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

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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

TALK TUESDAY: Machiko Skye

It’s not the first time for Machiko to be featured on this blog.  I think she’s been here for the most part, and that girl has been my source of joy in my darkest of times.  Honestly, the day her momma Marga and I found out she was coming was the day we knew we were adults.

Max and Marga, way back then

Max, as we call her, is one of those kids that are just smart.  It was a conscious effort to raise her without too much dependence on technology, so it won’t be a surprise if her first memory is reading a book.  Her life is filled with building blocks, Dr. Seuss, postcards and stamps, arts and crafts, and thankfully, she hasn’t gotten tired of it yet.

"What are you doing?" "I'm pretending to be a teacher of them." #homeschooling? #MachikoSkye

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My most vivid memory of Max was when Marga left the laptop in their room.  The tablet was also there, and my phone just sitting idly by.  I think she was just four years old then.  Her screen time is never that much (until recently), so you would think being deprived of something would make her a little too enthusiastic once she sees a bounty of options at her disposal.

But that’s not Max.  She walked past the screens, grabbed a book from the shelf under the table, and sat beside the laptop as she turned the pages of her read.  Her brow furrowed, her lips pursed, she looked like an adult carefully digesting every word to All The Places You Can Go.

Such a bookworm. #MachikoSkye #bedtimestories #bookworm #booklover

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Some people have said that Max might be missing out on a lot of things because of the limited interaction with technology.  Maybe, but she never appeared to be.  I think it’s because she’s never had it, that’s why in her head, there’s no use missing it.  Marga has started increasing her technological consumption when she started in big school.  When kids start big school, they immediately grow faster.  In my opinion of course.

Today marks another milestone in her life. It's her 2nd Kindergarten. Hahahaha. #MachikoSkye

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We still exchange letters and postcards.  She even challenges me to find newer stamps to use.  Her handwriting has improved a lot, and now, her letters sound more like journal entries.  Max, I think, was born with an old soul, a soul so seasoned that her song for our wedding was the Beatles’ Here, There, Everywhere.  A soul that refuses to accept my name change just because I’m married.  A soul that still gets excited over phone calls.  A soul that matches mine.

Best part of yesterday. #MachikoSkye #priorities

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And Marga knows it too.

TALK TUESDAY: A Saturday with a Gracie

Right before we headed out for a quick visit with friends in Maryland, the husband just had to attend a seminar at AllStar MMA Training Facility, his bjj home school.  He said he must attend because Gregor Gracie is teaching.  Now, being the dutiful wife, I immediately looked him up.  His last name is Gracie, so I already know he’s a very big deal.  The husband has Gracie in his Youtube history, AllStar is a Gracie school, and my brother-in-law’s gi has Gracie all over it.  So yeah, I know he’s a big deal.  I just needed to see how much.

So this was the top search result from BJJ Heroes:

Gregor Rangel, also known as Gregor “Gracie” is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie and a former world champion in the lower belt divisions who also successfully ventured into mixed martial arts (MMA). Gregor is not a member of the Gracie family by blood, but is the half brother of Rolles and Igor Gracie, both sons of the legendary Rolls Gracie. Gregor has also competed in freestyle wrestling with a notable win over Darryl Christian, a highly accomplished wrestler.

Wow.  It doesn’t end there.  This is a list of his main achievements:

World Champion (2004 & 2005 purple)
Pan American Champion (2006 brown)
Brazilian National Champion (2005 purple)
Brazilian National Teams Champion (2003 blue, 2004 purple)
Grapplers Quest Champion (4x)
World No-Gi Championship 2nd Place (2008)
World Master Championship 2nd Place (2016 Master 1)
ADCC 3rd Place (2009)
Pan American 2nd Place (2001 blue)

Thoroughly impressed with his resumé, I asked the school if I can come in and take some pictures of the seminar.  They were kind enough to let me in, and the seminar started at their neighbor mat Apex Wrestling School.  Starting the afternoon with men grappling on the floor was something new for me, and this one will be counted as a good learning experience.

Gregor Gracie and Professor Jamal Patterson of AllStar MMA

The seminar started with Gregor (I feel so close to him now that we are on first-name basis) showing a sweep from standing.  At least that’s what I heard.

He emphasized the importance of form.  One thing that I truly appreciate about jiu jitsu is the fact that each movement leverages on the response of your body without having to exert brute force.  With a thrust of the hip coming from bent knees and feet together, Gregor shows how easily a lift can be done.

Like a regular class, the group broke up in pairs to begin their drills.

Ever the observant teacher, Gregor walks the mat to observe each student.

I very rarely get the terms correct for this lifestyle.  So you can never imagine my joy when I correctly identified the spider guard!  Gregor exhibited a number of passes and sweeps from the spider guard.

Hi, husband. 😍

The seminar ran for almost two hours.  At the end, Gregor opened the floor for some more questions and clarifications on any other topic under the sun.

Someone asked what is the best advice Gregor can give for those starting to join the competition circuit.  His advice was very practical:  warm up correctly.  He pointed out that once you’ve loosened up and sweated out, you are just going to fall in the groove when competition starts.  It doesn’t make sense to be tired from a 5-minute round; you’ve rolled longer than that.  You’re tired because you didn’t warm up correctly and your body is tight, forcing its way to the roll.  If you warmed up correctly, say an hour or so before you compete, you go into the mat as a well-oiled machine.

Gregor also explained his perspective about competitions.  He said winning and losing are mere consequences.  What one should be concerned about is if he/she competed well.  Were you a good competitor?  Did you give your opponent a challenge?  Did you give your best?  If the answer is yes, then whatever the consequence may be — win or lose — you got what you came for in that competition.  You’ve competed and you did it well.

At the end of the class, Professor Jamal thanked Gregor for gracing his school.  Did I mention they go way back?  Like I said, in jiu jitsu, you gain a family FOR LIFE.

I wish more students took advantage of this opportunity, to learn from a seasoned fighter.  It’s not everyday you get to have a Gracie correct and complement your form, give you life advice and praise your performance.  Perhaps more schools should communicate with each other more, so that they are aware of every seminar and visit that can benefit them in more ways than you can count.

We probably wrapped up a little after 3 in the afternoon.  Looking at the GPS, it would take us 3.5 hours to get to Maryland, and we’ll probably arrive closer to 8pm.  Maybe we’ll be late for dinner, maybe we’ll hit traffic at Delaware.  It didn’t matter.  It was totally worth it.