18 December 2010

Pipe Dreams

"Love me when I least deserve it, because that's when I need it the most." ~ Swedish Proverb
The truth is, I do not belong here, or there. I do not belong anywhere.

I chase after rainbows and pipe dreams.


I dream of a life, the life I was supposed I have, and not the one that I have lived.

26 November 2010

Seventeen Dollars and a Dream

Happy Birthday, Papá.

You turned seventy-two today.

When you were thirty-five, you immigrated to the U.S. You took a chance and found a position at one of the largest engineering firms in the world. You came to the U.S. on borrowed money. I remember years later, you told me that you had only seventeen dollars in your pocket when you first stepped foot on U. S. soil. You had even left my mom, my brother and me in the Philippines for six months while you earned enough money to get an apartment for our family.

Seventeen dollars and a dream.

And pride. You made sure to pay back the money you borrowed to come to the U.S. You paid it back with interest, unasked.

We were a typical struggling immigrant family. But your dream and determination and hard-work paid off. By the time you had retired, you were Vice-President of an international heavy industries engineering firm.

Everything you set out to accomplish, everything that you said you would do, you did it, and you did it with pride and excellence.

I am so proud of you.


Time flies quickly. Too quickly. And you and I have wasted so much of that time being angry at one another. For a long time, we did not even speak to each other.

It's mostly my fault. You were angry with me because I did not listen to you, and consequently, I have made devastating decisions. I know I have failed you. But mostly, I have failed myself, and that is what disappoints you the most.

But even when you were angry with me, you were always there for me, in your own way. Tough love. You were the epitome of tough love. But you did still love me.

I only wish that I had listened to you more. Talked with you more. Laughed with you more.

The thing is, it's not too late.

I will see you soon, Papá. I love you. Happy Birthday.

01 October 2010

Umbrella Dreams

"For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain." ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"There's gon' be some stuff you gon' see
that's gon' make it hard to smile in the future.
But through whatever you see,
through all the rain and the pain,
you gotta keep your sense of humor.
You gotta be able to smile through all this bullshit.
Remember that." ~
Tupac Shakur

I carry inside my purse a little red umbrella. I carry it nearly every day, even on days when the weather predictions do not call for rain. It is just the type of person I am. I try to be prepared for everything.

I save money, even if it is just a small amount. I save for “rainy days” because you just never know when life will throw a big storm in your life and an umbrella or a little extra cash will come in handy.

I dreamt last night that I took in the little red umbrella for a tune-up, so to speak. The repairman had tightened all the rods and made sure that there were no holes in the fabric.

“This is all good,” he reassured me. “The umbrella is good to go.”

A while later, there was a torrential downpour. The umbrella failed me. It flipped up against the wind and heavy rains, and I ended up getting drenched.


It was just a dream, but to me it represented my fear that no matter what I do or how I try to prevent myself from getting hurt, heartache and pain is still going to happen.

Maybe it is something that I have to learn about life - that inevitably it is going to rain and no umbrella in the world is going to guarantee that I will not get wet.


There is a hollowness in my stomach. I ache inside. I want so badly for all the things in my life to come together, in a way that has not yet happened for me. But I am afraid, so afraid, that no matter what I do to try and make things happen the way that I want, that it will not, and I will end up being severely disappointed.

(source)

I want to go back to the days when I did not care or even think to carry an umbrella. I want to be able to do what I want to do and not care if I am going to get hurt or not.

When did I forget how to dance in the rain?


28 September 2010

Will You Dance with Me?

"When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly." ~ Patrick Overton, The Leaning Tree: Poems
"Fortune sides with him who dares." ~ Virgil

We move to the rhythm of life, twirling in and out of the situations we face in our lives. We dance to whatever song our own personal jukebox plays. At times our movements are colorful and full of spice, like a rumba, and other times, we glide slowly and gracefully to the sweet slow song of love.

There are some dances that require patience and practice. Or a leap of faith.

The most beautiful dances we see are the ones where much blood, sweat, and tears have gone into the production of the dance. There is always risk of heartbreak and disappointment. But to risk nothing would mean we would forever be doing simple turns and pliés. How do we know that we cannot do a pirouette if we never try?

Let us dance together in this life. Let us take all the risks and be there for each other through all the songs of life. If we fall, we have each other to pull ourselves back up. And we will continue to dance and dance. Together, we may even learn how to fly.

16 September 2010

Low

"Except I think it feels more like an empty stomach than a broken heart. An aching hollowness that food can't cure. You know. You've felt it yourself, I bet. You hurt all the time, you're restless, you can't think straight, you sort of wish you were dead but what you really want is for everything to be the same as it was when you were still with him." ~ Richard Laymon, Night in the Lonesome October

I had one of those dreams the other night, those dreams of feeling inadequate. I was at my martial arts school. The students there all knew of my past achievements. My trophies still were displayed proudly in the cases in front of the school. I had promised them all a demonstration. But when I stepped out in the middle of the school to perform, I suddenly could not remember anything, not even the most simple maneuver. I left the school in shame, and I could hear the whispers of the students, "She is nothing but a has-been."

I was in the train yesterday on the way to work. It was the second day that the train had stopped in the tunnels underneath. The day before we were held in the train for over forty-five minutes in the underground tunnels. The train had gone into a state of emergency when it felt as though it had run over something, perhaps a body. They stopped our train to investigate and to make sure there were no "obstructions" in the rails. Yesterday, we were held again, but not nearly as long. Still, it was nerve-wracking. There was an older Latino couple standing near me. The woman was obviously in a state of panic. She held on tightly to the pole. The man stood next to her, comforting her, and he put his hand over her hand on the pole, caressing and protecting her at the same time. He whispered to her, "Esta bien, mi amor. Todo va a estar bien." She leaned herself into him and I could see her tension subside. The sweet and genuine exchange of love and care between this beautiful couple made me want to cry. I felt the sting of hot tears in my eyes as I realized that I want that in my life. To grow old with someone. To love and to be loved. To know that everything in the world will be alright as long as we are together.

It has been a dark week for me, with the feeling of the loss of my sister hitting me in thunderous waves. As if I could not go any lower, I reached an even deeper low when I allowed someone to make me feel as if I am the most selfish, most untrustworthy and most undeserving person in this world.

I am not perfect, but I always do try to do the right thing.

14 September 2010

33

"Lost love is still love. It takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those senses weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your 
partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it."

"Did you ever wonder? Why people gather when others die? Why people feel they should? It is because the human spirit knows, deep down, that all lives intersect. That death doesn't just take someone, it misses someone else, and in the small distance between being taken and being missed, lives are changed." ~ The Five People You Meet in Heaven

My sister would have been 33 this past Sunday.

Although it has been over ten years since she passed away, I still miss her so much. Her presence is always missed during the holidays, but it is in the everyday moments and occurrences when I find that I miss her the most.

I miss her sweet smile and her contagious laughter. I miss the animated way she would tell us about her day. I miss those early mornings when she would sneak into my room and crawl into bed next to me after a night of sneaking out and she would tell me about her adventures. I miss how she was the worst at making cookies, but how she would try anyway. I miss how she would laugh at how bad her cookies were. I miss how she and I would just break out into a dance in our bedroom whenever we both heard a song that we liked. I miss how she and I would go out to 7-11 in the middle of the night just to get a cup of hot chocolate and a pack of gum and a magazine.

I miss so many things about her. I hate that she was supposed to have become 33 this past Sunday, but that she died when she was 22. I hate that she never had the chance to get married or have a child. I hate that she wanted so badly to live, but that she did not. I hate that she is not around to live the life that she wanted. I hate that she never got the chance.

Happy Birthday, Alanna. I hope you got a big, fancy cake and lots of presents up there in Heaven, and that whatever wish you have came true.



30 August 2010

Set Sail

"Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk." ~ Dalai Lama XIV

"There are things known, and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors." ~ Jim Morrison

I now leave things up to Fate. To whatever direction Fate leads me, I follow.

It was not always this way, though.

In this ocean of life, I once was captain of my own ship. I navigated and directed my course and journey.

But being alone at sea can change a person.

Rough waters and harsh storms can humble a person. Or make them lose faith in themselves. To the point where they no longer feel capable to direct their own destination.

Or, they have learned that this journey through life, no matter how hard we try to go in a particular direction, there are much higher forces and powers that always prevail. And there are always unexpected stops and delays at ports, and there are even encounters with pirates who try to sabotage our way.

We can always try to direct our destination, but the journey to get there may not always be as we plan.

So jump onto my ship, or I'll jump onto yours. We may have no idea where we are going, but that is okay. We can set our sails to wherever we want to go, and we can do our best to stay the course, and the rest we can leave up to the wind to take us where it may, and we can have the stars to guide us through all the dark and stormy nights.

What matters to me is that we travel there, together. With love, faith, loyalty, and God's guidance, we will make it there. I believe it.

22 August 2010

Silence

"We hear nothing so clearly as what comes out of silence." ~ David James Duncan

... The silence fills me with depressing thoughts and the waiting makes me insane ...

I left my apartment last night and walked around Times Square. The crowds and the city noises helped to drown out the maddening silence and emptiness of my life.

A little bit of air entered my soul as I breathed in the smells of the city. I actually felt alive. My cyclical lifestyle of work, home and exercise is tiresome and meaningless. I have felt dead for a while.

My problems with everyone in my life continue, and while they all can resume their happy, full lives after a brief interruption by me, my life is one big interruption.

I long for human touch and interaction. A smile. Positive thoughts. A hug.

Some affirmation that I am loved and needed.

Instead, it has been empty email boxes and unplaced phone calls. Negative judgments.

And I am always left feeling abandoned.

Walking around the city felt therapeutic. It was nice to be out with some friends. A Joy Luck Club of sorts.

We talked, we laughed, we commiserated and we smiled at random strangers. We even took some photos with some policemen as if we were tourists.

For a few hours, I felt alive.

I checked my phones when I came home, and there were no messages, no texts, no emails from anyone.

The silence speaks volumes. Coming home to an empty apartment, an empty life, is no way for anyone to live.

I need to find my life again.

20 August 2010

Valleys


"Life is like topography, Hobbes. There are summits of happiness and success, flat stretches of boring routine and valleys of frustration and failure." ~ Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

Woke up today with my clothes sticking to my body. The heat has returned. At least in my apartment.

Debated whether I should ditch work today or not. Decided there are better ways to spend a Friday than burning up in one's own apartment. Showered and dressed, and walked to the train. Within a few minutes, my clothes were soaked with sweat.

Am now sitting in my air-conditioned office, and my sweat-soaked clothes are drying crisply against my body.

Lovely way to start a Friday.
♦ ♦ ♦

I found out yesterday that the apartment for which I have been waiting is no longer available. Yesterday was a shitty day all around, and I decided to take it out on my workout.
I bought this heart rate monitor:
I burned 701 calories in 90 minutes and my heart rate maxed at 162bpm. Am finding myself obsessing about my workouts as each night I try to do more and more. It's like that for me. Whenever I am upset about things in my life that I cannot control, I take it out on my body by exercising to extreme levels.
♦ ♦ ♦

I saw my best friend this past weekend. I met his new girlriend. She was chilly and not very happy to meet me. Even his parents commented to me later that she seemed jealous of my close friendship with M. Whatever. It was good to see him, and being around him was just like it always was. Comfortable. We laughed and joked like we had just seen each other yesterday. The one thing I always appreciate about our friendship is that neither time nor distance changes how we interact with each other.
♦ ♦ ♦

Since the apartment deal fell through, I have to start looking again. I hate starting over. I console myself by making myself believe that a better apartment is around the corner waiting for me. I hope so.

28 June 2010

Real Richness

"The one who doesn't fall, doesn't stand up." ~ Fedor Emelianenko, after losing for the first time in ten years.
I once was on top of my little world. I was young, smart, athletic and well-off. But life and sh*t happened, and in 2007, I found myself on the brink of a divorce and a single parent to a young baby. Life had been good to me for a long, long time, and it was my turn to experience the down side of life. I had gone through the death of my sister, a chaotic and tumultuous marriage and divorce, and I found myself having to rebuild my life from scratch.

It felt more difficult to rebuild than it had been to build in the first place. Maybe it was because I was older, or because I also had a child, but it most likely was because I simply did not have the energy or the confidence to stand up from the dark hole in which I resided.

I felt damaged and subjected to criticism. I felt wronged and that life had been unfair to me.

But time passed, and slowly things changed. I found myself independent again, with the unwavering support of my family, and now, in 2010, I am finally feeling as though I have taken back the life and freedom that I felt had been robbed from me.

A friend of mine, in his infinite wisdom, said to me yesterday, "Life has paid you back for the shi*t you went through."

It is a curious thing, how we oftentimes fail to see the positives in our life until someone throws it in our path. It is so easy to complain and see all the darkness in our life, but when light shines through, it is almost as if we are blind to it.

But I see clearly. And I am deeply grateful.

I have a beautiful and happy little girl, an amazing family, the love and support of incredible, good friends, a wonderful career, and a promising life ahead of me.

For the first time in a long time, I feel as if I am the richest woman on earth.

09 May 2010

Mom

"When you look into your mother’s eyes, you know that is the purest love you can find on this earth." ~ Mitch Albom, For One More Day
When I was younger, I did not think much of my Mom. I grew up wanting to not be like her, a stay-at-home mom who had given up her teaching career to raise my siblings and me. I would watch her go about her day, making breakfast for my family, cleaning house, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, more cooking, more cleaning, and I grew disgusted at how her life had turned out. I used to wonder if my Mom had any ambition at all for her life. Did she not want more, desire more, than to just be a Mom and a wife?

My Mom did not start to work until my sister was in high school. By then, she had been out of the work force for so long that she had to start at the very bottom. I'm not sure why, but I had been angry at my Mom for not doing more with her life. I felt as though she wasted her life just staying home and doing nothing all those years.

It was not until I was older that I realized how wrong I had been about my Mom. She was not just home and doing nothing. She had sacrificed her own dreams and ambitions to always be at home, ready and available, to care for us, nurture us, feed us, and love us. She had the most important job of all. But yet she never complained about the hours she worked, the lack of vacation time, or how she never was monetarily compensated. She just showed up, every day, with a smile on her face to encourage us to go about our own day, and she never asked for anything in return.



It is only now that I understand that she has achieved more with her life than she may have done if she had stayed with her teaching career. She took on the harder career, the one of being a full-time Mom. She successfully raised three children and even had to endure the tragedy of losing one of us. She was damn good at what she did: the best Mom I ever could have had. It is ironic how I grew up not wanting to be like her, and now, I could only hope to be like her.
“For the hand that rocks the cradle - is the hand that rules the world.” ~ William Ross Wallace

02 May 2010

Miss Me

I was at my parent's house during my birthday. My mom planned a party for me, with lots of guests and an elaborate spread. I dressed up especially nicely that day and wanted to make my grand appearance in style. So, when the guests started to arrive, I did not want to be seen until I was completely satisfied with my hair, makeup and dress. I decided to hide in the backyard until after all the guests arrived before I made my entrance. I climbed up the tree house and waited for the right moment. After some time, all the guests had arrived, and my mom started to wonder what had happened to me. They all started to call out my name. I did not answer. Instead, I stayed in the tree house to see what they would do. After a few more minutes, they started to become frantic. My mom even picked up the phone to call the police. Before she could complete the call, I finally came down from the tree house and greeted everyone with a smile.

"Where were you?!?!" my mom cried.

I pointed to the treehouse in the backyard. "There," I answered.

"Well, didn't you hear us calling for you? We all started to worry!"

"Yes, I heard you," I smiled.

"So why didn't you answer then?" she asked.

"I just wanted to make sure all of you really did miss me," I answered.

(photo courtesy Google Images)

I woke up from this dream the other morning, and I felt eerily disturbed by it. I had deliberately caused an upsetting scene in my dream just to reassure myself that I was loved by my family and friends, and that I would be missed if I were to fall off from the face of the earth.

I have always had this deep-rooted fear of being left behind by those I love or of not being loved in return. Today was an especially terrible day as I wallowed in self-pity for most of the day, and I laid around the house feeling sorry for myself.

After wasting a whole day on my stupid insecurities, I finally forced myself to focus on the positive things in my life: my good health, my stable job, friends, family, and most importantly, love.

Loving others and the feeling of being loved are the most powerful cures of all. The Beatles knew what they were talking about when they said that all we need is love.
"Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for." ~ Dag Hammarskjold, Swedish Statesman

26 January 2010

Dear Bus Driver

We're like old friends, you and I. I ride your bus every night. I am friendly and respectful towards you, and I always thank you when I get off your bus. Every night, I wish you a good evening, despite the fact that you always seem to try to get away from me.

(source: Google Images)

Although I love riding your bus, I do have one request: Could you please, please, not screech off and leave behind a trail of dust whenever you see me running down 5th Avenue? I know you saw me running, because it appeared as though you stepped on the gas pedal as soon as you saw me. I swear on all things Holy that I will make it my business to be at the bus stop on time, but could you please not speed away when I'm only two seconds from the door? I don't expect you to wait for me, but you don't exactly have to pull out of the stop as though you're running from the police.

Thanks.

Your faithful passenger.