Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Floridians in Big Apple

"Certainly, travel is more than seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living."                         ~Miriam Beard  

 

 

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
--Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)

 

 

AOL's add-an-entry feature does not work well this morning. It will not let me change font color. No time to whine to Joe (AOL Journal Editor and techie god). We are headed to NYC and there is a public transport strike. But NOTHING can dampen my spirits. I am beside myself and looking forward to my first trip to the Big Apple.

I will try to download pics and what nots while I am there.

My mother-in-law's advice: "Make sure the kids have their shoes on.  Don't pack their bib overalls."

Happy Holidays to everyone! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Simpler Holidays

Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.

-King Whitney Jr

 

Our kids have grown and the gift giving mode in our household changed this year. Instead of buying expensive gifts for each other, we bought tickets for the family to go to New York City. We’re spending our Christmas holiday there.

 

Christmas is just so commercialized now-a-days and the older the kids get, the heftier are the price tags for the gifts they want. We put our foot down and decreed that we will make memories this year instead of subscribing to materialism full on. Instead of buying each other gifts, we wrote a check to help Red Cross on its ongoing hurricane drives and donated some to USO to help deployed young military people pay for their airfares.

 

Thorstein Veblen was right on track about his conspicuous consumption theory. We are ashamed to admit that wewere once caught in the waves of consumerism and technological ostentation. We went to the department stores/malls and braved the holiday crowds to get that perfect gift for each other. We spent so much money on things that did not even give us joy after a week of having it.

 

This is not a change of philosophy because of necessity. We are at the point in our lives where we can go out and get what we want if we want to. We  reflected on past Christmases we’ve had that were centered on the material bounty and we want to take a step towards what we hope is a higher plane. We still want gifts but we want those from the heart. 

 

This year, we will try to celebrate Christmas’ real meaning: sharing, giving, and togetherness. We will make memories to be treasured for eternity. We hope our kids will take their children on vacations at familiar places and say, “Your grandfather and grandmother took us here and we did this.” Each of us is giving each other the gift of time so we can share a memory-making adventure together.

 

For friends and families: we bought consumables, baked cookies, made personal gifts and we’ll be visiting some. For our nephews and nieces: we got them gift cards from their favorite stores. Yes, that is all we are going to do this year. It is actually liberating to do away with all the holiday spending. We look at people who are frantically searching for that perfect store bought gift for that special someone and feel sadness welling in us. We were once those people.  

 

 

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Kids Made Me Do It!

“You can tell that it's infatuation when you think that he's as sexy as Paul Newman, as athletic as Pete Rose, as selfless and dedicated as Ralph Nader, as smart as John Kenneth Galbraith and as funny as Don Rickles. You can be reasonably sure that it's love when you realize he's actually about as sexy as Don Rickles, as athletic as Ralph Nader, as smart as Pete Rose, as funny as John Kenneth Galbraith and doesn't resemble Paul Newman in any way--but you'll stick with him anyway."

 -Judith Viorst

 

My teenagers are constantly falling in and out of  “love.”  I just have to keep my mouth shut though I am tempted to say, “You do not know what love means, kid!”

 

Does anybody really knows what love means? Isn’t it one of those emotions that only the “lover” could define? My definition of love may not be yours kind of thing?

 

I believe that most love begins with infatuation. Love is not blind, infatuation is. When you are infatuated, you only see the positives and your blinders filter the negatives.  Then the biochemical induced high of infatuation fades and reality strikes. Suddenly he is not that great anymore. He has a funny way of chewing his food. He isa miser. He is not as brilliant as you thought he was. This is when a lot of couples that thought they are “in love” start arguing. That very smile that made you smitten as a kitten now annoys the beJesus out of you. This is the transitional phase where infatuation may turn into a break-up or love.

 

A lot of people succumb to infatuation addiction. They break up with their partners when the rush of dopamine is depleted. They want to experience that high again and again so they have series of short-term relationships. They are no better than drug addicts because they are chemically dependent too. The only difference is that they do not have to pay for it because their bodies manufacture the chemicals. Some would say that these people are addicted to love. They are not.  They are addicted to the biological chemicals induced by infatuation.       

 

Love is the more mature and reality based by-product of infatuation. You see the positive as well as the negative traits of your partner but you keep them around anyway. You look at the whole package and decide that nobody is perfect and you will take him as is. It does not mean you will not nag him into changing but after a while you will just give in and rationalize the flaw as a character enhancement feature. There’re days that you will question your sanity because you find his double chin “cute” and his burgeoning middle “sexy.” Love is not blind: its sight is 20/20. Love is crazy: it consciously accepts, challenges, and defies reality.    

 

***THE OPINION EXPRESSED ABOVE IS THAT OF THE AUTHOR’S.  FEEL FREE TO DISCUSS YOUR OWN TAKE ON THIS SUBJECT***

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Time Flies!

                                Happy 15th Birthday, J!

                                             

Smiley Faced Genius

 

Almond shaped brown eyes

Full of mischief

Freckled smiling face

Sometimes goofy

Happy and young

Seemingly shallow

You surprise everyone

With intrepid wisdom

 

 

 

<

 

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Bittersweet Memory

"Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love." 

~ Neil Gaiman, as Rose Walker in Sandman #65

 

The passage above reminded me of my disenchantment with love long time ago. I hated love for a few years but a special man saved me from living the rest of my life as an old and bitter spinster. 

 

When I was young, my boyfriend cheated on me with my best friend. I walked away from both of them. I chose not to be a part their drama and refused to see them everagain. I was bitter for a while and it took a lot for another man to convince me that I will not be betrayed again.

 

My friends voiced concerns about my "man hating" tendencies. I told them I did not hate men; I just did not need unnecessary distractions at that moment. I was in denial. I did not withdraw from love but I approached it with Machiavellian bravado for self- protection. I kept men at arms length and scrutinized their intention to the minute detail. I feigned disinterest in their lives so I will not get attached. It took a while for me to be comfortable in a relationship. I dumped them or gave them cold shoulder as soon as I started liking them. I took care of not getting hurt again by being cynical. Only a few men with remarkable patience stayed around but not for long. I always succeeded in driving them away. Some of them thought I was vicious and heartless. I was even called "Ice Princess" and "Dragon Lady."

 

One person saw through my facade and challenged me to seek closure. "Someone hurt you real bad, huh? I know there is a wonderful person lurking behind that smirking face," he said one day. I employed my best defense mechanisms on him but he was persistent. The more I spurned him, the more insistent he became. He told me he was not going away until I showed my true color. Then one day, my annoyance turned into admiration of this man's tenacity.  I told him about my experience with loving someone. He told me not all men are the same. He said he had experienced similar betrayal. He helped me dismantle the wall I surrounded myself for a long time. He showed me that I do not have to hate love. 

 

           

                                                                  Single Lily with Red Note Card- Georgia O'Keeffe 

 

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Friday, November 18, 2005

Sad But Wonderful

                                     

                              

 I spent a wonderful evening crying my eyes out. Sad, but what an awesome and well-deserved night!

I went to the showing of the Broadway production of Miss Saigon last night with the whole family. I should had been a little more unemotional because I have seen the play before. I guess knowing the story line did not make me more objective but set me up and cued me when to reach out for the Kleenex in my purse.   At first, I debated on the whether I should get a ticket for my teenage son because of the adult content/language and violence portrayed in the play. Then, I decided, he might as well see the dark side of humanity through someone's creative endeavour. He is very active in the local theatre so he has a clear sense of what is real and what is art. He came out of it unscathed and without a need for a shrink. He enjoyed the play tremendously.   My daughter was with us and I can proudly say that she is mine. She is a crybaby just like me. She said, "It makes me real emotional to hear someone who can sing beautifully."  I know it was more than that, the child gets lost in a play and becomes the heroine and feels for her. I know the feeling. I've been Kim, Cosette, Stella, Grizabella and so many others. I'm talking in theatre only. I dispose of my split personality after leaving the theatre's portal.   Ah, the hubby's reaction. This I can write a book about. He is a typical man. He feigns distaste and disinterest in art in fear of being seen as effeminate. He hides behind macho critiques of the play and pokes fun on the overdressed/pretentious theatregoers. Behind the facade, his wife could see a manly man who enjoys the performing arts.   The family needed this night out after the trauma of the weeks past. We even brought out some of our dysfunction in the car on the way home. Once again, our love for each other won out and we were better people when we kissed each other goodnight.      

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

All's Well, I Hope...

                    

                                                     Mother and Daughter by Hua Chen

"Don't you ever ask them why.  If they told you, you would cry. So just look at them and sigh. And know they love you."  ~Graham Nash 

Sorry for the lack of update. I think when the body, mind, and soul goes through a trauma,  it manifests a psychosomatic response. My daughter was discharged from the hospital last Saturday and I started feeling rotten and had been nursing a nasty cold since then.

My daughter went to a follow up visit yesterday and was pronounced well and on her way to full recovery. She was told not to over-exert herself and rest when she is tired. She is still on various meds for the next 2 weeks but the Doc thinks she will be able to resume her hard charging teenage life in about 4 or 5 weeks. For now, she will be staying home with me until I can fatten her up. She looks a tad too emaciated at this time.

She went to school today. I drove her to her first class this morning. I told her that it is OK if she feels tired after the first one or second one and to call me to pick her up if she started feeling unwell. So far, so good. She has not called yet.  

Thank you to all those who sent their best wishes, hugs, and prayers through blog comments, e-mails and phone calls. You guys are the best!

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Phoenix Rising

"Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death. "  -Harold Wilson                     
                                                                             It had been a harrowing week. My daughter had been at a hospital since Tuesday last week.

She drove to Tallahassee and Orlando for the weekend and came back on a Sunday evening. She said she started throwing up on the way back to her dorm. She thought she ate something that did not agree with her so she went to sleep. She woke up on Monday with a stomach pain so she went to the emergency room. They told her that she was just dehydrated from the trip so they intravenously hydrated her and sent her back to her dorm. She was supposed to have dinner with me that day and see her brother's Stage Fright show. She did not show up so I left several messages on her cell phone to give me a call. I told myself that she must be exhausted from all the malaise so she was sleeping it off.

The next morning, I was just so worried about her that I left another message on her cell phone stating that I was worried about her and that I will break into her dorm if I do not hear from her immediately. My cell phone rang after a few minutes. It was my daughter. She said that she was still feeling really bad and her vomiting and stomach pain seemed to have intensified. I picked her up from her dorm and brought her to the emergency room. An emergency room doctor immediately saw her because she was doubled in pain and was spewing greenish fluid all over the waiting room.

 

I was told that she probably had a viral gastroenteritis, food poisoning or an intestinal obstruction.  They ran several tests on her including x-rays and EKGs. They gave her more saline IVs and some meds for her vomiting.  She was still in great pain, still vomiting and generally miserable by that evening. I was told that all they can do was wait because intestinal obstruction was ruled out and time will take care of the other two diagnoses.

 

All these times, she was feverish, and her heart rate and blood pressure started creeping up. She looked delirious and in pain. I never felt as helpless and scared in my life. I knew there was something wrong with her but I could not do anything about it. She was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit before midnight. They gave her sleeping pills and some pain medication and the vigil started.

 

She woke up early the next morning with the same symptoms: stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. She still had a high fever, plummeting heart rate and erratic blood pressure. She was in a bad way. At 10 AM her stomach ballooned as if she was in her third trimester and she was disoriented. Several specialists were called to the floor and suddenly a swarm of technicians with portable CT scanners, EKGs and other medical equipments were all over her. I watched the commotion with an overwhelming fear. One of the specialists, a surgeon, told me that there seem to be a lot of fluid in her stomach and he needed to do a surgery on her to find out what was going on. He told me about the possibilities: a leaky intestine, a diseased ovary, liver or kidney, a stomach cancer or a ruptured appendix. He said the surgery needed to be done at that moment because my daughter could die from any of the possible diagnoses without it.

 

They started preparing her for the surgery and when the nasogastric tube was inserted in her and her nose started bleeding, I broke down. I told the medical staff that I was going outside because I do not want her to see me that way. My daughter did not cry or exhibit any fear and I was glad because I probably would need to be sedated if I ever see her scared and in more pain. The operating room nurse walked with me and told me that she will call me during and after the operation to let me know what was going on.

 

The operation was a success. The surgeons opened an eight inches incision on her stomach and found her appendix ruptured. One of the surgeons said all her organs were bathed in bile so they cleaned her insides up and took care of the appendix remains.

 

She was transferred back to ICU where she was put on a regimen of intravenous antibiotic, narcotic drip, saline solution and potassium chloride. Yesterday, her vital signs were back to normal, she was able to get up and walk, and she had her first intake of fluids. She was transferred to a regular hospital room. She seemed to be doing well, but this morning she started having high-grade fever indicative of infection. The surgeon said that she might have an abscess in her incision site so a CT scan will be done and a tube will be inserted to drain fluids off the abscess.

 

That was how I spent my week: on my toes trying very hard not to have a nervous breakdown or cardiac arrest. I would not wish it to happen to my worst enemy. The fear of losing a child is a mother’s worst nightmare. Iam still worried about her but I have known this child all her life. She is a fighter. She will be well, and out and about soon.

 

Monday, October 31, 2005

To My Daughter

Because Dr. Seuss puts it together better than I can...

Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets.  Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.

It's opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don't worry.  Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.

OH! THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!

You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don't
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted.  But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out?  Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That's not for you!

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored.  there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame!  You'll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don't.
Because, sometimes, they won't.

I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.

And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whateverthey are.

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So...
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

A-hauntin' J-Land

There's some haunting going on in J-Land. J-Landers banded together to visit journals and spread tricks or treats. Do not be TP-ed. Visit as many J-Landers as possible and bring goodwill and the goodies!  

My son is part of a local theatre production, "Stage Fright ." They put together a "Fright Night" haunted house to raise funds for the performing arts foundation in our community. He is a zombie prison guard for the "Josea's Jailhouse Rock" segment. He is the hideous creature below.

           

 Happy Haunting!!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Awwwwwwww!

                   

                                      My son and his homecoming date.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

On Being Old and Wise

Everyone goes through a period where the imminence of old age can be fearful. An 85-year old lady shared this essay with me. I felt very privileged to have read it. I want it to be a part of my legacy to my children so I am copying it to my journal. I told her that she alleviated my fear of being old and that she is the epitome of growing old gracefully. Now, I can look forward to growing old and wise. Thank you, Joann.

  

“The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old. I was taken aback, for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, she was immediately embarrassed but I explained that it was an interesting question and I would ponder it and let her know.

 

Old age, I decided, is a gift. I am now probably for the first time in my life, the person I always wanted to be. Oh no, not my body. I sometimes despair over my body but I do not agonize over it for long.

 

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, and my loving family for less gray hair or flatter belly. As I’ve aged, I’ve become kinder and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend. I do not chide myself for eating an extra cookie or for not making my bed or for buying that silly cement gecko that I did not need but looks so avant-garde on my patio. I am entitled to overeat, to be messy and to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon, before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

 

Whose business is it if I choose to read until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50’s and 60’s and if the same time I wish to weep over a lost love, I will.

 

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But then again, some life experiences are just as well forgotten and I eventually remember the important things.

 

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one or when a child suffers? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

 

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turn gray and have my youthful laughs forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

 

I can say, “No” and mean it. I can say, “Yes” and mean it. As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I do not question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.

 

And so, to answer the question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever but while I am here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been or worrying about what will be. For the first time in my life, I do not have to have the reason to do the things I want to do. If I want to play games on the computer all day, lie on the couch and watch movies for hours or if do not want to go to the beach or a movie, I have earned that right. I have put in my time doing everything for others so now I can be a bit selfish without feeling guilty.

 

I sometimes feel sorry for the young. They face a far different world than I knew growing up, where we feared the law, respected the old, the flag and our country. I never felt the need to use filthy language in order to express myself. And they too, will grow old someday. I am grateful to have been born when I was, into a kinder and gentler world.

Yes, I like being old.”

 

Sunday, September 25, 2005

From Dee's Log

Sandi tagged me. I think the game goes like this: Find your 23rd entry then note the fifth sentence in it. 

Link here to read it.

The fifth sentence is: I like being mysterious. I still do.

The entry was about being the Editor's pick. Needless to say, I did not send them a picture so I was not featured. I was too young of a blogger to be comfortable with the limelight then. I think one of my blogger friends nominated me as a lark.

Today is Vince's birthday. He is my favorite blogging poet. For some unknown reason, he is keeping this a secret to the blogging world. Please stop by and wish him a happy birthday.

Had a busy week again. Most of it was spent at the local Red Cross office. I am going to spare you with depressing news from that front because I know you are being bombarded by the new devastation from Hurricane Rita. The center is still processing about 2,000 cases a day and we've seen a few from Texas already.

Hubby was home for the weekend. I just dropped him off at the airport. He will be in Charleston, SC for the next two weeks so if  I do not update next week, do not worry, chances are I packed my bags and went on a road trip to SC because I miss him.

I had a really nice weekend. I went to the local Seafood Festival and had my fill of grilled mahi mahi, calamari, and seafood alfredo. The place was also packed with crafters and artists booths. I spent my money on a basket of bromeliads and I took a card from a local artist so I can visit her studio and buy some of her lovely flower watercolors.

I also spent a lazy evening with hubby watching movies. He watched my indie films and I sat through his macho films. Case in point, I rented "Broken Wings" and "Before Sunset" while he had "Sahara" and "Hostage."

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

End Transmission.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Count Your Blessings

Visage de la Paix -Picasso

Life is never boring at the Red Cross Office. The case management supervisor from Washington, DC left a couple of days ago and she asked me to take over her job. It’s not a hard job. I supervise between 30-50 volunteer caseworkers and review their finished casework before I send it to the headquarters. The management team lavishly praised me for putting together a system that gives an up to the minute report of number of cases processed. The FEMA guys want these numbers and they are relieved that they do not have to wait till the end of the day to get the report.

 

Somehow, I am glad I am out of the firing line. The face to face encounter with the hurricane victims was getting the best of me. I had to take a long break one day after an interview so I can hide and cry. I interviewed an 85 year old woman from New Orleans who was originally from Germany and has no living relatives that she knows of in the US or in Germany. Her neighbors took her with them to evacuate to our hometown when water started rising in their neighborhood. She said she watched her car float away from her garage. Her husband died last year and left her a home and a car.  They did not have any insurance on the home nor the car because they were on fixed income. I started getting teary eyed when she said, “I am 85 years old and I lost everything I have. I am too old to start all over again. Who would hire me at my age? Where am I going to live now?" I hugged her and reassured her that I will do everything in my power to help her. I processed her case and gave her some referral to other community services and gave her my name and contact number so I can help her further if the other agencies fail to assist her. I kept my dignity and did not bawl while she was there but I did a quick getaway to the restroom as soon as she left so I can cry. And cry, I did. 

 

On the lighter note, I would like to share my all time favorite poem. I stumbled in it when I was in highschool and it helped me form some of my present convictions. I also love the tittle. It sounds so exotic and mysterious.

 

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Dee, Reporting for Duty!

I am alive, well and still living in Hurricane Alley. Life had been a little busy. I am spending a lot of my time at the local Red Cross office doing disaster relief case management and outreach. I was on the six o'clock news on the local channel yesterday. Channel 3 came and videotaped our training session. I was not compelled to watch the news just to see myself so I did not tune in. I stopped watching TV a week ago because it saddens me to see the hurricane devastation.

Disaster relief work is emotionally taxing but intrinsically rewarding. I get teary eyed . I hear the victims' sad stories and I hugged and will be hugging a lot of them. I always try to portray a professional but compassionate demeanor so I have yet to bawl infront of my clients. I usually take a break when I start feeling emotionally overwhelmed.

In other news... emeraldcalf tagged me via e-mail. Here's my contribution to the new blog craze:

7 Things I Plan To Do Before I Die:
1. Travel in at least one country in all the continents. I've been to three and I traveled all over North America. Four down, three more to go. Hello, South America; Antartica; and Africa!!!
2. Join the Peace Corps and help people in the third world countries for 2-5 years after my retirement. Yes, I am an egalitarian.
3. Take courses in Quantum Physics to indulge the mad scientist in me. "Quantum foam, makes you roam."
4. Finish post-graduate school just because. I do not wish to join the ivory tower team.
5. Compile a book of my essays and poetries for my children. I want to leave them something simple but priceless, a piece of me.
6. Buy a Harley and hit the road with hubby in the backseat. Nope, he will not be allowed to ride it by himself.
7. Learn to play violin and rock like Vanessa Mae with it. I'll be Granny Mae!


7 Things I Can Do:
1. I can speed read and remember most of what I read.
2. I can understand mathematical concepts.
3. I can crunch numbers like a seasoned accountant.
4. I can bake anything and everything with love.
5. I can sew, crochet, landscape and whip up a themed dinner.
6. I can travel anywhere in the world with confidence.
7. I can be generous with my time, money and other resources to people I love and causes I believe in.

7 Things That Attract Me To The Opposite Sex:
1. Smiling face and eyes.
2. Brains and techie persuasion.
3. Sense of humor. I enjoy a banter with the witty and sarcastic.
4. Taste in food, arts and culture.
5. Loves to travel.
6. Generous and loving heart.
7. Open and honest communication style.


7 Things I Say Most Often:
1. I love you, kid!
2. Have you eaten?
3. Do you want cookies?
4. Goodnight!
5. Good morning, sunshine!
6. Thank you.
7. Yes, sir!/ Yes, Ma'am!


7 Celebrity Crushes:
1. Harrison Ford
2. Kurt Cobain
3. The Ramones (Yes, all of them!)
4. Thomas Dylan
5. David Bowie
6. Albert Einstein
7. Bob Dylan

Friday, September 2, 2005

Dark Clouds

We survived the wrath of Katrina in the Florida Panhandle but our neighbors in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi did not. I am thankful that we were spared but my heart breaks for all those who lost everything they got. I stopped watching the news and reading the newspaper because I can't contain my emotions. I wish I did not set eyes on those Atlantis-like cities and those people with sheer desperation in their eyes. I am so distraught, it seems like everything and anything sets my tears to fall. I wrote a check to American Red Cross and volunteered my services as a Case Manager to assists those who found refuge in our city. I wish I could do more. Please help if you can. 

Another thing that complicates my present emotional state is that two of my favorite people decided to part ways. I wish they tried to work it out or will try to work it out. I doubt they will but I can still wish, right? To both of them, I would like to say: I love you both. I understand that sometimes, relationships do not work out right. I hope as time passes, you will both heal and find friendship viable because you are both wonderful and good for each other.  

I would like to thank those who sent their prayers and good vibes while we were waiting for Katrina to hit or miss us here on the Florida-Alabama border. We have minor damages and inconveniences but they pale in comparison to those suffered by the neighboring states. Please pray and send those vibes to the people of the three states that were devastated by the hurricane.  

I do not mean to depress everyone. I just want to get this out of my system by writing it down. I find writing down my thoughts to be therapeutic. This is my mental health therapy.   

Friday, August 26, 2005

Pack and Go

  Welcome to Sunshine State AKA Hurricane Alley...

 

      

 

It's that time again. Katrina is moving our way. Another forced vacation. Carload of our precious belongings. The mass exodus to higher grounds. Snail pace through clogged interstates to the Northern States. The smell of fear. The nervous vibration. November 30th need to come soon. We are tired of dodging hurricanes.    

Monday, August 22, 2005

Human Frailties

 Seven times have I despised my soul:
The first time when I saw her being meek that she might attain height.
The second time when I saw her limping before the crippled.
The third time when she was given to choose between the hard and the easy, and she chose the easy.
The fourth time when she committed a wrong, and comforted herself that others also commit wrong.
The fifth time when she forbore for weakness, and attributed her patience to strength.
The sixth time when she despised the ugliness of a face, and knew not that it was one of her own masks.
And the seventh time when she sang a song of praise, and deemed it a virtue.
Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam (1926)

                         

                                             Acrobat, Mark Chagall 

 

Human Foible

by Dee 

 

Perfection is not for mere mortal

Stop being hard on yourself

Everyone make mistakes

And suffer grave consequences

 

You are your worst enemy

For you know too much

About your past transgression

And inability to seek absolution

 

Redeem yourself

By loving her unconditionally

Embrace her frailties

And seek divine mercy

 

Monday, August 15, 2005

Que Sera Sera

Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might be found more suitable mates. But the real soul-mate is the one you are actually married to.  J.R.R. Tolkien                         
                            

We were sitting at an outdoor cafĂ© in a piazza built by Andrea Palladio in the quaint town of Vicenza, Italy when my husband asked me what I was thinking about. I was lost in the past for a while, thinking of someone.

 

 His name is Romano. He was an Italian civil engineer, the man whom I thought I would be married to instead of the lovely man in front of me. Romano and I went out on and off for five years. I thought he was my soul mate because we came from the same Catholic background and had a lot of things in common. He was thirty-eight years old and I was seventeen years old. I graduated from high school when I was barely sixteen. I was a college drop out working at a travel agency when I met him. I know our relationship stirred a lot of rumors but when I was with him chronology did not matter. He reassured me that he did not care what others thought and that our age difference did not matter because he really liked being with me. He respected my wishes and never pressed me to do anything I did not want to do. He asked me to marry him several times during the five years we were going out but I repeatedly told him that I was not ready. We dated and hanged out whenever we have the time to. He was working at an airport construction project long hours and was playing in his company’s soccer team most nights and weekends. I worked ten hours seven days a week to keep afloat and partied like a teenager should. He asked me to live with him so I would not have to worry about paying rent but I refused his generosity every time he broached the subject. Maybe I was not desperate enough to save a few hundreds in rent money or maybe I knew even then that we would not be together forever.

 

 My family did not have any objection about our relationship. They even tried their hardest to push me into marrying him. “What else could you ask for?” they said. “He is educated, has a stable job, has a home, and a car…” they would add. “I don’t know,” I would answer truthfully. Maybe I knew that my husband would come along and sweep me off my feet when I was twenty-two.

 

All our mutual friends knew that we were going out. Some of them were not very keen on the May-December angle of the relationship. They all know that after I broke up with my long term boyfriend in high school, I swore that I will never go out with a guy my age because of all the dramas these kind of relationships entailed. I was not equipped to deal with all the emotional complexity of young love.  I chose to date men a few years older than I was because they seem to have a very busy schedule and could not be bothered with all the details of my life. I like having a life of my own and not feeling that I have to answer to anybody. Maybe I knew that I would someday meet a man who will let me live the life I always wanted but did not have a clue of what it was at the time.

 

 I thought I loved Romano. I was happy when he called every night to wish me goodnight. I cancelled appointments with my friends to see him play soccer.I grinned from ear to ear when he sent flowers to my workplace or when he brought boxed meals at my office when I was working late. I was always eager to see a movie, go to dinner or watch a play with him. I even relished the time we hanged out at his apartment drinking his collection of Italian wines. I loved that he could have had his way with me several times but did not take the opportunity. “I want it to be a mutual decision. I will not coerce you into doing something you might regret later,” he said. And I thought,  “Please do!” but I never gathered the courage to initiate physical intimacy with him or tell him what I was thinking. Maybe he knew that I would not be his and I somehow I knew that we were not meant for each other.

 

I regret the fact that I seemed to have strung Romano along for five years. I did not intend to. It just happened that way. I thought I loved him until I met my husband. I remember feeling guilty when I realized that I am in love with another man. I met him at a restaurant and told him about it. I saw the pain in his eyes. Then he asked, “Are you sure?”  I just nodded my head and stared at the table because I cannot bear to look him in the eye again. I had to leave because I felt so horrible. He still called  every night to say goodnight (he left messages since I did not want to take his calls) and sent me flowers until I left to join my husband in his hometown. I did not give him my new address or phone number. I know he could have kept in contact with me if he wanted to but I am glad he did not. Maybe he knew that we will be both better off without further contact and that we were not meant to be.

 

Maybe I made up all the MAYBEs in this story so I will not feel so bad when I remember Romano. The only thing I am sure about is that I married the right person. I do not regret loving my husband twenty something years ago. I still love him and will be loving him for a long time to come. 

 

 

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Take Me to the Theatre...

(Drum roll, please!)

Presenting.... Mass Battle 2366! A post apocalyptic play starring my own little thespian as the Red Miner Prince!!!!

Opening night tonight. I am so excited and nervous.

Break a leg, J!!!  

                                      

Monday, August 1, 2005

Perturbed and Bothered

I am an aimless gondolier. I traverse the mucky waters of the canals of Venice with foreboding...

 

 

I have not written anything substantial in a while. The mood was just not right and my creative juices are not flowing. I write a paragraph or two a day on a story I have been working on for a while but when I go back to read what I have written, I have this overwhelming sense of malcontent that I just want to delete everything and start all over again.

 

I have written a couple of poems about things that concern me lately but somehow I am not happy with the outcome. It is true that I often revisit my writings and revise them a few times before I deem them “good enough” but lately I am suddenly filled with a perfectionist attitude. When I write a poem, I worry about the iambic pentameter. When I write a story, I envision my English college professor with a red marking pen, scolding me about my run on sentences and dangling participles. I recently dug my Little Brown Book, a didactic tome about written English, seeking resolution of my recent unhappiness.  I thought reading chapters of it would infuse me with some writing confidence and get me back on track. No, it did not. On the contrary, I used it to nitpick everything I have written.

 

I used to be so unconcerned about established rules and regulations. I have expressed myself in writing without regards to its conventions. Why am I suddenly bothered that my writing does not measure up to what the English language experts deem appropriate?  Is it because reading the brilliant writings and well executed passages in other journals made me feel inadequate?  Is it that old age finally caught up on me and my brain is trying to reform me of my rebellious writing ways? 

 

This is not me (should I write, “This is not I” because then it would be grammatically right?). I do not want to be reformed. I want to write the way I want to. I want to be able to say once again that I write for my own enjoyment so it does not really matter how I do it. I hate being insecure and whiny. I know this too shall pass, but I want it to pass RIGHT NOW.

 

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Forward Passing

Hubby sent me this as a forward and I laughed out loud reading it. Just want to share the joy... 

 

TO ALL THOSE WHO SURVIVED the 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's , 70's and 80's !!

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing and didn't get tested for diabetes.

 
Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, bread and butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have PlayStations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms..........WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.
 
We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms and although we
were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live in us forever.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!

The past 60 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own
good.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Succumbed to the Lure

I took one of  the dreaded blogthing tests after visiting aiibrat's and Mrs. L's journals. I was curious if these tests will reveal something about me that I do not know already. I found out that they are passive and they say things one wants to hear. Below is the result I got when I tried one tittled ,"What are the keys to your heart?" I want to go back there and do every possible combination on a quizz and find out what they say. I have time to burn and it is too warm to go outside. So a-quizzin here I go... 

The Keys to Your Heart

You are attracted to those who are unbridled, untrammeled, and free. In love, you feel the most alive when your lover is creative and never lets you feel bored. You'd like to your lover to think you are optimistic and happy. You would be forced to break up with someone who was insecure and in constant need of reassurance. Your ideal relationship is open. Both of you can talk about everything... no secrets. Your risk of cheating is zero. You care about society and morality. You would never break a commitment.

This tells me that I am passive-aggressive  and I have the righteousness of a TV evangelist. Now I see where I need to amend my rotten ways... 

Friday, July 22, 2005

When you are unhappy and you know it, write a poem...

                   

A poet is an unhappy being whose heart it torn by secret sufferings, but whose lips are so strangely formed that when the sighs and the cries escape them, they sound like beautiful music... and then people crowd about the poet and say to him: "Sing for us soon again;" that is as much as to say. "May new sufferings torment your soul."
Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher (1813 - 1855) 
 
 
  
Waiting

 

I’m sitting here

Waiting for you

Negative thoughts swirling

Hoping you are alive

Somewhere warm

Safe and loved

 

I do not know

What I did

To make you run

From reality

And what I can do

To keep you grounded

 

Meanwhile

I am just sitting here

Thinking of ways

We can get closer

Stop the charade

End this disaster

 

I do not know

How to reach you

Literally and emotionally

I am ready to expunge

Just waiting

For your response

 

Sometimes I feel

I can wait

Until you are ready

To settle down

And be happy

But waiting is exhausting

 

I wait in misery and hope

The next time you come around

You are whole and new

Without the need

To chase pieces of you

In all the wrong places

 

***Note: This is a poem I wrote a while ago when I was having a problem with a loved one. To date, I am happy so do not worry about me. Poetry writing is therapeutic for me so I write poems about things bothering me at the time. It gives me clarity and affords me the luxury of restrospection. Just wanted to post the poem here to share.***