"PS I Love You" … and Other Emotions

I love the book, “PS I Love You” by Cecilia Ahern. I picked it up used at the local B&N a few years ago, just in time to bring it with me to our trip to Seattle. And as I was sitting on the plane reading the book, I would need to dig through my purse just to find a napkin or a piece of tissue paper just to wipe all the fallen tears. It was THAT good of a book for me.

When I found out that they were making the book into a movie … let alone starring Hilary Swank, playing the lead character, Holly Kennedy … I had my apprehensions. First of all, the book was supposed to be based in Ireland and yet the movie is in NYC. Second, it was starring Hilary Swank. Don’t get me wrong … she’s awesome in any of her Academy Award performances, but I just didn’t see her playing Holly.

What got me to the theater instead, was them darn trailers. That and seeing that not only Denny (from Grey’s Anatomy) was in it, but Gerard Butler (King Leonides from “300”) was playing the husband. Yum. (Yes, along with Johnny Depp … I have a sick fascination for certain celebs.)

One weekend, I dragged Hubby to the theater to see it. And honestly, although there are parts of the movie that aggrevated me, I did like the movie. It certainly does not follow the plot exactly to the specifications of the book (I mean, really … what book-to-film movie ever does …), but it highlights much of the same core emotions that got me in the book. There’s one scene in particular that totally got me. It’s one of those rare situations where seeing it on film right in front of you is ten times better than reading the book.

(If you’re wanting to see the movie and/or read the book, I suggest you skip the next two paragraph.)

At this point in the movie, Holly is on a weekend trip with her girlfriends, all set up and paid for by her husband prior to his death. Her one friend just confessed that she was finally getting married. Her other friend also confesses that she’s (finally) pregnant. The look on Holly’s face said it all. While she was happy for them, she couldn’t help but be sad for herself. Then after the initial “Yay! We’re so excited about the news in our lives!” the subject was suddenly and akwardly dropped.

What’s more is later, Holly overhears her friends in the other room still overly excited about each other’s announcement and hears them planning for the next stage in their lives. It was nonstop chatter, while Holly stood there just looking utterly sad and alone.


At that point in the movie, I just completely lost it. Tears were streaming down my face while Hubby held me tight. I turned to him at that point and said, “I know exactly how she feels.”

And I totally did. It’s that feeling of emptiness inside of me. That black hole that some days I think will never be filled up. And in certain circumstances, the more happiness other people have in their lives, the deeper I feel like climbing into that big black abyss and just not resurfacing until all the excitement dies down.

It’s not because I’m being selfish (as later on in the movie, it was pointed out to Holly that she acting that way … pissed me off, too. Grrr …) or that I’m not happy for the other person. It’s not even jealousy that drives me to feel that way. It’s the feeling that I should be able to have some of that happiness too. That I’m entitled to have those type of exciting moments in my life as well.

Yes, I can hear people say … “Well, you can’t just expect happiness to happen. You have to make those moments happen for yourself.” And that’s where I say to that person, “What makes you think that I haven’t tried?”

I have put myself through everything possible to become pregnant with my Hubby & my biological child. I have had enough procedures to “clear” me out to last me a lifetime. I have suffered through months of poking myself with needles to help create the “optimum conditions” to impregnate me. I have dealt with month after month after years of hope at the beginning of my cycle followed by failure at the end of my cycle. I suffered the ultimate blow with my one failed attempt at IVF. I feel I have spent enough time and money and emotions of trying to get to that happiness. And yet here I am, barren and still childless.

So don’t tell me that I haven’t tried to create that biological child of mine … that exciting moment I’ve been wanting for the past ten-plus years. And don’t tell me that I’m being selfish for feeling as angry as I do at those times. And please please PLEASE don’t say to me, “Well, you could always adopt.” The truth is, we are looking into that option, but I still need to grieve the fact that I cannot produce my own biological child. And I will never know what it’s like to be pregnant. And I will never know what it’s like to breast-feed. The fact that I won’t be able to even announce to our family and friends that Hubby & I are pregnant is enough to grieve.

So please allow me have those moments of sadness and anger about my childless situation. And please, even though I find it difficult to talk about … push me to do so. Because, while it’s ten times easier to write or blog about it, sometimes having the physical human touch behind it makes me feel less alone and more loved.

PS Thanks for letting me vent.

Gratuities Not Accepted

When Hubby & I visited the Tulum Mayan Ruins, I have to admit that I hope it would be a mystical or magical experience. And in many ways, with the incredible rain storm we encountered, it was. Saul, our half-Mayan tour guide, gave us a little “tip” just before he sent us on our way to explore the ruins. He told us that at some point during our time at the ruins, we should close our eyes and open our minds and we would experience the exactly how sacred and spiritual this site was to the Mayan people.

So as we’re walking in the midst of this downpour of rain and as we’re wading in the warm sea at the Tulum beach, all I kept thinking about was how special it would be if, indeed, something wonderful would happen. And as Hubby & I get ready to exit the ruins, we closed our eyes and opened our minds. Now honestly, the only sound we could here was the rain steadily falling and the crowds of people chattering around us trying to stay dry. But me? I hung on to the hope that perhaps this special ground would prove to be “fertile” for us. In fact, I already had the name “Maya” picked out if I did become pregnant with a daughter.

This past Saturday, my hopes of a miracle pregnancy were once again dashed. And while it doesn’t sting so badly as it has over the past ten years, it still hurts. (And I do mean “hurt.” Damn those cramps and bloating and the feeling of being “off-balance.” It’s sucks that this monthly “symbol” of womanhood just reminds me of what a failure I am in that department. But I digress …)

Now I probably would have just picked myself up and chalked that dream of a miracle conception as yet another one of my silly attempts to bring hope into my life. But then I watched the movie “Waitress.” Which, as I think of it now, was probably not a good idea to watch, especially in the “hormonal” state of mind I was on Saturday.

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The premise of “Waitress” is that of a waitress (Jenna) who has this incredible talent of making such wonderful and uniquely-named pies. She is married to a husband who is very jealous and controlling. Jenna’s biggest dream is to win a pie-baking contest with a $25,000 award so that she can leave her husband and find happiness by owning her own pie shop. But then Jenna finds out she’s pregnant. And suddenly she finds herself having an affair with the new married OB-Gyn in town. And then she feels as if she’s stuck in this loveless and unhappy and unsatisfied life.

(Now, if you’re wanting to watch this movie, I suggest you skip the following paragraph and move on to the next. There really isn’t any major spoiler to this movie, but if you’re like me … I’d hate it if someone ruined the whole movie-watching experience by telling me exactly what happens in the end.)

Throughout the movie, Jenna starts to write these letters to her unborn baby. The letters start out sounding bitter and angry and even at one point, pretty hostile (in my opinion) and resentful of having to carry this child and then have to spend the rest of her life unhappy because of this child. Even as she’s in the delivery room, you can clearly tell that she still does not want anything to do with this child. It wasn’t until her baby girl was placed into her arms that she finally found both love and happiness. But not only that, she found the strength and confidence within herself to divorce her husband, end the affair with her doctor, and open her own pie shop.


So why, after watching this movie, did I find myself overwhelmed with emotions? And why did I find myself yet again crying uncontrollably in Hubby’s arms?

The most obvious emotion I felt was the anger and jealousy towards the main character. Jenna is pregnant and I’m not. Throughout the movie she voices how she doesn’t want to be pregnant and she doesn’t want to be tied down with an unwanted baby. And here I am wanting to go through pregnancy and definitely wanting to have a baby. How can I not feel anger and resentment after years of not being able to fulfill my dream of starting a family?

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Less obvious, was the empathy I felt towards Jenna. Here she is, living in a situation that she is trying to change, but for one reason (a controlling husband) or another (her unexpected pregnancy) things keep her from changing it. It’s similar to the way that I’ve felt about my infertility. Since marrying my best friend, what I’ve always wanted … what I always dreamt about … was having a family. I wanted to become a parent to children that I would love and cherish and raise to hopefully be smart and successful adults. That was my dream, my wish, my goal in life. And yet, everything Hubby & I had done under the sun to create a biological child of our own was unsuccessful. In that sense, I felt “stuck” in a situation that I couldn’t change, just as Jenna felt “stuck.” I couldn’t create a child, let alone sustain any pregnancy, that was both a part of me and my husband. I’d never know if certain traits (like the shape our child’s nose or his/her smile) was more like my husband or me. It’s those things that I cannot change. And it’s certainly those things that make me feel my sadness a little more deeply.

As I watched the ending of the movie (no, no spoilers here), I just felt so unfulfilled. Which was totally the opposite of what Jenna was feeling. It’s not that I’m unhappy with my life … no, that’s not the case. Because I certainly do have a ton of happiness and a lot to be thankful for in my life … the number one thing of which is a completely loving, devoted, and overall awesome husband/best friend. It’s just that the dream I have (the one with the white picket fence, the tall tree with a tire swing holding all of our kids, and the front yard that overlooks the ocean) seems like it’s exactly that … just a dream.

And I know that I still have that opportunity to make that dream into reality. And I know exactly what my next step is going to be. In a few days (when this blessed monthly event is over), I will pick myself up and resurface from this fog of sadness. But today, right now … I honestly just want to pull myself under the covers and sleep.

Harry Potter Mania

Okay, I fully admit it. I love Harry Potter. No, not in that sick sense where I would have a crush on a fictional character (although ask me later about my unhealthy obsession over Captain Jack Sparrow – aka Johnny Depp), but in the sense that I love the series of books by JK Rowling.

I have been an avid reader all my life. I thank my parents, particularly my mom, for this habit. I remember both my parents reading to my brother and me when we were little; always bedtime stories. Later, it would be the weekly Saturday trip to the local library where, every summer until high school, I would take part in their summer reading program. I can remember being dragged to the mall (before I liked to go shopping) and begging my parents to leave me at the bookstore (B. Dalton’s, remember them?) so I could read books while my mom or dad went shopping. I would spend my allowance on books and, eventually when I got my first job (babysitting), I would spend my earnings on books as well.

One of my earliest and fondest childhood memories was making my mom read “Fox in Socks” by Dr. Seuss. If you have ever read that book, it is quite the tongue-twister of a book. The little devil on my shoulder used to make my mom read it faster and faster each time, which would inevitably make her mix up her words. I fully appreciate the fact that she humored me now, as the last time I read the book was to my nephew on one of his sleepovers at our house quite a few years back. It was that same exact book, tattered and masking-taped together, that I read while he was cuddled up to me in bed. I love that book as much as I love the memories it invokes.

Why do I love reading so much? I am an admitted and full-fledged daydreamer. I have, what my parents probably said to me over and over again while growing up, an “overactive imagination.” I love reading stories and “seeing” in my mind the scene that is described to me in words or imagining exactly how a conversation occurs in the context of the book. I love the way a good book evokes a range of emotions, from angry to sad to happy to surprised and of being able to go through those emotions with every turn of a page. And when that last page is turned, I love the satisfaction of closing the back cover of the book and taking in the whole story while going through my mind what I loved (or hated — or both) about it.

Now, I love movies as well. However, if given the choice of movies and books, I’d probably choose to read. While I fully appreciate the art behind storytelling in making movies, there is still nothing like imagining it in my head. That’s why whenever I’ve seen a movie that’s been adapted from a book, I will always (okay, nine times out of ten) will inevitably say “The book was MUCH better than the movie!” There are just some things, like plays on words or abstract descriptions, that just can’t be translated literally into a film. And that is one of the things (if not, THE biggest thing) that I enjoy about reading.

Hubby and I started reading Harry Potter in 2000 at the recommendation of an older co-worker, who just happened to work in the Michigan Film Office. She knew that the two of us enjoyed reading and told us that the writing and the universe created in the series was really good. When hubby told me about her suggestion, my first thought was, “A children’s book? Why she would recommend a children’s book?” Nevertheless, we picked up a copy of the first book at the local Border’s store and, while driving around on an errand one Saturday, hubby opened to the first page (I was driving, by the way) and read aloud:

“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

I was hooked. We spent the rest of the weekend reading the book aloud; each reading a chapter at each turn. Both of us chuckled whenever we were described something particularly funny, excited when we read about the first quidditch game, sad whenever we were told about Harry’s parents, and incredibly amazed by the turn of events towards the end of the book. We went on to read the next book and part of the third book together.

Being the impatient one in the relationship, I went ahead and read book four that was just published that year in 2000. With the following books, I forced hubby to stand in line with me to get them on the days they were released (July 2003 in Border’s in Chicago and July 2005 at Meijer’s in Rochester Hills). After watching the “Goblet of Fire” movie in November 2005 (book five), hubby finally went back to reading the series; partly because we enjoyed to movie so much, but also because other (younger) cousins and I kept driving him insane about the the ending of book six and speculations about what would happen in book seven which was to be the last book in the series.

So it was this past Friday that we found ourselves once again in line (at Meijer’s in Royal Oak) before midnight to pick up “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Part of me wanted to rush home after purchasing the book and stay up all night reading as much as I can. The other part of me didn’t want to start it, because I just didn’t want to face the end of the series I’ve grown to love so much. Ultimately it was the third part of me that won out in the end: The one that was too frickin’ tired to stay up after having had such a long day. (Hey, I’m no longer that spring chicken that can stay up all night … I need my “beauty” sleep, after all.)

Instead it was the next morning that hubby opened up the book and again read me that first line:

“The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane.”

And once again, I’m hooked. And as we are both now caught up with the Harry Potter series, we’re reading this book aloud. In many ways, reading it to each other invokes those same memories I have of constantly reading while I was growing up. To me, it’s such a fitting way to end the story of Harry Potter, a boy who is now all grown up, in the same way we began reading his story. Together.

Portland, OR Trip

So hubby and I took a trip out west over the Fourth of July weekend. Our friend, Rich who had moved out there last year, got married on that Friday after the 4th, which just happened to coincide with my birthday. Let me tell you, it was an awesome birthday for me!

First of all, we flew out on Wednesday, which was the actual holiday day. We pretty much assumed would be a hectic traveling day, but it truly wasn’t. In fact, the airports were just about empty and all the staff (including those pesky security officers) was friendly. Literally, nothing could have gone smoother.

Once we landed in Portland, we hopped into our rental car and headed east towards Hood River, where Rich lives. We were given specific instructions to take the historic scenic highway in order to appreciate all the beauty of the Columbia Gorge.

Now, being from the Detroit area, everything is pretty much flatlands. Strip malls, gas stations, and concrete. The further away from the city, you’ll see farmlands and beautiful greenery, but it’s still primarily flatlands (unless you travel further north). So to look out your window and be consumed by all this lush greenery and (gasp!) mountains, you can’t help but be in awe.

(Side bar: I kept teasing Rich whenever he told us he just lived “uphill” from downtown Hood River, that nothing is just uphill around here. Everything is “up-mountain.”)

But back to the scenic highway route. After taking Exit 22 off of I-84, we headed “uphill” toward Vista House, which is an art-deco building literally perched on top of a cliff. From that view, you can see almost endlessly down the gorge in either direction.

Continuing to head east on the historic highway, we ended up at our first waterfall, LaTourell. You easily can see the falls off of the road, but by taking a short walk down the path, you can actually get a better, up close view the fall. Hubby and I were daring enough to step right up to the falls. Let me tell you, it was 90+ degrees outside, but the closer you got the the falls, the force of the falls and the mist made it feel like it was in the 50’s!

Next stop on our trip was Wahkeena Falls. From the road, you could some nice shots of the bottom of the falls where it cascades down onto some rocks. However, the half-mile trek up to the bridge provides you with some other spectacular views of the falls.

Once again, hubby and I were daring enough to get up as close as we could to the falls. In fact, if you travel on the right side of the falls, you’ll eventually stumble onto a shallow cave where you can get a unique view of the falls.

Our last stop on our scenic journey to Hood River was at Multnomah Falls; which I just found out is the second tallest year-round waterfall in the US at 620 ft in height (for those geeks like me that are interested, Yosemite Falls is the tallest).

Legend has it that a Native American tribe was infected with a deadly disease and was in danger of dying. The daughter of the chief went to the top of a cliff and was told by a Great Spirit that to stop the epidemic, she would have to throw herself off the cliff and sacrifice herself. She did this and died. The chief wept bitterly and cried out to the Great Spirit to give him a sign if this sacrifice was not in vain. At that moment, water began to fall from the top of the cliff, forming Multnomah Falls. The legend also says that under the right conditions, you can see the daughter’s face in the waterfall. In fact, we were able to see a printed picture of her face in the falls. Unfortunately, we weren’t lucky enough to capture her image on our camera, nor were we able to spot her face.

After that, we made our way to Hood River and checked into our hotel. After a quick dinner, we headed to the downtown area to meet Rich and other out-of-town guests at a local pub where we were able to enjoy the Hood River fireworks out in the parking lot. It was quite a long traveling day, but certainly beautiful and calming … a great way to have started off our vacation.

The next day, hubby and I headed back to Portland to check out it’s downtown area. This was the first of three consecutive days of us checking out Portland. It’s such a nice downtown area, especially the Pearl District where most of the cool shops are. In that area, hubby and I found what we would call heaven … Powell’s City of Books, the largest used and new bookstore in the world, which occupies an entire city block and is divided into nine color-coded rooms that houses over 3,500 different sections. I swear, we could just live there … especially since there’s an in-store café to provide us sustenance. Now, if we could only find a shower … Needless to say, we hit that store two of the three days we headed downtown.

Other cool things we checked out down there was the the Pioneer Place mall (where we got our first glimpse of the iPhone. Sigh …), the only Doc Martens retail store in the country, and Platinum Records (where hubby finally got new DJ headphones and some hard-to-find Buzzin’ Fly vinyl).

While getting lost trying to find Platinum Records, we happened to stumble on the Portland Street Market. Finding little jewels like that is just so much fun. Oh, and we ate at a Todai restaurant (which, for some reason, we always seem to find in any major city we’ve traveled to lately. Why, oh, why won’t they open one in Detroit?!). We met a really cool Filipina waitress there and got to talking about the area. In fact, every place we went to downtown, the people were always nice and friendly.

Oh, and did I fail to mention? No sales tax in Portland. That made for easy (not to mention, fun) shopping! So, really, what I’m saying here kids, is that downtown Portland is a fun place to be.

Another one of our days was spent making the trek to the Pacific coast. From Hood River, the coast is about 2.5 hours away. For those of you that know me, getting to put my feet in the sand of any major body of water is a must. It’s definitely the Cancer in me that loves the water.

Anyway, everyone we talked to recommended heading to Cannon Beach which is just south of Astoria, OR. As I continued to look at the map along the way, I kept thinking that Astoria, OR was significant in some movie or another but I couldn’t remember exactly which movie. And then we stepped onto the beach. I took one look at the rock formation off of the coast called “Haystack Rock” and said one word to hubby: “Goonies!” Yep, one of my favorite movies of all times was filmed both on that beach and in Astoria, OR. That was definitely a thrill for me.

But seriously, the real reason we were in Portland, OR was for Rich and Melissa’s wedding. All the festivities leading up to the wedding were so much fun. First of all, there was the above-mentioned fireworks. Then the next day was the rehearsal dinner at the Cathedral Ridge Winery. I’ve never seen grapevines up close before so that was definitely a thrill. Not to mention the beautiful landscape with Mt. Hood as the backdrop. Oh, and the later it got, the louder the frogs became (think “Bud-Weis-Er”). It was actually quite fun watching the “boys” trying to catch frogs and then show them to the “girls.” I’m such a tomboy, that unlike the other “girls” I was actually excited to see the cute little green creatures.

And finally, the wedding itself was beautiful. Set inside St. Mary’s Catholic Church, it was just awesome to see one of our closest friends (who we thought might never get married) say “I do” to such a great person. One great highlight of the ceremony was hearing Sinead O’Conner’s voice (a recording, of course … not the real Sinead) singing “Make Me A Channel of Your Peace.” I just can’t seem to get the image of her tearing up a picture of the Pope in that famous Saturday Night Live episode. Another highlight was after the mass when the bridal car, Rich’s prized (and I mean PRIZED) Audi TT, pulled up and it was decked out in “Just Married” decorations. If I only had my camera handy to catch his appalled look.

The reception was in the ballroom and on the patio at the beautiful Columbia Gorge Hotel, which is set on a cliff overlooking the Columbia River. Everything about the reception was wonderful; the food, the music, the company. As Rich was friends with hubby back in high school and college, it was fun for me to get to know some of hubby’s classmates and to visit with some friends and family that we hadn’t seen in a very long time. Rich even “DJ’d” his own reception (read: iTunes playlist). Despite all of us harassing him about the “last minute” nature of putting everything together (including a slideshow of pictures to go along with the first dance, father/daughter and mother/son dance as well as ones of a bunch of friends and family that continuously played throughout the night), Rich did an excellent job. My favorites were definitely the instrumental Pixies and Duran Duran songs he played during dinner. That, and all the excellent 80’s songs we danced to most of the evening. Oh, and those mojitos, too! I have to say, Rich and Melissa threw an incredible party!

Unfortunately, I don’t have too many pictures from the wedding as I relied on hubby’s better digital cam to take the shots. And, well hubby won’t be letting me post them any time soon until the graphic designer in him touches up all the photos. Grrr …

So, after 5 days of nonstop fun, it was time for us to fly back to Detroit. I can’t tell you how difficult it is for me now to look outside and see flatlands once again. Perhaps one day (possibly in the near future?) we’ll move out west.

If you’d like to see more pics from our trip, click on the album below:

Dancing with the Stars

Okay, I have to admit it. I’m a sucker for any shows or movies that involve dancing. Dirty Dancing? Loved it. No one puts Baby in a corner. Hell, I even liked the bad sequel, Dirty Dancing Havana Nights. Bye Bye Birdie? Yup. Gotta love Janet Leigh and Dick Van Dyke. I even love the recent Gap commercial that’s on right now with Claire Danes and Patrick Wilson where they’re dancing to that Broadway Tune. And of course, my all time favorite, Strictly Ballroom. The list can go on and on. There’s just something about dancing that’s to romantic and so graceful and so controlled that I love.

So, it’s no suprise that I’m totally enjoying the Dancing With the Stars series. I’ve watched it on and off over the past few seasons, but watching the first two episodes of this season has already got me hooked. It certainly does help that it’s got “Cliff” from Cheers (John Ratzenberger), Heather Mills (ex-Mrs. Paul McCartney) with her prosthetic leg, and Apollo Ohno (yum). But seriously? It’s really about the dancing. I found myself smiling every time one of the contestants came out; transfixed on their movements. It looks like so much fun and yet so much work. I want to be able to do that someday.

Of course I’ve got two left feet (okay, the Filipina in me might have more like one and a quarter left feet – I have SOME rhythm, after all) so I’d never be Ballroom Competition-worthy. Also, there’s that “thing” about having to let the man take lead – I’m never good at giving up control. Yet, something about it just makes me want to put on those dance shoes (no, not them Doc Marten boots — this isn’t City Club, after all) and grab the hubby and have him lead me in a quick-step or a fox-trot.

I’ll never be Ginger Rogers, nor will my husband be Fred Astaire. But the feeling I have on the occasions where my husband does grab me and lead me in a slow dance around our living room (and I do relinquish that control) … it leaves my head spinning, my heart thumping, and my face smiling … just like it did tonite while watching Dancing With the Stars.