Friday, December 25, 2015

For My Departed Friend

Bob's Geometric Print with Water Color Pencil

Dear Bob,

It is Christmas day and we are on our way to Kentucky to see my in-laws. This holiday is surreal for me. I found out 2 days ago that you were killed in a car crash. You were on your way home to your parents. It was your birthday. Your turned 42. Your step father told me that you were 5 miles away from home and an oncoming car went over the grass median and hit you. He said you passed instantly from internal injuries.

Jody said she was on your FB page to wish you a happy birthday. She scrolled through until she saw posts about you no longer being with us. I trust Jody. There was no way she could have been lying but I did not believe her. I called your phone. When your step dad picked up, I called out your name in relief but it wasn’t you. I told him I called to make sure something I had heard about you wasn’t true but it was true. Your step dad told me as gently as possible. He told me they had no way of reaching your employer and asked for help.

I had to think about how I could help. Eventually, I reached out to your Facebook contacts. Someone told me they put your dad in touch with the appropriate person from West Chester University.

I called Kelly to let her know. Like me, we both got wrapped up in getting married, me having a son and changing our careers. We all lost touch.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Meet the Storm Chaser



The relationship I had before I got married obviously did not work out. We were a match in some ways. I wanted to be a triathlete and he was one. We were both horribly immature, sometimes we had similar humor. I thought he was really funny. We were also both horribly anxious and that might be all we had in common. By then I had a long standing relationship with Lexapro and a licensed therapist so my issues were under control-ish. He would show up at my door sometimes at ungodly hours and want to fall asleep next to me. I would never know why but I must have given him some measure of comfort, at least more sleep. We weren’t perfect and in many ways we were the perfect storm. I thought maybe our mutual issues with anxiety would ally us against it but it was the opposite. I want to stress that this was just the relationship part of us.

What might interest you was that he worked for a company that provided a service for the government. He was not a government employee but the government had cleared him to do their work.  He once told me that in order to obtain such clearance; his friends and family were interviewed.

So what are the chances an intelligent, neurotic, triathlete would date one our 11 million?  I don’t know. The same stupid luck that a woman at the DMV in New York would think the Philippines was a part of Puerto Rico after seeing my birth certificate.  Karma works in mysterious ways.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

One Tribe - Part 2

This post is under construction. In an effort to progress my writing, I had to move this text out of the way so I could continue. Please stay tuned for Part III.

Monday, September 14, 2015

One Tribe - An Examination of Stanley Karnow’s - In our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines - Part 1

While you’ve been reading some of my posts about cats, yoga, chocolate and other randomness, I finally did finish this book. The reading of this work has been an enormous undertaking. It’s not the size of the work (although I might also be able to conquer a small island armed only with this book) but 400 years of a rape of an island, rape of a culture and rape of the Filipino psyche. I undertook this book in an effort to follow a rabbit down a hole. Primarily, it was a recommendation from Scott Walker, author of Edge of Terror, previously reviewed on this blog. Second, I wanted to know why my mother’s birth certificate was destroyed during World War II.  Lastly, I sought to know about the rule of the Spanish and the Americans as a means to understand the “why” of the migration of my family from the Philippines to America. What I got was a mixture of war, politics, economics and culture. It makes sense that those things come into play since the reasons behind something as complex a human migration live in the decisions and actions of multiple generations, spanning multiple continents and how those stories, our stories, intersect. It was amazing to learn this history, yet I am fatigued by the images in my mind of war, poverty, imperialism and subjugation. Having lived through the People Power Revolution led by Cory Aquino or “restoration” as Mr. Karnow describes it, was just the tip of the iceberg.

Mr. Karnow has a very engaging writing style.  It’s probably the thing that got me through his thorough and very impressive book. At times it was like reading war segments of Lord of the Rings. There were several instances of armies traveling, landing on a particular coast and engaging in battle. There were many accounts of unforgiving jungles and terrain that decimated foreign armies and natives alike. Yet the same jungles and terrain protected its inhabitants foreign and native alike. These conflicts were first waged with swords, spears and shields in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, guns in the 19th century and finally politics, psychology and economics in the 20st century.  Actually, those last three occurred early on as well but more subtly with the hand to hand combat in the forefront.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My Interview with Carolina Valdiva - Creator of My (un)Documented Life

I was recently interviewed by fellow undocublogger Carolina Valdivia , founder of My (un) Documented Life. When she first asked me on FB she mentioned that her other "friend" would also provide answers. Her other friend turned out to be Prerna Lal, who I view as one of our leaders in the undocumented community. I am of course one of Ms. Lal's followers.

I am very humbled that Carolina put the two of us on her blog to motivate and inspire our brothers and sisters to write, especially about the undocumented experience. Please check out the interview
and support the would be Dr. Valdvia in her efforts to organize, educate and of course make all of us proud.




Monday, July 27, 2015

Meet The Painter


In one of Junot Diaz’ lectures that I have watched in my You Tube education, he says that the world expects humans to function at the pace of machines. He reminds us that we are in fact not machines and art serves as such a reminder. I feel better thinking on this since I have been working on the same topic for 10 months. It’s definitely not “machine” pace. I’m not even sure its “human” pace. A friend of mine once imitated a sloth during our trip to Costa Rica. I think I am sort of like this guy here crossing the road.  This photo of a three toed sloth is from the actual trip. He was crossing the road and my friend caught it on her iPhone.



He is not in front of his laptop so at this point I might be ahead of the game. In my writing sloth-dom, I’m proud to support an up and coming artist!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Anniversary Chococurb

I have labeled this a "product review" but I am not sure that is accurate anymore given that I am talking about the same "product" over and over again. That being said, I'm going to bring this back to Chococurb.

I recently celebrated my 7 year wedding anniversary with my husband. This entails dinner where we were married, which is easy since it took place at a great restaurant, and an exchange of token gifts. He usually gives me the traditional gift, which this year is copper. This year, I gave him a subscription box of Chococurb.  My profile with the company is for a variety of dark chocolate and since it is a subscription, the final package is a surprise. Here's what we got.

I have to make another special note of the packaging. The package arrived via the US Postal Service in a cardboard envelope. The contents were this heavy duty green box and nestled inside is another heavy duty box. It's contents were nestled in tissue paper.



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

AIDS Walk New York



There are risks in the act of coming out. For example, I write this blog semi anonymously, not revealing my name and my former undocumented status to my present and past employers. I fear risking my career, my husband’s career and I am honestly not sure what kind of stigma it would have for my son. I am neither a DREAMer nor an activist. I am a writer and a mother. I seek to protect my son in all aspects, even if means cowardice in my own eyes. I am sure every parent can understand. That being said, there is power in “coming out”. 

I received an email recently from my cousins that are participating in the AIDS walk in New York City. The email said that it had been revealed to them just last year that their father, my Godfather, passed away from AIDS 20 years ago. They are walking to “promote education, increase awareness, improve care, reduce stigma, and build strong supportive communities for the millions affected by HIV and AIDS.”

I am very proud of them, their efforts, and the women they have become despite the absence of their father. I was a teen when their father passed. They were the age of my son. It was difficult to watch the demise of my cousin, the Kaposi's Carcoma on his skin, how his illness hurt our family by eventually taking him from us, and in the end not giving the real reason for his death outside of our family. My cousin was a physician and it was important to keep the cause of his death confidential. His wife is still a practicing physician. There were several explanations given to us at the time of his death and, of course, I do not know which explanation was the truth. I don’t know that anyone knows the true origin of how my cousin contracted this virus. It breaks my heart that in this day and age, one can survive and almost live a normal life with such a diagnosis. In the 1980’s, it was certainly a death sentence. Had my cousin gotten ill now, the outcome would surely be different. 

Other family members and I were not in attendance for his funeral although we were at the viewing. Being an Asian family, we were encouraged to attend the Long Island Math Fair and give our presentations, rather than see him laid to rest.  


Ft Meyers Vacation Eats


We ventured out a handful of times during our stay at Ft. Meyers. After some play time at the beach on our first night, we picked a place called Yucatan on Old St. Carlos Blvd.




It had a neat store front and ambiance. It was standard bar fare and there were fish and sharks all over the walls, which we enjoyed. My little guy had the sliders and his fries were awesome. My buffalo chicken sandwich was maybe a little over cooked so it was hard to eat as a sandwich. The hubs had their chicken quesadillas which I enjoyed much more than my own order. The portions were huge so we brought home quite a bit of it. Our table was right near the door near the window in the open air. We had a super nice waitress that was attentive to us despite the size of the place. Our order was also brought out relatively quickly. It was a really nice evening and on our way home there were a couple of pirates tossing some glow in the dark toys in the air. Who doesn’t love a couple of pirates? My little man and I start walking home sooner than the hubs since it was getting late and close to bedtime. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dolphin Tour


Since our little man is a fan of sharks and ocean animals in general, we decided to do a dolphin tour run by the Banana Bay Tour Company. They had tours leaving the other islands but we did not want to get off Ft. Meyers to get there. As luck would have it, the boat leaving from Ft Meyers was at the dock managed by the hotel next to our condo.
We literally got out of bed, had breakfast and walked across the street. We chose a ½ day tour in search of dolphins, shells and a stop at Lover’s Key. 

Our boat was a covered pontoon with benches and picnic tables. The boat was enclosed so our little guy could walk about safely even in bare feet. Our captain and first mate were 2 of the most laid back and cool people we had met. They pointed out dolphins and large local birds nesting in the estuary, which I learned is where fresh water meets ocean salt water. This type of environment is abundant with sea life, which makes it ideal hunting grounds for wild dolphins that need to eat about 20 pounds of fish per day! We learned that dolphins hunt together to increase their chances of a catch. We also learned that unlike dolphins that are born and bred in captivity, the wild dolphins that we saw swimming would not have friendly since they would seek to protect their territory. The boat would sort of amble to one location and stop when we spotted animals. There was indescribable joy on the face of my son when one of these would crest the water.  We also saw a manatee, which we learned could stay under water for about 20 minutes, so we only saw him break the surface once. To his disappointment, we did not see any sharks but learned there were about 18 different breeds in the area. Our guides explained that the sharks only came out to hunt at night. I should mention we saw pelicans, an eagle and egrets too.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spring Break

While I am working on my book report for In Our Image (it really does take me this long to really get my head together about this stuff), my family and I are on our way home from a much needed spring vacation. We were at Ft. Meyers, Florida for a long weekend.  Even though I'd love to get more stamps on my passport, we choose to stay in the country because there was a direct flight from Philadelphia to Fort Meyers, which is about 2 hours long (ideal for our 3 year old). Rather than go on an all-inclusive resort we rented a condo right by the beach so our little man had his own room and we had our own kitchen. We followed our usual bedtime routine except for reading books (we forgot to bring books). The airport at Ft. Meyers was about a half hour from our rental. Since it was a beach vacation we were able to pack light. We checked a small suit case and medium sized duffel bag. We each had a backpack so we were relatively hands free.

Our kid’s cares harness  interested the family behind us, who said that eventually their little ones would require a plane ticket and they did not want to bring a car seat with them on the plane. It also interested some of the flight crew that recognized it but saw it rarely. This device turns a regular air plane seat belt into a 5 point harness for the smallest traveler. It also packs down into a nifty little nylon sack so you really aren’t lugging a giant car seat around. We rented our car seat with the car rental.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sherpani Ultralight Tote Bag



I just bought a bag from REI and I love it. It’s the Sherpani Soleil Ultralight Tote bag. I bought it in black just like a lot of my things so I don’t have to think about coordinating colors. I have been searching for a bag that is part laptop case, part diaper bag, part gym bag and chic enough to be a sort of a purse ( sort of like (working) mom chic, not like “mom jeans” chic ). I should say that I do not like switching all my things from one bag to another depending on the situation. I truly do not want to take the time. When I think about it, I really only have three “situations”: mommy, work and gym. I guess you can count me hunched over my writing desk as another “situation” but at that point I am home and do not need a bag. Although when I am in my “office” at home, I do bring my purse and take it with me when the day is done. Thankfully the commute is only to the kitchen downstairs. I should also tell you that I do not like shopping so I actually mail ordered a few bags before I found this one. 

I like this bag because it’s several bags in one. It has back pack straps that are padded that might be good for a day trip into the city that might contain a water bottle, pullup, spare clothes and baby wipes. It has a strap if I want to use it as a laptop case for work in my actual office. It fits my 14 inch laptop with plenty of room to spare. There are also tote handles that I used yesterday to hang on the treadmill so I wouldn’t have to leave it in a locker at the Y! This bag is also not too big.
It was around 99 dollars but I got 20% off as an REI member when their membership dividends were issued. So if you’re a low maintenance, low effort sort of gal that hates shopping you might like this as much as me. (If only my wardrobe were this easy)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Chococurb Revisited





I was delighted to find this in the mail today from the owners of Chococurb! There was a handwritten note that expressed appreciation for using their service and of course truffles!

So I need to preface this by saying that my day job is a packager for the healthcare industry. I have designed packaging and labels for many kinds of products intended for clinical trials. I don't claim to know a whole lot but I know packaging.

Dr. Roberto Gonzales (Harvard) at Princeton on Undocumented Immigrant Youth Feb 2015


I just listened to this talk. I very much would have liked to go to see him since Princeton is not too far but my work responsibilities took precedence. What a great presentation. There is also a Q&A session afterwards.

Dr. Roberto Gonzales is a sociologist currently with the Harvard school of education. His research has been focused on undocumented youth.This talk is about immigrant youth that move through the school system sort of quasi legal and then reach a point where their status prevents them from progressing their lives with jobs, college and even driving. He talks of youth that excels despite these challenges (DREAMers) and also those that fall through the cracks.

Dr. Gonzales gives us a look of what our current immigration system is doing to families and gives us cause for change.




Thursday, March 19, 2015

Grimm


So rather than write about In Our Image like a good history blogger, I have been watching Grimm EVERY SINGLE NIGHT on Amazon Prime for the past two weeks. Season 5 premiers tomorrow night and I am trying to catch up. I am almost done with season one. I am completely hooked and I can't seem to do anything else. Well, that's not completely true, I am in the process of re-reading the parts of In Our Image that I am looking to write about. Yes, I read, re-read and cope by binge TV watching.

Tonight is that start of March Madness, so while the family watches Kentucky, I blog. Go Cats!

The premise of the show is about a homicide detective, Nick Burkhardt, who has the ability to see monsters in his midst. He finds out after some time that this ability is a gift that his family has passed on for many generations. His ability came into being with the passing of his aunt.  In their past, members of his family known as Grimm have hunted monsters. These hunters have chronicled meeting each "wesen" (Ves-sin) or creature through journals. There are drawings of such creatures, descriptions of their powers and how the Grimm have managed to defeat them.



As he comes into his own as a Grimm, Nick continues to investigate and solve violent homicides in the city of Portland. He finds that both lives seem to intertwine  since the murders taking place in the city are somehow related to the presence of otherworldly creatures. He does defy the norm by discerning who among such creatures are friend or foe resulting in unlikely friendships. Thus far he has been able to keep his life as a Grimm and a homicide detective separate, although it always threatens bleed through despite his best efforts.

I learned that the show is shot on location in Portland. The massive trees seem like another character. It provides the perfect backdrop as one can imagine a getting swallowed by a grand forest.



Thus far, each case is based on Grimm's fairy tales, which I am not too familiar with at this point, with a Tess Gerritsen twist. Tess Gerritsen is the author of the Rizzoli and Isles series, which is very unlike the show on TNT. The crimes written by Gerritsen are frankly horrific and each novel is addictive.

Re-reading this post, I see my pattern being attracted to stories of duality for obvious reasons.  I think there is some part of me that sort of agrees that in our lives, there are always darker powers at play and we all struggle through it.  Whatever those struggles might be, I am at the edge of my seat for season 5. See you then.




Friday, March 6, 2015

Chococurb

While we are waiting for me to finish Mr. Karnow's history of the Philippines and I am so very close (10 pages to go). I have to tell you guys about a gift I ordered for a friend. I have been waiting to use this service for "the one" just because I am tickled by the thought of getting gourmet chocolates through the mail. I am also a chocoholic on the wagon that can eat a slice of chocolate cake covered in Nutella (yes, I have actually done this). Since I can't run all the time to counteract this addiction, I keep myself from eating it but by giving it to other people.  My friend recently had to say goodbye to a pet so she became "the one".

According to the shipment tracking, she hasn't received it yet so hopefully she is not reading this right now. I ordered her a box of chocolate via Chococurb. I learned of it from a Huffington Post Blogger, Maria Adcock and her blog post.

So anyway, she has yet to receive it but hopefully she enjoys (and shares).





Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Whole Body Yoga

While we are waiting for me to move on with my life and finish up Mr. Karnow's book, I have to tell you guys that I went to a local yoga studio this past weekend.

I had been to the establishment before while hugely pregnant. Since then, they have expanded their location from a one floor studio located in a house to an additional location nearby called Artisan Alley. The building looks like a converted warehouse that house other fitness studios and maybe a painting studio. There are probably other businesses but it was not obvious to me at only one and half cups of coffee.  Their location was on the top floor with wonderfully naked ceilings (although expensive to heat). There were maybe 7 of us in the class led by the owner. At the start of the class she asked if there were any issues she should know about with regard to our bodies. She also inquired about the state of our energy level. I lied by omitting the recent tweak of my shoulder but I did tell her that my energy was low since I was not a morning person. The class was at 8:30 am and it was frigid outside!

She started off the class with breathing and listening to soothing music. This went on for what seemed like a while. We went through some simple movements until we found ourselves mid vinyasa. For those of you unfamiliar, vinyasa is the series of movements that look like a high pushup, a low pushup, arching your back with hands and feet to the floor (upward dog) ending in an upward dog, which is like a push up but your body is in a V and your bottom is the apex. I liked that the intensity grew slowly and you realized you had a great workout after a while when your body felt warmer. I definitely felt warm and with each pose could feel the creaking of my joints since I hadn't been to a yoga class in years.

All in all it was a wonderful workout and I appreciate that the instructor led us through a hard workout but didn't try and kill us. I've certainly been less that yogi and felt like crawling out of a heated studios. This past Saturday, I just felt taller, warmer and ready for the day.

Photo courtesy of my phone. It does not do this wonderful space justice.



Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015

Its a new year. I feel as if I have made great strides in writing, mainly the sharing of writing. I have gone from zero sharing to sharing in general. I am also probably a few pounds heavier after December. Christmas is rough in that regard, always eating and drinking too much to celebrate all that has come to pass. With my Fitbit, I hope to combat weight gain and the general aging during one's 30 something years.

I ran into a fellow blogger during the holidays. He advised me to write more! I am more than half way through the work of Mr. Karnow so I do expect to write more on that in 2015. But I am taking his advice and just writing the general junk that goes through my head for the 10 people that read this thing.

Happy New Year my friends.