It’s been awhile. I can’t believe I wrote here only three times last year. I’ll talk about my reasons for my absence in another post (or maybe not if the past ten months are anything to go by).
What I will talk about is why I’m crawling out of my WordPress hibernation for.
Coincidentally, my reading for today fell on 1 Corinthians 13. For those of you who don’t know, this is where the famous “Love is patient, love is kind…” verse comes from. So when I opened my Bible and saw this, my first thought was that I am too single for this.
But then, as most things are with God, He surprises me by dropping some knowledge when I least expect it.
I used to think that this whole chapter is basically what the pastor/priest/chaplain/minister says in every wedding I’ve ever attended.
The first three verses of this chapter are just massive truth bombs. And with everything that’s been going on in the world right now, I genuinely believe that we are in desperate need to be reminded of this every day.
Whatever cause we are fighting for, we can always support or defend it with love and respect for our fellow human beings. Because in the end, no matter how witty or intelligent or amusing or impressive or catchy or persuasive or viral our words and actions are, if we do not have love, nothing happens.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
I didn’t want to write about my two months away right after I got back. I was still on a high. And home felt like rehab.
I didn’t want to write about home that way. I didn’t want to be that person who goes away for awhile, and comes back high and mighty, suddenly feeling like she deserves more than the life she has now.
So I waited. I waited for the bitterness – I guess that’s what it is – of coming “back to reality” to fade away until the acceptance of the reality of what was and what is settled in. It’s in this frame of mind that I am writing now.
There’s no more bitterness. Only longing.
I realize now that I’d never really experienced true freedom until two months ago, when I was thousands of miles away from home. I’m not talking about freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want. I’ve grown up enough to know that’s something I can live without.
The kind of freedom I lived with in the two months I was away is something else entirely. It’s freedom from fear – fear of disappointing watchful eyes, freedom from approval I don’t even think I want sometimes.
It’s also the kind of freedom that just can’t be found here at home. And if I’m being honest, I still don’t know how to feel about that. I love home. I love that I get to be with family. And, to me, home and family are the two things that are worth letting go of freedom for… It’s just that there are things about home and family that make me long for the two months I spent away from them.
There isn’t any bitterness. There’s just moments of loneliness – I feel lonely because I miss being alone. I’m not sure if that makes any sense to you, but it does to me.
It’s been almost two months since my last post, and 15 days since I got home from my two-month vacation. I actually feel weird typing this now, kind of like riding a bike again after ten years (which is what happened in Cartagena).
A lot of things happened. I don’t know where to begin… which is perfectly fine because, to be honest, I don’t feel like writing about any of them now. I’m not sure how I’ll feel when I do.
All I can say for now is that as much as I tried to keep it from happening, I came back a different person than I was when I left.
And I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing. And I’m not sure what I’m feeling.
But if my feelings were a photo, this is probably what it would be:
Second, aren’t we just so insanely blessed to be able to openly celebrate this day without putting our life in danger? My mind has been consumed with thoughts about the Kenya university massacre and it has made me realize how often I take this blessing for granted.
One of the things that annoy me about fellow Christians is being so unnecessarily and so excessively vocal about their faith. Because I grew up in a conservative Christian family, there were many times during my childhood when I felt like Jesus was being shoved down my throat as well as other people’s throats, and I hated it. Even now, I roll my eyes whenever I see “If you love Jesus, like and share!” posts on Facebook and Instagram. The last thing I feel is surprise whenever I see people who aren’t Christians get put off by Christians because they’re too outspoken to the point of being condescending.
And because of that, I’ve always been very reserved when it comes to my faith. I can always write about it, but talking about it with other people face to face has always been very challenging for me. Whenever my friends would confide in me about their problems, the last thing I’d feel comfortable telling them is to pray about it. I would sometimes get very conscious when I’m out with friends and I’d close my eyes to pray before eating. Sometimes, when everyone’s already in the middle of a fun conversation, I would opt to not pray anymore so that it wouldn’t “spoil” the mood. My friends aren’t even the kind of people who would judge a person for their religious practices but I felt the need to downplay my faith all the same.
And now I feel so incredibly ashamed for all these things. How ungrateful and stupid am I to let petty things like public image unsettle my confidence and pride in my faith when there are thousands of people across the world whose lives are literally at risk just because they believe in something other people are against? How foolish am I to fear putting off someone for displaying my faith when there are other people putting their life on the line for believing in theirs?
I’ve learned today that openly practicing my faith doesn’t and shouldn’t automatically mean I’m shoving it in everyone’s face. I’ve learned that showing my faith with neither fear nor risk is a blessing that not everyone has and, therefore, should be appreciated and taken advantage of.
Most of all, I’ve learned that I have such a long, long way to go in terms of my walk with Christ. I am so incredibly fortunate that I have a God who believes I am worth it, that I have accepted into my heart the One who believes I am worth dying on the cross for… even when I know I am not.
I wrote before about signing up for a small program that would allow me to earn money by teaching English to visiting students from Spain. Well, my cousin, who also signed up, just told me the program will not push through because they couldn’t find enough host families for all the kids.
So now, I have a plane ticket to California for May with a return flight on August and without any solid plans for the whole month of July.
Do I reschedule my return flight to an earlier date? I could go back to work and start earning for my next big thing.
Do I go ahead with it anyway and just do whatever I want for an entire month? I could push through with that road trip, but this time I can make it longer (and also more expensive).
What would you do? No seriously, what would you do?
I just wanted to write something here. I wanted to take a moment to do something that isn’t necessary or required or practical. I’ve been doing a lot of planning these past few weeks. If I’m not working, I’m planning. If I’m not planning, I’m working. I just wanted to do something I truly enjoy for a change, and that’s putting these thoughts and babbles into words.
Right now, all I want to say is this whole Life thing is complicated, which is something I’ve always known.But I’ve never truly realized the extent of how deeply complicated it is, and what I realize now is I never really will. So right now, all I’m trying to do is to stop myself from trying to explain this whole Life thing, stop trying to limit it with definitions and expectations, and just live it the best I can… which is actually a lot harder than it sounds.
So Family Reunion Season has come to an end. After three weeks of living in a house with 25 other people, I am now back to… I was going to say reality, but then again I’ve never left reality. Being with family practically 24/7 is as real as it gets. So I guess I’m back to the quiet.
Here’s a quick recap of the our noise:
A failed surf trip to the beach. After a 7-hour car ride, my surfer cousins were ready to surf. I was ready to watch them surf. I looked at the water, saw waves, and told them to go on right ahead and do their thing. They took one look at the water and said it wasn’t surf-able. No big deal, we were staying there for three days. It turned out the water wasn’t surf-able for those three days. No worries. We ended up trekking to this pretty waterfall instead.
Annual New Year’s midnight gathering. Sure, the fireworks have always been a treat, but I think what all of us look forward to is The Gathering. After the fireworks and after the clock strikes 12 to announce the new year, the whole family gathers around in the living room. One by one, we share about the year we had and what our hopes are for the coming year. When everyone’s done sharing, one by one, youngest to oldest, the family prays. This is usually the part where some of the older ones fall asleep until it’s their turn to pray. And when everyone’s done praying, my grandparents bring out The White Envelopes and start calling out our names. We kiss them on the cheek and thank them for making us a $100 richer in the new year.
Beer pong virgins no more. My sister, Karen, celebrated her 20th by inviting her closest friends to have a weekend getaway with us young people of the FamBam. Nothing really happened except that we played beer pong inside our hotel room which is totally wild and rebellious of us because 1) I’m pretty sure the hotel doesn’t allow that and 2) for most of us (me included), it was our first time playing beer pong. I was surprisingly quite good at it actually.
Grandma’s 90th birthday. The dearest and most special person in the family is now 90 years old! We were told to write a simple letter on a piece of card for her which was a good idea, but since it’s this family, it had to be made into a card-making, letter-writing competition. No one won, but everyone felt they did. And then we, the grandkids, “performed” the Pitch Perfect Cup Song thingy but sang Happy Birthday and Amazing Grace instead (we made it happen!).
A sip too many, a trip to the ER. It’s kind of a funny story, except we were all utterly scared and terrified to our very core while it happened. We were eating at a buffet restaurant when my grandmother suddenly got into this sort of catatonic state and wasn’t responding to anything we said and did. Half of us rushed her to the ER while the other half stayed put. A couple of minutes later, my mom called me, telling me my grandmother was now very responsive and aware of her surroundings. When they brought her to the ER, it was revealed that my grandmother had actually just suffered the effects of drinking one too many sips of wine and then exerting so much effort to walk from the car to the restaurant. We laugh about it now, but you should’ve seen our faces then. There were tears.
Escape room adventures. We went four times, we succeeded twice.
Weekend beach getaway with fire dancers on the side. My brother, my two cousins and myself went on a weekend trip out of town. We wanted to have a relaxing few days to ourselves and that’s exactly what it was. The highlight of the trip though was eating seafood by the beach while watching fire dancers.
Konnichiwa, Osaka. The perfect end to the Reunion Season. My family had a 5-day trip to Osaka, Japan last week. It was my first time to go to Japan, and I absolutely loved it. The people were so incredibly nice, even though they spoke very little English. The food was good as well. THEIR TOILETS WERE WARM AND HEATED AND IT WAS AMAZING. I’m definitely going back.
My heart is a little sad, to be honest. Most people would dread the idea of spending so much time with family, but I honestly don’t. Oh for sure there are moments when we’re a hot and crazy mess, but I’d always be willing to go through all that when it comes to them. I love my family.
The one thing I am most proud of in my life has always been something I had absolutely no control or say in whatsoever, and that is being a part of my family.