Projecting

“Of course I care. To a certain extent we all care, but we can’t care to the point that we live in fear of others’ opinion, that we allow them to change who we are. We must be willing to stand up and defend what represents the very core of our being. Otherwise what is the purpose of individuality? We’d be nothing but imitations of each other, and I daresay we’d all be rather boring.” ~ Lorraine Heath, In Bed with the Devil

I got into a fight with someone whom I have known for almost ten years now.  I was very close with this person (R) and told this person many things about myself.  Through the course of my friendship with R, I also shared my frustrations and complaints about various areas of my life.

I met up with R during my trip to Greece.  R was kind enough to accompany me as a quasi tour guide as I made my way through various locales in Greece.  On the second to last day, we had walked around Plaka, the area beneath the Parthenon.  R took me to one of Athen’s most famous bars, and we ended the evening with a few cocktails.

During the walk back to my hotel, we started to discuss mutual connections.  R gave an opinion about one of my friends, J, and opined that J may be lying about her situation so that I would pity her and be more sympathetic towards her.  I did not agree with R about this assessment of J’s character and I said as much.  R then opined about another friend, P, who also happens to be R’s sister, and said that P, as well as J, makes excuses about their past and their current lives, and that they do not own up to their actions.  R went on to say, “Actually you do as well.  You also make excuses for your past.  You never own up to why your marriage failed, and instead make excuses.”  I told R that I really was not in the mood to hear any opinions about my past, especially considering that I did not agree with how a particular situation was handled in R’s own life.  Suffice it to say, in retrospect, both R and I were not particularly open-minded or welcoming about opinions regarding our lives, but sensitive words were exchanged.  I told R to stop and that I didn’t want to hear any more.  R has known me well, and knows how hard I already am on myself, for everything in my life, especially my past.  But for some reason, R felt the need to express every judgment, and was even quite adamant that I hear every last negative assessment of me, despite my requests that the discussion be dropped.  I started to become angry, and I felt very insulted that R chose to tell me and insist to tell me during my vacation how screwed up I am.  I simply lost the desire to continue my remaining time of my vacation with R, so I became dismissive and told R that I could continue the rest of my vacation alone.

Whether or not R’s assessment of my life is correct is not the point.  I was on vacation.  I took time off from work to get away from my life, not to face whatever issues R thought I had to face.  I read somewhere that most people who are so judgmental are actually projecting how they feel about their own lives.

Time for Silence

“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.” ~ Gloria Naylor, The Women of Brewster Place

I am learning that no matter how you feel or what you say, people are going to do what they want to do.  It is everyone’s right to do what they feel is best for themselves.  No doubt, I have always danced to my own tune and have not allowed anyone’s energy or rhythm to interrupt my own movements, so why would I try to interrupt or throw someone else off balance just because I don’t like or agree with the way they are moving?

But what if we see that they are about to fall?  What if [we think] we see that they are about to fall flat on their face and that they are taking a leap (of faith) that is surely only going to bring them to their knees?

I guess the best way to show your support is to stay quiet, hold your breath, wish for the best, and hope that they prove you wrong, and if in the event you are right, you hold your tongue and help them pick themselves off the floor until they can dance with their own two legs again.

From Lovers to Friends

“Why are old lovers able to become friends? Two reasons. They never truly loved each other, or they love each other still.” ~ Whitney Otto, How to Make an American Quilt

It was eighteen years ago when we were together.  Much has happened since then.  He is now married and has two daughters.  I have been married and divorced, and I now have a daughter.  We have seen each other several times over the course of the last eighteen years, but this past July, at our annual international tournament, was the first time that we had an opportunity to be alone and really talk to and spend time with each other.

We slipped easily into conversation, and it was as though we had never lost touch, had never been separated by time and distance, and had never broken each other’s hearts.  I realized then how I had fallen in love with him eighteen years ago.  He is funny, smart, charming, well skilled at martial arts, and there is a level of comfort that I feel with him that I do not usually have with others.  Many people have asked me how I can be so friendly with him, an ex who had lied to me the entire time we were together, and who in essence had made me an unknowing mistress.
I suppose the answer is that I really do not know how.  All I know is that in many ways, I trust him.  I know that because he has already hurt me and has tried throughout the years to undo the hurt that he caused me, I feel as though I can trust him to not do it again.  Maybe this time, there are no stakes, and I can be friends with him freely, without expectation, and without hope for anything more.  Maybe what I feel for him is what true love really means, or maybe, what he and I had eighteen years ago was not really love, but just a friendship that had been taken to a place where it should never have gone.

California Trip; Series of Unfortunate Events

“Why don’t you go on west to California? There’s work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why, there’s always some kind of crop to work in. Why don’t you go there?” ~ John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

So much has happened since my last entry.  The biggest event that happened was that G and I, along with my cousin, C, took a quick trip out west to California in April.  We went to visit my cousin, Ivy, and her three young sons. She was widowed last year when she came home from work one evening to find her husband dead in their bed.  It was tragic, and even more so as she was at that time twenty weeks pregnant with their third child.She was featured on The Talk.  Her tragic story can be viewed here:

She has been extremely strong in the face of extreme loss and tragedy, and her faith in God has never wavered.  I salute her, as I have crumbled in lesser challenges.Our main purpose for visiting California was of course to visit my cousin and offer whatever support we could give, even if just emotional, and despite the rather grey circumstances, we ended up having an amazing time.  It was nice to reconnect with my cousin, and it was nice for G to to spend some time with her cousins.Ivy and her sons live in what I call Central California, somewhere in between Los Angeles and San Diego. Although I lived in California when I was younger, I had never been to San Diego.  As such, we took a side trip to San Diego and met with some blog friends who I have “known” since 2003.  It was our first meeting. I already love these friends, but it was so special to finally see them in person after over a decade of online friendship.Here is a little video collage of our trip:

This month of May has been challenging.  Earlier in the month, I had made it my mission to take G to a particular park to get a view of the Manhattan skyline sunset.  While I was able to make it to that park, I was not able to leave in style.  My car got a flat tire as I was leaving the park, and it took over an hour to finally get the spare tire (donut) installed.

As I was driving home, wouldn’t you believe it, but then the spare got a flat!  Unbelievable bad luck and timing.  Fortunately, I was able to catch the favor and grace of a friend who came to my rescue.The following week, on Mother’s Day actually, I started to feel very ill.  I was at the tire place getting my brand new tire installed and my wheels aligned when I felt as though I was going to faint.  I made it home just in time before I collapsed into my bed with a high-grade fever.I was incapacitated and delirious for the next three days.  I was so weak, I could barely even sit up in my bed.  Poor G.  I couldn’t even take her to school on that Monday.  I did not make it back into my office until that Thursday.

In the middle of all that chaos, I had a falling out with a friend.  Prior to my becoming ill, she had asked me to borrow some money for another crisis she was having with her family overseas.  She has a history of constantly borrowing money, and as usual, she promised to pay me back as soon as humanly possible.  I reluctantly agreed to lend her some money, but then I had become deathly ill, and so my promise to lend her money was soon forgotten.I did not hear from her during the entire time I was sick, but I finally contacted her when I was recovered enough to make contact again with the public.  She responded with a text telling me that she was angry at me for not lending her the money when she needed it, and I told her that I had fallen very ill, and that I had totally forgotten about the issue.  She was still angry and she said that I was mean for saying yes but not following through with it.  I then reminded her that she in fact was still in debt to me for a few thousand dollars, and that she really had no right to be so angry with me.  She responded that she was tired of me hanging her debt over her head and that being my friend was “exhausting.”I was in no mood for her text rants and ended it by saying that I was done with her “friendship” as well, and that her conscience should tell her how much she should pay me back.  She owes me close to five thousand dollars.  I have a feeling I will never see that money ever again.

It is never a good feeling to end a “friendship” no matter how real or true it is, but I feel good that I am finally moving on from a relationship/friendship that was so toxic.

Aiza

“When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever —there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.” ~ John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany 

I first met Aiza in early 2004 on Xanga.  Through our public blogs, we shared each other’s thoughts and feelings, and we had formed a unique friendship. We met once in person, in the winter of 2006, when she came to visit New York City from San Francisco.  We celebrated her visit to the East Coast by having dinner at the legendary Lucky Cheng’s drag restaurant.  We both agreed that the food was sub-par, but the highlight of the evening was the drag entertainment.  After dinner, we walked through the city, and we promised that we would see each other again.  
She had been diagnosed with lupus before I had even met her.  Much of her blog was about her condition, her struggle to remain healthy, her frustrations and achievements in attaining her Ph.D. in Biology, her lab and research experiences, and her quest to find that one special guy.  
Throughout the years, we had remained in touch, mostly through our blogs and through Facebook.  I find it amazing that we live in an age where you can find true friendship online.  She even frequently commented here on this site (Cathe311), and although she no longer blogged as frequently as she once did, she often left very insightful posts on her Facebook which all her friends appreciated. 
Aiza passed away on January 24, 2016 due to complications from lupus. Although I had only ever seen her in person once, I miss her presence very much.
This is an excerpt from her eulogy:

At the time of her passing Aiza was in the final stages of finishing her PhD.  Aiza was a great wife, an outstanding mother, strong daughter, caring sister, auntie, cousin and wonderful friend.  Despite knowing she was diagnosed at a young age with lupus, Aiza was very appreciative and also aware of how extremely precious life is. She never took a day for granted and she was always willing to try and share her experiences with her family and loved ones whether it was traveling, dining out at new places, or even trying extreme adventurous hobbies such flying or jumping out of planes, and even spontaneously wanting to travel around the world. Yet, she was also able to make time to be with her family and many friends. Additionally, her scientific achievements will also continue to help contribute to the future of science.

Her poem:

Pieces of Hope
by Aiza Cathe Alejandro Go

I’ve tried to build my character
Instead, I’m beginning to shatter
Failures, death, complications
What else is there to gain?
Before things can get better…
Do I have to go through so much pain?
Can’t get up, I’m down here on my knees
Searching for comfort…searching for peace.
Not knowing what to do…
I looked up at the sky
The perfect stillness of it
caused me to sigh
People must have turned to these stars
Hoping for an end to their misery
These stars must have witnessed
the pains, the sufferings, the needy
The stars seemed to pour light on me
It embraced me with so much force
I finally found pieces of hope..
It will help me throughout this course.

Rest in peace, my dear Aiza.  I love and miss you.

Beside Me

“Time that withers you will wither me. We will fall like ripe fruit and roll down the grass together. Dear friend, let me lie beside you watching the clouds until the earth covers us and we are gone.” ~ Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body

I dreamt that I was walking on the street with my friend, H. It was a stifling, hot day. The heat was making me very dizzy. I felt myself straining to take the next steps. Sure enough, as I took the next step, I fell down, face first into the pavement. I could not move. My legs and arms were like lead, and I could not even move my face. Fortunately, I had fallen onto the side of my face. H saw me fall, and she immediately got onto the ground and planted herself onto the pavement next to me. She positioned yourself so that she was facing me, and she was smiling, saying that it was a good idea to take a little break from walking in the heat. She did that, so that I would not be embarrassed because people were just standing there staring at me on the ground, and after a little while, I was finally able to get up, stand, walk away, and she and I went along on our merry way.

"No" is a Complete Sentence

“When we begin to set boundaries with people we love, a really hard thing happens: they hurt. They may feel a hole where you used to plug up their aloneness, their disorganization, or their financial irresponsibility. Whatever it is, they will feel a loss. If you love them, this will be difficult for you to watch. But, when you are dealing with someone who is hurting, remember that your boundaries are both necessary for you and helpful for them. If you have been enabling them to be irresponsible, your limit setting may nudge them toward responsibility.” ~ Henry Cloud, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No

I have a friend, JC, who is constantly in financial trouble.  The thing about financial problems is that they have a domino effect.  For her, it all started when she erred in the amount of exemptions she was claiming on her income taxes.  She was not aware of the repercussions until she was hit one year with an exorbitant tax liability.  It was a liability so heavy that she had to borrow money to get herself out of the financial hole.  From whom did she borrow money?  Me, of course, and our friend, M.

She managed to pay back the monies she owed to us, but then she got herself into another hole.  In her defense, she is the only breadwinner in a family full of deadbeats who somehow manage to get pregnant every year, and so she supports her family members, along with their poor offspring. Feeling sorry for her at the time, I lent her ten thousand dollars by taking out a cash advance on my credit card, as well as fifteen hundred cash from my own personal savings.  Again, she was able topay me back, albeit after two years, but she only paid back the principal amount, and left me with the interest amount, which I have been paying every month, and the fifteen hundred to eat and never see again.

Now, she is once again in another black hole.  The biggest hole yet.  Eviction proceedings have been instituted against her, and she must come up with about ten thousand dollars within thirty days or she will be evicted.  She came crying to me the other day asking me for help.  I feel sick about her situation, but I also feel angry.  I am angry that she gets herself in these situations, and then turns around and expects me and M to fish her out of her drowning waters.  She came to me to ask if I could pitch in and help her.  She was very close to having the full ten thousand, having borrowed another four thousand from M, and she wanted to know if I could come up with the rest.

I told her that I would lend her another two thousand dollars, but it did not come without a tongue lashing.  I feel angry that I felt as though I had to say yes, lest she be evicted.  I feel very put on the spot.  If I say no, she will get evicted, making me a terrible person.  If I say yes, it will be a never-ending cycle of M and I bailing her out from her financial ruin.

Reunion

I’m about to be reunited with family and friends in a short time. But this… this is the best reunion I’ve seen in a long time:

If you’ve already seen this (I’m sure everyone has already), it’s worth watching over and over, and if you haven’t, don’t miss it. It’s a true tale of love and friendship. I cried, as I always do when watching a love story.

Missing Moe

I miss you. I miss you more than I would have thought. Has it only been a year since you went away? I still can hear your voice in my head. I remember that I called you the week before you left us. I asked if I could visit you. You sounded so tired.

“Just call me before you come,” you said. You had just come home from the hospital and you needed your rest.

“I will,” I said.

I never did call you. I got tied up with the baby. I got busy doing other things. I got lazy. I made a promise to myself to visit you the next weekend. It would be Labor Day weekend and I would have had more time to spend with you.

It would be the last time that I would ever hear your voice. The following Friday, after I arrived in Maryland, I received the news that you had passed away.

“It can’t be,” I said to myself. “I was supposed to see you this weekend.”

You left, and I wasn’t even there to hold your hand one last time. I wasn’t there to tell you how great of a friend you were to me, and how I had always looked up to you when we were kids. I wanted to tell you again how courageous you were to have battled breast cancer for five years, and how you stayed courageous even as you were in remission and you were called a “survivor,” only to have it come back, and you fought valiantly, and even as you knew it was God’s will to call you home, you told us not to hate God, and your faith in Him never wavered. Most of all, I wish I had been there to just thank you for blessing my life with your friendship. You were and still are an amazing woman and friend.

I miss you, Moe.

Wednesdays at Tako Grill

It’s Wednesday night, and I am home at an unusually early hour. I’ve been working so much lately that I actually feel lost being home at this time. A few years ago, I would have known exactly where I would be at this time.
I went to Happy Hour with an old roommate of mine, P, a few weeks ago in Midtown. We used to live together in Maryland about five years ago. He now also lives and works in New York and is a friend from the Tako Grill days.
P and I, along with a group of friends, mostly from college, used to meet at Tako Grill every Wednesday night. It was our night to be with friends, and to eat, drink, and forget about our worries. It became a spontaneous routine. For many months, Wednesday night was always the best night of the week. It seemed that no matter what responsibilities we all had, we all seemed to make Tako Grill meetings a priority. Any why not? Good times with old friends should be top priority on everyone’s list.
Our Wednesday night happy hours lasted about six months. Eventually, work, family and life obligations took over, and quietly, the Wednesday night fun times ended without notice.
P and I agree that the Wednesday nights at Tako Grill were some of the best Wednesdays of our life.
If I could be anywhere right now at this time, I would be at Tako Grill with my Wednesday night gang.