Try Again Next Year

“The danger of motherhood – you relive your early self, through the eyes of your mother.” ~ Joyce Carol Oates, The Gravedigger’s Daughter

Belated Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, to all the mothers-to-be, to all the mothers of angel babies, and to all mothers who are struggling with infertility – you are all amazing.

My mom is in the Philippines, so I called her Saturday evening to greet her.  I wasn’t able to get through to her, but I did leave her a message on her phone.  By tonight (Sunday evening), I still have not been able to reach her.  It’s one of the many struggles of transatlantic communications – especially to a third-world country such as the Philippines.  While they are advanced technologically in the bigger cities like Manila, many of the outer provinces still have spotty telephone and internet service.  Unfortunately, the corruption in the government does not allow for a complete overhaul of the country’s infrastructure that is desperately needed.  There are still many areas even that do not have running water.

Surprisingly, the Philippines was one of the richest countries in Asia following WWII.  However, years of economic mismanagement and the corruption of the Ferdinand Marcos regime and martial law, led to the Philippines becoming one of the poorest in Asia.  Further economic stagnation and decline continued during the years even after Marcos due to political instability.  The country now largely survives on the money brought in by OFWs (overseas foreign workers), to the tune of approximately $31B/year.

My own mother’s day celebration was a bit of a disaster.  G had promised to make me breakfast, but in typical tweeny fashion, she wasn’t paying full attention, and was instead focusing on a video on her phone which she had placed on top of the kitchen counter, and she dropped a whole carton of eggs on the floor.  It took me nearly thirty minutes to fully clean up the gooey mess on the kitchen floor.  By then, I had lost my appetite, so I made oatmeal for us instead.

I took the opportunity to turn it in a lesson: Don’t half-ass anything in life.  Whatever you do, do it fully and with commitment.  

Lessons learned.  And, there’s always next year.

Texting

“As a medium, it’s safe to say, texting facilitates flakiness and rudeness and many other personality traits that would not be expressed in a phone call or an in-person interaction.” ~ Aziz Ansari, Modern Romance: An Investigation

My [lack of] texting etiquette may suggest that I am a rude person.  I’m not very good at responding to texts, and I’m not too keen on initiating them either.  I tend to leave people on “read” and generally take a long time to respond.

I am not like this because I am rude – I am like this because I haven’t quite [de]evolved to that level of social communication.

I grew up in the days of corded rotary phones.  I grew up during the time when phone calls during dinner were unimaginable, and phone calls placed before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m. were considered bad manners.

Nowadays, chances are slim that I can spend an entire meal with a friend uninterrupted.  I could be sitting with a friend, having a nice conversation and a nice meal together, and everything would come to a screeching halt because she would get a text that she absolutely “must answer.”  Maybe she would only spending a minute or less doing this, but oftentimes, this same urgency to respond to text messages would happen a few more times during the course of the meal, and before you know it, she would have spent at least a quarter of the time looking into her phone, rather than being completely present with me.

Sadly, this societal behavior is what is considered “normal” these days.

Technology has made it so that the person in front of you comes second (or third, or fourth) and significantly less important than whomever is texting you.

And it seems no one these days care about what time they text you.  As soon as a thought comes into their mind – BOOM! – they text you, and it could be 1:00 p.m. or 10:30 at night, or 4:00 in the morning.  And worse, some people expect an immediate answer from you.  It’s the world of instant gratification.

A while ago, I received an angry text from a friend.  She had taken the time to write out a few paragraphs on text about how she was disappointed in me, and how she never expected that I would be so unsupportive.  Um, excuse me?  I had read her text, and I was so confused that I immediately thought she had texted the wrong person.  So, I did what she never thought to do herself: pick up the damn phone and DIAL MY NUMBER AND TALK TO ME.

I called her and she answered.  I asked her straight out what the hell was she talking about?  She said that she had texted me a few months ago to let me know that she was expecting a baby, and she was angry and hurt that I never acknowledged her pregnancy.

What in the actual freak???  Since when do people give LIFE-ALTERING news over text?

I told her the truth, which was that I did not receive that text, and that if I had, I surely would have CALLED her to congratulate her.  I really don’t get it, man.  Texting sucks.  I think it was designed to be able to pass brief, concise information quickly, like when you’re outside waiting for someone to arrive, and that person texts you to let you know they are running late.  I don’t think it was really designed to carry entire relationships, which, quite sadly, is how I think people use it.

photo credit: google images

Social Media Envy

“If the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, you can bet the water bill is higher.” ~ Debbie Macomber, Mrs. Miracle

I deleted all of my social media accounts, with the exception of Twitter and Instagram.  I kept Twitter to read daily snippets of news, and Instagram because I genuinely enjoy looking at photography.  I no longer use the social functions of those applications, however.  I had found myself feeling pangs of envy whenever I was scrolling through friends’ pages.  While I was honestly feeling happy to read the successes of my friends, there was a part of me that had started to feel inadequate somehow.  My age group is particularly competitive.  Being at the lower end of middle-age, society demands a certain level of financial and relationship success.  We are middle-aged, so should we not already be stable financially, and should we not already be in at least a decade old relationship?  Most of my friends have socially enviable lifestyles, with their beautiful kids, beautiful homes, and beautiful cars.  While they drive through life with their Porsches, I literally and figuratively drive around in a Honda.  Scratch that.  I actually donated my nineteen year old Honda to Goodwill in January.  So actually I am going through life on foot, while everyone else is cruising through life in a Porsche.

Lest I sound like an ungrateful person, let me just say here and now that I am very grateful for what I have in my life.  I have a daughter who gives me love and happiness, and a purpose in life.  I have a job that I love, one that challenges me and allows me to live a comfortable life.  I have a family that gives me consistent headaches, but whom I love beyond words.  I have friends – amazing, extraordinary friends who have been with me through thick and thin, ride or die.  Really, I could not ask for more in life.

But social media is toxic.  It is like a poison that seeps through your skin, flows through your bloodstream, and before you know it, your thoughts are on fire and your self-esteem levels rise and fall according to the amount of likes and hearts you receive on your posts.

I decided that I did not want to live my life that way, constantly assessing the success of my life based on the number of new followers I gained, or on how many people “liked” my post.  And I no longer wanted to know that X bought another new and expensive accessory, or that Y was on her sixth lavish vacation this year.  Many of these X and Y people were not even really my friends. Most of them were just acquaintances, and many of them I had not seen or even spoken with for many, many years. So did I really need to know all this information about them?  The answer is no.  Although I am happy for everyone that their lives are all pomp & circumstance, while my daily life is rough and tumble, I do not need constant reminders.

All I can say is, now having deleted my social media accounts over half a year ago, ignorance really is bliss.  

19 Years

“That was the thing. You never got used to it, the idea of someone being gone. Just when you think it’s reconciled, accepted, someone points it out to you, and it just hits you all over again, that shocking.” ~ Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

Last week marked the nineteenth year since my sister died. She’s been gone almost as long as she was alive. I am sure there are some people who wonder if I still miss my sister, or if I still grieve for her. Admittedly, I no longer think of her every single day like I used to do for the first five years after she died, but I still miss her. Of course I still miss her. Birthdays and holidays are difficult. Whenever things are bad, I miss her.  Whenever things are really good, I miss her. When there is something funny to share, I miss her.  When I am depressed, I miss her. When I see something that she would have liked or even hated, I miss her. Whenever I hear certain songs from the 90s, I miss her. Whenever I think of my childhood, I miss her. So, yes, I still miss her. I do not miss her in the every day kind of way, but I miss her in the important kind of way – in the way that you feel empty in parts of yourself, like missing a limb or an eye, and you can still go on with your life, but you are forever changed.

Twenty Nineteen

“Where did feelings go when they disappeared? Did they leave a chemical trace somewhere in our minds, so that if we could look inside ourselves we would see via the patterns of neurons some of the important things that had happened to us in our lifetimes?” ~ Evelyn Lau, Inside Out: Reflections On a Life So Far

So, here I am.  Back again.  It is now 2019.  I cannot believe that the last time I was here was in 2017.

Much has changed since the last time I wrote.

For one, I am significantly older.  In many ways.  Physically, emotionally, mentally.  2018 was the year of growing up.  I left a great job in the early part of last year, and went on to an even better job.  The new job is challenging and has brought me to what I thought were my limits, but I have been able to shatter previous ceilings and reach for higher elevations.  It has been an exhausting but rewarding ride, and I have graduated to the next level of my career.

Last year was also the first time that I noticed the middle-aged pouch developing around my midsection despite my attempts at healthy eating and moderate exercise.  I had to step up my game, and so I decided to join a gym in October.  This week will be my third month, and I am proud to say that I have been able to workout at least three times a week.  So far, I have not lost any weight, but I feel better and my clothes fit nicely.  My posture has also improved, and the increased circulation seems to have brightened my complexion.

Mentally and emotionally, I have made significant strides.  I am less depressed and I feel more positive in general.  I have been battling bouts of depression my entire life, and I am sure that I will have those down cycles again, but for the moment, I am grateful that I am feeling good, and without any chemical help, thank you very much.  Consistent exercise and eating well have been effective at healing my mood swings, and I will do my best to stay on track.

For those of you who have been following me from the very beginning, my daughter, G, is turning twelve in March.  Remember how I used to call her Baby G?  Well, she is now Tweeny G.  She is almost as tall as I am. She is spunky, smart and quick-witted, and unfortunately for me, good with the clapbacks.  There have been moments when I have pictured strangling her for how she talks back to me, but deep down I am proud that she is a person who will not accept BS or abuse from anyone.

I promise that I will do better in coming back here as often as possible.  Please let me know if you are still around.  I hope to reconnect with all of you.  Cheers!

Unfinished

“It would be much better if I could only stop thinking. Thoughts are the dullest things. Duller than flesh. They stretch out and there’s no end to them and they leave a funny taste in the mouth. Then there are words, inside the thoughts, unfinished words, a sketchy sentence which constantly returns … It goes, it goes … and there’s no end to it. It’s worse than the rest because I feel responsible and have complicity in it. For example, this sort of painful rumination: I exist, I am the one who keeps it up. I.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea

I have about a dozen unfinished (and unpublished) entries on here.  I sign in quite often, write a few paragraphs, but then inevitably become distracted, get called away, or otherwise become unavailable (mentally and physically) to complete my thoughts.

A few weeks ago I started to write about MJ, a friend with whom I was enamored but inexplicably never took an interest to me.  I contacted him via text message after over a decade of no contact.  He has not changed. He is still not interested in me.

Then I wrote another entry, also unfinished, about a book that I had borrowed at the library:  A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles.  I had almost finished reading it, but the book was due back at the library with no opportunity to extend the loan because another patron had already requested it.  Apparently it is a popular book, and there is no mystery why.  It is a great read that sweeps you up and back to a time of wealth and classic beauty.  Would you believe that the book is in such high demand that I am on a waiting list to borrow it again?  I might just buy the book as it is worthy of any book collection.  Plus, I am quite anxious to find out how the story ends.

I also have an enormous amount of photos to upload.  I finally sucked it up and bought a DSLR camera. Now that I have been tinkering around with it, the photos I take with my phone are no longer adequate. The difference in quality is just too apparent.

Plus, I was in Italy recently.  Venice, no less.  I took over a thousand photos from my one week holiday.  I’ll be uploading those photos from my camera soon, and hopefully will get a chance to share them here.

Cheers!

Chocolate Ice Cream

“…stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot oftener, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more and cry less. Life must be lived as we go along.”  ~ Robert J. Hastings, Tinyburg Tales

A day or so before my sister passed away, the doctor told her she did not have much time left, probably a day at most.

“Did you hear what I said, Alanna?  the doctor asked.

“Yes,” she answered.

“And what do you think about that?”

“I think I’d like some chocolate ice cream.”

“Alanna, did you hear what I said a minute ago?”

“Yes.  What is it that you want me to say?  It seems that I should be having that chocolate ice cream NOW!”

Me and my sister | circa 1999

Chin-Up

“Just be you-strong and honest. The rest falls into place if you do that. It always has. It always will. Remember that. No matter what happens over the . . . centuries ahead of you, remember to be honest with yourself. And if you fail, forgive yourself. You’ll make mistakes. The whole world is new, and they have so many more years in the then you.” ~ Melissa Marr, Fragile Eternity

Last year was a fairly good year.  It was the year that I finally was able to travel.  I traveled to California in the late Spring, and during the Summer, I went to the Philippines, and then to Italy.

I am thankful for those travel opportunities, as I know that travel and vacation are not available to everyone. Certainly even for myself, they were not options for the last few years.

At the end of the summer, I traveled down to Washington, DC and stayed with my brother for a few days. He had made a comment about how I had gained weight over the summer.  I was not upset at his observation, and was even proud to say that I was happy that I had enjoyed the summer so much, traveling and eating different, foreign, and exotic foods.  

His comment, however, did stir up my passion for health and fitness, and since December 25, I have been committed to exercising regularly and eating healthily.  I received a chin-up/pull-up bar for Christmas, and it is now my goal to be able to do five unassisted chin-ups by June 1.  When I first started, exactly one month ago now, I was not even able to do one.  As of today, I am able to do one full unassisted chin-up.

As for my eating habits, I eat everything in moderation.  I do not deny myself any treats, but rather focus on learning to make healthier food choices, and eating in moderation all those foods that may not be so good for me.  I mean what’s a Friday night without pizza?  Life is too short to deny myself simple pleasures, so I still enjoy my favorite foods.  I eat hard and I work out hard.  It’s all about balance.

Speaking of balance, I have been juggling work and home commitments.  I received a promotion at work at the end of October.  The new position has been both fulfilling and challenging, but it also has demanded a lot more of my free time.  And my free time?  It is almost non-existent.  The weekdays are a non-stop rat race, my life lived minute to minute, and the weekends are chauffeuring G around with her various activities.

In my personal life, last year was the year of growth.  I learned many hard lessons in the past few years regarding love and relationships, and last year, I let go of a lot of bad energy and unloaded baggage that had been weighing me down.  I feel much lighter this year and ready to grow even more.  I traveled a rough road, but now I see the path ahead of me and it is looking much brighter and smoother.

The Return

“Something told him that something was coming to an end. Not the world, exactly. Just the summer. There would be other summers, but there would never be one like this. Ever again.” ~ Neil Gaiman, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

After twenty years, I finally returned to Termoli.  It felt like a homecoming of sorts.  It was bitter and it was sweet.  I regret that I waited so long to return.  After all, A passed away ten years ago.  I wanted to come then to pay my respects and to say goodbye, but life and situations got in the way, and this year was the first time that I saw a clear path back to this magical place.  It was as if all the stars aligned just so that I could make this journey.

His parents met me at the airport.  I saw them as soon as I exited the terminal.  I saw the love and happiness in their faces, and I felt the love and joy in their warm kisses and embrace.  We all cried tears of happiness, tears of pain, and tears for the loss of A, our beloved, who connected us then and who still continues to connect us all.

We swam in the sea every morning, and we dined al fresco in the evenings.  After dinner, we walked amidst ancient fortresses and breathed in salty sea air.  We drank strong cups of espresso, and ate glorious fresh food from the sea.  The sun was strong and beamed upon us every day.  At night, the skies were dark in the way that made the stars seemed brighter.

I will always remember A.  He will forever live in my heart.  Without him, I never would have known of this beautiful place, and I would never have had the honor to meet his beautiful family and friends.  He is what brought me to Termoli.  I have tasted a slice of heaven, and I know he is in his own personal heaven watching over all of us.

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.