TALK TUESDAY: The Love for Snail Mail

I love snail mail.  Let’s start with that.  I love receiving handwritten notes.  I love going through the bills and spam and seeing a personally scribbled letter made out especially for me.  I love the idea of words flying through air and space, so special that it required extra postage, so intimate that the immediacy of technology just doesn’t give it justice.  Maybe I’m just being romantic, but why not?  I love snail mail.

When I was in the Philippines, my love for letters and postcards was a bit more difficult to communicate.  While we did have postal offices, they weren’t as efficient as I would like.  Most of the time, when I would attempt to send a postcard to our family here in New Jersey, it would be a hit or miss if it ever gets to them.  I always picked out interesting postcards, especially when they came out with 3D ones.  But those never made it to them.

This letter is from my niece Kai Mykonos. I always have two addresses saved for her, and she always surprises me where she’s going to send her reply.

I had this image in my head that the postal worker would see my beautiful postcard, read what it’s the back and decide to keep it for himself.  At first it would make me mad, but soon enough, it would turn into hope — hope that it inspires them, hope that it brightens their day.  Then I just write another one.

My aunt recently went on a Italian tour and she sent this postcard from Rome.

Postcards have become a staple, especially when my niece Machiko started learning how to read and write.  It has become her preferred souvenir whenever I would go on work travels, so I always made an effort to find a post office and mail one in.  When I moved here, she challenged me to find better stamps, make it more colorful.

This combo letter from Machiko and Jared made the Husband and I laugh so much. Thank you for the name suggestions, kids!

I love it when Machiko becomes so creative with her letters. This envelope stationery gave me so many butterflies. She wrote one for each of us.

Slowly, it became my secret courier.  Whenever I would have news, as big as the last one, I would always write it to my best friend/sister Marga first.  I would hold it in as long as I could until she gets the letter, Facetimes me, screams in my face, and then we can talk about it.  Something about writing things down makes it all the more real; holding it in your hands makes it all the more real.

A week before receiving this mail from a very dear friend, I saw her get engaged. This is from where the question was popped. I’m so happy for her.

Soon enough, my friends started doing the same.  In a world of instant messaging, nothing beats the love that comes from the moment the ink is absorbed by the paper.

One of our wedding godparents frequents Japan. She makes sure to send one or two for every visit. I truly appreciate that about her.

From one of my childhood best friends, before her Tokyo postcards, she used to send them from Budapest. I have to dig those out from my box, but these, I often use as bookmarks.

You would get medical bills, phone bills, credit card offers, junk mail and voila!  In the thick of it all, there it is.  A note.  Sometimes with a picture, sometimes so thick that the envelope barely closes over it.  You see where it’s from and your fingers run over the stamps, seeing how far it traveled to get to you.  And there it is.  In the hustle and bustle of the everyday grind and more, the world pauses as you read your letter, your postcard, and for a moment, everything is quiet but the words that lift off those pages.

Mixed media postcard from Machiko. She makes me up my snail mail game.

I love snail mail.

Would you like to send me one?  Feel free to drop a card or two at this address:
Carla C
PO Box 1744
Union NJ 07083

Would you like to receive one from me?  Send me an email with your preferred address at ohcarlaloo@gmail.com.  

TALK TUESDAY: The sun and stars

One of the things that I regret is not blogging more often.  The year 2019 started rough for the Husband and I, that is without a doubt.  There has been a quiet struggle and frankly speaking, not having it publicized — even to closest friends and family — made the struggle somewhat small, even though the weight of it never diminished.

Let me start with this:  I have changed.  Before I married my husband, one of the things that I have made clear to him is the fact that I do not intend to be a mother.  My motivation is to live with my life partner, that is him and that is all.  I never imagined motherhood to be in my journey, until 2017.

One of our cousin’s brothers passed away suddenly.  He was 33.  We attended the wake, it was one of the loneliest images I have in my head.  His widow, sitting vigil by his coffin.  And she’s alone.  The only thing that went through my head was she’s alone…. and I remember what Derek Shepherd said.

At first, we just put a stop to birth control.  When we reached 8 months of kind-of trying, I went to see the doctor where he recommended a specialist.  Apparently, at my age, which I consider to be a young 31, if it takes more than 6 months to naturally conceive, I need to be looked at.  So I went and had myself looked at.  I had a couple of blood draws, Husband got tested for sperm count and motility, I had an HSG test.  AMH, FSH, pelvic exam here and there, smears, it took about two months of testing just to evaluate where we stand.

And nothing was wrong.  Everything is where it was.  The specialist had us redo everything again to verify, except the HSG, and still nothing was wrong.  That was the most frustrating part.  If only there was a reason why it was taking so long… and then we hit the one year mark.

I started to pee in cups for ovulation tests, BBTs, I did it for so long, I can’t even remember when I last peed normally.  And still nothing.  At this point, we were closing in to a year and a half.

Our specialist recommended that we take another three months to try conceiving naturally before we explore other options — hormone therapy, IUI, IVF.  He gave us a deadline:  if we haven’t conceived by end of February, we are to make another appointment with him, but this time with a financial planner, so we can properly explore financing options for our needs.  He says he wanted to catch the peak of my egg quality so that if needed, harvesting them won’t be as difficult.  And I am about to turn 33.

It was devastating to make that appointment, knowing nothing is wrong with our bodies.  For some reason, we just couldn’t get in sync.  It just wouldn’t click.  That part was the most difficult to accept.  If you look at our love story, there’s every reason to believe that Husband and I are meant to be.  Yet here we are.  The sun and the stars have been looked up to and we still didn’t mix the parts right.

So I made the call.  March 26, with our specialist and the financial planner.  I looked at our bank statements and other credit options, weighed it all and found out we can dish out a good amount, just in case the insurance doesn’t cover even half of it all.  We looked ready.  I think we are ready.

Then March 16 came.  It was a surge of relief and joy and pure elation.  We kept the news to ourselves as long as possible, but we knew we had to slowly tell everyone.  While we weren’t able to record everyone’s reaction, the ones we did made our announcement all the more memorable.

So we did.  In person, through Facebook and Facetime, all the way to the Philippines, Japan and our surrounding neighborhoods.  It definitely made for a moment to remember.

—-HEADPHONES WARNING:  Because we recorded their reactions in different channels, volume levels vary.  Note to self:  use one camera for all videos next time.  —-

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

TALK TUESDAY: Transitioning

My working days started not so long ago.  In fact, this week, I turn two months old in my company.  I am still trying to find my footing, but I have to say, I have been pretty blessed with a motivating boss and a welcoming team.  This job is a great introduction to the American working class.

I feel pretty blessed at this point.  Right this very moment, I am happy.  I am happy to go to work, and I am happy to come home.  I cannot recall having such a healthy balance in my life before.  Although my commuting pretty much ate up my time for working out in the early evening and my weight gain has become more palpable, I really cannot complain.  A lot of people mistake that disposition as optimism, especially my new work friends, but really it’s not.  I am just all too familiar what a stressful life is.

Here’s the thing though:  I have been missing out on wifely duties.  Maybe not even wifely, but chores to be more exact.  Now, I feel the tiredness of the commute, and have a fixed schedule to follow.  Chores are starting to build up as this new thing in my life occupies 40 hours of my week, plus 20 more to prepare and to commute home.  Seeing three weeks’ worth of laundry building up, I can’t help but feel guilty.

Laundry pile

No shame that all of my undergarments are shown in this photo lolol

I felt even worse over the weekend.  The Husband was taking a nap while I chose to fold laundry.  Ten minutes in, seeing that there was so much to do and pretty much getting overwhelmed, I banged the laundry basket, slammed the door, and pretty much kicked the bed frame to wake him up and say, “I COULD USE SOME HELP HERE, IF IT’S NOT TOO MUCH TROUBLE.”  What a bitch, right?  I bathed in my own bitterness, sulking as if it’s the Husband’s fault that the laundry got this bad.

But it’s not.  Life is just taking over, and as much as I want to be the best wife ever that makes and packs meals, does chores, and still look so f*cking glamorous, I’m not.  One way or another, a ball will drop, and it’s okay.  I should be okay with it because it’s not a ball I can’t just pick up.

After my brief rampage, he just started folding clothes with me.  I was quiet for about 20 minutes before I made my way over to his side of the bed and apologized.  I know I upset him, and I know I was being unfair.  After all, I was the one that insisted that he should nap and get some rest.  But he easily accepted my apologies and bathed me in kisses.  It was at that moment that I realized in order for balls to not keep falling on the floor, I should just be more honest and ask for help.

Wow.  Even when he’s napping, he’s truly proving to be the better half in this partnership.  Hahaha.  Oh well.  I can race him to be the better half tomorrow. <3

TALK TUESDAY: Juliana Louise

One of the things that I have to be most thankful for is the speed technology has evolved in the last decade.  If it weren’t for tablets and the Internet, the husband and I would have had such a struggle maintaining our relationship pre-marriage.  If it weren’t for those nifty gadgets, I would not have had the chance to get to know my nieces and nephews abroad.

Juliana Louise

Waiting for the doctor :)

Juliana is one of my nieces, and I think she’s the first that has grown accustomed to seeing my face on a tablet.  I don’t know how to properly describe it, but it looked to be that it was so normal for her to just see me through her iPad.

She’s visited us in the tropics before but I think the most memorable one was in 2013.  We had just buried Tatay mere weeks then.  I remember that out of body feeling, that everything wasn’t real yet.  But they were coming home.  That, for sure, I was happy about.  I remember asking my boss if I can take half of the day off, since their flight comes in at noon.  My brother Ted already skipped the day to pick them up, and our youngest brother Daniel was right on time to swing by my office.

Juliana Louise 1

Mornings with her, circa 2014

I was a bit nervous coming home; I didn’t know how she’d react upon seeing me.  Even now that I am an adult, I fear rejection so much, especially when it comes from kids.  Something about being disliked by children makes you feel extra crappy than being disliked by adults.  It’s like their senses tell them they cannot trust you.  I was just so nervous.

That anxiety, combined with my grief desperately (but well) hidden, made that day too emotion-ridden.  But you can’t pause days.

It was a hot day, and my mother has laid out a feast of shrimp, beef broth, barbecued pork belly and fresh mangoes for our balikbayans.  Daniel honked the horn as we approached our house, so I knew she’d be aware that someone was coming.  Half sweaty, half sticky, I walked into our house and saw Juliana, then 3 years old, with a huge grin on her face.

“You’re not in an iPad anymore,” she exclaimed.  I walked up to her and she didn’t even hesitate throwing her arms around me.  I swooped her up in my arms and said, “Hi.”

I don’t know about you, but that to me is a perfect meet-cute.

Juliana

Juliana at school, end of 1st Grade. They grow up fast.

TALK TUESDAY: Learning to Drive

Yes.  That title is correct.  I am now learning to drive.

Given that my workplace is about 17 miles away from our house, it has become evident that I have no other choice but learn to drive.  For a while, I braved it out, commuting and enjoying the scheduled service of NJ Transit buses.  But after some time, the Husband just made me admit it:  you have to learn to drive.

So I went to the local DMV and took the test… and failed.  HAHAHAHA.  That has to be one of the funniest curve balls ever.  I studied so hard for the test that I became too confident and too doubtful of what I’ve learned.  Second time did it for me though, and since then, the Husband has just been breathing down my neck, making sure I look before I switch and turn, reminding me to turn my lights on, and signaling me to slow down before approaching a wide curve.

I have to admit though, it has been very challenging to listen to instruction.  I don’t mean that I do not like following the Husband’s instructions; it’s just hard for me to accept that this is something I do not know.  For every deep breath he takes, I automatically think that I did something disappointing.  Every time I notice him grip his seat a little tighter, my head goes “what did I do wrong now” almost immediately.  The moment I think I’m doing well, I screw something up.  And not just something minor.  It’s in the levels of stopping inside an intersection box height of screwing something up.

With my work having summer hours every Friday, I have to take Lyft or Uber to get home (since the bus has limited service in our area).  I take that opportunity to ask about how they learned how to drive.  Then I tell them it doesn’t make sense to me that I can make a perfect left turn and cannot make a right turn to save my life.  They will tell me to line up my rear lights with the other cars front lights when parallel parking.  They will tell me when in doubt, stay on the right.  And there is always one lesson that these drivers have told me over and over:  it takes time.

That…. is a hard lesson to learn.  For someone who always wants to finish first, I constantly pray for the patience I need to just learn to drive.  The roads won’t always be a friend, the streets will always be too narrow, there will always be people crossing.  The sooner I accept that, maybe the sooner I can adhere to the rules of the road.

Well… time will tell right?  Until then, I have to bear with these stickers all over my bumper.

Student Driver