First Gen Asian-American

The Zen of Yin and Yang

Anybody that has ever met me knows that I have two left feet.

Okay … so the Filipina in me can, at the very least, dance to a beat. But put me in a pair of heels (or heck, even flat shoes give me problems), and I can’t even walk a straight line without tripping.

I can even fall down while laying in bed. Seriously. Okay, so that part was really caused by Hubby turning over and taking all the blankets that I was lying on top of … but nonetheless, it was ME that fell on the floor.

290The other day, as Hubby and I strolled the streets of the Magnificent Mile, I contemplated how throughout my life I’ve always been at one extreme or the other. I’ve thought about how I’ve either been extremely happy or in the throws of despair. Or I’ve either totally loved my job or completely hated it to the point of quitting. Or I’ve felt completely optimistic about IVF to being downright pessimistic about my infertility.

And then I tripped. (D*mn Crocs on uneven pavement …)

After being caught by Hubby and subsequently asked how my “trip” was … I thought about the irony of my last “fall.” Tripping when contemplating how unbalanced my life is.

So after I regained my footing, I began to contemplate whether my life has always been unbalanced. Much like I’ve always had two left feet. Had I always seen things so black and white? Did I always approach life in a yin and yang type of manner?

291Hubby seems to think I do not. That I tend to see things in this manner only when there is some sort of major disruption in my life. Whether it’s IVF / Infertility or work-related issues … or even any “fun” situations like moving to Chicago or traveling to different places … it seems that I try to garner control of things by seeing them as “relative” yes or no situations. Right. Or wrong.

And looking back at any “interesting” moments in life, I realize that Hubby is absolutely right. The times in my life where I’ve had no control over any situation are the times that I felt most “unbalanced. Unfortunately, it’s also those type of situations that I always tend to focus on rather than the “uneventful” peaceful times in my life.

Why think about those lazy Sunday afternoons where Hubby and I sit at the local cafe and read, drink coffee and otherwise relax? Not when I can spend the time obsessing over whether or not I’m doing a good enough job in my new boss’s eyes. Why get excited over our recent move to the Windy City and all the new places we get to explore this summer when I can worry about whether I made the right decision to move? Why think about how d*mn unfair it is that other women can get pregnant at the drop of a hat when I can think about how much of an impact I may (or may not) have made on my nephew’s life?

292So after that last literal trip, I decided that I should focus on the wonderful aspect of every day life. And that I shouldn’t take for granted something as simple as Hubby catching my arm as I trip over my two left feet. Because it’s those little things … those every day wonderful thoughtful things that provide the balance that I need in those otherwise chaotic, uncontrollable moments in life.

Forty-plus Days

In the Catholic-Filipino tradition, a 9-day novena is held immediately after the death of a loved one. On the 40th day, a mass is held in commemoration of this loved one as it is believed that this is the day they’ve ascended into the heavens. It’s also the day where the act of “mourning” (wearing black, for example) officially concludes. It’s supposed to be the time where a person is supposed to outwardly “show” that they’ve began to “move on” with everyday life.

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Yet another "borrowed" picture from another cousin

Except … anyone that has ever mourned the loss a love one (or heck, even the loss of anything in life — like the ability to have children, for instance) knows that grief doesn’t last for a set moment in time. Life doesn’t just miraculously get better after 40 days, several months or even years. If anything, grief is a process that must be worked through completely before a person can successfully move on.

Sometime last week was the 40th day anniversary of my Grandma Rose‘s passing. In all honestly, the date escaped me. It wasn’t until I saw pictures of a celebration at my Uncle’s house on my cousin‘s Facebook page that I remembered. And if the rest of my Mom’s family in the U.S. didn’t live on the East Coast, I might have been there celebrating with them. Instead, I celebrated with them in spirit; once again reflecting back on the incredible life my 99-year old Grandmother.

This past Monday, on Memorial Day of all days, I happened to get the first part of an incredible gift in my email inbox. This same cousin, who posted pictures of the 40th day celebration, sent me … along with the rest of my cousins and Aunts/Uncles in her email address book … a scanned copy of a notebook written by Grandma Rose.

290About 32 pages in length and written about twenty years ago, this handwritten notebook told the most basic lifestory of my grandmother in her own words. She had left it to my cousin, who took it upon herself to scan in each page and send it to all of us.

It was absolutely wonderful to read these pages and physically see it my Grandma’s own handwriting. Many of the accounts she documented were stories that I can remember her telling me. Other stories were ones that were passed down to me from my own Mom. But reading them now … well, they brought back such warm memories of listening to my Grandma Rose tell these stories and being fascinated on how life in the Philippines was so different than my own.

For years, we had told Grandma that she should write all these stories down … that she had lived such an interesting life. While many of these stories never made it into writing, I still feel incredibly blessed that Grandma left her own legacy behind and in her own words.

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Last night, after I finished reading these pages I, once again, felt this incredible closeness with my Grandma Rose. It felt as if she was right there next to me, telling me these stories like she did when I was little. It felt as if I could put my arms around her and hug her, while she read aloud to me what she wrote.

And just like that, the tears sprung up again. Because then I realized how much I missed her and still miss her. Even after these 40-plus days.

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And because the number 40 always reminds me of this song … I have to pay homage to one of my favorite bands of all time. I have this vivid memory of being home sick one day in high school and watching “Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky” … so it’s this clip I had to post.

For those that don’t know, this song is based on the Bible’s Psalm 40. Which … given how spiritual my Grandma Rose was … is incredibly appropriate. Enjoy.

Keepsakes and Legacies

Years ago, I had a conversation with a co-worker about keepsakes. And when I mean keepsakes, I mean personal items that an individual wishes to pass on to a family member or friend that would appreciate the sentiment behind such a gift. It could be anything from a simple chotski to artwork, or even large pieces of furniture.

This co-worker told me the story about a bedroom set that belonged to her grandmother, which was also passed down from her grandmother from the mid 1800’s. It was a beautiful set, she told me. Very simple, yet classic. It was also something that her grandmother passed down to her, as her grandmother knew that she loved the set.

So then this co-worker asked if I ever had anything “passed down” to me from the previous generations. I admit, I had to think about it for a second. The nurse in me thought … “Duh, yeah. My big butt for instance. And my nose. And the shape of my head.” But then I realized, those were physical genetic traits that were passed down to me from my parents and their parents, etc.

The short answer to the question my co-worker asked me was no. Yes, there have been clothes passed on or an occasional headboard or shelf or table. But those were more for utilitarian purposes. Actual “keepsakes” or “antiques” (if that’s what you wish to call it … )? No. Not really.

Not having any real “keepsakes” from other family members isn’t because I come from a family that doesn’t “believe” in passing things down to the next generation. For me, I believe it’s more or less because I am a first generation Asian/Filipino-American.

Both my Mom and my Dad were born and raised in the Philippines; coming to this side of the hemisphere (separately, and not knowing each other at the time) once they were done with their studies. As they were both young, neither of them traveled with more than what they needed to live in what would be their new “home.” With that said, when they eventually met and married … there was little for them to combine once they moved to Detroit and settled into daily living. In fact, much of what they bought for their new home, again was utilitarian more than something of significant value or sentiment.

And perhaps because it’s something that women often think about, my Mom and I have had random conversations in the past about what she wants to pass on to her children. While, she has already passed on her love of books and art (along with her knowledge in science) to both my brother and me, there is one thing she’s told me is that she’s always wanted to pass on to us. And that would be those special stones or rings or necklaces/earrings that my Dad has given to her over the years; those sentimental “jewelry” pieces that she still keeps. Because, as she herself said, there isn’t much other than her jewelry that she feels she can “leave behind” for her children. Or her grandchildren.

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While cleaning out his side of our dresser last week, Hubby stumbled on a jewelry box. And inside this jewelry box were two rings made of Chinese gold. Other than size, these rings were identical and, if pressed into hot wax, would produce a heart-shaped “embroidered” Chinese floral pattern.

Hubby holds these rings dear to him … not because they’re made of Chinese gold and represent his half-Filipino/half-Chinese heritage. And not because they were simply a gift from his parents.

Rather these rings were something that Hubby wore when he was just a child. The first ring was given to him when he was just a baby; most likely to celebrate his birth. And the second ring … that one was given to him before his parents (who met and married in the Philippines) left to prepare a home for him and his sister in the U.S.

Both rings remind him of his youth; of his time back in the Philippines. And anyone that knows Hubby, he has always had a hard time with memories. So for him to reflect back at what little he remembers from his early years in the Philippines … well, that’s just something to treasure.

286When Hubby found the jewelry box that held these rings this past Sunday, I couldn’t help but feel sad. After all these were rings that I know Hubby hoped to pass down to his own children. Those same children that would be his legacy. The children that would pass on all of his heritages; his Chinese, Filipino and American backgrounds. The children that would make up half of his genetic traits (perhaps a future comic book artist?). Those same children who would pass on his name.

As I looked up at Hubby, I knew he was thinking the same thing. And all I could say to him was “Sorry.” Yet, (and I must add, I know this is illogical … ) somehow that just never seem to be enough.

Because honestly … not only do I feel as if I’ve deprived him of the ability to be a wonderful father, I feel as if I’ve “robbed” him of the ability to pass on his traits, his skills … his legacy.

Goin' With The Flo

The Pioneer of Modern Nursing

The Pioneer of Modern Nursing

I made the mistake of heading into the Hallmark store in my office complex yesterday. What part of me thought that taking that little detour on my lunch break during this time of year was a good idea? Yeah, silly me.

Lucky for me, every year Mother’s Day happens to be only a “day” in the midst of another important week of the year. Well, at least for those that happen to be “tight” with Florence Nightingale, anyway.

Yes, every year Nurse’s Week is celebrated in the US from May 6th to May 12th. Why those days specifically? Well, it’s because May 12th is the actual birthday of the “Pioneer of Modern Nursing.” And May 12th is officially known as International Nurses Day.

So yeah, having a whole week “dedicated” to my profession … it certainly takes the focus of the one day of the year that practically the whole nation celebrates the one thing in the world that has eluded me the most. The one day that celebrates the biggest disappointment I’ve encountered thus far in my life.

But going back to the whole Nurse’s Week thingy … I have to say that I find it pretty humerous that I ended up in the profession I did … and “liking” it.

Click on image to read the pledge and Detroit's history in it ...

Click on image to read the pledge and Detroit's history in it ...

First of all, there are waaaay too many Filipinos in this profession. And in my youth, I was constantly trying to break out of the stereotypes that follow my culture. But ultimately it was the whole “respect your elders” part of my culture that had me ending up pursing a career in nursing. In other words, rather than spend my undergrad years “pondering” what I wanted to do in life while my parents (most graciously) funded my university education … the suggestion was made by many-a-relative that nursing would provide me a lucrative* career while I figured out what I really wanted to do with my life. Lucky (or unlucky, depending how it’s looked at) for me, while I still don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life (as motherhood obviously hasn’t worked out) … at least there are enough “avenues” in the profession of Nursing that I’ve been able to dabble in other areas other than bedside nursing.

I do have to add this though … no matter where I’ve worked (in an office setting or at the bedside), I am constantly being asked when I’ll be bringing in pancit or lumpia to any potluck. Totally sucks for my co-workers who have the perception that all Filipinos are able to cook. Hah!

And speaking of different “avenues” of Nursing … I have to point out that this is probably the reason I do “like” the profession I’m in. Because believe me, in this modern day and age of health care … burnout in the “bedside” aspect of Nursing is pretty darn high. That’s because despite the advances in medical care, people that are admitted to the hospital are much much more “sicker” than they were in the past. And despite the higher acuity in patient care needs, the nurse-to-patient ratio has not improved in years. In fact, in many parts of the nation, the number of patients assigned to one nurse has exponentially increased; leaving Nurses at the bedside with more to do with less resources.

My Nursing School's reknown "Nightingale Award" (click on image)

My Nursing School's reknown "Nightingale Award" (click on image)

This is why I am glad I’m no longer doing “direct patient care.” This simply means that I’m not physically reaching out and touching a person. (Not to say that I’m not “caring” for them, though.) Rather the aspect of Nursing I’m part of is Case Management. So what’s the role of an RN Case Manager? Well, in a basic explanation, a Case Manager assists in coordinating the care of a clinically complex person in order to maximize this person’s ability to care for themselves.

Confusing, right? Well, let’s just say that instead of physically caring for a patient while he/she — I don’t know — is “tossing their cookies” … I’m the Nurse that, once the acute illness “settles down,” is helping to make sure that these patients follow up appropriately with their physicians or other health care professionals in order to prevent a recurrence or complication of their condition. And I’m the same Nurse that spends MORE time educating a patient and/or family member about their disease or condition so they can understand their physician’s plan of care and the various options they may have available to them.

Florence "The Lady With The Lamp" Nightingale

"The Lady With The Lamp"

Yeah, I bet you didn’t know that there were many aspects of Nursing as a profession. Just like I’m sure that you may forget about other jobs that Nurses do that don’t necessarily involve working in a hospital, nursing home or Doctor’s office. Yes. Nursing is everywhere. Like in the home setting. Or in the community. Or even at your own workplace.

Heck, you might even work directly with a Nurse. Or even an “ex-Nurse.”** Because believe me, we’re everywhere.

So with that said … I must remind everyone out there to wish all the Nurses you know a “Happy Nurses Week” over the next seven days. Because despite what it feels like to most Infertiles out there … this week isn’t all about being a Mom. Sometimes it’s all about going with the “Flo” … Florence Nightingale, that is.

Yeah. I’m that cheesy.

On an even sillier note … I must share this picture with you to show how “smart” my kitty cat can be. Notice how she’s perched on a pillow? Well … as she knows she’s not allowed on our new sofa, she’s found a way to get around it … by being on top of a pillow instead of directly on the sofa. How cute can she be?!

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* “Lucrative” as in “there are always going to jobs available in nursing” … not “lucrative” as in financially “stable.”

** Although I always say, “Once a Nurse, always a Nurse.”

Lola

Lola, in Tagalog (the primary language in the Philippines), means Grandmother. Except being the Filipino-American that I am, I never called her that. I always called her Grandma.

Grandma, besides my parents and my brother, is the first person I can remember constantly being around me when I was a toddler. I have this image of her sleeping in my bedroom on my other twin bed next to me in my room. And I remember this purple-y floral embroidered luggage bag that she always had; and she constantly wore purple …. as it’s always been her favorite color.

Grandma turned 99 this February. And other than her vision and hearing, and the occasional memory lapses, she’s as sharp as a tack. Well, I should really say that those memory lapses have become more frequent … but geesh, at her age that’s still frickin’ amazing. The point being is that she can still recognize all her own children and her dozens of grandchildren scattered throughout the world.

The reason I’m bringing Grandma up right now is because she needs all the good prayers and positive vibes right now. I’ve just been told that she was admitted to the hospital in the Philippines on Wednesday night … and things aren’t looking too good.

My mom and all her siblings that live scattered throughout the U.S. are desperately trying to find a flight “back home.” Because they’re trying to travel to the Philippines together, they’re having a difficult time coordinating flights. That, and well the tickets are monstrously expensive.

I wish I could be there; be by my Grandma’s side to hold her hand. Be with my aunts and uncles and cousins to hug them and to be hugged by them. Mostly, I want to be with my Mom, who called me this morning in tears. Because my Mom, who is named after my Grandma, is feeling so lonely right now. Wanting desperately to catch the first flight out that she can. And yet, this morning … told me she’s not had the energy even to pack, because she’s just been waiting by the phone for any word of when she’ll be able to get her flight. And well … any other news of my Grandma as well.

My "Lola" and Mom, who was named after her, on my wedding day ...

My "Lola" and Mom, who was named after her, on my wedding day ...

It’s times like this that I wish I was closer to home. That I didn’t have such a new job with little to no time off to take. It’s times like this I truly miss my family.

Please please please … if anyone has it “good” with the Man Upstairs, please send a prayer or a thought up to him to look over my family, my Mom … and most of all, my Lola.

Yummy Yummy Dim Summy

Yay! Today Hubby and I actually made it to Chinatown for some of their delish dim sum. Perfect for a sunny Sunday mid-morning meal.

Sign on Shop Door in Chinatown ... *LOVE IT!*

Sign on Shop Door in Chinatown ... *LOVE IT!*

Dim sum, in some variation of the Chinese language (not exactly which Chinese dialect it comes from …), literally translates to “Touch of the heart.” I totally love that term, as I’ve always associated going to dim sum with family on the weekends. Sometimes it would be to celebrate a special event like birthdays.* Other times it was just to gather together while visiting family & friends in another city (like Toronto) or while having those same family & friends visit our neck of the woods. Many times, for Hubby & I, it would simply just be a “craving” we’d have. In any case, going for dim sum brings back memories of happy times and of family traditions.

So going for dim sum today … by ourselves … was special. Especially after putting it off for months since moving to Chicago. And it’s because today marks the beginning of Hubby & I beginning of our new “family tradition.”

And that touches my heart …

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* Here’s another Asian tradition for y’all. It’s customary for the birthday celebrant to have noodles on their actual birthday. It symbolizes long life and good health. Hence, if you’re ever at a Filipino birthday party … you will always always ALWAYS see pancit as one of the main dishes on the buffet table!

Two Dolla' No Holla'

8bt“Two Dollars! I want my two dollars!”

I love that movie. “Better Off Dead” is one of those classic John Cusa.ck films from the ‘80’s that remind me of many-a-slumber parties. (You know, back when the other girls were fixing their hair and putting on make-up while I sat in my sleeping bag clearly just watching rental video after rental video …) I loved the Asian guys that pretended to be that sportscaster from Wide World O’Sports (hey, it’s St. Paddy’s Day … gotta get my O’ on. 🙂 ). And I love how Lane’s mom tried to cook her “Fraunch” dinner for the cute little exchange student that Lane should have noticed much sooner. Oh, and I loved the fact that they used a little Howa.rd Jo.nes on their soundtrack as well.

In any case, my mind sometimes (oh, who am I kidding … always) works in strange “tangential thinking” ways. I started off by thinking, “Two Years, Wow!” and obviously ended up thinking of a newspaper boy on a bike trying to collect his money.

G*d … does anyone else remember the days of neighborhood kids being the newspaper deliverer and collector of payments?! Now it’s always an adult that pulls up in a car … chucks the paper out their car window where one hopes it lands on the doorstep … and then it’s the newspaper that actually hounds you by phone for their twenty dollars or more.

Oh geez … see what I mean? Tangential thinking.

See the whole point of this post was to reflect how it’s been two years today since I started this blog. And what started out as wanting to express something in a journal entry somehow ended up here in the blogiverse.

2yrI remember clearly sitting in a café in A2 while Hubby and his BIL (my SIL’s Hubby of less than a year at the time) went off to do their comic/gaming thing. I was still struggling with the news of my SIL’s pregnancy and found myself slowly losing grip on my sanity. I knew, after a few months of counseling, that I had to find a way to deal with all these repressed emotions. Except besides this counselor and my husband, I didn’t know anyone else I could talk to about these feelings of anger and jealousy … and the subsequent guilt that always seemed to follow those emotions.

I felt that somehow no one else could understand what I was going through. I believed that everyone I had previously talked to about these things thought I was nuts to be “obsessing” about how unfair it was that I couldn’t produce a child. And I remember thinking how it seemed as if everyone was moving forward in their lives; starting their families, achieving new milestones, etc … all while Hubby & I remained left behind, unable to move forward.

It didn’t help that March was an anniversary month for Hubby and me. It would be the month that so many years ago, we received the news of our one and only failed IVF attempt. And for the life of me, today I can’t even recall the number of years it’s been since then. (What does that say about where I’m at today?!) But two years ago, those emotions … that feeling of lost was still as deep and painful as it was when we first received that devastating news.

In a single sentence … two years ago today, I was a wreck. And writing about how I felt seemed to be the only way to articulate such complicated emotions. And so hence, Apron Strings for Emily was born.

So where am I at today? Well … writing about my journey has certainly had some impact on my life. Both good and bad … and sometimes just downright ugly.

gobaugTHE UGLY: My relationship, though better since moving, is still a bit strained with my SIL. The distance has definitely proved to be a good thing though. But this, of course, is at the sacrifice of not being able to see my nephew and my 6 month old niece as often as I’d like. Despite all this, my instincts (which tend to be spot on quite often) tell me that all this heartbreak will eventually pass in time. Perhaps one day our lives will once again be back “in sync” with one another like it was so many eons ago. And perhaps it won’t. But either way, only time will help mend all the broken layers of skin that this deep deep wound (as in “Stage IV Decubitus Ulcer”) has caused.

In any case, we’ll be seeing them next month for sure though … as they make the trip to visit us in our new digs. And I seriously can’t wait!!

THE BAD: Uhm … the obvious one is that Hubby and I are still without kids of our own. This also means that I haven’t been able to provide grandchildren to our parents, nieces or nephews to our siblings, or cousins to our nephew and niece. It still eats at me … at least once a month, during those incredible waves of emotions I get (Thank you, wacky hormones!) …but at least it isn’t every day like it was for years and years (and years and years).

THE GOOD: I’ve found out that, contrary to my psychotic (as opposed to psychic) beliefs, I am not necessarily alone in this infertility journey. I’ve found the incredibly wonderful and much needed support I’ve been looking forthanks to all of you readers and commenters.

Also, I’ve finally decided (just recently within the past 6 months) that my life no longer has to revolve around my inability to have children of my own and have decided to focus on other parts of my life. This means I can finally move onto deciding whether adoption should be our next step. OR if accepting child-free living is the path to take.

goalBut the best part of this point in my life is this: After years and years of holding all my anger and sadness inside, I’ve finally found my voice … and the medium in which to express this voice. For someone who has been used to (and quite frankly brought up to) stifling any bad feelings aside, well that’s … Just. Simply. Incredible.

And just like a yearly “work performance” eval … not only do I have to summarize all that has happened in the past year … I should also be thinking towards the coming year. SO … what exactly are my goals for the next year?

  • Work on above relationship with SIL. I’m still thinking time and distance for now is a good thing. Perhaps my thoughts will change over the course of the year.
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  • Continue to more forward. I need to remember to take steps by putting one foot in front of the other, and make an effort not to take any steps back. I need to build a momentum to keep me moving in a positive direction … whatever direction that might be. (Adoption? Child-free living? Focus on career and ultimate dream of moving out to the west coast?) But I do need to remember to keep moving, otherwise I could find myself stuck in the present (or the past) and in another “rut.”
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  • Leave the past in the past. This specifically means that I need to focus on not looking back at the negative. And if I do look back, it’s only to realize how much stronger I am because of what I’ve been through.
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  • In that same sense, I need to not concentrate on any negative thoughts. Focusing on any negativity is going to get me into those “What if?” situations that will also keep me in that same “rut.”
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  • Continue to blog. This … this is my (free) therapy. It’s one of the few ways I can openly and honestly talk about how I’m feeling. And it’s a way for me to work through these complicated emotions of anger and loss. Otherwise, I’d be back to where I started. And as I look back on my very first post and realize how much I talked almost all in “riddles” and metaphors … and how I couldn’t even write the word “Infertility” in that first post … It’s then that I realize just how far I’ve come.

voiceAnd finally, before I wrap up this extremely long post, I want to thank all of you for allowing me to work (and continue to work) through all of my concerns. And thank you for faithfully reading all about them.

Because, really? What’s the point of finding my voice if I didn’t have you … my readers, my friends and my family … to listen to (or in this case, read about) it?

Oh, and because today is St. Patty’s Day … I also wish all of you the Luck O’ The Irish!!

luckee

"Me"-dia

Imagin me wearing stirrup stockings with this dress and kitten heel pumps ... yep, how 80's!

Imagin me wearing stirrup stockings with this dress and kitten heel pumps ... yep, how 80's!

Well, since I finally made it home this weekend I got a chance to find a couple more 80’s pictures … including that one picture of me in a dress that reminded me of this one … the one I wore at the Addy Awards last weekend.

It’s actually quite funny, when you think of it. Because both dresses actually are a mod dress inspired from the 60’s fashion styles. And yet … here I am wearing one dress in the 80’s and another one, some 20 years later again. Amazing how fashion styles recycle.

Anyhoo … Pretty scary that I was only 14 years old in that picture. And I seriously can’t believe my parents let me out of the house in that dress. What’s even more “scandalous” (well, at least in my eyes), is that my Mom was the one that picked this dress out. Because looking back at this picture now … it’s a pretty sexy dress for a 14 year old to wear, don’t you think?

True 80's Fashion ...

True 80's Fashion ...

But I remember the occasion at which I wore this dress for, which was a family friend’s 18th Birthday/Cotillion. It was during the summer before starting high school and I remember feeling quite self-conscious in the outfit. Which is probably why I can recall how socially “awkward” I felt that night.

And I realized this past weekend how some things never change. Hubby & I had some time to spare before heading over to my in-law’s house to celebrate my nephew’s 13th birthday. So we headed to the local mall just to walk about. (It was such crappy weather all weekend long, that doing anything outside was useless …)

Anyway, as we were there I headed into the local Sep.hora to look at some body lotion that a co-worker recommended to moisturize skin, but not leave it all moist and clammy especially when in the midst of a hot flash*. Now, I’ve never been inside a Sep.hora before; the reason behind it pretty obvious to anyone who knows me. I’m just simply not into make-up and dressing up.

A Bonus 80's Shot for y'all

A Bonus 80's Shot for y'all

I mean, I’ll dress up … when the occasion calls for it, I clean up quite nicely … but on an everyday basis? I’m the type of gal that’s more comfortable in a pair of jeans and a tshirt. And coming from a company where we could wear jeans daily to a company that requires leadership to dress business casual every day … well, that’s been a challenge.

So getting back to Sep.hora, I figured that while I was there I’d get some lip gloss to moisturize my lips … and maybe add a little color to it. Except I couldn’t believe how many choices were out there and I simply became overwhelmed. I mean seriously … all I wanted was a “leeetle” plum-rose color to my lips and what I saw was 50 zillion different varieties of plum or raspberry. I ended up just walking out of there with nothing.

But going back to the “some things never change” bit … I’m just not a “girly” girl and I never had been. I was the girl that climbed trees and ran her bike through muddy trails. I was the same girl who loved walking through puddles at school (seriously … whenever it rained, there would be this huge puddle in the middle of the parking lot that I believe I named “Lake St. Vincent”). I was that pre-teen (or “tweenager,” as they’re now called) that still loved to stay up and watch the movies at slumber parties rather than play dress-up or put on make-up.

For that, I still believe it’s because I never had that consistent female “bond” with another girl … a sister, or a mentor that could coach me through some of those things. And I still believe it’s because I was that first-generation Filipino-American; my parents not quite familiar with what typical American things that pre-teens (or even teenagers) do.

This pic was taken after one of my "modeling" classes I took. I think this is the class they taught me how to put on makeup ... ha!

This pic was taken after one of my "modeling" classes I took. I think this is the class they taught me how to put on makeup ... ha!

I give my parents credit though. They did the best that they could do. And they, particularly my mom, did try to encourage me to do things that most teens might do (within reason, of course). One of them was signing me up for modeling classes after I turned 16. Now, I must be honest … this would have been something I would totally wanted to do at the age of 13 or 14. But by 16, my personality was such that doing anything that surrounded using your “looks” to get ahead with anything was something I was SO against. (Helloooo …. New Wave/Goth chick, here!) But I faithfully went; partly out of obligation, as my Mom shelled out a lot of money for these classes. And partly out of sheer curiosity. Because, the girls that were in my class … they were the antithesis of who I was.

And what did I learn from these classes? Posture (which still sucks), poise and grace (which doesn’t work with my two left feet), and that I look best in “Summer Colors” when it comes to clothes and makeup. I think that last thing is the only lasting impression from that class … because I realized recently (after years of simply wearing black and/or white) is that I do like to dress myself in those “Summer Colors.”

Not that it matters too much anymore … but sometimes I wonder how I come across to other people, looking the way that I do. Given that I tend to wear my hair pulled back in a ponytail (or even piggy tails … not. kidding. you.) and I am one for sacrificing fashion for comfort, I think people think that I’m young and immature. (Which I can be … ) But after talking to me for any length of time, these same people tend to realize that I am older and more mature than they originally thought. That I’m smart and intelligent. That I’m knowledgeable in certain areas. But that’s only after they get to know me. And probably after they see how much grey hair I actually have.

In any case, going into that Sep.hora brought me straight back to those days of self-consciousness. And back to such an awkward phase in my life.

But enough of looks and awkwardness and fashion and lack of make-up. Let’s talk about how much fun I had being back home this weekend. We celebrated my nephew’s 13th birthday on Saturday and I still cannot believe he’s officially a teenager now (well, really he’ll be one officially on the 12th …) by having dinner at a local restaurant and then heading over my in-laws afterwards for birthday cake. From the moment he saw us, my nephew didn’t want to leave our side. And as I know those moments are going to start to be few and far in between, I relished every moment of his closeness. I also got to see my niece for the first time since December and I can’t believe how much bigger she’s gotten. She’s now 6 months old and her personality has definitely started to develop. My favorite moment of that night was this following video.

This video was taken while my SIL and I were “video chatting” in iChat on our laptops. We were both in the dining room facing directly across from each other. And when my nephew sat down to chat with me, he took his baby sister with him who, of course, was fascinated by seeing me (and herself) on the computer screen. I wish we started recording it sooner, because the first few times were priceless … but this video is still awesome. She (and my nephew, of course) is such a cutie!!

And Sunday, I was supposed to meet up with a couple of grade school friends for brunch. Unfortunately, since the weather’s been sucking a$$ right now I think we’ve all come down with some sort of sinus thingy; one of my friends worse than myself and my other friend. It would have been great to see them both, as I haven’t seen them since … like, forever … but we’re going to reschedule for the end of this month when I should be back in town to help Hubby move. 🙂

Instead, Sunday was spent going for dim sum with my parents. It was nice to sit and talk with them; and I think I genuinely surprised them by making the time to see them during this weekend home. The truth is, I would have made the time anyway … I just didn’t have a chance to call them until I got into town.

And while at that restaurant, I ran into one of my best friends from Nursing School. He’s now working as a professor for a local University and we’ve recently caught up in Face.book. But nothing beats actually seeing him and hugging him in person. We managed to make plans to catch up next time he comes into my “neck of the woods.” Can’t wait for that.

And now … about 6 hours from now, I’ll be boarding the train back to the City. Another weekend home gone so quickly. This being the second time I’ve been back to Detroit since moving, I realize how much I miss parts of this area. I miss all the shops and the ability to jump in my car and find parking anywhere. I miss how much cheaper going out to eat and/or seeing movies are. I miss seeing Sabrina on a daily basis. But the thing I miss the most? Yep, my family.

But the good thing is … we’re never that far away by email or phone. And not even by physical distance.

Yay family!

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* Nope, not having hot flashes so much anymore. But when walking the distance I do from the train to my office building every morning … I do tend to work up a sweat. It usually is worse whenever I take a shower in the morning (and therefore putting body lotion on at that time) … Anyway, I’m sure this was more information that y’all needed to know.

The Elusive "Gold Crown"

A couple nights ago I had some visitors to my new place … specifically three of my younger cousins, one who is in the area for her college spring break. I absolutely love these girls; they are the youngest cousins on my Dad’s side and I can clearly remember them as babies (well, at least two of them anyway). Now they’re all “grown up” and in college.

In any case, the reason they wanted to come over was to watch some DVD’s of “The O.C.” on our new HD TV. Except we never did get around to doing that. Instead, we hooked up the Wii and played some Roc.kband and Raym.an Raving Rabb.ids. Way too much fun … except I have a feeling that our neighbors below weren’t too thrilled. Especially since playing Wii and the “photo shoot” (read: digital cam on timer at 10 shots per incident) lasted well into the night.

But oh … was it ever fun. And here are some pictures to prove it. Personally, I think we’re all set for the cover of Rol.ling Sto.ne! LOL!

[rockyou id=133909794&w=450&h=338]

Moving on …

Have I mentioned how much I liked working in the big city? I love not having to drive to work. I love not having to park in the same parking lot in the same general spot every single day. I love that there are multiple ways to get to my office building. So that on a cold crappy day, I can walk inside another office building and walk through the indoor pedestrian walkway. Or on a beautiful warm end-of-winter day I can walk down the busy avenue and enter directly into my building.

And let’s talk about that busy avenue. There are definitely more options for shopping and eating along the day. No more of that “get in the car and drive” to get out of the office just for lunch or to run to the bank. Nope, I can now just walk out of my office building and down the street. That doesn’t even count all the different cafes and restaurants in the pedestrian walkway inside; where I can run down in between meetings for a quick bite to eat. Believe me, having designer coffee available in the morning comes in handy after those late nights of Rockband on the Wii.

Anyway … there happens to be a Hallm.ark store in the walkway. I love going in there because … well, Hallm.ark stores are always such fun to look around in. (And besides, being a “Gold Crown” member has it’s little bonus coupon perks … !) It reminds me of my grade school days when Hallm.ark was the place to find cool stickers for your sticker book or cute stuffed animals to add to your collection. And in some rare instances, the young Asian girl in me would be delighted to find Sanr.io items at some of the stores (back when Hel.lo Kitty was just a blip on everyone else’s radar).

Except now, I find myself at Hallm.ark looking for a variety of different cards. Or other cute items to give as gifts. Personally, I love the whole Ho.ops & Yoy.o collection. That darn pink kitty and green bunny are too frickin’ adorable. (Must check out my cute totally new wave song and “music video” I created on their site! Tee-hee … !) And their selection of cards for any and every occasion makes picking out just one card nearly impossible. Especially when they have cool ones with music and sound effects now.

630006_mAnd their gift collections are just so chotski-ish … way too fun to look at, and on various occasions, buy as well. Like the whole series of clay jars that say anything from “Retirement Fund” to “Ashes of Former Employees” on them. Or all the Prec.ious Moments figurines with all the cute little sayings on them like “A tender touch makes love bloom.” I don’t mean to belittle them, because really … I would buy these gifts for the appropriate occasion. And I would certainly appreciate any of them if I were ever to receive them as gifts.

Anyway, the point of my rambling about Hallm.ark and their gifts is because I realized something the other day. I was in the store during my lunch hour just passing time after spending pretty much the entire morning in meetings upon meetings. It got to the point that by the time I got back to my desk my desk phone was lit up and blinking like a fire truck, my work-issued blackberry was vibrating non-stop, and my personal cell phone was personally notifying me about the “Devil Inside”. Yeah … it was a nutso day. And at that moment, I just had to walk away.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m truly enjoying my new job. And I’m clearly up to the challenge that face me in my new position. But as I’m still relatively “new” to the corporation, I find myself sometimes frustrated that I can’t pick up on processes as quickly as I used to in my previous job. I know that it will come in time. And believe me, I know that I should be proud of all I accomplished even in this two month period. I’d even go as far as to say that I believe I’ve made enough progress in my position that I’ve earned the trust of my staff and the respect of my other peers.

Yeah. I know … what a difference 8 months and a change in jobs and scenery makes. Amazing what it does for my self-confidence and self-esteem.

There I’ve gone again … I’ve once again digressed.

So as I was down in the pedestrian walkway, I strolled into the Hallm.ark store. I was tempted to buy a cute Ho.ops & Yoy.o plush, but I resisted. And then I wandered to the back of the store where many a picture frame and plaques were displayed.

I’m not sure if it was the effects of seeing the ceramic handprint in my boss’ office, but for some reason my eyes gravitated to all the “Mom” chotskies out there. The little paperweights or mirrored plaques with “Ode to Mom” poems. The angel figurines that talk about how ”Moms are a Gift from Heaven.” The picture frames or coffee mugs the proclaim how “Moms RULE!” The keychains or notebooks that proudly state, “Motherhood: The Hardest Job You’ll Ever Love.”

It’s that last statement about motherhood that had me a little hot under the collar. Not that I disagree with that statement. Nor do I discount how incredibly hard being a mother is. Because I am absolutely positively one hundred percent sure that particular statement is correct.

But the thing is … I’ve just never experienced being a mother. Nor do I know that I ever will experience motherhood. And while that truth does hurt … does make me incredibly sad … that last declaration evokes another unpleasant emotion in me. It creates this feeling of triviality in what I do with my job; my career. It’s as if what I do for a living will never ever top that of being a mother.

And what does that say for someone like me who has always wanted to be a Mom? Who has always held the idea that I could be a mother and a career woman? Who has been given these incredible job opportunities in her career but has not been given the opportunity to be a mother?

It’s thoughts like that … and all those tiny little observations that I notice on any given day … those are the things that also hit me square in the chest. They’re the things that knock me for a loop. The things that bring my self-confidence and self-esteem back down a notch.

I hope the receivers of such gifts; those mothers of children (or those other family members) realize what a hard job motherhood really is … I hope these moms truly appreciate the thought and the sentiment behind those gifts.

And I hope those mothers realize exactly what a gift motherhood is.

Because outside their world are those women who may never be on the receiving end of such gifts.

25 Random Things

Okay, so I’m being completely lazy here. But since I posted this on my Facebook page, I might as well do this here too.

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I’m not too big on these things, but I would like to know more about my friends so if you have time, fill this out and at least tag me so I can learn more about you. 🙂

25 Random Things to Share

Rules:
Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people (yeah, right!!) to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

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Alrighty then … here goes:

  1. I’m a big procrastinator. As I recently commented on a friend’s Facebook status, I put the “crass” in procrastinate.
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  2. I could sleep ten hours a day if given the opportunity. It’s not for wanting to, or for being lazy … I just constantly feel like I never get that “good night’s sleep.”
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  3. I never thought I’d marry a person from the same culture that I grew up in. But yet I did … and I hold that over my Mom whenever she brings up what a “horrible kid I was.” My response always is … “well, at least I married a Filipino!”
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  4. Speaking of Hubby … he was my first date ever. We went to the Homecoming Dance at each other’s high school when I was sixteen. But we didn’t start dating until after I graduated from high school.
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  5. Hubby is my absolute best friend in the entire world. People may think it’s strange that I want to spend every moment of my life with him, but it’s the honest to God’s truth.
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  6. I always thought I wouldn’t marry until I was in my late 20’s and have my first child before I was 30. Instead, I got married at 24 and, to this date, still don’t have any children. But trust me … it’s not for lack of trying.
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  7. I used to think that if you set your mind to a specific goal and worked hard at it, you’d always achieve that goal. But now I’m smart enough to know that’s not always true. Going through infertility treatments has taught me that.
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  8. And because of #7, infertility has knocked down my self-confidence and self-esteem. While they’re not completely gone from my life, they’re certainly not as prominent as they were in college or those first two post-college years. Okay, enough sad things …
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  9. In high school, I was voted “Class New Waver.” Yes, I grew up in the 80’s. And listened to a lot of Depeche Mode. And New Order. And Smiths. And the list can go on and on. But I still think New Wave and Goth music can put some of these Emo bands to shame …
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  10. Being who I was “labeled” in high school … it’s actually quite funny that I’ve always had this secret wish to be either a cheerleader or on the dance team. (Yes, I can hear y’all groaning now.) But I think it’s more because I wanted to break out of the Asian “nose-always-in-books” mold and be more “American.”
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  11. Speaking of my “Asian”-ness … I’ve pretty much gotten mistaken for every Asian nationality out there … including Indian, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan. I’ve also gotten mistaken for American Indian and Guatemalen. Oh, and once someone mistook me for an Eskimo.
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  12. I’ve always wanted to be a writer or a journalist. Except the Filipino side of me keeps telling me that I could never make a living out of it. (Grrr … I wish my parents’ voice would stop infiltrating my brain!)
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  13. Which is why I like to keep a blog: http://apronstringsemily.com/
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  14. And why I like to keep advertising it. (Tee hee … there’s two things “wasted!)
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  15. In my immediate family, I’m the one that’s the sports nut. You’d think it would be my older brother … but I’m the one who watches the most hockey and basketball and football.
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  16. I’d blame my husband for my love of sports, but it truly started in grade school after catching my first Red Wings game at a school outing.
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  17. I met my oldest friend (although we hardly keep in contact anymore) in kindergarten. I still have a picture of us dressed up with paper bunny ears and a painted bunny nose for Easter.
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  18. My closest friends are those that I don’t even see that often … Thank God for Facebook and the internet.
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  19. And speaking of Facebook … I’ve managed to keep in touch with lots of my cousins this way. And I’ve managed to get in contact with quite a few high school and even grade school friends!
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  20. So … my hope is to continue to keep these friendships going. After all … it seems like the older I get, the harder it is to make new friends.
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    (Seriously? I’ve gotta come up with five more?! Okay … I’ll scrounge.)
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  21. I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout up until 6th grade. And I can’t believe that GS cookes now cost four bucks a box. Sheesh … they sold for under a dollar when I sold them.
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  22. When I was little, I wished that I could have a more “common” name like “Jenny” or “Elizabeth” because all my friends were named that. Now I wish my name wasn’t the most popular name out there.
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  23. I’m predominantly right-handed … but there are certain things I do with my left hand. Like brush my teeth. And knit.
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  24. Yes, that’s right. I knit. I’ve only done bags, scarves and hats and baby stuff. Maybe even a sweater or two. But it’s something that I find rather comforting.
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    (And finally … )
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  25. I suck at multi-tasking. Which is probably why I’m really good at procrastinating.

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Whew … that’s the list. If you’ve stuck around to read all of this, I applaud you.

And no … I’m not tagging anyone. I just thought this would be a fun thing to share with everyone …

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