Sunday, December 30, 2012

Night Before New Years Eve

I think Jody just put me on suicide watch when I told him I realized today that there is enough lorezapam in the house to put me to sleep forever. I took two after talking to my mom but they don't do anything for me. She had a way to break me into tiny pieces. I thought I wanted to have kids but at this moment i'm not sure if I want to deal with her with my kids.

Jody and I talked for a while. It's nice of him. We concluded that I need to have an obsession to occupy my time and thoughts so I don't spiral down to loneliness and depression all the time. I came to that conclusion six months ago and still have not come up with anything. Now I feel as if I'll never come up with anything. The truth is that the thrills are all gone. We're all entering into a time of emptiness and isolation. We can label it however we want but like Jody said we're all just waiting to die. It's the waiting part I don't understand. Why wait? I'd wait if there's something to look forward to. But there is nothing other than more disappointment for my mom and more loneliness and depression for me. We're all in a hospice waiting to die. There are no cure or treatment to be had. Life from now on is merely to be sustained by busy work. Volunteering, collecting stamps, having kids. Whatever it takes to sustain your sanity and heart beating long enough until you've got a legitimate excuse to checkout like cancer or a heart attack.

We weren't going to come up with a solution tonight or ever because there are no solutions. But what needed to happen is to have an illusion of solution so I can make it through another night to call Jody back at 5pm tomorrow. Surely things would be easier if I don't wake up but I really don't have any plans to checkout at the moment. I'm just incredibly sad, lonely, frustrated and depressed. I always wondered how in the world Jody and I became friends after all these years. Maybe it's gods way of putting together two crazy atheists together to commiserate how harsh life is without subscribing to an organized religion. I'm going to laying down and go to sleep.

When my brain is awake and unoccupied it thinks about falling in love and connecting with like minded and nonjudgmental people. neither of those things are going to happen so I must turn off my brain.

Monday, December 24, 2012


It is easier to be fair than to be generous. Beyond the simple idea of giving, it takes enormous amount of strength to sustain a continuous outflow of unrequited kindness. Rose said that I'm a generous person yet I struggle with it every step of the way. Resentment is a beast. It sneaks upon us to turn our best intentions and kindest deeds into bitter poisons. I can think of countless times when my actions have gone unnoticed, unappreciated and unrequited by others. And I'm sure I have done the same to people who treated me with kindness. To give is easy. To let go of resentment is hard. And generosity can't be sustained without resolving the latter. Expectation can be managed once, twice maybe three times, after which we must master the art of letting go.

Creativity is the underlying solution for most of our problems. When giving gets tough, two thought processes have helped me to restore inner peace: consequentialism helps to gives value to my actions and appreciation for the past helps to counterbalance any shortchange in the present.

Instead of thinking the unfairness of it all, I look for ways to substantiate giving. After many weeks of staying over at Sam's place, going to bed late, getting up early for work and somehow carrying on with sleep deprivation, he said it must be difficult. I shrugged my shoulders not as sign of toughness but that it was only fair. I said, "there were many mornings when others had to get up early to go to work while I stayed in bed, it's only fair that the roles are reversed now." Sam understood the logic but he still thought it was an odd way of looking at things. Strange or not, it was the only way I could justify and continue on with insufficient sleep.

When simple equivocations are not possible I turn to a game of consequentialism, the idea that the consequence of an action provides the sole basis for the judgement for the value of that action. For example,  I waited in line for three hours at Walmart on Black Friday because someone I just met mentioned that he'd like to get the iPad deal. Although I had volunteered to do it on my own volition, he was gracious enough to say that he'd do something nice for me in return. A couple of weeks later not only was my action not rewarded, the person suddenly fell off the radar without explanation or a farewell. The way it all ended was irritating on its own but the annoyance level increased exponentially when I thought about that three-hour wait. Instead of surrendering into bitter resentment I cycled through the positives over and over again until it sufficiently neutralized whatever negativity I harbored inside of me. For the two weeks we did interact, I was consumed by a longing that I have not felt in a long time. I was absorbed in our conversations on the most mundane subjects. I counted down the hours until our next meeting. I felt my heart racing with the slightest physical contact. I gushed to my girlfriends like a school girl. I know anyone of those sensations would have been worthy of a three-hour wait. And just to be sure those implicit returns are of value I ask myself, how many hours would I wait in a Walmart isle to feel the butterflies? 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 hours? Would I do it for 8 hours? Yes! Now three hours seems like a bargain! In fact, if someone offered me in exchange to wait eight hours for what I had experienced I would have taken that up in a heartbeat. Perhaps if I hadn't waited none of the rest would have happened. And for that it was a good deal.

There are many ways to look at generosity. The more you invest personally the more difficult it is. I drop off gently used clothing to the Goodwill store on a regular bases and never have I felt a need for reciprocity. Yet, when we give to a friend or invest in a relationship, it is only natural to hope for something in return as a gesture of appreciation. We can cut our losses when things stop adding up but overtime negative residuals can prevent us from living generously. Ultimately, there is no giving without letting go. And if it all has to go, let it be given with good feelings.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday Night Lows

Ever since I moved away from Rochester I have longed for companionship, especially on Friday nights, someone to commiserate with, someone to let down my guards with, someone to look forward to to share the weekend with. It was ok in the beginning but after two years I'm getting to my breaking point. Despite a few brief encounters with individuals who are obviously incompatible to my brash personality, I have remained extraordinarily lonely. Friday nights have now proven to be the worst of them all, ahead of being single on Valentines Day or having no one to kiss when the clock struck midnight. What seems like such an ordinary day have become so inordinately painful.

I've always despised what I do for most of my awaking hours during the week. I now official dread the end of each week as well. With the passing of each Friday I am being reminded over and over again of my loneliness. I can feel the anxiety in my voice when I reply to such innocent question from coworkers as "do you have any plans for the weekend?" The answer is mostly the same while I try my best to avoid taking my frustrations out on innocent bystanders. While I long for company I also loath the idea of being around people for the sake of being around people. I have no patience for such pretenses. I want meaningful company. I've tried and I have failed.

I have hit a new low this past Friday as I continue to flex my ability for self destruction. I cajoled myself to the gym after work, sheepishly comforted myself on the way with the thought that I can always go for a nice dinner somewhere later in the evening even though I knew that was a lie. Standing in front of my empty fridge and a sink full of dirty dishes from earlier this week, I was too hungry and depressed to do much else other than heating up a half piece of left over pizza Shelly had saved for me from the lunch she had from Sam's Club. It was one of those nights I wish I could have drank enough to forget. It was one of those nights I'm thankful for the fact that I can't drink to further destroy myself with alcoholism. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Do You Want?

“What do you want in life? You don’t know what you want!” Jody screamed into the phone. “No,” I responded sharply, “I know exactly what I want!” I have always known specifics of what I wanted, places I wanted to visit, things I wanted to accomplish, relationships I wanted to create. But now as I look back on my past pursuits and look ahead into the field of unknown, one thing I do know for certain is that I want to experience all that life has to offer. I have long loathed the prevalent belief in that life is nothing but a constant pursuit of happiness or contentment. For me that notion irrespectively reduces an otherwise expansive and multifaceted life into a two dimensional black and white concept.

What do I want? I want it all. I want the highest of highs and lowest of lows. I don’t care to be happy nor am I addicted to sadness. I don’t care for an easy life nor do I want pointless turmoil. I want to feel everything in its most raw state. I want shed every piece of clothing, callus, pretense, stigma and expectation in order to experience and connect to things, people and events in a visceral way. I want to be a jellyfish without an exoskeleton, a nerve net ready to detect every stimulus. 

I’m proud of the life I have lived. I’ve experienced highs and lows. I have pursued and accomplished things with conviction. I learned about myself and created meaningful relationships along the way. The world can be full of despair. Think of the waste, pollution, poverty, inequality, injustice, famine, disease, conflict and war. It’s barely a place you’d want to bring a new life to. Yet at the same time the world can be a miraculous and full of resilience. Picture joyful reunions, the birth of a new baby, first green in the spring and sunrise over ancient ruins. What will be will be. I can’t make a swiping judgment on the world but I do believe in the strength and kindness of individual human spirit. Each one of us has tremendous capacity to love and be loved. I’m not here to change the world or leave a lasting legacy. I’m here to experience life, all that it has to offer.

And now, more so than ever, I want to share and pass on those experiences to my children. I want to introduce them to their first orchestra concert, musical, opera, play, etc. I want them to see the beauty in nature and appreciate the vastness of all that is knowable. I want to have the wisdom to install in them the deep desire to explore the world and I want to have the strength to let them go on their own to satisfy that desire. And above all, I want them to experience the love and trust we have for each other.

When I first started teach guitar lessons to young children I felt an indescribable sense of satisfaction knowing that they are going to grow up knowing certain things, however small or insignificant, in music and in life because of me. It made me want to be a better teacher. It made me want to be a better person. It was comforting to think that someday, years from now, they may even remember me with fondness. I felt like a butterfly that had flapped its wings.

Twice I had conceived and twice I had aborted. The decisions were made without emotional attachment or regrets as I clearly knew I wasn’t mentally or financially ready at the time. Still, I remember very well what it was like to see those two blue lines appear on a stick. In the midst of uncertainty there was also undeniable excitement. For a brief moment I was filled with a secret sense of joy. But I'm at a different place now. I can always do better financially but physically and mentally I’m ready.

On the last visit to China my grandmother said something I will never forget. This is a woman who has experienced unimaginable transformation, evolution, hardship and love in her lifetime. Yet at nearly ninety years old she said, “I’m old but I don’t feel like I have lived enough.” I wanted to hold her hands, hug her and tell her that she has lived an extraordinary life and that it was enough. Just look at the family she has created. I am a testament to the turbulent yet fruitful life she has lived.

When I mention kids, people never fail to inject how difficult it is to raise them, especially alone. What they don’t know is that I come from a long lineage of fiercely resilient women. When my grandmother was in her early teens she witnessed her own father being executed at gun point in their own home. When she met resistance for schooling because she was a girl, she changed her name to a boy’s name on the college admissions exam. When my mother was in her early teens, my grandparents were sent to jail so she had to not only take care of herself but also her four younger siblings, barely surviving on the measly amount of food they received from the neighbors. By the time she reached high school years she was sent to a remote farming community as part of the culture revolution. When policies shifted she was the first generation of students to be admitted to college by passing the admission exam with brute force of self-studying. And surely greater women before them have achieved far greater things than what they were expected to so I can be here. I do have good genes but more than that I have a strong spirit built on all those who came before me. Hardship is relative. I am in no place to complain or feel bad for my circumstances. I know deep down that anything I want I can accomplish. 

Monday, November 19, 2012


It was a particularly sunny Sunday morning in mid-November. I called Brett as I pull the car around for him to bring down my things, a gym bag with running gears and an overnight change of clothing, an insulated bag with a crockpot half full of the leftover chili I had made the previous day, which he thought for sure was spoiled because it had sat out for more than 3 hours unrefrigerated. An assortment of emotions and thoughts cycled through my mind like a merry-go-around. I wanted to hide in a cozy cocoon and not think or feel anything. Instead I took a deep breath and blanketed it under every bit of gratitude I could gather inside of me.

The sunlight felt warm on my black leather jacket as I waited for him outside. I was calm and composed. I didn’t know what to say but what did it matter? Words were never my forte. Despite a lifetime of experiences, saying goodbye is just one of those things I’ll never learn. I loaded the bags into the trunk, turned to him and did the only thing that probably felt natural to both of us. We kissed and hugged each other. He felt unbearably good, which only made me sadder. He thanked me for the chili and I wished him a good trip. Just like that we parted, for the last time, like two very civilized and grateful people.

Our paths had crossed rather serendipitously. It was sweet in the beginning but it has thoroughly run its course. By now I had clearly overextended my stay. This is it, I told myself, no more visits. I know I said that five visits ago but this time it’s for real. I pulled up his contact in my phone and pressed delete like it’s going to save my neurotic self from a total elapse. People who say I have good self-control don’t know how often I fail. 

Rose had always said that what is more hurtful than breaking up with someone is the loss of a dream, a future of togetherness you had built in your mind. In my case, I wasn’t in a relationship. I had created a fantasy in my head. I had sculpted a perfect individual who was successful, smart, handsome, active, charismatic, cultured, sensitive and funny.  Surely some of these could be justified, such as the fact that he was well traveled (soon to be 28 countries), well read (always had books around), fit (always worked out) and adored children (volunteered as a big brother). But then everything is justifiable if you looked hard enough. We see what we want to see. At end of the day I am guilty of plastering all the traits I’d like all over someone I had barely known. It was a disappointment waiting to happen.

There are things that I’ve done in my life that could be considered shameful by the general population but I feel no shame. Up until now I had no idea what exactly made me feel shameful. But now I know. Shame is when I catch myself willingly and knowingly let someone treat me less than I what I deserve. I can count the times I have let this happen to me on one hand. It runs counter to everything I believe in. I’ve always been proud of the people I’ve dated and associated myself with. They respected me because I respected myself. But every now and then I fail regardless how confident and secure I build myself up to be. It’s so embarrassing I want to pull the sheets over my face and imagine myself disappearing from this world.

It wasn’t anything he did that was upsetting. In fact, he had done nothing at all. I had let myself be the victim of disengagement. Why didn’t he have the courtesy to uninvited me had he been so disinterested? Why did I come here for someone who is obviously oblivious to my presence? I hit myself over the head with these questions over and over again. Was it more polite in his mind to give someone the silent treatment or perhaps he was just in it for the convenience of someone showing up at the door for sex? I’ll never find out what his thought process was. It’s hard for me to admit that there are things I so desperately want that I’d let down my principles for. I was looking for affection, intimacy and something new and exciting. All the things I’ve always looked for, probably and hopefully will never stop looking for. For a moment I wanted to live out that fantasy even if it wasn't real. It would have had been a perfect story to tell the grand kids. Still, fantasies only belong in storybooks. Adults need to go to work and deal with real life and contemplate questions such as: have I always traded sex for affection?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Single Mother List

J Just a few things I thought I'd need to get together before kids:

      Make Money
·         Save money by setting fixed monthly savings account, cut eating out and personal purchases. 
·         Be Healthy
o   Exercise 3-5 times per week (>3 hours cardio)
o   Nutrition: eat healthy, take vitamins and supplements, cycle off coffee
o   Mental health: practice meditation and time out to reduce stress
·         Job with:
o   Stable income, good health insurance, consistent schedule, minimum travel
o   4 weeks of vacation with school holidays
o   Male supervisor; progressive, open minded and younger employees
o   Mentally engaging
o   Bonus: onsite daycare, gym and proximity to amenities
·         Move to a place I want to live that is
o   Safe: low crime /unemployment rate, mild climate, stable community, away from major highways/truck stops/rail road and high traffic areas
o   Convenient: within 30min commute from work/daycare/hospital; within 15min from 24-hour store.
o   Affordable: housing < a third of income; cost of living/daycare
o   Diverse: multicultural/multiracial
o   Geographically interesting: bodies of water, woods, running/hiking trails, parks/reserves
o   Open minded, metropolitan, well educated population
·         Build support:
o   Join CM community, online groups
o   Connect with five moms with kids under 15
o   Identify and secure three immediate backups within 30min radius, who are able and willing to babysit, shop, cook and drive and to be on-call 24/7.
o   Identify two additional backups.
o   Identify three male role models within 30min radius, who are willing to meet at least once per month for positive influence.
o   Identify two legal guardians
o   One handyman/woman and one backup for home repairs.
o   Identify two potential babysitters
o   Identify three potential daycares
·         Legal
o   Donor contract
o   Life Insurance
o   Revocable Living Trust
o   Estate Planning: Will, POA, Health Care POA and Living Will

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Years ago I remember watching a TV interview with David Kohan, the writer for Will and Grace, as he explained the origin for the names of the leading characters on the show with a quotation from Marin Buber, “You need the will to purse a relationship with God, and the grace to receive it.”

Something in that quotation captured my attention even though I’m wasn’t a religious person, nor did I subscribe to the concept of God in Christian-Judeo theology. Every now and then the quotation would resurface in my mind, conjuring up a poignant sentiment of transcendence. To me, beyond its religious connotation, the quotation perfectly captured a delicate duality between courage and humility.

For as long as I can remember I was brought up with the dogma that if it’s your business you did it yourself. There is no question that I prided myself for growing up into a fiercely independent individual, even though sometimes it was to my own detriment. I didn’t refuse help, I just never ask for it. I didn’t know how ask for anything even if I wanted to. Five years of raw sales experience did little to correct that deficiency.

I live authentically. What you see is what you get. I am strong. I had little fear and I was not afraid to show my vulnerabilities. My mother always said that she saw the most profound understanding in my eyes long before I learned how to talk. I feel empathetic even though I might not always know the right things to say. I never learnt how to enunciate pedantic phrases like, “oh poor you!” or mastered the art of telling white lies like, “don’t worry, things will get better.” Words are inadequate. I often find myself resorting back to my nonverbal days as an infant, hoping that people would be able to pick up what my mom saw through my eyes.

Something must have worked. Even people who are much older and wiser than me reached out to me at times of need. They made me want to love more, give more and in turn feel even more inadequate. The saddest thing in life is not loss but our inability to express love. Overtime I learnt to reach out to others when I’m down and share with them my success and joy. I learnt to ask for other people’s opinions and even rely on their expertise on decisions I would have had made solely on my own not long ago. I want to continue to evolve because I want to live wholeheartedly.

In The Gift of Imperfection, Brene Brown write, “Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”

I think the next step for me to close the loop is to allow myself to receive love and to be comforted by the compassion others have for me, or to have the grace to receive it. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

It first started with a couple trickles, like drops leaking through hairline cracks on the side of a dam. The next thing I know I was bawling uncontrollably. A trip down my own memory lane of growing up outside of a conventional family made me think of everyone else around me. Either I have a niche for attracting people with family issues or the stats are worse than they are. Just about everyone I know is either a child of a broken family or has been removed from a child's life because of a divorce or separation. I thought about each of them as tears rolled down my cheeks. Why am I crying? I demanded answers. I feel sorrow but not for myself. I want to reach out and hug someone but not to be comforted. A vast amount of love is trapped inside of me like a knot. I can call or email but nothing remotely conveys the amount of empathy I feel inside.

Once I allowed myself the freedom to explore the subject I instinctively came up with justifications for the most obvious arguments. I even stayed on the phone with Jody for two hours successfully defending a position I have yet to commit to. Why kids? Why alone? Why now? If it's not advisable to shop on an empty stomach then I shouldn't be deciding on a kid with overpowering hormonal interference. The only way to prevent a last minute rash decision is to start deciding now while I'm still in a reasonable sound state of mind before the final countdown.

A quick first go-around of logical reasoning brought the decision closer to reality. I can feel an intention growing deep inside of me, a distant voice becoming more articulate. It is both empowering and startling to think that I could actually make this happen. I woke up this morning feeling as if I'm making my way through the five stages of grief, except these were minuscule shifts in my mental progression to moving closer to the choice of becoming a single mother. There was the initial logical exploration, mental decoupling of children and marriage, grievance for the loss of a childhood dream, emotional acceptance of an unconventional path and then the inevitable concern over denying my child of a father. Would my child be ok growing up without a father? Would my love be enough? Would it forever haunt both me and my child to never know the man behind donor number 114560?

For a brief moment I was completely paralyzed by these thoughts. Then out of nowhere my voice came through, if I could do it so can my child. I held onto the thought as I stood in the kitchen in complete stillness as if I was afraid that it would dissipate with even the faintest movement. Slowly I took a few deep breaths and loosened my grips. Instead of childhood memories flashing through my mind, they cane into focus in slow motion, appearing and fading like one of those PowerPoint slides.

I had grew up mostly without my father. He moved to West Berlin the summer before I turned five. After that I saw him on my ninth birthday and then ran into him completely by coincidence two years ago while visiting my grandfather at the hospital in HengYang. Even though I've spent very limited time with him I have very distinct memories of my father. I feel that deep down that I truly understood and loved him irregardless of what had happened in our lives.

I had a turbulent childhood. By the time I was in fifth grade I had attended five different schools, lived in different cities and with different households. I had lived a rich childhood. Rather than a child of a conventional family, I was a child of a large extended family. I grew up with my cousins and stayed with my grand parents and aunts and uncles. I had lived an happy childhood. I made friends everywhere I went and was loved by every adult around me. The fact that I never had a stable two-parent family shielded me from other ill-effects of divorce and separation. After all you can't miss what you've never had. When someone asked how I felt about my parents' divorce when I was nine I told them if my parents weren't happy together they shouldn't be together. Besides, it didn't make a slightest difference to me as the three of us lived on three different continents at the time.

Surely, my childhood wasn't ideal but I made it through, even in stride. Not for a single second have I ever felt sorry for myself. I hold no resentment for either of my parents. Whatever friction I do have with my mother now stem more from total disagreement on my choice of career.While a Freudian psychologist won't have a hard time coming up with mommy and daddy issues for me, I am for the most part well adjusted. If I can do it so can my child, not only because he/she will have the strength to persevere but also the fact that I will there every step of the way. And with that thought I gathered a new found faith for myself and a child who has yet to be conceived.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

To Have or Not to Have

After a lot of thinking and talking, I have finally arrived at a point of divergence. It’s taken over five years of office work at four different companies to prove to myself what I knew all along. Everyone gets one precious life. I’m spending mine dying a slow suffocating death. Corporate environment runs counter to every molecule in my being. Failing to adapt and unwilling to settle, realizing that I’m not cut out for this is easy; the hard part is finding an alternative. What I do next is largely hinged upon one factor: whether or not I decide to have a child alone by choice. Continuing on with a life on my own does not have to be capital intensive. I can afford to get out of this rat race, take chances and get by on a reduced income if I have to. All that changes if/when I bring another life onto this planet. Priority shifts and for the sake of financial stability, I’d most likely have to endure a corporate life. The scenario is not ideal but it’s a subject I must explore to its fullest extent in order to have a remote chance of leading a fulfilled life.

The idea of whether or not I want to have children altered overtime as I became more mature and experienced. When my peers were kids and everyone belonged to a two-parent family, growing up, getting a job, getting married and having kids seemed as normal as eating and breathing. That sense of normality transformed into hopefulness in my late teens as I entered into the dating pool. I thought I’d meet my perfect mate and someday start a family. I then spent the next ten years bouncing from one relationship to another and somehow still managed to squeeze in substantial traveling on my own. Nothing worked even though I've dated some wonderful people, most of who remain to be close friends until this day. At the same time I started to realize the difficulty of forming and maintaining a loving and committed relationship as well as a how much more difficult when kids are added to the equation. I was convinced that raising kids required two fully dedicated parents, not because of my personal experience of growing up in a less-than-ideal family situation but rather the amount of work, resource and emotional support needed in the process. When people asked if I wanted to have kids, I’d tell them it’s a question I can’t entertain without a mate because I would never attempt the task of having children on my own. Knowing my odds of meeting that perfect mate is diminishing overtime, I sometimes downplayed the importance of children in my life. I told myself that it’s a nice to have but I’d certainly be able to live a life just as fulfilled on my own.

A recent mental breakdown led into a full blown midlife crisis. After all the studying, traveling, working and falling in love the things that are left to do started to dwindle down. The urge to travel that was once the driving force behind my actions has now halted to a near standstill. The first page of my coloring book is complete. The next page seemed dauntingly empty and unguided. Friends started to throw out some rather outrageous suggestions, of which none seemed appealing or plausible. Rose brought up the possibility of children multiple times and I dismissed it each time, holding onto my staunch belief in a conventional two-parent system.

I knew very well that having a kid would change everything for me, even providing a sense of purpose that I’m seeking so desperately. I also knew that if I allowed myself the opportunity I would be a capable and loving mother. Was I too quick in denying myself the single most quintessential life experience as a woman? But having a child for my own fulfillment seems like selfishness to the n-th degree. After all I’m not one of those needy and insecure teenage girls who want to have babies so they can feel loved. As I struggled with the guilt of becoming a self-serving single mom, I realized that it is hardly an unexplored subject. Mikki Morrissette, a Choice Mom of two children, showed just how unfounded this feeling is by pointing out that no married couple ever has to justify why they decide to have kids and the fact that they are no more likely to come up with a better answer if asked to. I have witnessed custody battles. I had been the subject of one while growing up. There is no way I would allow my kids the same fate if I can help it. Considering the rate of successful and lasting marriage these days, is it any worse to consciously bring a child to this world on your own than to jeopardize it with the uncertainty of marriage? Perhaps the only thing that is important is to be committed to parenthood and to be willing and able to provide love and care for another human being who completely depends on you. Life is full of uncertainties. One thing I do know is that I have a lot of love to give and that is not going to change.

People ask why I don’t want to have a partner involved in the process. I might have very little patience for people at times but I am not a man hater. I have commitment issues but I have no intention to be alone for the rest of my life. The truth is that I would very much prefer to have a life partner. However, settling is skill I never cared to develop. As an independent and self-sufficient person, I feel whole even at my lowest moment. I don’t have a checklist of qualities nor artificially high standards. The fact that I don’t need a partner out of necessity liberates me from the need to compromise. Rather than two pieces of complementary jigsaw puzzle pieces, I’m complete and I won’t settle for anything less than another complete individual who choose to be with me out of free will instead of fulfilling a deficiency. I strongly oppose to the idea of being with someone for the sake of conceiving a child or bring a child into an unhappy marriage. Even though past performance does not predict future results, the possibility of me finding and committing to that mate before my clock runs out is low at best. I’m not being pessimistic nor am I giving up hope on anything. It’s only a reality I have to come to terms with. And if having children is important to me then I need to plan within my sphere of influence to make it happen. A more fitting outlook for now is probably to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. 

The only logical thing to do now is to explore my options and decide on a path. I became a follower on the Choice Mom website and started to read Mikki Morrissette’s Choosing Single Motherhood: the Thinking Woman’s Guide. I need to create a gap analysis on having kids. I need to continue to explore alternatives to a corporate life. I need to develop a supportive social network. I have some time but none I want to spare. Besides, what if I want to have more than one kid with some time apart? I will lay out plans to a certain extent but I won’t let that blind me from the real intention of becoming a mother. Most people, single or not, would not be able to have children at all if they had to plan out everything in advance. Ultimately whether or not and when to have kids are questions I must answer on my own. There will always be people who support and oppose to my decisions. However, there is only one person I need to satisfy when I lay my head down at night. Two, when I have a child. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bucket List

Someone recently asked me what is on my bucket list. I didn't know what to say. I'm familiar the concept of such list but it always seemed to me more as a device to set aside things we want to do. When I feel strongly about something I can't help but to feel a sense of immediacy, a feeling that if something was to happen it was either now or never. To put that on a list would simply be a waste of time.

A burning desire is like an obsession. The adjective that goes with such compulsion is fixation, not forgetfulness in such way that it must be inventoried onto a list.

So here my lukewarm desire list:

  • ·         Join a running group (Now)
  • ·         Achieve 15% body fat
  • ·         Be able to do 3 pull ups
  • ·         Have a six-pack abs
  • ·         Run a half marathon (April 2013)
  • ·         Run a full marathon (Sept 2013)
  • ·         Learn to swim (June 2013)
  • ·         Take a trapeze class (Summer 2013)
  • ·         Go skydiving (Summer 2013)
  • ·         Take horseback riding lessons (Summer 2013)
  • ·         Go zip lining (Summer 2013)
  • ·         Play paintball (Summer 2013)
  • ·         Camp out in the wild (Summer 2013)
  • ·         Get hypnotized
  • ·         Get a henna tattoo
  • ·         Go horseback riding on the beach
  • ·         See an opera at the Met
  • ·         Learn salsa
  • ·         Climb Mt. Whitney
  • ·         Hike Inca Trail
  • ·         Hike to EBC
  • ·         Be a vegetarian for 6 months
  • ·         Ride a unicycle
  • ·         Ride a tandem bike
  • ·         Learn to joggle
  • ·         Take a self-defense class
  • ·         See penguins in Cape Town
  • ·         See Kremlin in Russia
  • ·         See the Coliseum in Rome
  • ·         Visit the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia
  • ·         Visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
  • ·         Stay at a B&B in Vermont
  • ·         Vote in a presidential election (2016)
  • ·         Travel to a foreign country with a lover
  • ·         Move to a place I actually like (Fall 2013)
  • ·         Have kids (<2018 span="">
  • ·         Write a book
  • ·         Own a waterfront residence (40th birthday?)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Midlife Crisis

Normality is a relative term. There was no shortage of naysayers during the days when I jetted around the world. I had an atypical way of funding my travels with no insurance and no one to take care of or depend on other than my own. Thriving on resistance was a strength I had perfected over years of unguided childhood and rather misguided adolescence. To me life was a wild swing of fight or retreat. There was no middle ground, no any other way of living. Once I started to travel, I realized that there was nothing more exhilarating than blasting off and extricating myself from the gravitational pull of societal norms. As long as I was floating in orbit and observing the masses as an outsider, selfishly and weightlessly, I felt safe and content. To me that was normal and everything I had to do to fulfill those peregrinations were well within the parameter of my norm.

I now have a reputable job with insurance and a place to call home. I could be the standard of normal to everyone else. Yet I have never felt so irresolute and disoriented by the daily cycle of rinse and repeat. I assessed my immediate environment obsessively. I dug down deep trying to reconnect with the person that I used to be. Standing in a void I had two options: seeking an adventure or returning to my roots. For practicality reasons I choose the latter. Besides, it is the standard protocol to retrace your path when you get lost on a trail.

Rochester is home. Seeing people I know and love made me feel grounded. They understood my ramble. They empathized with my quandary. They supported my whimsy. Their faith in everything I do gave me a little more faith in myself. Besides, there will always be Rochester, my peace tucked away in a safety deposit box.

I’m calmer now.  I don’t have a solution, or even the sight of one on the distant horizon. However, I have gained some sense of clarity, acceptance and even appreciation for my current state of mind. Midlife crisis isn’t a specific point through the succession of physical years. It happens when you have gotten all the low hanging fruits, met all your basic needs and reached a plateau in life where the next thrill, excitement and major accomplishment is that much harder to obtain. It’s easy to make linear progressions when we’re younger. After a while, those trail markers and mile stones become less defined.

Rather than an intersection or divergent paths I have arrived at an inflection point at a clearing. I could set life on cruise control like I’ve observed from so many others around me or I could stay true to the character that I so painstakingly developed over the years and get creative to find my own meaning. I am a thoughtful and purposeful person. To wonder aimlessly was not how I traveled nor is it a viable option now to drift through life.

It’s true that I’ve put a lot of thoughts into all this lately, so much so that it might even seem self-absorbed. I grew up on my own. I spent a lot of time moving around, making new friends and leaving them behind. Thinking was my way of coping with life. Later on my peculiar allergy to alcohol only reinforced that coping mechanism. Thoughts were my respite. As time went on I have completely relinquished any desire to mask my emotions. To live is to feel. And to really live is to feel something so strongly that you’d give up your life for.

Recently, someone handed me a pill and said, take this, it’ll make everything ok. I looked back and asked, is everything not ok? I realize there is no panacea to my quandary. I’m ok with that. I’m not looking for a quick fix, an easy answer or a temporary escape. I am not sad nor am I looking to be happy. I’m not wishing for some romantic encounter to swipe me off my feet. I’m not looking to save the world, adopt a religion or join a cult. I might be contrary at times but I’m not a contrarian nor is this is a rebellion. I’m not looking to be wild or trying to fulfill some void from my earlier adulthood. I have been wild. I have lived. I don’t need to be different or extreme for shock value. I’m in search of something personal, something meaningful, even something substantial and lasting. 

Thank you for being there for me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


No emotion is more comforting than the feeling of being understood. And no one makes me feel more understood than Dr. G. Seeing my reflection through his eyes makes me feel beautiful inside and out. The conversation we had at Spot was one that I wish I could have recorded so I could replay it on demand.

It is not the uncertainty about the future that concerns me but rather the wavering of my internal compass. Up until now I've always had a strong desire to do something, a clear direction to be somewhere. Whether it was good or bad, right or wrong was not important. What was important was the fact that I lived with convection. I knew the reasons behind every step I took and that belief carried me through every time when my decisions fell short of a popular opinion. And there were lots of those times. I could have defended every action of mine with great passion and I always believed it when I said I have no regrets in life. Go was the only gear I had. After all my travels, all the relationships, all the rushing around I have now come to a screeching halt. I no longer know where I am going or why I am doing the things I'm doing. I have a full tank of fuel and nowhere to go.

We weren't going to solve my problems over lunch. No one can. Deep down I know that one way or another I will eventually find the way to my next adventure. I don't know how, where or when it's going to happen. I just know I have to remember who I am and stay true to myself in order to rekindle the fire within.
Dr. G reminded me that I am an authentic and expressive person. I always did what I wanted to do. I've been so occupied with being myself for the last few years I don't know what to do next. Even though I always seemed collected from the exterior, I've never attempted to mask any of my feelings. I might think of myself as introspective, which I do, from the outside perspective I am a performer. No matter what I did, let it be tango, music or keeping a blog, I am constantly finding outlets to express myself. What a lovely assessment! That's the person I want to continue to be. Authentic and expressive. Stay true to those two and the next adventure can't be that far away.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

There Will Always be Rochester

"Rochester will always be here" is what John said to me the first time I left Rochester. I remember sitting outside of Java's holding my shot-in-the-dark with tears falling down my cheeks. Now as I sit across from Rob at Thali of India for the Sunday buffet tradition, the same tears rolled down my face when he said "there will always be Rochester."

The trip that began without a purpose took on meaning at the first sight of a familiar face. I knew at that moment that this is home, this is where I belong and this is exactly where I need to be at this moment. Sometimes the only way to find ourselves is to trace our steps back to where it had all begun.

There was never any doubt on whether Rochester would be there for me. Still, it's reassuring to come back to see and experience it for myself. This knowledge is no longer merely a logical thought but matter of reality.   On my worst day, my greatest failure, my deepest sorrow, there will always be Rochester. I repeated the phrase in my mind over and over again until it became my mantra: there will always be Rochester. 

Getting Going

Lately I've been obsessed with purpose: why am I doing the things I'm doing, what do I hope to get out of them and what would be the end that will justify the means? For someone who has pursed life with such passion for all the years that have led up to this point I feel as if I'm floating aimlessly through a vast empty space. I have not ran out of passion. I'm not looking to change the world. I'm looking for something personal, whether tangible or not, good or bad, right or wrong, I need to have something I'm working towards at all times to keep me moving forward.

In the midst of confusion and uncertainty came a realization when I met Misha at Irvine. There are many thrills in life but none more comforting than being understood and cared for by someone who truly loves you. While I couldn't think of any specific reasons to go to Rochester I did have a small inkling that perhaps revisiting where I came from might help me to define where I am going. After traveling all over the world, Rochester is still the only place I know as home and the only place I want to be.

I hesitated for a couple of days. Finally I reminded myself, sometimes you just do things. We may not always know the reasons why we do the things we do. We may or may not discover it along the way. Sometimes the true reasons don't reveal themselves until years later when we're on a completely different track at a moment we least expected. We'd all be at a standstill if everything had to be planned out and rationalized ahead of time. And with that thought I hastily threw some mismatched clothes in the trunk and hopped onto the express way at 5:30pm on Saturday the 25th. I didn't know where I was going to stay or what I was going to do but I knew I would figure it out when I get there.

Driving helps me to sort through my thought. I felt good as soon as I got onto the road. Illinois and Indiana flew by. By the time I got to Ohio I had the distinct feeling of going home. The urge grew stronger as turned onto 90 past Cleveland. I felt like one of those migratory monarch butterflies driven by an instinctual desire to return to their roots. I arrived just over ten hours, making no stops on the way except once to refuel. Dan had left his front door open for me. I fell asleep knowing I have came home.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

San Diego

A few days in San Diego was a good change of scenery. Nothing earth shattering or life changing. I'm still the same, lost, stressed, anxious. Although a bit less severe now that I'm not working the thought of returning to the office constantly hunts me at the back of my mind.

In some ways my trip to San Diego was very much like the failed exploration of Cabrillo, who sat sail to the northern coast of modern day California in search of gold only to find the barren coast. The journey wasn't completely fruitless. By extirpate the hope of discovering easy wealth up north the men were finally able settle down to develop their own cities in contentment. I've always thought of California as the one that got away. Now having traveled to all the major cities on the west coast I find myself no more closer to peace or salvation, a vision of the ultimate destination.

I drove to Irvine to meet up with Misha on my last day in SD. We were happy to see each other, more so than I had anticipated. I felt close to him. He held my hand as we walked around campus. I told him I felt lost. Even though he said nothing profound in response I felt he understood me. There was love, tenderness and empathy. On the drive back I felt a brief moment of contentment. A realization that I exist in this world solely because of people who love me.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Got my Forerunner 410 and completed my first four-mile run this morning. The first mile was the hardest. As soon as I picked up my feet my body wanted to stop and sit on a lawn chair. I powered through and it got easier. I adjusted my breathing to 3-2 pattern as suggested from the book I've been reading. When my mind starts to give up I shift my focus to my surroundings to distract myself. I saw three cardinals, a bunny and a woodchuck. After I reached the planned three miles I was no longer exhausted. I kept on running until I had to stop myself from over doing it. The morning run felt great. I wish everyday started like this.

While the run felt great my feet not so much. My toes were bleeding and I got a blister on the inside arch of my right foot. Tricia recommended some toe socks to help to keep my nails from digging into the side of my toes. I stopped by body n sole this afternoon to get properly fitted for a pair of new running shoes that are one and half size larger than the ones I currently have. The guy who helped me was really patient and genuine. I wish I had gotten his name. I was so happy with my new purchase I couldn't wait to take them running. Unable to wait until tomorrow I ran another mile around my neighborhood after I finished with my errands in the evening.

I'm not a perfectionist. I just like to do things the right way. I've never been one to actively seek input from others. Perhaps as part of the getting older and wiser, I have finally acquired the desire and ability to ask and accept advises from people who know better. I've always thought myself as confident but humble. What I didn't realize is how little I know and how much of life is unpredictable and outside of my control. Just when I start to think I'm finally sorting things out everything changes and turns upside down right side up.

Life is not only a challenge but one that's constantly evolving. What works today may not work tomorrow. It never stops or slow down enough for one to catch up and not to mention getting ahead. The number of days that are hopeful are diminishing as the days of helplessness and desperation grows. I still feel anxious and depressed at times. I don't know if it's a temporary state of mind or a new way of life. I'm sad, lonely and I cry when I think of Rob. Very few things in life are unconditional. The kind of love that existed and continue to linger between us is unlikely to be seen again outside of movies and novels. Sometimes it's the only thing that keeps me going. Life is a funny thing. It has the ability to turn some of the most painful experiences into euphoric memories that one would be willing to go through twice the pain to relive it all over again. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Beautiful Day

It's a beautiful day today, sunny, breezy, cool, like the beginning of my favorite season, fall. Actually it's been a beautiful week. I went to the Sox game with Brett last Sunday. On the drive back I decided I should finally conquer long distance running. There are a few things I feel self conscious about: running, swimming and team sports. They are all very manageable things to overcome. Running requires the lease amount of setup and it'll give me the confidence to pursue other things in life. I started to run as soon as I came home on Sunday and have been running a little bit everyday. I read articles online, ordered books and a GPS/HRM unit to track my progress. I also reached out to Tricia, a friend I met through tango who has trained and ran numerous marathons and is in incredible physical condition. I realize everything is auxiliary and the only way to conquer running is to run.

I started to study for the LSAT again but not so stressed out as before. So far I've only done some light reading to ease myself back into the process and not get burnout quickly. There's nothing more counterproductive than hitting a brick wall at full speed. Studying or running. I feel better about my anxiety and depression these days. Who knows if I'm bipolar, I just feel more zen in my life. I think stop seeing Sam was the best decision I've made in a long time. It's no fault of his or mine. I just think the combination of us together accentuated the extremism in both of us in a negative way. I can be driven and hardcore at times. I need someone who can chill with me and help me to put things in perspective. If nothing else, just take me away for a little escape. After all life is about balance and I truly believe that.

I'm no more clear about the future than I was before. Most of the times future seems less clear the older we get. It's easy to think up paradigms when you are unaware of the myriad of factors, things and events, in life that are completely out of your control. It's our natural desire to constantly attempt to exert control over things that may or may not be controllable. Going with the flow is a consistent struggle yet it's the only way to bring some peace into our crazy lives. I'm constantly in recovery.

And speaking of controlling, sometimes are just not worth contemplating unless you have the luxury to actually making it a reality. Kids for example. People like to ask me about kids, what my thoughts on them whether or not I'd like to have them someday. I used to think that was something everyone did when I was young. As I got older I felt less so but I'm not sure if that's my personal inclination or the result of the type of relationships I've been in. I know strongly that having children is a serious business and it is not something I would attempt without a solid partnership. If two abortions don't partially prove that point I don't know what would. I knew I had to get an IUD no matter how painful and complicated it might have been and I'm glad I did that. Nowadays kids or no kids is not something I want to have a strong opinion on. It's simply irrelevant until it becomes a possibility. After all most of us don't wake up each morning wondering if we'd be willing to relocate to Mars.

Life is life and it's going to go on no matter whether we like it or not. My mantra has always been making the best of it. I think that's been a clear trend looking back at how I've lived my life. Even while in the middle of nowhere Minnesota I managed to find joy in road trips and other small happenings. I don't feel like a sponge but rather a single naked nerve cell that is exposed to the raw environment with no outer shell, deadly susceptible to everything around me yet continue to thrive. That's me, sensitive, resilient, positive with the audacity to see the beauty in everything. I have wings and I will fly.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Time for a Break

After some consideration I think it's time to pull this blog off the air. For one thing it's not quite appropriate for admissions if anyone decides to google me. I have truly enjoyed maintaining this blog over the years. The intent was never to write the next great American novel. What started as a documentary of an adventure has turning into an continuous journey of self discovery. There were times of joy and exhilaration and times of struggle and despair. With every places I've visited I always come back a little different. And for everyone I've interacted with I find something new in myself. I've come to learn through all of life's contradictions and complexity that nothing definitely right or wrong, good of evil. And in the midst of uncertainties there is such thing as unconditional love.

When I was young I thought I was beyond influence. What I accomplished was mine and what mistakes I may have made I was responsible for. With time comes humility. And when in doubt always be grateful.

Although you may not be seeing any more published posts for a while I will continue to write. At this point I don't know if I'm capable of stop writing. Someone asked if I'd be ok in solitary confinement. I think maybe for a short while as long as I have pen and paper.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I'm trying to get as much of the application ready as I can right now so I can dedicate all my time to prepare for the exam again. Personal statement, recommendation letters, transcript all takes time and energy. Transcript processing, what I thought would be an easy check turned out to be a total nightmare. After a dozen emails back and forth between me and the processor my account is still not showing the proper institution and degrees. I guess the whole double degree business is just not all that common after all. Now I have to seriously think about writing an addendum as part of my application to explain the situation.

When I was at the forum a couple of weeks ago I met with admissions people from schools all around the country and listened to some of the questions posed by other applicants. Addendum is a common topic of discussion, when to write one, what to write about, etc. One girl asked, my grades suffered for a semester because I over exerted myself on the rowing crew, should I write an addendum? God, my eyes about rolled to the back of my head when I heard that. Rowing crew? Seriously? That was your biggest challenge in college? How about completing two unrelated degrees concurrently while maintaining a practice and work schedule? I'm not saying I overcame some monumental hardship. I just have a hard time listening to people talk sometimes. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I'm really fortunate to have some of the best people as my friends. They comfort me when I'm down and cheer for me when I succeed. And when Ernie is sick they asked to help so I could still have the weekend I had planned. And then there are those with whom I cross path with unexpectedly. However brief the encounters are they never fail to leave an impression. Thank you for the myriad of small miracles that have adorned my life. 


Today is one of those rare days that I actually feel content. When I stepped into the shower this morning I felt the pain I've been feeling on my left shoulder is gone and I thought to myself, it's going to be a good day. I'm not overcome with happiness or joy, just centered and maybe a sliver of subdued optimism. It's a good feeling.

I had planned to meet someone for brunch at Oak Park at noon. With a couple of hours to spare I took a drive to Berwyn, a western suburb of Chicago. The idea came to me on a whim as I vaguely recall reading an article a couple of months ago about the bungalow neighborhood in that area on American Bungalow Magazine. The details escaped me except for a photo of a light brown brick bungalow with green tile roof. Not knowing the exact address of the bungalow on the magazine I set my GPS to Berwyn and off I went. There wasn't much to look at coming off the highway exit, just your typical strip malls and convenient stores. Eventually I found a nice residential area near Proksa Park and decided to get out of the car and take a walk around. There were a couple of bungalow style houses in the immediate vicinity but little did I know a boat load of bungalows awaited me just a block away.

For those who don't know, I feel the same way about bungalows as Rose feel about Art Nouveau balustrades, in that it's one of very few architectural designs I would go out of my way to see in -2*C weather. Upon stumbling onto what I believe to be THE bungalow neighborhood described on the magazine I felt as if I had died and went to bungalow heaven. And luckily, the overcast sky and mild temperature made it a perfect day for a neighborhood stroll.

The bungalows on Maple Ave and the adjacent streets are not what you would picture for the typical horizontal siding or stucco bungalows on the Pacific coast. Rather, to accommodate the harsher climate here the bungalows are mostly brick with tile shingle roof and no open front porch that is prevalent in the bungalow design. It's kind of an unique look in that it feels more formal and restrictive than its counterparts in California.

I don't know much about the history of this neighborhood but bungalows in general were extremely popular in the 20s. The improvements on mass transit systems and urban sprawl helped to fuel demands for low cost housing developments for middle class families and bungalows were the answer. The designs were so popular at one point people shopped for them on catalogs and the houses came prefabricated for as low as $300. Still, the low cost is not to be confused with low quality. Back when old growth lumber from the upper Midwest was in plentiful supply, bungalows often came with built-in furniture, closets and breakfast nooks in order to make efficient use of small spaces. The craftsmanship for the interior woodwork is something that's rarely seen in new home constructions nowadays.

The walk down Maple Ave was delightful. Every small lawn was perfectly manicured. Some of the houses came with original art glass windows, some with matching awnings. I couldn't stop snatching photos of all the bungalows. And then, in the midst of all the brick bungalows I saw the one from the magazine! See, good travel karma is at work. Somethings are just meant to happen.
On the way back I took Wisconsin Ave and really fell in love with it. The street is lined with more mature trees and water fountains in front of some of the houses added to the sereneness of the quiet neighborhood. The houses and bungalows on this street are not as uniform. Some of them look so whimsical as if they came straight out of a story book. And then I thought, Chicago wouldn't be so bad if I could lived in one of these houses facing the park. What a beautiful neighborhood! I could walk here for hours every week. I could even picture myself driving up two hours on a Sunday in the fall just for a walk.
I got back to the car just in time to get the very last slice of quiche at Cafe Buzz. Made with fluffy eggs, bri, asparagus and bacon, it was easily the best slice of quiche I've ever had. I had originally wanted to visit the Hemingway house in the afternoon but I felt so content after the meal all I wanted was to get back in bed for a nap. I took one last walk around the block and got back onto the road. Listening to One Republic all the way back I felt good. No work, no study, nothing to get done. It's been one of the best weekends I've had in a long time. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012


With gears strapped to my back, standing on a gravel path between a corn field on one side and soybean on the other I felt like I was on an episode of Myth Busters: can you take off in a paraglider in a perfectly flat and windless field in the Midwest?

Jaro grabbed hold of some dry weeds off the grounds and threw them into the air; they fell straight down. The small broken straws laid on the ground, still, like our black and yellow paraglider.Under the scorching sun and an occasional breeze that's barely strong enough to sway the tall grass and constantly changing direction Jaro said, "we're going to have to run for it."

Run, sure, why not. I thought. I had been waiting for them for nearly two hours by then baking in my underwear. I was getting hungry and cranky but the thought of maybe making it up into the sky kept me what if we have to run. 

When I spoke to Jaro a few days ago over the phone I asked where do we jump off? He responded "we'll be towed behind a car." I started laughing and thought for sure he was joking. Well, he wasn't joking.

So on the path we stood: me attached to a long line to the back of the van and strapped in front of Jaro, who is strapped to the paraglider. He said, "when the car starts to move I want you to run like you're in the Olympics. Just keep running as fast as you can. This is the only way we're going to get up."   
Take off van
So that's what I did. I ran as fast as I could even though I felt like I was barely moving. I had no idea how long we had to run for. I'm not even sure if Jaro knew. In a mere 20 meter dash I felt a pull from behind, Jaro let out a shout, "we're going up!" I couldn't believe it. The van kept moving forward, getting smaller, coming closer to an intersection, Jaro said into the speakerphone, "clear."
Even though both devices work on the same principle, this is an entirely different experience from hang-gliding in Rio. It was a strange feeling, one that I hasn't expected. I had been so occupied with getting up I felt no adrenaline rush, no excitement once I was up in the air. Instead, I was calm, too calm. I thought, this could be really therapeutic with that anxiety thing. The air cooled down instantly. I could feel my ears pop a little. As we reached a certain altitude Jaro instructed me to pull the cord to detach from the van. We were free. I could see birds flying under us and flat land covered one of those cheap lawn green carpets.

Jaro asked, "how do you feel?" "A little scared" I said, as I listened to the strings rubbing against each other in the carabiner. It was a very discomforting sound. Imagine what would happen if the whole thing just came loose. There's no lifeline no safety net. There's nothing.

Then Jaro said, "now you steer. Just take the handles on each side and hold them steady. To turn you first shift your weight and then pull down the break on the same side."

I followed the instructions, turned right and left as Jaro directed me. "You're flying! You're a pilot!" Jaro screamed. It was surreal. I was really in control and flying! I could get use to this!

Landing was a bit rough. We fell onto the grass. Jaro nearly displaced his knee. I'm not sure how it's even possible to have a good landing with people attached in front of one another. You really can't run very well especially when two people touch down at different times due to different heights.

We talked about flying lessons the whole way back to my car. For $1500 and the cost of a paraglider I could get certified to fly on my own. What sold me was when he said I could just pack up my glider and go fly in California. Now, that's an idea...

Friday, July 20, 2012


Sitting quietly in the waiting room, half-assedly holding back my tears, I thought: was I good to him? I should have spent more time with him. That wouldn't have helped his condition now but it would have made me feel better.

I didn't grow up with pets. My first pet was a hamster named April. She didn't live very long. The store didn't tell us hamsters are prone to cancer and tumor when we got her. I had a major mental breakdown the night she passed away and we buried her in the woods in the rain. All I could think about at the time was why didn't I play with her more? Was she happy and comfortable during the brief time she spent with us? Why didn't I clean her cage more often? Should I have given her more yogurt treats? Maybe let her run around in that hamster ball more often? It went on and on and I couldn't stop crying. The experience was so traumatizing I couldn't bare the thought of ever getting another pet. 

Then years later, Rob said I should get a cat. I've always loved cats. It's only the thought of loosing them I can't stand. When a coworker's cat had kittens we brought home Teddy, an active orange tabby. He was such a cute little thing. He would respond when I call his name and sleep on top of me at night. When I finally started on a full time job Teddy meowed incessantly every evening when I came home. He was lonely so we brought home Ernie from the shelter. Ernie is the same age as Teddy and also orange. That's about all they have in common. Teddy is social, playful and aggressive at times while Ernie is more shy and reserved. It took a couple of weeks for Ernie to get used to his new surroundings. They've been buddies ever since then, sleeping and playing together. For the last three years I've had them I've looked forward to seeing them every time I come home. I talk to them when I'm stressed out or down. Sometimes they listen to me as if they understood me. And as much as I think my cats know that I love them, they can't talk to me. They can't tell me if they're not feeling well or how they are not feeling well. It pains me to see them suffer.

After blood tests and x-rays, the vet concluded that Ernie is having an ulcer. He's been digesting and vomiting blood. He's lost weight and not eating. They gave him antacid, antibiotics, fluids and other medication trying to get his stomach back in order. I have to take Ernie back to the vet for two more treatments tomorrow. I hope he'll have lots of more happy years to share with me and Teddy.

We never know how long we can have them with us. All we can do is to provide them with the best life we can. The rest is not up to us.