Monday, November 25, 2019

This too shall pass....I need to calm down.

I find that it's hard to control myself from crying, when the tears seem to have a mind of their own. And especially when you're in a public place.

A few weeks ago, I had to go to the hospital again. It's always a mental struggle for me when I have to do so. I try my best to be a good sport about it, but I always end up crying, out of frustration and anger. Its not a nice feeling to be helpless and be at the mercy of people, of whom I'm not so sure, if they know what they're doing ( like the ER doctor that said, "I don't know" after she take a look of my messed up arm with the PICC line ). I have nothing personal against hospitals but  it makes me  angry and desperately wanted to punch anyone in the face, whenever I have to go there and someone  tells me "It's just a simple procedure. You'll be fine."

I have been very patient and try to be okay, since I found out about my situation. But sometimes, I am fed up with it despite my prayers to have peace of mind. I started to think, what's the point of going through all the trouble and inconvenienced others in the process. Frankly, I am an inconvenience now. The people who cares about me can't make plans, without having to consider my situation. And I don't like to make plans anymore because I end up more frustrated if they don't pan out because something come up.

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." - Albert Einstein 

My life now, consists of a cycle of "good" days and "not-so-good" days. Of course, I need not dwell on that fact or else I'd end up unhappy and miserable. So, on my good days, I try to take it all in and revel in the moment---the scenic walk around Westwood Lake; being able to watch the sunrise; the feel of the book in my hands, while reading; the taste of coffee; the chance to hang out with family and all the things I get to enjoy each day that I'm still here. I try to remember them all because unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, especially the good stuff. On the other hand, when I have a not-so-good day, like when I had to do blood work more than once in one day or that time when I had to go to the hospital because I had a fever--- I steel myself  and go ahead with it, no matter what I feel. Whenever I'm in a situation where I have to endure physical pain and my mind have to work double time to come up with a lot of "what ifs" or "what can go wrong" scenarios, I can't help but sometimes, think of running away and just disappear, until I'm good to come back. But the thing is, I can't work up the courage to just do that, I mean, you know, run away. So, I stay. I put on a brave front and forge ahead, bearing in mind, that "this too shall pass".  And hoping that it does.

I am never really alone. I'm thankful for my sister, Mama and Rhea. 
Sometimes, I think about, how long can I keep this up? How long can my body keep up? And I'm not saying this because I'm being whiny or something. I just wonder if, when I get to the point where I'm tired of going through all these procedures and I decides that, I'm done with it. Will it be construed that I  give up already. I admit it, I often wonder what will be the end for me and I feel sad. Then I noticed the brown leaves on our driveway; the leafless trees along the way, when we went for a drive; the biting cold against my face, while I wait for the sunrise. Then it came to me, fall is here ( and eventually, winter ) and I'm still here, breathing and alive. Then I'm happy again.

Am I still grateful, you might ask? Hard to believe but I still am. I'm not thankful that I have cancer. But I'm thankful that I'm still here. I'm still thankful despite the frustrations, bursts of anger, uncertainties and the  sadness (  that suddenly just come out of nowhere). As a line from the movie goes, "I'm fine until I'm not. That's all there is to it." So, I will continue to go on about my day. I will treasure every "good" day and try to survive a "not-so-good" one. And look forward to Christmas, on the side. 😊

"Being grateful does not mean that everything is necessarily good. It just means that you can accept it as a gift." - Roy T. Bennett

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Be alright. So, this is how it feels like.

The dust has settled. It has been months since I was diagnosed with cancer but it felt like a lifetime already. I have started chemo. I have adjusted, in a way, to my new life now. A life that is limited to doctor's appointments, cancer clinic visits, visits to the hospital for blood work and various test. A life that is now filled with uncertainty. I'm still not sure if I have accepted it yet. I do miss my old life--the life without cancer and full of possibilities. I miss going to work. I miss my hair.

I have tried to find meaning in my situation but I can't think of any. Because there's no meaning to it. I have cancer and eventually, will die.

I was at the point in my life where I thought everything was going well. Then the cancer blindsided me and everything changed. I feel like I'm put through the wringer every day. I lost a part of myself I can never get back. I feel like I'm holding my breath for whatever setback that comes my way while undergoing chemo.

Sometimes. it's hard to feel grateful. I'm more inclined to anger. But it's hard to ignore those moments that tells me that despite my situation, I still have a lot of things to be thankful for.

Every morning when I stir in bed, the remnants of sleep still in my eyes and I hear the birds outside, I say a silent thanks to God, for allowing me to still wake up and get to live another day. I'm thankful that I can still see the sunrise, if only from our kitchen window.

Always my favorite time of the day.

I'm thankful that my sister is here with me. She has front row seat on what I have to endure on chemo day and what it does to me in the days following. We both didn't sign up for this. I used to tell myself that I'm fine on my own, but on chemo day, I'm sure glad that she always accompany me.

I'm thankful for the prayers and healing thoughts that family, friends and acquaintances send my way.

I'm thankful that I have access to the public library---that I can get hold of great books that I want to read. I tell you, reading a good book ( especially a page-turner) is one way to keep your mind off things.

I'm thankful for the nurse, at the cancer clinic, who always fix my IV, with only just one poke. I guess, I'm always squeamish about needles. And I will always be scared of them.

I'm thankful for cable TV and Netflix ( especially grateful for the people, who let me use their Netflix accounts).

I'm thankful that I still laugh at some mundane joke, even if sometimes, my sister don't get it.

I've been told about miracles and all. The fact that I'm still here is a miracle. So, I really can't begrudge God because I have cancer and if He choose not to throw a miracle my way.

So, what I've been up to, you might ask? Nothing much, really. My previous  CT scan  showed that the cancer has not responded to the previous 3 cycles of chemo I had. So, the hair loss and icky feeling was all for naught. And I'm back to square one. I started a new protocol and it hit me hard. Nausea and vomiting are a common thing now. I don't feel like myself during chemo day and 3-4 days after. My appetite is shot and water tastes like crap. Its during this time, that I ask myself, if going through all this, is worth it. Then a week later, I feel okay again, that is, until the next chemo day.

I have started scrap booking. For some reason, it keeps me occupied and frees my mind from thinking about stuff. Besides, I want to finish whatever I have started while I still can.

Recently, I had to go to the ER to have a chest tube thoracostomy due to pneumothorax. My latest CT scan showed that my left lung has collapsed and wasn't really doing anything for me. Hence, the procedure. I was reluctant to go and even negotiated with my oncologist of not going to the ER right away. Anything to do with needles and such is uncomfortable for me, and sometimes, painful. For the first time, the thought of running away, entered my mind. But eventually, I went to the ER and acted like a normal adult. I'm thankful that my sister, Mama and Rhea are with me. I have this fear of going to the hospital---that I won't come out again, alive. I plan to hang around ( God willing ) for as long as I can.

I have made funeral arrangements for myself. So when the inevitable happens, my sister will not be left alone, to deal with the details.

Anyway, a lot has change for me but at the same time, some has not. I still get in trouble when I speak my mind. I get dismiss as being "negative"  or "you watch too much TV" when I voiced  out  my concerns. Sometimes, I wonder when people tells me to be strong or to be positive, are they in tune with reality. Or they're just being polite or something. But its fine with me, besides I don't mind at all, if I'm proven wrong.

On my good days, I still do what I love to do---read, watch TV, listen to music, work on my scrapbook, do "experiments" in the kitchen (when I feel up to it ) and just hang out. I try to live each day, the best I can.

I have no idea as to what the next few days or months has in store for me. Each day that I'm still around is a good enough reason to be grateful, even if I'm not doing anything special. I look forward to fall, I find that I'm more comfortable with the colder weather. I look forward to the first snow day. I'm sure no one will agree with me on this. For most people, they'd rather it be summer the whole year. Not for me though.

So, that's it for now, until the next post. And, of course, when I have more stuff to write about.🙂

Sunday, March 24, 2019

I have cancer, now what?

It's surreal how one doctor's visit could change my life forever. I always try my best to never show my emotion or cry in public. But that day at the doctor's office, I cried. In between sobs, I learned about my dismal prognosis.

I have a terminal illness. I'd be lying if I say I have accepted it. I'm angry and frustrated. At the same time I'm sad and heartbroken. I'll never be cured, no matter what I do. I've read somewhere or heard someone say that a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. But to me it is.

"It is important not to "need" what you are calling to you but rather to have a certain detachment about it. Let it be all right if it doesn't come, or if it comes in a different form than what you expect. After you have asked for something, surrender to whatever comes as being appropriate." - Sanaya Roman & Duane Packer

I'm diagnosed with an incurable cancer. The oncologist gave me 1-2 years to live. And if I chose not to undergo chemo treatment, I will only have less than a year. Each passing day brings me closer to my "expiration date". Funny how that sounds. I'm not some canned goods or product on a shelf that gets thrown out when it reached or go past its "best before" date. I chose to undergo treatment. I mean, at least, I give it a try. For the sake of my family, especially my mother. Chemotherapy  is a double-edged sword. I'm basically poisoning my body with the hope of killing all those stupid cancer cells and stop them from spreading. The downside is I'm now vulnerable to a whole new world of complications. Either way, they're out there to get me. I once asked the oncologist what's the point of undergoing chemo treatment when I'm going to die anyway.

Plans were changed. My sister and I decided to go home. Our brief visit  was a welcome relief for me. For two weeks, I didn't have to think that I have cancer. Everything seems normal and life goes on. But when it came time to tell my mother, I find it difficult and heartbreaking. My mother is the most kind and selfless person I've known. And I didn't want to cause her grief with my situation.

I was raised to believe in God so as expected, I have these one-sided conversation with Him in my head. I even asked, why me? Did I mess up that bad to deserve this punishment? I think I'm being punish for whatever reason, I have no idea. Perhaps, I have not live my life as expected of me.

My life is not perfect. I am not perfect. But I love my life and I love being alive. Never once that I feel sorry or regretted being alive. And I'm always grateful for my parents for having me.  I think what's hard for me to accept is that I'll never go back to my old life--- I mean, my life without cancer. Eventually, I will depend on someone to help me. My quality of life will diminish. I'll never get to do the things that I still I want to do. ( Like, climb Mount Everest, okay, that's a joke. ) It tears me up when I think about this.

Sometimes, I think it was all just a bad dream. That somehow when I wake up the next morning, all is good. Then I glanced at my arm and see the needle mark and bruise, from my recent treatment. And I know its real.

So, what's next for me, you might ask? I'll try to still live each day.  I guess that's the only thing I can do now. I can't make plans anymore. Each day that I still get to wake up is a good day, I suppose.

"The most obvious thing might be an impulse to frantic activity: to " live life to its fullest", to travel, to dine, to achieve a host of neglected ambitions. Part of the cruelty of cancer, though, is not only it limits your time: it also limits your energy, vastly reducing the amount you can squeeze into a day. It is a tired hare who now races. And even if I had the energy, I prefer a more tortoise like approach. I plod, I ponder. Some days, I simply persist." - Paul Kalanithi

Monday, November 27, 2017

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas ( my take!! ).

Before I bore you with the minutiae  of my 2 day get-away in the Sin City, I'd take this opportunity to say "thank you" to the people who took the time to wish me a happy birthday. You all know who you are.

My sister, our friend, Rhea and I thought we'd go to Vegas and see what the hype is all about. Both of them have been there before, so I'm sure they already know what the hype is all about. As for me, I was in for a real treat or so I thought.

They always know how to "pose". :-)
Just to be clear, we didn't go to Vegas because it was my birthday. The days just happened to coincide. Nothing remarkable happened for me there. And after two days, I was tired, had a "tantrum" ( as they call it ) and ready to go home. I can't stand the crowd, the endless walking ( which is ironic because I love walking ) and the smell of cigarette smoke. And more than one occasion, I smelled MJ that made feel nauseous. I made a comment when I came across several people on the streets, chugging along these huge cans of beer and it wasn't even happy hour yet. My sister told me, "Sister, this is Vegas." I was like, yeah right.

My only reason in going there was to check out the place and hang out with them in a different location, for a change. I was excited because it was our first trip together, out of the country. So there's that. I tried to keep a straight face and be agreeable, through out the whole trip. I even manage to take photos and be in several of our selfies. The thing is I just can't kept to myself what I really feel, so I had a "tantrum" ( their term, when I speak my mind, which is not often ). Both of them were annoyed and probably angry at me, that prompted them to say something like "we're not going on a trip again, with you". I had no words to answer back.

One of our many selfies. :-)
In retrospect,  I should have been more pleasant and agreeable to them. I should have followed their lead and acted like a normal person in Vegas. But what's done is done. I have no plans of going back there. Las Vegas did not evoke feelings of "I'm happy to be here !" in me. Instead, it was more like "So this is Vegas, can I go home now?"  Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful to see Las Vegas. And I'm thankful that my sister and Rhea were patient enough to put up with me. They still have a good time ( I hope ! ) in spite my being the Grinch in their background. They both get along fine, especially when it comes to going to the malls and shop for things. I'm just the wet blanket in their midst.

But I did try to have a good time and it wasn't all down in the mouth experience for me. I made a few jokes and really tried to act like a normal person. I was ecstatic when we went to Jollibee, which was located away from the strip. In my excitement, I managed to polished off a 2-piece chicken meal, with rice and gravy. I ignored the fact that my mouth were burning while  eating, only to realized halfway, that I ordered the spicy kind. It was really spicy, mind you. While waiting in line to order, I kept telling my sister, "This is amazing, feels like we're back home".  I was really happy that time. Of course, nothing compares to the Jollibee chicken meal back home. On to more cool stuff, I enjoyed the Celine Dion show we went to. It was surreal to listen to her sing live, the song "My Heart Will Go On" from the movie Titanic. I did sing along to a few of her songs I'm familiar with. It was a great show.

Thanks to my sister and master shifa. :-)
Now, we're back to our normal routines. Back to work and all that stuff. We laughed about our trip now. If they're true to their word ( about not going on a trip with me, again ), well, that remains to be seen. Repeatedly, I assured both of them that, I won't feel bad or feel left out, if they go some place, where there's a mall or an outlet shop. I will happily count myself out and they don't have to feel guilty about leaving me behind. I will be fine.

Let's see. :-)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Confession of a "night shifter".

I'm not averse to hard labor. I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I work hard for everything I ever wanted or want to achieve. I don't have the luxury of just flicking my fingers, then  lo and behold, whatever my heart desires, will suddenly materialize from thin air. I don't have wealthy parents whom will provide for me when I get in a bind. Come to think of it, it's the other way around. My sister and I provide for our family  since we start working.

I haven't had the slightest inkling that I'd find myself working in healthcare. I defied my aunt's wishes for me to take up nursing after I finished high school because I knew I won't be up for it. The sight of blood and that distinct smell of hospitals makes me sick. Besides, I don't have people skills. Little did I know, that I'd end up working in these places ( sort of ) and with nurses.

When I came to Canada, I started working as a live-in caregiver. At first, I was lost and didn't know about what it is to be a caregiver. I didn't know what it is to care for another person. Fortunately, the people I worked for were very kind and generous to me. They made it easier for me to do my work.  I had the privilege to look after three wonderful, elderly women who were very kind and good to me. In return for my service, aside from getting paid, they taught me things that I would never have learn or knew about if I hadn't work for them. Their families were so welcoming and generous to me too.

I remembered a few years back, I wrote something about my feelings and thoughts on being a live-in caregiver. About my fears and reservations of caring for someone vulnerable and dependent on me. And it helped me, in some ways, to cope. And now that I work as a care aide, I have reservations and conflicting feelings too. And more so because now, I must deal with a lot of  people.

Pretty much sums up why I prefer night shift. 😃

In my current line of work, we go by different names, RCA or resident care aide; healthcare assistant or HCA or simply, care aide. When someone ask me what I do, I simply said that I work in a facility, which is kind of broad or confusing, perhaps. But where I work at, the term denotes a place where elderly people ( and some not that old ) live. Their last stop before they kick the bucket, so to speak. I did try to work in a hospital but too much noise and  trying to get along with a lot of people is exhausting.

I have work in different shifts--- days, evenings and nights. Surprisingly, I find that working night shifts suited me well. I say surprisingly because I am a morning person. I used to be a stickler for going to bed early and up early the next morning. But since I decided that I prefer working nights, my sleep routine changes. There are days that I'm in bed for the most part of the day, trying to sleep, because it's either I just got off work the previous night or I have to work later at night. And its a bit difficult to sleep during the day when its all sunny out there. I've read about the downsides of working nights and sleep deprivation, health wise. I feel it, especially after I work six nights straight. Sleep deprivation and some say, the lack of a social life are the reasons that most people don't like to work nights. I don't have a social life so this is not a big deal for me.

While some people cringed and abhor the thought of doing a night shift or actually doing one, I welcome it, of course, with a good dose of qualms and reservations. Who love to go out and drive at night, just to go to work? I'm pretty sure, no one does, at least not by choice. I don't like to drive at night especially on a Friday night but I do it anyway.  So, why do it?  That's a good question. The thing is I don't like doing a night shift per se, but I prefer it compared to doing a day or evening shift. My sister always joked about why I prefer it, because according to her I'm afraid of people. I'm not afraid of them, I just don't want to be around them for a long period of time. And 8 hours is a long time. There's too much that goes on during the day and lots of people to work with.  A lot of "people drama" happens  and its something I don't want to get into. All I want is to work within that 8-hour window, as expected of me and after that, I go home.

There are people who thinks that night shift workers have it easy, that they just sleep through the night doing the least amount of work. Well, I'd like to see these people try work one, especially on a full moon. Then I'd be happy to hear to what they have to say. So far, I like the people I work with during night shifts, except for a few, who acts like they're ready to lie in bed and sleep rather than work or those who pick up overtime and acts like they're doing you a favor by staying the night. In my mind, I'm like, go home.

I get questions like, "So, you like working night shifts?" or "You only work nights?" to which I always reply with a slight nod and a shrug. With night shift, I only have to deal with a few people, primarily my partner and the charge nurse. And of course, the residents, whom ideally should be sleeping. But on some nights and for a lot of different reasons, they don't sleep. Some would want to get up, thinking its already morning. And if something major happens, there's only a few staff to deal with it, so you see, night shift people don't have it easy.

I'm not going to lie and say I'm crazy about my job. But I'm thankful for it. And the only way I can show this is to work in the the best way possible. Hence, I prefer nights. 😃

Monday, March 6, 2017

What I think about, now that I'm 40. And what I learned, so far.

"You're only young once, they say, but doesn't it go for a long time? More years than you can bear." - Hilary Mantel, An Experiment in Love

I turned 40  months ago, days leading to it, I search online for things to do to mark my 40th birthday. A party is out of the question. I mean, a party involves a lot of people. Other interesting stuff were mentioned, like jumping out of a plane for one or go somewhere secluded and spend the day by yourself. Things I’m not too keen on doing at that time. My birthday falls on a Monday and it was just like any ordinary day. My sister bought balloons with the words “Happy 40th Birthday!”. I repeatedly told her, it was just a waste of money, much to her annoyance. Then we had breakfast at a local cafe near our place and went for a short walk around the lake. The walk was my favorite part of the day. I thought about having a drink at the end of the day, then remembered that I have to go to work later that night. So much for my 40th.

 I remembered someone told me, that she went all out when she turned 40. Frankly, I didn’t know what she meant. Age is just a number, I know, but somehow it implies a lot of things. Someone asked me how I feel now that I’m 40. I replied that I don’t feel anything. Not entirely true, I suppose. On some days I can feel my back, when I get out of bed. Other times, my knees make this sound, when I hurry down the stairs. For me, nothing has changed, except for the fact that I’m 40 and the weight on my shoulders has gotten heavier.

I’ve heard the line that says, life begins at 40 or something like that. If that’s the case, what was the last 39 years of my life amount to? I have no idea. I thought about writing this post because I find that now I’m older, I tend to do a lot of thinking about things in general. I’ve been told that I think too much, to a fault. I mean, I even complicate a simple matter by thinking too much about it. My sister point this out to me all the time. So, if you don’t mind, allow me to share my thoughts on random things, from a 40-year old’s point of view. So, here goes my spiel.

My sister will be my go-to companion, until, she go on one of her "hush. hush" getaways. 
On Family: It’s funny and weird, how when I was younger, I wish that I belong in a different family. I wish that I had the perfect parents and siblings. As I get older, I realized that part of who I am today is attributed to my family.  No amount of success will mean anything to me if I can’t share it with them.

On Work: Someone at work made a comment that I’m an eager-beaver because I arrive half an hour early before the start of my shift. She made it sound like it’s such a bad thing that I am early. I dismissed her comment with a shrug. My sister even told me that no one will give me a medal for being punctual at work. I guess the norm for most people is to arrive at work with 5 minutes to spare, half-awake (during mornings) and drag their feet, because they’d rather be somewhere else. I don’t profess to be crazy about my job but I do it in a way that is expected of me. I believe in going the extra mile even if nobody cares if I do.

"Sometimes the highest test of humanity is what we hold ourselves back from doing when every fiber in our body wants to do something else."- Mitch Albom

 On Friends: I don’t have a lot of friends. I have acquaintances, mostly by association. When I first came to Canada seven years ago, I’ve been told that I won’t survive alone. Scary predicament, I thought. Fortunately, I have my sister here, she’s obligated to be friends with me, whether she like it or not. But even then, I need to “get away” from her, from time to time. I am privilege and fortunate to have met people that have been very good and kind to me. People who understands that tiny detail about me---just because I’m quiet doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to say about things. People who believe that I’m capable of doing something worthwhile and help me achieve it. People who wants me around, just because.

On driving: I’ve been driving for the past two years and I can’t say, I like it very much. I do it out of necessity when I must go to work but other than that, I’d rather stay put. It didn’t help when I got pulled over once, for running through a yellow light. Sure, there’s the thing about being independent and all. And that’s it. I still want to be on  the passenger seat, once in awhile and be alone with my thoughts.

On death: My first experience with death was when my grandmother passed away, and I was old enough to understand what happened. I have had a few people I care about, passed away. And I know  that death is inevitable, still, it saddened me to think that I won't see them again. That all I have are memories.

On children: I don’t have children of my own but I’m cool with hanging out with them, from time to time. I like children but I don't think I'm responsible enough to have them.

"Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love." - Rumi

I like to think that I learned a thing or two since I came to this world. I used to wonder why my mother didn't impose rules on me while growing up. When I confronted her about this, she replied, "I know you'd always do the right thing.",with an expression, that said, how can you ask me that. 

I find that dreams do come true. It did not happen overnight for me but when it did, the feeling was surreal and left me speechless, except to say, "This is awesome."  I can't take all the credit for the past 40 years. It is evident that I have some help and someone is looking out for me. And for that I am always thankful.

Being a grown up and a responsible adult is hard work. A lot of times I have to make compromises just to fit in. I used to tell myself that I don't really care what people say or think about me. But the thing is, I do. And doing the right thing, sometimes, go against, what I believe is right. But hey, I'm still here, so I guess, I'm figuring things as I go along.

So anyway, I'll end this post with my hopes for the years to come, God willing, I'm still around....

  • Good health for my family and friends.
  • The means and willingness to provide for my family.
  • To be always grateful, no matter what.
  • To 'don't sweat the small stuff".
  • To run again. Hopefully.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

What's up with "the bag"?

From the Hot Chick movie.

Going to the mall is not my thing. I look for ways to avoid going if I can. But of course, my sister is also good in "convincing" me to go with her. As always, after half an hour of walking around, aimlessly, I'd be dragging my feet and make the "tsk...tsk..tsk" sound. As if on cue, my sister would look at me, annoyed. Then she would give me this spiel about why can't I just be like a normal, grown-up person and stop whining. Other times, she'll buy me my favorite smoothie. Well, that keep me quiet for a while.

Anyway, this post is not about going to the mall. Oh wait, in some ways, it is, because you'd find bags for sale in the mall, right? So, there. My sister has a collection of bags or purses, as they're called ( which I only found out later on ). One time, I made a comment about how come she has different kinds of bags ( you know, different colors and styles ); I mean, why not just use one. She went on to tell me that her bag should match her outfit. So whenever we go out, she'd move her stuff from one bag into another one, whatever she fancies on that particular day. Oftentimes, she forget something.

The pouring rain didn't stop these people from staying in the line. Rain, be damn!

One time, we went to this huge mall that just opened. Of course, I tagged along for the sight-seeing and what not. But I wasn't really looking forward to be walking around. My sister and Rhea warned me to be quiet and not complain. I shrugged, as if to say, sure, fine, whatever. Lots of people milling around overwhelmed me. Before I know it, I feel a headache coming on. To keep myself occupied, I offered to take their shopping bags. They happily agreed. We went to this particular store, where people lined up just to get in. I'm like, this is insane. I've never witnessed such a thing before. I mean, people lined up for different reasons, especially for urgent matters. It was my first time to see a line-up to get in a store that sell this particular bag. Needless to say, I was in the line-up too, for an entirely different reason. It gave me a break from all that "aimless" walking that I did.

The stuff  I take with me when I go out don't require a bag or a purse. 
To me, a bag is a bag and should serve its purpose, that is, to carry my things. I don't care much if it has flashy, emblazoned letters on it. And frankly, I wouldn't be caught dead using one. Nothing personal. I don't own a bag or a purse. I use a backpack ( when the need arises ), which was given to me by my sister because it didn't suit her style. I don't understand her fascination for  bags and probably, will never do. They all look the same to me. And don't get me wrong, I have nothing against people who "love" bags. It is what it is.

" A guy once told me that girls' purses reminded him of spiders." - P.C. Cast


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

This is 40 bucket list.

Turning a year older is a milestone. I mean, not all will get the privilege to do that. So, it got me thinking because in a few months time, God willing, I will turn 40.

"One day you will wake up and there won't be any more time to do the things you've always wanted. Do it now." - Paulo Coelho

One day, I had lunch with a friend, of whom I haven't seen in a long time. After we updated each other about our lives, she asked me, "So, what do you do for yourself?". It took me awhile to answer her, partly because I don't know what to say. I haven't been ask that question before. Eventually, I said I go to work and hang out with my sister. And she was like, no, not that. Her query added more sense ( I hope ! ) to what I plan to do.

So anyway, here goes my list:
  • Go for a long walk.
  • Try yoga.
  • Get inked.
  • Cut my hair short, like really, really short.
  • Relive Harry Potter. This means I have to read all seven books, again.
I thought about keeping this list to myself. I could have easily write it down on  a piece of paper and forget about it. And not tell anyone about it. That way, no one will know if did it or not. I decided to put this on my blog so you, my readers ( you know who you are ) will hold me accountable. And perhaps, putting this out there will motivate me to really do them. Of course, the above-mentioned items are not a matter of life and death. In the grand scheme of things, they are irrelevant.  I thought that the added pressure will come in handy when I start to procrastinate, which I'm fond of doing lately.

We'll see how this goes.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

First-ever US travel---memorable.

I am superstitious. I guess I got that from my grandmother. I kept mum about my travel plans not because I don't want anyone to know about it. But because I care about it too much, I don't want it to be jinxed. I know, crazy, eh? Of course, my sister and Rhea knew about it. Anyway, when it was already set and finalized that I'd be going to New York, I could barely contain my excitement. The thing is, I'm good at downplaying something I deeply care about, to the point where I can be indifferent and nonchalant about it. Little did anyone know, that deep inside, I was singing "Welcome to New York" in my head.

"And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." - Paulo Coelho

It was my first time to travel to the States all by myself. The days leading to it, I feel apprehensive. Not that I'm a negative person but I like to know beforehand what to do when things don't go as planned, which is always a bummer because plans do change and things can go wrong and you have to think on your feet and act fast on what to do next. As it turned out, I didn't count on our flight out of New York getting cancelled and me missing my return flight to Canada. Fortunately, things were resolved and I'm back home.
Oh, the places I get to go with them. Great times. 
My cousin, Socorro ( I call her Payen ) and her husband, Brian invited me to visit them, after I mentioned it to her that I already have my US visa. It was a mini-reunion for us,  cousins and met Brian for the first time. Bing2x, Payen's younger sister was also there. They made sure my first visit was a very memorable one. I had an awesome time and a great visit with them. Payen made this list of places we'll go to, both in New York and Chicago. A quick stop in Milwaukee was a bonus.

19 odd years ago, I got drunk for the first time. It made me cry like crazy. In between sobs, I told my late grandmother that we will go to New York. Doting as she was. she consoled me and said, "Hush now, yes, we will go to New York." I still remember that day and much more so when I finally set foot in New York for the first time. I like to think that my grandmother was there with me.
After a few messages on Facebook, this is what happened. :-)
New York was the highlight of my first US visit. Payen later told me that Brian has really prepared for it. He bought an app so it would be easier for us to navigate the streets of New York, without getting lost. After the first day, we felt like pros in using our Metrocard and maneuvering our way into the oftentimes crowded subway station and train.

This trip wouldn't be possible without the invite from my cousin and her husband. When I told her about my US visa, she was like, you should come, visit us. And the rest, I say, was an awesome  week in the States. I get to go places I only watched in the movies or TV. It was a seven days, filled with lots of walking and me, exclaiming "This is amazing!" or "This is awesome!" more than a few times.

People go to the States all the time. People go to New York. No big deal. But for me, it is more than that. Being able to go to the States, particularly in New York, has validated my belief that dreams do come true. And that,  patience counts. Yes, life  and being an adult can get in the way and dreams, sometimes are put in the back-burner. It took me almost 20 years to nurture my dream of going to New York and when it was finally realized, it was way beyond amazing. Of course, it also helps that "...all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." I am  forever grateful.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tofino, revisited.

I don't go out unless I have to. So it's always a big deal for me when I do but I downplay my excitement to the point where, it seems like I don't care. Before I go on, let's get this thing straight, when I say "go out", it doesn't mean going to the malls. Walking in the mall is a torture for me so whenever we go there, I drag my feet and make this "tsk..tsk...tsk" sound when I get bored.

So when we decided to go to Tofino for a day, I was excited. Of course, my sister was more excited than I am. She had all these accouterments for spending a day at the beach stuffed in a bag, not to mention spending quite a long time on her make-up and all. Turned out it was cloudy and a bit chilly when we finally get there. My sister had to  slipped on a pair of jeans because she find it too cold to walk in her shorts. I laugh at her and head to the beach, while they follow closely behind.

Would have been a nicer view if it was sunny but the fact that I get to see this and hear the sound of the waves is amazing. :-)

There's never a shortage of photo-op session. :-)

Sunny or not, we still managed to enjoy the day. We had lunch  at a nearby park, then walked around for a bit before we decided to head back home. Rhea is a such a good sport to spend the day with us. I mean, my sister and I can be noisy and loud but I like to think, we're fun to be with. So anyway, we head back home. We stopped by Ucluelet, just to checked it out. My sister and I told Rhea that we haven't been there before, hence the short stop. 

Stopped by Chesterman Beach and enjoyed the sights and despite the gloomy surroundings, they still had fun and jump. :-)

I was a bit tired from sitting too long. I imagined Rhea would be too, since she was the one driving. I had a great time. I enjoyed being out and about, without the confines of cement walls ( I'm sure, my sister knows what I mean. )

I managed to scramble up on one of the rock formations and get a better view of the waves and feel the chilly air against my face. I was in the zone, until  I heard my sister called me to come down.

I can't say it was an unplanned trip to Tofino. We did plan it and it was a bummer when the day didn't turn out the way we want it to, weather-wise. All in all, it was a great day. Thanks to Rhea. :-)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Night life?...What night life?

I mentioned before how driving a car is by far, one of the most grown up thing I've ever done in my life. Showing up for work and staying till my shift is over is another grown up thing I'm doing right now.

I'm a morning person. I love to get up early, especially if I don't have to go anywhere. My grandmother used to tell me that it's best to get out of bed before the sun is up. Somehow, that idea stayed with me. I don't sleep in, unless I force myself to do so or if I'm really, really tired. I get up the same time everyday regardless of what time I go to bed the previous night.

When I start working, it's clear to me that I'll work a night shift eventually. It's inevitable. At first, I'm wary of doing it. I don't go out at night. I'm usually in bed by 10 or 11 at the latest. To stay awake the whole night is a stretch for me. And I find it hard and a struggle to nap during the day. So, why do it? Well, for starters, I'm a newbie so I need to build my seniority, that means picking up any shifts available, to accumulate hours ( of which, I am repeatedly told to do so!) Then there's the part of earning a living.

This I find to be true.

So anyway, I did get called to do a night shift. I'm sort of on call at three different places, so whoever calls me first, gets my undivided attention. I still find it strange to be driving at night to go to work, when I could have been in bed already. My brain has to adjust to the fact that I need to stay awake for the next eight hours. At this point, I try not to think about the scary movies I've watched before or else.

I'm not sure if I can call it a blessing to be able to work a night shift at three different places. But I think it's a rare thing, to be able to do so. Let's just say, it's a blessing then. :-)

I did a few nights in a hospital, where all I have to do is watch this particular patient sleep through the night. They call this a 1 to 1. So I sit on a chair and watch this patient. Occasionally they try to get out of bed so I have to tell them to go back to sleep or sometimes, they need to go to the bathroom. I have to assist them, make sure they don't fall. It wasn't a physically exhausting job but it felt like a torture, you know, sitting there, fighting off sleep. By the time I go for my break, I'm ready to crash and sleep.

On occasions, I do night shifts on a resident care facility. Usually when this happen,  I get called with a few hours to spare, to have a nap before I start at 11. With this one, I feel like, I and my co-workers are  always on the go, except during our breaks. Sometimes, I remind myself that I work in a resident facility for elderly people,  not on an assembly line of a factory, with dubious nature. After my 8-hour shift, I drive home exhausted and ready for bed.

I did a stint of straight five night shifts at another resident care facility. I work with a partner and we take turns in taking our breaks. We do rounds and make sure every resident is in bed and check if they're still breathing and all. There's really no time to be sleepy, in between doing paperwork and answering an occasional call bell. On a busy night, two or more call bells will ring at the same time. On top of that, a bed alarm goes off, which means that someone is trying to get out of bed. I pray that this won't happen  when my partner is on her/his break. By the time four o'clock roll around, my eyes feel heavy and I could have fallen asleep if I close them, even for like a few seconds.

Exactly, until I realized that I still have a couple more nights to do.

What I'm trying to say is that wherever I work a night shift, it all boils down to the same thing, I am sleep-deprived but I also get paid more. ( Which I think doesn't really matter when I look at the deductions reflected on my paycheck. ) People who choose to work at night have different reasons for doing so. As for me, I haven't thought about it until now. A few years ago, I wouldn't have imagine myself staying up the whole night to work.

When someone asked me what I think about working nights, I replied that, "It's alright, besides I don't have to deal with a lot of people." It's true, by the way. I mean, the part about not dealing with a lot of people.  I'm not saying that I dislike people. The thing is, there is blissful silence at night, except for the hum of the radiator or the sound of the call bell. I'm spared from having to make small talk. Of course, I do talk. I have to convey information to the nurse or to my co-worker. I also has to communicate with residents. But that's about it. One day, while in the staff room, one co-worker said to me, "You're so quiet, I don't know anything about you." I looked at her, smiled and continued on with my lunch. But in my mind, I was like, "You're not supposed to know anything about me. I'm just here to work." 

So, there you go. The story of my night life.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Musings on my birthday... so, this is 39.

It's  that time of the year, again. And no, I'm not talking about Christmas. It's still too far ahead to talk about, mind you. Although I started seeing ads on TV about the holidays and all. The pressing matter at hand is that we're towards the end with the month of November. And it so happened that it's my birth month. I don't  usually get excited about my birthday. Growing up, my family didn't celebrate birthdays. It's like, so you're a year older, big deal. The only thing we did or was expected of us, was go to church and lit some candles. I even have to remind my mother that it's my birthday.

For some people, turning a year older is something they don't look forward to. I mean,who wants to get old? If we can get away with it, we'd rather stay forever young.

"Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years."- Ausonius

As the years passed, I started to have this feeling of excitement and anticipation when my birthday comes up. Turning a year older is an opportunity I gladly embrace with gratitude. I don't really think about my age because it's just a number. Besides, I can still get away with not looking it. Proof of that, just recently, I went to my favorite store ( as my sister calls it ). After I grab a bottle of my favorite white wine and a pack of Smirnoff Ice vodka, I walk over to the till to pay. The guy, in the counter, while helping another customer, look at me. "Can I see some ID, young lady?" were his first words when I placed my stuff in front of him. I fiddled with my wallet and took out my driver's license and handed it to him. The cashier took a close look at it to check my date of birth, I assumed. I assured him that I'm old. And he was like, does this happen to you all the time. I hesitated and replied, "Sometimes." "Always", my sister piped in.

I'm thankful that I'm here for another year. To still get to do the things I love and to be with the people I care about is the best gift I'll ever have. Sure, I pine  for things and what not, I'm human after all. I used to write a "shameless plug" weeks before my birthday solely for my sister's benefit. So she wouldn't have a hard time in deciding what to get me for my birthday. But eventually,  I got tired of doing it. The main thing is I'm still around.

"I'm just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive. I'm enough."- Brene Brown

I don't feel any different. I know, 39 seemed like pretty old. Like you're expected to be married and have children. When I get asked how old I am and if I'm married and have children, I politely replied "No" to both questions. And always my answers would draw more follow-up questions, most common is "why?".  Last year, I went back home for a short visit, a friend told me that I've changed. I was like, no, I didn't. I don't know exactly what she meant by it because I'm still the same person as before. Perhaps I have change in some ways but only to adapt myself to where I am right now. I'm still the same person who don't  say much unless there's a purpose or point in a conversation. I still believe in being on time and not keep people waiting, like I'm some VIP.

Its funny how people try to pin you down in to a  category or something. And if they can't figure you out, they'll tell you what to do. I've been told to "color your hair" or  "go out and met people" or talk.  I get that I'm different and probably for some, weird. To the few people who accepts and tolerates my quirks, thank you. :-)

Before I end this post, allow me to share my hopes for the years to come. So here goes...
  •  Good health for my family and friends. 
  •  The means and willingness to provide for my family. ( because "You don't love your family because they're kind and considerate. You love them because they're your family." - Fall of Giants  )
  •   To be always grateful.
  •   To "don't sweat the small stuff" 
  •   To run again. I'm hoping I can run another marathon before I reach 40. 
  •   My jar of coins to fill up so I can go to New York.

Thank you for all the birthday wishes. :-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Living with my sister-- the story of our life.

My sister and I come from a big family. There's always noise and chaos. Disagreements and fights were the norm. We practically grew up together. The only time we were apart was when I moved to another city to go to  school. And when she moved to Canada. As luck would have it, four years later, I followed her. I like to think that we're meant to be together in a strange and foreign country. At first, we lived in different places  and only get to hang out during our days off. Back then, we always had this plan to get our own place and live together.

"It's hard to be responsible, adult and sensible all the time. How good it is to have a sister  whose heart is as young as your own." - Pam Brown

Since I moved in with my sister, I have been relegated to certain chores. Of course, we don't need to put it down on paper because we're adults now. I mean, how hard that can be. I am assigned to take out the garbage every week, which I do diligently. The only time my sister has to do it is when I'm not around. I'm responsible for cleaning up after her when she  makes a mess in the kitchen while she cooks. Frankly, I don't mind doing the dishes because I like to do it. Besides, I can't stand dirty stuff left on the kitchen sink for too long. The only downside to this is I get "obsessed" ( as she calls it ) with cleaning up after her, that one time, while she was busy cooking something, I washed a spoon or a dish, only to realized that she still has to used it. She was annoyed and told me to go sit on the couch and watched TV. Like I was an errant child.

My sister and I are opposites. I think it's one of the reasons we get along fine.
I learned how to use a hammer and a screwdriver, not that they're hard to learn. Over the course of a few months, I managed to assemble our tiny dining set ( you know, table and chairs ) and a TV stand, while my sister stood by and gave me directions, from time to time. It took a lot of effort and patience on my part to read the diagram on the small piece of paper that came with all the parts. I blurted a few expletives when I screwed a part the wrong way and had to take them apart again. Fortunately, our friend, Rhea was there to help. If it was just me and my sister, we probably end up punching each other. But I have to say this,  I was quite happy with myself, when I looked at the assembled TV stand and dining set.

"Of two sisters one is always the watcher, one the dancer." - Louise Gluck
We make compromises when we decided to live together. We don't always agree on things. I make it a point to go to bed early especially if I have to work the next day, while my sister on the other hand, like to stay up late, even if she has to get up early the next day. I'm a morning person. I love to get up when its still dark outside ( especially if I don't have to go to work ) and sit in my corner, with a book and coffee. This does not escape my sister's attention and she told me more than once that I'm insane.

My sister and I are different as night and day. She is sophisticated and fashionable dressed, most of the time, while I on the other hand, is the exact opposite. We don't have the perfect relationship. We both have shortcomings and make mistakes. We argue sometimes, about anything---from her taking too long to put on make-up to my unusual ( according to her ) rule of being at work half an hour early. I'm sure she gets angry at me, as I do with her. But the thing is, we don't hold a grudge. And most of the time, we just laugh off at anything, that may have previously annoy us.

Living with my sister may have its ups and downs. But so far, so good. :-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

One fine weekend in Tofino.

I rarely go anywhere without my sister. Not that we are inseparable.  So it comes  as a surprise to her and even to me, when I find myself in the company of other people. One day, Rhea asked me if I'd like to tag along with her to Tofino. I was like, sure why not.

I had a grand time to say the least. It was one of the best weekend I've had. The weather was perfect and the place was extraordinary. I felt relaxed and laid-back. I managed to linger in bed for two mornings without being in a hurry to get going. It felt good to just lay there, buried under the sheets and stared at the low ceiling and watched the sunlight stream into the windows. I told myself, I wish I can stay forever.

I get to walk on Chesterman Beach which was really amazing. I like to come back and perhaps by that time, I get to run barefoot on the sand. :-)

To hear the sound of the waves is music to my ears. I was transported back home.

The first time I went to Tofino was with my sister, which was like, five years ago. We never really get to walk around, especially on the beach. We just thought we'd check out the place. So when I got the invite, its hard not to say yes. 

I've been meaning to write about that amazing weekend but something always came up and I end up doing nothing. Then one day, I find myself, going over the photos I took that time, so here goes...

The feeling after an ( unplanned ) weekend getaway. :-)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thoughts on driving.

Come to think of it, driving my own car, was never one of my biggest  dreams. Although I remembered a few years ago, I made this scrapbook page of a cut-out picture of a car and a cut-out picture  of myself, beside it. I don't know if that was a sign of things to come. And I wrote a post about buying my own car if I have a million dollars. Needless to say, I don't have a million dollars but I still get to drive my own car.

Again as I've mentioned in a previous post, driving is by far, one of the most responsible and grown-up thing, I've ever done in my life. I think to those of you who drive,  you know what I mean. Driving requires all your attention and presence of mind. I find that you can't drive when you're angry or pissed off at someone or something.

Music keeps me company on those long drives, when I'm all by myself. 

I've been driving for the past few months. My sister and I decided to get our own car. She made a comment that its about time. Of course, I'm not saying that we can't live without one. In fact, we manage to get by without our own vehicle for the past few years. Fortunately, we have friends that gave us a ride when we need to go somewhere not accessible by public transport.

I find that driving at night is no easy task. The lights from incoming traffic is hard on my eyes. And then there's the issue of the lights coming from cars behind me. Driving at night is a lot different than driving during the daytime. So if I can get away from it, I'd gladly do so. But with my work, I have to drive at night so I have no choice. Driving in the rain is not a favorite either. I find the wipers, swinging up and down, distracting. The first time I get to drive in the rain was when I got off from night shift so I was worried that I might be too tired to stay awake. On the contrary, I was more wide awake than ever. Driving along speeding cars on the highway was an instant pick-me-up.

I have yet to drive in winter conditions so I can't say anything about it. It's something I don't look forward to. I've heard stories about accidents on the road during winter. But then again, accidents happen anytime of the year.

I don't drive just for the sake of driving. Although, I like the independence it gives me and it serves the purpose of getting me to places that I need to be. Mostly, at work. But if I can, I'd rather be on the passenger side,  listen to music and be alone with my own thoughts.