Raw

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I want nothing more than to lock myself in my room and cry until all the pain has left my body and all that remains is numbness. Knowing that its familiar views are numbered, I take a few, long looks of myself, my room, and the house. I can feel fresh new cracks in my heart.  I can hear the distant bell chiming the beginning of the end. I can taste the bittersweet memories in my mouth.

Change is never easy. It is a terrible monster that lurks in the shadows, biding its time. Sometimes it comes swiftly like a thief in the night. Most creep ever so slowly until it’s practically right in front of your face, about to pounce. There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Change comes to us all, whether our arms are stretched wide open to welcome it or we are cowering in the darkness. Like death and taxes, it is an inevitable force.

If we don’t embrace it, what are we afraid of? If we don’t take a leap of faith, then what are we alive for?

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The Heroes in My Family

Where did I go wrong? I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

—The Fray, “How to Save a Life”

Not too long ago, my cousin, who is a nurse, decided to unwind after work. He and his friend went to an Internet cafe straight after their shift to play some games. Suddenly, a fellow gamer collapsed nearby. Without hesitation, my cousin and his friend jumped into action and performed CPR on the unconscious man. With their quick thinking and considerable medical skills, they were able to revive the him until help arrived.

This story was particularly dear to my heart, especially since acts of selfless heroism like this are far and few in between in today’s jaded society. Not only am I proud of my cousin’s intrinsic ability to help a perfect stranger, his modesty inspires me and makes me reevaluate my previous long-standing belief that millennials are nothing more than a bunch of selfish, privileged, and entitled generation. When he and his friend was saving the man’s life, he did so without even thinking about it. What is even more impressive  is that he said his instinct just kicked in and did what any person would do given the same situation. Outside of people whose jobs it is to save lives, not many of us regular folks can claim the same. Incidentally, my cousin’s younger brother is a Special Ed teacher, which is a different sort of hero, but a hero all the same.

Then I had some time to think about it, and I realized there are all sorts of heroes in my family. My number one hero would be my mother. She dropped out of college in order to run her father’s business to support her parents and her 10 siblings—9 of them were younger than her since she is the second of 11 children. She gave up most of her life to raise and support her family. Despite being a creative and talented woman, she gave up on her dream of becoming an artist to prioritize her family’s needs. And when they all grew up and had families of their own, only two ended up helping her. When no one else volunteered to take over the family business, she dedicated her life to keep providing for her mom, my grandmother (God rest her soul), and her youngest siblings. My grandfather was out of the picture long before I could remember him. Eventually, my mother got married and had children (all 5 of us), but she was still stuck managing the family business. Both my grandparents have long since passed away, but my mother is still running the store until now. My uncle, who comanaged the business with her as soon as he graduated from college, resigned some years ago after he got married to put up his own business. Only my mom and my aunt (her eldest sibling) are left tending the business after my cousin and uncle (another younger brother) almost bankrupted the company. The rest of my aunts and uncles got married, had their own family, and never looked back. Two of her youngest siblings, the youngest brother and sister, still rely on a “monthly allowance” from the company.

Then there’s my father. One time, our family went on an outing to a beach. During one of the small islands we visited, one little boy got swept up in a strong tide and almost drowned. My father sprang into action in a split second while the rest of us stood frozen in shock. He yanked the kid out of the water at the expense of the cellphone in his pocket. That day, I saw my dad as a hero. He become one again when the 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked Bohol in 2013, which decimated his father’s newly renovated house. Upon hearing that Lolo Mando’s house—and his room, in particular—was totally destroyed, my father immediately flew back to his hometown to rescue my grandfather. We would have gotten my aunt too except she vehemently refused to leave Bohol. My grandfather stayed with my parents for over a year until he passed away on February 2015, exactly a week after his 91st birthday. Daddy’s tatay (father) never made it back home again. A week later, Dad and I went to Bohol to deliver my lolo‘s (grandfather) ashes to his final resting place. His house was still in ruins that a makeshift shed was put up on the lawn for my aunt and cousins to sleep in.

Not only are my own parents my personal heroes, they also play superhero to their grandchildren as well. When my brother and his wife had to leave their daughter with my parents while they work in Japan, my parents had to take care of my niece and my sister-in-law’s adopted son. At a time in their lives when they should be slowing down in retirement, they had to get up early, bathe the kids, prepare their meals, and drive them to  and from school. They are basically raising two 10-year-olds. Conversely, my brother and sister-in-law had to suffer being away from their daughter for long periods of time just to be able to support and provide for her and their adopted son.

It’s amazing the extent of the sacrifices parents make for their kids. I’ve  seen firsthand the unconditional love my parents had bestowed on me and my siblings growing up, and I have witnessed the great lengths my siblings go through for their own kids. While I have no children of my own, I can appreciate that parents are essentially their own brand of heroes. They work days and nights to provide for their family, stay up all night if their child is sick, and put their children’s needs before their own.

I do not use the term hero lightly. I think it is a disservice to brandish it around like insipid titles, not unlike how the word epic lost much of its meaning because of overuse. I do not necessarily think doctors, firefighters, and policemen are all heroes because I am not close enough to know one personally. But I stand by each and every hero in my life. They are what I aspire to be and hope the future generations would become. I am reminded every day that the world is not entirely a shitty place to live in and that people are not always self-serving. They restore my faith in humanity. I feel blessed that I don’t have to look beyond my own family to find the inspiration to live my life as conscientiously as I can. So this is how I pay tribute for being the heroes that they are. In my own little way, I want the world to know that there are still good people out there, and I am honored to have some of them in my family.

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Of What-ifs and Maybes

It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.

―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

You thought you had it under control. You thought you had already healed. You thought you have shoved the pain so deep, nothing less than kingdom come could ever dredge up all those memories from the deepest recesses of your subconscious. You were wrong!

All it took was a word or two and someone somehow managed to drag all the pain back to light. Like a freshly opened wound, the throbbing starts, the emotion swells; before you know what hits you, you are on your knees again, writhing in agony and crying your heart out.

Will it take another ten years to numb the pain again? Will the memories ever fade? Will the tears eventually run dry? Will the scars remain? Will you keep perpetually reliving all the unspoken words and opportunities lost?

The pain will never end. The maybes and what ifs still linger just below the surface, lurking out of sight, biding its time, and waiting for another chance to inflict more damage and bring new cracks to your carefully veiled facade.

Until then, the heart still bleeds and the pain endures. Love abides!

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In Retrospect: Doormat

Bedroom, May 11, 2014

“If they don’t appreciate your presence, perhaps you should try giving them your absence.”

–Tinku Razoria

313721_155033961252771_161781144_n-11155842_stdI got home from work and was looking for a hot meal to cap off my day. But instead of an inviting smell of dinner wafting from the kitchen, I was greeted by a locked door. And upon opening said door, there he was in the doorway, gulping down a glass of water as if he didn’t have a care in the world. He could have just opened the door for me, so I wouldn’t have to fumble with my keys. But no, he stood there next to the refrigerator with a blank look on his face.

So instead of the promise of food to fill me up after a hard day’s work, I had to cook dinner for the both of us. It would’ve been fine since I’m used to cooking my own supper, except for the fact that he was home all day long while I was toiling away at work. But I digress!

After dinner though, I had to wash and put away the dishes, while he went straight to his room to rub gunk out of his irritated eyes and go back to his so-called work. What burns me even more is he had the gall to mock me while I was finishing with the dishes.

By the way, it’s Mother’s Day today and instead of celebrating the joys and extolling the virtues of being a woman, I felt so darn unappreciated. I feel like a a dirty rag that has outlived its usefulness and tossed unceremoniously aside without so much as a glance. I may not be a mother, but I’m still a woman who gets fed up with being treated like a housemaid.

So let’s review, shall we! 1. He didn’t open the door even though he was just a few steps away, 2. I had to cook dinner for the both of us when I just got home and tired from work, 3. didn’t offer to help with the dishes and mocked me while I was doing it, 4. treated me like a maid who caters to his every whim, 6. acted like he didn’t care, and 7. ignored my advice time and time again not to rub his eyes to keep from getting even more irritated.

Sometimes I wonder why I bothered having a boyfriend at all!

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Asthmatique 2.0

“The contraption was necessary because my lungs sucked at being lungs.”

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

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How to lose 3-4 lbs instantly:

1. Get asthma or some other chronic diseases with a sporadic trigger.
2. Eat one of the random triggers, and do not anticipate the consequence.
3. Ignore the chest-tightening and labored breathing. Continue with your day as if you are not fighting for your life with every breath.
4. Cough involuntarily and liberally.
5. Prepare to empty your stomach with multiple fits of projectile vomiting (at least four or more times a day).
6. Do not eat anything at this point, as most of it would eventually be regurgitated on the floor or in the toilet.
7. Get off work early and go home as soon as you can. It’s not like you can function effectively and be productive anyway.
8. Stay in bed for the rest of the day, since lifting even a finger hurts too darn much. Each shallow breath feels like contractions of a woman close to giving birth.
9. If at all possible, get some sleep before the masseuse arrives.
10. During and after the two-hour-long and rather painful massage, which was punctuated by tug-of-wars and acid reflux every five or so minutes, try relax as much as possible.
11. Then take some antinausea, anti-asthma, antihistamine, and decongestants immediately. Throw in an Advil or two for good measure.
12. Try to sleep off the pain. From all the meds you’ve taken, hopefully it won’t be long before you get knocked out.
13. Wake up every two hours from either cough or heartburn.
14. As soon as the fever breaks, get to the weighing scale and prepare to be
astonished.
15. Finally, after little to no food within the last 12-24 hours, be amazed at seeing a drop of your weight to almost 5 pounds.

***

I woke up yesterday morning weighing 120.4 lbs, but by the time I went to bed, I only weighed 117.6 lbs. When I woke up this morning, I was lighter at 116.2 lbs. This is not good.

(Disclaimer: Asthma is not contagious, but it helps if you are born with the condition, especially if it was passed down two generations of your family tree.)

Dream Journal #4

“There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it.”

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

I woke up from a bizarre dream this morning. I shouldn’t be binge-watching YouTube videos at 2 am, but I know that I’m probably not going to stop anytime soon.

***

It was payday, and M and I, along with a coworker, decided to go to SM. The jeepney didn’t drive up at the usual drop-off point, so my sense of direction was already wonky to begin with. As I needed to withdraw some cash, I split from the two of them and headed to the nearest ATM.

I decided to take a shortcut, using the employees’ entrance. Soon, I was getting lost amidst dark corridors and endless rows of doors and staircases, each getting colder, darker, and creepier than the last. Finally, I saw a mall personnel. I told her that I was hopelessly lost and in desperate need of directions. She told me to take the next door to the left, climb up the steps to a rainbow room, and say the password “Plums” in order to access the next door, which leads to a side entrance back to the mall. I opened the door and saw a flight of stairs, and as soon as I closed the door, the area became virtually pitch-black and bone-chillingly cold. With my heart thundering inside my chest, I reached the top landing. I gingerly grabbed the doorknob and twisted it. Suddenly, the door flung open and I heard a loud, otherworldly scream. Then a wall of thick dark cloud raced toward me. I bolted and flew down the stairs. It must have taken me only a split-second to find the service lady again. I explained what I had just seen.

Out of nowhere, J came sprinting casually through one of the doors, wearing gym shorts and a tank top, as if he was participating in the Amazing Race, running through the bowels of a crowded mall. I was anxious for only a second or two, and then I felt nothing. Apparently, he and the service lady knew each other, and they had a bit of a chat. I finally cleared my throat, and he turned around around, surprised to see me. We talked briefly, and then a security guard arrived and escorted me to the mall exit. I was surprised to see my coworker waiting for me. Thankfully, she was friends with a diplomat, and we were able to hitch a ride in her limousine. They dropped us off at the highway, where we took a jeepney that was heading for home. The jeep quickly filled up, and then I saw M make his way in. He ended up sitting at a stool in the middle of the aisle, as the jeep was already full. A few minutes later, a spot opened up next to me. M took it.

***

Then I woke up with a feeling that we got home in one piece. Not long after, I tasted the familiar bitterness in my mouth. Does my dream imply that no matter what I had gone through and who I met along the way, I would always end up in the same situation over and over again? God, I hope not! Then the real nightmare would truly be never-ending.

Flashback Journal: Harangued

Bedroom, Mar. 17, 2014

“Mama said there’ll be days like this, there’ll be days like this, Mama said…”

The Shirelles, “Mama Said”

I haven’t slept a wink and was running late for work today. Just as I sat down to open my tools, the person sitting next to me told me they were asked to take in OE (Order Entry; basically, sales) chats since yesterday, due to the overflow from India. Having been from my RD (rest day), I immediately asked if I could take OE chats instead of billing. Apparently, I was not among those shortlisted to take in sales chats, even though I’ve had 4 years worth of experience. I argued my case and pleaded to switch my chat login to OE, but nada. In other words, I had to take miserable billing chats for my entire shift, which sucked big time.

The first 2 chats were a pain, and the other one was a Supchat, which the Escalations team refused to take due to a technicality. And while I was wrestling with my 2 chats, Little Miss Clueless TL (Team Leader) came by and cracked a joke about my termination. Needless to say, I was not amused.

Then I had coaching with my TL, who was feeling extra self-important today, about my so-called “bitchy” attitude. I sat there fuming silently, while TL Self-Important reviewed a perfectly fine chat flow. I was under the impression that they were trying to dissect my every move, just so they could feel superior about themselves and their ability to make mountains out of molehills, or maybe they just wanted me to resign before I was eligible for the 5-year retirement plan. I’m strongly leaning toward the latter.

And today’s the first day of my period, which seems to be the cherry on top of a craptastic day! Nothing like bleeding from your nether regions to set the mood for the whole day. Ugh!