28 September 2016

From Lovers to Friends

“Why are old lovers able to become friends? Two reasons. They never truly loved each other, or they love each other still.” ~ Whitney Otto, How to Make an American Quilt
It was eighteen years ago when we were together.  Much has happened since then.  He is now married and has two daughters.  I have been married and divorced, and I now have a daughter.  We have seen each other several times over the course of the last eighteen years, but this past July, at our annual international tournament, was the first time that we had an opportunity to be alone and really talk to and spend time with each other.



We slipped easily into conversation, and it was as though we had never lost touch, had never been separated by time and distance, and had never broken each other's hearts.  I realized then how I had fallen in love with him eighteen years ago.  He is funny, smart, charming, well skilled at martial arts, and there is a level of comfort that I feel with him that I do not usually have with others.  Many people have asked me how I can be so friendly with him, an ex who had lied to me the entire time we were together, and who in essence had made me an unknowing mistress.

I suppose the answer is that I really do not know how.  All I know is that in many ways, I trust him.  I know that because he has already hurt me and has tried throughout the years to undo the hurt that he caused me, I feel as though I can trust him to not do it again.  Maybe this time, there are no stakes, and I can be friends with him freely, without expectation, and without hope for anything more.  Maybe what I feel for him is what true love really means, or maybe, what he and I had eighteen years ago was not really love, but just a friendship that had been taken to a place where it should never have gone.

02 September 2016

The Return

“Something told him that something was coming to an end. Not the world, exactly. Just the summer. There would be other summers, but there would never be one like this. Ever again.” ~ Neil Gaiman, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
After twenty years, I finally returned to Termoli.  It felt like a homecoming of sorts.  It was bitter and it was sweet.  I regret that I waited so long to return.  After all, A passed away ten years ago.  I wanted to come then to pay my respects and to say goodbye, but life and situations got in the way, and this year was the first time that I saw a clear path back to this magical place.  It was as if all the stars aligned just so that I could make this journey.

His parents met me at the airport.  I saw them as soon as I exited the terminal.  I saw the love and happiness in their faces, and I felt the love and joy in their warm kisses and embrace.  We all cried tears of happiness, tears of pain, and tears for the loss of A, our beloved, who connected us then and who still continues to connect us all.

We swam in the sea every morning, and we dined al fresco in the evenings.  After dinner, we walked amidst ancient fortresses and breathed in salty sea air.  We drank strong cups of espresso, and ate glorious fresh food from the sea.  The sun was strong and beamed upon us every day.  At night, the skies were dark in the way that made the stars seemed brighter.    

I will always remember A.  He will forever live in my heart.  Without him, I never would have known of this beautiful place, and I would never have had the honor to meet his beautiful family and friends.  He is what brought me to Termoli.  I have tasted a slice of heaven, and I know he is in his own personal heaven watching over all of us.

21 June 2016

Twenty

“When you loved someone and had to let them go, there will always be that small part of yourself that whispers, "What was it that you wanted and why didn't you fight for it?” ~ Shannon L. Adler, 300 Questions LDS Couples Should Ask Before Marriage
My phone vibrates to alert me that I received a text message.  I check, and it is another message from him. It is the tenth one.  This and the previous nine remain unanswered.

There was a time when the very thought of him made my heart beat faster, when the sun seemed to shine more brightly when he was around me, and when the nights would not feel so long because of him.

But now my mind is indifferent, and my heart no longer beats more quickly.  When I see his name come up on my phone screen, I sigh heavily.  
    
My phone vibrates again.  Eleven messages.  Twelve.  Thirteen.

He let me go once.  He did not love me when my heart was beating only for him.  Fourteen.

He allowed the sun to go down on me, and for the darkness to drown me.  Fifteen.

I cried myself to sleep on countless lonely nights.  Sixteen.

He left me for dead in the vast sea of my loneliness.  Seventeen.  I brought myself back to life.  Eighteen.

The pain I felt because of him made me stronger.  Nineteen.

I learned to value myself and trust that in the end, no matter how much I lost, I was going to be ok. 

My phone vibrates again.  Twenty unanswered text messages from him.

"Hi," I finally text back.

14 June 2016

Tragedy and Miracles

“It strikes me profoundly that the world is more often than not a bad and cruel place.” ~ Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho
I woke up Sunday morning to hear of the tragedy that happened in Orlando, Florida.  It is the worst mass shooting in American history.  My heart aches for all the victims and their families.  It is just so senseless and tragic.  Events like this make me want to give up on the human race.



On Saturday morning, G and I had brunch with my old neighbor, S, who moved to Ohio last summer.  She came back to NYC to visit with her two sons, and her one month old baby daughter.  I had not even realized that she was pregnant, let alone that she had given birth.  She had to undergo fertility treatments to conceive her boys, and so this baby was completely unexpected.  She said that she had thought that she was going through pre-menopause when her cycles suddenly stopped, but a visit to her doctor confirmed that she was instead pregnant.  Imagine that -- her fertility doctors had sworn that she would never be able to conceive without medical intervention, and yet here she is now.  It just goes to show that the human body is a wonder and a mystery and that sometimes miracles do happen.

After brunch, G and I went to Bowne Park in Queens.  The park has a pond that is home to families of turtles.





And apparently it is also home to people who know how to have a good time, as evidenced by this sidewalk chalk advertisement.  G actually wanted to ring the number.  I had to explain to her that it was not real.  Oh, how I love the innocence of children.  Later on, I got to thinking about what her nine year old mind considers "a good time."  Was she thinking that if we rang the number that little ponies and puppies would magically appear?  I should ask her later.



10 June 2016

The Truth is Now an Insult

“I know that even now, having watched enough television, you probably won't even refer to them as lepers so as to spare their feelings. You probably call them 'parts-dropping-off challenged' or something.” ~ Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
In this politically correct world in which we now live, we can no longer call people out for certain behaviors because they might be part of a protected class.  If we say anything that might be construed as offensive to a member of a protected class, we are labeled as racist, as a bigot, or simply an asshole.   

There is this guy on the train that takes the same train as I do every morning.  It is always a packed train, and everyone knows where to stand on the platform so that it lines up perfectly to where the train door opens when it stops.  In order to stand at that prime spot, you have to get there well in advance of the time when the train is due to arrive.  For the most part, people are relatively decent and do not really try to jump the line to get to the front.  This guy, however, straggles in right when the train arrives, but forcibly uses his massive size to cut in front of everyone and push people so that he can board the train first and find a seat. And because of his enormous girth, he takes up two seats.  He has no regard for the frail, elderly, or children, and his only goal is to make sure he is first on the train so that he can always find a seat.

Now, this is New York City.  This is a city where most people do not hold their tongue and when someone commits an offense, they are called out on it.  If this guy was a skinny Caucasian male, the whole train would have been in an uproar over his lack of train etiquette.  But because he is fat and Muslim, no one says a word.  No one wants to say anything to him about his disgusting behavior because to do so might cause others to deem you to be prejudiced and a bigot.  No one wants to say what they are really thinking: that he is a fat pig who uses his size as an excuse to be an asshole.  Just to be clear, I do not call him a pig because he is fat.  I call him a pig because of his uncouth manners.

Fortunately for him, he has not yet pushed me.  I have only been a witness to his appalling actions. But if he does ever push me, I will most definitely say something to him.  I am not going to sit back and watch him get away with being an asshole just to spare his feelings.

06 June 2016

Sometimes Words are Useless

“Once upon a time, each of us was somebody's kid.  Everyone had a father, even if he never provided anything more than his seed.  Everyone had a mother, even if she had to leave us on a stranger's doorstep.  No matter how we're eventually raised, all of our stories begin the exact same way.  They all end the same, too.” ~ Brian K. Vaughan, Saga, Volume 1
Since the apocalypse didn't happen, G and I went to Washington Square Park and we had lunch in the West Village on Saturday.  The weather was balmy with temperatures hovering around 82F/27C.





On Sunday evening, we went to the local pizzeria and each ordered a slice to take home to eat as we watched the Miss USA Pageant.  It was really a rare event, as she and I do not watch such programs.  We usually watch the news or foreign films together, as I am not such a big fan of pageants or even talent shows, but somehow it came on the television as we were trying to find something to watch, and she decided that she wanted to have a look.

The segment that we watched highlighted the lives of some of the contestants, and in particular it featured how the fathers of the contestants played a central role in the successes of the young women.  Some of the stories were quite touching.  I turned around to look at G, and I saw that she had tears rolling down her cheeks.  I asked her what was wrong, and she answered, simply, "I wish I had a dad that loves me like these dads love their daughters."

I was gutted.  I was unsure how to answer so I just gave her a hug.  Sometimes words are just useless and at that moment I felt that nothing I could say would ease that longing in her heart for a father who loves and cares about her.

02 June 2016

Latest Date For Apocalypse; Food Diary

“Apocalypse is a frame of mind." [Nicodemus] said then. "A belief. A surrender to inevitability. It is a despair for the future. It is the death of hope.” ~ Jim Butcher, Death Masks
It turns out, scholars had miscalculated the end of the world as set by the Mayan calendar.  Scholars originally calculated the end of the world to be December 21, 2012, but they did not account for leap years. And so they were off by 1, 260 days, which brings us to June 3 / June 4, 2016.

We only have one or two days left.  How will you live out the last days of your life?

If the world does end in the next few days, it has been really nice knowing you all, and I will see you all on the other side.



In other news, I started a food diary.  Well, it's not really a diary so much as it is just an account of my daily food intake.  I started yesterday, 1 June, as a sort of mid-year goal to keep track of my eating habits.

I can say that it really makes it less fun to eat when you hold yourself accountable and have to write down everything you consume.

Hopefully, this will help me with my fitness and weight goals.

20 May 2016

California Trip; Series of Unfortunate Events

“Why don't you go on west to California? There's work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why, there's always some kind of crop to work in. Why don't you go there?” ~ John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
So much has happened since my last entry.  The biggest event that happened was that G and I, along with my cousin, C, took a quick trip out west to California in April.  We went to visit my cousin, Ivy, and her three young sons. She was widowed last year when she came home from work one evening to find her husband dead in their bed.  It was tragic, and even more so as she was at that time twenty weeks pregnant with their third child.

She was featured on The Talk.  Her tragic story can be viewed here:



She has been extremely strong in the face of extreme loss and tragedy, and her faith in God has never wavered.  I salute her, as I have crumbled in lesser challenges.

Our main purpose for visiting California was of course to visit my cousin and offer whatever support we could give, even if just emotional, and despite the rather grey circumstances, we ended up having an amazing time.  It was nice to reconnect with my cousin, and it was nice for G to to spend some time with her cousins.

Ivy and her sons live in what I call Central California, somewhere in between Los Angeles and San Diego. Although I lived in California when I was younger, I had never been to San Diego.  As such, we took a side trip to San Diego and met with some blog friends who I have "known" since 2003.  It was our first meeting. I already love these friends, but it was so special to finally see them in person after over a decade of online friendship.

Here is a little video collage of our trip:



This month of May has been challenging.  Earlier in the month, I had made it my mission to take G to a particular park to get a view of the Manhattan skyline sunset.  While I was able to make it to that park, I was not able to leave in style.  My car got a flat tire as I was leaving the park, and it took over an hour to finally get the spare tire (donut) installed.  As I was driving home, wouldn't you believe it, but then the spare got a flat!  Unbelievable bad luck and timing.  Fortunately, I was able to catch the favor and grace of a friend who came to my rescue.

The following week, on Mother's Day actually, I started to feel very ill.  I was at the tire place getting my brand new tire installed and my wheels aligned when I felt as though I was going to faint.  I made it home just in time before I collapsed into my bed with a high-grade fever.

I was incapacitated and delirious for the next three days.  I was so weak, I could barely even sit up in my bed.  Poor G.  I couldn't even take her to school on that Monday.  I did not make it back into my office until that Thursday.

In the middle of all that chaos, I had a falling out with a friend.  Prior to my becoming ill, she had asked me to borrow some money for another crisis she was having with her family overseas.  She has a history of constantly borrowing money, and as usual, she promised to pay me back as soon as humanly possible.  I reluctantly agreed to lend her some money, but then I had become deathly ill, and so my promise to lend her money was soon forgotten.

I did not hear from her during the entire time I was sick, but I finally contacted her when I was recovered enough to make contact again with the public.  She responded with a text telling me that she was angry at me for not lending her the money when she needed it, and I told her that I had fallen very ill, and that I had totally forgotten about the issue.  She was still angry and she said that I was mean for saying yes but not following through with it.  I then reminded her that she in fact was still in debt to me for a few thousand dollars, and that she really had no right to be so angry with me.  She responded that she was tired of me hanging her debt over her head and that being my friend was "exhausting."

I was in no mood for her text rants and ended it by saying that I was done with her "friendship" as well, and that her conscience should tell her how much she should pay me back.  She owes me close to five thousand dollars.  I have a feeling I will never see that money ever again.

It is never a good feeling to end a "friendship" no matter how real or true it is, but I feel good that I am finally moving on from a relationship/friendship that was so toxic.

12 April 2016

Slow Dance

“Nick stands up and offers his hand to me.  I have no idea what he wants, but what the hell, I take his hand anyway, and he pulls me up on my feet then presses against me for a slow dance and it's like we're in a dream where he's Christopher Plummer and I'm Julie Andrews and we're dancing on the marble floor of an Austrian terrace garden.  Somehow my head presses Nick's t-shirt and in this moment I am forgetting about time and Tal because maybe my life isn't over.  Maybe it's only beginning.” ~ Rachel Cohn, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
On my fifteenth birthday, my parents let me host my first real teen party.  I invited a few friends over to my parent's basement, and in lieu of gifts, I had them bring an unknown guest to the party.  My decorating options were limited as I was a poor teenager with restricted funds and who had parents who, well into Spring, still had not taken down the Christmas lights.  As such, I made the best of it and used the colorful Christmas lights and disco ball strobe lights to decorate my birthday party.  As the party got underway and the guests were starting to arrive, I locked my target onto an unknown guest whom my friend Ruth had brought to my party.  The dark basement, illuminated only by the tacky colorful lights, seemed to somehow frame the stranger's tall and lean silhouette in such a way that I felt the first stirrings of teenage lust.

Ruth introduced me to the stranger.  Nick.  He had a nice smile that made his eyelids crinkle upwards.  He wished me a happy birthday and we started to dance.  Other guests started to arrive, but I was not interested.  I just wanted to be around Nick.  Pet Shop Boys was in the background.
"You've got a heart of glass or a heart of stone
Just you wait 'til I get you home
We've got no future, we've got no past...
"   
Then, the mother of all slow songs started playing.  Almost as if on cue, he and I move slowly towards each other.  He takes my hand, and we are standing close to each other, his breath warm on my cheek.
"Swaying room as the music starts
Strangers making the most of the dark
Two by two their bodies become one
I see you through the smokey air
Can't you feel the weight of my stare
You're so close but still a world away
What I'm dying to say, is that I'm crazy for you
Touch me once and you'll know it's true
I never wanted anyone like this
It's all brand new, you'll feel it in my kiss
I'm crazy for you, crazy for you..."
His hand is on my back, and I feel him pulling me towards him.  Our mouths are so close that our lips softly touch.  I feel the room spinning.  Or is it I that is spinning?  I feel the warmth of his body against mine and I feel so comfortable, almost as if I could sleep.  I close my eyes and I feel as though I am floating.  I don't want the song to end.  I don't want the dance to end.  I want to be in this moment forever, just me and Nick slow dancing for all eternity.

That dance, that moment, is all I can remember about that night.

Yesterday, I turned forty-five --- thirty long years after that first slow dance.

All I wanted for my birthday this year: to slow dance with a man and feel the way that I felt that night, so long ago.

04 April 2016

Vision

"Love blurs your vision; but after it recedes, you can see more clearly than ever. It's like the tide going out, revealing whatever's been thrown away and sunk: broken bottles, old gloves, rusting pop cans, nibbled fishbodies, bones. This is the kind of thing you see if you sit in the darkness with open eyes, not knowing the future. The ruin you've made.” ~ Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye
I've been dreaming about sight lately.  I know that most of you do not believe that dreams mean anything, but there still must be some reason as to why there is a central theme to my dreams as of late.

The other night, I dreamt that I borrowed GP's car.  I was driving his car at night, and the roads were only dimly lit by the street lights.  I was driving on a curvy and winding road.  I had driven all night, and somehow made it my to destination by the morning.  As I pulled his car into the driveway, an unknown man yells from his car, "Hey, your lights are off.  You've been driving all night with no lights on."

GP was there to greet my arrival.  He promptly reprimanded me for driving his car with limited visibility.

♡♡♡

The following night I dreamt that I had taken out my contacts to clean them. When I put them back in, my left eye started to hurt, so I took it back out.  I look at my left contact, and it is clearly ripped.  I debate whether I should put it back in because I am nearly blind without contacts or if I should instead just take out both contacts and walk around blindly.  Wearing eyeglasses were not an option in my dream.  I finally opted to take out both contacts and walk around blindly.

♡♡♡

In both dreams, the theme is that I have limited visibility.  Although I am not a firm believer that dreams foretell the future or give us any real insight to our subconscious mind, I do believe that dreams may mirror some of the fears and worries that we carry in our minds during our waking moments. Apparently, I seem to fear that I am going through life blindly but am willing to endure pain just so I can get to my final destination, wherever that may be.

31 March 2016

Starbucks and Technology Ruined My Social Life

"Coffee, she'd discovered, was tied to all sorts of memories, different for each person. Sunday mornings, friendly get-togethers, a favorite grandfather long since gone, the AA meeting that saved their life. Coffee meant something to people. Most found their lives were miserable without it. Coffee was a lot like love that way. And because Rachel believed in love, she believed in coffee, too.” ~ Sarah Addison Allen, The Peach Keeper
When I lived in DC about twenty years ago, one of my favorite things to do in the afternoon was to visit the Starbucks cafe across the street from my office. It was a great afternoon treat. It gave me the opportunity to get a little break from work, and because I was there so frequently, I became a "regular" and was friendly with the baristas.  

In those days, there were no such thing as the rewards program, and there was no ability to place your drink order from your mobile phone. In fact, mobile phones those days were limited to actually talking on the phone, much less internet equipped. As such, in order to get a cup of coffee, one had to actually stand in line and wait their turn.  

Starbucks was just gaining their popularity back then, and the wait was usually long. But we didn't mind because the regulars like myself would stand and chat with the other regulars and the baristas. After awhile, the best part about going to Starbucks wasn't actually getting the coffee drink in hand. Instead, the highlight of my daily trip to get coffee was meeting up with the other regulars and the baristas and sharing stories of our day. They became my "coffee friends", my "Starbucks friends" and getting coffee became a much anticipated afternoon routine. Coffee never tasted better.     

Somewhere along the way, people became too busy to stop and get coffee. Instead, getting coffee turned into something akin to getting food at a fast-food drive-through. Or, it involved booking a coffee date with a friend weeks in advance. Gone were the days of picking up the phone and calling to tell your friend "meet me at Starbucks in ten minutes."

As the lines got shorter and the service got faster, the opportunities to make friends became less and less. People are in a hurry to get their coffee, and no one has time for chitchat. If you take too long and chat with the barista, you hear the people behind you huffing and puffing passive-aggressively to let you know that you are taking up their valuable time.   

Welcome to the era of everyone wanting instant gratification.

In late September 2015, Starbucks introduced Mobile Order & Pay. Customers were now able to order their favorite drink, select the preferred location, pay for their order in advance, and come to the store and have their drink ready and waiting for them. No long wait in line. No chatting with any of the other customers or the baristas. In and out.

Starbucks and modern technology have ruined my social life. I no longer have co-regulars at Starbucks. How can I, when everyone is in and out of there within seconds? The baristas aren't even friendly anymore either. Presumably, they look at some computer screen with details of the mobile orders, they prepare said orders, and they call out "mobile order for XYZ." There is no human interaction. There is barely even eye contact.

Yesterday, for the first time, I ordered my coffee from the mobile application. I walked to the designated location, and by the time I arrived, my drink was already there, ready and waiting. I didn't have to talk to anyone. No fuss. No drama.

My coffee was ready in record time. It's a shame though that the experience of getting it so quickly left me unfulfilled and unsatisfied.



29 March 2016

Plans

“New Year - a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story?  Ultimately we write it.  The choice is ours.” ~ Alex Morritt, Impromptu Scribe
Just a few weeks ago I was complaining that I had not traveled anywhere in almost two years.  Now I have three trips planned for this year, with one already booked and confirmed. 

Next month, G and I are going to Los Angeles for a few days to visit a cousin of mine who recently lost her husband.  She is now a widowed mother of three young sons.  We are flying out west to give our moral support.  I also want to show G where I had spent some of my childhood.  Although I am now very much of an East Coast girl, my roots are actually West Coast.  Once upon a time, I was a California girl.

In the summer, the plan is for G to spend her break in the Philippines.  She and I will fly there at the end of June.  I will stay for about ten days, and she will come back in August with my mom.  Before she returns, I plan to vacation child-free and by myself to Greece and maybe spend a few days in Italy to visit old friends.

Money and time are still tight, but sacrifices can be made and adjustments can be arranged.  I have to do what I can to make things work.

I deserve this. 

23 March 2016

Afraid for our Future

“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else's happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you're not sure what the right thing is...and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.” ~ Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm
G and I have been having some tough days.  She turned nine three weeks ago, but she's already been exhibiting signs of spoiled teenager-itis.  My patience is thin when it comes to juvenile tantrums, and so she and I have been flexing our respective guns.  I was raised in a very strict Asian upbringing, and so I refuse to let her "win."  She, by my parent's definition, is completely American and lacks all the submissive qualities that are typical in Asian children.  In one sense, I am happy that she is headstrong and determined, but in other ways, I am disappointed that she has elected to direct her rebellious ways towards me.

Yesterday morning, she and I had a heated argument.  I feel weird calling it an argument since she is only nine years old, but there it is.  We were in the car on the way to her school, and she was upset that I had bothered her about eating breakfast.  "You are soooo strict," she whined.  "All the other kids don't have their mothers bothering them about breakfast."

"I would consider myself so lucky if I had even one person bothering me to eat something," I answered. "I could starve and no one would care to even ask me if I wanted anything to eat.  I feel sorry for those kids whose parents don't bother them to eat.  I am sure they would be happy for a mother like me who will feed them all the time."

In typical tweeny fashion, she just rolled her eyes in response.  I would have let it go at that, but unfortunately, she continued.  "You are soooo annoying," she said.  "None of the other kids eat breakfast either and their parents don't care."

Because she continued, and because her attitude was crass and disrespectful, I got angry.  Furious, even.  I ripped into her by telling her how ungrateful and disrespectful she was to speak to me in that way, and that maybe if she was so unhappy with me, that she could go live with her drunk of a biological father as he would with all certainty not care if she ate breakfast or not.  Perhaps, in retrospect, I should not have said that, but what can I say - I was angry.  She, of course, started crying as she got out of the car to go into the school, but not before slamming the car door with all her strength.

I drove away, seething, but forgot about everything as I boarded the train to head into work.

A little while later, my mobile phone rings.  It is the school psychologist.  "Your daughter was very upset this morning and she was crying.  When the teacher asked her what was wrong, she said 'my mom told me not to tell.'  Did something happen this morning?"  His tone is questioning.  Accusatory.

I felt insulted.  It may not have been, but I felt as though he was judging me on my parenting skills.  "Did something happen?"  "What happened was that my daughter was being a disrespectful brat, and I verbally put her in her place.  She got upset and started crying."

He paused before replying. "Well, when kids come to the school visibly upset, we have to ask, in case of...."  I stopped him before he could finish.

"My daughter and I had a mother-daughter talk, and unfortunately, she got upset.  Nothing happened.  Thank you for your concern."

While my parents used to smack us on the back of our heads whenever we were being bad, I cannot even talk harshly to my kid now lest I be investigated for child abuse.

I am afraid for our future.  I feel as though we are raising our future generations to be wimpy, disrespectful and unafraid of authority.

17 March 2016

Empty Handed

“It was not the feeling of completeness I so needed, but the feeling of not being empty.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated
I dreamt I was taking a trip to the Philippines.  I had left work with my friend, L, and we got on the train to head to the airport.  There was a pit-stop to eat at my work cafeteria.  We had to exit the train and leave our bags on the patches of grass outside of the building.  I remembered that I had two bags when I first boarded the train, but when I got off, I only had one.  I was upset I had lost one bag, so I told L to go ahead to the cafeteria and that I would catch up with her once I found my missing bag.  I backtracked on foot, while still carrying the one bag that I had left, and looked down on the patches of grass for my missing bag.  I could not find it, so I decided to head back to where the train originally dropped us off.  I was agitated that I lost my other bag, but was grateful anyway that at least I had the one bag.  My shoulders felt heavy though, and so I decided to put down the bag that I was carrying.  I was horrified to find out that the bag that I was carrying was not even my bag, but was instead a sort of backpack child seat.  I collapsed on the ground, crying for my two missing bags, and for the empty child seat.

09 March 2016

Excretion

“We all have secret lives. The life of excretion; the world of inappropriate sexual fantasies; our real hopes, our terror of death; our experience of shame; the world of pain; and our dreams. No one else knows these lives. Consciousness is solitary. Each person lives in that bubble universe that rests under the skull, alone.” ~ Kim Stanley Robinson, Galileo's Dream
Yesterday, G woke up in a pool of blood that had oozed from her nose.  After a few minutes, we were able to stop her nosebleed, but I let her stay home from school as she felt a little warm when I touched her forehead and she also said she had a headache.

She napped for part of the day, and after doing some light housework, I also felt like taking a nap.  I laid on the couch and fell asleep in front of the television.  I had a fitful nap and dreamt of having horrible stomach pains and of going to the bathroom to try to relieve myself.  For some reason, I was not able to excrete and I was feeling very uncomfortable.  When I woke up from my nap, my stomach was still aching.

Dream interpreters say, "...dreams that include constipation often have to do with openness and communication or else the lack of openness and communication currently in your life. If you experience constipation within your dream then this indicates that you have shown some distance with others. It is important to understand when you should be more open with others. The most significant factor of this dream is that you need to be more comfortable with other people, in order to better communicate with others."  Some also say that it "suggests that you are unwilling to let go of your old behavior, and forgive and forget with others. You need to stop dwelling in the past," while others say it is an inability "to get emotional relief from the problems one has mentally digested."    

I am aware of my areas of weakness.  I know that I hold onto things from the past, and I know that I have problems communicating with people.  I suppose that for me, the act of letting go has been a lifelong struggle, and my issues surrounding that have culminated in my inability to effectively communicate with other people to a point where all my relationships are strained and the lines of communication are blocked and uncomfortable.

01 March 2016

Over Him

"Your head's like mine, like all our heads; big enough to contain every god and devil there ever was. Big enough to hold the weight of oceans and the turning stars. Whole universes fit in there! But what do we choose to keep in this miraculous cabinet? Little broken things, sad trinkets that we play with over and over. The world turns our key and we play the same little tune again and again and we think that tune's all we are.” ~ Grant Morrison, The Invisibles, Vol. 1: Say You Want a Revolution
Relationships do not just end at the exact moment of a break-up.  Whether it is one person moving out, or whether there are words spoken between the parties signifying the end of the commitment, the real end of the relationship happens when you stop feeling for that person.

I did end our relationship when I found out.  I was hurt, angry and devastated. But I was also forgiving.  I was not ready to just let go of my dreams or my love for him.  We were living together, and we were sharing a life together.  I let my feelings for him, my love for him, override his acts of betrayal against me.       

And with my progress towards forgiveness, I let him back into my thoughts, my heart, and my life. We were not together in the conventional sense of being in a relationship, but we were together in how I viewed him and how he was a main figure in my current life.  

Over time, we had managed to maintain a very civil friendship.  He was there for me whenever I needed anything, and similarly, I was there for him whenever he was in a bind.  But underneath that friendship was a very strong desire to rekindle the love and the relationship that we once shared.

When he first moved out, I never took down any of the photos that I had of him that were displayed in various shelves around the house.  Aside from his belongings that he took with him when he moved, I kept most everything in the house the way that they were while he was still living there.  I even still slept on my side of the bed even though I now had the entire bed to myself to spread out.  It was not intentional -- I mindlessly just kept things as they were -- maybe an unconscious desire to preserve the life that we had together before the betrayal.    

I used to look at his pictures and feel surges of emotion, ranging from explosive anger, deep hurt, to gentle love.  I had little trinkets, reminders of him, lurking everywhere in the house.  There was the little neck pillow he bought from our trip to the Philippines together, the 9/11 memorial statue on the corner table that was his and was a reminder of the fallen World Trade Center Towers and the firefighters that held up the United States Flag amid the ruins, the ceramic of the iconic NYC coffee cup that he gave me, the paintings on the walls that he bought when we first moved in together... so many objects that tell stories of our life together.

Yesterday, I saw more reminders of him around the house.  Unhappy reminders.  I saw the chipped wooden blind that was damaged during one of our fights when he flung the car keys towards the window.  I saw the dent in the bedroom door from when I slammed the door in his face, and he tried to push it open with his shoulder.  I saw the folder of medical papers from when I was undergoing fertility treatments.  Reminders of not so happy moments.  

It was only just yesterday that I realized that my relationship with him is truly over.  It is over because I no longer hold on to the good moments that we shared together, but instead can look back at it with a clear set of eyes and also see that life with him was far from perfect.  In fact, if I look really closely, and if the walls could talk, the stories of bad times would outweigh the stories of good times.

This weekend, I will do some Spring cleaning and rearranging.  It is time to reclaim my space.

26 February 2016

As You Are

“I envy people that know love. They have someone who takes them as they are.” ~ Jess C. Scott, The Devilin Fey 
I've been watching couples lately.  I watch how they interact with each other in public, and I listen to stories from friends and even strangers about their relationships.  I am curious about the mechanics of how relationships are supposed to work.  I feel as though my track record with past relationships has not been very good.  Did they all fail because of me?  Did they fail because of the men who I chose? Why have all my relationships failed?  Was I too intense?  Too clingy?  Or was I too distant and not open enough?  

I try hard in any relationship in which I am involved.  With my last relationship, I tried so hard that I felt exhausted and spent at the end of it.  I try everyday, by being supportive, by listening, by rearranging my days and schedule to accommodate theirs, by taking care of them, and by being the person who I believe they want me to be.  

I have spent most of my adult life being a skewed person of myself.  I have contorted myself to be someone else to make others happy, and along the way, I have forgotten who I am inside.

But the "me" inside, the "real" me, wants to come out.  It wants to be seen, to be heard, to be felt, to be needed, to be taken care of... to be loved.  When was the last time someone took care of me? When was the last time someone bent over backwards for me?  I have been so busy twisting and turning myself to take care of others, but they in turn don't do anything to take care of me.

Every day, I see couples on the train, on the streets, in office buildings, and at grocery stores.  I see them holding hands, leaning up against each other, or even kissing.  I look at the faces of these couples, and I examine the smiles on their faces.

The other night, I was at the grocery store.  I walked up on a couple arguing in the parking lot.  "You want to walk, don't you?"  the man said to his wife.  "Ha!" she replied.  "I can't believe you said that. You are so walking." he said. She starts laughing. "Then you're going to have to call my mother and tell her you made me walk home."  They both laughed and he put his arms around her.  As I walked past them, they both smiled at me.  Here was a couple comfortable enough to fight, but yet remain loving and playful with each other.  I felt a tinge of envy.

I deserve that, too.  I deserve to be loved, just as I am, and not have to work so hard at twisting myself into the person others want me to be.  Maybe if I didn't try so hard and just be myself, it might just happen.  

23 February 2016

Rain and Rainbows

“If you want to see a rainbow you have to learn to see the rain.” ~ Paulo Coelho, Aleph

Sixth Avenue, NYC | Photo by ♥ N o v a

It was a dark, damp, cold, and rainy day.  I wanted to go outside for lunch today, but decided to stay inside the office instead.  It is nice to walk in the rain on warm summer days, but not so fun in the winter when the raindrops feel like ice daggers stabbing your skin.  

Rainy winter nights are perfect for staying home and curling up under warm blankets, with a cup of warm liquid in front of a fireplace.  

My apartment in New York is small, although quite big for city standards. What I miss the most about living in the suburbs is the spacious living area.  I have no fireplace here, and the rain makes me nostalgic for the house in which I grew up.

I remember a lot of evenings of when I was young, and how my family dealt with being relegated to the indoors because of torrential rainstorms.  We would sit around the kitchen table and play board games.  My favorites were Boggle and Monopoly.  I recall one afternoon when my whole family was home.  We were living in prairie land Nebraska, and it was during tornado season.  The high winds and powerful rain pellets knocked out the power, and so we lit candles and tried to wait out the storm. For entertainment, we had an hours-long Monopoly match.  I was always a sore loser and wanted to win. Unfortunately for me, my father was very competitive and so it was from those sessions where I learned to accept defeat.  It was during those times when we were trapped in the house that, looking back now, my mother was always so happy.  Maybe if it were not for the voice of Mother Nature telling us to slow down, we might not have ever stopped home long enough for all of us to be present at the same time.  Since my mother was a stay-at-home mother, she was home alone for most of the day, with me and my siblings off to school, and my father at work.  She must have loved bad weather for it had forced us to be all together at home.  I have many fond memories of her chicken and rice soup that was a staple for when the weather was bad.  It is from those experiences and those memories that make me love staying home whenever rain comes my way.  For me, rain has always equated to home and warmth, and whenever I am in a relationship, I look forward to staying home with my partner, cooking together, watching a movie together, or making love to the sound of the raindrops on the windows.

After the rain has left, I look forward to seeing the rainbows.

22 February 2016

Cleansing

“After all, perhaps dirt isn't really so unhealthy as one is brought up to believe.” ~ Agatha Christie, Murder in Mesopotamia
I read somewhere that the first step in organizing your life is to organize your living space.  And so, I started first by organizing my mail and bills, piling them all in neat little stacks.  Most of my mail was junk mail, and the rest were bills or bank statements.

I made binders of the various papers, categorizing them by name and sorted them in alphabetical order for easy access.

Once I cleared away all the papers, I was able to dust and vacuum.  I even steam-cleaned my drapes and couches.



It is a lovely feeling to be able to come home after a long day at work and relax in a cozy and clean environment.

17 February 2016

Eeyore

“Each of us must decide: Am I a fun-loving Tigger or am I a sad-sack Eeyore?  Pick a camp.” ~ Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
Among my friends, I would say that I am the sad-sack Eeyore.  I do not mean to be, but I suppose that is just who I am.  I am not sure if I just feel things more deeply than my friends, or if they just hide it better, but many of my friends seem to skate happily through life, despite any traumas they may experience, while I seem to take to heart every little affliction that comes my way.

If something happens to me or if a thought crosses my mind, I like to examine it, process it, re-examine it, ponder about it, and then either hold onto it, or let it go.  When things happen to my friends, they may think about it for a while, but then they let go of it immediately.  They move on with unbelievable speed, and then you do not hear of it ever again.

I suppose part of the reason why I keep a journal is because it is a way for me to chronicle my life and thoughts.  I told a friend of mine once about my diary habit, and she laughed and said that she would never waste precious time thinking about any event or idea long enough to ever write about it.

Do people like her heal more quickly than people like myself who analyze everything?  I tend to think so.  She has had her fair share of disappointments in life, but she seems to take things in much better stride than I ever would.  People like her are like Tigger, fun-loving and "bouncy" while people like I am are like Eeyore, sad and ponderous.
     
I guess the Tiggers and Eeyores of this world need each other to balance out one another.  



16 February 2016

Nobody Knows

“He took his pain and turned it into something beautiful. Into something that people connect to. And that's what good music does. It speaks to you. It changes you." ~ Hannah Harrington, Saving June
I recently lost my mobile phone and lost all my data along with it.  I was quite lax with syncing my mobile and saving my data to a "cloud."  As such, I lost hundreds of songs that I had saved on my phone.

Thinking of songs to download and then to upload onto my phone has been quite tedious.  Rebuilding my music library has been painfully slow.  Oddly enough, as I was flipping through channels on my television, I stumbled upon a 90s music station and I sat there and listened to the songs for a good hour.

It was like having the radio on, but over the television.

Although I really consider myself an 80s music kind of girl, the 90s were also an important decade in my life.  It is the decade in which I graduated university, and it was also the decade when I first got my heart broken.  I've always believed that you are not fully an adult until you have had your heart split open into a million pieces.

I spent much of the 90s loving, and then pining for the one who I have come to call my Immortal Beloved.  I am over him, now, but during that phase in my life, every breath that I took, every beat of my heart, and every thought in my head was for him.

So, as I sat in my living room over the weekend, transfixed to the 90s music station, I was transported back to that sad, lost, and depressed girl crying over her first lost love.

Listening to the music, I remembered the pain that I had felt back then, and the hopelessness that ran through my veins.  I did not know then that the heart is an incredibly durable muscle and can withstand multiple wounds and even be put back together after it has been crushed.

One song that I heard on the music channel was Nobody Knows by the Tony Rich Project.  It is a song about lost love and living with the pain of that loss everyday and no one knowing about it.  This song perfectly expressed my life when my heart was first broken.



10 February 2016

Auto-Pilot

“Water that never moves." I say to him. "It's fine for a little while. You can drink from it and it'll sustain you. But if it sits too long it goes bad. It grows stale. It becomes toxic." I shake my head. "I need waves. I need waterfalls. I want rushing currents.” ~ Tahereh Mafi, Ignite Me
Water that has been left out for too long becomes foul and stale.  Similarly, people who are stagnant do not expand their horizons and can become bitter and depressed.

Such is the case for me.  The last holiday trip I took was in November of 2014 when G and I went to Costa Rica.  We are now well into 2016, and I have yet to even plan some kind of meaningful vacation.

The main issues are time and money, as it is for a lot of people. Although 2015 was a much better year financially than the prior year, I am still struggling to recover from when I lost my job at the end of 2014.  The last few months I have been juggling one full time job, and two side consulting gigs, and so time has been limited.  As for the money, there just never seems to be enough, no matter how much I work.  I always wonder how other people seem to live normally, while I work 60+ hours a week and still struggle to make every end meet.

I am on auto-pilot, and there hasn't been much room for detour.  A typical day:  Wake up, shower, rush to drop off G at school to make the train, get to the office, work all day, rush back home in the evening to pick up G from school, spend time with G, make dinner, prepare meals for the next day, shower, go to bed, lather, rinse and repeat.

I am tired and depressed and desperately need to be thrown off this current ride.


09.02.2016 | Washington Square Park

04 February 2016

Aiza

“When someone you love dies, and you're not expecting it, you don't lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there's a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she's gone, forever —there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.” ~ John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany 
I first met Aiza in early 2004 on Xanga.  Through our public blogs, we shared each other's thoughts and feelings, and we had formed a unique friendship. We met once in person, in the winter of 2006, when she came to visit New York City from San Francisco.  We celebrated her visit to the East Coast by having dinner at the legendary Lucky Cheng's drag restaurant.  We both agreed that the food was sub-par, but the highlight of the evening was the drag entertainment.  After dinner, we walked through the city, and we promised that we would see each other again.  

She had been diagnosed with lupus before I had even met her.  Much of her blog was about her condition, her struggle to remain healthy, her frustrations and achievements in attaining her Ph.D. in Biology, her lab and research experiences, and her quest to find that one special guy.  

Throughout the years, we had remained in touch, mostly through our blogs and through Facebook.  I find it amazing that we live in an age where you can find true friendship online.  She even frequently commented here on this site (Cathe311), and although she no longer blogged as frequently as she once did, she often left very insightful posts on her Facebook which all her friends appreciated. 

Aiza passed away on January 24, 2016 due to complications from lupus. Although I had only ever seen her in person once, I miss her presence very much.

This is an excerpt from her eulogy:
At the time of her passing Aiza was in the final stages of finishing her PhD.  Aiza was a great wife, an outstanding mother, strong daughter, caring sister, auntie, cousin and wonderful friend.  Despite knowing she was diagnosed at a young age with lupus, Aiza was very appreciative and also aware of how extremely precious life is. She never took a day for granted and she was always willing to try and share her experiences with her family and loved ones whether it was traveling, dining out at new places, or even trying extreme adventurous hobbies such flying or jumping out of planes, and even spontaneously wanting to travel around the world. Yet, she was also able to make time to be with her family and many friends. Additionally, her scientific achievements will also continue to help contribute to the future of science.
Her poem:
Pieces of Hope
by Aiza Cathe Alejandro Go
I've tried to build my character
Instead, I'm beginning to shatter
Failures, death, complications
What else is there to gain?
Before things can get better...
Do I have to go through so much pain?
Can't get up, I'm down here on my knees
Searching for comfort...searching for peace.
Not knowing what to do...
I looked up at the sky
The perfect stillness of it
caused me to sigh
People must have turned to these stars
Hoping for an end to their misery
These stars must have witnessed
the pains, the sufferings, the needy
The stars seemed to pour light on me
It embraced me with so much force
I finally found pieces of hope..
It will help me throughout this course.

Rest in peace, my dear Aiza.  I love and miss you.