Between sighs

We finally got a reprieve from the heat today. I actually noticed a cooler breeze last night which was a refreshing change from the otherwise oppressive heat of the previous weeks. It was even chilly this morning. Nature has its way of balancing things as always.

My rain boots proved to be unnecessary but I hate walking home in the rain with the extra aggravation of literally walking with cold feet.

My mood seems to be in synch with the gloomy weather these days. I don’t know if it’s my late father’s birthday coming upon us or his death anniversary around the corner, or the finality of saying goodbye to Donna again who leaves our side of the world tonight to go back down under. July is not an upbeat month. So I try harder to make it upbeat — I think of my favorite niece, Julia’s birthday… And summer which, despite its punishing heat, is my favorite season because it’s the closest New York will ever come to mimicking the hot days back in Manila. I think of July as being past midway through the year which means December cannot be far behind.

They said that if you think happy thoughts and try to make a list of blessings in your life, you will actually be able to fight the sadness.

And there’s just avoiding wallowing in the negative. I thought about writing about Papa but thinking of his birthday and passing in one linear thought is just too much for my heart to bear. Even just glossing it over now is hard. The grieving never really stops or ends. We just learn to cope better.


Happy birthday, Dad

My father passed away two years ago, a week after his birthday, which is today.  I miss him dearly, and I often think of him.  Many people who knew him used to tell me when I was younger that I was just like him.

I was the closest to him and yet our relationship was strained.  As I used to say to my half-sister who nursed a lot of hurt in her heart for my Dad and her Mom’s shortcomings as far as she was concerned, Dad loved her — it’s just that he didn’t know how to show it the way we would have wanted him to show it.

I was the favorite — when everyone else refused to speak with him, they made me face him and negotiate with him.  When he was dying, they called me from his deathbed and I told him between sobs that I was not mad at him, that I loved him.  His death was expected but it hurt me deeply when I got the news.

There is so much that I want to say to him now and I know he would listen silently, furrow his brows, and if I unloaded my burden to him, I know he would just keep silent and listen.  He would understand.

I would normally have wished that I was there to take care of him, but his final days were full of strife and pain.  I guess in a selfish way, it was good that we were oceans apart.  Less angry words were said although there were angry words exchanged.

I’m just glad he’s at peace now.  I know that wherever he is, he isn’t having difficulty breathing — he isn’t in pain.  Knowing that makes it easier to accept that he is gone.  And whatever sins he had committed, he has been forgiven.

I miss hearing his voice — and hearing his laughter.  I have many snapshots of him in my mind I keep going back to.  And even in my grief, he makes me smile when I remember his antics and his jokes and the happy times.  I dwell on the happy rather than the sad.  There is enough sadness knowing he is no longer here with me.  At least when I stick with the happy memories, my heart smiles, and it helps me deal with the grief better.

Happy birthday, Dadang.  I know you know we all love you deeply… and we always will.  I know now that my fears as a child that I would end up in heaven and you would be in the other place are unfounded.  I know you will be there to meet me when my turn comes to go into the light.

Here and there

Work in Progress: Long Shot of the Chrysler Building ZentangledI am still struggling to come up with a Father’s Day post in large part because I wanted to write about my Dad.  Maybe in a day or two.  Although I have said that I now think about Papa with a smile, the sadness remains.  It’s almost two years now since he left us, but some things never really go away — time just helps us to cope with them better.

Meanwhile, I took the picture on the left last Friday and it has progressed rather well since then, so I’m doing finishing touches and filling in some gaps.  I’ve also attached the bottom and the middle portions and will be ready to “stitch” the pieces together once I figure out how I’m going to “fill in” the remaining “blank spaces.”

My next project was a toss up between the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Place (Paris vs. Brussels?) — but I am still looking for my CD of pictures of Belgium, and I found the ones from my first trip to Paris, so Paris wins.  Besides, doing the Grand Place is no less ambitious than doing a portion of the Manhattan skyline given the guild housees that line one of its sides…  We’ll see.  I really would like to stick to zentangling images based on my own photos that is why it’s important I find the actual pictures I snapped of the subject matter.

As always, I’ve had a lot of time to de-stress and think while doing the repetitive patterns.  This is what I like most about zentangling — it actually helps me to focus without pushing myself too hard.  Effortless almost.  These days, everything seems to take twice the effort so it helps when I can do something more fluidly with ease.  Life is difficult as it is… why make it harder? I’ve had to do some “patching up” but nothing too drastic a do-over.  And that’s another thing I love about zentangling — that it is such a “forgiving” art that allows me to redo something I might’ve messed up or changed my mind about.  Once done, this would’ve taken me four weeks to complete.  (Unless I get stalled in a major way in the next day or two.)

I haven’t really done much else with other things — haven’t been reading and I have been crafting at a snail’s pace.  I just realized today I haven’t been “here” in a week, although I’ve been writing elsewhere.  (For an audience of one: me.)  I haven’t managed to write any of the snail mail I’ve been meaning to write, and while I have been fixing my paper stock at home and generally trying to get organized in all sorts of ways, I haven’t made any cards of late.  I did find what was meant to be a background piece for an “Art Journal Everyday” entry, so I pasted it onto my book, trimmed the paper to size and will try and get going tonight on the art journaling.

Let’s see how that goes.

Up at 3AM

There are times when no matter how late I turn in, sleep seems to be elusive, catching me only for a minute and then I’m up again.  It’s one of those nights.  So I’m wondering if I should have bugged Fe again yesterday (she’s somewhere in the South for over a week now) like I did the other evening.  We laughed and we cried together as we remembered our Dads.  The tears felt good and helped to clear the air passages literally and figuratively.  I just wanted to give the tear ducts a rest tonight, though.  I knew it would come down to that again if I dialed her number.  (I might yet give in later, since it’s just mid-afternoon there right now.)

I’ve been walking around with a pain radiating from my chest to my back for two days now.  (Another nagging indicator I do need to exercise.  Unheeded.)  Yesterday, I wandered down to 39th street between 7th Avenue and 8th Avenue in search of knitting needles — and while I found them and got some nice pink yarn to work with, my friend Lisa lectured me when I realized I had gotten the wrong length of circular knitting needles.  (Part of the learning process.  How was I supposed to know that the length of the tube connecting the two needles mattered if I was going to try and knit a cap?)  So now I have a size 9 and size 15 circular knitting needle 29″ in length that’s going to join my knitting needle collection.

The yarns I saw were nothing like those found in real knitting stores but it helps to know the suppliers are just blocks away from work.  I trudged back to the office feeling this knot in my chest telling me I wasn’t hungry.  Or so I thought.  An hour later (after hanging the coat and getting warm and cozy again up in my little corner in Midtown Manhattan), my stomach started grumbling.  At 10 minutes before the cafeteria closed, I was going to need extreme luck to find anything close to edible, so again — and I NEVER do this on a regular day — I put on the fuschia pink puff jacket and walked to Kwik Meals, my favorite street vendor of chicken on pita, around 4 blocks uptown.  It was cold but hunger carried me out the building a second time.

Lunch was done by 3pm.

I stared at my monitor (which I had been doing most of the morning), checked e-mails I was expecting which, by the way, didn’t come — then I stared at the monitor again.

Grief has  a funny way of taking hold of us.  Fe has been telling me that the emotional upheaval happening to a mutual friend of ours is probably deeply rooted in his personal grief over the loss of his daughter.  Trust Fe to make the connection.  I know I didn’t.  I just sank into the pillows in bed, remembered Dad and the tears just came again.  Sometimes grief has a way of making us feel alone in our sorrow.  Other times, it makes us displace the sorrow, Fe said.  I don’t know which is which.

I like talking to Fe when I feel I am at my lowest because she shares the same pain I feel, having lost our fathers months apart.  And even if she didn’t and I did, no one knows me better than she does.

I was cursing through my tears and laughing through it — much like Sisa probably was doing as she cried out for Crispin and Basilio, Fe and I kidded each other.  The laughter helped stop the tears eventually.  But the knot in my chest remains.

So I walked with that knot in my chest through most of today.  I slept with it earlier than usual and woke up with it just minutes back.  I wish I could just let it go.  Or since it doesn’t want to let me go, I wish I could just ignore it.  But like I told Fe, I was surprised to find out I could actually live with it.  Now I know how a hunchback feels.  It’s just that my hump is invisible and it’s there in the cavity of my chest, crowding my heart.  Maybe that’s why I hear my heart beaingt a little stronger and faster today — or maybe I’m just too fat. LOL

I tried to leave the office earlier but ended up going the usual time anyway, waiting for my driver to pick up the materials for the boss.  It was a blessing that the boss was out yesterday when the knot was just ever present, or else I wouldn’t have had the luxury of just slumping down onto one of the cozy sofa chairs in his office, staring at the Chrysler Building standing majestically in front of me.  I sat at my desk for period of time just staring at the wall behind me, or the piles of paper I need to attack and sort to file.  They can wait until tomorrow.  (Oh, that’s today.)

I hear Fe telling me to just leave it be.  People need time and space.  I guess, that’s right for me, too.  We all need our time to grieve.  Some people deal with it better than others.  I don’t know if I fall under the category of “better” or “others”, though.  I just know I woke up just before 3am and from the looks of it, I’m not hitting the sack again anytime soon.

Not good.  But at least that might mean I will be able to start my day real early and get to the office way before the 9am video conference interview the boss is doing with someone in Europe.  And hopefully, the craziness of the day will help me go through it, lump in my chest or not.  I might yet be able to will it away.

That thought gave me pause.  (A lot of thoughts give me pause these days.)

“Will it away.”  I have always thought of “willing people away” and just trying to “shoo” them off my mind and consciousness — and now I wonder how many have tried to will me away..  Might be quite a list.  It’s just something we never think about.  It’s like “unfriending” someone, or “blocking” someone from our contact list.  It CAN be done.  And painful as it may be to think someone would will you away, perhaps that’s how it is.  I have come to discover through the years that there are people who seem to be scared by me — although that is still something I can’t quite get a grip on.  What is heartening is that some friends see me as a “just another little girl at heart.”  Well, this little girl is crying like a baby and wandering aimlessly… and is wide awake and rambling away at 4am.. I’m trying to decide if I’ll brew some coffee for a change, make some hot chocolate or just go with the usual double shot of espresso.

I didn’t get any chocolates yesterday but I bet those heart shaped chocolate boxes are now on sale.  Hmmmmm… (Siblings in Manila getting excited over that.. )

Another day in paradise…

Zentangling in Color

Thanks (yet again) to inspiration from Julie Fei-Fan Balzer‘s blog where she featured Carolyn Brady as a guest writer to write about Zentangling in Color, I found myself doing this Art Journal Every Day entry yesterday when I was itching to find an outlet for what was such a struggle of a blog post.

It has been a year since Dad passed, and finding myself at this juncture was really hard on me emotionally.  It’s as if I am grieving all over again, although in truth I should be taking off the veil of mourning, or as we refer to it in the vernacular, “babang luksa”.

I tried writing a post to no avail.  Then I thought of creating an art journal entry, but my art journal was home, having grown to a bulky notebook despite its handful of entries.

So I tried to be resourceful, picking up 4×6 blank index cards where I scribbled “tears” using watercolor pencils (which, luckily, were in one of my personal drawers), smudging them with a wet paintbrush (which I had brought for another reason), and then zentangling over them after they dried.

Ta-dah!  Of course I ended up cutting the teardrops and pasting them onto my layout, zentangling around the pieces in black ink and then simply scribbling the quotation I found which was just so apt.

It was, in a way, my tribute to Dad.  Remembering him and continuing to pray for him wherever he may be.

Art Journal Every Day: I miss you, Dad

Art Journal Everyday no. 2: Grief Journal - I miss you, DadI am still in grieving.

One of a couple of layouts I had planned to work on as part of Art Journal Every Day was a simple black and white post on GRIEF. I actually worked around the wordart which is printed although it came out as a very convincing stamp.  (Credits to follow.)

I have been doodling leaves and flowers since I was in my teens, so actually drawing this tree came naturally — although part of the trunk looks like a distorted creature with an open mouth.  (Ang babaeng tuod? LOL)  Everything else came very naturally.

This is my second piece and is signed and dated under the wordart.

I miss you, Dad.

Waiting for the snow to start falling…

It’s 10pm and I just finished washing the dishes, cleaning up in the kitchen, plus I even managed to wash one of my self-knitted scarves and Angelo’s beanie.  I have been using a silken ladder yarn scarf but I now realize I need more protection from the elements when the temperatures take a dive.  I have not bought scarves for the winter for a couple of years now because I have taken to knitting my own.  I’m no expert knitter so I tend to experiment with sizing (oversized stitches given a yarn thickness) and then I add trim.  For some of the scarves, the embellishment or “arte” lies in the kind of yarn I actually use.

But paper is what has kept me preoccupied of late.  I opened another store on Etsy dealing primarily with paper — recycling paper in particular and creating gift tags and gift cards, and eventually — hopefully other paper products.  I am researching making hand-made recycled paper and just today, came across a tutorial on making paper beads.  (Talk about combining two of my current passions!)  I even have the paper cut today which caused me to wash with one hand in a latex glove.  (One reason I don’t throw away those disposable gloves that come with your shampoo-in hair dye.)  That’s nothing compared to the multiple cuts my hands suffered from some 14 months ago when I experimented with resin domino pendants.  Hmmmm.. the pendants are still in the experimental stage so no, they haven’t exactly been something lucrative.  At least I have the many lessons I learned in the process.

Snow.. I know I ought to take comfort in the words of my favorite weatherman that it won’t be as bad and as much as the blizzard. Uhm, just 3-5 inches (!) of snow.. I wish I had the same optimism.  Anything beyond a light dusting is cause for frustration.  Then again I must remind myself I live in a part of the world where cold winters like this one are the norm.  (Lightbulb in my head… reminder to self: note to Donna.)

I braved the cold today to walk to Rockefeller Center to take pictures of the Christmas tree.  It was lovely but very cold.  Am I surprised that I seem to have caught a bug?  Nope.  I came all wrapped and snuggly but it looks like it wasn’t warm enough.  (Nothing my throat spray and lozenges cannot handle..)  Christmas in New York is not quite like the all around Christmas spread in Manila, but it has its own charm.

It brings me back to Manila where we all spent Christmas last year, and where Angelo and I had our first New Year’s Eve, me after 9 years of having spent that night in New York.  It was also our first spent apart as Alan had left earlier for home.  I opted to stay behind because Dad was sick.  I extended once and was ready to extend another time, but the flights were full.  I had work and Angelo had school.  So on the 7th, we bid our goodbyes and that was that.

So back to the snow.. =)  At least it’s a Friday, and hopefully, I’ll get to go home early enough.  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…

And the New Year is here

2011.. for once, I cannot claim that 2010 just slipped by considering all the life-changing events that took place in my life in 2010.  The most jarring of all being my Dad’s passing.


There are many, many other positive things that happened, too, but somehow the most painful is what makes the biggest mark.  So can I end there for now?

I miss Dad.  It’s my first Christmas without him.  It’s my first New Year without him.  For some strange reason, I can remember snippets of last year but I cannot remember how I spent it with him.  Selective amnesia?  Perhaps.

But I have found that it is easier to move on if you are willing to take the step forward.  I am still officially mourning.  My reds and hot pinks (my favorite fuschia pink included) are still in the not-to-be-worn zone.  I didn’t think I’d last this long but last I did.  It may seem immaterial to some but to me, it’s a personal effort at going through my own grieving process.

Yesterday I had to put away some knick knacks and stuff lying around my dresser in the bedroom, and I grabbed a memory box in my closet that was still mostly empty.  Well, except for Dad’s old letters to me.  I didn’t quite have the heart to go through them just yet except to tear the stamps off the envelope and then soak them in warm water later for my “collection”.   (I am an ambivalent philatelist.)  One day soon.

Dad wrote with a beautiful cursive script.  My own penmanship came from those graceful strokes.  Even when his hands were ravaged by Parkinson’s disease, he tried.

I miss you, Dad.  I pray you are in a peaceful place somewhere where the coughing and the trembling hands no longer ail you.  I know your robust laughter now fill the hallways up in the heavens.