Saturday, October 19, 2013

Rose - the Younger, the Wiser

My sister Rose is only a year and a half younger than me, but the gap seems wider, as bluntly stated by one of my co-workers, "I thought she was much younger than you!"  I still get a kick out of the statement because it is so unfiltered.  It is true.  It is a fact.  My sister Rose looks much younger than what her age would lead you to believe, and she has done it without the facelift, the butt lift, the boob lift.  She is all natural.  Her regimen and maxims include cross fit exercise and the "you are what you eat" mantra.  But this wasn't always the case...

My sister's birthday was earlier this week.  So it triggered me to wax nostalgic.  I must go back to elementary school, when my frail little sister Rose, with her thin stringy hair, would faint when the temperature was hot.  That was funny back then.  I was a mean kid and meaner older sister growing up, but it was Rose's fragility and short stature that made it open season year round to pick on her.  I recall a funny incident in which our older sister - Peach - and I led Rose to believe we were making her "beautiful" by fixing her hair.  We actually teased all her hair, and it was one big tangle.  Peach and I laughed so hard.  Rose didn't think it was funny.  Too bad we didn't have Instagram back then.  :D

But then payback is a bitch, isn't it?  I think Rose started to pay me back in high school.  I had bad acne, and she laughed and dubbed me "Rocky Mountains."  Rose also managed to be more popular than me in high school.  I was two grades ahead of her, but the kids in my class year knew her better than they knew me.  They hung out with her.  Her short stature must have bamboozled them.   I was an introverted, geeky, nerdy bookworm, focused on getting good grades for college.  Rose must have hoodwinked our parents as well because they seemed to favor her over me, letting her go to school dances while I had to stay home, cook and study.  Something was definitely wrong with that scenario.

Despite the teenaged sibling challenges, we grew close.  I married and had my son CJ.  Rose would hang out with us at times, and she would take CJ with her in her red hot MR2.   She seemed aimless (minimal career or educational aspirations, no steady boyfriend).  We would feed her.  As soon as we arrived home from grocery shopping, we would call Rose.  She ate anything.  The fourth place setting at our dinette was usually for her.

Aside:  I wonder if CJ's good times with his aunt influenced him to buy an MR2 years later.

As I worked and raised my son, I continued my pursuit in academia.  Then Rose herself started to focus on academia -- uh, Vince Academia, that is.  She married the best husband ever. We always tell Rose that if her marriage were to fail, it would be her fault.

When my marriage failed, I felt aimless.  I remember lugging around my worldly possessions in my car, trying to figure out where I would stay.  My sister did not question or even hesitate to offer me a spare room.  At the time Rose was pregnant with Vincent Jr.  She listened and fed me.  I stayed for the next year and a half during which time I observed and realized her powerfully even keeled temperament.  This is her hallmark.

Eventually, I was able to get on my own two feet and buy my own place. After Vincent, Alexis came along almost four years later.  My sister became a stay-at-home mom after a quiet, unassuming career in commercial real estate.  She and Vince also accommodated our parents, around the time our dad started to show early signs of forgetting.  Of all the eight siblings, Rose was the only one who could deal with that and get along with them.  It's her even keel, her maturity, her sanity, her reasonableness that we all know and rely on.  I don't think I could ever match her level.

So when she embarked on the determination to exercise primarily for weight loss, I was a bit puzzled.  It didn't seem reasonable.  To me, my sister looked great and didn't need to lose weight. Then it went beyond that.  Both kids were in karate, and she took cardio kickboxing at the same time.  Soon it was more classes and multiple gym memberships and cross fit and classes in personal training and nutrition.  It seemingly reached the bounds of obsession, and I say this only because I knew how my sister felt before about exercise.  She didn't understand why I would go running and exercise and felt I was wasting my time.  Now it was her turn, but she took it leaps and bounds beyond where I was in staying fit, trim, and energized.

Today Rose is a certified personal trainer and cross fit instructor.  Because of this, her short stature has become irrelevant, meaning we don't tease her as much.  I must say I am so proud of her.  She has been on this health and fitness kick for almost a decade, and she looks amazing.  She was not fond of vegetables before, but now she concocts banana based spinach, grapes, and green apple shakes.  "You are what you eat."  This is her mantra.  She's still a sucker for chocolate occasionally, but her regimen has translated into youthful appearance.  Really, I am not lying.  This was validated a few weeks ago by her own kids, who were poring over decades old pictures I keep in my "shoeboxes."  To them, while everyone looked really young in the pictures, their parents looked the same.  (Yes, Rose bamboozled Vince into quitting smoking before they got married, he is one of her cross fit students, and I'm sure she makes him drink those spinach shakes.)

And her even keel?  That's still there.  That hasn't changed.  We don't always express our feelings, but I'm sure Rose knows how much I love her .  I'm sure she knew about my broken heart when I silently cried over my failed marriage.  I'm sure she knew my deep gratitude for the hospitality during that troubled time and financial woe.  I'm sure she heard my heart scream when she asked me to be one of the godmothers for Vincent.  I'm sure she heard my heart scream even louder when she asked me to be one of Alexis's godmothers.

And I hope she knows that I'll be there for her.  She contributed to my success because she helped shape me into the person I am today.  I try to emulate her every day - the coolness, the even keel.

Just very recently, on Tuesday (I think), my sister touched my heart.  I've been going on all these different adventures with people, including some secret ones.  She said that we needed to go on an adventure and questioned why we have not gone on one.  That is a very good question.

Happy birthday little sister Rose!  I love you!  God has gifted me with an amazing little sister.  I can't wait to see what's in store for us!  Let's go on an adventure...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Time Well Spent

I love days like today when I am so busy with so many things but actually enjoy every minute instead of stressing over things that need to get done.

I woke up fairly early to catch up on some emails.  Soon I was off to pick up my older sister Peach, who lives on the other side of San Jose.  We went to her work and then stopped off at a nearby McDonald's to have breakfast.  I love McDonald's coffee.

We then headed to Fremont to another McDonald's.  I think that is the first time I have ever done a McDonald's to McDonald's Point A to Point B drive in my life!  We picked up some lunch for my nephew Lucas.  He requested a Big Mac. We visited with Lucas, who currently lives in Fremont, for about an hour and a half.

After that, Peach and I went to Westover to pick up my wine club quarterly shipment.  We tasted some wine while we were there.  I love wine.

Soon we were heading back to San Jose.  We decided to stop off at Pho Mai in Milpitas for lunch.  I didn't eat much -- just some chicken wings.  It was cool to see silogs on the menu there.  Restaurants are sometimes interesting when there is cross-culturalism.

After that, my sister and I went to my place so that I could change clothes and practice my script for my video shoot at Stanford University.  That entire exercise was almost 3 hours.  There was football game traffic at Stanford.  That caused only a slight delay.  At least my sister was able to witness what I do for fun when I'm not working.  It was work but it was fun work.

After Stanford, we needed a boost.  So we stopped off at Starbuck's in Milpitas.  We also picked up lotto tickets at the liquor store a couple of doors down from Starbuck's.  Soon, we were heading to the Target at North San Jose, where we shopped for a bit. We then went back to my place so that I could change back to jeans casual.

Were we done?  Almost.  We  then went to Lance and Flo's house warming in Southeast San Jose.  It was also Lance's birthday celebration and one of their son's (Joshua) birthday.  We stuffed our faces with Filipino food, drank Lance's dessert wine (cherry infused), and sang karaoke.  We were the last ones to arrive and the last ones to leave.

Finally, my sister and I were done.  I took her back home, and I just arrived home about an hour ago.  This is a fairly typical Saturday for me.  Thank God for family and friends and events and fun work that keep me out of trouble!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Keeping Up with Technology (the Joneses for All)

The tournament scheduled at Classic Bowl in Daly City got canceled.  I was bummed.  That left me with a huge gaping hole in my Saturday schedule.  So I spent it watching YouTube videos, specifically the CrimeDotTV channel.

CJ bought the Chromecast setup for me, and so now I can view on my TV anything on my laptop using the Chrome browser.  How snazzy is that?  Keeping up with technology is fun.  The next step I want to figure out is how to watch shows via the internet only and cut out cable.  Before, I was paying about $160 per month on cable/internet.  That's a ridiculous amount when I spend most of my time on my computer on the internet, at work, with family and friends, and so on.  The time I spent watching TV was not worth $160 per month.  You can lease a car for that much for God's sake!  So I changed to the basic cable/internet package at about $73 per month.  Even that seems expensive.

Next, I need to upgrade my phone.  I have a Samsung Charge, but it's over 2 years' old.  In technology terms, it's almost obsolete.  Applications run slowly.  I can't run Facebook on it (that's probably a good thing), and it crashes every once in awhile.  It's not worth the $132 per month that I pay.  That's expensive.  You can lease a car for that much for God's sake!  I probably don't need the heavy data plan, which I'll get rid of perhaps when I upgrade my phone.

Speaking of cars, I've decided that my next investment in a car will be all electric.  More technology.  Circumstances are changing so that now the question is "Why gas?"  I'll wait another couple of years to do this.  Keeping up with technology has its price, but it's fun.  I certainly love my Chromecast!

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Vietnamese Sister

I've been posting all year long about particular siblings around the occurrence of their birthdays.  I just realized that I must do one for my sister-in-law Lien because she's been in my life since I was in junior high.  We've grown very close to her, and I consider her my sister.

Sometimes first impressions can be incorrect.  At first, I didn't like Lien at all.  I can't point to or remember the reason why.  Maybe it was jealousy - she was stealing our brother from us.  Maybe it was because she seemed stuck up.  She barely spoke.  Maybe it was immaturity on my part.

When Lien and Zaldy married, it was a blur.  I'm sure I was dealing with adolescent and juvenile issues, while focusing on academics and taking the path toward higher education as an engineering hopeful.  I was fairly nerdy and geeky, and I dealt with self-conscious annoyances such as acne.  I also started to give into peer pressure.

Lien and Zaldy soon had Naomi, the very first grandchild in our family.  Then they had Junior.  I was aware of the ups and downs in their lives, and honestly I was stressed by the downs.  I still recall that I had a conversation with my brother in which I made it clear to him that I wasn't happy and didn't agree with how he was behaving.  Although I was younger, it seemed to me like immaturity on his part.

Let's fast forward a bit to the morning before my son CJ was born and right after my water broke.  I didn't know what was going on and what to do.  The first and only person I thought of calling was Lien.  I knew she would have the answer.  She said, "Get to the hospital right now!"

Let's fast forward to today.  We've had more good times than bad as far back as I can recall, such as traveling to other countries, states, cities.  Seeing the Indy 500 live for the first time.  Clubbing until the wee hours.  Celebrating Christmas.  Shopping at Paragon.  The journey continues, and Lien is there, just like she was there when I called her that morning.  We keep going.  I thought I was a strong woman, but I think Lien is stronger.  Despite having to deal with my brother (ha ha), Lien has been bootstrapping her own success.  She has worked very hard, and I am proud to have her as my sister-in-law.

Know this Lien.  I am so thankful that God has brought you to our family.  You've tamed my brother.  I am also thankful for the further blessings of Naomi and Junior.  You will soon be a grandma, and knowing you, your efforts will be tireless in being the best grandma possible -- just like you have been tireless in your efforts as a daughter, wife, daughter-in-law, mother, mother-in-law, sister, and sister-in-law.  I look forward to more adventures with you.  I love you very much!

Oh yeah.  I almost forgot.  Thank you for introducing us to delicious Vietnamese food.  ;-)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Raising Gourmet

It's funny that I always wonder where my son CJ got his gourmet tastes and cooking skills from when the answer has been in front of me all along.  My son reminded me the other day that when he and I spent quality time together when he was little, we would go to BevMo and Trader Joe's to buy gourmet foods.  We also ate at nice restaurants, not the commercial chain restaurants.  I taught him how to cook some dishes.  This probably helped to liven up his tastebuds.

CJ and I spent a lot of time together, and that's why he and I are so close.  We have a very good relationship.  I admit that I spoiled him and still do because he is my only son.  I am thankful that he isn't in jail and/or doing drugs.  In addition to being foodies, we spent time going to the movies, seeing shows, traveling.  I taught him about visiting other cities, states, countries and learning by getting lost and reading maps and finding our way back.  I've sent him on trips without me to discover and become more worldly.  We appreciated the finer things in life, even knowing at the same time that we didn't always have money to buy them.  That's what made us appreciate things even more.

The time we spent together was around the end of my marriage through post divorce and until he moved and lived out in the world on his own.  Now he's living life with the same type of trials and tribulations that's part of mainstream.  He's had relationships that have pained him I'm sure.  I always hope and pray that he will find his soul mate soon and move onto the next phase of his life.

What hasn't changed is his love for food -- especially gourmet food.  CJ has become a much better cook than I.  He will ask once in awhile about how to make things, which he picks up on quickly and alters to infuse his own style and interpretation.  I admit it -- I've raised CJ to be just like me.  Instead of fast food, we would rather cook our meals and taste every morsel.  Or we would rather have a plate full of grapes, cheese, prosciutto and crackers while drinking that down with a fine glass of wine.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Forgot My Glasses and Other Things

Don't you wish that you can recapture all the time you waste when you have to backtrack because you forgot something?  I can remember many times when I had to go back home because I left my phone.  Things like your phone or your glasses or your computer should be attached to you so you don't leave without them.

I just got home from work.  It's about 7:00 p.m., and I realized that I forgot my reading glasses.  I have to go back to work to get them.  Instead of going back right away, I decided to sit and write this post.  What has my life come down to?  Again, as I have posted before, my life has come down to absolute boredom.  If I have time to waste on going back to get my glasses, my life really isn't chaotic.  Do you think that I forget stuff because my life isn't chaotic?  I wonder.

Now I'm thinking about what I need to do on my way back.  I might as well stop off at the bank and get cash.  I'm out.  I might as well stop off at the Great Mall and get some dinuguan at Red Ribbon.  When I get home, I'll eat and watch Criminal Minds.  Then I'll work on work stuff.  Then I'll work on other stuff.  Then I'll do my puzzles and keep my mind sharp.  Then I'll go to sleep.  Tomorrow is a brand new day.

But to do most of the stuff I just mentioned, I need my reading glasses.  I'm now squinting.  I hate to squint.  So back to work I go.  *sigh*

Friday, August 30, 2013

Fish Sittin'

It's not as boring as it sounds.  Fran is Alexis's fish.  It's a Betta fish.  Is it a better fish?  I don't know.  The only fish I have knowledge of are delicious.

So I told Alexis that I would watch her fish but needed to keep it away from CJ because CJ is now a sushi chef.  She didn't think that was funny.  I thought it was hilarious.

The good thing about Fran is that she is quiet.  She isn't annoying, and I don't have to change any diapers.  She doesn't need a whole lot of attention either.  I just have to feed her three meals.  There actually is fish food made for Betta fish.   I'm just making this assumption because the label on the package says Betta fish.

My life, such as it is, has been fairly boring.  My blog posts have not been that exciting.  My job is crazy, chaotic, and stressful, but I don't let it get to me.  At least that is what my blood pressure tells me.  My blood pressure is so low that I am probably almost dead.

It's good that this is a holiday weekend because there are some exciting things in store that I'll be doing.  I'll be going to Tomales Bay tomorrow to eat oysters.  We'll bring all our accessories and condiments to shuck and barbecue or eat raw.  I need to go out and get cocktail sauce, hot sauce, lemons, and horseradish.  Oysters also go great with beer or white wine.  I'll bring both.

On Sunday and Monday of this holiday weekend, I am not sure what I'll be doing yet, but I'll probably go for a couple of runs, clean my house, and do some work.  I have to pay my bills for sure.  It's that semi-time.

Ugh, my  life sounds so boring, doesn't it?  Maybe I'm fish sitting because I need a Betta life!   Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!