Monday, December 11, 2017

Quote 265

“... there exists a spot in the mind from which life and death, the real and the imaginary, the past and the future, the high and the low, ... will cease to appear contradictory.”

 ― André Breton

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Rot

Only recently I realize sitemeter.com is no more. Apparently July 1, 2017 it officially "retired".

I had the tracker on my blog since day 1. 11 years' worth of visits. And now, poof! Gone. Kind of harsh.

That'll teach you the impermanence of things in life and life itself.

Site Meter is dead, they say. Looks like they started to go downhill circa 2012-2015, depending on whom you ask. There was talk about unethical practice such as stealing customers.

I feel betrayed. So unsettling.

Site Meter is dead. Shouldn't surprise me, since blogs have been dead a while now, too.

My mother recently revealed that at some points in her life, she was working three jobs to save money for the future.

"Before you had us, right?" I asked. I knew that she'd worked hard in her 20's just to save up to get married, have their own home, etc.

"Even after," she replied. "It was going to take a lot to put you through college."

That was a punch in the gut. "That was why I worked so many hours," she continued. "Even in the weekends."

I do recall. But I hadn't realized. I worked three jobs myself in the first quarter of 2016 and was exhausted. Can't imagine doing that on an continuous basis. And I have known women who do, day in and day out, for decades, just to have enough to support their family. I don't know how they do it. I shudder.

To think that for years I thought my mother a workaholic. I thought she enjoyed work more than spending time with us. I resented it.

Many Sundays, her only day off, she'd stay in bed until noon or past it, reluctant to start the day. I thought she was in no hurry to get up to spend time with her own family. I felt slighted.

Little did I know.

For years I struggled to forgive. Turned out there was nothing to forgive. I am an asshole.

Oh, the things that parents don't tell you.

You know what they say, that essentially you marry your parents (if you are "normal", I guess).

RJ has characteristics that are clearly my Dad's. No surprise there. He is artistic, a free spirit, loves nature and science, doesn't believe in convention. I am just now connecting the dots between him and Mom. *gasp*

RJ also is not thrilled to get up in the morning. Like, ever. And I am just now wishing that it wasn't so.

I understand. He has been this way for as long as I have known him. I understand what life can do to crush one's soul. I know better than to wish your spouse would change.

Yet I do find myself wishing that RJ had reasons to get up, things to be psyched about. Joy.

Joy: which I often also lack.

When I visit my parents, I feel like I am getting up for them. Back stateside, there seems no motive. I imagine a partner who may want to rise early, have breakfast, and go hiking (JD would laugh - Asians and their hiking!) and inspire me to do the same.

But I know that one must not look outside of oneself for joy and raison d'etre. It is not up to my partner to lift me. I am responsible for my own damned self.

My. Own. Damned. Self.

Blogs are dead. It is so like me to hang on to the antiquated and expiring.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Good Grief

Recently saw Patton Oswalt's latest standup, content of which had to do with his wife's life and death and his (and his daughter's) coping.

I will say that I never cared much for Oswalt as a comic until this performance. The raw emotions, honesty and pain were just all so relatable.

Great comics have a gift of storytelling that reels the audience in, captivates them, and impresses them in such a way that leaves them never the same again.

The 60 or 90 minutes or whatever it was just flew by. In the end, as any full circle goes, Oswalt parts way with this from Michelle, his late wife:

It's chaos. Be kind.

So concise and powerful, these words resonate. Earlier in the show Oswalt challenges the notion of "Everything happens for a reason". Indeed it doesn't. Life makes no sense.

In college (the second time) my favorite class was in Religious Studies. It was called "Death, Dying" and something. Perhaps the fact that I don't recall the "something" speaks volume. It was the most fascinating class. I've regurgitated this one phrase, "If you don't know how to die, you don't know how to live." I was on this quest of how to live.

I've been called morbid at various points. Fact is there is no point in pretending we'll live on forever. It is silly that death is a taboo topic. OK maybe I am a little obsessed with death. I enjoy wandering through cemeteries, studying graves, imagining the stories behind those extinguished lives. I thought that being close to death would prepare me for it, my own and that of my loved ones.

I've come to realize, though, nothing prepares you for death. And I haven't learned how to live, either.

I have given up on making sense of life. In accepting the senselessness, there is hope for peace.

It's chaos. Be kind.

Marvel

A few months ago I received notification that Taylor had viewed my LinkedIn profile. I was super annoyed.

Why? I asked. He let me go a long time ago. Why bother?

I was reminded of this phrase JD and I used to laugh at in the song "Separate Lives":

You have no right
To ask me how I feel
You have no right
To speak to me so kind


Of course, to speak of entitlement... Too convoluted a subject. Too subjective as well.

I didn't like that I was still allowing this person (or the notion of this person/who he used to be) have power over me.

Truth is Taylor has been a sore spot for years. I have talked to RJ about it. We all have people in our past that haunt us, don't we? They're just... always there.

I really liked me when I was with Taylor. And I really liked us. That high was really difficult to get over. In my mind our time together was like the perfect movie. So many indelible scenes. An illusion, but unsurpassable nonetheless.

Taylor had this luck of having many exes who were obsessed with him and couldn't let go. He had this way of making them feel like the best girl in the world.

The last time I saw him was eight years ago. Seems longer.

Today I receive a note from Taylor via blog comment. He said it was nice that I still thought about him from time to time. And he said that he was dying.

What?! What does one do with that?!! You don't just tell someone you're dying and leave it at that. WTF?

I was in turmoil. So. Many. Questions. Should I ask? How?

"Hug the dog," he said. Did he ever get another dog after Lloyd*? I wondered.

He probably doesn't need to hear from me. But would I not be heartless not to at least try to reach out?

The man is dying, and I am making this about me? Jesus.

Years ago, Taylor was once accused of rape. He would NEVER. I know that all mothers and friends and family of anyone accused of rape (or other crimes) would say this. But I did know him, his core, his mind. He would NEVER.

It was ugly. It changed him. I wanted to know more. The details. Turned out everyone around him wanted to know more. The details.

That might have been the most upset I ever saw him. He said we needed to know the details for us, for gratuitous purposes. He didn't need to retell the story. And thus we were being selfish and inconsiderate.

I have never forgotten those words.

Fast forward to today: Taylor doesn't "have much longer to live". What would I say to him? Do I need to know more, the details, for me? Is it wrong to want to know more?

I texted Taylor at his old number, which turned out not to be his number anymore. Doesn't really surprise me. Must be still escaping stalkers of exes (he moved around and took precautions hiding whereabouts as he had literal stalkers).

Driving home, I pondered, "What would I say?"

I was reminded of the beginning of knowing Taylor. It was such bliss. The sense of being good and part of something good which warmed me to the core and propelled me to love the world as a whole...

And in that instant, I was filled with that love all over again. That greatness of being.

I would say:

Taylor, I have always loved you. And I always will.
Goodbye.



*Not his real name


Awash

I have just returned from my birthplace where my mother, for the first time, expressed regret about having sent my brother and me abroad at such a young age.

"If I were to do it all over again," she said, pain washing over her face. "I wouldn't."

We are 30 years too late. What does one do with that?

I learned this week that Denisse would not be joining us for Thanksgiving, the first time ever. Denisse just got married last December. She and her then fiancé had always come to Thanksgiving dinner at my brother's.

I couldn't deal. Life progresses, people grow. Denisse is finally welcome in Enzo's* family circle. I should be glad. Instead my abandonment issue kicks in. I don't like change. I'll miss her.

And besides, who is going to make green bean casserole?

This while missing my parents like I have never missed them before. I've engendered this theory that all these years I have not allowed myself to miss my parents. I don't think about them much. The disconnect allows me to live my life and let years go by without visiting them. The pain otherwise would be too great to bear.

In the past year or two I have started really identifying with being an INFJ, the "rarest" personality archetype in the Myer-Briggs model. MBTI has fallen out of favor over the years, largely discredited in the psychology industry for being a valid paradigm. It has helped me, however, tremendously. Reading about how INFJ's feel and think makes me understand and accept how I've always felt and thought. And I don't feel so alone anymore.

This and being an HSP, too. Now I don't have to feel apologetic or less.


*Not his real name

Monday, November 13, 2017

Wanderlust

About three years ago I ceased to fantasize about travel. I stopped watching the Travel Channel. Perusing Via Magazine from AAA stirred something in me that was not yearning, but disconnect and irritation.

Oh, right, that was when I, at the ripe age of 43, finally got a real job, had real bills to pay, and was forced to grow up.

When I was a kid, traveling was exciting. Packing my own bag was exciting. I couldn’t wait to go, even if it was just a day trip. Your senses were enhanced, your sense of being was enhanced, you were in awe. And there was the notion of “anywhere but here”. I longed to be away.

In my 20’s, probably like everyone else, I had a list of countries I had to see “one of these days”, an ever-changing list. It always had Egypt on it. In my 30’s, reading articles and having a calendar of Greece up on the wall sufficed. In my 40’s, when reality hit that I had neither the time nor the funds to travel, I justified that I didn’t need to go anywhere. After all, with the internet at your fingertips, the world is, too.

Turns out seeing images of a buffet is far from tasting it.

Recently I had the obligation to travel to China on business. In my old age I prefer routine (and I was never spontaneous to begin with). Change is hard. The unknown causes anxiety. I was having all sorts of anxiety. (My therapist would say control issues. Duh.)

I slipped into the local scene relatively effortlessly. At a communal meal early on, I had this Bourdain moment: everyone was coming together, I was exposed to local ingredients being prepared to suit the locals’ taste, not mine, as they had been for centuries. And it was glorious.

I had some language barrier and a fair share of culture shock – that was to be expected. To my pleasant surprise, I did not feel out of place, or unwanted, as I had felt growing up or even in the States where I live. Even nationalist sentiments did not turn me off. I could, dare I say, relate. (Not in absolute terms but nonetheless.) And it scared me. I could imagine living there, being content, feeling accepted... I was at peace.

One evening before my departure, we were journeying on a quieter dirt road at dusk, just around a river bend under an overpass. I could see the dim lights lining the bank and the reflection on the water. The air was thinly veiled in smoke from leaves burning in a distance. Everything was a grayscale bathed in warm hues of gold. For a moment there, it might as well have been 19th century Paris. It does not get better than this.

That was when I remembered: oh, yes, I used to like to travel. And I remembered why.

I was transfixed and instantaneously transported to the winter in Belgium when I was 18. I was staying at my uncle’s and the occasion was my cousin Jojo’s impending wedding which no one was looking forward to, myself included. One chilly morning, in my crazy youthful defiant mode, I snuck out of the house so I could go to the park to a pay phone to call my then-boyfriend. And also to get out. My days were being planned against my will and I was feeling unhappy and suffocated (not unIike my childhood leading to that point).

I was the only one there. The sun hadn’t risen. It was twilight at its best. It had been snowing, and still was, ever so gently. I watched snowflakes fall with the street lamps as backdrop as I strolled, leaving boot prints on the blanket of virgin snow on the path. I strolled as if I'd never have to turn back. It was tranquil. It was freezing. It was magical.

I have often looked back to that moment citing how the world is SO beautiful when looked through young, unjaded eyes. I have missed that sense of wonder, and mourned it.

Until this recent trip. I may not be that doe-eyed lass any longer, but, oh, to have that sense of abandon again, to just observe, take in, and be. O
h, to be fearless, and exhilarated for being so. All may not have been lost after all.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Boisterous

For years, RJ and I never fought. Literally. If we disagreed, we talked about it. And that was that.

I often dared not share this bliss with peers, especially when it was apparent others did not enjoy peaceful coexistence with their spouses or long-term SO's. They played mind games. They stopped speaking with each other for days. Not RJ and I.

Early into our marriage, I shared this with my mother. Essentially she responded, "You just haven't had something to fight about yet." which sent chills down my spine.

I credit my time spent in therapy. When something upsets me, I step back, cool off, and analyze why I react to such an extent. As Buddha may have said, and I paraphrase, expectations and desire lead to disappointment. Recognize when your expectations are not realistic (or, worse, not important in the scheme of things). I know not to enter a relationship expecting the other person to change. It never works.

If I got upset, I'd be mindful and not make my issues about RJ. He was still the same person.

When things are not easy, I remember what I love about RJ, what makes him him. Hopefully the person you're with — you truly love his core. I love RJ in dimensions: as a boy, as an adult, as a person. So many things, simple things, he does, I adore. You have to relate to someone on that level, on all levels, I think. Or the bond is not complete.

That acceptance and multifaceted love grounds the relationship. I have joked that we are fine until dementia changes one of us.

Since RJ and I started working together this year, the dynamics of our relationship inevitably has changed. I was apprehensive, but we stumbled upon the arrangement without a choice.

I have never wanted to be in a managerial position. I know myself. I have traits that do not make an ideal supervisor. After all, I am my mother's daughter. Given specific circumstances, I can be overbearing, micromanaging and all-around shrew-like.

Well at least I realize that, right? It is remarkably a far cry from when we met, when the one adjective that RJ used the most to describe me was "sweet".

Personalities are not a duality, but a spectrum.

RJ, on the other hand, is soft-spoken, mellow, and patient. He also is intelligent and tireless in his problem-solving ways. Our working styles may be "slightly" different...

And thus I find myself picking on things that in hindsight are often trivial. Mind you, this is the opposite of what I do in our personal lives. In the professional realm, I am much more a perfectionist. I am impossible to please. Again, like my mother.

Coming to terms with that will help me ease up. Still, I find myself apologizing at night for having been harsh during the day. Talk about a case of Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde!

I'd say to RJ, "Was boss lady mean to you again today?" We'd laugh. You gotta stick with humor (and be sincere about it).

It is a learning process. I do feel that I exceedingly exasperate RJ more and more frequently on both the home and the work front, which leaves me ruminative.

I neglect to mention the bright side is we get to carpool most days.

This evening, as we were coming home, RJ was behind the wheels. We tend to show off our skills parking as far away from our neighbor's spot as possible, which means that we slide very close to this column in the corner of ours. (Because a concrete column poses less threat than a human being.)

I watch intently until he was done backing into the space, almost holding my breath. (I have trust issues. Our car is only several months old.) The side mirror of the car was literally only half an inch from the concrete column. Then, with a straight face, I said, without giving away any sarcasm, "You should have gotten closer to the column."

RJ looked at me like... there's no word for it. You should have been there. As he opened his mouth to (I imagine) defend himself, I could hold it no longer and burst into laughter.

"I was being facetious!" I said, now laughing in spasms. There was no cruelty in that, I swear. Just that he was so cute.

As we walked to the elevator and then in it I still was laughing hard, almost snorting. I kissed him repeatedly on the cheeks to make up for my mischief. RJ, being his zen self, just gave me this "Oh,  you..." smile.

But then I got to thinking: have I become such an irrational partner that he actually believed my ridiculous complaint?!?!