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.

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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

Transitioning

Finally, it has happened:  I am updating my blog.
I have been MIA for a while and it is for a good reason.  Since moving to the US, the Husband and I were in agreement that I can take the opportunity to start over by taking some time not working.  It has been pretty great, in fact.  Before getting married, we didn’t really have any time to be together-together.  There hasn’t been that much room for dating in person, much more living together.  The past year has been pure bliss of getting to know the Husband better, and while it has it’s ups and downs, I would gladly go through it all over again.
But the thing is… I have not not worked.  You know what I mean?  I’ve always worked.  I am either employed (full-time or as a talent) or doing freelance.  I’ve always been occupied.  So you can only imagine how overwhelmed I was with suddenly having time.

Employee of the year. #cats

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I tried to stick to a schedule.  Make breakfast everyday, do the laundry twice a week, read a book, catch up on a show — and for a while, I was doing really well.  That is, until I discovered Netflix.  I know that some Americans complain about the quality and speed of the Internet here, but coming from the Philippines, the fact that I can stream shows SEAMLESSLY across three different devices absolutely BLEW MY MIND.  It was the start of my crumbling schedule.
Thankfully, my sister needed help with the kids when she found a job early this year.  That became my preoccupation.  My days were suddenly filled with two girls that either adore or repel each other; there is no middle ground feeling.  It was exhilarating and at the same time, draining.  If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat, you can see what I’m talking about.  These girls, you either love or hate, and I’m pretty sure you would lean more toward the former.  I was hooked myself.  I’m so crazy about them.

After watching Juliana’s play, Olivia joined her for her morning snack.

Until, a new friend came along.  After a quick exchange over the holidays, and I mean just one day, I must have been so blessed that when there was an opening for her company, she immediately thought of me.  Four weeks after sending my resume and three interviews later, I have a start date.  It was Monday, June 19.
I was unemployed for 1 year, 6 months, and 4 days.  It took me countless applications, MLM interviews, nine months and 12 days from the date I got my visa to find a job.  I pulled all the strings I had then; they can only do so much from afar.  Even the Husband got in the mix of finding me one.  Now, I am three days in and all I can say is this:  it came at the right time.

First day high. #workmodeon

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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.