After the breakdown.

I had a breakdown recently, and it was complete. Not only were my emotions and psyche devastated and ruined, but so was my body. Panic attacks, UTIs, hyperthyroidism, Entero infections, and Staph infections are no joke – especially when they all come at the same time. Why, hello, excessively weak immune system. I suppose you’ve come for the stress? Might as well make yourself comfortable. It won’t be going away any time soon.

My semester has officially ended, and I definitely haven’t finished it on a high note. I’m on my way to the next phase of this journey, and it looks like it includes even more humbling experiences, even more hard work, and even more soul-searching. Even after two years of living in this completely different place and being this completely different person, and having the opportunity to figure out just who I am and what I’m about and what it feels like to live in the skin I’m in, I still have no clue what any of the answers to those questions could be.

I’ve spent the last month or so flailing around, waiting for the tide to turn and this phase to be over.

Now I feel a new wave coming in and I’m bracing myself. There are lots of big decisions to be made and a lot more noise to cancel out. Every change seems bigger than the last, and the next one is bound to be epic.

Mediocre.

I have a lot to say but I don’t know how to frame any of it. I don’t know how to start, or what really matters, or how I want you to see me. I have a feeling that I wanted to write a poem earlier, but I can’t remember what I was thinking to make me think of writing a poem. I feel like I’ve been rebooted, like everything I knew is now gone and I’m starting from scratch and looking around and wondering how I ended up in this place of uncertainty and half-assness.

I feel apathetic. Uncaring. Indifferent. Relaxed. Complacent. I feel like politics and art and everything else that used to make my blood boil with passion has lost meaning and weight. I am here; my battles are there. I am here, in a tropical paradise where I am part of the 1%; and all of my problems, issues, and crises are there, on the other side of the globe, being handled, fought, contrived, and manipulated by people who aren’t me. I no longer have a say or a stake in that place, with those words, in that context. It no longer applies to me.

And yet. This place, with its oppression and rebellion and poverty and hope and God is not really mine, either. Whereas I am an expat of NYC, I am also a visitor of the Philippines. I have staked claim on nothing but my privilege and my status. I have defined myself as other and have taken no great pains to remove that label from my back. This place, though growing more and more into someplace I love, could never be my home. It could never be my anything. It’s just a pit-stop, a layover, a vacation away from real life and real problems and the real me. It’s a place to recuperate from the trials of heavy living, and to relax my body, and refuel and replenish without feeling guilty or burdened or lost. I am here, in this place of beauty, living as close to the life that I want as I’d like, and yet this is not real. This is only the dream before reality sets in, and I’m loving it and taking advantage of it and coaxing it into resembling more and more what I want it to look like.

I have no place. I have no definition. I don’t know where I fit or where I should stake my claim. So I busy myself with my family: Rob, Riley, and Micah. I worry about my brother and my parents. I try to figure out where our maids fit in in the big picture. I try to make conclusions about who I am and what it is that I’m about and who I’m trying to be…

But the truth is, I don’t feel anything. I’m completely numb. I don’t know if it’s my rigorous schedule, or the fact that I never get a chance to process my experiences before a new chapter dominates every aspect of my life. Maybe I just can’t handle the ways of the Philippines. Maybe I’ve simply given up on my values and virtues. All I know is, I feel as thought a significant measure of my fight is gone. And I need it back. ASAP.

It sounds crazy and stupid, I know, but the truth is, I can’t function without drama. And not just any drama, but high drama. Life-or-death, do-or-die, end-or-the-world kind of drama. Call it conditioning: I’ve become so used to high drama that I don’t know what to do with myself if it’s no longer there. All I know is, my life, though definitely running a lot smoother as of late, is no happier for the change. In fact, I’m bored. All I worry about now are the mundane and everyday: style, fashion, family, health, my grades, et al… The important things – family, friends, and finances – are pretty much covered and I breeze through those responsibilities. But I need… something.

I’m remembering what a little firecracker I used to be. Back in my Brooklyn College days, I felt like I was someone special, and I had a huge chip on my shoulder. I’m not exactly proud that I always felt like I had something to prove, but I have fond memories of what it felt like to be passionate about the difficult goals that I had. These days, I feel old and washed up. Nothing feels new and exciting. Sex, drugs, and alcohol? Been there, done that. Toed the flaming line of sinful escapades? Yup, and lived on the other side for a really, really long time, too. Made my share of memories that make me giggle when I think of them? Absolutely. But what can I do now to spice things up? I don’t want to do anything illegal just for the hell of it, and I don’t want to risk my life doing anything ridiculous. But I need my heart to race. I need my pulse to quicken. I need to feel ALIVE again.

As much as I love my life and am completely grateful for all I have, I have to admit: THIS is exactly why I rebelled against a career in nursing in particular and conventionality in general. THIS FEELING. The not caring, the not wanting, the lack of extreme emotions, the quiet soul, the calm confidence, the mature perspective. It’s all really zen, I’m sure, to some people. But what it feels like to me is a beautiful prison.

The blahs.

I was am doing really well.

I’ve been crossing lots of things off of various to-do lists. Review anatomy and physiology, check! Get eyes examined and new lenses for awesome frames, check! Paint, decorate, and organize the boys’ new room, check! School started a couple of weeks ago, and so far, so good. Slow and steady, ever ready… I’ve been steadily editing and learning more about essays in general, and various topics of interest in particular. Don’t ever let school get in the way of your education. And money, money, MONEY. My health is fine. (I’m pretty sure.) The kids are glorious, as usual. I believe the children are our future… Rob is working his ass off and being the perfect partner. My love, sweet love… Extended family life has been all right and un-noteworthy. We are family!… 

I think, maybe, this is my psyche being stretched out too thin.

What else could it be?

This is not a breakup.

It’s not you, Mistress Mom. It’s me. I love you. You know that. I’ll always love you. But you don’t do for me what I think you should do for me. I just don’t feel the same way about you. I need something or someone else. I’ve started a relationship with another blog, and I hope you’re okay with that.

I could do a lot worse.

The Bro is out watching a movie with Dad. I’d be with them, only I’m behind on a thesis that I have to edit, and I really wanted to spend time with the kids. Ever since Dad got here, our schedule’s been all out of whack. My routine is dependent on having attentive nannies care for my boys while I’m working/studying/et al., and with my dad here, the nannies’ responsibilities have somewhat shifted. Now, instead of taking care of Micah, his nanny, Tess cleans. A lot. This means that I have to take care of Micah, and though I love love LOVE spending time with my squishy-faced cherub,  there are papers piling up in my work inbox, advertisements that I need to finish for my editing business, and a slew of subjects I should be reviewing before the next semester starts. I’d rather spend time with him when it’s more convenient, aka, when I’m not having a panic attack from the thought that all my plans are washing down the drain.

I’ve been mostly unplugged for the past day and a half. A wicked virus is making its rounds in the house. My eyes are tearing up incessantly, my throat feels like it’s my cat’s scratching post, my nose is clogged up, and my body aches. Micah just got over a runny nose, and just an hour ago, he coughed so violently that he vomited at least two ounces of milk. Riley is the little carrier of infection who brought it to the house, and luckily he’s feeling about 94% better.

I’m not sure why – I’m assuming it’s the fact that I feel like curling up in a ball and sleeping for a week straight – but I’m dragging my feet to edit. Already, words are all a-jumble in my head. The cool part is, it’s actually a good thing that I’m feeling this way. Editing other peoples’ writing frees me to write creatively, without my inner editor interrupting the flow of ideas.

So. Here’s where I stand. My biggest problems are the following:

  1. A void between myself and my father. Only, the fact is, my dad’s been the personification of DOPE! since he arrived. (Read: He’s footed the bill for groceries, diapers, formula, and pretty much every other thing since he got here, thus allowing Rob and I the ability to pay off a few bills and save some money for Christmas shopping.) The real void has been our inability to communicate honestly and unflinchingly. We’re both too traumatized by past experiences with each other to let our guards down.
  2. My health. Even though, let’s face it: Whatever I have could always be worse.
  3. Being forced to rearrange my precious schedule and relinquish control over my life in order to spend more time with my little cuddle muffin, Micah.

All in all, not too bad a list of problems.

Beautiful business. As usual.

Today was kind of a big deal. For one thing, Dad’s been here for four days, and we still haven’t argued about anything. That’s kind of monumental. Also? I realized yesterday that I’ve edited over 400 pages in 3 days. That’s no small feat. Today was the first day I had a fever, and I’m thinking it’s because I OD’d on the workaholicism. No matter. I took a day break. Got a full-on makeover. Eased my mind. Thought about things other than the kids, Rob, work, and school. Felt sexy. Looked sexy. Immersed myself in style and fashion. Turned lots of heads. Saw a Filipino model in person and enjoyed the fact that if you took pics of us and asked the average person which one of us they thought was the model, at least 80% would’ve picked me. Got my period for the first time since I gave birth to Micah.

Tomorrow morning, I get to have a Skype date with Rob. Dad’s going grocery shopping. I get to spend the whole day at home, cleaning, organizing, spending time with the kids, and nursing my sore throat. I’m also going to start reacquainting myself with anatomy, physiology, and health assessment in between all of the usual chaos. AND I start my make-up hospital duty soon.

2011 is winding down, my friends, and I have a feeling it’s not going to fold quietly into the corner.

Workaholic.

My brother and I laugh about how, as kids, we used to run around my mom’s bed, screaming and shooting water pistols at each other in the thick, humid heat of lazy summer afternoons in NYC. Our mom was always asleep, her mouth agape, her expression uncaring as her jaw hung slack, idle, and uncaring from her face. She’d undoubtedly put in 8 or 16 hours at the hospital the night before, and no amount of noise we could make would wake her up. Back then, we’d make a raucus and laugh about getting away with it. Now, I look back and wonder if maybe we made all that noise to wake up our mom. Maybe we just didn’t know  how to tell her we needed her to be awake.

It’s no secret that my schedule is packed to the brim. Between classes, hospital duty, trying to put my editing business on the map, running the household, and setting/keeping Skype dates with Rob, having time for my kids seems damn near impossible.But I do it. I force myself to remember what’s really important, and I spend as much time soaking up their love in a given day as possible. The only reason I’ve been able to make it work is because I don’t have to clean up or cook. And my sanity? It’s not really all too necessary. Just give me some caffeine-loaded multi-vitamins and a couple liters of water and I’ll be on my way.

The closer I get to my goals, though, the more I freak the fuck out because HELLO? I might actually get my happily ever after. That wasn’t supposed to happen! I was supposed to be under the influence of some strange and illicit drug so I could run my car off a bridge. Or commit suicide. Or get raped and murdered. Or be killed in some other senseless act of violence.

You get the point.

The fact that I’m doing this? Working my butt off, spending time with the kids, making things work out with Rob, on the verge of making something respectable out of my editing business, and being, like, a good person and stuff? It’s kind of blowing my mind.

Another one bites the dust.

Another semester, that is.

I’ve been so ridiculously busy that I’ve let this blog become a dead zone, and now that I’ve gotten my bearings back, I’m reclaiming this space. I plan on recapping the past 3 months with backdated posts, but for now, let me just tell you what I’m up to.

The biggest news, by far, is that my dad’s coming to visit in two days. I have a lot of very extreme emotions concerning this fact, and it’s mostly centered on my dad’s womanizing ways. I know that when he’s here, he’s going to be chasing skirts. I know that he’s married to my mom, and even though she says she’s used to his ways/doesn’t care anymore, it depresses her that her husband steps out on their marriage. I also know that my mom handles all of their finances, so my dad most likely has a hidden cache of cash, and that he’ll be blowing most of it while in the P.I.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: I know that I can’t change my dad, try as I might to do so. I know that I have to accept him and love him for who he is, and not who I want him to be. I know that it’s pointless to get involved in whatever he does with other women. I also know that if he’s going to be spending all of his money on someone while he’s in the Philippines, I’d rather it be on me, my brother and my kids than some hoe. That said, I’ve decided to let him do whatever the hell he wants to do outside of our house so long as he’s discreet about it and he spoils the aforementioned family members while he’s here. 

A part of me feels really guilty that this is the only solution I’ve come up with. I feel like I’m selling out my mom, like I should be defending her honor or something. But that ship has sailed, and I’m tired of fighting battles/wars I know I can’t win. I’ve reached the conclusion that if she wants someone to fight for her honor, she should pick up an ax and start grinding; I’m tired of carrying all that weight on my own.

It’s been a really hard few months, and getting to the end of that leg of my journey has forced me to find strength and resolve. I’m feeling a lot more confident and relaxed these days than I’ve ever felt before. Yet, in a lot of ways, I’m reverting to old habits. For one thing, I’m smoking again. For another, I’m exercising hard-core again. Also: I’ve been dropping pounds like cah-razy, so that just two months after giving birth to Micah, I’m already hovering around my pre-pregnancy weight. Did I mention that I gained 50 lbs. during my pregnancy? That’s double the amount you’re supposed to put on in an average singleton pregnancy.

Fashion has also dropped onto my radar in  a big way. My body’s been doing a lot of fluctuating these past two years. So much so that 95% of my current closet consists of pieces that are either too big or too small for me. It’s weird to me, that fact. My cup size has gone from being DD to DDD to C to D to C again. My ass disappears then reappears and seems to have no plans of quitting this game of hide-and-seek. My stomach is pretty much flabby and full of stretch marks. I think of the latter just as I think of the ginormous bags under my eyes: they’re badges of honor that I wear proudly. Still. I need some toning up, and some bulking up (in the right places), and I definitely definitely definitely have to step up my style game.

The editing business is slowing picking up steam again. ‘m thinking about switching to a .com and calling it a day. This past year or so has been a lot of hit-and-miss, trial-and-error, up-and-down, and I’m hoping that by this time next year, I’ll be settled and making a good name for myself.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been studying, writing, and editing up a storm, but I now need to wear my glasses all the time. This is very very new to me, this dependency on eyewear. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to go strictly glasses on this one, or get contacts, or splurge on eye surgery when I get home. For now, I have three sets of empty frames and a date with an opthalmologist.

With a hiphop soundtrack.

Him: Right now, this song is pretty much my life.

Me: [jokingly] Ew. You’re corny.

Him: Why? What’s your life right now?

Me: Grey’s Anatomy + Noli Me Tangere, with a hiphop soundtrack and two kids on the side.

C.E.O. of the H-O-U-S-E

I’m currently studying for three microbiology/parasitology exams (two written and one practical), even though I saw my doc this morning and she was all, “Your cervix is soft and opening up! I can fit my fingernail in there! You’ll be a mom of two by the end of the week!” At the same time, I’m working on my freelance article, fixing everything for Riley’s birthday celebration, culling editing work, figuring out what to do about the housekeeping situation, and being OCD about everything being ready for Micah’s big arrival. I can’t say it’s been easy, but I’m not complaining!

I’ve decided to step up my discipline game. Not only do I have to start demanding more from my employees (the two nannies and one maid), but I can’t feel guilty for doing so. They work for me, and as much as I want them to feel comfortable here, I can’t compromise my own sanity just to keep them comfortable. I need to stay on top of the budget and make sure that my kids are being taken care of the way I need them to be taken care of. I need to scale back on other priorities to make sure that the house is being run the way it should be run. As much as it pains me to be a hard-ass at home, my conscience and my paranoia have to be relaxed: I have to be able to trust that things are running smoothly, and the only way to do that is to be more demanding.

I think.

To be honest, I’m not sure right now how I should feel. My dad picked fights with me earlier regarding the way the house is run, and I feel all sorts of conflicted. Am I changing up my usual routine just to please him? Just to do the opposite of what he wants me to do? Just because I think it’s right? I’m so confused, I don’t know.

All I know right now is that I need to concentrate on passing micro-para. My second son will be born soon. My first son is doing well, and I have little to worry about when it comes to him. And everything else? It’ll work itself out, one way or another.

So there it is.

My resolution.

To relax my mind, take things one step at a time, and forget my dad.

It feels like, the more I learn, the more I’m tethered to what I already know.