Friday, February 27, 2015

Fifty Strands of Grey

They're not sexy. But trust me, there's absolutely no shortage of gasps on my part every time I lay eyes on them. Thanks to this sense of horror, I'm also probably beating Anastasia Steele with the amount of "Oh my", "Jeez", "Crap" and "Holy Sh*t" that escape my mouth every time I take a good look at my head in the mirror. Though it's said that there's a thin line between pleasure and pain, I guarantee that mine all come from displeasure and the painful realization that these suckers are multiplying at an unbelievably fast rate and there's nothing much I can do to stop them. My hands are tied and unfortunately not in a naughty way. 

Fortunately though, these silvery-grey strands haven't quite invaded my entire head yet. For the most part, I can still pretend they don't exist as long as I keep my hair parted strategically. However, you have to agree that they're getting noticeably out of control and having Asian black hair doesn't help at all in concealing them. 

When I was in elementary school, I remember having a school assignment where we were asked to note how old our parents were. I asked my folks and at the time, my Mom was 35. For many, many years that followed, my Mom stayed 35 in my eyes. Nothing about her made me change my mind about her being perpetually 35 until I saw her hair strands change color. Bit by bit they surfaced and since my mother was never a fan of dyeing her hair, I had to stand back and watch these silver-grey strands populate larger areas of her head. As this happened, I was forced to adjust my perception and move her from 35 to somewhere 40ish, which was probably her real age at the time after all.

I hated it. Not because it made her less beautiful but because I had to then face the reality that my parents were aging. It seems silly, right? Of course everyone ages! But maybe constancy is a childhood necessity. Maybe deep down I had to believe that my parents will always be there, stay the same, stay young, healthy and simply ageless. 

Now that I'm on the other side, playing the part of the 40ish parent with aging hair (among other things), I'm a bit concerned about how my son feels.

When I asked him what he thinks about my grey strands, he said, "I'm kinda sad". When asked why, his response was, "Well, 'cos you're getting old. I kinda want you to stay young, you know".

This is definitely pain for me of a different kind. It's painful for any parent to see worries on their children's faces and especially so if it's of an existential kind. My son is 7. He really should only be worried about whether or not he'd be able to build his fancy house on Minecraft, or if I'd give him enough YouTube time the next day so he can watch his favorite toy reviewer. I was much older when I started feeling bothered by my parents' greying hair, but then again I was also much older by the time I became a parent, thus giving my son a much shorter period of time to enjoy my completely black crown.

Ah, the joys of being an older parent to a young child! I truly owe it to my son to stay as 'young' as I can, even if this means standing at the hair color aisle at the supermarket for a ridiculous amount of time just so I can choose the perfect hair dye shade that will cover my greys. No pain, no gain. So let me bust out the latex (gloves, that is), let the juices flow (or foam up from the can to the palm of my hand), and let me lose myself in the intoxicating scent of ammonia as I declare war against my fifty or so strands of grey.

Friday, February 20, 2015


I often find myself saying that word under my breath more than I would prefer, to be honest. Since I've never been a confrontational person and choosing my battles is a skill I've internalized very early on in my marriage, I'd have to say that this word is possibly a relationship game-changer and sanity savior. 

I suppose this word is my verbal equivalent of an eye roll but it suits me better since too much eye rolling generally gives me a headache. I summon the word like a true drama queen when I need to express frustration over little annoyances that are not worth nagging about but to a minimum are definitely worth whining over.

...when I see an empty toilet paper roll left on the holder and a fresh roll is within arm's reach

...when dirty clothes are on the floor, just ALMOST making it to the laundry hamper which stands two inches away

...when the snoring is in surround sound just when I'm beyond exhausted and would kill for two hours of sleep

...when dirty dishes are left on the counter top and the dishwasher sits right below it

...when the bathroom mirror is bathed in toothpaste splatter and I've just cleaned it yesterday


Yes, seriously these things happen to me on a regular basis. 

And seriously, I'm certainly not perfect too and I'm sure my husband puts up with a whole lot of things I do that don't make much sense to him either (e.g. fear and avoidance of driving on the interstate, social anxiety, and tendency to over-think, among other things). But seriously, all these are not serious enough to outweigh the things that really count.

In the grand scheme of things, I still seriously think our marriage is seriously solid, having two seriously flawed people dead serious about seriously making it all work, taking it simply one step at a time. Seriously.

Friday, February 13, 2015

My Fair Share of Blind Dates

Blind dates are possibly one of the scariest things ever invented. Broaching the topic to another could send that person sprinting in the opposite direction at lightning speed and you won't even have enough time to finish uttering the term. Believe me, I get it. I've agreed to do it one too many times.

The truth is that I just wasn't meeting enough people and I was getting close to 30—lethal combination to the brains of most single people. At the time, I was teaching in university and everyone I found even just remotely interesting or attractive were either married or gay. Well, that or they were clearly pining for someone else. So, I let friends and relatives take matters into their own hands and announced to the Universe, "What the hell, let's do this!"

The first one was through one of my closest friends, M. She said her female boss highly recommended a male friend...single guy, smart, funny and comes from a good family. The guy called me a couple of times before our date, (which, by the way, was to be a group date with my friend and the boss). He sounded okay over the phone, not impressive by my standards, but I promised the Universe I'd keep an open mind. 

On the night we were all meeting up, M and myself arrived first at the restaurant. I wanted it this way so that I can give myself enough time to breathe and calm down before I saw my date. While waiting, my friend and I spotted a few grammatical errors on the menu and killed time making fun of those silly mistakes. I should've taken that as a sign at that point and just called it a night. When M's boss came, she stood by our table, greeted us, and I saw that there was a guy standing behind her. I think at this point I should tell you how much this 'boss' built up her friend so much that M and I were convinced we were going to meet someone with a showbiz-worthy face. No such face showed up. As a matter of fact, when my friend and I saw the guy standing by our table, we were both thinking the same thing..."Where's THE guy? Is there someone else showing up?!"

But, no I didn't walk out. I'm not that superficial. I stayed, had dinner, did my best to have fun, and even let the guy drop me off at my apartment. But I knew I didn't want to see him again. He was completely conceited, shallow and uninteresting and all he seemed perfectly capable of was to brag about his family's textile business and how much money they make. Unimpressive. Simply not my cup of tea, so...moving on....

Blind date #2 was one arranged by a cousin of mine. They said the guy was a bit older than me, definitely mature, successful and looking at finally settling down. I had just come out of a very intense and consuming relationship and wanted to see what else could be out there for me, and so again I said, "Bring it on!"

He was a gentleman. Picked me up from the apartment, made sure to open doors for me, mild-mannered and seemed completely good on paper. He wasn't my usual type but at that point, I was so heartbroken that it probably didn't matter anymore if he looked like Kermit the Frog. He took me to a nice restaurant and I thought it was a good sign that we were having good conversations and I was feeling comfortable. Too comfortable, as a matter of fact, that I crossed over to being verbally incontinent, sans alcohol. There was nothing or no one else to blame but me. I committed the worst first date mistake—over the top self-disclosure. I think I talked about my ex and then I'm pretty sure I used the words 'psychotic' and 'neurotic' quite often to describe myself. Suffice to say that after our meal, I was pretty sure I scared him off badly enough that I wouldn't see nor hear from him again. 

And then of course there was Guy #3 who didn't even give me the chance. We spoke on the phone, another one who's totally great on paper and then NOTHING. No follow through. The friend who tried to fix us up said the guy chickened out. I was upset and mainly only because it felt as if I was weeded out so early that I didn't even get thrown into the lottery drum! What's up with that?!

But as cliche as this may sound, I'm actually grateful that none of those blind dates worked. If they had, then I wouldn't have had the chance to go on another blind date where I finally met my husband. By that point, I just cared enough to show up and look presentable, but didn't care too much to try too hard to stay too focused on results. I showed up as me and thought, "Take it or leave it. I'm way too old and too exhausted to play these games."

Fortunately, it worked. It wasn't instant. It took almost a year after my husband and I first met on that blind date for us to really reconnect and acknowledge that 'we' might be a possibility worth exploring. Yes, our attraction was instant. But we were both not emotionally prepared when we first met and there were way too many loose ends in my life at the time for me to seriously consider having a relationship with him. The delay was needed and ended up being worth it. 

So my point is this. You have to want something badly enough to get it. This includes Love. You have to make the effort to put yourself out there and make your declaration to the Universe as clear as you possibly can that you want THIS. You won't know exactly what will show up, but if you are clear about what you are looking for and know what you deserve, then you'll recognize it when it finally shows up.

You have to be willing to experiment, try new things if you want different results.

Most of all, in your quest for love, you have to value yourself and know that no matter how it all turns out, you will be fine. This is YOUR story, YOUR journey. And every one else you meet, date, fall in love or end up with, are cast members with supporting roles. Your focus should be on how you will evolve as your story unfolds. 

Waiting to see if the frog's just a frog or if it'll turn into a prince is not where the excitement lies. It's in wondering what the princess is willing to do or how far she's willing to go to find what she's looking for and seeing how it's all transforming her as well. To me that's the more interesting story!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Romance is Relative

"Mama, I'm so glad I'm not a girl", my seven-year-old tells me while waiting for me to finish putting my make-up on. I wondered if it was because he thought there was too much pressure on females to be attractive and all 'made-up'.

"Why do you say that?", I muttered while rushing to finish putting some mascara on, being careful not to take my eyes off the mirror.

"Well...It's just too hard! I don't want to get pregnant or give birth. And most of all, I don't want to have any of the pokey!"

It was a good thing I was already done with my eye make-up at that point because I'm pretty sure I would have ended up shaking with laughter and poking my eyes in the process. In our family, we say 'pokey' to refer to anything that refers to injections or poking yourself with the needle. Apparently, my son has heard our conception story often enough to remember that I had to go through A LOT to have him in our lives.

"Oh, honey. Not everyone goes through that just to get pregnant. It's just that my body has a hard time making babies so I needed all that stuff". 

It was all I could say to remind my son that that what I had to go through was not the natural way that most people experience. It was as far as I was willing to go in order not to say too much about sex and the whole reproductive process. I didn't think he, nor I, was ready for that kind of conversation yet.

Whenever I share some details with my son on how he was conceived, I always find myself trying to be really careful that I don't make it seem overly-scientific. I don't ever want him to think that the route his father and I took was completely 'sterile', matter-of-fact, and unromantic.

Though on the surface it may seem that way to some, the truth is that our experience was quite romantic, really.

My husband and I had several appointments where we were both around and knew it took solid commitment, dedication and sacrifice from both of us to make it work.

My husband was always around to assist me with the most difficult and most painful shots in order to give me the hormones I needed to trick my body into thinking that it was getting ready for pregnancy. It didn't matter whether we were home or out at a banquet hall attending a wedding. He knew that when it was time for my injections, he had to show up to help me.

My husband had to comfort me during those painful injections when all I could do was lay on my stomach and cry in pain as I felt the fat needle and the viscous fluid being injected through my flesh.

Both of us worried when I had some spotting after my embryo transfer.

We held hands, cried and prayed together while on our drive to the hospital, rushing through intersections that early November morning as I bled at almost 20 weeks of gestation, terrified that I'd lost my baby, this baby we've worked so hard for and hoped for.

Aren't all those romantic? 

In spite of relying heavily on predictability and timing, our incessant monitoring of numbers and obsessing over the slightest of symptoms felt, we never felt more bonded and I wouldn't trade any of it for a more traditional route.

Romance shows up differently for different couples. Most of all, sometimes looking too hard for romance the way you expect it might make you miss the real things when they show up. 

Having someone stay with you in uncertain times...

Having someone strong enough to cry and grieve with you in moments of pain...

Having someone embrace you for all that you are, with all your sense of inadequacy and guilt...

All of that are romantic AND more. They are real things that not only make your heart leap and melt, but most of all, break it wide open so beautifully to flood your life with hope.