Monday Musings on a Tuesday: Those precious long weekends

Monday musings in paper and inkHow was your weekend? I started writing this yesterday, the end of my long weekend, and of course it got lost in the nuances of closing out what would be our last holiday for a while.  We don’t have another holiday coming soon until Thanksgiving, so this is it for a bit.

Like most holiday weekends, I found myself catching up with housework and things I normally don’t get enough time to do on the regular break from the workweek.  I indulged in much needed longer mornings, stretching out and just laying still even when my mind was already wide awake.  Still, I found myself getting out of bed earlier than normal, but I did go about my mornings at a more leisurely pace.

Motherhood.  I got to spend Saturday being Mom — going with my teen to get his hair done.  (And I must stop there lest I end up getting a disapproving look again when he finds out I gave out too much information here.)  And Sunday was momhood again, shopping in the city.  No, not for me, but for the teen (again), what with the school opening just around the corner.  I can’t help but marvel at how much he has grown.  I have captioned our latest picture together as “Mom is indeed shrinking.. ”

And September is here.  And just like that, we are almost at the end of the year.  I have become more attuned with the passing of time.  So I no longer ask where it has gone — I just know it slipped through my fingers like grains of sand.  I’m three quarters done with 2019 and I must say I feel good about where I am.  There is a quiet stillness in my heart amidst the hustle and bustle of my everyday life.  It helps to keep me focused and calm when the excitement gets too much.  I can take a step back, close my eyes, and just find my center again by disappearing into that place within.  Some would say it’s escapism.  I think not.  It’s just me, dealing with life and keeping up.

Decisions.  Summer saw me taking a trip home to Manila, with a stop at one of my other happy places — Sydney.  It was tight and literally short and sweet — but that’s about the only real vacation I take every year.  I don’t go anywhere local, save for an occasional staycation with my favorite date in the city.  This year, we didn’t do anything of the sort.  And even looking back, I don’t really go anywhere else besides home, and places I visit in conjunction with those trips to be with family.  Right now, I’m trying to decide on whether or not I will take another such trip at the end of the year — or more precisely, the beginning of the year.  I am almost 75% sure to go, but there is that part of me that is holding back and vacillating between saying yes and no.

I said I leave it to fate.  And fate keeps nudging me to go as doors have opened.  So I guess I ought to seriously start planning this one.

Writing those letters.  I have the stationery and I have pens aplenty.  I have a list of people I will write and some, I have actually been writing in a journal of sorts.  I haven’t had much luck with those journals but I keep trying, and those letters I hope, will find themselves on their way soon.  I even have the stamps already!  It’s just one of those things which I don’t want to do on the fly.  I want to be able to sit down and take pen and paper and write.  Like really write.

At the start of the year, I had hoped to write at least one letter a month.  I’m 8 letters behind.  I know it shouldn’t be so difficult so I know that at the end of the year, I will be able to count 12 letters sent — and maybe even more.

So that’s my Monday on a Tuesday.  I try.

 

 

 

(Of Never-ending but very welcome) Law School Inquiries – A reply to Concerned Citizen

This is a much-delayed response to a long e-mail I received from someone who strayed into my blogspace last April. I apologize for the delay but it was not exactly a question I could answer with a “yes” or a “no” and I had totally lost track of which account the e-mail originally was sent to. (Reminder to self on e-mail / contact info widget.  And just for everyone else’s info, best e-mail to reach me at is pinaynewyorker@gmail.com)

First of all, I want to thank “Concerned Citizen” (CC) for having taken the time to write the e-mail and share with me his dilemma and ask me for my two cents’ worth on the matter. I am humbled that you found me worthy of asking, and no, I don’t find it nerve-wracking — on the contrary, your asking me the question was a compliment to this blog’s very existence.

CC would have graduated or is about to graduate from a prestigious university in Manila and is asking me what I think his chances of going to law school are, and if it is prudent to give law school a try given that it is something that came to him only in very recent weeks. He gave me a good background on how he landed where he landed, and I must say I found myself “talking back” as if in conversation as I read his e-mail.

CC, for whatever it’s worth, please bear in mind my advice here is just that: MY advice. You have quite a good head on your shoulders, and I take my hat off to your parents for having raised you as they did. Trust your instincts.

We parents always want what’s best for our children, but you will have to pardon our tendency of sometimes making the mistake of living vicariously through you, our children.. They mean well by trying to imbibe in you that goal of becoming a doctor one day. We try to set lofty goals for our children, because we dream of a good life and a good future for them. We seek affirmation of our success as parents in the hope that they will become successful. We always want our children to apply themselves, and be the best of what they can be. You are fortunate that your father seems to have the flexibilty between the two most cherished titles parents wish for their children (Doctor or Attorney), so that means you have retained the prerogative to choose. So setting aside what your family may want for you, let’s focus on what YOU want for yourself now.

The pursuit of higher education is a daunting task. Whichever way you go, it will mean hard work and a different brand of perseverance and persistence that you will need to see you through. Your father’s dream of you having a title and for the two of you to have something to be proud of is neither trivial or selfish even if it appears to be on its face. In a sea of graduates that join the job market year on year, a four year college course is now the norm. Of course having DLSU on your resume gets you more than just a foot in the door, but you need more to get you up the ladder.

I think I can see what your father and the rest of your family sees in you, that is why they keep goading you on to pursue higher studies.

Do not give in to self-doubt. You say you don’t think you are as smart as they think you are — I believe you’re short-selling yourself in this respect. That you lost your fervor for studying in college is not indicative of how intelligent you are.

My choice early on was DLSU. My father, however. wanted his daughter in UP. I have written about this several times that even if he decried the hardships that the (then) construction of the LRT on Taft Avenue would cause, I ended up on the other side of Taft Avenue in UP Manila.

I saw my college years fly by as a time of seeing the world with the eyes of a grown up. While I started out taking copious notes and studying diligently, an English professor was telling me she knows I deserve a 1 but she couldn’t give that to me if I was never in class by my sophomore year. I was still pretty tame compared to most — I never smoked, and while I went out with friends who went drinking on most afternoons, they ordered me a coke for every round of beer. (This same group produced at least 4 lawyers besides myself, by the way.). I could have made the Dean’s list if I really put my heart and soul to it, but it just wasn’t in me. I had other things that kept me busy.

I was also hit by that “I’m not as smart as they think I am” early on when I sat in one of my classes with my freshman “blockmates”. I couldn’t help but wonder if I really belonged in that class with what seemed to be a motley crew of freshmen from different parts of the country — but despite appearances, accents and all that — I felt they were all smarter than me. It took me a while to realize I did belong, and what’s more, I could actually hold my own. 

“Passion” and “Motivation” are two things that only you can find.  If it is not where you are right now or in what you are doing, then you have to accept that and move on from there.  You will only find those two if you continue to search for it.  We can only cheer you on, but the motivation must be there in you, or there will be nothing that will move you one way or another.

From this point forward, I hope that you will think only of you.  Let’s take the “family” equation out of the way.  I kept hearing you go back to “what would make (your) family happy,” and while I think that’s a major part of the equation, I don’t think that’s what should weigh heavily on any decision you make about yourself.  You appear to have done them proud and have been a good son up to this point.  You will always be — even if you choose to be a rock star.  Remember that no matter what you choose to be, and no matter how you end up in the future — whether you become a politician, an activist, a lawyer, a doctor — they will always be your family.  Your future, however, is in your hands.

I know only too well the pressure that thinking about one’s future brings.  No matter how independent-minded you are or want to be, there are always things that come into the picture, like people who depend on you or whose state of mind is intertwined with your course of action.   You always try to do things in the now in preparation for a goal or a dream about tomorrow.  But you have to keep in mind that it all devolves around YOU.   You can only be good at something that you truly enjoy or love, no matter how you may be able to learn and pick up things in a snap. You can only be truly good at something you like and enjoy doing. That is why you should decide based on what you want.  Do not be afraid to think about new ideas — so what if you just thought about pursuing a legal education in recent weeks?  What I think you should focus on is, as you wrote: “When I thought of this option, unexpectedly, I felt quite relieved for some reason.  I knew that somehow, my heart has found peace in the midst of all the anxieties I’m feeling because of the apprehensions the future bring me.”  CC, I would read that aloud and I would listen to my voice.

And here’s another reminder:  .. I decided to shift out, with a conviction that I do not want to be a doctor.  I realized that I didn’t want to become a doctor, it’s just my family pushing me to do something they want for me.”  I copied that verbatim from your e-mail.  I just realized on fourth reading that in one breath, you said it twice – “I do not/didn’t want to become a doctor.”

Okay, so that’s that.

I have always said you will never know until you try — you’ve already seen that the medical option wasn’t for you because you tried. I like that you can actually see that pursuing a law degree is not going to be easy, but you didn’t blink by thinking it was impossible. You actually see it as an easier path to success and stability later on in life.

So what do I think about you pursuing a law degree? I believe you have the smarts, the English (number 1 requirement!) and the proper frame of mind to go for it. You were able to relate your story to me in a very coherent and logical fashion. It was actually well-written, and I would have published it here in full but I felt that too many of the details would make you and your family easily identifiable by those who know you.   If I were to base my answer on whether or not you had what it takes academically and intellectually, I’d say yes.  But more than seeing  that you have the skills and the brains to go for it, I think the fact that you have a very clear picture of what you want to do is yet another reason to give the law entrance exams a try.  You’re just being held back by the notion that everyone wants you or expects you to be a doctor, and the thought that you only started thinking of law school recently kind of scares you.  Don’t let it.

Dreams have no timeline.  You can be a dreamer of many dreams.  What does have a timeline is going for that dream.  And no one says your dreams cannot change.  Let’s say you take the entrance exam, you pass, you go to law school, and you eventually pass the Bar and become a lawyer.  Then during your first year of practice, like me, you realize that litigation is not for you.  You realize that you want to be a journalist.  Or that you want to be a pastry chef.. or you want to be a travel writer.  What’s there to stop you?  Only you can really put a stop to any dream that crosses your mind.

I’d go for it.  And if, after the exams.. or even after a year or two in law school you realize it’s not for you, go and dream another dream.  Some people judge those who can’t seem to make up their minds about their pursuits as being whimsical or being irresponsible and living a life without direction, I say that perhaps they just have the guts to go after what hits their fancy at any given time.  Not everyone is as brave.

You know what you want.  I say go chase that dream and see where it takes you.

Related posts can be found in the blog section LAWYER WANNABE which can be found in the navigation bar.

Thinking of Kuya

I lay down to rest for the evening two hours ago because my head was throbbing and my chest was heavy with a pain radiating to my back.  I held Angelo in one arm, kissed him softly and whispered to him “Mama loves you, anak.”  The one guy I know who will love me unconditionally, come what may.

For some reason I woke up about two hours later because my blackberry was buzzing.  I missed a call from my siblings back home.  “MagicJack” the ID said.  An unannounced call at this hour is never just to say hello.  I wasn’t expecting the call until tomorrow.  I called back.  My brother and I spoke between a bathroom break and a wake up splash to my face.  As the eldest child in the family, major decisions are still thrown my way.  Distance, after all, did not demote me.  Only half listening at the start, I put on my “Ate” (“elder sister”) hat and listen in earnest.  I know that I am not only expected to listen, I am supposed to give instructions which I do.  My brother listens in turn.  Then I hang up.

I wish I could just go back to sleep and be numb again.  But I have an e-mail to write.  I close my eyes and try to find the words to say.  Where do I begin?  I have to write a former classmate who has so deftly handled a case related to our family the past couple of years.  We’re at a crossroads and need some legal intervention/advice.  I was torn between writing now and postponing it for tomorrow when I might have better clarity about what I need and want to say — so instead, I ended up here.

The pain returns.  I am almost tempted to call my brother back. I’m the eldest, he’s technically the youngest but he’s the man of the house right now.  Maybe I can shirk away from the responsibility and have him handle it, but I think he’s handled enough.  Between balancing his role as son and father of the house, I must say he’s handled the challenge pretty well.

Then I see a message alert on Facebook.  I thought it was Fe.  It never ceases to amaze me why I keep getting game requests when I don’t play any Facebook games.  My only indulgence is the infamous Angry Birds, and that’s on the Ipad. (!)

All my siblings are back in Manila, dealing with these challenges head on.  I am insulated by the distance separating me from the fray, but they have never made me feel I am no longer part of the picture by relegating me to the background.  In fact, they seek my counsel and they listen.  When the tempers flare up, they look to New York and call — I am the voice of reason.  It’s probably easier to listen to me because I am not there in the middle of it all when emotions shoot up.  And of course, as I kept telling Angelo the last time we were there, they will listen because I am the eldest — I am their “Ate”.  What I say is law.

There are moments, though, when I wish I were the youngest, or the second or anywhere in the pecking order except first.  This is one of those times when I so miss my elder brother who passed away at birth, four years before I was born.  He’d be pushing 50 by now if he were alive.  He’d have occupied the slot for “eldest” instead of me.   He’d be the one muscling those who are trying to muscle us.  I am almost sure, the problems we are trying to solve would have been solved already, if Kuya was around.  After hitting the punctuation on that last sentence, I grab my temples, close my eyes and wonder:  “What would Kuya Silvano do if he were here?”  I know he wouldn’t be here blogging.  Ha!

I miss you, Kuya.  Even if we never got to know one another, those times you visited me in my dreams, I cried  because I missed you so.  Today, I miss you more than ever.  I would’ve loved to tell you what was in my heart — and cry my heart out to you and ask for your sage advice.  I know you would have held me in a warm embrace and that would have spoken a million words to give me the answers I seek.  I know you would’ve assured me I’ll be alright.. everything will be just fine.  I know you’re watching me wherever you are.  I can almost feel your arm on my shoulders, telling me I can do this.

I wish I could teleport myself to San Juan this very minute and my siblings and I would have our family caucus.  No matter how serious the problem was or how grave the situation, we always found something to laugh and joke about.  I so wish I could hear their laughter and be with them as I write here — then maybe the laughter will drown the pain I feel in my chest.  I’ve sighed a dozen dozen sighs all night — it’s not working.

But we have indeed been blessed.  Blessed to be the family that we are — who, despite our differences and our individual pride — have never forgotten that we are all of one blood.  So faced with the daunting challenge before us right now, we’re trying to move forward as one.  Even if they’re all back home in San Juan, and I am typing away here in the dark in the big apple, we work together to find the solution and the answers we seek.  Yes, even Kuya Silvano is here with us — that much I know and feel in my heart.

Kuya would be dictating that e-mail to me right now.. not that he has to.  It’s going to a former classmate, after all.  So maybe he’d be telling me instead to get writing.  But the pain keeps distracting me.  I know he’d make me laugh.. he’d crack a joke.. and he’ll say I’m worrying about things that aren’t worth worrying about.  He’ll remind me that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself — I’m human after all.  Like Fe, he would remind me to be kind to myself before I even think of being kind to others.  Amen.  (Kuya would’ve loved Fe.. he  would’ve loved and embraced everyone who meant something to me.)

Thank you, Kuya… for the warm embrace, for the words of advice, for the love, for keeping us all one family.  For reminding me once again that no matter what choice I make, they’ll back me up and accept my decision because we’re all in this together.  After all, I’m their “Ate” forever.