Dropping the Ball

NYC Times Square on New Years Eve

So I’m sitting in the basement of my in-laws house ceremoniously waiting for the Times Square Waterford Crystal Ball to drop. This has become an annual event for me, especially after having married into this family. Typically, it’s a house full of aunts and uncles and cousins running around doing anything and everything. I do recall many-a-New Year’s karaoke-ing and/or playing the latest PS2 games we got for Christmas. (This year, it’s the new Guitar Heroes III for the Wii … woo-hoo!)

However, this year is a little more subdued. First of all, many family members are now located in other parts of the US. Second of all, many of the cousins are a bit older in age which means that many of us have made other plans or have other obligations. But the main reason this year is pretty quiet is because this past Christmas, my husband’s grandmother was admitted to the ICU in Virginia. She’s been in and out of the hospital since Thanksgiving, but this latest episode has been the most severe. In fact, Hubby & I were pretty worried about her that we made the 12-hour trip to visit her and spend time with Hubby’s aunt to hopefully give her a little moral support. We were told she was pretty alert even after her emergency surgery, but by the time we visited her she was already heavily sedated. We spent this past weekend there and unfortunately there wasn’t much change in her condition by the time we left yesterday morning.

The New Waterford Crystal New Years Eve Ball

As of this evening, we are told she is more awake and is doing well. She’s still in critical condition, but it appears she has taken a step forward towards getting better. We are all hoping and praying that she keeps moving forward. And we’re also hoping and praying that all her doctors, nurses and caregivers stay sharp … because the only ball we want to see dropping is that Times Square Ball.

Let’s hear it for 2008 … may we be stronger, healthier and happier than we were in 2007.

International FanGeeks

After the Chicago Comicon adventure, Hubby & I decided to make the trip across the border to check out another Comic Convention. This time, it was the 2007 FanExpo at the Metro Convention Center in Toronto, Canada. Yep. You can officially call us international FanGeeks.

I initially agreed to go to this convention so that I could check out Hayden Christensen from Star Wars fame, but alas … he cancelled his engagement. But that’s okay, I was able to check out some other interesting people (not to mention costumes!) while we were there. For instance … there was the guy with the incredible “Dark Tower” tattoo on his arm. Hubby wanted me to take a picture of the tattoo instead of him (otherwise, I do admit … it would’ve sound weird if he asked another guy to take his picture). The nice guy complied by flexing his arm as I shot the picture.

Unlike the Chicago Comicon which focused a lot on the “comic realm” of pop culture, the FanExpo combined multiple elements which included the science fiction, anime, and horror genres. Also included was a ginormous gaming section, which hosted the 2007 World Series of Video Games (typically seen on ESPN “the Ocho” – just kidding, but you get my point). The nice thing about the set-up of the Toronto convention (as opposed to Chicago) was that each genre had its own separate section in which to explore. That made it much easier to explore.

Afterwards, we decided to head down to Queen Street West just to walk around. Unfortunately, most of the stores were closing for the evening but we managed to get a little shopping done. Lucky for Hubby, we knew that his favorite store would be open late. The Silver Snail was having their “End of Summer Sale” to coincide with the FanExpo. Luckily for me, I was able to get some Emily Strange tees that I haven’t seen anywhere else. And yes, Hubby did get some comics and graphic novels as well. Let’s just say that we ended up spending a lot of time in line at that store.

The next day, after checking out of the Strathcona Hotel, we headed to Yonge and Dundas Streets. It had been a few years since we were in Toronto, so we were surprised to see how different the area looked. Apparently, the area across from Eaton Centre is now known as Yonge-Dundas Square. For lack of better description, it reminds me of a Canadian version of NYC’s Time Square. I guess it makes sense, as I’ve always thought of Toronto as Canada’s New York City. Anyway, after snapping a few pictures of the area, it was time to head back home.

If you’d like to check out some pics of our mini-trip to Toronto (and of more interesting Comicon costumes), click on the album below:

Toronto FanExpo 2007

Cruisin' Away

This past weekend was the annual Woodward Dream Cruise weekend here in Detroit. It’s an event that combines classic cars with the 50’s and 60’s pastime of cruising. Now being a native of Detroit, I have to admit that the concept behind this event is excellent. Not only does it celebrate the history of Detroit as the Motor City, but it certainly gives the surrounding cities a nice economic boost.

The part that bothers me, though … is although the official Woodward Dream Cruise day typically falls on the third Saturday of August every year, people start cruising (or even just sitting on the side of the road) at least one week beforehand. And since I live less than a mile away from that famed Woodward Avenue (aka M-1), by the time the official event starts I am completely sick of the traffic, the noise, and the general hassle that comes with even attempting to cross Woodward.

So this year, hubby and I decided to “skip town.” At the last minute, we decided to head up to Traverse City and enjoy some well-deserved quality time together.

You might think, when don’t the two of you have quality time together? No kids, no other responsibilities except for work and keeping up with our daily activities. Well for hubby and I, sometimes it’s the every day things that keep us from spending time together. Hubby commutes approximately 160 miles roundtrip at least four days a week. This means he spends about three hours of driving a day and then typically doesn’t get home until almost 7 pm every evening. Luckily, I don’t have to deal with such a commute. However, my work schedule consists of 10 hour days. This also means I don’t get home until late as well. Our evenings after work consist of eating dinner, unwinding for about an hour and then off to bed so we can get up early and start our work day again.

Anyway, we decided to leave early Saturday morning and stay overnight at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City. Yes, I know … why would two adults want to spend time at a family and kids’ play place? Well, let me tell you … it was FUN! We spent the afternoon playing mini-golf while waiting for our room to be ready. And then once we got settled into our room, we changed into our bathing suits and hit the water park. We splashed at each other, rode on the waterslides together, played water basketball, and relaxed in their whirlpool. Being the typical Cancer water-sign, I loved being in my element. The rest of the evening was spent wandering about town. We had dinner at a quaint Italian restaurant downtown and then headed to the local movie theatre to watch “Superbad,” where we laughed our behinds off. After all the activity of the day, it’s no wonder we just crashed the minute our heads hit the pillow.

Even better that the water park adventure was our full body hour massage at the Elements Spa within the resort the next morning. (I have to add that the massage was a result of a bet that I won in regards to our trip to Chicago.) If you ever head up that way and decide to partake in a massage, make sure you ask for Theresa as she was excellent on working out the kinks in my neck, back and shoulders.

Then it was time to return home. But not without our quest to find the Wendy’s that specifically made Cherry Frosties in the midst of the Cherry Capital of the World. Any time we headed up to Traverse City, we made it a point to get one of them Frosties. But wouldn’t you know it … just like the Virgin Megastore in Chicago, the Cherry Frosty was no where to be found. Oh, the humanity ….

I’d love to tell you more about our lunch at Hooter’s (which was an adventure in itself), but I suppose I should quit rambling for now. If you’d like to see more pictures, feel free to click on the album below.

Dream Cruise Getaway

Comic Relief

So this past weekend, hubby and a good friend of ours made a trip to Chicago. The reason we went to Chi-town is to attend the 2007 Wizard World Comic Convention (a.k.a. The Chicago Comicon). We’ve made this (insert “Star”) trek every year for the past five years so that my favorite “fanboys” can get their fill of all things comic-related.

I usually go to the “Con” for at least one of the three days to check out what’s going on. Mostly it’s to check out all the latest toys, games, and movies coming out in the next year from major companies like Sony and Marvel. For hubby and our friend, it’s about the hunt to find those comics or graphic novels, statues or busts or any pop-culture related toy for a decent price. For hubby, it’s also about being able to participate in Heroclix tournaments.

For me … it’s all about the costumes. Where else can you see grown men in spandex bodysuits made to look like Superman or Spiderman? Some can pull it off, but the majority … well, I give them an “A” for having the guts (literally) to dress up. The cute ones definitely are the kids; who can resist an adorable Supergirl or cool-looking Cyclops? I just wish I could have seen a dog dressed up as Yoda or a cat dressed up like Puss-in-Boots.

As luck would have it … this year’s trip wasn’t strictly about Comics. While trying to find directions to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, I found out that the Midwest Stitches knitting convention was happening at the same time as the Comicon. Yes, definitely more up my alley. Aisle after aisle of beautiful luscious yarn, knitting “tools”, and embellishments. If they could only schedule their conventions EVERY year at the same time as the Comicon …

Well, we couldn’t very well be in Chicago without heading downtown or meeting up with some friends. The goal was to head to the Virgin Megastore off of Michigan Ave and then over to Lincoln Park to meet up with our friends for dinner. So we boarded the Blue Line at Rosemont only to find out that, since service was being done on the line, we couldn’t head directly downtown. Instead, we were ushered onto busses that would eventually take us to “The Loop“. After finally making it to the Magnificent Mile, we were disappointed to learn that the Virgin Megastore permanently closed … Oh, the humanity!

So then it was off to find the Red Line to take us to the Lincoln Park area. After a quick rest stop at the corner Starbucks for some intense “fanboy discussion,” we met up with friends to enjoy some great sushi. And because I had to get my fix of dessert somewhere, we made a stop for some home made ice cream. Eventually, we had to find our way back to the Blue Line in order to get back to Rosemont. Unfortunately, the only way we could get back to the Blue Line from the Lincoln Park area was to take another bus. And well, after being out and about all day long in quite warm weather (it was about 94 degrees outside during the day) … let’s just say being in a pretty crowded bus was not a quite comfortable experience. Once we got back onto the Blue Line, it was smooth sailing back to our hotel.

Overall, the trip to Chi-town was so much fun. Trips around town became major adventures. Conversations about every day life became interesting discussions about philosophy. While the main reason that we make the yearly trip is to head to the Comicon, it really was more about spending time with those friends who make life interesting.

To view more pics of our Chicago Adventure, click on the album below:

Chicago Comicon 2007

Ya Ya Sisterhood

Last week, I had the opportunity to go up to northern lower Michigan (oxymoron, I know … but Michigander’s would understand) to spend time with a few co-worker’s at one of their weekend houses. Her place is situated just west of Grayling right on the Manistee River. This is the third year in a row that I’ve went and it’s always such a wonderful time.

Despite the fact that I work with these people day in and day out and that I do feel pretty close to them , every year I find myself initially hesitant to go. Part of it is because I’m extremely close with my husband and, although he understands the need for “girly time,” I hate to be doing fun things without him. The other part is that sometimes I think that I’m not as in touch with my “female ya-ya sisterhood” side as most women are.

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I grew up as the only daughter in my family; the youngest of two with my brother being a couple years older than me. It was overall a sheltered environment; having been a first-generation Filipino-American and having gone through 12 years of Catholic school. Based on that bit of history, I feel many times that I grew up in two different worlds. There was the world of school; where most of my friends were caucasian and maybe never encountered another person of a different culture before. For example, I can recall being called “My Little Shogun” by one of my friend’s parents, as that Made-For-TV movie was quite popular when I was in grade school. How wrong is that? First of all, wrong ethnicity. Second of all, Shogun is typically reserved for a male military rank in the Japanese army. And being only 9 of 10 years of age at that time, how does one respond to that?

The other world was the Filipino Family and Friends world. These are the other Filipino kids that I’d hang out with whenever Filipino social events would be thrust upon us. They were probably the only other people that could relate to how it was like being the only “Asian” in our class, but none of them went to the same school as I did. Therefore, how could we fully support each other in social awkwardness if we didn’t even run in the same social circles outside of these Filipino events?

Having lived in the two separate worlds has made it difficult to get close to someone … anyone. I think maybe that’s the reason that I feel very guarded when meeting people for the first time. Heck, it’s probably the reason I don’t feel comfortable telling people my deepest darkest fears. It would’ve been nice though, to have that type of person growing up. To experience what it would be like to be really close to another female person. To experience some sort of sisterhood.

I’d say the closest I ever felt to feeling that sisterhood was growing up with my three female cousins (all sisters) in London, Ontario. There are many summers and holiday breaks that I can recall staying at each other’s houses for weeks at a time. During those times we would do just about everything together. But the older I got, the more difficult it was to maintain such a closeness. Life and distance just got in the way. We just couldn’t spend as much time together as we used to, especially once we graduated from high school. Now the only time we tend to talk to one another is at big family events like weddings. But whenever I see the three of them together, I can’t help but feel just a tad jealous that, despite their ages and the distance between them all, they still manage to remain close. They still manage to have that bond of sisterhood.

So it’s that lack of “sisterhood experience” that initally made me hesitant to head up north with my female co-workers. Would I be socially awkward in situations? Would I commit a social faux pas? Would I snore too loudly or make other embarrassing sounds of bodily function? And because I’ve been emotionally bursting at the seams for the past few years, would one conversation about how infertility has affected my life throw me into embarrassing sobs?

Well, it turns out I did turn into a blubbering idiot that weekend. And even though I was initially embarrassed by my uncontrollable sobs or my rants and raves about work issues, I eventually felt more and more relaxed around them. I think there will always be a part of me that feels that I missed out on the female-bonding experience, especially while growing up. However, making that trip “up north” and talking to these girls has made me feel more aware that I do have them opportunity to experience sisterhood … I just got to take that leap.

To see more photos of the weekend, click below:

Girl’s Weekend