An Open Letter to the Writers of This is Us

Dear Writers,

I want to commend you on this evening’s episode about Randall and his father, William. 

You see, I too lost my father. I too face anxiety on a daily basis. I too retreat into my own self, my own mind, my own world when I am not able to cope with the outside world.

I am Randall. 

I’ve had my fair share of hospitals. Initially these visits were positive as I’d walk in pregnant and get wheeled out with a healthy baby. But then my father got sick.

He came to visit when our middle child was still the youngest child back in 2006. My husband was stationed in Virginia and he flew from California to spend time with his only two grandchildren. Near the end of his month long visit he did not look well but refused to go to a doctor. Instead he insisted that he was flying home in a couple of days and that, of course, he’d be fine when he returned home. 

He wasn’t. 

My mother and his sisters took him to the emergency room immediately. “Why didn’t you take him to the hospital?” they asked.

He didn’t want to go. Of all people, his wife and his sisters should have known how stubborn he was. 

They asked me to come home that night. I knew they were asking me to come home to say goodbye. 

My father, though present in my life, was not the most nurturing father per se but did what any elderly immigrant Filipino father could do. I knew he was proud of me. I knew he loved me. I knew he loved his grandchildren. He never said those things but I felt it. 

I felt it.

Soon after my father passed, I found myself in the emergency room. Heart palpitations. Stomach cramps. Shortness of breath. A self fulfilling prophesy born in the halls where my father died. 

But I was fine. I am fine. I am my own definition of fine.

Thank you for portraying this father-child relationship with honesty and without restraint. Thank you for showing a dying man who was literally living every moment as if it was his last moment as a reminder for us to do the same. Thank you for reminding me how much I loved this mysterious, stoic man who was my father. Thank you for reminding me that even though I physically felt the moment my father left this world, he never left my heart. 

Sincerely,

Someone who misses her dad

The Valentine Consumption

Valentine’s Day has always been bittersweet in our home. Most Valentine’s Days R was deployed or out on a training so I had to do everything myself. From candy to cards to a special meal, I did it all. Anything for the kids to know they are loved by not just one parent but by two.


This weekend R asked me to meet him and the kids at the local PetCo… to pick out a new kitten for me for Valentine’s Day! Luckily he warned me because I said no.

Our pets mean the world to me and while I know that the orange cat who had to be put down last year is in a better place, I don’t know if a new kitten would be welcomed in our already full house. The old gray cat may have been loving towards a new kitten but the chihuahua would have definitely made its life a living hell. 

The middle was really upset by my decision and understandably so. She’s very emotional and loves animals… well, she’s a lot like me. She’s doing better now, of course.

Last night R and I gave each other our presents. The kids “helped” us choose the other’s favorite candies: Scotchmallows from See’s for me and Lindts for him. And to be expected, we shared with the kids. 

This evening I took the kids to eat at one of our favorite burger joints and had frozen yogurt afterward. I am so full right now (of both love and food)! 

While R and I didn’t have a romantic dinner together because he was in class all day, it’s nice knowing we don’t need to. I always told him I never wanted flowers because flowers die and me being me, if I want flowers, I’ll buy my own flowers. 


He did buy me a mini rose plant one year but it didn’t stand a chance. We will have our weekly meal out and without the kids but we know it would happen without the Valentine’s Day label.

And that’s just fine with us.


Top 2000, bottom 2/3/2017

The Lemonade Reaction

On Saturday I was scheduled to attend a talk with the art director of a children’s book publisher but unfortunately her car broke down on the way to Sacramento and I was already halfway to the location. 

Not willing to accept defeat after finally attending a writer’s event after eleven years, I made a conscious decision not to go home and do what I normally do on a rainy day (watch movies, take a nap, not necessarily in that order); I went to look for writing inspiration at the library and at the bookstore. 

I found it.

I am writing again and am so excited to see where the story takes me. I will definitely share more details once I am more comfortable but in the meantime, enjoy this picture of the rain. 

The Christmas Conjecture

I forget that he is disabled.

My husband hides it so well that I make a lot of decisions based on me forgetting that he is unable to handle crowds and control his anxiety that I accepted free tickets to a big football game this week. 

He said he’d be able to handle it and I didn’t want to push it. He’s had a few weeks off from school and we had to reschedule the kids’ dental appointments for that day anyway. 

Last week we went out to eat and I don’t remember where we ate, only that halfway through our meal, he was making a face. Turned out that he felt there were too many people in the restaurant and he didn’t know what to do. I told him he could go for a walk, switch seats, or we could leave but he said he’d be okay. I believed him. 

We didn’t go anywhere for Christmas as his family are a long drive away and many of my relatives flew to the Philippines for the holiday. I started my month long break with a bang visiting family in L.A. and going to Disneyland but the passing of my aunt has made for a somber December. For so many reasons, Christmas has just felt so different this year, surreal and numb and overwhelming all at once. I thought I was sure everything will go back to normal but as it turns out, this is the new normal. We are so very grateful for our family and friends and pray that 2017 will be even better.

Happy holidays!

The Winter Soldier Effect

So this happened…


Yep, that’s Sebastian Stan, THE Winter Soldier from Captain America. 

We went to Wizard World Comic Convention in Sacramento last month and if you were there, you probably saw us.


So if you’re up to date on The Walking Dead, you’ll see that I’m dressed as Neegan. There were a ton of cosplayers dressed as Neegan but none of them made Abraham, played by the awesome and kind Michael Cudlitz, read a book! (That might be my thing now when I get these photo ops– making celebrities read, lol!)

My friends and I are heading to San Jose this weekend to go to the Heroes and Villains FanFest featuring actors from Arrow and The Flash. We are so excited to attend as volunteers! 

My hubby R tried to attend a comic convention but was quickly overwhelmed. Now that we know more about crowd trends at these conventions, I always ask him if he wants to go to the less crowded days and first thing in the morning. He’s talked about coming one day but I don’t push it. 

Can’t wait for next weekend! 

The Maternal Memories

When I was about five years old, I told my parents my tooth was loose. Mind you, they were very old school, traditional Filipino immigrants so this wasn’t a celebration by any means. No magical being was going to show up in the middle of the night and put a quarter under my pillow because what does a five year old need with money? And free money at that?

Oh no, this child of immigrants was taken next door to her aunt, a medical profession, a nurse.

A nurse is NOT a dentist.

My auntie Delen (short for Magdalena) carried me and sat me up on her tile kitchen counter. “Where is it?” she asked.

I opened my mouth, pointed, and just as I was about to say, “It’s right here–”

SON OF A BITCH!

She pulled out that fucker before I even knew what was happening. I don’t remember much after that except for lots of blood and tears but I lived. I learned valuable lessons in trust that day:

  • Can’t trust my parents, separately or together
  • Can’t trust my aunties
  • Especially can’t trust that auntie
  • Can’t trust my family in general

While I eventually got over these issues, I remember that I was taught that every sister of my father and every sister of my mother (who sadly I have not met my mother’s sisters to this day; one passed away when I was younger and the other still lives in the Philippines) was like another mother and I needed to treat them as such. Same as their brothers on both sides. In our Filipino community back in the day and I’m sure it is in many Filipino communities today, this extended to their family friends. Pretty sure my teachers thought I was lying about ANOTHER uncle passing way. (Sure, you’re going to his funeral. Again.) But that’s how it was and that’s how I teach my kids now.

It was with great sadness that we celebrated the life my auntie Delene last week. Family members set aside their differences (hopefully permanently but what do I know) to pray and be with each other at this time. She was married to my dad’s brother so I saw many of her relatives from around the country, all of whom saw me grow up and met my husband and children for the first time. It’s funny that even now I think about all of my aunt’s family. I never thought of them as her family, just as family.

There were Filipino (specifically Ilocano) rituals and Catholic rituals that we followed. And although my husband converted to Catholicism a few years back, he still prayed the rosary, an activity that is strangely strictly female. He didn’t have to be blessed by my auntie Leonore (auntie Delene’s sister), he did anyway.


My brother did too. He’s a dork. I can say that though; I’m the sister.


There was a lot of food. Family members took turns cooking. Actually that’s wrong. They ALL cooked to relieve the burden of preparing food on my cousins but that’s what they do. That’s family.

I don’t have recipes and I didn’t have room in my stomach to try everything but I can assure you from past experience that this food was amazing.


Rest In Peace, Auntie, and no, you still can’t look in my mouth. 

The Couch Challenge

The girls and I are off track this month (that’s year-round talk for a third of our “summer vacation”; we’ll be off track again in April) but the whole family has been celebrating for a couple of weeks.


You’ll notice someone missing from these pics… my husband! 

He’s almost halfway done with university but couldn’t afford to miss any classes and time from homework. 

Quite honestly, I think he was relieved to not come with us to the Happiest Place in Earth. We (I) take advantage of military discounts, including a great rate at the Disneyland Hotel where we started staying after R’s accident so he didn’t have to trek too far if he needed a break from the parks. Anyone who stays at the Resort hotels can get into the parks AN HOUR BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE. 

And as you may or may not have noticed, I can be a little…

Intense.


I like to be in line before everyone else– we are in an line an but before the park opens.

I like to bring food from home– we bring pop tarts and fruit and drinks into the park.

I like to have a schedule.

I can’t help it.

But I can’t also help but notice that we were all quickly getting exhausted from early wake up calls and late nights so on the third day, we swam.


I would’ve had a drink too if I weren’t so hyped up about the next day. We surprised grandma with a special breakfast with some special people.


It was amazing and exhausting and was happy that R didn’t mind too much. 

Fast forward a week and here I am, updating my blog that I have neglected while everyone sleeps. R has to wake up at 4 am and the boy still has school. I was about to retreat to my favorite couch in the loft because I don’t want to wake up to R’s alarm when what to my wandering eyes should appear?

Three sleeping children without a sofa for me!

I thought about waking them and sending them to their beds because I surely didn’t want to wake up when R did.

But then I realized that if that is my biggest problem, I am pretty lucky.