S vintage star
S filipina now living in california
S obsessive-compulsive... make that compulsive-obsessive... no, obsessive-compulsive
S cold all the time (literally)
current terror alert level
Why is Life Cold?
i actually have a very happy life. i just saw this graphic one day and got an inspiration for another blog.
why not write about the stuff that makes life cold? from the huge, catastrophic, life-altering events to the seemingly trivial, little incidents
that rub you the wrong way. it doesn't have to be a personal experience, it can be something observed.
on writing these down, my intent is to learn to appreciate life more and have a better handle on things when life throws you a curve ball. i want whoever
will read this to contemplate, not get depressed. hopefully, you'll share with me your experiences as well so we can learn from each other.
During my trip to the Philippines last January 2004, I made sure that I met up with a group of close girlfriends whom I haven't seen in seven years. One night we had dinner in Greenbelt, a happening area in the business district of Makati. I've forgotten the name of the restaurant and don't remember how the food was, but I remember loving the company and having a great time.
I met these girlfriends in a software house I worked at in the 90's. These six girls and I just clicked so well, pretty soon we were doing everything together. Those times were very happy for me. We dined, shopped, saw movies, gossiped, swapped secrets, chatted, chatted and chatted. As all good times, those started to end as we grew older and moved on with our lives. One by one, we started leaving our beloved KPMG-Peat Marwick Consulting Inc. to look for greener pastures. Our bond remained tight, except maybe for one girl who moved out of the country and stopped communicating with us. Three more, including me, would eventually move to another country as well, but the six of us remained in touch, mostly through email.
During the dinner that balmy January evening, one of the girls mentioned that the girl who has drifted away from us was in town and suggested she call her. We all laughed because her being distant has become an inside joke within our group and we never expected to contact her, let alone convince her to come. My friend did call her and told her I was in town, and lo and behold, she asked us to wait for she was in the area and will join us shortly. The girls now tease that it only takes me to make her resurface again in our world! I just laughed but was truly flattered and excited to see her. She did arrive and we had more fun, if that was possible. After dinner, we hit a few more places to have drinks, and at the end of the night, my re-found friend was clinging to me the whole time and wanting to know when we'll see each other again.
The night before I left, my re-found friend asked if she could see me before I left because she has a present for me. I told her that some friends from another place I used to work at were planning to take me out to dinner and drinks but she was welcome to join us. She did take me up on this offer and showed up at my mini-party, staying until the very end. I was really touched by this gesture, albeit a little surprised because she was closer to another girl than to me. "It's because you've been out of the country and she hasn't seen you in a long time," I just tell myself.
When I got back here, she will send me text messages of greetings and jokes. I asked my other girlfriend, the one whom she was really close to back then, if she was regularly contacting with them too. They said she wasn't and were surprised when I told them about her visit during my last night in Manila. In fact she has "disappeared" again from their world after I left town. I still felt touched that she would remember me constantly and take the effort to send messages.
About two weeks after I got back from my trip, she called on my cellphone while I was driving home. She sounded so chirpy and asked how her best friend was. I was happy to hear from her and asked her how she was in return. After some small talk, she said that it was the most difficult thing for her to call me because she needs my help and is too embarrassed to ask. She then proceeds to tell me how she and her husband have been having financial woes due to a loan made to her sister, and then asks if I could lend her some money. I asked her how much and she mentioned a very high figure, even in U.S. dollars. I said I'll see what I can do and will call her back. She profusely thanked me and went on to gush about how big a lifesaver I am. I said I haven't lent her any money, so don't thank me yet.
When I hung up, I got so chilly inside I could barely concentrate on my driving. As much as I'd like to give her the benefit of the doubt, I can't help but feel so used. It started to make sense - her extraordinary sweetness and thoughtfulness were a ruse because she needed something from me. When I got home I consulted my husband on what I should do. He asked if I honestly believed this girl can pay me back, as he reminded me that I have outstanding loans to two other friends who have failed to pay me back. I replied I didn't think so because her sister was scammed by a pyramid scheme that has victimized a lot of people in the Philippines, but I started realizing that wasn't even the point. She lifted me high up with her friendship, only to be brought down hard by the realization that it's all a pretense. Even if I could afford to lend her the money, I sent her a text message that night extending my apologies for I could not provide the loan. With a heavy heart, I decided that that would be the last time I would contact her.
Have you ever been seriously disappointed by a friend?
Vangie Fuhrman got cold on 6.30.2004 9:10 PM.
January 7, 2004 was a very cold day for me. That was the day my father died.
I don't know what made it worse, the fact that -
a. I found out about it through messages left on my answering machine,
b. we haven't spoken for years,
c. I'll forever live with the guilt of being a horrible daughter
d. I'll never know if he still loved me as much as he used to
I know, I know, all of the above.
Right from the start we never had a typical family. Although we were small - my parents, brother and me - we weren't as close as other families I've observed. Filipino families are already generally distant to begin with, at least while I was growing up. You will notice the absence of the constant hugs in the Western world and definitely a scarcity of "I love you's" uttered, whether in heartfelt talks or a casual end to a phone conversation.
My father was predominantly absent while I was growing up. For as long as I remember, he hasn't held a job but he was always away for some reason. Most of the time he was at someone's house playing mahjong or out in the racetracks. He specialized in spending money and living a hedonistic life. At the other end of the spectrum, my mother worked all her life, providing the whole family with all our financial needs and then some. The nature of her job called for crazy work hours, such that she'll be gone before we woke up and we'll be asleep by the time she gets home. So my brother and I grew up with the nannies (we had 1 each plus another person we shared).
Weekends were no picnic either. We very rarely went out as a family, and when we did it usually meant with just our mom and the nannies. We grew up getting used to this way of life, accepting it as a norm. Thankfully we had a huge extended family, so cousins and uncles and aunts are a-plenty. It seems funny now but I remember that I bawled my eyes out when one of the nannies was asked to leave, but didn't bat an eyelash when my dad left after he and my mom had a big argument.
I don't know if this is typical but daughters are supposed to be closer to their fathers and sons to their mothers. This sort of applied to our family because my mom knew all my brothers' friends and was present in all his school activities, while she didn't really know what was going on in my life. Meanwhile my dad treated me like his baby and people teased me about being his favorite. I resented this. I badly wanted my mom's attention, and I seldom got it. I've resigned myself to being the my dad's pet, however meaningless that was to me.
My move to the States was a big milestone. I felt free! I didn't miss my family as much as I should. I seldom gave them a call. When have I become so cold? I found myself missing my boyfriend and my friends more.
After several years my parents decided to migrate here. I admit that I wasn't overjoyed with the news. First of all, I knew they would disapprove of my living situation. Then I knew it will be a huge responsibility on my part.
The first thing my dad did upon arriving here is demand that Rich and I get married. I tried to explain that the only reason we weren't married yet is that we were waiting for his previous marriage's annulment, because I wanted a church wedding. He didn't care so we got married in the State.
I had to put them up in an apartment, because my dad cannot live with my husband. It's not that they didn't get along, but my dad wants a place of their own. Then he couldn't understand why I cannot buy him a brand new Camry. And provide gambling money. And drinking money. My mom, who hasn't cooked all her life, learned how to cook to be able to feed themselves. She learned how to do housework, sometimes looking pitiful, because she wasn't used to it. One of the funniest moments we shared was when she placed a carton of eggs in the freezer. Even I wouldn't do that!
Amidst all this, my dad had a falling out with his brothers and sisters here because they would not buy him a house, visit him weekly and give him a car, since he's the eldest in the family and the others are seemingly well off. Having lived all his life in a culture where the eldest is revered, he had a hard time accepting the fact that people have their own lives and feel they do not really owe others anything.
He got in a downward spiral until he and my mom decided to go back to the Philippines for good. Rich and I tried to assure them that this would be best, because we have a very nice house there and they have 2 maids at their beck and call. I also offered to send them $1000 monthly which would enable them to live like royalty there. This was about a third of what I was spending for them here. Although my mom understood, my dad took this harshly and accused me of just wanting to get rid of them. I honestly loved having my parents around for once, but I must admit the financial burden was stressing me out. Especially since he had a heart bypass operation here and I ended up with the hospital bills. So they left, with my mom crying and my dad stoic and silent.
My mom and I grew closer. It was strange hearing her end our phone conversations with "I love you", but I was thrilled. We were finally becoming a real family. My dad still didn't talk to me, even refusing to go to my church wedding, which finally took place last 2002. My mom visited me for a few months every year, and I take heart in the fact that my dad always tells her to not speak to his relatives and just stay with me the whole time. At least he didn't forbid my mother to be with me. Being the stubborn mule that I am, I refused to make any efforts at reaching out to him. In the back of my mind, I always thought that we will get together someday and hash this all out and become a family again.
Until I got the phone messages.
During my three weeks stay in the Philippines for my dad's wake and after the funeral, my mom, my brother and I have become tremendously close. We shared stories about my dad, caught up, cried and laughed together. I slept in my mom's bed every night, and my brother picked me up every afternoon to hang out. We visited my dad's grave every morning. I know they feel sorry for me for not having made up with him, and I appreciate the fact that they didn't make a big deal of that. Surprisingly, I am not terribly wracked with guilt, because of the stories I heard about him before his passing. Of course I'll forever be sorry that it had to end this way, but I cannot turn back the time. All I can do is take good care of the remaining relationships I have, and cherish these moments with my loved ones.
I'm sorry Daddy for not being a good daughter. I promise I'll be a good wife, sister, mother and friend.
Vangie Fuhrman got cold on 6.19.2004 5:14 PM.
The Other Divine Miss M
Last night I saw Madonna in concert - her Reinvention Tour. Although she sang all her classics, I was less than enthused with the whole experience. I found myself just going through the motions - screaming when others did, dancing with the crowd but more preoccupied with trying to take pictures with my phonecam so I have proof I caught her show. What the fuck? I had more fun and got wilder during a Kenny Loggins concert about 15 years ago. Maybe that's it... I'm old. And nothing gets you colder than feeling old. Even the drinking and dancing afterwards with my girlfriend didn't excite me. Although I haven't done either in a long time, a side effect of being a "mom", I kept checking my watch, couldn't wait to go home.
Have you ever felt so old, that the things used to delight you fail to do so anymore?