And by “state”, I mean “being extremely far away from my friends and family”. Sure, I have my baby brother (who, coincidentally, just turned 20, and therefore isn’t so much of a “baby” – technically), who gets me. But I miss my friends. I miss my family (especially since I just started feeling close to some of them). I miss Rob.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m very appreciative that people here in the Philippines are sweet and friendly. I am so grateful to have a maid and a nanny who are such awesome and wonderful people. I love that I have family here who are so open and willing to try to understand me. But I can’t help but feel like I can’t be myself around them. My usual self talks dirty, curses a lot, smokes on occasion, and mentions her very sordid past in every other conversation. That kind of woman just doesn’t fit in around here – and she certainly doesn’t get straight A’s (which is one of my goals) or is “sweet”. People wouldn’t know how to handle her, and though a part of me says, “Fuck it!”, another part of me says, “Those same people who are gonna judge the hell outta me are gonna paint my son with a not-so-great brush.” And this makes me keep my head low and run for cover. Cover, in my case, is the end of the school day, when I come home to love, acceptance, and relaxation. Cover is Skyping with Rob, writing a fury, and playing with my son till we’re both sleeping like babies.
I have so many goals to achieve while I’m here. I know they’re all within my reach, and this makes me confident – but dammit. If I want to actually achieve them, I have to work for them.
Things have always come so easily to me, so the idea of, say, shooting pool, makes me wince and go, “Do I really have to practice in order to become a billiards hustler? Can’t I just look cute around the table and distract other players with my cleavage?” Here are some of my goals (in no particular order):
1. Make open mic poetry a vital part of the local scene.
2. Submit at least 13 articles and stories to online publications – and succeed at getting them published.
3. Expand my cooking repertoire to include as many ways of cooking and as many dishes as possible.
4. Become completely fluent and literate in Tagalog.
5. Finish at least 3 full-length writing projects.
6. Learn more about photography and become skilled at taking pictures.
7. Be the student I used to be. (I want to be on the Dean’s List every semester that I’m here. It would also be awesome to become a scholar. I’m not holding my breath though. Scholarships are partially based on financial need, and no matter how broke I am, I’m an American and therefore seen as affluent. Besides, I simply don’t fit the profile of a good girl, and that means a lot here.)
8. Have a schedule with Riley that allows me to fit in lots of play time, reading time, learning time, physical fitness time, and cuddle time.
9. Become very familiar with Filipino culture.
10. Step up my billiards game. Big time.
I actually wrote a list of 20 things I want to accomplish before I move back to New York, but it’s late, my handwriting is atrocious, and my eyesight is blurry. I’m just skipping around the list to the most neatly-written items.
I have always been aware of my competitive streak, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as aware of it as I am now. Not only am I ready to pounce on everyone and squeeze out of them every point I think I deserve in class, but I’m also vying for the title of “Has Most Kids Before Reaching 30”.
If this turns out to sound as crazy as I have a hunch it will, then I’m fully prepared to say I was kidding. See, I want to say that I’m kidding, but I don’t think that I am.
Ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted a lot of kids. Mostly, it’s because my parents both come from huge families (one set of grandparents had 11 kids, the other had 9); I love the affection and loyalty and fun associated with large families. Also, I’ve always wanted to adopt and become a foster parent; I feel like there are so many children in need of good homes, and I shouldn’t deny them the chance at a good home simply because I want to see my genetic potential actualized into a mini-me. Thirdly, I fully intend to have enough money, energy, and time to give my family everything they need in life. Lastly – and here’s where I sound crazy – you only have X amount of kids and you’re a great mom; in order to prove to myself that I’m an even better mom (which I must prove, for no real reason but my own competitive nature), I must be the mother of X + 3 kids, and raise them to be the most well-adjusted, happy, healthy, and successful people this side of Jupiter.
Something tells me, with a thought process like that, this goal is pretty far away.
It’s 1 in the morning in the Philippines, and I have class at 9 a.m. I have a project due for gym class. It’s a report on folk dance costumes from around the world, and it’s mostly visual in nature. I don’t need to do more than print out a bunch of pretty pictures, but like I mentioned earlier, I’m competitive. I’m a perfectionist. I battle my growing boredom by keeping myself as busy as possible. So that means overwhelming my schedule, my mind, and my body with responsibilities: write out a one-page description of each dance; play with Riley and soothe him back to sleep when he wakes up (even though we have a live-in nanny who’s paid to do it); write the first episode of a TV show that I’m working on; write poems, short stories, and blog at In The Fray (my blog’s called “Flip the Script”); look for paid telecommuting gigs; do push-ups and sit-ups because I already look better than I’ve looked in yeeeaarrss, but I can always look better.
This general tendency to do well – it’s manifesting itself into a sickness. And I’m not sure right now if that’s only hyperbole.
Lastly, an announcement:
After a month of being away from me and Riley, Rob’s had his fill. He’s dying to join us on the other side of the world. So here’s the plan: He saves up money, buys the ticket, comes here in May, and goes to school with me and my brother. If he starts in the June semester, he’ll graduate with a nursing degree at the same time as my brother and I graduate.
Here’s the catch: Rob needs to be in school in order to get a student visa, so he can stay overseas. But we’re low on funds for tuition, and because of visa, distance, and other factors, the only jobs we can get are American telecommuting jobs.
That’s where you come in. If you know of any job that either of us can do via internet – blogging, writing, web assistant, etc. – please let me know. I’m not asking for much; $75 a week would cover tuition plus living expenses, easy.