Finally, I am home.

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I saw this photo in facebook when I was in Taiwan. I shared its three-word saddest story counterpart with this caption: Still no data. 

It’s been six month. And while I left a lot of untied ends and I still have to analyze my data, I would still rather be here, where I can’t do anything in case a problem crops up, than over there, with every resource on my fingertips. Research life sure is hard. 

The weather this week has been abysmal. I am drowning in homeworks and class requirements. I am back in the metro, enduring nasty commute everyday. But I am happy. I am home.  For now, that alone is enough. Home is bliss. 

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24 April 105

Upon hearing of my anxiety attack two nights ago, all my friends have advised me to write.  To take up a hobby, to jog. I know they are right. Killing my thoughts with Modern Family marathon and crying endlessly haven’t done much for me. So this is my attempt at verbalizing my messed up thoughts.

 

I am writing. And it’s hard when every line I want to type is a rant against my present circumstances. Every word is etched in despair, every letter a product of all the tears I’ve tried at first to hold in, but failed to. It’s hard because all my words have been drowned in tears I’ve needed to release in the past week. Everything about me right now screams of desperation and stress, in levels unprecedented. Every thought occupying my mind is beginning to sound like a complaint against the God who I still, in my heart of hearts, believe to be a good and almighty God.

 

I’ve done so, so much thinking about my thesis already. It’s been keeping me awake at night, and it’s been keeping me from waking up before noon. It is all I can think about. Sometimes, I have a hard time breathing from all the stress and anxiety. Thesis is literally giving me claustrophobia. Taiwan, right now, feels to me like one big prison I just want to escape. It certainly didn’t start off this way, and I know it shouldn’t end this way, either.

 

I’m not even in the mood to write. I guess thesis really has broken me. I’ll write later.

No (yes)

Not red, I said
Blushing crimson
Not so fast, I add
My pulse racing on
I won’t go round,
I pronounce
As my thoughts swirl
In a dizzying circle

They ask,  I answer
In my loudest voice, never
But there is more power
In the persistent whisper
That I would never
Consider
Letting out, setting free,
A dreaded honesty

On dreams that come
unwelcome,
On Meg’s soliloquy
Revived miserably
My happiness caged
Like nothing has changed
A confession unconfessed
Even to myself #

Sunset

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The day nears its end
And I wonder how the final moment
Could be every bit as breath-taking as the dawn
When the sunrise was filled with promise,
Overflowing with fantasies,
Brimming with dreams of an ideal twenties,
Rife with exciting unknowns
No one – not Gauss nor Newton
Nor an engineer in mint condition
could have solved

Yet, God, it somehow is
As beautiful as the daybreak,
Even with the pain of unclaimed promise
And the wounds left by heartache
Its brilliance not dulled by disappointment
Nor eclipsed by ideals unmet

Perhaps because the sunset knows what I yet not-
That a dawn more beautiful than the last
Suffused with more love than in the days past
Is just beyond the present
Timeless, boundless are the beauty of Your plans
God, How awesome are the works of Your hand!

 

 

 

 

The Hospital Hater Hypothesizes

5 Nov 2014
~4 pm

There is no place quite as depressing as a hospital. I hate hospitals. I hate the smell of antiseptic, the walls painted a most unattractive shade of green, the miscellaneous sounds of grief. I hate the somber mood. I hate them all.

hI am here outside the St.Paul Hospital Emergency Room, my phone on one hand, a canned pineapple juice on the other, and a sheaf of reviewer on organic chemistry on my lap. None of them takes my mind off this depressing setting. I’ve been here for all of fifteen minutes and already, I can feel the gloom permeating my subconscious. My mom is inside the ER, along with my dad talking to the on-call doctor. Her high-blood pressure earlier had me abandoning my reaction kinetics book mid-sentence. “The effect of pressure on the heat of reaction is negligible when . . .” There is nothing negligible about the effect of pressure on my mother’s body.

I don’t have to eavesdrop to know that the two women conversing across me have something weighing heavily on their minds. The cadence says it all. The man behind me sleeps but his dreams are not sweet. His brow is furrowed, the lines of anxiety evident on his face. The sight of a man in the chapel cannot comfort me. His sobs may be muffled, but his grief refuses to be subdued. The nurses’ laughter in the nurses’ station earlier is a stark contrast against the muted conversations, the cries of an infant inside the ER, the steady hum of machines doing what the human body is supposed to do on its own. They perhaps would be happy sounds outside of this place. But here, they only emphasize the gloom of impending death, and the silence brought about by the fear of it.

I’ve been to many hospitals before- to government hospitals, neglected, cramped, chaotic, and to ones that are practically hotels for the sick. On the outside, they are as different as poor is to rich, but even the luxurious hospital experience the latter offer cannot hide the gloom of the place. If anything, the restaurants and the shops in such places add a note of despair to the whole setting. They are a mockery to the sick rich, who, for all their wealth, could buy only things, but not the capacity to enjoy them. A taunt to every one whose millions could not be bartered for good health. Penniless, billionaire- when it comes to control on how long our life’s going to be- we are all the same.

I am not skittish. I have no qualms about eating food from the hospital cafeteria nor about using the hospital comfort rooms. I am not the type to be unduly spooked by the idea of an elevator guy wearing a red tag nor grossed out by the sight of a patient vomiting. I generally can watch a blood-and-gore movie and still eat my fries with ketchup. I’ve watched horror movies then slept alone in my room afterwards. I can even listen to poop talks while I enjoy my meal. But this mixture of fear and anguish I sense in the air gets to me like nothing else.

The hospital is a place where the dying die. A setting for lives meeting their end. I hold this thought almost subconsciously. It is an inaccurate generalization, as few of the people I have visited in a hospital actually died. An unfair belief, because the hospital is also a place where the sick is cured, where most of us first took our breaths outside our respective mother’s womb. I know, I know. But the thoughts we develop subconsciously are the ones we cannot dispel easily. It’s why kids check under the bed for monsters night after night.

It is an easily explained belief, though. I have always been the patient or the visitor. I have yet to view the hospital with the eyes of the doctor or the nurse. That is my excuse. An unacceptable one, I admit. After all, I have had the chance to hold the opposite view, and I turned it down. It has been more than five years since I declined to interview for UP’s Intarmed program.

Sitting here alone, watching sick people and their worried family come by in an ambulance, listening to underpaid nurses and orderlies talk to them in their most efficient bedside voices, I am an easy target for helplessness. I suppose it is this emotion that makes me see hospitals the way I do. Later, I would have to fill a prescription I know nothing about in the pharmacy, watch a nurse take my mom’s BP and insert a needle for her dextrose, wait long hours for mama’s doctor to come by and talk to her for five minutes, tops. And I will do all those with the knowledge that I can offer nothing but moral support.
fork
For the second time since my own operation three years ago, I wonder what would have happened had I grabbed my shot at med school. It is possible, maybe even likely, that I would have failed the interview, thus making this whole mental enterprise moot. But if I had taken that interview and passed it, I could be a fourth year med student today. (Of course, there is a distinct possibility I may have shifted out a long time ago. Med brains and engineering smarts are definitely not the same. While I am not exactly rich in either, there’s always an abundance in God’s grace, which makes me suppose I might have made a passable med student. ) I may enter a most lucrative career yet, though that is certainly not my aim, but I am close to wishing I tried my hand at pre-med/med, after all, because it will put me in the best position to serve my loved ones in the future.

Look at me, a recent graduate of BS Chemical Engineering from my lifelong dream campus, participating in this exercise in futility. I am two weeks away from my board exam and still, I spend precious time torturing myself with thoughts of what if. Count on my indecisive self to second-guess irreversible five-year old decisions. These reflections are running amok in my brain, killing every bit of security my college degree gave me. Then again, what security should a college degree give one, anyway?

Six hours later:

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain. Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

James 4:13-15 (KJV)

I almost smile at the perfect timing of this pre-planned Solid Joys devotional. Here is God’s reply to my insecurities. It is a perfect reminder that there are things in life we cannot control- and life itself is one of them. Coming at the heels of my self-doubts, it is a most apposite message to me- that ultimately, it is God’s decision to continue or end a life. Even then, all earthly lives are but mists, ephemeral vapors that dissipate in their own God-ordained dynamics.

There is no need to second-guess, after all, nor any reason to be subject to helplessness. In whatever profession, I can only be of as much help as God will allow me to be. And I think I’d rather be an engineer who understands how dependent she is on God than a medical professional who rests on her knowledge and expertise alone. Of course, one could also be a doctor who trusts God. That probably would be ideal. But I’m already here, that particular crossroad five years behind me, and another fork before me. It is a waste to make a pastime out of cooking up hypothetical situations. I don’t know what lies ahead of me. I don’t even know if I’ll pass my board exam that is but two weeks away. I’ll trudge ahead, anyway, and let the turning of the day bring me closer to the fork, because I know One who sees beyond every fork, and He is the One guiding me on.

From the Basketball Court to my Bible Notes I: A Post-game Analysis of my “Ideal Guy”

The quarterfinals for the Asian Games are over. We are already out of the running for a medal. Upon discovery that Gabe Norwood is a Christian, my sister has flooded the browser history with pictures of him in the iPad we share. And I still haven’t posted this. What follows is an entry I wrote earlier this month, upon the conclusion of the FIBA World Cup.


09 September 2014

10:53 pm

 Last week, the FIBA fever gripped our apartment. For several nights, basketball was all we talked about. My facebook wall has woken from a months-long status hiatus because my emotions were too intense not to be shared with my community. It is the first time in a long while, probably since graduation, that I was overwhelmed by that kind of tension and excitement. It is just so frustrating that we didn’t get into the round of 16 because I feel like Gilas Pilipinas deserved a place there. But even that doesn’t take away an iota of pride and admiration for my team. They finished with a single win against Senegal, for a record of 1-4, with those four losses amounting to an accummulated paltry 23 points. All their games, with the possible exception of Greece, were close fights, which really is quite a feat, in view of our considerable height disadvantage. I am proud of the boys and I’ll always root for them. They are joining the Asian Games in Korea in a couple of weeks and I’ll go on praying and cheering for them. Win or lose, Gilas Pilipinas is my team and I am a very proud fan. #PUSO

 

I struggled in writing that single paragraph because my sentiments over the Gilas’ performance in the FIBA games deserve one long dramatic love letter, maybe even a couple of them. And my opening paragraph is all of that in a capsule, because this entry isn’t supposed to be about that. This is about what I realized after the games.

 

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In the aftermath of FIBA, and in the boredom that is reviewing for my board exam, I have taken to googling Marc Pingris, the Gilas’ power forward, who has caught my eye before in PBA games. I admit that Gabe Norwood is physically more my type, not to mention closer to my age, but Marc is a Christian, which makes him a hundred times more crushable for me. As he is married to Danica Sotto, a Filipina celebrity, google searches on him, I was sure, would yield more results. I was right. Google delivered, and I have, by now, wasted several hours immersed in youtube videos of Marc and Danica and in their twitter and instagram accounts. They have officially sealed their place as my celebrity couple idol.

 

 I probably stop here, as I have more or less exhausted google. A week of fangirling has left me with an abnormal supply of trivia on them in my memory, an affirmation of my housewifely ambition, and a promise to be a better cook. Also, a realization that I am fickle-minded.

 

Just last month, after a 10-episode-long marathon of Emergency Couple (a Korean medical drama/romantic comedy), I thought I wanted to marry a doctor- a desire uncharacteristic of me because I used to harbor this view that doctors were generally too busy for their families. Before that, I thought I wanted a schoolteacher because schoolteachers might be the closest we have to experts on handling children.

 

Moreover, I used to have all these non-negotiable traits for my future partner- still do, in fact. (Did I mention I’m immature? ) Most of them were more or less based on personal stereotyping. An example: Must be a reader. I’m a reader myself and I don’t need to explain that to a fellow reader. Example no. 2: Must know his grammar. Because what kind of reader doesn’t? And I didn’t really need him to speak flawless English or write romantic sonnets. I just needed him to recognize the grammatical error in that sign on the highway and get my corny pun so we could share a laugh over them. I used to think that those things matter. Not in the way that a centavo matters but in that humungous deal-breaking way where I actually decided I couldn’t be with a guy who didn’t meet those criteria. I had them filed under non-negotiables, remember?

 

Cyberstalking my now-favorite celebrity couple has led me to this realization: that I’d actually make an exception for a man who would love and treat me the way Marc does Danica. I look at my own parents, happily and contentedly married for 30 years, and remember from their stories that my mother used to dislike my father immensely during the first few months of their courtship. I don’t doubt that if Mama was half as judgmental as I am (and I bet she wasn’t) there would have been several boxes left unchecked in her hypothetical list of non-negotiables when she fell in love with Papa and vowed to be with him forever. I realize that I have been using that category too liberally. Practically all my non-negotiables were actually mere preferences. I actually only have only a handful left.

 

In a few years, I am willing to bet that I’ll only have this couple left: that he be a Christian leader who loves God above all else (including me) and he’ll leave me with absolutely no doubt that marrying him and living with him would be God’s perfect plan for me. When that time comes, I won’t need my mental checklist nor my googling skills nor my friends’ opinions. I will only need my God’s guidance. And until then, I will go on waiting and praying (but hopefully, no longer chronically daydreaming), holding on to a certainty that God is already writing my lovestory. I am being shamelessly corny now. Because I already sound like a highschooler who gorged herself on romance novels, I will end with this: Be still, my heart. #PUSO

How to Really Un-crush you Crush: A Method Tried and Tested (once)

This is a follow-up to the post where the narrator described a method she never got to try. This new method has been tried and tested once.Again, a disclaimer:
The author is definitely NOT a love/relationship expert .  She’s naive and innocent and that’s great because you get to read her notes without any pressure. She expects nobody to follow her tips but feel free to prove her expectations wrong. If you do that, please let her know how effective her method is by leaving a comment. 🙂 

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So you’ve been crushing on this guy for so long it has broken records. Kim Chiu has finished two soap operas and you’re still mooning about him. The night you first got introduced to him, Hunger Games was still shooting. The people in Hollywood are wrapping up Mockingjay and still you’re hung up with him. You have kept your crush for him alive for so long by constantly thinking of him. You have kept him in your mind, alongside dreams of moving back through time and getting a letter from Hogwarts,  waking up to find yourself training to be a ninja in Konoha  alongside your childhood idols, and sliding down a rainbow and finding a unicorn waiting for you. He was the man of your fantasies and to your fantasies he belonged. In your mind, the two of you have rekindled your acquaintance, built a friendship, fallen in love (maybe, even got married).

And, yes, all this fantasizing has gotten old. And absolutely pathetic. And did I mention PATHETIC?  You decide for the nth time that you just want the crush to be over, despite him being  your best crush ever. What do you do?

Here’s what:

  1.  Perform classic crusher moves. For 25 months, develop affections for him. Devote two and a twelfth of a year to scavenging facts about him and store them in the hard drive incorruptible by virus, your heart. Think about him non-stop and feel guilty afterwards. Summon to mind the pathetically paltry times you had an encounter with him and relive them again and again, in alternate universes, through your thoughts. Pray that you’d dream of him at night and then daydream about him in your waking hours. Like any typical crusher, you stalk him. Use up a lot of bandwidth getting to know his Facebook profile. Google alert his name. Spend countless hours poring over his notes, tweets and statuses.
  1. Watch him fall in love with another girl. You’ve felt it for months. The twitch in your heart  that came with every cheesy status he posted. The doomed hope you had that it was somehow, some impossible how, meant for you. You’ve imagined that the notes he wrote were about you and the hints he dropped were for you. You wondered about his social media hiatus and now, you feel strangely betrayed when the next thing he posts is a picture of the girl and a declaration of his feelings for her. Is that stupid or what? [Your (over)reaction, not his emotions.]
  1. Refuse to feel jealous. Because you can’t! You’ve got no right to feel jealous, negative claims to being affected, absolute zero reason to feel hurt. You forbid yourself to shed tears over news that makes everyone else happy, him and the worthy girl deliriously so. (Yup, you have stalked her wall, too, because at this point, you have neither self-respect nor self-control to stop yourself.) You promptly feel your eyes water. But you stop there. Accept that the two of them will be the couple of the year.  That adorable kilig-inducing pair who will cause everyone around to go “awshucksing“. That model romance who will inspire singles to wait patiently for their love stories- something you should have done from the first. Admit that they make a stunning couple in every way.
  1. Feel embarrassed. Over everything. Every wayward thought, every fantasy, every verbal wedding invitation you jokingly gave away. Let the embarrassment overtake the hurt. Gather your self-respect again. Muster what little control you have over your emotions and direct them to feeling shame instead of pity, and then finally feeling relief. Laugh at yourself twice for every tear you shed. Delete your browser’s history, remove that bookmark and wish him and his soon-to-be-girlfriend well. The embarrassment is little penance for fuelling your crush for him, and it will pass soon. What follows will be self-deprecating humor. Embrace it.
  1. Write the tale. Writing about him is nothing new. For the past 25 months, he has appeared in practically all your diary entries and starred in half. Over and over again, you would spent hours daydreaming about him. And then you’d feel guilty. You would try saying goodbye. You prayed that God would take away every ounce of emotion you’re harbouring for him. You would vow that the entry you had just written would be the last to contain him. You would make promises to let go repeatedly, only to break them all. You failed as many times as you tried. The next entry would inevitably contain something about him. He would haunt your thoughts and the next thing you know, another entry is bearing testament to the madness that is that crush on him.   But the entry you write after watching her picture on his wall rack up likes and comments composed mainly of <3’s will truly be the last. Pray while writing it, begging God to take the edge off the pain and humiliation. You will live up to the words you wrote. It will be the entry that will truly purge you of all the admiration you feel for him.

And then you will feel freer. You admit that it was actually tiring and stressful to be crushing on a guy you so rarely see, and one whose FB profile you know better than him. You will feel better. There will no longer be the euphoria that a crush brings. But you will decide that you actually want this better- this feeling of freedom and anticipation for the one who will make you forget all past crushes, including him. You will say goodbye, and then good riddance.

Good riddance.