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Archive for the ‘kinda unrelated’ Category

ten years ago

Ten years ago today, we got married, in a Buddhist temple.

We were tired, relieved and happy, for we had to jump through many obstacles to get married, him being white. I could hardly speak that day, not just because I was choking, but also because I was croaking. I had a terrible sore throat and was sick for about a week after our wedding.

I have always wondered, what if we had never met, or if we never decided to get married, or we decided to never have children?

And I always answered myself, Well, no point wondering! We’ve done it and whatever good or bad that had come with it, are over.

I am filled with gratitude for my family accepting R, for my in-laws welcoming me into their family most graciously, for the ups and downs we went through that had strengthened our relationship and helped us grow. (Yes, I know, so cheesy and cliché, but all true.)  Our children are energetic and crazy, including Ferdinand. I am grateful, even if my heart aches with longing.

Ten things I love about my other half:

  1. He is the most patient listener. Even if what I was babbling was nonsense, and even if he had already heard it 9,999 times before, he would hear me to the end before he speaks.
  2. I can tell him anything. Well– almost. That’s good enough.
  3. He rocks as a birth partner. I cannot imagine having had four children without him by my side. He would do anything for me, does not freak out about blood or va.ginal births, and is good to bite into.
  4. He will try anything.
  5. He is darn good at navigation. So important because I can’t tell north from west.
  6. He has an awesome sense of humor. Most people will not think of him as funny, but I always tell my kids: I married him because he makes me laugh.
  7. He watches romantic movies with me, even though they make his skin crawl.
  8. He takes care of the creepy crawlies. I still scream when I see a roach, which he chides me about, but I can wake him up at 3am just to take care of a roach obnoxiously waving its antennae at me.
  9. He lets me be crazy me.
  10. He had really grown into his role as a father. They adore him as much as I do.

On this day I allow myself yet another trip down memory lane, and I smile. There had been intense fights, and many bittersweet moments. And wonderful ones too. Today we are really glad that we are still together and look forward to the next ten years. This post is so full of clichés but really, what else can I say? They all come from my heart, and it is a post in celebration, not something for me to flex my (non-existent) literary prowess.

Below is my favorite photo from our dating/traveling days. It is just a casual and spontaneous shot, but I think it is a cool picture,  and I  love the tones and hues and the composition. We were at a bus stop in the mountains of the Philippines. The camera sits on an opposite bench. I will never forgive him for making us lost amongst the rice terraces! Thank goodness we never lost our balance and plopped right into a rice paddy! One day we were so lost it was dusk by the time we navigated our way off the paddies and into a village, with dogs barking all over like crazy, and fireflies swarming all about. Lucky for us the villagers greeted us with smiles instead of machetes. That said, it was an unforgettable experience and the views were amazing. I recall us scouring the streets looking for a silversmith, and smile wistfully at the memory of the wood-worker who works outside in an exposed shed, chicken specking, clucking, and milling all about and how he proudly showed us a mug he had just carved, after wiping chicken shit off of it. We still have that mug. That was a wonderful trip, in the mountains of the Philippines, ice-cold showers and all.

We were so lost amongst the rice paddies because there were no maps for those things. You’ve got to be a rice farmer to know where to turn. But we always wanted to fall off the map. We had fallen off the map, and continue to navigate our way through our parenthood one child short and dreams shattered. Thankfully we need not do it alone.

How to celebrate? Good question. He dreams of Hawaii, I have a hard time picking any place (Costa Rice/Ireland/Scotland/Lithuania/Prague/Slovakia/Sri Lanka/New Lealand… …???). But we can’t really go anywhere until we sell our cabin. (Got selling tips? Send ’em on! If not, gimme all the selling vibes you have!) I would like to go on a hot air balloon trip, especially before leaving Arizona, but Lyra won’t be able to join us. I would also like to have some decent family photos of us. We have tons of pictures of the kids, but hardly any of us all. We are both not the most relaxed in-front of a camera so I am not sure this will even happen. Morever, it’s too hot to take pictures outside and we like the golden light outside when it is golden. So, it’s all open. The answer is I don’t know. What I do know is that: there will be cake, of course. And that we have much to celebrate.

To us.

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time and stuff

I thank you for your kind words, sympathies and stories after my previous post. You have no idea how much it helps to know that you, too, had itched. And it also helped to imagine you, a smaller (and miserable) version, covered with crusted pink calamine dots. I still remember calamine from when I was young, the smell of it, with a long cotton Q-tip stuck in the bottle, then pulled out and dabbed over wherever was itchy.

So what did I do being trapped indoors? Not much.– which is why Earth is still safely orbiting the sun. Phew.

I could have worked on keying in my recipes, organizing the kitchen, scrubbing the kitchen grout, cleaning the blinds, or at least give myself a pedicure but I did not. I was tired. I was dead meat. So mostly I slept. I read some too. I wondered if a knight in shiny armor would not come rescue me from my misery, then who would? Maybe a huge, lumbering turtle would let me climb on its back and then sprout wings and take me to the stars? Chickenpox does funny things to the mind, really.

I did, for some minutes contemplated the execution of a photo project wherein I document everything that I own. Gasp. Like he did. This is a project that requires time, patience and courage. I’m afraid I will give up after ten minutes, freaked out that the camera memory is already exploding. But the truth is, I don’t own that much stuff.

Honest.

I never did own a lot of things because I never had a room of my own. But then I started accumulating books while working on my Masters thesis. On top of that I was living in Hong Kong, where clothing sales went totally crazy. And then I got married and we bought a house. I started to get serious about cooking and baking and the kitchen cabinets filled up fast with implements and appliances, and then began to burst at the seams. I bought more books. Clothes. Toys. More books. More books. Clothes. More books. More books. Books. Books. Books. Books. Books. Books. Books.

And I realize the more I have the less time I spend being totally happy.

I worry about the books yet to be read. Clothes yet to be fitted into. Recipes yet to be tried. Ideas to try. Crafts to experiment with. Articles urging to visit places I can’t yet go to. Things to learn. Stuff to know. So I’m trying to simplify.

No more Amazon.com. No more books from the library even, just read what I have now. No more clothes until I can stop wincing at myself. Recipes- tricky. I like to try new things but apparently research shows most people can be happy with a rotation of ten recipes. (Really?? Just ten recipes?! I find that hard to believe but it is supposed to be true! How many recipes do you survive on??)

No more buying of things that is supposed to make me more centered, more womanly, a better person, less cranky, more likable, or more rich. Not that I do not wish to be more centered, better, non-cranky, likable and more rich. But I just gotta let me be for a while. Don’t you think?

What have you been up to, if not itching? How much stuff do you have and what earth-shattering thoughts have you entertained of late?

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Please grow old with me

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.” ~ Winne-the-Pooh

Please grow old with me, because I cannot bear the thought of having no one to talk to,  someone who had seen the worst of me, who knows my little quirks and habits. Even if you seldom respond to the emails I shoot off to you (Isn’t this place cool? Why don’t we visit Syria?? Don’t you think this is a neat thing to organize our house? When will we ever get to a beach?? What about this movie? Should we go to this event? I think we should try this restaurant…) and that drives me really nuts, at least I have someone to email to, and to complain about.

Please grow old with me, even if I will never stop complaining about the paper towels you leave in your pants pockets when I take the laundry out. Please grow old with me, even if I’ll never stop grumbling about having to iron your clothing (and I especially dis-enjoy ironing pants and shirts). And I will never stop rolling my eyes when you pour an entire cup of soysauce  on to your rice, and burp after a meal.

Please grow old with me, because afterall, you do make me laugh. And smile. And sigh.

Recounting travel stories will be so much more fun when we do it together. Drinking in the sunset while panting up a storm will be so much better with my arm linked in yours. Please grow old with me.

So we will watch each other sag and grow wrinkles and have age spots crawl all over us. I will not laugh if you need to remove your dentures and soak them in a glass overnight. I will hold and support you if you need to lean on me. We will keep telling each other, “Now you’re really senile!” We will point fingers at each other about the disorganized photos and argue about how much salt is needed in a dish. If your eyesight fails first, I will glad read to you, every single thing under the sun.  And I guess we will never stop disagreeing about money. And movies. And ideas. And things to do.

Please grow old with me, so we can watch our children grow. So I will always have you next to me as they each grow independent, feathers a-ruffling and wings a-flapping, out to see the world. Please grow old with me, so we can perpetuate to our children, the myth of old couples living somewhat amicably together in old age.

The thought of life without you is simply unbearable, even if sometimes I tell you to get out of the kitchen, my territory. Missing one is very bad enough. And extremely heartbreaking.

Please grow old with me.

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Not really news, but I celebrated my 37th year of bumming around two weeks ago.  I almost forgot it was my birthday, though it was not by purposeful amnesia so as to avoid acknwledging my advancing age. It’s just that Thanksgiving was the day after and I was busy planning how to cook and eat the bird. And the gravy, and all those stuff.

So I was wonderfully delighted when a friend sent me a birthday rain-check via email to make me some of these (aren’t they cute?? Now I have good excuse to go get a case of that Riesling and line them up in varying positions on the dining table.) My good friend M visited me the day prior and brought me one of these, something I have coveted for a while now. Her daughter, upon learning from the girls that they are planning a surprise for me, spent her time at our house making two cards for me:

Another friend told me a birthday fairy will have something by my front door but I had to look right before breakfast. I found a bath set from her, as well as a cake! I had baked my own birthday cake the past years and she did not want me to do that this year so she baked me one. I had totally forgotten about the cake this year, so it was just awesome.

The girls had this for me on the breakfast table:

Little gifts and cards. And a gourmet truffle to start the day off on a sweet and indulgent note (even though it was really spent preparing for the pigging out session the following day). Val’s card said, Ferdinand’s spirit guides you. I don’t know why she wrote that and I did not ask. Sometimes I don’t need to know everything. They also sang me a few songs.

By the time the singing was done, gifts opened and cards read, all the melancholy and shored up tears I had began to spill over. The dams broke and it all came gushing. Violent and unrelenting.

The girls stared at me and two seconds later Val started to cry too and she said, “What is it, mom? Is it Ferdinand? Are you missing him? He is right here, mom! I understand, I understand…”

And that only helped release more of what had been waiting to be released.

I had a very good bawl. A really satisfying cry.

Then we had some cake for breakfast.

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Self-hatred. When I read of how, once, when the Dalai Lama was at some psychology conference and the presenter was going on about a self-hatred study, His Holiness became deeply puzzled and sought clarification with his translator. When confirmed that indeed the presenter was talking about self-hatred, His Holiness asked, “But why would anyone hate himself?!”

That is a very good question, and the answer depends on who you are.

For some, this body, this vessel of blood, flesh, bones, intestines, pus, veins and all, is all we’ve got. There is no exchange or refund policy on this thing, this thing that we call our body, this thing that forms a big part of our identity.

I never imagined I would experience this self-hatred.

I almost want to whisper that, put the previous sentence in ultra-tiny print so no one sees it. So no one knows of this dirty little secret of mine.

How could I even feel self-hatred?!

**

Up till today, almost nine months after Lyra was born, I still get people asking me, “Are you pregnant?”; or, “So when are you due?”

I know, you are probably thinking something along the lines of Is it really that bad?

Well, I guess it is that bad, and it also depends on how well my posture was and how hard I was sucking in my tummy.

Initially, I just got upset with the other party, that… that… that idiotic, harebrained, insensitive imbecile whose butt looks really ginormous herself anyways! But over time, shame started to creep in, and pretty soon that built up to some form of self-hatred, and then, yes, self-hatred.

And, hypocrisy.

Talking to my girls, I harp on inner beauty, of character and strong morals and noble principles. The body? It is not important how you look, and they chorus with me- “so long as you are healthy!”

In the sixty-second privacy I enjoy after a shower, I focus on mentally lashing out at myself. I pull at the flabby pot hanging out in-front of me, I wince, I frown, and I spit and hiss at myself. Loser! other people are back to their size 4 jeans 3 weeks after their third birth, but look at you, you are DISGUSTING.You need to get a grip! Lose weight! You have a wardrobe full of clothes you can’t freaking get yourself into! Stop finding yourself excuses and starve yourself or something! You oughta feel really embarrassed at how you bloody look like these days… …

And I sometimes just wanna grab a knife and stab into that fat, and I imagine what oozes out will be revolting yellow fat, mixed with angry red blood, shame, guilt, and screaming sizzles of self-hatred.

**

For the past months I have ordered a ton of exercise DVD’s but had no time to really work on them. I think inside I secretly do not believe in them, and seeing the skinny instructors-with-six-packs effortlessly moving their lithe bodies while mewing at me to follow along just drove me insane. I became distracted, thinking they must sustain themselves on a diet of carrot peels and brown rice husks.

I’ve stood in-front of the diet-books shelf at our local library. Eat no fat. Some fat. The good fats, the bad fats. How to not eat carbs. The low-carb bible. Eat raw. Go vegan. And I suspect none of those work, at least not for everyone, or not for very long.

Then I found some new-agey diet books on A.ma.zon. The only diet is forgiveness and love. Inner Peace diet. Diet for the earth and all that stuff.

Hmph. That got me thinking.

**

It was not just the fat rolls that bother me. It’s my body. As I talked to R the other night (not after some weeks of pestering from him that I need to find time to exercise more regularly, or to go jogging, which he swears is the answer to a skinny belly…) we remembered together that it was not a problem for me to lose weight after #1 was born. With #2 it took longer but the excess weight took care of itself over time.

It was just a different story after Ferdinand died.

I never lost that belly. Even now.

Maybe I should go for an MRI, R said, concerned. Better make sure nothing is wrong.

I just feel my body is out of harmony, and is protesting my emotions, amongst other things.

Sometimes I listen to it. Like when I was creeping back downstairs after everyone is in bed to exercise. I was so tired and my body was screaming. It yelled at me that night is for rest, repair and rejuvenation, not jumping jacks and crunches. I stopped. I was too fatigued out.

Other times all I had was grievances for my body. Starting back from Ferdinand’s death. My body failed. How could I not know that he had died? If it was a viral infection why did my body not protect him first, why did it not alert me that something gravely wrong was going on? The grief, the anger, the sorrow, the indignity. They all boiled, simmered, stewed, bubbled and fermented.

**

I’ve decided it is time to just accept everything. Life is not meant to be perfect. No, actually it is perfect, it just IS. I’ve just gotta accept it and stop taking it personally like everything is against me and that the world oughta revolve around me. I want to feel more compassion, foremost for myself, every single little shit I have been through… and then, let it all go. There is no need to hold on. Transform. Learn. Move on.

I’ve only got this life, this lifetime, this body. Size 16 or Size 8, it is mine and only mine. I came upon this earth in this vessel, borrowed, and at the end of my life, I will not take it along with me. It will be left behind, useless, after sustaining me for so long. For growing me, for bringing me to many places and experiences. For bearing me my children. For affording me intimacy with those I love. For showing me this big, beautiful, fantastic and sometimes absurd world. For allowing me to smell all aromas, the stinks and the fragrances. For the pleasure of taste it had brought me; and the ecstasy of hearing the lusty cries of my babies (but one). I have strong legs, I love to walk, feel the earth beneath me, I will walk with you to the end of the world. I have strong arms that work. I have scars, I have fat, I have bones, I have hair, I am me.

I will take good care of it, honor it as I borrow it to fulfil my brief residency on this earth. I will stop swearing at it, and instead be grateful that I have a vessel. I will stop being a hypocrite and walk my talk to my girls.

Love it or hate it, it’s all I’ve got, and I choose to love it. It will not be a passionate affair, it’s going to be kinda langarous I think, for a change of heart overnight is not what I am accustomed to, but at least we’ll go in the right direction (generally).

I accept me: Thank you for all you’ve done, sorry for all I’ve done.

I guess I will still be sucking in my tummy when needed but at least I am going to be chuckling when I do that. (I think.)

**

To be joyful in the universe is a brave and reckless act.
The courage for joy springs not from the certainty of human experience, but the surprise. Our astonishment at being loved, our bold willingness to love in return- these wonders promise the possibility of joyfulness, no matter how often and how harshly love seems to be lost.
Therefore, despite the world’s sorrows, we give thanks for our loves, for our joys and for the continued courage to be happily surprised.
~ Molly Fumia

Each day of human life contains joy and anger, pain and pleasure, darkness and light, growth and decay. Each moment is etched with nature’s great design- do not try to deny or oppose the cosmic order of things. Always try to be in communion with heaven and earth; then the world will appear in its true light.
~ Morihei Ueshiba

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the second post

I know it is not nice to post so much in one day but sleep is escaping me and I really wanted to get word out about HOME. If you have not watched this documentary yet, then double-up and go watch it. It is a great movie… erm, not exactly make-you-feel-good, but it is wonderfully made and is a very good and well-needed slap for us to sit up and get up and do something.

Val actually burst into tears half-way through because she could not believe human beings are dumb enough to destroy their own habitat. She was so emotional we had to pause (thank you, Youtube) to explain, discuss, comfort and re-affirm. (Truth be told, at some point I had to wonder at this world myself but I told her this movie was made not to make us sad but to make us realize that we are all responsible and therefore ought to do our part to make it all better.)

This film was made Luc Besson, whom I heart. I love love love Le Grand Bleu and of course, The Professional. Well, actually, once I told a fren I really liked Le Grand Bleu and she watched it and wondered how I could like such a movie?! She thought something was quite wrong with me. (heck, I cannot remove this italics…) And sometimes, I do enjoy violent movies, if they are, erm, well-made, with crazy cops like Stanfield (I thought Gary Oldman was very good in that role).

Anyways, I am not getting the italics to go away, which is annoying… but I wanted to tell you to watch this movie. It is worth that 93 minutes, it being so beautifully done. Of course it will also gnaw at your conscience, which may not be a bad thing.

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While switching out our wardrobes, I wondered what to do with those stuff we just cannot wear anymore. I have seen ideas to either convert/upcycle/whatever this into that and so on. But I can’t sew for nuts and really, if I have time, I wanna be horizontal or eating ice-cream.

So, I am so thrilled to find this store. They sell organic tee-shirts, and you wear them all you like, and when done, send it back for them to recycle, and get a certain percentage store credit to buy more tee shirts. Shipping is free. Design simple and straight forward, with good color options. Very cool idea. I like that.

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