Monday, September 26, 2011

Dear Mom - I'm 30

I swear, I was a happy kid.

Note: This was originally posted on September 15, 2011 at 12:09AM through the Notes feature on Facebook.  I originally meant to publish this through the blog, but I didn't want the flow of my thoughts to be disrupted by the set up required by Blogger.  I am still not familiar with the new changes on Blogger.  I didn't change the original entry, so it's filled with grammatical errors as it was originally posted.  I didn't want to lose track of this little note, so I am also posting this on Simply Put by Myrene.  I appreciate all the support that I got through my readers on Facebook.  It took many years for me to process my grief and openly talk about my beloved mom.

Dear Mom, I'm 30

It's 40 minutes until midnight as I start this note.  I'm holding onto the last few minutes of my twenties.

It's hard to describe the passing of a decade or in this case, three decades. To help me enter this rite of passage into my thirties, the only thing I could think of is reassuring my mom that I am okay.  If her spirit is lingering nearby and if by some merciful miracle, she could read into my heart, she'd know that despite losing her at 18/19 years old that I am doing okay, if not, more than okay.

I still haven't gone through the experience of a mother, but from what all children know, we all need our mothers at any age.  It doesn't matter if we're 1, 5, 18, 29, 45, or 95 - we need the comfort of a mother's embrace, acknowledgement, warmth, acceptance, and love.  The relationship between a mother and child is both magical and biological.  

Once death separated us into 2 different realms, all I have left is her guidance, teachings, quirks, and the memories that we share. I could still imagine her scent and the feel of her skin. 

As a 30 year old now addressing her mother as an adult, I wish I knew better when I was 19.  I wish I knew that I'd only have you for such a short time and treasure every moment with you. But we didn't have that luxury.  We didn't have the luxury of having a relationship between 2 adults.  I wish that I argued with you less and listened to you more.  I wish I had a video of you.  I wish I wrote down all your stories and turned them into a book.  

I am happy (and relieved) to know that I am no longer bitter or resentful about being half-orphaned.  I think back on my mother's death with sadness, but it no longer controls me as it once did.

So Mom, 

I am rekindling my love for the 49ers.  I will go to Paris for the both of us.  I won't get married until I finish college.  I know you wanted an RV, but I don't even like driving all that much.

I'm sorry, but I don't want to be a CPA, but I hope being in management (eventually) will please you.  I still have to write that children's book.  That has been my dream since I was 6 years old.

I've gone through my first real broken heart and I am dealing with it pretty healthily.  I am not turning to black magic or illegal drugs.  You had me at 39 years old, so I am not too worried about my biological clock.  I'd rather start a family with the right man than settle down out of fear.

I learned what it is to be generous with love and caring for others.  I would rather have done too much than not enough.  I am finally picking up your talent of opening your heart and generosity to everyone - new and old.

I've inherited your need to only shop for clearance items. I drink my electrolytes.  And oregano will always remind of you.  I have my moments of fear and doubt, but your legacy reminds to be brave, tough it out, and persevere.  

I've accepted my crooked pinkies.  And my too big feet for someone as short as me.  My face is your face.  My hands and my hair are yours as well.  I have super teeth. I've inherited all of these from you.

I hope to always have your effervescent spirit that is alive now even though you've been gone for 11 years.  I will continue to have conversations with you and imagine what you'd think or say.

Oprah finally retired from daytime television.  I thought of you when she ended her show.  If you were still here, you'd watch every show of her final season and cry.

I am imagining that you're telling me happy birthday and that you love me. 

You have 2 grandchildren - Ryan and Ronan.  You'd love them more than Kuya and me.  

I miss and love you, Mom!  I can't believe I'm 30!  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Smile (a Mischievous Smile) Though Your Heart is Breaking

I remember turning 6, 12, 18, 19, and 23. At each of those years, I remember breaking away from myself and reforming into someone different and new.

At 6 years old, I remember being fearless. Or maybe my curiosity overcame any fears of the unknown consequences. At 6 years old, I thought, "When I grow up, I'm going to be a pediatrician, a teacher, and an author." The possibilities of life were endless. There was no way I couldn't do what I sought out to do. Whether it was biking one city block further than usual or jumping into the deep side of the pool with yellow inflatable sleeves. I grabbed life by the handlebars or cannonballed into it.

At 12 years old, I discovered my sense of humor. (I obviously think I'm funny and that's all that matters.) I realized that making others laugh, even at my expense, was my way of making friends, building bridges, or reducing the tension of an awkward situation.

At 18 years old, I thought that I waved my childhood farewell. With conviction, I insisted that this is me now, and this will be me for the rest of my life. Color me naive! The only great thing about this year was that I was finally out of high school and I finally got my driver's license after 5 horrendous attempts.

At 19 years old, my mentality exponentially grew up. Between 18 and 19, my mom passed away from a second round of metastasized breast cancer. My childlike view of the world turned black. I questioned everything I held in my heart. My convictions became unstable. I didn't know who I was because I associated who I was with my mom and everything before her death. From this point on, my life was split into "when mom was alive," and "after mom died." This time period in my life was just SO. DAMN. HARD.

For four years, I felt like I wandered the world a bit aimlessly. I was lost.

At 23 years old, I snapped out of this state of mind. To this day, I'm not sure what happened, but the weight that I carried around suddenly lifted off of my shoulders. The bitterness and resentment no longer engulfed me. My happy-go-lucky view of the world returned. Life is beautiful. Life goes on. Being happy didn't mean that I forgot Mom at all. There isn't a day when I don't think about her. At this point, I took on a challenging job and made plans to go back to college. I remember the 6 year old in me and decided to face life with sass and confidence once again.

At 29.75 years old, I've reached another major change in my life. I am alone for the first time in a long time. I've been somebody's girlfriend for the last 10, almost 11 years of my life. It's a different kind of grieving process. The depiction of a broken heart shouldn't be split into 2 pieces, but it should be shattered into a million pieces. Every piece signifies the anger, denial, disappointment, resentment, grief, acceptance, shock, sadness, and the countless days and nights when things finally get better.

Like a broken bone, when the heart heals, the heart becomes so much more stronger and better. The phantom pains remind the heart how to proceed as to avoid future injury, well, for as much as possible.

I learned to love better for next time. I learned to consider myself as well. Giving doesn't mean giving everything and never taking anything in return. Love is time, conversation, acceptance, support, and shared experiences. And it became so much more clear what I really want in a relationship, what is important in a relationship, and what I could do without. (It's no joke, we really do get stronger and wiser. Experience is the most convincing teacher. It can be a total bitch and a slap to the face. I can't reiterate it enough.)

When I look back at the last 10 or so years, I have no regrets. Someone was willing to share his life with me day in and day out. (I am not easy to be with, trust me, I know. I am not always a ray of sunshine, believe it or not.) People change. Expectations change. And unfortunately, people grow apart.

(Disclaimer: For those who know about us, I wish him nothing but the best and will continue to support him as a friend. We're cool. So no Team Myrene or Team He Will Remain Unnamed.)

Although I'm not quite 30, I am looking forward to bidding my 20s farewell. I do have my bouts of midlife crisis from time to time and doubt, but there is that confident and sassy 6-year-old-now-29.75 within me and it's looking at the future straight in the eye with nothing but good intentions and a big, mischievous smile.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Love as a Service

Love is so complicated sometimes. Love asks us to sacrifice and make compromises. (I actually sound out compromise like com-promise, so that I'll spell it out correctly.) Love makes us say things we truly mean when on a normal given day, we would have just held it back all in the name of love and of protecting our loved ones.

My version of love is service. I am not the most verbal or affectionate person in the world. It's how I'm built. People are known to adapt and change, so over time, I can develop these expressions of love.

So this is what I will do in the mean time and these are a few examples: give you a ride to the airport, ride with you as you pick someone up at the airport for the carpool lane, listen to you talk or rant or vent, read your resume, watch your dog, lend you a book, sit with you at the hospital, let you say mean things and then reel you back in, get you a birthday card, get you a thinking of you card, support your dream, tell you the truth, paint the town red with you, watch a movie with you, share a meal or drink with you, critique your outfit, make you laugh, crack a joke at my expense, share my notes, watch your back, and buy you a cup of coffee.

I express my love, friendship, concern, or whatever you call it, by sharing my time and company with you.

What I am working on: one day and every day after that, I will share a relaxed hug with no tight shoulders with every dear one, and actually say, "I love you." In all honestly, I will bail you out of jail first before I get to this point, but I am going to get there.

Love even with all its complications is all worth it in the end. Even if at times, it's so hard to see beyond the heartbreak. This is what we call hope. Whether it's through prayer, travel, daily exercise, or a new hobby. We persevere and survive because we have hope.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gah, am I getting old?

Looking at 30

I'm still 29 years old. I've a few more months to hold on to my youth. I can still tell others that I am still in my 20s. I can't believe that I'm going to be 30 years old! I honestly feel too young to be 30 years old. So to demonstrate how ready I am to be 30 years old, I have listed all of the outstanding (a popular work-related word) items that I've yet to accomplish. I am not married. I'm in my last year of college. Or last year and a half of college, to be more precise. I have no children. I haven't purchased a house. If I am supposed to be following an expected path, I've been off this route for quite a while.

So what exactly have I accomplished?

I'm probably partly finished or on my way to completing a variety of goals. I am almost finished with school. I am almost ready to get married. I don't have much time left on my biological clock, so by default, I will be having kids fairly soon. (Side note: I have always been open to adoption.) I'm not that excited to buy my own house. (Side note: I can face many things, but the idea of having a mortgage freaks me out. I am also scared of the dark, clowns, and drowning. I am even scared of fake drowning.)

What I'd Like to Do

I want to pick up an artistic hobby. I've always been intrigued by DIY projects. So before the right side of my brain becomes senile, I want to take up sewing. I've always admired quirky patterns, textures, and fabrics, so I see myself enjoying this in the long run. My maternal grandmother used to make me clothes as a little kid. I loved that it was made by my grandma and I can be for sure that no one else would be wearing a matching teddy bear, shirt and pants combination with lace trimmings outfit. (I'm going to find that awesome picture. Because the best day to wear this outfit was picture day!) Sure it could pass for pajamas, but I loved that it fit exactly to my measurements.

Other Stuff I'd Like to Do

As I look 30 straight in the eye or however far my poor eye sight can see, I do plan on traveling as much possible. Preferably, I'd want to go to countries outside of the US, so I can re-appreciate the USA.

I want to lose 20 pounds! I am embarrassed to even admit that I even have 20 pounds to spare, but as many people would agree, my body is not a perfect wonderland. (John Mayer may be a douchebag, but he writes good songs.)

I want to be debt free! I'm on my way to financial freedom from a debt perspective, but I am about 100 million-billion dollars short from true financial freedom. I am paying back my very youthful choices, literally.

Lastly, I've had a former colleague at work who pursued her dream and has published 2 New York Times Bestsellers for Children's Books. I have to re-ignite the inspiration and act on it. Henceforth and therefore, the blogging craze has begun again. Also, I just read Tina Fey's Bossypants. I loved it. She confirms all the more why I consider her one of my human, female, and writing heroes. Go read it!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Time Slots

Even though I've worked the equivalent of 2 work-weeks this past week, it's still my desire to make time for other things. Like a garden, every plant or flower must be tended to in a different way. This will determine how each will flourish or wilt.

With the few free hours that I had outside of work this weekend, I had dinner with Leo at one of our favorite spots, Shabuway in Mountain View. I watched a movie with my dad. I was able to catch up on resting and watched a few DVDs. On Saturday and Sunday, I worked both days, but I managed to get up extra early for 10k Jungle Run in Los Gatos with a friend. I was so happy to be outside with nature and in the sun. I saw geese, squirrels, and plenty of Goldens during the 10k walk.

No matter how busy or tired I feel sometimes, I have the need to diversify my time. Time is a limited resource. I don't want to invest all of my time in one place. Others find fulfillment in just their careers, but I find the most fulfillment with my relationships with people and my dog (of course). I find fulfillment in my hobbies.

I've always admired anyone who maintained an artistic outlet. It could be in photography, writing, music, painting, hair and make-up, and so on. I used to admire art because a person is able to create something from nothing. I don't think anything can be created from nothing, at least, not in our earthly realm. Even with writing, the tools are words, life experiences, spell check, and the works of other writers. And of course, the most important tool is the muse or the inspiration. With that spark of inspiration and followed up with passion, art is born from something.

I noticed that whenever I feel overwhelmed by school, work, or life that I tend to cook. It's the process of starting from raw materials such as the meat, vegetables, salt, and other seasonings to a finished product. Cooking is just very therapeutic. Cooking takes attention, so it's also a mini-vacation from other distractions. I cooked my favorite Filipino dish, Sinigang. It's a hot stew with meat, vegetables, and with a sour tamarind taste. I needed the comfort food to help me deal with the on-going stress at this time. I describe it as my favorite home cooked meal + nostalgia.

I made time to enter a word in Urban Dictionary and it got approved! The term is "slc" and it stands for silently laughing and crying. I saw a funny video of a man in awe of double rainbows and my reaction was "slc." It's one step closer to being a published writer. ;)

I just discovered that Dr. Seuss lived from 1904 to 1991. He wrote one of my favorite books Oh, the Places You'll Go in 1990. To know that he wrote this one year before his death, makes it even more inspiring to me. I have writing ideas, but no idea on the story. Authors like J.K Rowling and Stephanie Meyer pretty much knew in advance what their whole series would be like from start to finish.

How I've been applying my time is as varied as tonight's post. It's important to diversify our time, limit wasted time, and share our time with the important people in our lives. Jobs will never love us back or help us change a flat tire. However, at any given job, it deserves our time and attention to it as well. It may not be #1, #2, or #3 in our lives, but it's up there. Having a job adds to the meaning in our lives. It's like a seasoning in dish that you barely taste, but provides that extra umphf to make it better.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Friendship: Perception is sometimes a reflection of ourselves.

Words and labels sometimes get in the way of a friendship. Work Friend. High School Friend. College Friend. Best Friend. Childhood Friend. Gay Friend. Church Friend.

Granted some friendships are more meaningful than others, I've tried to eliminate the labels as much as possible. The core and heart of the relationship is that we've exchanged our thoughts, feelings, joys, and fears. We share a bond through life experience, common interests, and that ever-so-mysterious chemistry. Time and distance never really defines a real friendship, but that shared love of the other person's well-being and happiness. Less selfish and more selfless.

To be a good friend is to give time generously. Quality time feeds the soul of a friendship. An email. A Facebook post. A text message. Lunch. Dinner. Vacation. A birthday party. A phone call. It's only hard to manage a friendship when there is an obvious imbalance in the giving and the taking. Both sides must have a genuine interest in the friendship. Also, as much as we give, the expectation to receive should be significantly less, if at that, none. All the while, we don't tally or count.

Truthfulness also keeps a friendship healthy. If something is bothering you, let it out. But it's important to maintain the mutual respect and courtesy. Lies and deceit can easily be detected, so be forthcoming from the start.

Similar to people, friendships will also change over time. With marriage, children, careers, and other significant changes, this will also happen in relationships. Be patient and wait it out. If the friendship is that important, friendships will stand the test of time and the test of change.

Forgiveness may take moments or years. It's not healthy to carry a grudge. The cause of the grudge can be a complete misunderstanding. Sometimes forgiveness may not come in the form of forgiving the offender, but no longer holding the offender and the situation important. Over time, the wrongs should just be left in the past. There is no need to carry the burden any more. Life moves on.

I'm fortunate to maintain lifelong friends and create newer friendships along the way. Though it may come across as "work"to some, I don't consider friendships work at all. Friendships make for a more meaningful life because no matter what, at least two people are always better from it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Collection of Happy Moments in Napa

Trees lined both sides of the road as pairs of branches from opposite trees clasped like two hands. Rays of light still managed to discover pockets of open spaces through the canopy of leaves and branches. The drive through this little piece of road and trees lasted only a few moments. From those few moments, I finally felt the seed of an inspired idea had been freshly planted. I have been patiently waiting for that spark, so I can finally write a story.

(Going off on a tangent, I went to have a pedicure on Friday after work. I picked up a few magazines to get some tips on hair and look for outfit ideas. I ended up reading an article about Lauren Conrad. Yes, LC of the Laguna Beach and The Hills reality television shows. I didn't realize that she already had 2 books published and the books are also doing really well. In one sentence, she mentioned the importance of an overview of the entire book and a chapter outline. I went looking for hair ideas in the magazine, instead I find tips on writing. Score for me! I've also started researching for writing workshops. Baby steps to a dream!)

There are few places that I've visited where I feel like I've been transported to another place and time. One of those places is Napa Valley in California. The Napa region has a bit of Mother Nature and magic in the air. Season after season, the land produces a bountiful harvest for the vineyards. When I stared out into the horizon, the land is endlessly lush with green trees, grass, and hills. It's almost like the rain and sunshine made a special blend just for this area, so that all plants may grow and thrive in the soil.

I visited Napa today with a few friends. Almost every place we visited was a photo opportunity including the wineries, the restaurant, and even the grocery store. Everything about Napa is quaint and picturesque. As we traveled up and down Napa, I couldn't help, but think of the romanticism that is A Walk in the Clouds starring Keanu Reeves. From a single plant, the family in the movie was able to grow that single plant into a full fledge vineyard. Similar to an idea, an idea cannot come into fruition until it is firmly planted and nourished.

Today was such a beautiful day in Napa, California. It was also a beautiful day because it was filled with good company, tasty food, pretty pictures, and lovely memories.

Taken at Castello di Amarosa on June 26, 2010 - Mimicing Three's Company - Everybody sing, "Come and knock on our door, someone's waiting for you..."