17 December 2008

Scrub Away

Things went wrong for me this past week. Very, very wrong.

It all came in a dramatic flourish. Remember my nightmares about the overflowing toilets? Well, it did come true. It didn't quite happen as dramatically as I had envisioned, but nonetheless, it did come true. The nightmare was a portend of what my life had come to signify: too much of nothing good.

So, I've since flushed away the proverbial crap, and I now have a fresh, clean bowl in which to dump all the negative forces that continue to assail me.

It's going to take quite a bit of work to clean up all the residue left behind, but I'm armed with some good cleanser and good, determined scrubbing abilities.

Life Lesson #3107: Always have a spare toilet.

03 December 2008

Circa 1945



I found this photo of my Dad, his three brothers, and my grandparents taken shortly after WWII. They had hidden in the mountains after Japanese soldiers had occupied their town, which is located approximately 240 miles southeast of Manila. This photograph was taken after Japan had admitted defeat to the U.S. in 1945 and had left the Philippines. They had been hiding in the mountains of Luzon province for more than two years. All their other family photos prior to the war had been destroyed when they fled their home.

Someday soon, I will document my Dad's story.

18 November 2008

Cleaning Sh*t; Hammers and Wrenches

Twice in the last month I have dreamt (had nightmares) of a public toilet overflowing (exploding) and of me being trapped in the bathroom and having to clean the mess, even if I was not the cause. Anyone who knows my obsessive-compulsive tendencies knows that such a scenario, even in just a dream, causes me extreme stress.

Both times that I had those dreams, I woke up in a cold sweat. Both times, I literally had to clean someone else's sh*t.

For any of you dream interpreters out there: what do those dreams signify?



So, this past month has been pure hell for me.

I have always been a planner. Even the so-called spontaneous acts in my life have had some degree of planning involved. And I've always believed that if one was sick of the way their life was going, to get up and do something to change it.

So, I've done both. I've planned and I've done things to change the way my life was going. I thought that finally, things were going to go right for me after years and years of misery.

Oh, God, was I wrong. So wrong.

It seems that no matter how much planning and care I take to live the life that I want to live, something always happens to put a wrench in my plans.

Makes me want to take a hammer and just beat the crap out of all those stupid wrenches.

30 October 2008

Life and Shoes


Central Park, NYC
10/25/08


I walked around the UES Saturday afternoon in an attempt to do some soul-searching. Some may disagree, but I find it easier to think when I'm in the heart of the city, amidst the crowds and the sounds of life and bustle. Ironically, I used to retreat to the peace and quiet of the Maryland suburbs to sort out my thoughts. Lately, however, I have realized that the energy and vitality of New York City is where I feel most at home, and where I can feel alive and inspired.

Most of the people who love me and care about me are in Maryland. I have a strong support system down there. My past is all there.

This past month, I tried to reconnect with my past, and re-establish myself back in Maryland. I made myself go back to my old routines: giving up my weekends to go back to early Saturday morning kung fu workouts, and hanging out with old friends.

It felt good at first, warm and comfortable. Like an old shoe that is worn and molded to your foot. When you first slip it on, it feels great, maybe even soothing to your feet. But after walking around in it for some time, you realize that your feet may have grown accustomed to another pair, and suddenly, that old pair just feels outdated. And old. You realize, sadly, that you've outgrown that pair, and you put back on your new pair. The new pair is cleaner and more modern. More like the you that you are now. The new pair fits you just right. Not worn in or out. It just feels right.

I tend to hang on to old shoes for long periods of time. I stick them in a back closet or in storage, and wait for a time and season when they may be appropriate to wear again.

But at this time in my life, I enjoy wearing my new shoes. They're hip, fun and they make me feel young and alive - as if I have a future. Wearing my old shoes make me feel like I haven't progressed or that I haven't been anywhere. My old shoes are only meant to be worn there and nowhere else. They are not tough enough to withstand all that I have experienced in the last few years.

They were good and they served their purpose when I needed them. But it's time for a new pair - ones that fit me, now and for the near future.

But that doesn't mean that I will ever stop loving my old pair, for they have brought me to where I am now.

08 October 2008

Wolf Love

It has been a rough few weeks, and I’ve come so close to just throwing in the towel. I’ve worked so hard for everything in my life, and in these past few weeks, I have felt as though I have sunk to an all-time low.

I have been inconsolable, and have been trying to burn off negative energy by spending most of my free time at the gym. With my already busy schedule and increased depressed state, I have been neglecting my wolf.

She has been whining and whimpering incessantly. I check to make sure she has food and water, and I regularly take her outside to make sure she gets exercise. After I’ve gone through my mental checklist of what could be wrong with her, she still whines. I get annoyed and usher her away or yell at her to shut up.

She is relentless, though, and despite my repeated reprimands, she comes even closer, sits in front of me, and whines. Non-stop.

It was 7:30 this morning, and I was already running a bit late. As I am getting dressed, she comes into my room, and starts whining. I had just checked her food and water bowls, and we already had our long morning walk.

“What is it now?” I ask her, frustrated and about to cry.

She whines a response.

I was about to yell at her again to leave me alone and let me get ready to go to work, when I catch myself.

“Come here,” I say gently.

She moves towards me and nuzzles her nose into my neck. I sit on the floor with her for a few minutes, and we lock eyes. At that moment, there was no time deadline more important than me spending a few minutes with my beloved wolf.

“I’m sorry,” I say, as I run my fingers through her fur. “I know I’ve been neglecting you. Tonight, when I get home from work, it’s just gonna be you and me, kid. Just like the old days.”

After a few more kisses, she seems satisfied. She jumps on the bed and lies down. She stops whining.

All she had wanted this whole time was just a little love and attention. I had been so busy nursing my own emotions that I had completely forgotten that even wolves need love too.

"Wolf is the Grand Teacher. Wolf is the sage, who after many winters upon the sacred path and seeking the ways of wisdom, returns to share new knowledge with the tribe. Wolf is both the radical and the traditional in the same breath. When the Wolf walks by you - you will remember." ~ Robert Ghost Wolf

29 September 2008

Weeds

"The grass isn't greener on the other side. It's greener on the side you water." ~ Unknown

I've spent some time watering this "other" side, and all that has grown so far this week have been weeds. I stood on the other side of the fence, looking at this side, and saw a lush garden, full of life and hope. So, I jumped over to this side from the other side. I couldn't wait to enjoy this garden, but as soon as I got here, I realized that what I had thought to be green, rolling hills, are actually rocky, barren inclines. It's not too late to jump back over the fence again, but there is little honor in retreating.

So, for now, I will continue to tread through this desert trail that I have started to travel. I just have to believe that there is some higher purpose and reason for why I came to be where I am now.

Next time, I'll learn to stay on the side of the fence where I am already. Of course, hindsight is always crystal clear.

07 September 2008

Reunion

I'm about to be reunited with family and friends in a short time. But this... this is the best reunion I've seen in a long time:




If you've already seen this (I'm sure everyone has already), it's worth watching over and over, and if you haven't, don't miss it. It's a true tale of love and friendship. I cried, as I always do when watching a love story.

03 September 2008

Missing Moe

I miss you. I miss you more than I would have thought. Has it only been a year since you went away? I still can hear your voice in my head. I remember that I called you the week before you left us. I asked if I could visit you. You sounded so tired.

"Just call me before you come," you said. You had just come home from the hospital and you needed your rest.

"I will," I said.

I never did call you. I got tied up with the baby. I got busy doing other things. I got lazy. I made a promise to myself to visit you the next weekend. It would be Labor Day weekend and I would have had more time to spend with you.

It would be the last time that I would ever hear your voice. The following Friday, after I arrived in Maryland, I received the news that you had passed away.

"It can't be," I said to myself. "I was supposed to see you this weekend."

You left, and I wasn't even there to hold your hand one last time. I wasn't there to tell you how great of a friend you were to me, and how I had always looked up to you when we were kids. I wanted to tell you again how courageous you were to have battled breast cancer for five years, and how you stayed courageous even as you were in remission and you were called a "survivor," only to have it come back, and you fought valiantly, and even as you knew it was God's will to call you home, you told us not to hate God, and your faith in Him never wavered. Most of all, I wish I had been there to just thank you for blessing my life with your friendship. You were and still are an amazing woman and friend.

I miss you, Moe.

21 August 2008

Life is Beautiful

I had a bit of good news come my way the other day. Secretly, I am bursting inside, but because I do not want to tempt fate, I will keep my lips sealed. Just know that it is something which I have wanted for a long time now, and if all goes well, I will let you know. But, I am also sure that if I fall flat on my face, you all will know about it also, as I probably will be bitchin' about it on here.

--

I had two women here at the office confide in me yesterday. Two different women, with completely different backgrounds, but both legal secretaries. One approached me early in the afternoon and asked me to meet her for lunch. We meet outside and walk to Hale & Hearty for our favorite soup, Creamy Tomato Soup with Chicken and Orzo.

As we are eating outside at the park, I watch her and wonder what she needs to tell me. In between gulps of her soup, she says, "I feel like killing myself."

I nearly choke over my soup, but quickly compose myself enough to respond. "What's going on?"

"I'm just so tired of my life. I'm broke, I'm lonely, and I just don't know what to do with my life. I'm tired of caring, and I just want to give up." She looks at me with glossy eyes.

Not knowing how to respond, and in fear of saying the wrong thing, I shove soup in my mouth, and then follow with a big bite of bread.

"I think," I finally say after a long uncomfortable pause, "that you just need to get f*cked. Not just laid. But f*cked."

"What's the difference?" she asked.

With a bit of fake sounding authority, as if I know what I'm really saying, I answer, "Well, getting laid is just having sex. Plain and boring. Missionary. But getting f*cked... Well, my dear, that's getting down and dirty and having mind-blowing, pain-numbing, explosive sex."

She takes in what I say, and she smiles. "You know what? I think you're right."

We finish our lunch in companionable silence. I am relieved that she has temporarily stopped thinking about her sad state of affairs, and she, presumably, ponders on how she can go about getting shanked, as she finishes off the last slurp of her soup with a smirk on her face.

--

At the end of the day yesterday, I walk to another side of our floor suite to drop off some research papers on a Partner's desk. I rarely visit this side of the building and I run into a woman that I had not seen in a long time.

"Hey, you, what's up? I haven't seen you in a long time. How are things?" I ask her.

"I'm hanging in there. I've been having a rough time lately. Work has been slow and I've been trying to stay busy by trying to date, but I swear, I've been on these dating sites and all I ever meet are losers."

She is an actress, but she works as a legal secretary to fill in time between acting jobs. She's been cast on Law & Order and CSI in the past, but hasn't had much work in the recent months.

"It really is hard to meet people these days. I am not sure I would trust those dating sites, but I guess there aren't many other options," I answer, weakly.

She looks at me with the same glossy look I had seen on the other girl, just a few hours earlier. I start to breathe a little faster.

"You know, Nova, I've only ever wanted two things in my life, and that was to be an actress and to find a good man to marry. I'm failing miserably at acting and I'm now in my fifties. The chances of me finding a good man are becoming slimmer as each day, each year passes. If I had a gun here at my desk, I'd just shoot myself and get it over with."

"Why me?" I ask myself. To her, I plead with exasperation, "Please, please don't say that."

"I'm sorry," she says, "It's just that sometimes I get so fed up with waking up everday, trying my hardest to change my life, and things don't ever go my way."

"Well, did I ever tell you that theory about how when you want something, the universe conspires to help you achieve it?" I say, trying to quote Paul Coelho.

I am grasping at air here, trying to come up with witty, but comforting things to say. I'm not a god-damned psychologist, for God's sake. Why are these women telling me their problems? I'm not even allowed to make decisions about my finances or rent a damn car, remember???

"Well, it's true," I continue, again with an air of superimposed authority. "Supposedly, we have to really want something, tell the universe and the whole world about it, and nature and forces will contrive to make it happen."

"I heard something like that, from a friend of mine," she says, rather excitedly. She continues on with a story about how her friend had set a wedding date for three years in advance although she was not even dating anyone at the moment. Wouldn't you know it, by the time her "expiration date" came, she had met the man of her dreams, and she did indeed get married on the date she had planned three years earlier.

"Wow, Nova, thanks for reminding me," she gushes. "I feel better now." She stands up and gives me a hug.

Life is beautiful again.

18 August 2008

Underage

On the phone with my financial services company:

"Yes, I'd like online access for my account."

"Could you please verify your information?"

I give my name, social security number and address.

"Well, it appears that your mother is the guardian on this account, and you are not the person that can make any changes on this account."

"Okay... you mean even if it's MY account and I just gave my Mom access to MY account, I can't even apply for online access?"

"That's right. Your mother is the Guardian on this account and since you're underage, we can't even talk to you."

WTF???

Although I am 37, apparently I cannot be trusted to handle my own finances.

"Mom, help!!!" (She so loves being needed.)

--

This reminds me of when I tried to rent a car last summer. El, you'll remember this:

"Hi. I'd like to rent a car please. Could you please tell me what's available?"

The woman at Hertz looks at me and says, kindly, "Honey, I'm sorry, but I'm afraid you can't. You have to be at least 18 in order to rent a car."

After showing her my driver's license, we determine that I am actually older than she is.

Looking young and sounding young doesn't always have its advantages.

05 August 2008

A Lot of Fish and a Little Bit of Chips

This weekend:

  • I almost got robbed. I was sitting on the train, and an older Chinese woman sat down next to me. The motion of the train always makes me sleepy, but I wasn't sleepy enough to ignore the woman next to me inching closer and closer. When I looked down, her hand was in my open purse. I slapped her hand away, and yelled, "WTF?!?!" She didn't say anything, and quickly moved away and got out at the next stop.
  • I walked in on a man as he was using the bathroom. I went biking in the park this weekend, and stopped off near a wooded area to take a little breather. I didn't realize that I had stepped into someone's house, until I was assailed by a foul stench, and saw a homeless man behind a tree who just whipped out his junk and proceeded to urinate. I got onto my bike and pedaled away as quickly as I could go.
  • I ate the best fish 'n' chips this side of the East River. I always thought that the other boroughs of New York offered better food than Manhattan, and my impromptu search for fish 'n' chips brought me to this place.


  • BabyG kept saying "mama" over and over again. It's music to my ears, and she is even learning to play the harmonica.

I live such an exciting life, don't I?

30 July 2008

To Be Beautiful

I see her every morning on the commuter express bus. She's tall and willowy, with long, wavy, chestnut brown hair. The first time I saw her, I thought that surely she was a model. She reminds me of Petra Nemcova, but with even more delicate facial features.

I am not the only one who has noticed her. I see everyone on the bus watching her, taking note of her graceful movements and appreciating her strong physical presence. When the bus starts to fill and the seats are all taken, I see men rushing out of their seats to offer theirs to her, even if others are already standing, or there are others more deserving of a seat, such as an older person or someone carrying many packages. She always gets a seat, regardless.

It's a shame, however, that she's not as generous with her kindness as she is with exuding physical beauty. Once, a man offered her a seat instead of an elderly woman, and she sat down, instead of offering the older woman the seat. I'm not sure if anyone else took notice of the situation, as it appeared as everyone was too mesmerized by her looks. I also noticed that she did not even thank the man for giving up his seat. It seemed as though she had expected it.

She sat next to me once, and I felt uncomfortable sitting next to her. I felt shabby, unattractive, and dull compared to her, with her radiating good looks. I could not even concentrate on the book that I was reading, as I suddenly felt self-conscious of how my feet barely touched the bus floor, while her long legs stretched out in front of her.

I have always wondered what it was like to be so beautiful, and to have beauty that could carry you from day to day, with no worry about having to be kind to others, as everyone else jumps at the chance to be nice to you, as if it were some kind of honor to do something nice for someone so beautiful. She owns the bus, simply because she is beautiful. She doesn't take care to move her belongings out of the second seat so that someone can sit down, and she walks on the bus with confidence, knowing that she will get a seat no matter what, all simply because she is beautiful.

28 July 2008

Take My Puppy!

There's nothing unusual about seeing drunks walk around aimlessly at 6:00 in the morning here in New York. In fact, I've found that it's actually quite a normal thing to see around here. There are, after all, no shortages of after-hours bars that cater to those that want to stay obliterated past the 4:00 a.m. closing of the regular bars. I've actually found that the streets are quite dangerous between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m., as all the drunks are either drunkenly driving home or walking (staggering) home as night turns into day.

So, there seemed nothing out of the ordinary this morning for me as I was jogging through my neighborhood and I saw a man stumbling through the streets. He was yelling incomprehensibly to everyone and no one, but I just ignored him and kept on jogging.

However, on my jog back home, I saw that the drunk man had stopped and was yelling at an old Mexican man with a little puppy. As I jogged towards them, I strained to hear what was being said.

"Give me your puppy, old man!" the drunk man yelled.

"Please, sir, go away!" the old man pleaded.

"Give me your f*ckin' puppy! I'll take your fuckin' puppy!"

I saw the drunk man step forward and knock the old Mexican man's sancho hat off his head. As the old man bent down to pick up his hat, I saw the drunk man step closer towards the old man, and it looked like he was going to kick the old man in the head.

In fear that something bad would happen and without thinking, I yelled,"What the hell is going on here?!"

"Who the f*ck are you, you little chink b*tch?" yelled the drunk man.

"I'm the b*tch that's gonna kick your ass if you don't leave this man alone," I said calmly, and with much more confidence than I felt.

I'm not sure why, but the drunken man started to walk away. Perhaps it was my intimidating 4'11 frame. Or more possibly, the fact that I had my wolf with me frightened him away.

"Here, mister! You want a puppy?! Take mine!"

21 July 2008

Ice Cream Summers

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things about Summer was playing out in the sun all day long, and waiting for the sound of the Good Humor truck to drive around my neighborhood. The ice cream man always came at the perfect time, between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m., right after dinner, and when I was back outside playing with my friends. Most of the time, we were out on our bicycles, and we'd race around the neighborhood to follow the Good Humor truck. There was no ice cream in the world that tasted better than the ice cream from the Good Humor ice cream man.

Waiting for the sound of the Good Humor truck and running to get ice cream from the ice cream man became a Summer tradition for me and I'm sure for many American kids. What Summer day wasn't complete until you had ice cream from the Good Humor man?

Even as an adult, I'd spend my Summer evenings waiting for the jingle of the ice cream truck bells. Some things you just can't ever outgrow.

Last summer was Baby G's first summer. She was only a few months old, however, and too young to know about the meaning of ice cream. I'd take her around in her stroller in the Summer evenings, and I'd whisper to her to listen for the bells of the ice cream truck. Here in New York, it's the Mister Softee ice cream truck. I was excited for this Summer because I thought she'd be old enough to listen for Mister Softee.

But the Summer has come, and shortly, it will turn into Autumn. Because of the recession and the outrageous prices of gasoline, our neighborhood ice cream man, Mister Softee, has retired. I ran into him at the park one weekend, and I asked him where he had been. I had already surmised that the high prices of gasoline had driven him out of business, but I was still crestfallen when he confirmed my thoughts.

"I just cannot afford it no more!" he explained.

He had been the neighborhood ice cream man for almost forty years.

I am old enough to have experienced the days when milk and eggs used to be delivered to your doorstep, although it was already coming to the end of its days when I was a kid. I still hear some elderly people reminisce about those days, and I wonder now, if I will be one of those people that can't ever get over the end of the Good Humor and Mister Softee days.

Mr Softee
(photo courtesy of MSN Images)

"Without ice cream, life and fame are meaningless." ~ Unknown

16 July 2008

Me, Myself & I

One of the things that I learned here in New York is how to be alone and to be able to do things on my own. In a city with more than 8 million people, it's hard to imagine being by yourself, but it's true. I would have to say that New York can actually be one of the loneliest places on Earth.

Before moving here, I was always surrounded with family and friends. I had friends that I could call on a minute's notice to meet me for coffee, a spontaneous lunch, or to just hang out at someone's house. I always had an endless supply of workout partners and people that I could call to just accompany me on mundane errands.

But it is not so here in New York. I do not have many people to call here at all. It seems that all my friends and acquaintances here are very career-oriented (myself included), and finding someone to meet up with you even for a quick meal seems almost impossible. Since moving here, I seem to be doing everything by myself. I've gone to visit museums, explore the city, eat at restaurants, go to the movie theatre, drink at bars - all by myself. I have never been with just myself so much in all my life.

This past weekend, after another long work week, I treated myself to a bike ride along the Shore Promenade in Brooklyn.

My Bike The Shore Promenade

Bike Path through Shore Promenade View of the Verrazano Bridge

I am finding that being with just myself is no longer as lonely as it was. I am actually realizing that it's not so bad to be around me. In fact, I now look forward to when I can have time to be with myself, all by myself.

"The strongest man in the world, is he who stands alone." ~ Henrik Ibsen

13 July 2008

Dr. Suzanne

From: Dr. Suzanne
To: Nova
Subject: NOVA, THIS is why you're fat - Please don't be disgusted though, it's NOT your fault.

Hi NOVA,

My name is Suzanne, and I'm a real doctor that would like to show you why you may be "fat" and why you're unable to lose weight no matter how hard you try.

First off, please always know that it's not your fault...I would like to show you the disgusting truth right now as to what is keeping you fat!

Press here to see the disgusting truth that is keeping you from losing fat: http://www.wrong.info/disgusting

After you see what the problem is, I will then show you how easy it is to finally lose the fat that you want to lose.

Thank you!

Dr. Suzanne

~~~

I swear. They really know how to hit you where it hurts. Who is this Dr. Suzanne and how did she know that I've been having body image issues?

I check my junk mail folder only because sometimes "real" emails get re-routed there by accident. There are always all kinds of different advertisement emails, ranging from fake watches, sexual performance enhancing medications, to winning lottery numbers. I wonder, do some people take these junk emails seriously? I have to admit that the email above did get my attention, partly because it addressed me directly, and partly because I have been trying desperately to lose weight. When I was in the Philippines two months ago, all my relatives couldn't get over how fat I've become (I was a size 6), and they did not hesitate in telling me so. So, as soon as I came back home to NY, I've been exercising every day. In the six weeks or so that I've been exercising, I have managed to drop down to a size 4. It is not my pre-Baby G size (2), but hell, considering I had a 40-inch waist the day before I gave birth, I'm not doing too badly.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

09 July 2008

Wednesdays at Tako Grill

It's Wednesday night, and I am home at an unusually early hour. I've been working so much lately that I actually feel lost being home at this time. A few years ago, I would have known exactly where I would be at this time.

I went to Happy Hour with an old roommate of mine, P, a few weeks ago in Midtown. We used to live together in Maryland about five years ago. He now also lives and works in New York and is a friend from the Tako Grill days.

P and I, along with a group of friends, mostly from college, used to meet at Tako Grill every Wednesday night. It was our night to be with friends, and to eat, drink, and forget about our worries. It became a spontaneous routine. For many months, Wednesday night was always the best night of the week. It seemed that no matter what responsibilities we all had, we all seemed to make Tako Grill meetings a priority. Any why not? Good times with old friends should be top priority on everyone's list.

Our Wednesday night happy hours lasted about six months. Eventually, work, family and life obligations took over, and quietly, the Wednesday night fun times ended without notice.

P and I agree that the Wednesday nights at Tako Grill were some of the best Wednesdays of our life.

If I could be anywhere right now at this time, I would be at Tako Grill with my Wednesday night gang.

25 June 2008

Good Again

The last few weeks have been a series of unfortunate events. I sometimes can convince myself that I must have been an extremely evil person in a past life since I seem to have been hit with more than a decade-long string of bad luck that is probably meant as karma seeking justice for my past sins.

I really cannot say for certain what I may have done in a past life, but there are some things that I have done in this life for which I am still ashamed.

Specifically, there are two sins I committed that I cannot seem to forgive myself for doing.

When I was in college, I had dated a guy for five years. We were in many ways each other's first real relationship, and we grew into adulthood together. Five years is long for most relationships, but it is extremely long considering we were so young and in the first throes of experimentation and experience.

In the last year of that relationship, I cheated on him. Many, many, times, and for a long, long time. There were no real reasons for me to cheat on him. I just did. We were young and we were drifting apart, but regardless, I was just wrong.

Remarkably, he and I have remained friends, and I see now how much of an asshole I was to ever treat him the way that I did. He ended up marrying the girl he dated after me, and they now have three beautiful kids and a happy life together. While his marriage has been good, I struggle with an insurmountable amount of issues with mine. All I can say is that my bad fortune with my marriage is probably well-deserved.

But the greatest sin of all - the one for which I will never forgive myself - is the way I had treated my sister one afternoon, probably now over ten years ago.

She and I had an argument, the reason for which I no longer remember. But our argument was very heated, and had even escalated to the point of violence. Mine. Not hers. I remember I had hit her, hard, on her arm, and she fell backwards. Even as she fell, I continued to shout at her, and come at her, ready to strike again. She had crouched into a corner and to this day, I can still see the fear and hurt in her eyes that I had caused with my anger and brutality.

I cry now as I type this, at the memory of that day, and with the wish in my heart that I could re-do that day so that it had never happened. I tried to redeem myself with her many times in stupid ways, such as buying her things - ostensibly trying to buy her love and forgiveness. But I do not ever recall specifically asking for her forgiveness, even as she laid dying in the hospital. Although I know that she did forgive me, I still wish that I had said "sorry" to her. The guilt of knowing that she forgave me even though I never asked is something that will live with me for the rest of my days.

So, if my recent lack of fortune is payment for my prior sins, I accept it. I want to be good with God and with karma. I just want to be good with everyone again.

"My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

18 June 2008

I am Humbled

rainy day thoughts I learned much this past weekend about life and friendships.

I learned the importance of having friends that support you and back you when all else in your life falls apart.

I learned that life does not always turn out as you plan, and that it can get even worse that you had ever imagined, but that it can also turn out even better than you had ever hoped.

I learned that hearing from an old friend with whom you thought you had a falling out can bring back a flood of memories - good ones.

I learned that crying to a friend about your problems can make everything seem bearable.

I learned that life is not all sunshine and rainbows, but that the rain can be very beautiful.

I learned the beauty of being humbled by the love and support of my friends.

You know who you are. ♥

13 June 2008

Think Different

I saw her on the bus ride to work. I don't know why, but she made my day. Any woman who can go around with curlers in her hair and not care who's looking is cool in my book.

Are you for real
(taken with my camera phone)
"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." 
~ from the slogan "Think Different" by Apple Computer

11 June 2008

My 99 Nights

For anyone who has ever had their heart broken and continues to hope for reconciliation, this is my story:

My heart had been broken numerous times, but when S broke up with me, I felt like my life was over. I was twenty-five and hopeless. I could not imagine ever finding love again, and the thought of living a life without love (and without him) was just unbearable. I downed a whole bottle of pills, chased it with a bottle of scotch, and prayed for the pain to end.

Miserably, I woke up the next morning and realized that I was still alive. Neither the pills nor the bottle of alcohol did anything memorable to me, except leave me with a hellish headache and a wretched stomach as tokens for my foolishness.

S and I remained friends and in contact with another, but I continued to pine and long for him, even as I had entered other relationships, and I endured the pain of hearing of his relationships. He was the one against whom I compared every other guy. In my mind, no one even came close. For eight years, I closed off a part of myself and saved it for him. Stupidly, I cut off relationships whenever I felt as though they were close to surpassing S. I believed that he was my immortal beloved and that one day, he and I would be together again.

I eventually married another, but continued to hold that hope in my heart that he would love me again. I had even contemplated leaving my husband at various times to follow my heart, which I thought had belonged to S.

I cannot even say when or how I had stopped. Eight years and several broken relationships later, I woke up and realized that I no longer felt that way about S. In fact, I realized that I did not feel anything at all for S, save maybe for friendly affection.

Of late, he has been contacting me frequently, and has even been bringing up romantic memories of when we were together. He was well aware of my near decade-long obsession with him, and maybe he is aware that I no longer feel that way about him.

Hindsight is always crystal clear, and I realize now that he had kept stringing me along all those years, throwing me a treat here and there to keep me following after him. He tells me now of how great things were between us and how wonderful of a girl I am. If I am so wonderful, why was he never with me?

The truth is: he loved me for loyally following him around like a love-sick puppy. He loved that I was always there, waiting in the wings for him, waiting, waiting, always waiting. Yes, he did love me, but not enough to be with me.
Alfredo: I'll tell you a story. Just for you Toto. Let's sit down. God Almighty! Once upon a time......a king gave a feast. The most beautiful princesses were there. A soldier who was standing guard saw the king's daughter go by. She was the loveliest one, and he fell instantly in love. But what is a simple soldier next to the daughter of a king? One day he managed to see her and told her he could no longer live without her. The princess was so taken by the depth of his feeling that she said to the soldier: "If you can wait for 100 days and 100 nights under my balcony, I shall be yours." With that, the soldier went and waited one day, two days......then ten, twenty. Each evening the princess looked out and he never moved! Always there, come rain, come thunder. Birds shat on his head, bees stung him, but didn't budge. After 90 nights, he had become all dry and pale. Tears streamed from his eyes. He couldn't hold them back. He didn't even have the strength to sleep. And all that time, the princess watched him. When 99th night came......the soldier stood up, took his chair, and left.

Toto: How come? Right at the end?

Alfredo: Right at the end, Toto. Don't ask me what it means, I don't know. If you figure it out, you tell me.

[A few years later, Toto has learned a bit more about life, and presents his interpretation of the story's ending.]

Toto: Remember the story about the soldier and the princess? Now I understand why the solider left right at the end. In one more night, the princess would have been his. But she also could not possibly have kept her promise. And that would have been too cruel. It would have killed him. This way, at least, for 99 nights, he was living under the illusion that she was there, waiting for him.

~ Excerpt from Cinema Paradiso

30 May 2008

Left My Mark

Perhaps it is something in the warm wind, or the month of the year, or perhaps it was Wanderer's post about long-distance relationships, but somehow I came to be reminded about my first true long-distance relationship.

I met AC ten years ago, in May, 1998. I had traveled to Manchester, England to compete in a martial arts tournament, and AC was a guest judge there from Germany. Although he and I had seen each other in previous international tournaments, this was the first time we were formally introduced. The events of the tournament would keep us both extremely busy during the days of the tournaments, but as activities winded-down in the evenings, the tournament participants would socialize in the bar of the hotel where the tournament was held. After our initial meeting on the first day of the tournament, I found myself looking forward to meeting with him in the evenings.

He and I would have long talks in the evening, primarily about our mutual love for martial arts, that would extend into the early morning hours, well after the bar had already closed for the night. He would then accompany me to to my hotel room, but decorum and etiquette would keep him outside of my room, and he would sit in the hallway as I sat just inside my room, with the door propped open, and we would continue our discussions that way. It was crazily romantic.

At the end of the tournament, he and I had exchanged phone and fax numbers (these were the days prior to email). Although I felt a connection, I was not expecting to hear from him again. To my elation, however, I had a fax letter from him waiting for me when I returned home from England.

For two months after, I slept in my dad's study so that I could wait for his fax letter every night. I saw him again two months later that July when he traveled here to the U.S. to attend another tournament, and then again that November when I traveled to Germany to attend a tournament that he was hosting.

Our "relationship" lasted until February, 1999. I called him one night to wish him a happy birthday. I thought I had dialed the wrong number when a woman answered, but when I tried a second time, I knew then that he and I were over. I later found out that during the two weeks that I had been in Germany, he had moved out of the apartment that he was sharing with his girlfriend of seven years, and had rented a new apartment for the time that I was there. After I returned to the U.S., he promptly "made up" with his girlfriend and he moved back in with her.

For a long time, I hated him. I hated that he had been so dishonest when I had been so trusting. It would be the last time that I would ever love without suspicion.

These days, I no longer hate him, but instead, I smile when I remember my time with him. If it had not been for him, I probably would never have seen Germany as I did, would never have seen the Neuschwanstein Castle, or seen the beauty of the Swiss Alps.

He is married now, with two daughters. His first daughter is named Nova. I guess I left my mark with him as well.

23 May 2008

Feast Week

It’s Fleet Week here in New York, and as I am lover of men in uniform, it has been a banquet feast for the eyes.

I only look, though.

The other day I ran into a group of military men at the corner café near my office. I saw a group of them at the breakfast bar as I paid for my coffee at the cashier station. They were all decked out in uniform. I sighed to myself as I left the deli.

One of the military men stopped me outside the door.

“Hi!” he said.

“Hello,” I replied.

“Are you Filipino?”

“Yes, I am.”

He smiled. “I knew it! I saw you inside the café and I wondered if you were Filipino. I love Filipino people! I was in Manila for awhile. I was stationed there, you see, and they were the nicest people I have ever encountered.”

“Some are, yes. They’re all especially nice to soldiers.” I joked with him.

We talked for a few minutes outside of the café. Essentially, he asked me out on a date. As much as I was flattered by his attention, I politely refused.

The thing is, he looked so damn young. I mean, when the hell did they start recruiting them so young? Or am I just getting old?

Before I left, I asked him his age. Just to make sure. As I suspected, he was way young.

Unseemly young.

I told him I was old enough to be his mother. He seemed genuinely shocked.

“But I thought you were my age.”

Thanks, Kid. You don’t even know how you just made my week.

“I still got it.” I thought to myself. I mentally patted myself on the back and went to work that day with a smile on my face.

Man, do I love Fleet Week.

29 April 2008

Window Woman

So, I'm minding my own business the other night, walking my dog down the block for her nightly exercise, when a woman opens her window, sticks her head outside, and starts yelling, "Hey! Do me a favor and walk your dog on another block! I don't like dogs hanging around outside the house."

As I ignore her, and almost on cue, my dog squats down to relieve her bladder.

"Oh, thank God, she's only peeing, and not taking a sh*t," I thought to myself.

"Now, see! That's not nice! Pick that up!" the woman in the window yells.

"Do you have a rag I could borrow?" I ask her, "because she took a piss and it's kinda hard for me to pick that up."

"Oh. Well, just next time, walk her down the other block, would ya?"

"Whateverrrr," I retorted.

The next morning, I walk my dog down the block, as I normally do. Out of spite, I loiter around the curb in front of the window woman's house. Ever loyal to my wishes, my dog does her thing right there, for which I praise her loudly (and so that window woman could hear me), "Good girl!"

Like a responsible dog owner, and consistent with what I always do, I cleaned up after my dog.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see the curtains ruffle in the woman's window. She didn't open her window, although I was secretly hoping she would.

I wanted to let her know that no one, not even she, can tell me where I can and cannot walk my dog. It's my neighborhood and my block, too. I'm a responsible dog owner, and I take pride in my block. I refuse to walk down another block just because she doesn't like dogs hanging around outside her house.

And more importantly, I just wanted to let her know, in my own, silent, way, "Don't.f*ck.with.me."

25 April 2008

Someday

I met EH about thirteen years ago. He had stayed at my house for a few nights when he came to visit his son, SH, my boyfriend at the time. He was a big, but gentle, man who liked to give bear hugs and tell stories of his youth. He was an excitable speaker, and I was an avid listener, and so we got along famously. Unfortunately, he did not have such good communication with his children. SH and his two sisters all fought with him constantly. Many times I never understood why they were so angry with him. Sure, he had his little quirky ways about him, but there was no doubt that he loved his children. All three of his children, including SH, are all free-spirited individuals that do not like to be tied down to conventional ways of life. EH understood that, but that didn't stop him from giving his opinions on their hippy-like lifestyles. Sadly, his children did not appreciate his opinions, and all three of them had stopped talking to him.

Last month, I talked to SH online and asked him about his father. He told me that he had not talked to his father in two years.

Nova-san: how is your dad?
SH: Not sure... have not spoken for 2 years
Nova-san: ohhh... i thought things were going well between you two
SH: I just needed a break to define who I am as a man instead of adopting his
patterns and mistaking them for mine
Nova-san: i see
SH: Maybe someday before he dies we can try again, but he just pissed me off,
and I don't need people in my life who piss me off
Nova-san: i see
SH: life is too short, even if it is your own family
Nova-san: life is too short, and maybe that's why you should just give up your anger and call him... you don't have to be friends with him, but at least be friendly with him
SH: I have no time for people like that...Maybe someday I will have more patience

I didn't agree with SH, but what could I say? I let it go.

Yesterday, I got this message from SH:

SH: Nova-san? My sisters just called me and told me my dad shot himself yesterday. He's dead.
As I read his message, I couldn't help but think about our conversation, just last month.


"Maybe someday I will have more patience."

Sometimes, the somedays just come too late.

14 April 2008

Putting All the Pieces Together

This past Friday, I became thirty-seven years old.

I have never really liked birthdays much (my own). I love celebrating other people's birthdays, but when it comes to my own, I am anti-celebratory. My birthday has always been a time of reflection for me, and a personal gage of how much I have accomplished (or not accomplished) from year to year.

For many reasons, this birthday was one of the most melancholy that I have ever experienced. The worst birthday that I have ever had was my twenty-ninth, the year that my sister passed away, twelve days before my birthday. This birthday is a close second.

I am going through many changes in my life, many of which have been beyond my control. I have been trying valiantly to keep all the pieces of my life together, but sometimes the pieces are so misshapen, that I do not know how they can possibly fall into place. I know that eventually the pieces do fall where they are supposed to fall, but like any puzzle, the fight to find the proper fit and the frustration in doing so can take its toll.

I am doing the best that I can.

Meanwhile, I am thankful for the good things that I do have: a beautiful and healthy baby girl, a loving and supportive family, good health, and a job, despite my usual grievances, that pays the bills. And that's enough of a birthday gift for me.
Cake from Villabate

26 March 2008

Acceptance

It has been quite some time since I've written about my sister. I think of her everyday though, and during the most unexpected moments. Her anniversary is coming soon, and I have been missing her more than usual. On the 31st, it will have been eight years. Eight years. I cannot even believe that I have survived for this long without her. When she first died, the pain of losing her was so intense. There were moments of grief so unbearable, I was convinced that one could die from missing someone so much. I had gone through all the emotional stages of grief: sadness, anger, realization, and finally, acceptance.

But even acceptance cannot heal the hurt in my heart and the longing that I feel for her. I look at my daughter, and at times I can see glimpses of my sister's face in her, or I see movements and mannerisms that remind me of my sister. It is in these moments that I miss my sister the most. But I also miss her when I'm reading a book or watching a movie that I know she would have liked. I miss her when I'm riding the subway and some weirdo takes a seat next to me. If she were still here, we could have laughed about it. But she's not, and acceptance has stopped me from cursing God about why He took her instead of me.

It's been a long road to get to where I am now in my acceptance of her no longer being here. I no longer cry for her everyday or sit in a room catatonic with grief. But the pain is still there, dull, but ever-present. It is that same pain that reminds me, however, that she still lives, comfortably nestled in my heart.

07 March 2008

No Explanation

We were roommates and best friends in college. Even after college, we stayed best friends, calling each other every day after work to vent to each other our daily frustrations. Some days, particularly on especially stressful days, we spoke twice a day or more. We were as close as two friends could be. She lived in New Jersey, and I lived in Washington, but because we spoke everyday, the distance never hindered our friendship.

I told her everything about me, sparing no secrets, and even divulged to her things that I would be embarrassed to utter to myself alone. She, in turn, a very private person by nature, revealed her deep and dark skeletons to me.

During my first months of marriage, I had kept private my increasing problems with my marriage. She was the only one that knew of my troubles, and my only source of venting. One day, after an extreme situation in my marriage, I called her for some sound advice. She is a family law attorney and is accustomed to situations far worse than what I was experiencing, but more importantly, she was my friend, and I knew that if nothing else, she would be a voice of reason. She offered me some advice and then said she would get back to me as she needed further clarification on something. I never heard back from her.

That was over four years ago. I have called her countless times and have written her letters. I even wrote her an apology letter shortly after our last conversation. I feared that maybe I put too much on her plate or somehow offended her in some way. She did send me one cryptic email reassuring me that I had done nothing wrong, but for reasons that she did not yet feel comfortable to share with me, she no longer could be friends with me. To her credit, she has never forgotten my birthday, and every year, I get a text message from her or an e-card wishing me a happy birthday.

So our ten-plus years of best friendship all comes down to one message a year. No explanation, no nothing. I have since given up on trying to contact her. She knows where I am, and how to reach me.

I read in the society papers that she has gotten married, and she and her husband have bought a lovely home out in the Jersey Shore. I felt happy that she and her boyfriend had finally gotten married. A point of contention in her relationship with him was that she felt that he did not want to get married even though they had been together for several years. It looks as though she got what she wanted.

As happy as I am for her, it hurt more than a little that I had to find out about her good news through the newspaper. Maybe one day, I will know what her reasons were or are for no longer being my friend. Meanwhile, I sincerely wish her nothing but happiness and good fortune.

"I don't even remember what it was I was mad about and I don't care. Whatever it was that you did, I forgive you."

"What I did? You and your lousy letters. Just to get one of them made me special even before I opened it. All your crappy stories, all your big dreams."

"I didn't know that."
 
"Well, what the hell did you know? Did you know how bad things were for me? No, because you wouldn't even open my letters. If you had even answered one, just one! Told me what a jerk I was, anything! But you didn't. You took your friendship away without even discussing it with me. So, thank you very much for forgiving me. But I don't forgive you."
~ Hillary and C.C. Bloom, Beaches

19 January 2008

Dust Clouds

I left for Maryland again yesterday. I come down here to Maryland, back to my family, my friends, my home, so that I can leave New York and all of the stresses and complications that are associated with being there. It's so relaxing and comforting to be down here, free from drama and tension. I am blanketed here with a sense of warmth and security that I have never been able to feel in New York.

But I'm slowly starting to realize that you never really can escape from your troubles. Troubles are like a poisonous venom that flows through your blood, and no matter where you go or how you try to run from it, it will follow you, and slowly eat at you from the inside.

So now, even Maryland is not far enough away from all that plagues me. The world feels too small, and not nearly big enough to fit both me and my troubles.

I just want to take an ax and amputate that part of my life that is venomous and stop it from oozing into all the little cracks of my existence. I want to be free from that dreadful disease of worry and live with a light heart.

I know I have to let some things go in order for me to move forward. It will be hard because there are still so many little things that spark a bad memory and there are still little fragments of dust leftover from the past that still continue to dirty the present, no matter where I go. So be it there in New York, or here in Maryland, or even in the farthest reaches of the world, the dust clouds follow me and will continue to follow me until I can find a way to completely sweep them out of my life.