Archive for May, 2010

The planner I have runs out in June. And it is stuffed full with… stuff. Torn-out magazine pages with products to look into, exotic destinations to drool over, sale notices, scribbled book lists, new recipes to try out. Every week there is a thin stack of these pages in my planner, and when I did not have time to go over them, I stick them into the next pages, thinking that the following week I will be awarded with an extra 50 hours to frolick on the internet drooling over things I do not need or cannot afford.

As I said my planner runs out in June so I now have a bunch of stuff with no place to go (or stick into). It seems my life comes to a stop at the end of June. In June we are going on two road trips, one longer and one shorter, and I have family visiting right at the end of the month. We have no plans for July because we do not know what may happen- the cabin may sell, R may find a new job.

In July is also Ferdinand’s anniversary. Third year.

In some ways I try to push the date out of my head. But in reality the anticipation never ceases. I know it will come. And I remember how hard it was the first year, staring down the date. And I remember how the day itself felt almost like an anti-climax, because everything was mundane as ever– the earth did not explode into a million pieces, and the mail was delivered as usual. And I remember feeling worse the day after. Because “it” was not over. The day may have passed, but “it” was not over. Time just keeps flying by and 364 days later the day will re-surface again.

Life goes on, death goes on. The memories surface, gets buried by stuff, gets dug up again.

The days will continue, with the illusion that it is a line that goes further and further away, a line that adds to wrinkles on the face and sagging cheeks and knees. But time is not a line, it is a circle. It will come back, with the smells of memories still rather fresh and poignant.

It will come back, because a line is a circle, a circle is a line. It will come back, because love never vanishes. How can I forget?


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borrowed time

Q: So how old is she?

A: 16 months. (mentally calculates how old Ferdinand would be)

Q: Oh, she’s so cute! And she seems very tall!

A: Yes, she does seem tall for her age. (tries to visualize how tall Ferdinand would be)


She is growing relentlessly. It makes my heart skip and twists itself out of shape. This is a great age- she can’t talk back and most of the time is happy to abide by me. If I shake my head as she opens a cabinet, she closes the door, shaking her head clumsily as well. She still fits in my arms comfortably and in her eyes I am still quite heroic and goddessly.

But for how long? I don’t know.

I keep feeling I am having her only on borrowed time. This joy and happiness, even if intensely bittersweet at times, is only temporary. One day the stage will collapse, and the show will be over. No refunds for tickets, and if I did not like the popcorn, too bad. I watch her sometimes like she is an illusion. Yet there are moments when I look into her eyes and she seems to be telling me to let go and allow healing to happen. Sometimes when I look at her I am certain I am looking at Ferdinand too, my crazy mind concocting a fantasy of two children merging into one. I look through all the paperwork I have, thinking surely I would find the one wherein I unwittingly signed a contract with Time and Joy, to borrow these lovely children. There was an agreement but I cannot remember for how long, and I am in a frenzy and panic, afraid that I did not have enough and could only afford a limited amount of time with my children. Any day could be the last day. And it makes me abandon housework and other things and just sit and watch them, for ages. I can sit and watch Lyra sleep for the entire hour. I want to pack us a bundle of clothes and some bread and go on an adventure to find that stitch in this time warp, and when we find it, we will peel it back, step through, and time will no longer matter. Forever we will be together. And of course Ferdinand will be there, too.

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ten years

This morning I came down to a bouquet of roses in a vase on the dining table. R never buys flowers, ever. Then I saw a large photo with the words “Happy 10th Anniversary!” written on it. There is a couple in the photo. — The two of us, ten years ago on this day, the skyline of Hong Kong behind us. You could tell there was a breeze when the shutter snapped. I wore a green dress, a color I seldom sought out, but it fitted well in the boutique and the green unique, like the tenderness of leaf buds, but tempered so it wasn’t overly eye-catching, but pleasing to the eye. R wore a necktie the shade of olive green, to match.

I can’t believe it has been ten years already. It had been a road that curved and swerved. We’ve had bitter fights, and sweet make-ups. We’ve sometimes wondered what brought us together, and we’re amazed that we’ve made it through all. Ten years. How time flies.

“We did not change much,” he joked, pointing at the photo.

Only of course we did. We have aged. And if I think of Ferdinand I feel my spine bow towards the ground in immense grief and sometimes it feels I can never straighten myself up again.

I feel joy today, and disbelief, and missing, and grief. I wish he is here to celebrate with us, even though we are not formally celebrating today. I don’t feel like baking today, so I bought a cake. Tomorrow night we will go out for dinner. One day maybe we will go on a cruise.

There has never been fanfare for our anniversaries and today likewise will be quiet. My heart is full, overflowing. I am amazed and grateful, sad and tender.

If you will, pour yourself  a drink and raise it our way.  Thank you.

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Anne Lamott hates Mothers’ Day, and explains why.

It is true, what she said, what an incomplete day it is. The women left out, left to feel incomplete, because they do not have a card presented to them or a rose to leave to wilt in a vase.

I also do not raise my kids to celebrate Mothers’ Day. Not because I am sagely, but because I am selfish. I would like them to think of me every day, or at least often. Not just on Mothers’ Day.

This past week I had been parenting alone, R out of town for a business trip, and to make a quick visit home for a few days. Afterall, he said, he hasn’t been home for a few years and it would be nice to be there for Mothers’ Day. It had been stressful. Lots of driving, sickness, Lyra refusing to nap, toilet sprouting water sprays. Today the house is a ginormous mess, though small bits of carpet can still be spied. One child complained of having toast for breakfast again, the other said her nose is starting to run too. The littlest said she would like to rebel again for naptime.

I sat in the middle of the mess and tried to summon the noblest of all motherly love I have inside of me, but instead I snapped and started to cry. (Quietly though, because I am proud like that.) Instead of listening to complaints about the household menu, I would love to have someone bring me out to lunch. (But not today, because I hate those cheesy Mothers’ Day roses at every table, chippy waiters  making aaaawwwww sounds, and cheap chocolate favors.) Instead of wiping noses, stirring up herbal conconctions and taking temperatures, I would like to be horizontal while someone drizzles warm aromatic oils over my back, kneading every single kink and knot in me. Instead of strapping a 16-month-old to my back and storming around the house picking up stuff, I would like to curl up in a deep couch and read, to myself.

Yes, it’s true. Some days I just want to be mothered. We all need to be mothered.

Every night I had told myself I will make a drink for myself after the girls have gone to bed, but I never got around to it.

It is not just the lone parenting this week. It is not just that the crappy toilet either. It is not that this Mothers’ Day I am alone and my kids had been unaware (no TV and not being in school) and that I am just exhausted.

It is because the season has started and my heart is wrenched. I am pained. The other night I sat up in bed all of a sudden because I was sure I saw the bedroom door move. It could be one of the girls coming in for something but I was thinking Ferdinand may finally be visiting. I sat up and the door seemed to stop moving. After a few seconds, I exhaled, seeing that the door had not moved at all. It was a hallucination. I miss him. I lay back down, thinking three years had passed. Incredible.

I think maybe I hate Mothers’ Day too.

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So I am exercising as regularly as possible.

Mostly kundalini yoga, a bit of cardio, the occasional Pilates.

I think back to my exercise evolution, from enjoying sprints to not wanting to ever stop pounding the pavement, because when I put one foot in-front of the other, and then the other in-front of the other, I enter a hypnotic state and I feel as if I can go on running forever until I run out of ground and fall off the earth. And then my aunt introduced me to J.ane Fon.da and I boing-ed around the living room with her, taking sadistic pleasure in torturing myself, stepping into the shower with jelly-wobbly legs because I had felt the burn.

Then this and that, and today I just do not enjoy the cardio workouts anymore. And I watch, snorting with envy as R goes jogging twice a week, and to the gym twice a week, and consistently shed off his weight and shape up.

“Jogging works,” he urged me to do the same. But I have no desire to quicken my boobs’ descent to meet my knees. (Yes, even the small ones sag.)

He gives snippets of (unsolicited) advice, garnered from his own readings and the free sessions he gets with a trainer at the gym. I simply turn a deaf ear.

Because I am stubborn. Because I am jealous it’s easier for him. Because I sometimes am just childish like that.

I’m not lying, I’ve really been exercising. Every now and then, I wave in-front of the mirror, just to check out the under-arm jiggles, and they are getting better. I can put on skinny jeans if I want. A friend even commented a couple of weeks’ back, “Oh, you’ve slimmed down!” (which of course means, I was not slim before…)

Most people when they see me, probably wonder what ground do I have to whine about losing weight? From afar I look pretty fine. But because I often have Lyra in my arms, she conceals my protruding middle, especially when I forget to suck it in or get lazy about it.

Back in my teenage years a good friend told me that for us females, the first place the calories go to are the hips, our bottoms will spread like an opening parachute and when we lose weight, the fat on the bottoms will go last, they sit it out to the end. (All puns intended!)

For me, it is the belly, the protruding, dangling belly, with the extra flaps of skin. It refuses to go. It hangs around.

And, I’ve done my own research about it too. What works, what doesn’t. Foods to eat, foods to avoid. Lack of sleep contributing to belly fat. Dangers of belly fat to heart health (which did scare me to hell for a while.) Belly fat as signifier of stress. Adrenals need boosting. Blah-blah-blah.

I’m trying to go to bed earlier. I put on my nightguard. I bought a sleep machine to help me go to sleep and sleep better. I try to not stress out, and just accept things as they are.

I look down, expecting one day to see my toes without the belly blocking a direct gaze. But there it always is.

And I am starting to think I will walk around with this pot hanging on me until I die. And puzzled people will cut it open and then they will say, “Oh look, it’s a baby in there, only it’s dried up, and dead.”

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