Hello, 2016

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The fireworks were great last night, but the moon was spectacular. I spent the last minutes of 2015 and the first two hours of 2016 gazing at the moon and stars with my cousins, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. I know this gets used too often to the point of it becoming annoying, but I really do feel so incredibly fortunate. If this was Instagram, I would definitely #blessed this post.

Happy New Year, everybody. :)

Dad vs. Twin

Since my twin sister moved to California a little over two years ago, her relationship with my dad slowly but surely deteriorated. She’s chasing after her dream, but while she’s doing it, she’s leaving my dad with broken promises and forgotten duties. I don’t want to get into the specifics of their falling out because it really is just one whole complicated web of unspoken feelings and pent up frustrations.

But throughout these two years, I watched how my dad gradually stopped talking to her and how my sister subsequently stopped trying to talk to him, all the while feeling this weight on my shoulder getting heavier and heavier.

Before I visited my sister this past summer, my mom told me to talk to her and convince her to see things from my dad’s perspective. And I did that. I talked to her. But after that, she asked me if I could talk to my dad after I got home and help him see things from her perspective. My mom asked me to do the same thing also. And I did that too.

Last week, I was finally able to talk to him. This is exactly how it started.

Me: Dad, I want to talk to you about something.
Dad: What is it, sweetheart?
Me: You have to promise me that you won’t get mad.
Dad: I won’t get mad.
Me: Do you promise?
Dad: I promise.
Me: It’s about Ach.
Dad *rolls eyes and exhales loudly*
Me: You promised you won’t get mad.
Dad: I’m not mad. What about her?

He kept his promise. He didn’t get mad. But he broke my heart a bit when he kept on saying he didn’t care about what my sister did/is doing/will do with her life.

At the same time though, I understand where he’s coming from. He wants what’s best for his daughter, and I get that it’s frustrating that his daughter refuses his ideas and opinions. I know he doesn’t mean what he said and that his words came from a place of hurt.

And my sister, she’s had moments here and there that infuriated me, that made me think that maybe she’s completely forgotten that she’s still my parents’ daughter and our sister.

But I can’t hide the fact that she’s been doing amazingly well with planning and thinking ahead when it comes to her future. I’ve never seen her more responsible, independent and confident than the two months I spent with her a couple of months ago.

So what do I have? A father who is angry because he’s hurting, and a sister who’s slowly turning into a stranger because she’s making her dreams come true.

I just… I’m not asking for advice or tips or whatever. I know it’s not my place, nor is it my responsibility, to try and fix their relationship.

It’s just that my sister’s coming home in less than 24 hours, and I don’t want her and my dad spending the Christmas season avoiding, ignoring or fighting each other.

I got stood up

I’m peeking out from my WordPress hibernation to tell everybody that I got ditched  last night. It wasn’t a date, thankfully, but then I’m not sure if the alternative could be considered a better scenario.

You see, three days ago a friend from high school invited me to have dinner with some of our old classmates. I was never really close to them, but I thought it’s Christmas season so now is as good a time as any to maybe change that and make new-ish friends. So I decided to go.

Now, I’m the type of person who doesn’t mind showing up first. I also normally don’t call or text my friends to ask whether or not they’re on their way or if they’re near because I’d rather wait for them to be the one to call me. And because I show up first and because most of my friends rarely show up on time, I usually have to wait about 15 to 30 minutes, which is fine. I don’t mind waiting, especially in the mall where there are so many things I could do to pass the time.

But last night, I got to the mall five minutes before 7 p.m. and decided to text her to ask where exactly we were meeting. I didn’t get a reply. I figured maybe she was driving and couldn’t get back to me right away so I didn’t mind it. After 30 minutes of walking around, I texted her again, and just like the first time there was no reply. I went inside a bookstore, read a couple of pages of the books there and before I knew it, an hour passed with no word from her.

At this point, I was pretty sure I’d already been ditched. But then part of me thought that maybe she’d show up eventually. So instead of going home, I hung around the bookstore some more.

By 9 o’clock, I’d accepted that I’d been officially stood up. Surprisingly though, the entire time I was waiting, I didn’t get annoyed at all. And when I was 100% sure that she wasn’t going to show up, I decided to just have dinner by myself – something I haven’t done in a long while.

I ate pasta and drank beer (because isn’t that the preferred beverage of people who get stood up?) while reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ’til about 10 p.m.

It was good. The only thing that really bothered me was that she never responded to my texts. For a while there I was worried that maybe something might have happened to her. But towards the end I finally heard from her. She sent me a message saying that she totally forgot to tell me that she was out of town and wouldn’t be able to make it. She didn’t even say if our other friends pushed through with the dinner or not; I don’t have their numbers so I wasn’t able to ask them.

But anyway, I went home after that. And what’s funny is that I realize now that being ditched last night has probably been the highlight of my very busy and stressful week. I was able to read a few good books, eat good food and drink good beer. I also took the time earlier that evening to pretty myself up more than I usually do. So I spent the whole impromptu date with myself looking rather nice if I may say so.

At the end of the day, I could honestly say that I had a good time. And with the low points I’ve been having these past few weeks, I needed a good time.

So thank you, Life. You and your mysterious ways never fail to amuse me.

Two things and a lot of other things on a Friday night

First, I’ve never written as much as I’ve had these past few months. The only catch is I’ve been writing for other people. I’ve been writing for people who have whatever it takes – patience, hard work, a knack for photography, money and even HTML coding skills (because God knows I don’t have that) – to run a legitimate blog but don’t have the time or the words to write about whatever it is they want to blog about. If you go by the things I’ve written so far, these past months I’ve gone backpacking to Laos and I’ve traveled to Singapore and Hong Kong. During my travels, I’ve also tried local street food, as well as high-end restaurants to review their food. I’ve also lost 50 pounds, 20 pounds and 13 pounds through daily exercise, yoga and diet. On top of that, I’ve become an expert 24-year-old parent who wants to give other young parents tips on how to raise their children.

I’ve never pretended to be so busy with life until now. Because isn’t that what it is, pretending? A thought often comes to my mind whenever I’m supposedly writing from halfway across the world. Is this the fruition of my once upon a time dream to become a writer? Is this the writer’s equivalent to an aspiring musician who gets stuck singing at clubs and weddings? Or am I worse because I’m the aspiring musician who lets other people sing her songs at clubs and weddings?

I don’t feel sad or bad though. To be honest, I actually feel good about it. Is that sad or bad? I like that I get to write, that I get paid to write and that they actually like what I write. I like imagining myself backpacking across Southeast Asia. I like thinking about how I’d be as a parent in my twenties, mostly because I don’t think I’ll ever be a parent in my twenties. As lame as it sounds, I like pretending to be this hip and cool blogger who gets invited to all these restaurants and who gets to try their food for free…

Even though in reality, I go to work Mondays to Fridays at 8 a.m. sometimes with a smile on my face, sometimes without. I teach until 3 p.m. and then tutor ’til 5 or 6 p.m. I go home, sometimes with a smile on my face, sometimes without. If I feel like it, I work out. If I don’t, I read a book (right now, it’s The Three Musketeers) while listening to some music (tonight, it’s Christmas songs because it’s never too early for Christmas songs). Then I write for other people to earn a few bucks on the side.

Except tonight, I don’t have to write for other people since I was able to finish them early, which brings me to my second thing for tonight.

The last time I watched Grey’s Anatomy was in high school. I stopped watching when I realized, to my dismay, that I was unknowingly craving for the drama I was seeing in these very fake shows to happen in my very real life. High school, you know?

But earlier, I came across a friend’s post about Grey’s Anatomy and I saw a photo of April Kepner and Jackson Avery. I thought to myself, hey they look cute together. And for some reason, that passing comment spiraled into me watching all their scenes on YouTube, and that spiraled into me falling in love with their make-believe relationship and their scripted life… only to find out that their current status is very flimsy. And now I’m unstable too because no one gets attached to fictional characters in less than 24 hours more than I do.

So I tell this to Karen because, well, it’s Karen, and she looks at me with her Karen face and says, “Seriously, you need a boyfriend.” And I whine, “But who would even want to date someone like me?” Because really, 24 hours ago I didn’t even know these fictional people and their fictional lives existed but here I am consumed with thoughts on how fictional Jackson and fictional April can fix their fictional marriage.

Seriously though, what is wrong with me?

But also, seriously, believe me when I say I am writing all this with a stupid grin on my face because as bizarre as I know this all is, I like this little glitch that I have.

And that just gave me an idea. I keep seeing all these lists of things people want in a boyfriend or girlfriend or like traits that would make you a perfect boyfriend or girlfriend. I haven’t seen any lists yet about faults and flaws your future special someone needs to know about you before trying to date you. That sounds fun. So maybe I can make a list about that.

Maybe. Next time I’m free to write for me.

I’ve fallen in love with words on paper: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

It’s been more than a year since I last wrote a post like this. I don’t even know why I stopped in the first place. But earlier today, I was ten foot deep in thought about where my life’s heading and I flipped through my notebook where I write down all my favorite quotes. This book’s entry tickled my heart.

Me Before You tells the story of Lou, a 26-year-old woman who has never really done anything spectacular in her life, and Will, a man who squeezed every adventure out of his life until an accident turned him into a depressed quadriplegic. Lou is hired to be Will’s caregiver and everyday companion when she loses her job at a cafe. At first, they butt heads. Gradually though, they find comfort and possibilities in their differences. And, in doing so, they open themselves up to a whole new world where hurt and healing are one and the same.

Even though I read this almost a year ago, I remember thinking to myself then, I’m Lou… minus the love interest. And earlier as I read the words I wrote down from this book, I can’t help but think, I’m still Lou… minus the love interest.

His eyes met mine. They were infinitely weary.

They looked like they were really happy together. Then again, what did a photograph prove?

The thing about being catapulted into a while new life… is that it forces you to rethink your idea of who you are. Or how you might seem to other people.

There are things you don’t notice until you accompany someone with a wheelchair.

Here, I could hear my thoughts. I could almost hear my heartbeat. I realized, to my surprise, that I quite liked it.

There are normal hours, and then there are invalid hours, where time stalls and slips, where life – real life – seems to exist at one remove.

“No. Stay for a bit. Talk to me.” He swallowed. His eyes opened again and his gaze slid up to mine. He looked unbearably tired. “Tell me something good.”

“This might sound revolting to you, but astonishingly, Will Traynor, not all girls get dressed just to please men.”

Girls like Lissa trade on their looks for so long they don’t think they have anything else.

It could be oddly dispiriting, the blank refusal of humankind to even attempt to function responsibly.

I needed to tell him, silently, that things might change, grow or fail, but that life did go on. That we were all part of some great cycle, some pattern that it was only God’s purpose to understand.

I felt the music like a physical thing; it didn’t just sit in my ears, it flowed through me, around me, made my sense vibrate.

You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.

“And I cannot for the life of me see how you can be content to live this tiny life. This life that will take place almost entirely within a five-mile radius and contain nobody who will ever surprise you or push you or show you things that will leave your head spinning and unable to sleep at night.”

Some mistakes just have greater consequences than others.

There is nothing more terrifying that my sister’s thinking face when it is trained directly on you.

And finally, possibly the most eyeopening of them all…

Knowing you still have possibilities is a luxury.

Reading these lines in the emotional state I’m currently in, I honestly don’t know what to feel, kind of like how I didn’t know what to feel after I finished reading the book. No, I am not content to live a tiny life, and yes, I know that as long as I’m alive and breathing, there are possibilities. My heart and brain can process that. They just don’t know how to apply that in real life.

Maybe if I read the sequel to the book, I’ll find the answer there. I doubt it though. Answers like that you can’t find anywhere else but yourself.

25 things on my 25th birthday

I’m not entirely sure how I feel – that’s how I’ve been quite often these past couple of months. Initially, I wanted to write something profound and spectacular for today, but my mind never stays in one place long enough for me to write something about it – that’s been happening a lot too. And every time I pause and dwell on these two observations, I get mad at myself and at everything else because nothing rattles me more than not knowing, especially when it comes to myself. So I’ve decided to just grab a pen and paper, and list down everything and anything that comes to mind because for my 25th birthday, I don’t want to be mad… I want to be honest.

#1: The one thing I’m most thankful for at this very moment is my sister. At 12 midnight, when I was in bed and so ready to sleep, Karen jumped on me and hugged the life out of me to greet me a happy birthday. Sometimes, when she’s in an exceptionally good mood and needs to express it through physical contact, she inadvertently becomes physically abusive with me. Sometimes, when she’s in an exceptionally bad mood and needs someone to witness her rage, she demands I stop everything I’m doing to be that person. But always, and I mean always, she is my rock.

#2: I wasn’t able to have a birthday breakfast because I woke up pretty late. But I had pizza for lunch. It was good pizza. And good pizza makes good birthdays.

#3: Halfway through the day, my mom asked me if I had already received a lot of greetings. I told her, without any hesitation or thought, “The people who matter already did so I’m good.”

#4: Up until that point, I had gotten less than ten greetings. I still keep my birthday hidden on my Facebook profile. So after thinking about that after my mom’s question, I felt good. I truly meant it. I am good.

#5: At work, Karen surprised me with my favorite cake and led all my students and co-teachers in singing Happy Birthday to me. I told you, she’s my rock.

#6: Aside from a chocolate mousse cake, I also received a new pair of red shoes (a first!), a good book and a coloring book. I’ve never expected gifts, but I’m always glad I get them anyway.

#7: My twin sister’s ex-boyfriend greeted me on Facebook. In his short post, he wrote, “Greet your sister for me.” That annoyed me. And since it’s my birthday, I felt bolder than usual. I wrote back, “Thanks! Also, my sister has a name. And I’m sure you know what it is.” Did I mention he cheated on her and broke up with her on our birthday? He apologized. That felt good.

#8: I’ve now spent three consecutive birthdays without my twin sister. This is the only time I wish we spent it together. I’ve always thought that I know Kat more than she knows me and I was always fine with that. Meaning, I didn’t care if she knew me or not. She acknowledged that when I visited her this past summer. But being with her for two months certainly brought us closer, and now I find myself wanting to literally grow old with her again. I find myself wanting her to know me the same way I know her.

#9: So naturally, I spent a huge part of the day thinking of her and how she’s doing everything she’s always wanted to do. And how I’m not.

#10: Last year, I wrote on my journal that I’d be somewhere else by now, a place that is at least one step closer to where I want to be. But I’m still exactly where I was when I wrote that.

#11: I’ve never felt as stranded as I do right now. I know where I want to be and I know how to get there. And I know I can.

#12: You know what else I know? The future I want is a balloon, the hand on my shoulder is the same one that taught me how to walk, and what I have in my hand is a tiny needle. I can either pop the balloon or I can prick the hand and watch it bleed. Both will hurt my heart.

#13: I feel the desire to let out a hearty “Fuck it.” more now than I did before. It’s the only word that comes to mind when I think of balloons and needles.

#14: I cried a bit today. Balloons and needles.

#15: But when I think of anchors, “Fuck it.” is the last thing that comes to mind. My best friend telling me how she’s quite possibly the luckiest person in the world to have me as her anchor is my anchor today.

#16: Ironically, the hand on my shoulder is also my anchor today. Because no matter how they unknowingly pull me down, nothing lifts me higher than my family.

#17: If I get married, I probably won’t let my husband call me sweetheart. I am forever my dad’s sweetheart.

#18: I’m 25 years old, I’m still single and, surprisingly (to me), I’m still okay with it. I think about love a lot more than I used to and I miss it more often than I normally do. But I look at my grandparents, who are sitting across from me at my birthday dinner, and I know I’d rather be single for the rest of my life than not have a relationship that is, at the very least, remotely similar to theirs.

#19: However, I’m hoping that won’t be the case because I like hugs, holding hands and long walks on the beach. And I can’t cook. So I agreed to a deal with my cousins. If I’m still single by the time I turn 27, I will sign up for eHarmony.

#20: Honestly, I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.

#21: Earlier today, I was also hoping for Chili’s Molten Chocolate Cake… And I got it! I got it because when my parents asked me what I wanted, that was my answer and they gave it to me.

#22: So maybe, I should just ask again. Their answer could be different. Their answer could be the same. I wouldn’t know unless I talk to them, wouldn’t I?

#23: Today I gave myself two gifts. The first one is self-pity. I got so tired of programming myself into seeing the glass half full that I smashed the glass into pieces so that there wouldn’t even be anything to look at. The second one – and I think this is the better one – is hope. False hope? Fake hope? Temporary hope? I honestly don’t know.

#24: I’ve said this before: Sometimes, I struggle with hope. And sometimes, I struggle, with hope. I’m not going to lie. Today and in days to come, hope will come and go. But today, and hopefully in days to come, I will choose to keep struggling.

#25: After all this, would you believe me if I say I still had a good birthday? Because I did. My 24th was full of happy things. My 25th had pizza, chocolate cakes, a midlife crisis, a good cry, my family and Karen. So I’m still good…. honest. :)

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Karen. 12 midnight, September 17