My Tribe

One Year Old

A year ago today, I was traveling from Chicago to to have a “Wicked” cousin weekend. The three US cousins joined up with the three Canadian cousins on my Dad’s side to watch the musical “Wicked” at the Canon Theatre in Downtown Toronto.

While on the stretch of 401 that connects Windsor to Toronto, I received a phone call from Dr. Bro. “We’re in L&D,” he told me. “Dr. SIL will be delivering Baby Em tonight.”

It was a shock for everyone, since Baby Em was technically not due for another week. But due to pre-eclampsia, Baby Em would be born that night. So shortly before midnight, a year ago today, Emilia Grace … my first blood-related niece … was born.

Today, my Mom and I are in Dallas, celebrating Emilia’s first birthday. It’s been a wonderful day filled with love and laughter, and sounds of children’s excited little voices. We’ve also heard the sounds of Emilia’s little feet as she crosses the room, walking on her own for only the 6th day of her life.

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I’ve had the chance to watch her “blow out” her candles and devour her birthday cake with such “finesse.” I’ve even had the chance to watch her “open” her gifts and be surprised with what she found. And it has been an absolute joy to be around her; surrounded by those who adore her unabashedly.

As the night winded down, Emilia’s family — her Mom & Dad, her Grammy & Great-Grammy, and her Lola & Auntie Em — found themselves around the coffee table, feet up and relaxing after such an activity-filled day. At one moment, we all sat quietly, relishing the serenity that descended unto the house. I, myself, felt content with the world; happy in the moment.

It was at that moment I knew that Lolo Medi had come to wish Emilia a Happy Birthday.

Happy 1st Birthday, Emilia Grace. You are loved and cherished by those who surround you.

Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage

There’s this phone commercial on TV that makes me sick every time I watch it.

I mean, yeah … it makes me so mad, but it really produces this awful awful lump in my throat.

Well here. Let me know what you think:

I swear … I get so angry that it makes me want to smack the living daylights out of this woman!

Okay, so the guy does appear to look rather — ahem — nerdy. But as I look at the other things surrounding the commercial, it appears to me that he is a guy that would do anything for his family. And his wife.

For example, unless the woman is a self-made millionaire who can afford a greenhouse separate from the house … who do you think agreed have one built on their property? The husband.

Who apparently encourages her to enjoy her own gardening past time? The husband.

And yet, this wife apparently has no respect for him.

I don’t know about you … but I could never be that disrespectful to the person I vowed to love and honor for the rest of my life.

Hubby & I arrive at Hogwarts!

But maybe that’s exactly it. Maybe there are couples out there that act like that around each other. And maybe that’s why watching this commercial makes me sick; because I would hate knowing that there are people out there that may be married (or may stay married) and treat each other with such disrespect.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that people can “fall out of love” with one another. And I can understand that there are certain circumstances in a person’s life that would make a person marry (or stay in an unhappy marriage) for something other than love. I can also understand why certain circumstances can lead a couple to divorce.

What I don’t understand is how a person can just be downright disrespectful to someone else; circumstances or none. You can hate the situation you currently find yourself in, but don’t blame (or hate) anyone else for your current situation but your own self. And certainly don’t disrespect someone just to spite them.

I guess this commercial gets me so riled up because I can’t see myself ever acting that way with my Husband. Okay, I admit that I may have occasional disrespectful thoughts, but: 1) I would never ever say them out loud and in front of him, and 2) they’re literally fleeting thoughts that quickly get dismissed when I realize exactly how much Hubby means to me.

If there’s one thing that Hubby & I have gotten right in our life together is that we have a good solid marriage. While I don’t mean to be arrogant by making that statement, I do know that we’ve heard from other couples … other friends, that the two of us together are a great couple.

But here’s the thing. Although we appear to be such a great couple to people we come in contact with … keeping our marriage together is not an easy task.

Marriage is hard. And it’s definitely not something you can dismiss lightly with a passive-aggressive statement like, “Mother was right. I should have married John Clark.” It takes a lot of patience, understanding and mutual respect for one another to make things work. And it especially takes honest and open communication / open dialogue to keep the marriage working.

15 Years of Marriage and still in love ...

I can’t dismiss the fact that Hubby & I (as college sweethearts) have grown into our marriage together; and therefore haven’t experienced some of the things that a couple married later in life (and likely with more “dating” experience) has. But I do know that past experiences can affect how one may react while in current and/or future relationships.

But I also can’t dismiss that Hubby & I have also gone through our own experiences that have challenged our marriage in many ways.

Think about how we found out that we couldn’t have children the “traditional” way.

Think of the risks we took trying to finance infertility treatments that only had a certain percentage of working.

Think about the decision we made to move to Chicago and now the decision to move back to Detroit.

Think of the roller-coaster of emotions it took to finally come to the decision to live child-free. Or the emotions of having to deal with the unexpected death of a parent.

Now imagine what our marriage would be like if we didn’t love and respect one another. If we didn’t have honest and open dialogues. Think of how hard it would be to go through everything we did without having each other’s back.

So yeah, I think that’s why that commercial makes me sick. And I hope that I’m not the only one out there that feels the same way …

So what do you have to say, oh Internets? What do you think of this commercial? What are your thoughts about marriage?

Resolution of Happiness

Apparently, even after 25 years to this day, Emily the Groupie is not dead.

Oh yes, everyone … Emily apparently has some life in her just yet. At least after this past weekend, anyway. And what a weekend it was.

It started out innocently enough. Hubby & I drove to our Chicago apartment on Thursday night, knowing that we were going to see my favorite band, INXS perform Friday night at a casino just 20 minutes outside of the city center. As we drove around the parking garage Friday evening, Hubby pointed out the freight elevator at the far end of the structure. And as I looked over, we both noticed that the large elevator door was opening.

It was kind of a surreal moment, watching this group of people step out of the freight elevator; it almost appeared as if they were moving in slow motion. Actually, as I think about it now … it reminded me of the beginning of the 1982 “Don’t Change” video. What I hadn’t noticed — initially, anyway — was that it happened to be all the members of INXS. When it finally dawned on me, I was too stunned to do anything but smile and wave at them from inside our car. And I managed to get a big grin and wave from a couple of them.

Now … why didn’t I do the original “groupie” thing and jump out of the car at that time? I’m not sure. I think it was likely because I suddenly felt shy; felt intimidated by them. Which is ridiculous, right? Seeing that I managed to track them down a couple of times in my youth.

Except now, I was older. I had experienced things since those younger days. I was brave back then; not intimidated by doing silly things, not afraid to be different or unique in front of other people. Now … after experiencing sadness and disappointment, I had become afraid of rejection … of being laughed at or singled out.

I’d say that all of that sadness and disappointment and rejection (and not to mention, feeling isolated and and certainly singled out) came from my experience from Infertility, but the truth is, such emotions can come from a culmination of things. I say this now … after wrapping up my IF journey … only because when looking at everything that happened over the past year (loss of a job, birth of another new family member which didn’t come from me, the sudden loss of a parent, etc), I’ve felt every single one of those same emotions I did when in the depths of Infertility depression. Just not as intense.

Why am I telling you all this as I’m referencing my younger “groupie” days? Well, it goes back to that initial encounter in the parking garage before the show. And my mind telling me — based on my past experiences of sadness and isolation — that I would just be making more of a fool of myself be putting myself in the position to be possibly rejected.

My husband chided me for not “running” after them; saying that I should have been more aggressive. And it’s because of him that after the concert (and knowing exactly where the band would be exiting the venue) I found myself running up to the band and asking for a quick picture with them. While I originally got the standard “The band needs to hit the road” comment from their snooty band manager, two of the members took the time to take a picture with me. So yes … I was elated. And I felt myself gain a little more confidence in myself.

So flash-forward to the next day in Detroit, MI. (Yes … we did buy tickets for both locations. Don’t judge! ) After passing the band’s tour buses twice on I-94 back to our home in metro Detroit, we headed down to the Fox Theater for another night of great music. (In fact, if you ask my opinion … I’d say their Detroit performance superceded the Chicago show.) But seeing that I was in such a “lucky” streak, we took a couple of the band’s older vinyl records and an old photo from my first encounter with the band to get autographed.

At the end of the show (and with the little confidence I gained from my most recent encounter), Hubby and I hung around the back of the theater waiting for the band to surface. However; unlike the previous night where I had them all to myself, there was a crowd of other fans lingering around.

“Never gonna happen,” I thought; but since Hubby kept egging me on, we persisted.

Really, I only wanted one person’s signature. I wanted Andrew Farriss, the brains behind the band, to sign a photo of myself with my brother & LJC next to Michael Hutchence. I wanted that particular picture signed because — while Hutch was the main focus in this picture — the picture caught Andrew sitting quietly on a curb behind us in the background. To me, it’s such a serendipitous shot; especially since Hutch, Andrew’s songwriting partner and best mate, was always out front. While Andrew, the shy genius always avoided the spotlight. Since Hutch was no longer around, it just seemed appropriate that I try to get Andrew to sign my favorite photo. Besides, although I fancied Hutch to the nth degree … I secretly had a thing for Andrew; knowing that if we ever crossed paths and became friends, we’d have a lot more in common than I would ever have with Hutch.

I still had my doubts that I’d ever get that signature … especially since Andrew wasn’t one that liked crowds. That, and the little confidence I had from earlier seemed to be dwindling by the minute. But just as I was about to throw in the towel, I spotted an old HS friend who’s sister took us to one of the last INXS shows before “Kick” blew up. I think all of us had the same thought: that we’d never get the chance to talk to them. But now that I had friends to talk to, it made it worth my while to stay. In fact, within a half hour or so the tour buses left … as did the remaining crowd surrounding the theater.

Hubby had then left me alone conversing with old friends to get our car from the structure. While waiting for Hubby arrived with the car, HS friend and I stood talking amongst ourselves. A few moments later we noticed a flutter of activity next to us. HS friend nudged me and said, “There he is!” And a few feet in front of me stood Andrew Farriss. Stunned, but unwilling to allow myself to freeze up again — fearing that I’d be rejected again — I quickly walked up to him and told him my story about why I wanted this particular picture signed by him. And graciously, Andrew signed it.

Unfortunately, no stunning conversation or spark of friendship ever occurred from that encounter. Yet I felt extremely lucky and … happy. It’s something I’m just now realizing I wouldn’t allow myself to feel since the passing of my father 8 months prior. Even back then, I was only starting to allow happiness back in my life after a sh*tty year and after years of unresolved Infertility issues.

My happiness was something that apparently my Hubby noticed later that night. He smiled at me as I told him the story of what happened when he had left to pick up the car. When I finished he turned to me and said, “See? There’s the Emily that I remember. The one that I fell in love with the day we met.”

While I know our love is stronger now than it ever was back then, I couldn’t help but reflect on Hubby’s comment. I couldn’t help but remember who I was back before Infertility came into my world; before experiencing sadness and disappointment. And what I recalled was — despite teenage hormonal tendencies — I was a happy, free-spirit who loved meeting new people. And I loved having fun while experiencing new things. I was confident and daring; and I didn’t care what anybody thought of me.

And even though it had taken awhile to surface this past weekend, I realized a part of that Emily still existed inside. I understood that I could still be that same person I was so many years ago. I recognized that — despite thinking that the “groupie” part of me died many years ago — I was still, and will likely always be “Emily the Groupie.”

*****

Related Posts:

Hello. Meet Emily the Groupie

Uhm … what’s my favorite band again?

Oh, Hutch … why? Why?!

Needing INXS tonight …

(Pssst … look over to the right for some awesome concert pics! –> )


 

Go Fourth … And Be Happy

First of all, Happy Birthday, USA !!!

And second … Really? It’s July 4th already? When did half the year slip away? It’s been a crazy couple of months here in ApronStringsLand. Busy with work, busy with traveling. And — I’m not gonna deny it — busy in the emotional end of things.

Yesterday marked 7 months since my Dad unexpectedly passed away; a feeling I’m still trying to come to grips with. Everybody has said that it will get better as time passes, but it seems to me that I feel more emotionally drained as the days go by.

This past week, Dr. Bro came into town. Amidst the hectic schedule I’ve had for work, plus the added pressure of being at a local onsite hospital this past week … I had been just a leeetle stressed.

Okay. A lot stressed. Especially given that I knew this was looming over my head this past Tuesday.

But the real reason Dr. Bro came into town was to surprise the “little” cousins (who aren’t so little any more … they made me a margarita, for Pete’s sake!) who had organized a pre-4th celebration to coincide with the local city’s fireworks. He wanted to be here to be with Dad’s side of the family; to spend time with us, because — if he’s feeling anything like I am — he wanted to feel closer to Dad. Unfortunately, he could only stay for two nights; and the second night had been for the party.

It was a glorious night; spent barbecueing at my Aunts’ backyard … which just happens to be next to a lake.  Oh, and did I mention that they just happen to be located behind the park where the fireworks are held every year? Needless to say, we had the best seat in the city! The family had a blast, especially the cousins who were able to eat (and — ahem — drink) to our hearts’ content.

Afterwards, on the drive home I suddenly felt this wave of sadness take over. The best way I can describe it is the melancholy I would feel in my youth (and even to this day) whenever I had to say good-bye to out-of-town family after spending a wonderful amount of time (a weekend or even an entire vacation) with them. I’d suddenly feel lonely and wish we could stay together forever.

I chalked most it up to the fact that I got to spend such little time with Dr. Bro this time around. He spent his one full day helping Mom search for a new car, while I had to work at an onsite location the entire day. And since I had to work again the next day, we would have no chance to spend any quiet time alone.

The other part I chalked up to missing my Dad. After all, I think he would have totally gotten a kick out of the “cousins” doing the cooking and the serving; would have loved to see us kick back and have such relaxing fun together. Which, of course, had me spilling some tears for a bit.

Flash forward to yesterday … Mom, Hubby & I went to church and then to the cemetery to bring some flowers and visit Dad. I knew that Dr. Bro had visited him the day after our party; which I can only imagine was a toughy. (At least I live closer and can visit Dad more often.)

What I hadn’t expected was to see pictures of my niece, Emilia Grace, taped to my Dad’s gravestone. And the minute I saw the picture of my Dad holding his granddaughter, I fell to tears. I knew how much my Dad loved kids, so seeing that picture broke my heart; especially since we all knew that he’d never be able to physically hold his grandchild and play with her.

And, although these days I try very hard to let my Infertility get the best of me … seeing that picture also reminded me that I was never was able to give him the grandkids that both my parents deserved. And if I did have any kids, he would have had at least a good 13 years to spend with them before he died. But instead, he only got to see and hold his one grandchild a few days after her birth … and then three weeks later, he was gone.

I know that a lot of these emotions are stemming from the fact that my birthday is coming up. And that it follows an unfulfilled wedding anniversary date and yet another major holiday. But really … when does this get better? When can I finally see more bits of happiness than shades of blue?

My Favorite Song This Time Last Year

Day Thirty – My Favorite Song This Time Last Year:

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been 30 days of posting songs and videos on my blog. Okay … so I’ve interspersed a few posts in between the 30-Day Song Challenge, but they were for good reasons. At least I think they were.

Regardless, this now means I get to post another NaBloPoMo badge on my “Badges of Honor” page. Woo-frickin’-hoo!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed following along with my music posts. As you can probably gather by now, music has always played a big part in my life. Somehow, I can’t see my life being complete without having a song in my head and in my heart.

But today, really is about the last song I need to name. I have a hard time remembering what I ate last night, let alone trying to remember what song I liked this time last year. I mean, give me a break … I’m getting senile in my older years. Especially since I have a birthday coming up this week.

So instead, I’m posting my favorite song once again. Except this time, I actually had time to put a video together for myself. So enjoy the slideshow below … as the description I added on YouTube says, this video is:

A photographic tale of my personal relationship with Hubby & with kids … and the fact that we can’t have any of our own. Resolving that part has been hard on us, but now we know … “Apron Strings can be used for other things than what they’re meant for.” But I would like to think that other persons (whether they’re kids or not … ) can still be happily “wrapped in my Apron Strings.”

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What is with this 30-day song challenge?

What was yesterday‘s song?

 

A Song From My Childhood

Day Twenty-Nine – A Song From My Childhood:

I’m not sure why I always think of this song whenever I reflect back on my childhood. I could probably bring up a ton of songs from my younger years, thanks in part to my parents’ own love of music. Or I could bring up some old storybook songs that my parents used to play on our record player.

Yes, oh younger ones, that’s what us older kids had for on-demand entertainment back in the day. No VCR’s back then, and TV programming that was dictated by the TV stations.

Which is probably where I remember seeing “Yellow Submarine” for the first time.

But really, the reason this song has such a firm grasp in the recess of my mind is because of this memory I have of singing this song with my parents in various locations. I remember singing it at home on the mornings or afternoons when Mom would put some Beatles on the record player. And I remember singing this song in our old station wagon while my Dad played his 8-tracks on those road trips to London, Ontario (or even that famed trip down to Disneyworld in the late ‘70’s).

So now every time I hear this song, I remember singing this song at the top of my 5-year old lungs and having such a blast with my parents.

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What is with this 30-day song challenge?

What was yesterday‘s song?

A Song That Makes Me Feel Guilty

Day Twenty-Eight – A Song That Makes Me Feel Guilty:

Once upon a time when Emily was a young lass of twelve, her brother brought home a cassette tape by the Violent Femmes. The emerging 80’s alterative music lover (thanks in part to her older brother’s taste in music) loved the infectious songs recorded on that now-classic album.

There was one particular song that cracked 12-yr old Emily up every time she heard it. It was a song that her brother loved to play over and over again, just to get a rise out of his “baby sister.”

One fine day, while blasting out the Violent Femmes’ “Add It Up” on the stereo system, the siblings’ mother came rushing into the room. She pressed the stop button on the cassette tape player and then took it out of the stereo system. She then proceeded to throw said cassette tape down on the ground and smash it with one stomp of her heel.

From that day forward, every time Emily hears that song … she can’t help but feel just a tad guilty.

The other part of her looks back at that memory and GRINS. Because really … how smart were those two siblings to play such a song in front of their mother?

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What is with this 30-day song challenge?

What was yesterday‘s song?

Who knew that one day we'd be delinquents in our Mom's eyes?

 

Forty-Two

A week after my Dad passed away last December, my Mom told me that there was this phone message from the local CVS store left for my Dad. She had said that the caller stated that some photo my Dad had sent in for “restoration” would take a little longer than they had originally thought; that it might be a few weeks more.

Mom had told me this because she wasn’t aware that my Dad was having a photo “restored” and wondered if I knew anything about it. Which I had not.

Flash forward to late March of this year. In preparation for her taxes, Mom had stopped by CVS on the way home to get a record of her medication costs for 2010. While she was there, Mom suddenly remembered the phone message she received back in December, so she decided to stop by the photo section. She spoke to the technician there who had told her, “Yes, we were wondering what happened. He was insistent on getting the picture done as soon as he could. And then we never heard from him.”

After my Mom explained what had happened, the photo technician was so surprised. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “In fact, we were just about ready to call back again.”

When Mom took the photo out of the envelope, this is what she saw:

Yesterday would have been their 42nd Wedding Anniversary. And I’m sure my Mom’s heart felt broken yet once again. Because I know that I’m missing my Dad every single minute of every single day.

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad. You might not physically be by each other’s side … but I know in spirit, you are.

 

A Song I Want Played At My Funeral

Day Twenty-Four – A Song I Want Played At My Funeral:

It started a few years ago … probably even longer. Come to think of it, Hubby &I probably started to have discussions about what song we’d want to have at our own funerals shortly after we had seen “Love, Actually” when Liam Neeson’s character plays “Bye Bye, Baby” by the Bay City Rollers at his recently-deceased wife’s funeral service.

When Hubby’s grandmother passed away in January of 2008, Hubby’s family had asked him to put together a slide show that they could take with them back to the Philippines, where his “Nanay” would finally placed at rest. But when you have a slide show, you must have accompanying music to go with the slide show, right? So Hubby & I had come up with a handful of songs to place on this DVD slide show: “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion was an obvious choice. We also threw in Boyz II Men’s “A Song For Mama” for good measure. (That song gets me every time!)

A few months after that project was completed, Hubby told me about a song that came up on digital music library. He had been missing his Nanay when Rob Thomas’ “Now Comes The Night” came on. It was a song, he said, that was perfect to play at a funeral.

A Hard Day ... Last quiet moment together as a family

Of course, I had to listen to the song right away … and when I did, I couldn’t help but think the same thing. Because, as sad as the song sounded, the lyrics were hopeful and uplifting.

In fact, it’s a song I can listen during the days when I miss my Dad the most. Because it reminds me that – even though he’s not physically here next to me – he’s still with me in spirit.

So this would be the song that I’d like to be played at my own funeral … I want those family and friends to feel comforted that I will still be with them, looking over them in the best way that I can.

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What is with this 30-day song challenge?

What was yesterday‘s song?

 

A Song I Played At My Wedding

Day Twenty-Three – A Song I Played At My Wedding:

One of the movie dates Hubby & I went on when we were still dating was Aladdin. We had loved the humor of the movie so much (not to mention what cuteness occurred during our showing of the movie) that it quickly became a favorite of ours.

A few months later, in one of my rare displays of creativity … I surprised Future-Hubby with a nice romantic picnic on the floor of my dorm room. And since the movie was no longer in the theaters, I happened to find all the makings of an Aladdin-themed picnic for a very modestly cheap, “I’m a broke college student”-type price. To this day, Hubby & I look back on that “date” with such fond memories.

When it came time to plan our wedding, Hubby & I had no intention of having anything but your standard, middle-class Filipino-American reception. We never thought that we’d associate a theme with our wedding. But in another one of my rare displays of creativity (Hubby’s the one with the Fine Arts Degree … not me!), the thought of doing something around an Aladdin theme came to mind. And luckily, Hubby thought the idea was also brilliant.

So … here’s what we did to make our wedding unique. First off, Hubby wanted to design our wedding invitations; which, in 1996 was not a very common thing to pull off. Second, we decided that our wedding favors would be in the shape of Aladdin’s magic lamp and contain pieces of candy inside of it. Thirdly … we wanted to use a musical porcelain figurine of Aladdin & Jasmin on the Magic Carpet as our cake topper. And finally, the fact that the figurine could wind up and play “A Whole New World,” which we decided would be our “First Dance” song … well that was the icing on the cake (both literally and figuratively).

And that’s the song (one of many songs played that night) that we had at our wedding.

Here’s a video (seen on the Aladdin DVD) of how the song came to be …

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What is with this 30-day song challenge?

What was yesterday‘s song?

Other Related Strings

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