0 to 2 real quick.

When we’re starving, we want to eat. When we’re thirsty, we want to drink. So when we’re sad, we of course want to be happy. But it’s never as easy as stuffing our face with a burrito or chugging a tall glass of water when it comes to satiating our feelings.

Instead, we take drugs and drink alcohol. We start a new gym regimen or take up yoga. We immerse ourselves in a new project or find our next obsession. Maybe we even cut our hair, or splurge on something nice. The lucky and rare are cured, but for many of us, we still feel bad. In some cases we feel even worse, because a failed attempt at happiness is just a reminder of what went wrong to begin with and a confirmation of how we’re once again not good enough.

They say that when you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is UP. This is great, but when you’re only focused on the sky you can get blinded by the light. You make irrational moves in a desperate attempt to claw your way out of that hole. You slip, you fall, and you hurt yourself. We are always looking for a shortcut, but there are no shortcuts when it comes to healing.

What we fail to recognize and ultimately accept, is that it’s OK to take your time when it comes to healing. It’s not ideal, but it’s OK and it’s normal. It’s not realistic or sustainable to go from being in the depths of depression to Cloud Nine with a snap of the fingers. What is obtainable and less pressure on ourselves, is taking little steps to make ourselves a little happy. Or at the very least – a little less sad.

This is going to go against everything I’ve learned in the past few years, but next time you’re feeling like a zero, aim for a two instead of a 10. If at the end of it all you’re only at a one, it’s still better than feeling like a zero. Instead of beating yourself up for not reaching 10, feel proud that you went up a number.

When you really think about it, it’s annoyingly simple. Abraham Hicks’ Emotional Guidance Scale seen here is the inspiration. Next time you are feeling a negative emotion, identify where you are on the scale and then choose a thought or feeling that takes you out of it. Marinate in that new feeling and then repeat if you have the mental and emotional capacity to do so.

You can do this by playing your favorite song, watching a funny movie, taking a hot shower, watering your plants, calling your best friend. You can do this by simply taking deep breaths or just looking around you and recognizing that you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back, food in your fridge, and air in your lungs.

I hate for all you get out of this post is to aim low. One of my favorite cheesy quotes is even, “Aim for the moon, if you miss you may hit a star”. Just know that the view from a mountain top can be absolutely breathtaking.

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Apples and Trees.

A friend of mine started sharing random videos of cute babies doing cute things after she realized I held the same affinity for them. During one of our ovary kicking conversations, she expressed that she wanted to have a baby soon. However, she was scared to bring one into this crazy world. From as far back as I can remember, “I’m scared to bring a child into this crazy world” has been a common saying. Now, for the first time in my life I can say I don’t agree. 

This is a bold claim, but I truly believe that the kids of this generation are going to be the ones that change the world. I see them taking a stand, questioning the authority breaking everything, showing empathy, helping others, and am so inspired by them. I see children at peaceful protests and while some may be too young to know what’s going on, I know they will remember the experience.

On Easter I noticed so many videos of egg hunts and Easter baskets. It was as if Covid didn’t exist. The parents on my timeline did what they had to do to make sure they had plastic eggs, and chocolate bunnies and happy babies despite long lines, germs, and the stress of already having to be a parent working from home. My friends are some of the most compassionate, empathetic, smart, patient and accepting parents I know, and I am constantly in awe by how they are raising their children.

For the first time, I actually feel hopeful about the future. I’m so sure about this, because I know the PARENTS of our future teachers, doctors, therapists, counselors, leaders, thinkers, doers, and lovers. WE are the children stopping trauma from being passed down from previous generations.

The world can definitely be a scary place, but I guess it’s never the perfect time to bring another life into it. It is however, always the right time to kids to be more compassionate, confident and assertive. The best part is I’m finding that I’m learning more and more from kids instead of the other way around. So not only am I hopeful for the future – I’m excited for it. 

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you’re a bird.

The other day I was sad. Not sad, sad. Just little kid sad, pouting and stuff. It was 79 degrees and we don’t have a deck, or a balcony, or a backyard, or nearby beach or park to lay out in and we’ve been in purgatory for 53 days. You were waist deep in work, but looked at me sulking long enough to say, “You’re a bird, you need to be free”. And for a second, I loved you like it was the first time again.

You always get me, except for when you don’t. But when you get me, you get me. Like the time you brought home Humphry Slocombe “Secret Breakfast” even though you don’t like me eating all the sugar, or laying out my yoga mat and pausing the video right before the first pose starts. Or restringing the tie in my workout shorts, because I don’t have the patience to do it myself. Or when you make half the bed before you go to the driving range, so that I could finish making it when I wake up. 

See, it’s not so bad I tell myself. But sometimes, I hold on to the resentment so tightly, I let everything else slip away. I forget you’re trying too and don’t want it to be like this. So I pack your pills for you every Sunday, making sure to include two Pepcid’s in the morning and three at night. I squeeze you extra tight in between meetings even though you think I’m as affectionate as a pinecone. I drive around for 10 minutes looking for parking, yell profanities at all the one-way streets, and accidentally drive into a parking garage, because I know how much you miss Philz. And every night before I go to bed, I ask the universe to send you things you don’t think to wish for yourself.

I know it doesn’t work that way, but I do it anyway. ‘Cuz “if I’m a bird, then you’re a bird too”. 

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QuaranTime.

It is now officially Day 40 of shelter in place (SIP), although technically Day 48 for me. I suppose it’s now appropriate to call whatever the fuck is going on “the new (but don’t forget temporary) normal”. While I never thought shit was a joke, I initially and naively rescheduled a March 14th dinner reservation to April 19th with an overzealous optimism. I’ve since cancelled it as well as the rest of my life for 2020. I also gave in and ordered some equipment for my work from home station aka my dining room table. If you can’t beat them, join them, and now panic ensues every time I have to eat dinner on my light grey couch. 

Some things have changed since the first day of SIP, and some things remain the same. While everyone is still adjusting, it’s also getting easier. People have found their stride and created routines, which is great, but also a little bittersweet.Information is constantly changing, because no one actually knows what the fuck is going on. Everyone is learning as we go along, and we are all just trying to do our best. It’s like we’re living in this weird purgatory, where we have to put our life on hold in order to actually live it. Unfortunately, time stops for no one. Not even Covid.persistenceofmemory1931

You see, time be hitting different under quarantine. You no longer have to commute, yet there seems to be even less hours in the day. Oddly, you’re working longer hours, because it’s harder to stay focused. I can’t even imagine how it is for people with kids. It’s as if time is suspended and you’re in limbo. This “extra” time, doesn’t really feel so extra – it feels sparing. The days pass by and no matter how creative you get, you still find yourself waking up to brush your teeth just to brush them once again at night. Most of the time, the in between is all a blur. The days are fast, but the progress is slow and I constantly wonder how much of my life am I wasting in quarantine?

The cruel part is THIS is what we’ve always wanted – just not the way we wanted it. People, therapist, friends, memes, THE WORLD has been telling us to stop and smell the roses. Now we have all the time to do so, and some people still aren’t smelling them or are tired of smelling them. Maybe some of us will never be content. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus (I really would’ve changed my name) said “Nothing is permanent except change”. I know first hand that even good change can be scary.

Everyone deals with things differently. Some people thrive in this type of situation. They bake, do yoga, make arts and crafts with the kids. While others cry, they gain weight, and binge watch Snowfall. Some do a combination of all these things on any given day. I have no answers. I don’t even really have a point or ending for this post. I’m just over here in limbo with the rest of y’all. I might as well make it fun and grab a rum punch while I’m here.

Editors note: It’s now Day 86 since this sat in my draft box for weeks.

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Day 68 – The Isolation Journals: The Unlearning

Your prompt for today:
Reflect on the first time you became aware of race—either yours or someone else’s. What meaning did you make of it then? How has that meaning evolved?

I was lucky/privileged/blessed – whatever you want to call it, to have never experienced racism growing up. At least not knowingly. No one ever called me a “chink” and I was never hit on by men with “East Infections”. I was aware of other races and cultures since moving to San Francisco from the Philippines when I was two, but the two instances that immediately came to mind when I saw today’s prompt are from high school. 

I went to Philip & Sala Burton. I don’t know what the actual demographics were when I attended, but I remember it as predominately Black, Latino and Asian. I never felt like the minority. Burton was known as the school for smart people who couldn’t get into Lowell. My Freshman year was the first year they adopted uniforms and dismantled ROTC. I was bummed about both. 

I remember one year walking through the halls and hearing a black student speak Spanish. Wait, what? But he’s black? I was dumbfounded, it also never crossed my mind that he could’ve just been a black person that knew how to speak Spanish. Come to find out he was Cuban. Up until that very moment, I hadn’t realized Cuban people came in a plethora of colors and sizes just like how I didn’t know Brazilians could also have blonde hair and blue eyes. I was so intrigued, and for lack of better words, I thought it was so “cool”.

The second instance, and probably the one time in my life I felt even remotely judged because of my culture was in my US History class – honors, thank you very much. We had a multi-cultural potluck where we were supposed to bring traditional family dishes. My mom made pancit and I remember her complaining about it the entire time, so I was more than grateful to actually have something to bring.

We placed all of our dishes on a bunch of desks pushed together to make a buffet table. As I was getting food, I saw and overheard two other students – friends actually, screaming over the dish I brought. One of them pointed at one of the shrimps in the dish that still had its head attached and screamed, while the other one laughed and yelled, “Gross!” I don’t think I said anything, but I wish I had. I just felt so hurt, my focus was on trying to keep my tears from falling.

It wasn’t so much that I felt they were being racist, just insensitive. I felt bad, because my mom put in all this work (and trust me, she rarely did that when I was younger) and these two assholes were not just unwilling to try it, but were making fun of it. The irony is one of the girls is half Asian, and the other is now married to a Filipino man. So what did little, introverted, hates confrontation, but hates inconsiderate people even more high school Abi do? I proceeded to grab a heaping serving of the pancit in front of them. And you best believe I had a shrimp head in there. 

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Dear Black Kings and Queens,

I feel unqualified to write anything, but how can I NOT write something? For now, I just want you to know that I see you and I am here for you. YOU ARE INVALUABLE.

Love, Me

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Feel Me.

I used to pride myself in being able to write what other people felt or thought, but could never quite articulate. I struggled for a while to find validity in my writing, wishing I had real talent. Something quantitative, like being able to play the guitar by ear or effortlessly snowboarding down a black diamond. No one tells the room to quiet down, so people can gather around – eyes gleaming as they watch you type on your laptop. No one gives you a standing ovation and tosses you flowers after writing a blog. But that’s not why we write is it? Enabling sympathy and empathy is a talent, even f I still have to convince myself it is from time to time. Now more than ever do I have to convince myself it is.

I’ve been experiencing a new kind of writers block. One where I feel like I’m no longer relatable, because I’m no longer relevant. What do I write about? No one’s breaking my heart in a volatile fashion. My life is no longer messy in an entertaining way. I’m not dating different men with new dicks and new antics. 

I don’t have kids, so I can’t relate to parents. I’m no longer young and dealing with fuckbois, so I have nothing in common with 20 year olds. And I’m not married, so why would someone with a ring on their finger listen to me? I’m not a successful entrepreneur or business owner, or even “Insta-famous”.  

Then, the other week someone reposted a blog I wrote from 2009 saying that even after all these years it still makes her cry. The minute I read the post, the memories came flooding back. I remembered who it was about, why I wrote it, and the pain flowing from my heart and into my veins that fueled that dark time in my life. “Same girl, same” I replied.

You see, people with kids once only hoped for them. People who are married fucked a few frogs before finding their king/queen. And every successful person has sacrificed before they flourished. We always remember our first love. Our last love. The moment we found out we got cheated on. The moment we realized we were in love. The times we almost gave up. The people who made sure we didn’t. 

We may forget certain details, like the exact words that were said or who hung up first. Maybe even the who what or when, but we never forget how we felt during these times in our lives. We will always remember how sad we were even if we’re happy now. How low we were, even if we’re on cloud 9 now. We will always remember the feelings, I just hope that I get to be one of the people who helps you remember. Writing might be a talent, but it’s also subjective. I’d like to think of it more as a gift, meant to be shared and given.

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Murder She Wrote.

She is a writer and she is a warrior.
Carrying a machete full of metaphors and shield of similes.
With her pen, she can blow minds and slash tongues.
Make men rub their chin, make women clutch their heart, and make black hearts bleed
Blood – black and blue, spilling my guts and my heart out to you.
Staining coke white lines darker than doubts.
With her fingers on the keys, she can start fires or soothe sleeps.
In your bones, rubbing salt in wounds you thought healed long ago
And kiss cuts you thought would never feel good again.
She will make you feel things.
Tickle your brain and whisper all the words you never knew you wanted to hear.
Thoughts that can’t escape you.
No rebuttal.
With a flick of the wrist and lick of the lips, she will suck the words out of you.
Do not start a war with a writer, because she will never let you forget
The electricity of your first kiss, or the agony of your last heartache.
Periods and apostrophes razor sharp.
She spits fire. Wordplay daggers penetrating your limbic system
YOU WILL BEG FOR THE STICKS AND THE STONES.
Even the Devil doesn’t want to dance with her.
And when all is said and done,
She will write your ending, so that you could relive it over.
And over.
Again.

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How A 3-Day Juice Cleanse Landed Me in the ER.

After eating a dozen cookies and having a conversation with my friend about eating the dozen cookies, she gave me the “great” idea to go on a juice cleanse. Unbeknownst to me, when most people say they’re detoxing, they usually mean only for a day. I honestly think it was an adverse effect from being all sugared up and under quarantine for so long, because nothing else could explain why I was so excited to starve myself for three days. In actuality, I’ve been wanting to try a juice cleanse for years, but I didn’t have the patience to keep cleaning a juicer and I didn’t have the funds to spend on something so frivolous.

Alas, these are weird times and I forked up the money to buy a 3-day juice cleanse from a local SF company. I figured it would be easier under SIP since I didn’t have the temptations of eating out or free snacks and lunch at work. I looked up side effects of a juice cleanse just to be safe, and felt like I could handle the headaches and feeling hungry. I chose the Classic Cleanse, which comes with the following juices at the following times. This is what Day 1 looked like:

8:00am Lemon Ginger Juice: Tastes like the lemon, ginger, turmeric water I used to make in the mornings
9:00am Green Juice: One of the better green juices I had, but still green juice
10:30am Nettle Tea: Not bad, but the color was an off putting dark green/black
12:30pm Carrot Ginger Soup: I opened up my fridge excited for this bland carrot soup, because it almost felt like I was about to eat real food. Before closing the fridge, I looked at the eggs, veggies, cheese, fruits and various other solid foods inside and in a singsongy voice said, “I’ll see you all soon my pretties!” It was about this time that I started to feel fatigue.
2:30pm Grapefruit Mint Juice: This was delicious! I could easily drink it on a hot day while tanning on my lawn next to my pool that doesn’t exist. The fatigue hit harder, and I decided to take a nap. I rarely take afternoon naps, not even when I’ve only slept for four hours.
5:00pm Green Juice: Again, not too bad. However, I started feeling extremely fatigue and my headache was turning into a migraine. I started to watch Contagion on Hulu, but my head was pounding and I started feeling nauseous, so I laid in bed instead.
7:00pm Cardamom Almond Milk: I was really looking forward to this one since Rach said it was delicious, and it was. Too bad I threw it all up shortly after. In between the green juice and almond milk, I started having the BGs, chills, and threw up several times. I felt like I was hungover with a migraine and food poisoning. I felt so weak, I drank the almond milk on my bedroom floor.
8:00pm Chamomile Ginger Tea: I managed to move from the floor at the foot of my bed, to the floor next to my nightstand where I could only drink half of Juice 8 before running to the bathroom once more. I fell asleep soon after.

Day 2 was thankfully better. No throwing up, but it still felt like someone was punching my brain behind my eyeball. I took a sick day, but continued the cleanse with caution – I ate a piece of toast for breakfast and then ate a handful of nuts throughout the day. For dinner I added a shake.

It’s Day 4 now, and I’m typing this fresh out the ER. On Day 3 of the cleanse I drank up to juice 4 and couldn’t stand to look at my laptop screen. My never ending migraine seemed to have increased in intensity, and I went to bed around 5pm with the chills. My temperature was 100.4°. Thirty minutes later it rose to 101.4°, so I took some Tylenol and went to sleep. When I woke up, I had a heavy 0-1feeling right below the middle of my chest and above my stomach. It didn’t hurt, but it was a bloated feeling and extremely uncomfortable. It just didn’t feel right. I got up to go to the bathroom, and a wave of nausea, cold, sweat, and pins and needles came over me. I’ve had food poisoning before and this wasn’t it. I pooped, and it was solid but very small. I threw up, but nothing really came out and when I got up to rinse my mouth, I felt the wave again. I must’ve passed out, because the next thing I remembered was being on my hands and knees on the bathroom floor. I got up to throw up again, and the same thing happened. This time, I landed butt first (I only know this, because my left ass cheek is still a little sore) and then on my back. I started hyperventilating and I couldn’t feel my hands or feet. I yelled for my boyfriend who was in the living room, but when my hands started to cramp up (think of how someone looks when they’re having a seizure) I asked him to call an ambulance. 

I spent the next 17 hours in the hospital, during which my fever peaked at 104°. They ran several tests on me including one for Covid (Negative btw, and the swab test wasn’t so bad. Just made me want to sneeze). Everything was fine, but they ran a CT scan and saw I had an inflamed gallbladder. They diagnosed me with acute cholecystitis and said I needed to have surgery that same day to get it removed. WHAT THE FUCK? I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR SURGERY. I thought they were just going to pump me with fluids and let me go home. I’d never had surgery before and even though this was a simple one, I was terrified especially since no one else was allowed to be there with me (thanks ‘Rona).

Luckily, they ordered me an ultrasound first to check for gallstones. Oddly to everyone, it came back not only negative for gallstones, but negative for inflammation as well. At the same time I was getting my ultrasound, the OR called to admit me into surgery. Had I not gotten the ultrasound, I’d be sans a gallbladder and still in the hospital right now. Both the surgeon specialist and ER doctor couldn’t figure out what happened. I wasn’t in pain, had no blood in my urine, or abnormal discharge, which trumped all of their other prognoses. Since they couldn’t determine the reason why I had such a high fever, the doctor didn’t feel comfortable releasing me, and wanted to keep me under observation for the next 12 hours. Since I was feeling no pain and my fever had gone down, I chose to go home, which is where I’m typing from right now. 

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So what the fuck actually happened? I think it was either a) a bad batch of juice or b) my body had an extreme reaction to a hardcore juice cleanse. I found it weird that no one that worked at the hospital seemed to think the juice cleanse had anything to do with it. I was completely fine prior and almost immediately felt sick as soon as I started it. I even read about other people who’ve had similar negative experiences, which is the reason I continued the cleanse against my better judgment. After getting sick, I found this excerpt in an article about acute cholecystitis and it adds up.

“However, low-calorie, rapid weight loss diets should be avoided, because there is evidence they ca disrupt your bile chemistry and actually increase your risk of developing gallstones. A more gradual weight loss plan is best.”

It’s been two days since I was in the ER and I’m much better, but still feeling pretty weak. This crushes my soul a little bit, because I just found my stride with yoga, boxing, and feeling healthier than I’ve felt in a while. I can’t even eat all the yummy things I was looking forward to eating post-cleanse like Julie’s coconut passion-fruit cookies, or Tita-Ella’s bicol express and adobo, because I have to eat bland food for a while. The irony of it all. Imagine doing something to boost your health, only to have it do the exact opposite. 

“If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”

Above all things, I’m feeling grateful. Grateful that it wasn’t anything worse, that I have health insurance, that Ryan was there for me, and that I’m back home. But I’m not going to lie, I also feel really, fucking STUPID. I paid hundreds of dollars to get myself sick and in the hospital, and will now have to pay even more money in medical bills – when nothing was wrong with me to begin with! I also feel defeated. This is petty, but I still had three more juices to finish and now feel like I’m weak for not completing the cleanse. I now feel incredibly dumb writing that thought out loud. 

I’m not telling you not to ever try a juice cleanse (well, kinda). There are plenty of people that have successfully completed them without any crazy side effects. But I hope my gnarly experience reminds you to:

  • Do extensive research before doing anything extreme to your body. When I Googled “Juice cleanse side effects” I only found stories about headaches, feeling hungry, and diarrhea. Once I searched for “Sick from juice cleanse” I found a whole bunch of other stories that probably would’ve deterred me from trying the cleanse … had I found these articles sooner.
  • LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! Don’t let your ego or pride decide anything in life.
  • Believe them when they say that a well balanced diet lifestyle trumps any diet – PERIODT.

I wish I had a more triumphant, inspiring ending for you, but this is my story. The silver lining in all of this, is I have never been more proud and protective of my body. I now know my limits, and am excited to get back to my regular scheduled program of yoga and veggies with the occasional sleeping in and lemon-raspberry cookies in between. I am even more focused on my health journey and taking it day by day. I might’ve failed the juice cleanse, but my mind has never been more clear. 

 

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Day 43 – The Isolation Journals: Say It New

Your prompt for today:
Write at least one full page of prose or a poem. It can be a made-up tale, a scene, a thing you’ve just done or seen. It can be a dream. But the one thing you can’t do is use a word that’s more than one syllable.

Huh? Wait? What! No way! Come on, it’s fun. Trust me, it is. And, sure, it is tough. At least when you start. But your voice will jazz in new ways. The beats of the words will pop in new ways. You will have to walk this way and that and bend and stretch to find your way to say the thing you need to say. Which means you will write in new ways. Which is cool. It will not sound as odd as it seems. (Just look… the one word in this whole long prompt that is not one syllable… is the word “syllable.”)

P.S. If you need more of a boost, here are some more words to use: wood, whir, first, red, brush, trace, friend.

Do the write thing.
Just don’t stop.
Keep on and on and on*
Let your words flow, this way and that.
There is no way to go back*
So run and leap and jump and fly with your pen.
Then do it some more*
You. Got. This.
Trust the heat in your heart*
Start now.
You are a Queen. You are a King. You are a work of art.*
Paint and sing.
A dream now real life.
I knew you could do it.
You did not give up.
Sing. Dance. Play. Cry. Laugh.
Put the pen down and sit in your joy.
Then, rise the next day like it is the first day.

Author notes:
Couldn’t say “keep going”
I couldn’t say “no going back”
I wanted to write “then do it again”
Couldn’t use the word “fire”
Wanted to say “masterpiece” or “soldier”

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