Harriet Walter as the genial Queen Adelaide, and a delightful turn by Jim Broadbent as King William IV. Talk about awkward family reunions! During his birthday celebration, the inebriated King publicly chastises the Duchess of Kent for keeping his niece away from him and taking rooms at Kensington Palace.

The film is a visual feast, with all the pomp and pageantry you'd expect from a British period piece. The set and costume design are outstanding. But underneath all the gloss, it is a human story. We see the human drama of monarchies---the feel bad/feel good moment when you learn that your uncle or parent has passed away, and that you have now ascended to the throne. We see the failings and tears of an inexperienced queen, the courtship, the blossoming of a love so powerful that when the marriage is ended by death, the surviving partner mourns for the rest of her life. Knowing what happens to the Queen later makes viewing this film all the more poignant.

(photo from Impawards)

The crazies were acting up at work today so I innocently asked if it was a full moon. And I was right. In fact, 2010's first full moon is going to be the biggest and brightest of the year. I didn't know it's called Wolf Moon. Or that they even named full moons.

Watch out Bella and Edward!

Just to mess with an Indiana friend, I posted Go Jets! on Facebook. Of course Beni responded with Go Colts! After the Colts won, she texted me:"Sorry about your luck! Your team is green with envy :)" I forwarded it to Mike ( usually a Giants fan, but to us, any New York team will do), who texted this back: "Tell her to f*** herself (too strong?)

Don't stay away too long Conan! Good luck and see you soon.

My favorite performances of the night:

Being Filipinos, we are no strangers to tragedies and natural disasters. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti. Click here to donate to Save the Children.

I saw my radiation oncologist yesterday: clean MRI scans. Yey! He told me how lucky I am. I didn't need to be told; I thank God everyday. I thanked Dr. I. for curing me. He said thank him in five years. That was a sobering thought. I didn't even think about the common parameter of being considered cured only if you're cancer-free for 5 years. Perhaps that's a good thing. I shouldn't have to worry about it. I'm a tough enough cookie to will my body into cancer-free submission.

But last night, I logged on to Facebook to see status messages from women declaring the color bra they're wearing. Supposedly to raise awareness for breast cancer. This annoyed me (and my sister Lynn) immensely. I'm sure whoever started it meant well---the meme did say to perform a breast self-exam after. But most people had no clue what was going on, posting random colors and thinking it was a game. I was irrationally vexed by this. (Plus there are other types of cancers out there that need attention.) Reading some people's comments incensed me further. Because people seemed to be getting titillated more than anything else. Unless you've been living under a rock, we're aware of diseases. It's just easier to keep smoking, not exercise, eat unhealthy food and keep ruining the environment. I was offended for all the cancer patients I've ever met. Maybe I've lost my sense of humor, but it just seemed that all their trials and tribulations had been trivialized. Social networking could be put to much better use than this.

On top of this, I read a friend's blog post today complaining because his birthday is January 1st. He said he was ONLY getting older without being able to celebrate with family and friends because everyone's off to their own New Year's Day thing. I was offended again, this time for people who are ill who may never see another birthday again. And for those who have passed on. If only people stopped to appreciate what they have instead of what they don't.

His dog saved Austin Forman when a cougar attacked the 11 year old boy in their British Columbia home. The boy's mother called the police and a constable shot the wild cat dead. The golden retriever, appropriately named Angel, is expected to make a full recovery from his injuries.

Now that's a GOOD BOY.

(photo from here)

I saw a woman cutting up an older woman's food (presumably her mother) and I told Lynn that while our father was in the hospital, my two other sisters did that for him. I didn't, my reason being that as a therapist, my instinct is to get people independent and mobile the quickest way possible. I asked the question whether I should have been a daughter first or a therapist. Her perfectly reasonable answer--which irked me no end nonetheless--was that I'm not his therapist. But doesn't being a good daughter include doing what's best for him? In this case, him doing things for himself and by himself. And so began the inevitable downward spiral into guilt, doubt and self-immolation.

The past few weeks have taken a psychological and physical toll on me. Being with my family just made me realize how I really can't live with people. I bark at them (sometimes with good reason, or so I like to kid myself), mostly because things aren't being done the way I want them done. And mostly at my father. Before his surgery, we all knew he was stressed out, taking it out on all of us by yelling and arguing. Since his surgery, he's been more chipper but I'm the one holding on to negative emotions. I resent many things, like how he called my aunts after we welcomed 2010. He has never done that to any of us. And how he sounds so happy talking to them. Which kinda makes sense to me because they humor him while I snap at him. I resent how it always falls on the singleton child to care for the parents. And how there seems to be no appreciation whatsoever. I resent how guilty I feel for having these thoughts and not finding an amiable way of speaking to them. Guilty that I can be nicer to my patients than to my own flesh and blood.

The truth is, people don't change. My father will remain hard-headed and strong-willed. I'm most likely stuck in my ways as well. Stalemate.

I got a phone call last night from a friend who visited us on Christmas Day. Liza said thank you for welcoming her and her family, and told me how nice it was to be with my parents again after all these years. She has lost both parents and frequently tells me she wished she had spent more time with them. The timing of her phone call couldn't have been more perfect. I only pray there's hope for me.

The priest said yesterday that we only have to worry about following through with our New Year's resolutions until February. After that, we can give them up for Lent.

But seriously, I saw this status message on Facebook:

Every new year people make resolutions to change aspects of themselves they believe are negative. A majority of people revert back to how they were before and feel like failures. This year I challenge you to a new resolution...I challenge you to just be yourself.


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