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The Things We Wait For

November 1, 2012 15 comments

Every semester for the last two years I’ve printed the 1L xxxx School of Law course schedule and kept it tucked inside a notebook hidden in my purse. I’ve been carrying it around as if the schedule were my own, praying that one day it would be.

In a life which I’ve devoted the better part of to raising a family, my hopes to pursue a law degree has been a secret desire buried twenty years beneath the daily conundrum of kids’ science projects, football practices, mortgage payments, the ups and downs of my husband’s business, and my own nine to five job. When you spend that much time folding laundry and refereeing sibling rivalry attempting law school seems more like a pipe dream and less than a reality. Perhaps even more restrictive of this law school fantasy of mine was that bachelor’s degree I lacked but required if my aspirations were to become anything more than an unsettled yearning in my chest. Read more…

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It’s Almost G Day Folks!!

I contemplated long and hard about writing this post. I wasn’t sure if I should be embarrassed…or proud.

I think people tend to be their own worst critics. Course, I don’t believe that about everyone. Browsing through my husband’s Facebook newsfeed, you might actually think otherwise. There’s definitely a good amount of tooting-your-own-horn going on over there. Maybe that’s why I don’t have a Facebook account. Heck if anyone wants to read snarky comments about my life every ten minutes on his or her feed. A few hours of that and I imagine people would start blocking me.

Truthfully, I always feel uncomfortable accepting compliments or praise and it’s a rare occasion I’m not kicking myself for something I wish I did better. It’s a little tiring really, flogging myself all the time. Read more…

The Problem With Desire

October 9, 2011 9 comments

It’s a hard thing to want something, and I mean really want something, with all of your heart, and every bit of your being.  So much so you can barely contain the elation in your voice when you talk about it, nor the flutter in your belly attesting to both extremes of excitement and apprehension. You find yourself struggling to keep the knot in your throat from rising just thinking about it, dreaming on it.

Yup, desire can do that to you.

Twenty years  of secretly coveting something for myself; almost a decade’s worth of semesters staggered between raising kids, juggling bills, and the daily grind of nine-to-five; and all the nights spent studying eight hours in one sitting until I was ready to poke my eyes out – I’m finally that much closer to my ultimate goal. But it’s the 11th hour and I find myself questioning everything that got me here, all of my efforts, every what-if and why-didn’t-I, and the actual probability of crossing the finish line at all. Read more…

Save yourself or remain unsaved

December 11, 2010 3 comments

This month has been rough, what with finals, car problems, my sister in the hospital again, my brother moving out,  then there’s the rest of life; bills, kids, work. And, of course, the ordeal with my 18 year old son, who’s doing some soul searching of his own. I’m learning new life lessons and rediscovering old ones, too, some of them heart breakers.

I’m learning that people aren’t always who you think they are and that’s not all their fault. Sometimes we build them up in our minds to be who we want them to be instead of accepting who they are. We assume we’re older, we know better, so what we say goes. We think that because they’re our children or kid brother we’ve earned the right to plan their lives for them, especially if you’re afraid they don’t have dreams of their own or you just don’t like what they do have. Then we act surprised when they’re not plugging away working on that list of ambitions we set for them never once thinking that maybe it wasn’t what they wanted. We ignore the signs that tell us they’re anything other than what we want them to be and convince ourselves we can fix them, save them.

Well into adulthood, you still think it’s your job to look out for your kid brothers and sister, making sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to, just like you did when you were ten. You carry their failures and burdens as your own. You forget that you can’t mold people into who you want them to be. You can’t change them. They are who they are, take it or leave it. People evolve at their own pace not yours.

We mistakenly assume an 18 year old without plans is an instant sign of disaster, a distress signal that a parent is required to reply. We forget that some things even a parent can’t answer and that includes telling your son who he is or is supposed to be. We forget what it was like to be 18 years young, and confused, and scared, and trying, just trying to figure out your place in this big old world.

You confuse your kids’ mistakes for your own. You think your siblings’ misfortunes belong to you. You forget that kids and siblings alike grow up and have to figure things out for themselves, without you shadowing them or judging them.

So I’m learning..to have faith in my last 18 years of parenting, most of which were good. I’m learning that sometimes my support is needed more than my direction. I’m learning that I have to let people learn from their own mistakes just as I do mine. I’m learning to accept people for who they are, with all of their flaws, even if it means they’re not doing anything I wish they were. But mostly I’m learning that I can’t save anyone besides myself. People have to save themselves or remain unsaved.

The voices in my head

November 27, 2010 3 comments

I have to wonder sometimes if I’m the only sane person who has voices screaming inside her head. What an oxymoron, right?

But really, doesn’t anyone else have moments where he (or she) finds himself questioning why in the heck they bother doing what they do? If it matters at all? Don’t the voices in your head just scream for you to give it up, let it go, to just forget it already?! But then there’s that stubborness in you that won’t allow you to stop until you’re done. Some call it tenacity, I prefer to call her the crazy voice in my head and I would like nothing more than to punch her quiet this morning.

It’s Saturday and I’ve already spent the last few hours trying to make sense of exponentials and logarithms. I’ve always thought of myself as a smart girl, but college algebra makes me question my sanity, tests my self confidence, and makes me feel downright stupid.

Add to that I have a ton of other things to prepare for; next week’s out of town conference for work, another research paper due for Business Ethics, FINALS!!, and I still have to do a practice run on fixing Kayla’s hair for her cheer competition next week, but instead here I am stuck on problem #5 on page 370 of Beecher’s 3rd Edition College Algebra.

Great, now the voices in my head are arguing. One is yelling at the other about this being the reality of a mom going back to school when she barely has enough energy to clean the house, another insists things will be okay, and then there’s a third voice who just keeps singing that New Radicals song over and over again. I’m so flustered, I’m not even sure which voice I want to smother. I could really cry right now, that is of course if I had the time, which I don’t.

I only wish I was as good at college algebra as my professor so smoothly explains it every Wednesday evening in room MH 208. Maybe then I could get on with my day and quit wallowing in self pity. I think I’ll make that my early Christmas wish. Dear Santa, if I’m good, will you please help my brain wrap around f(x)=-2(to the power of x) – 1. Don’t forget to show me how to graph it as well. xoxo Maria

Readers, thank you for listening to me vent this morning, I’m not usually this depressing. I still have several more hours of studying to go so….

A Mother’s Declaration

November 23, 2010 2 comments

Life is good, but it can also be very, very trying. You’ll often find yourselves at crossroads that will surely test your judgment and confidence. Sometimes you’ll choose the path laden with smooth stones and simple turns. Those will be the days filled with more good times than bad. Other times you’ll choose the road less traveled. This is where you’ll learn what you’re made of. Life is filled with choices and when you’re in the moment it’s so hard to know if you’re making the right ones. Strive to make decisions that you can be proud of, that reflect who you are and what you stand for.

Remember the golden rule. Treat others as you want to be treated, not how they treat you. This is difficult, I know. People can be terrible and cruel. You mustn’t reciprocate that. How people treat you is their karma, but how you react is yours.

Dream big and don’t be afraid to fail. The world is filled with people who stay confined to the limits set before them. Fear can do that to you. Don’t be one of those people. Live your life with a perseverance to survive and succeed despite the challenges you face. Nothing worth having has ever been easy, but I assure you the taste of success is sweeter when you’ve worked that much harder. You can be as big as you want to be, the possibilities are endless. Your father and I believe in all of you and the potential you possess. Believe in yourself.

Inevitably you will make some mistakes. You’re not perfect and no one should expect you to be, including yourself. Create a compass of your triumphs and misfortunes, a means of understanding what works for you and what doesn’t, but never let either conclude you. Victories can be short lived and tragedies can ruin you only if you allow them to.

Be grateful for everything, however big or small. We’re not guaranteed anything in this life except the air we breathe, but through the grace of God we are blessed with opportunities to make better lives for ourselves and those around us. It’s up to you to recognize those chances. Remember that when you feel you have nothing or no one, you have yourself.

Our family has been fortunate to been able to provide you with material possessions and amenities that have suited to make your lives comfortable. We are neither rich nor poor. Many people have more than us, but far more have less. I don’t regret living in a nice house or filling it with pretty things. I believe in enjoying the dollar you earn, but I hope I’ve raised you well enough to distinguish the difference in values we place on objects verses people. People are what matter, not things. Don’t forget that. When you die you can’t take things with you, but the memories you foster with family and friends are everlasting. If you lose someone you love that new BMW or diamond necklace will do little to comfort you. Be mindful of what you cherish and who you don’t.

We are all born into varying cultures, religions, and families that influence us and have the propensity to carve circles around us. Often these circles are intended to protect us, but more frequently they hold us down. You’ve been shaped by our family that loves you, groomed by our social and ethnic cultures, and blessed by our religion that has handed you down its own values and beliefs, but you and you alone must be the one to define yourself. Stay true to you. Always. You are unique and that is what makes you special. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are or who you shouldn’t be, not even me. Embrace yourself for your differences even if it feels like everyone is telling you otherwise.

I have tried to instill the significance of your relationships with one another. Friends are wonderful, but blood will always be thicker than water, at least in this family. You’ll grow up, move on, go to college, and meet new people. The changes in your life will be constant. You’ll find a better job to replace the old one. You’ll lose touch with friends and make new ones. New loves will become past loves. Throughout it all, your brothers and sisters will always be there. That will not change. Your relationships with one another are forged by childhood memories, the secrets only a sibling could know, and just in knowing that neither time nor distance could ever break the familial thread that link the four of you together.

I know that your father and I have made dozens of mistakes while raising you all, mostly unintentional. Maybe by the time you read this we’ll have made a dozen more. I beg you to forgive us our indiscretions and not just for us, but for you. Throughout your life people will hurt you, betray you, sometimes with malice, other times with ignorance. Forgive them all, no matter the immensity of their offense. Nothing good comes from a grudge harbored from deep within. Anger only serves to feed hate and resentment, both of which lead to self destruction. You must will yourselves to be bigger than that.

And if I haven’t told you enough, I’ve always known you were great. Don’t allow yourself to be labeled by your paycheck, your job title, the college you did or didn’t go to, your social class, the color of your skin, the clothes you wear, or even your physical beauty. These are not the things that matter. Your greatness resides in the goodness in your hearts, in the way you treat people, the compassion and tolerance you offer them, the inner strength that gets you through the most challenging occasions, the ferocity with which you face your utmost fears, and the effort you put into your own lives.

Wherever you are, whoever you become I know all of you will make me proud. Borne of my blood and nurtured with the potency of my love, all of you were destined to deliver nothing less than brilliance to this world.

Strange places I’ve woken up after a night of drinking

November 20, 2010 5 comments

Twenty something Maria LOVED her screwdrivers and gin and tonic. In all of my twenties I drank much more than I should have and rarely restricted myself to weekends. Here are a few of the places I’ve woken up after a night of drinking.

Under a conference table at work. One morning I stumbled into work still drunk from the night before (yeah, no sh*t). I must have had my last of a dozen drinks only two hours prior. It was a small office and since our CEO was out for the day, at my co-worker’s suggestion I took a nap on the comfy floor of the conference room. I must’ve rolled around because I woke up a few hours later with two of my co-workers having lunch on the table above me.

In the passenger seat of my dad’s car parked in front of Oakland airport. Yeah, go figure.

In the shower where my sister continued to curse me as she tried to wash vomit out of my waist length hair. One of my best friends was busy mopping up the mess I made and kept saying, “Damn, Maria!”  This scene was dejavu because just a few years earlier I woke up in the shower at my grandma’s house, but it was my grandma washing the crap out of my hair with my aunt yelling at me in Tagalog.

Sitting on the toilet. Yup, I walked in with the intention of using the bathroom, but apparently forgot to pull my pants down and just fell asleep. Fortunately, I couldn’t have been sitting there too long because my equally drunk husband came barging in, swinging the door wide open and asking very loudly, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE? HOW MANY LUMPIAS CAN YOU EAT?” He was frying us eggrolls to fulfill our late night munchies.

In the dressing room of a stripper club which doubled as the women’s restroom. I was on one of the dressing room benches with several kindly strippers trying to wake me up so they could change.

Flat on my back on a sidewalk with several of my drunk friends standing over me remarking how I looked like I was trying to make snow angels in the dry pavement.

Beside a tree stump in the front yard of some house party. I was so drunk my friends say I kept running in and out of the house with some very cute drunk guy chasing me, that is, until I flew up over a tree stump I clearly didn’t see, fell on my face in front of dozens of partygoers and the cute boy, and cold knocked myself out.

Despite how embarrassing all those moments were, each time I reread this post, I can’t help but miss my twenties and my dozen drinks a night stamina.

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