Friday, Friday..

It was a good Friday.  The boss decided to work from home but we were in constant touch.  I still prefer him in the office because then I know where he is exactly and what he’s doing.  Not that he’s high maintenance either way.  As I tell everyone who asks how life is these days, I tell them all I’m happy because I can’t ask for a better boss.

It’s gotten so much colder.  Fortunately I went to work wearing a light coat because it was drizzling earlier and I’ve been carrying a thin scarf in my bag since the nights got chillier. 

I went ahead of Alan and stopped by the grocery to pick up a handful of items… dinner tonight was a toss up between NEGAMAKI (scallions wrapped in sukiyaki thin beef in teriyaki sauce) or CHICKEN SALTIMBOCCA as inspired by Ces.  I followed her lead and took the recipe from courtesy of Giada Di Laurentiis.  The Chicken Saltimbocca won only because thin-sliced chicken cutlets were available.  (Which menas we’re having the Negamaki tomorrow instead.)

I was hoping to go to the Central Park Zoo tomorrow but I don’t think that would be a good idea unless the weather gets better tomorrow.  I doubt it.  But then again, you’ll never know. 

A word from the relatives

During our last visit to Manila last summer, one of the primary items on our list was to see the relatives on Alan’s side of the family.  I already had my list of relatives to see — primarily my siblings, Dad, and a couple of cousins.  Just like the last time, I didn’t get to see everyone.  (I didn’t get to meet up with Jerome and Jher, for one. =(..)  There were relatives I invited to my son’s birthday party who weren’t able to come for one reason or another, a couple of aunts I intended to see but just didn’t have the chance to.

It’s difficult to put everyone on the calendar when you have to consider I had to divide two-thirds of the vacation between my agenda and Alan’s.  As it is, we didn’t even get to see his classmates and friends from high school anymore.  We didn’t really mind.  We had agreed that the important thing was for Mom to see her brother and his family whom she hadn’t seen for over twenty years.  There were a lot of family issues that we had been prompting her to set aside, being that they were both advancing in years, and Alan and I were hoping the years would’ve mellowed both their hearts and they would find the time to be brother and sister again.

If only for that, our visit was fruitful.  We invited them to dinner, not knowing if they would actually accept our invitation.  We were afraid that they would be cold towards each other when they finally found themselves face to face after practically three decades of estrangement.

They arrived carrying a beautiful bouquet of flowers — the brother approached my mother-in-law slowly with a reluctant smile and gave her a tight hug.  That broke the ice.  My mother-in-law was close to tears but held it back.  They started kidding each other and we had a wonderful time getting to know each other.  There were grandchildren my mother-in-law had never seen.  The strangest thing of all was brother and sister wore the same shade of mauve, a rather unusual color for either one to wear.  But there they were, as if they were a singing duo.  It was priceless.

It was important that we made this trip more than just a simple vacation because my mother-in-law was turning 76 at the end of the trip.  She had been through a lot emotionally months before the trip, losing part of her family — not because someone died, but because someone disowned her as an adoptive mother.  We thought it was important the she saw her family, both those from her side and Alan’s father’s side.  We reached out to everyone but not everyone responded.

We figured there were sensitivities others might not have wanted to offend.  Our only way of contacting them was through the internet, and when we didn’t hear anything, we figured they had chosen to just stay silent, perhaps not wanting to take sides.  The thing was, we weren’t asking to see them to have them take sides — we just wanted to give Mom the chance to re-affirm her family ties.

We came home on Mom’s 76th birthday last May 13.  Yesterday, one of Alan’s cousins told us that it was the first time he found out we had gone home, having opened his Friendster account only this week.  That was sad.  I guess we were simply not meant to see him and his family then.  The same must’ve been true for his brother who we tried to reach the same way.  I must admit we had surmised that they didn’t want to offend the one who disowned Alan and my mother-in-law (and myself included) – being very close to her.  I guess we were wrong.. but that is one lost opportunity we cannot regain.

While there is a chance we will get to go home sometime in the near future again, we don’t know if my mother-in-law will be with us then. Perhaps the timing just wasn’t right this summer.

We did get to meet with other cousins on the same side of the family, so it was not like we were boycotted.  Things happen… that’s technology for you.

Thank you for the words of wisdom & support

Thank you for all the encouraging words that I received in response to the post below.  Even Alan wrote me.  (I love you, honey.)  While others may have been afraid to overstep the boundaries of communication we have established here, let me say that I am touched by the effort to reach out to me and give me some words of advice — as if to give me the comfort of a hug.  They are all being considered.  Some, I have tried.  Again, I am very grateful.

At this point in time I think I have been re-energized to take things in stride.  (Until the next incident, I gues..)  It’s a fact of family life — you cannot choose your family like you can choose your friends.  I had a choice and I made it — I chose Alan and everything that comes with him.  Writing about it enables me to think things through from a detached perspective.  It’s like listening to my own voice.  I miss those friends I would usually confide in a time like this.  I would usually pick up the phone and arrange to meet up somewhere — we’d sit, we’d eat, we’d whine together.  (Pun intended. LOL)  The fact that I can laugh about it now tells me I’m in better shape.

We all develop our coping mechanisms.  There are choices out there if we take the time to find what works best for us.  For me, it’s speaking my heart out in my blog.  

When you do not have the will to be firm

Bridget’s comment on being a stepson stirred anew some thoughts in my head about my current situation here.  The frustration keeps brewing inside me. 

During one of our previous arguments, Alan told me I should not make him choose.  What he doesn’t seem to see is that his son is the one making him choose — in continuing to act the way he’s acting towards all of us, and in refusing to work with his father, he is actually boxing his father into making the choice of accepting his errant ways or be continually subjected to his abuse.  In a sense, he is asking his father to choose between him and me.

It puts me in a difficult situation because it’s an “external” thorn on our relationship.  I feel it eating at me — like tonight when Mom and I had to take care of preparing dinner by ourselves, with the stepson not setting the table again.  No, I will not make Alan choose.  If we ever get to that point, then making a choice is no longer necessary.  For then it means we would’ve lost “us”. 

We continue to struggle together to resolve this situation.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel very lucky to have Alan as a husband and I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to be the father of my son.  But the dynamic of him, Angel and me is totally different from the dynamic of our family with the stepson in the picture.  So am I simply supposed to count the months to the time when he is free to leave the house?  My Mom doesn’t think he will ever leave his Dad’s home, only because his Mom won’t take him in anymore, and because he will never be able to stand on his own if he goes on living his life the way he’s living it.  Worse, I feel his father will not let him go even if he says otherwise… he says he will, but I have a sense his will is not firm on this.

That’s a scary thought.  It makes me want to make contingency plans in the event he “lingers” on.  So I’m not pinning my hopes on that one.  I don’t quite know yet how I will get from tomorrow to that day anyway.  This quandary is the very reason I advise my friends strongly against marrying a man or a woman who has a child from a previous relationship.  Now that I am a mother, the feeling has all the more been reinforced.  How true it is that iba pa rin ang anak.  And yet it doesn’t make it any easier to take.  So I grit my teeth when I feel like saying something, and I hold it in. 

It makes me feel as though I don’t matter in my own home.  I wait for the weekends not just because it’s a chance to spend more time with Angel, but also because it is usually the only time the stepson is elsewhere but with us.  It’s a respite from the disrespect and hostility..  Just one more night and I get my wish.  Big sigh of relief on that one.

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An evening writing longhand

It wasn’t until I was walking to the bus yesterday when I realized I had left my laptop in the office.  I was THAT out of it.  No wonder my tote felt lighter — much lighter — than it usually did.  Not having the tote actually allowed me to spend some time writing longhand and continuing to read THE CONFESSION.  It’s pretty easy on the heart and mind, and although it is a frank account of his sexual awakening, it is far from a gaudy account of his promiscuity.  I suppose writing was cathartic for McGreevey — you can actually feel it as layer upon layer of his burden peeled away.

Thank you, Jerome, for the kudos on writing longhand.  It is something I enjoy very much if only I had enough time to indulge in it.  I only write long letters, though, to those who I know have the patience to read it.  Technology has a way of diminishing the emotion of the written word.  Holding the letter in your hands is so different from actually reading something onscreen.  Sometimes I find it more helpful to actually print out an e-mail and read it.

During Alan’s and my courtship, we exchanged a ton of e-mails which I printed out for the benefit of the US Embassy.  We also continually exchanged cards and I have more than a shoebox full of them to show for it after I arrived here.  I left the e-mail print outs in Manila and threw them away, but hotmail got one over me when it deleted them when my account lay dormant for a while the first few months I was here. =(  Gone.  But I have my cards from those early days.. and I have a lot.  I would love for Angel to see them when he is older so he can see how our love story unfolded, just as we hope the postcards will be an abbreviated diary of how we felt at certain points in time during his early life.

Although e-mailing is much faster, letters written longhand are more enduring.  That’s why I still believe in Christmas cards as opposed to e-cards or Christmas greetings.  Mas feel.

Posted belatedly: Thoughts on a Tuesday morning

I’m running seriously late this morning. I was already at the bus stop when I realized I had left the phone in my room. Under orders from Alan, the stepson is not allowed to use the phone which he usually hogs from 10-PM to midnight and beyond so I am supposed to sequester the phone at night. So I walked back and gave the phone to my Mom and went back to the bus stop. Apparently, I did not lose any time because the same people I had left were still there waiting for a bus.

I am not running at my full element today. But I have to go to work and there are things I need to do. The world doesn’t stop turning just because I’m not feeling 100% a-okay. No crisis. One sometimes has those days when you want to play hookie from your responsibilities and just chill. And the bus is so agonizingly slow this morning. Not that it’s moving any faster matters — I’m late whether it does or not. But it doesn’t help my state of mind. Oops, I’m here.. time to hit the subway.

Time to write longhand

This post will be brief because I promised myself I’d spend time writing some letters longhand tonight.  (I have a letter to my niece I have to finish and my letter to Tita Effie which I haven’t even begun.)  My boy is giving me a tough time tonight refusing to sleep even if he keeps yawning.  Alan’s away on  abusiness trip again, but he’s back on Wednesday.

Letter writing is something I truly enjoy even if it’s not as spontaneous as e-mail.  And mind you, I write long letters.

When the rebellious side of youth takes over

The stepson had told Alan Thursday that he was going to spend the weekend with his cousins in New Jersey.  The father gave him permission but told him to go home before leaving for his cousins’ place.  My mother-in-law prepared a special noodle dish expecting the grandson was coming home.  I arrived at past 9 PM after the McGreevey book signing and there was no sign of the stepson.  Since Alan arrived at 10:30, he no longer checked the cousins and decided to do it the next morning.

The first cousin he called said they had not seen the stepson and were not expecting him.  He called a second cousin who said the same.  Finally he called the Mom asking if the stepson was there and he said no.  Everyone was naturally worried and upset.  The cousins were irritated because this was not the first time he had “used” them as an excuse.

Saturday and Sunday went with nary a call, until finally the stepson arrived at around 8PM.  At first he tried to lie and stick to his story he had gone to his cousins.  When Alan told him he had spoken with them and knew he had not been there, he told his Dad that he didn’t want to tell him where he had been.  He was even smirking at his Dad as if he found the situation amusing. 

I kept out of the whole thing and just left Alan, the grandma and the stepson to themselves.  At this point, I have accepted the fact that he is beyond my control.  He doesn’t see me as a relevant persona in this house, and he doesn’t care about what I say or do.  When his father is not here, he just goes about his business as if I weren’t around — and I have taken to turning a blind eye to him as well.  It’s not easy living with someone who shows no respect for you but I have to restrain myself from biting the bait lest I say or do something that I will regret later.

His presence in my home affects me greatly but I bear the burden of my frustration alone.  As I have told Alan time and again, he has no choice but to deal with the boy because he is his son.  I have a choice because he’s not mine.  And after moving heaven and earth to gain his acceptance and still ending up on the receiving end of his hostility, no one can fault me for giving up at this point.  It’s really not surprising he is the way he is with me, considering how irreverent and disrespectful he is to his own parents — not just his Dad, but even more so towards his Mom.

The rebelliousness of youth.. it is useless to try to conquer it, you can just pray it passes quickly.  This one looks like it’s permanent, though.  So where does that leave me?

Iba pa rin ang Goldilocks

Alan’s first assignment when he goes to their hotel in San Francisco is to make time for a trip to the nearest Goldilocks (which isn’t near at all).  I don’t make him buy a ton because I hate refrigerating the goodies and reheating them later because it’s never quite the same after 4 days.  (Not like the Muhlach ensaymada or the MegaMelt ensaymada which I can store in the fridge for up to two weeks.)  He brought home some ensaymadas, mamon, a mocha roll and macapuno tarts.  I told him to forego the pastillas which isn’t quite the same as the ones they serve up in Manila, and it was wishful thinking hoping he’d see some cheese tarts there.  =(

So I’m happy.  While we have our bakeshops here which produce pretty good ensaymada, it’s not quite the same.  I had my fill during my visit this summer back home — even venturing into their branch in SM Baguio to grab a snack when Nikky and I stopped by there.  One of the things I just can’t get over with — goodies like Goldilocks are just in a league of their own.

So the Bar exams are over .. what now?

If I’m counting right, today was the last day of the four-week Sunday Bar Exams in Manila.  It takes one halfway through the almost year-long journey for most, beginning after law school graduation in March or April earlier this year, then getting the bar exam results towards the same time of the year in 2007.

This is usually a day of celebration as the hopeful bar exam takers are doused with frothy beer and water and what else as they emerge from the exam venue.  Bands play and blare away, cheers await them as they are met when they come out and friends and family are waiting to embrace them and cheer them on.

After the nerve-wracking four weeks, their hands are aching from all the writing and most are euphoric this last night of the exams, their adrenalin still high.  Tomorrow, they’re back to reality.

For some who have snagged a sponsorship or employment from one of the major law firms, they start looking forward to work.  To those who have been working and had taken a leave to take the exams, it’s back to work.  Give it a day or two and the euphoria wears off and you find yourself looking back at the experience while starting to feel butterflies in your stomach anticipating the exam release next year.

It was one long prayer for me between the last day of the exams and the announcement of the bar results.  Mom and I went to Manaoag every month, I prayed and prayed and prayed.  I wasn’t dreaming on placing, I just wanted to pass.  I didn’t want to take the exams again so I prayed as hard as I could that this be it.  Law school prepared me well not just for the examinations but for the probability of failure as well.  Although the passing average of Ateneo Law is remarkably high, it’s also what makes failure a glaring exception because there are always few enough for the students to be able to name who they were.  (That’s one reason the “other” school touts that Ateneo trains their students to pass the Bar, but their school trains their students to be better lawyers out in the world.  We Ateneans say, to be a lawyer, you have to pass the bar first.. end of argument.)

I wish all barristers the best.  Just move on and try to put the Bar Exams behind you for now.  Whatever your fate is, it has been sealed.  Your answers are in, and there’s no taking that back now.  Let’s just hope that the examiners will accept your answer or at least give you credit for effort.  Til the bar exam results are released, go back to life as you knew it.