Thank You #sol16

I want to thank slice of life for helping me reconcile a lot in my life right now.  Recently, I have faced certain struggles, either at work or in my personal life, and slicing away has assuaged these uncertainties by letting me write about them.

This evening, wine by my side, wool cardigan hugging my torso and arms, Pandora playing in the background, I wrote out my philosophy of teaching.  And I wrote about why I had struggled putting it into words.

It’s a lovely and passionate piece that highlights my philosophy, how I developed and perpetuated it, and the obstacles I face(d).  And I owe it all to Slice of Life.

I can’t recall the last time I used writing as a means of therapy.  I scribbled simple sentences sporadically and without meaning here and there, but nothing ever meaningful.  But now I actually feel a reprieve and that the stormy waters from yesterday have come to a rest.  It’s not exactly smooth sailing here on out, but I feel a sense of confidence I had not yet quite felt, and it’s refreshing.  I’ve got a juicy slice of life before me that I will carry forever, so thank you.

Invincible #sol16

Tonight, I grabbed dinner with my friend C from Peru.  She and I (the only two people of color in our program) have grown extremely close and too much time has passed since the two of us had had the chance to catch up.  So that’s exactly what we did over tapas tonight.

I arrived early (not because I’m punctual but because C is reliably tardy) to the restaurant and the first thing I see is a tall drink of water of a waiter wearing all black.  His short, blonde hair and five o’clock shadow shimmer in the light, accentuated by his dark apparel.  His sweater and pants hug his body firmly.  His jaw could cut rocks in two.  And those eyes, a shade of dark green pierces from them.  Our eyes meet and there’s that annoying yet persistent little spark inside.  Does he feel the same intrigue about me?  Time to find out.

I text C.

Me: “Just got here.  Aaaaaaaaand there’s a really cute waiter”

C: “En serio!?!?” (Really!?!?)

Me: “Yessss.  But I can’t tell whose team he’s on so hurry up!”

C finally arrives and we are seated…on the opposite side of the restaurant where Wally (the mystery waiter) serves, of course.  But nothing in life comes easily.  Bring on the challenge.

C stretches her neck around the column to get a glimpse of him.  “You’re team.  Totally.  Did you see those pants?  Come on,” she affirms.

After our nice dinner and necessary gossip, I have an epiphany.  “I’m going to give him my number.”  C’s eyebrows jump up and her mouth opens wide with a smile like a kid realizing it’s a snow day.

You see, after experiencing minor heartbreak from being dumped last week, I feel invincible.  I feel like a phoenix risen from the ashes; I’ve felt immense sadness and confusion and anguish, and I’ve overcome all of those.  That makes this bird fly, hotter than the sun, ready for the next flight; nothing can bring me down, not even the potential rejection from Wally.

Once our bill comes, C rips off a raffle ticket-sized portion of the receipt and hands it to me with the pen.  I write my number and sign my name, saying ‘let’s grab a drink sometime.’  Then we hatch our plan – I’m to say, “Hey, so I lost this bet with my friend.  And fortunately, that means I must give this to you.”  Smooth, right?!?

So, I head ‘to the bathroom’ to execute the plan…and just miss Wally.  He’s gone to take care of one of the tables.  Panicking, I go the bathroom.  I count to 15 and then exit, having gathered myself and ready to take another swing at the operation.  But no Wally in sight.  Probably in the kitchen.

I mosey to my table and grab my jacket.  One last time, C and I agree.  She leads the way and I see Wally, sticking out from behind the bar next to three other waiters like a lone yet delicious curly fry in a sea of crinkle-cuts.  I wanted to do this, I needed to do this.

And I chicken out.

C and I make it to the lobby and she looks at me and goes, “Dios mio, A!  What do you have to lose?!  Nada.  Go!”

Tail between my legs, I head over to the bar.  Wally finally makes eye contact with me.  I say the line and Wally responds, “Vat?” in a think-ish European accent of some kind.  Caught off guard, I wind up saying the line again and giving him the receipt with my number.  Still perplexed, he responds with another “Vat?”

In my head, I’m screaming, “Abort.  Abort.  Abort.  Mission failed, save what you can and leave!”  But I try to remain suave.  Actually, I don’t exactly remember what happened, just that I got flustered, my palms grew sweaty, and everyone at the bar watched this pathetic interaction.  Wally did take the paper though, but I do not know if it’s in his pocket or next to the garnish I didn’t finish at dinner.

Next thing I know, I’m out on Commonwealth with C, laughing at how ‘brave’ I’ve become.

So yeah – I totally gave a stranger my number today.  That’s a first.  What did you do today?

Baby Fever #sol16

I want to be a father.

Not today.  Not tomorrow.  Not next year.

But I want to be a father sometime in this life.  And sitting here, watching and listening to others ascend to the powerful and influential role as parent just confirms how much I long to hold a bundle of joy in my hands.

Now I know it’s not all a bundle of joy off the bat, but rather a few precious moments of laughter and giggles sprinkled between crying and diapers and teething.  And I can’t seem to wait for this moment, and I don’t know what brought about this baby fever!

I blame my ex.  On our anniversary – our first anniversary post break-up – I messaged E saying that I hoped he had a good day and reminded E how much he meant to me.  Well, E promptly called me up, informing he had forgotten about our anniversary (nice guy) but still wanted to catch up.  E had had a few glasses of wine by then – he’s not adjusting to life in America as well as he could have – and E managed to let the sadness flow.

But E’s biggest frustration stemmed from babies.  Many of his co-workers at his elementary school have children ages 2-22 months, and many of them are expecting baby number two!  E has since grown envious of them; E wants a child now but is in no such state to provide for another.  Realizing this, he washes this away with wine.  I tried consoling him, but it really did not do any good.  So we chatted a bit more before bidding farewell.

And the next day I awoke with baby fever.  Oh my gosh, babies were everywhere or were the talk of the town!  Learning about how this little one will be a big sister or seeing how fast this little one has grown on Facebook or hearing a little one take a tumble in Harvard Square on my walk home – babies, babies, EVERYWHERE, bombarding all of my senses and overwhelming me.  Yet, like a siren’s song, I’m drawn into their cries and coos and chuckles and melt into a puddle.  I want one, and it’s bad.  Like, real bad.  Like, Kim Kardashian-starring-in-her-own-biopic-film bad.  And I know it’s bad, but I can’t seem to shake it.

My parent were 40 when I was born.  Obviously thankful for them for giving me life, I still feel like I missed out on a lot given their age.  Both of them are the babies in their family, so every one of my cousins have many more years on me.  In fact, one of my cousins has a son older than me!  Additionally, I never met my grandfathers, and barely knew my grandmothers.  And this has created a very tiny but unmissable void within.  People always talk of grandpa or grandma in some sense, and I can barely recall half of those people.

So, the pressure suddenly envelopes me to enter fatherhood immediately.  I want my children to know their grandparents and their uncle for a long time.  I want to play sports with my children whenever I can and not let my age deter me from that.  I want to cradle a tiny, tiny person in my hands and know that I will guide, support, and love them forever.

I want to know that I can do these.

But I will just have to sit and wait and welcome all of my friends’ and family’s newborns and get some more practice in before that time comes.

Easter Saturday #sol16

Since the last Easter I celebrated at home occurred in the year 2008, my parents and I decided I’d make the trek up north to Maine to spend the holiday with them.  And it truly has been a Maine getaway.

The gentlemen behind me on the Concord Coach bus to Bangor spoke of corneas and how easy it is to ‘rip them suckahs open again ‘cuz of tha dry weathah we get up heeyah.’  And of course, minutes after crossing into the state, I saw snow specked all over the sides of the highway.  Breathe it in, you’re in Maine!

It has been such a stereotypical family weekend.  Since I have to be back in Boston in time to teach on Monday, we celebrated Easter today with a feast made by my folks and a visit from my Aunt L.  L, a year ago, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and as a 70-year old woman, her chances grew slimmer by the day.  But she prevailed (she’s a survivor in so many ways) and she arrived this afternoon dawning a most fabulous and fierce hairpiece!

My parents, L, and I caught up over wine and chit-chat before sitting down for dinner.  I put on the break-up song Pandora station (because it takes me a while to get over those things) for some softer sounding songs and enjoyed dinner.

The last Easter dinner I spent here in Maine, there were nine of us at the table; that number shrunk to four for this year’s holiday.  My two great-uncles have passed on, my cousin and brother were out of town this weekend, and my aunt has reached maximum instability.

When I left for college and Korea, my parents warned/informed me that nothing would ever be the same.  I sat at dinner tonight and stared at the extra chairs in the corner of our dining room and the table leafs leaning next to one of them.  I thought of the time cousin N unintentionally poured hot coffee on my brother’s back, or when N dropped the gravy boat, splashing everyone in view (except herself of course) with the gray sauce, or when that same cousin broke one of our ’12 Days of Christmas’ wine glasses.  Uncle W provided the humorous response, which brought the house down with laughter.  Uncle S, N’s daughter, just shook his head.

But while the number of bodies seemed eerily small, the amount of love and joy in the room was just as strong and vibrant as I can recall.  Dad made his off-color jokes, mom expressed embarrassment at her husband for said jokes but also seemed impressed with his creativity, and my aunt and I just shed tears laughing throughout the meal.  I, being the youngest by four years, gave a tutorial on downloading apps onto a smartphone for the rest of the family and demonstrated how to use Whatsapp.  Of course, each and every single family member managed to chime in with their two cents on how to use the device, but in the end, we got the app on my aunt’s phone so she can call her grandson stationed in England right now.

Everything, and nothing, has changed.  My uncles are gone, an aunt is soon-to-be gone, and my cousin, brother and I are lucky to be in the same state at some point in the near future.  But, with my parents and aunt L, we thrived today, making jokes left and right and fooling around with *gasp* technology.  My dad even brought up a religious joke he made upon meeting one of my colleagues a month ago.  Regardless, it felt good to be home again, and I just hope to see those seats filled with more loved ones yet to cross my/our paths in life.

Home #sol16

I am home in Maine. The TV is on, the cookies have been eaten, and my mother is not back from the hospital.

My mom makes amazing baked potato chips, and she knows they’re my favorite. So in honor of my coming home, my mom decided to chop up some potatoes for me. Only she chopped a bit more than she needed and is currently in the hospital awaiting stitches.

My father picked me up at the bus station but I still haven’t seen mom.

The good news?  The potatoes she did slice up were delicious.