Saturday, May 31, 2008
I always referred to the religion that I grew up with as Pentecostal. This way,I think, it explains my idiosyncrasies such as having no sense of style (baduy),feeling guilty all the time (or is this part of being a woman! Who knows?), not finding speaking-in-tongues strange and totally ignorant of pop culture.
At the age of 14, I decided to be baptized. I felt then that I was obliged to follow all the rules of the church. Our religion is not what you called a mainstream religion. It is kind of radical. There are so many ridiculous restrictions especially for women. Women were not allowed to wear pants, cut their hair, wear jewelries and wear make-up. These were difficult for my mother at first as she had worn her hair short for several years. Also, it was prohibited to watch movies in the theatre but maybe okay at home. Owning a television was discouraged. Also, Christmas and Fiestas were not celebrated. Men and women cannot swim together in a pool. Women were required to wear skirt even in a pool! There should not be any display of affection while dating. I can go on and on but you can see the point. It is like growing up in a convent. It is, probably, not a big deal if we lived in isolated place where we never interact with other people. Even our closest relatives found us strange and this made my mother isolated from her family and became more involved emotionally to the church.
Being involved in this religion was both a blessing and a curse. Curse is a harsh word but I cannot think of any word. Blessing and curse just go together. It is a cliche. Anyway, I will say there are different intensity of curse --slight, mild, moderate and severe. It is a mild curse. Blessing because it gave me focus in my teenage years. I used to feel different from every person in school because of my religion. I looked different. I did not know any secular music. It was a struggle but my religion became my crutch during those difficult times. It probably guided me to focus on my future versus the then immediate need to be popular or at least fit in. Curse because I was ignorant of everything else in life!
Then, during and after college, I decided to try other Protestant churches. I attended countless denominations but in my futile attempt, I realized I did not belong anywhere. Maybe I am just too rebellious for organized religion. However, last year, after my third miscarriage, I was invited by a friend to this church. I did like that particular church as it is closer in style to the church that I grew up with but tamer. It was a comfort emotionally to be in a familiar place and presence. I started attending regularly, hauling my reluctant husband and father who just ended up falling asleep during every service.
Then, one day, I stumbled upon this audio book by Christopher Hitchens God is not Great. He posed many shocking facts about major religions. This changed my perspective. I began to doubt religion again. Concurrent to this, the pastor would regularly include his own political agenda in his sermon and this turned me and my husband off. We would see people walk out during his sermon. Then, every Sunday after that, it seemed like my mind and heart were somewhere else but my body was in the church. I felt like a hypocrite. I have not been back to church since December when we attended a Christmas concert.
Guilt is in my mind every Sunday morning. I should be in church. The political pastor, I learned, just retired. The interim pastor called and checked on us for couple of months after we stopped attending . We still receive their bulletins regularly through the mail. Temptation to go back continues to haunt me. "Maybe this Sunday." I regularly tell myself. Then, there were chores and projects to do. There just not enough time!
I have been in both sides of religiosity - religious and non-religious. I will say at a current time, I am not religious. The good thing about it is I am less guilty (except for Sunday mornings) and less judgmental. However, I still crave for that feeling of peacefulness when I was in the spirit of praise and worship. Belief in omnipotent, kind and loving God is carved in my heart and mind forever. Someday, I hope, Spiritual is the adjective I can use to describe my state of being.
Friday, May 30, 2008
It's been eleven years! That's how long I am rendering service to people who needs me and in return I get a paycheck every 2 weeks. It's called work. Looking back it amazes me on how I grew emotionally (yeah, lots of it) and professionally. My regret probably is that I changed job so many times. Sometimes it was my own choosing, others times not. Don't get me wrong, I have never been fired (at least not yet). Sometimes companies lose their contract in a facility. Usually, in therapy world, a company is contracted to a facility to provide therapy services. It is not all like that, for example, hospitals usually do their own hiring, but in the 90's, most facilities and hospitals had companies contracted to provide them staff for their rehabilitation services. I apologize if I go on and on with this information but I believe that if you know how therapy staffing works then you might (lots of emphasis on might) understand what happened to my career.
I was 23 years old when I came to the United States. My only experience in the Philippines, career wise, were applying to several hospitals and clinics, ending up to be rejected so many times, and volunteering for a month. Also, it took time and travelling back and forth to La Union (where our agency was located) and US Embassy to process papers. At least those are my excuses on why I did not work in the Philippines. Well in short, I was young, naive and inexperienced. Despite these shortcomings, I was amazed on the ease of finding a job in my profession here in the US. There was such a shortage at that time. When I was interviewed in my first job, the rehab manager told me that their only concern was that I might get homesick. I was so proud to tell them "Never." Boy, how wrong I was to say it! In a week or so, just after excitement of having a job waned, I found myself lonely, stressed and intimidated by the daunting task of being responsible for my patients' well being. I thought I was too young for that kind of responsibility. In the Philippines, physical therapist is dependent on a physiatrist on what they can do to a patient. Here, physical therapist is independent and usually makes decision or recommendation on patient's placement, such as nursing home vs. home. Also, in my first job, I had people who are more experienced and better in English working under my license. I was very intimidated. These, in my recollection, were never taught in school. Damn you, E.A.C. (Emilio Aguinaldo College)! To be fair, my managers and other therapists were very helpful and patient to me during those long learning times.
I also found the culture very different from what I was programmed. In the Philippines, we have so much respect, bordering on worship, to people with authorities. Here, everyone is equal --everyone is vital to the organization. So, we call our bosses by their first names, not ma'am or sir. It is okay to question doctors' decision and to speak your opinion. It is confrontational. Honesty is also a culture here. Everyone logs their time accurately all the time. They finish their paperwork on time. I, on the other hand, am a procrastinator. Managers do regular reviews of your performance. They usually start with the positive then, here we go, the dreaded things to improve. One Filipino therapist told us when we were just an ignorant new graduates that Americans are generally lazy and a lot of them are not educated. He also added that most of them have never been out of the country. Well, I did not find those Americans in my first job. Most of the people I work with have Master's degree, always on time, hard worker and spent some of their college days in Europe. Do not get me wrong, I work with very diverse people--some are highly educated and others are not. Overall though, I learned that generalization does not apply anywhere!
Anyway, I changed job frequently in my hope to find my dream job. I have not found it. Actually, I don't even know what my dream job is. It is sad but work is work. I need it to pay my bills and be able to live the life I want. I feel lucky to have a good job in hard times like these when unemployment rate is higher. My goal right now is to keep this job for at least 5 years as I will be vested for retirement. Well, it is a big goal for me and hopefully I can make it. Let's wait and see. Abangan!
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Many Americans asked me if I learned how to speak English in my home country. I answered yes but it is different because in school we were taught the formal way. Conversational English is very different. Well, I'll say American English conversation is different. Most people will say that I speak good English. I think they meant I speak relatively well. As many immigrants now moving to Iowa, many Iowans are grateful that at least they can understand most of what I meant compared to other foreign people who are very limited with English. The challenge for me is talking to people who are hard of hearing. About 90 percent of my patients are hard of hearing. I need to speak loudly and slowly. This makes my accent worst. I think this leaves my tongue and lips raw and vulnerable to twist with certain words and I am more apt to mispronounce the words. Also, at the end of the day, I tend to jumble Filipino and English words altogether because I am more tired and it requires certain amount of energy for me to express what I want to communicate in English.
My writing did not improve as much because my vocabulary is limited. I wish I could use more descriptive words to describe how I feel. I think the reason is that I have to use simple words. One time I used the word masticate and people just looked at me with confused eyes. Also, my job and educational background did not help much with this because we need to write concisely in our daily notes and assessment. We eliminate unnecessary words and jargon as medical reviewers do not like these. Actually, we cannot even use any other punctuation except for period. The words that we normally use are very unromantic and uncreative such as anterior which means front or facade. We have to use these scientific words to sound professional.
English is a very complex language. I explain it this way to many Americans -- Tagalog which is my first language has only 5 vowel sounds but English has a lot of vowel sounds (I am not really sure how many). Also, in Tagalog, you pronounce it as how you spell it. In English, there are silent letters. We do not have c, j, th, q, v, f, z and x. In pronouns, we do not have male or female. Also rules in the use of verbs in English are very complicated. Tagalog is relatively an easier language .
My Tagalog also suffered. I think I am very wordy when I write in Tagalog. In the end I am not fluent in any language. Welcome to the expat life-caught in between 2 cultures and languages, where I do not belong 100 percent to either.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Not too long ago, gas price was not an issue here in the United States. I remember, in Summer of 1999, I was driving 60 miles one way to work but it was not a big deal because it was 79 cents per gallon. Jason said that it was strange and uncommonly low price for gas. Maybe, it was lower here in Iowa because of ethanol. People were into SUV's. All my Filipino friends were driving SUV's. When you buy car, they were more on luxury and safety features. Now, it is the mileage.
Oh how times change! I feel nostalgic to the old good days of cheap oil. It will not come back. It is simply an issue of supply vs demand. With China and India's economies growing in this high rate, there are more demand for fuel and the supply never grows. Oil is non-renewable.
In reality, it is bittersweet. I know that high prices in the gas pump make it difficult for a lot of people. There is a domino effect. High fuel price equals high food prices. Then, consumers confidence drops which means many businesses will not make it. However, there is a silver lining. We are forced to conserve energy. We become more aware of the immediate need for renewable source of energy! Also, crude oil is dirty! It causes global warming which will be more devastating to all. I am optimistic that in not-too-distant future, we will be free from the tyranny of oil.
P.S. I am sorry for this rant. It is just hitting me hard in my pocketbook. I fill up my tank about 2 to 3x per week. It's about $100 dollars or more.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Assumption is never a good thing!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
- Using north, south, east and west in giving direction.
- How to read map.
- Use the word pop instead of soft drink
- It's okay to say hi and smile to strangers
- To be direct and honest
- Flattery will get you nowhere.
- It's okay to say no
- Driving and driving defensively in every road conditions especially winter. I learned how to drive at the age of 23.
- How to grow vegetables and flowers. I learned about topsoil , compost and composting, as well as proper watering. I still have long ways to go.
- Procrastination will lead to stress.
- To be on time.
- To choose my battle.
- To accept my situation.
- All jobs are the same. It's my attitude that I can change.
- To be assertive.
- To listen to my gut feeling.
- To caucus.
- To do more for the environment.
- To be a skeptical consumer and citizen.
- To listen more.
- America has opportunities but you need to work hard for it.
- Not personalize negative stuffs from everyone.
- It's okay to say I don't know and ask questions.
- How lucky I am!
- I cannot do my best at all times. (It's from a friend, L)
- Life is not all or none...or black and white...
- Schooling is expensive.
- Do-it-yourself attitude
- Self-sufficiency attitude.
- How to manage finances.
- How to prepare for retirement.
- To live below my means.
- Be myself.
- I cannot please everyone.
- How to cook.
- Listen to NPR.
- Watch Public TV.
- Listen to BBC for another perspective.
- To be liberal in thinking yet conservative at heart.
- Mother Earth Magazine.
- Not to be judgmental.
- Use the public library.
- There is poverty in America
- Importance of buying locally
- How to make soap.
- How to make lotion.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
I excitedly browsed and borrowed books about soap making from the library. For my very first try, I decided on Castille soap just made of olive oil and lye as those were readily available for me. It was a disaster. The mixture separated. I was very determined to try soap making again. So, I read more interesting books about it. Finally, I was successful my second try. Well, we waited for a month before using it because I was terrified that it may burn our skin. Our skin are still intact. Thank God!
"Why bother? Soaps are cheap in the store?" one very skeptical co-worker asked me. Well, let me tell you the reasons:
- I always want to be a chemist and this is the closest I can get.
- We try to avoid harmful and questionable chemicals in our daily life. Most commercial soaps contain preservatives that are carcinogenic or just questionable on their effects. Our skin is the largest organ in our body and known to absorb chemicals with systemic effect in our body.
- Homemade soaps are far superior in quality and moisturizing effect in the skin.
- It is also milder due to all natural ingredients.
- Too expensive to buy all natural soaps from health store.
I promise to write more about soap making and share some recipes. For those who wants sample please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. No, I am not selling it. Maybe in the future. For now I am just enjoying it.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Fertility Drugs: Expect to pay between $50 (for one cycle of Clomid, excluding doctor visits) to as much as $2,500 to 4,000 (for one cycle of gonadotropin injections, including doctor's visit.
Artificial Insemination: $250 to 750.
Sperm Wash: $150
Ovulation induction with artificial Insemination: $1,600.
In vitro fertilization: $7,000 to $15,000. The price excludes fertility drugs.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection combined with IVF: $10,000 to $17,000.
Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT): $7,000 to $15,000.
Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT): same as GIFT
Donor eggs: $10,000 to $50,000 and includes compensation to the egg donor as well as the egg retrieval and subsequent IVF.
Surrogates: $15,000 to $60,000 with the money going to the attorneys and agencies, as well as toward the surrogate's medical expenses.
Hysteroscopy: $350 to $600.
Laparoscopy: $3,000 to $10,000.
This could be in credit card commercial.
Monday, May 5, 2008
I had my last blood draw for this cycle Saturday morning to check for FSH, Estradiol and Progesterone. I also had ultrasoud to count my egg reserve (I did not know they can do it). I have good reserve. I have not called the doctor's office for the result of my blood tests.
Amazing, what I am learning. Innocence lost for me!
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Spring finally arrived in Iowa. We went to The Tulip Festival in Pella last Saturday. Such a perfect weather for being outside. It was about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Sunday it was in the 70's. So, we worked all day long outside in the garden.
- Tulip Festival in Pella.
- Vegetable gardening
- Flower gardening
- Smell of newly mowed grass.
- New leaves sprouting from tree branches
- Sounds of children playing in the street
- Being able to open window to let the breeze inside the house
- Rain. People think I'm crazy but rain makes me think of home (Philippines)
- Sound of birds chirping
- Walking outside in just T shirt and shorts. (Goodbye heavy coats, scarf, hat, gloves and boots).
- NO MORE SHOVELING
Spring is my favorite season because I know there will be more nice and warm days ahead....