Sunday, July 27, 2008

Difficulty of Being a Filipino

I talked over the phone to my younger sister who is living in the Philippines last Friday. I learned from my father that she was not accepted by an agency that recruits Filipino nurses to Canada. According to her, she was scheduled to be interviewed Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at 3PM, but the agency changed it to 8 AM. However, they notified her through a text at 1 AM the day of the interview. She did not get the message until she woke up at 7AM. Could you imagine the stress? She was not accepted because, according to them, her experience is NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) not Med-Surg (Medical-Surgical Ward).

I was so mad after hearing what happened. I am mad that this agency played on desperation of Filipino nurses to get out of the country. I think notifying her late in the game is not fair and unrespectful. I don't think they can do this to any nurses in Canada or US. This situation made me think on how difficult, at times, to be a Filipino!

My father worked overseas for 24 years as a merchant marine. He did it because it was the only way to give his children a good education and better life. We practically grew up without a father. He came home about once a year for about 2 to 3 mos at a time . In a way, he was luckier than other Filipinos who are unable to return home that often. Most of them, especially those who were in the Middle East, never get to go home for years and years, leaving behind young children and spouses who need them. What will happened to those children? For me, it affected me not having my father growing up. My mother was overwhelmed raising 5 children and working as a teacher at the same time. We didn't get to know our father and this creates some tension in our relationship now.

I had a co-worker who spent some time in the Middle East as her husband works for the State Department. She met several Filipinos who were desperate of getting a job that they stood outside Westerner's houses or offices all day and begging to take care of their yard or chores. There was this particular Filipino woman who really stood out to her. The Filipino woman babysat for her twins. This woman told my co-worker her life story. She was in Israel for about 2 years and had not seen her young children and husband. She was or is staying illegally in Israel but she continues to stay there as she wants to provide better life for her kids. Israel, according to my co-worker, does not treat illegal immigrants well. My co-worker tried to assist her to get to the United States to be a caretaker of a quadriplegic teen-aged son of a friend but she was denied visa. Now, she doesn't know what happened to this Filipino woman.

It makes my heart aches hearing this kind of story! What can be done? I know the Philippine government does not really care on the psychological effect of migration and separation to families. Did they even do a study regarding this? Why Filipinos needing to get out of the country working those lowly jobs and taking care of other people's children when their own children are being neglected? Why most young Filipinos are wanting to get out of the country? Why do we need to live in a foreign land and suffer the feeling of being an outsider for the rest of our life?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Glimpse of Iowa

Trees in summer.

Wind farm providing electricity.

Acres and acres of tall corn!

Iowa roadside.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What a day!

I had a 3 day weekend. It was tough getting back to my routine at work. These are the things that happened today:

  • My co-worker's 25 year old son was killed last night. We don't know the detail yet. I feel so bad for her. I don't know which is worst -- losing a child whom you've had known already or having a miscarriage? Was I spared from this predicament?
  • One of my co-workers who is in maternity leave came to visit and brought her 11 week old baby girl. She is too cute! This stirred up mixed emotions - sadness for myself but genuinely happy for my co-worker. Weird!
  • I missed our bi-weekly staff meeting! Yehey!
  • 2 out of 6 patients cancelled and I ended up sorting papers on my desk. I found out that I had papers needing filing from 2 mos. ago. What a slob!
  • I found out that we will be going wireless starting today as the hospital is trying to save home health employees driving mileage. We do not need to go to the office anymore! I had a tutorial on how to use this. I felt so stupid as I don't know much about computer. Feeling like an imbecile!
  • Upon returning home, I found out my father cooked lumpia and it was very good. Cannot help over-eating! I need to exercise.
  • We were not able to do any exercise (again) as Jason and I took a long time to figure out on how to set up a tent. We were practicing this as we plan to camp in Colorado next month. Fun! Checkout pictures.
Jason trying to fit inflated air mattress in the tent.
Me checking out the inside of the tent.

Jason checking out the inside of the tent.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Socially Inept

It is still a struggle for me on how to handle myself in social gatherings with barely familiar people. I was born socially inept. Self-consciousness is heightened when I have to circulate and talk to someone. Apprehension dominates my emotional brain at initial contact with other party goers. What should I say after a hi and introduction? Should I ask what they do? No, it's not appropriate. They might think I will judge them on what they do and not for who they are. How about where they come from? Okay, that would probably be okay. Then what? Oh God, help me! Here they come. Loraine, just smile and listen. Take a deep breathe. It is not life and death. You'll survive.

You will think that working in health care helped me in this aspect of my life. Not really. The thing is when I see patients, I have a specific mission. I know what to ask and what topic of conversation will be -- them. Certainly, I improved over the years. I no longer feel nervous that I over indulge my patient with attention when family member is watching. However, it is different outside of work!

Last weekend, we attended Jason's grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. There were between 150 to 200 people. I never thought that they are so popular. They live in small town of Primghar, IA. I swear, it feels like half of the town was in that church where they celebrated the occasion. My sister-in-law and I were delegated the lemonade duty and due to the humid and hot day, it was a popular nook for the visitors. My sister-in-law told me to just smile and pretend I am working in WalMart. I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb because I was the only non-Caucasian person in the room. Most of Jason's relatives know who I am but most of them are not familiar to me. I think they know me through photographs which were diligently taken by grandparents every time we have get-together. Most of the initial conversations were like this:
"How are you?"
"Fine, how about you?"
"Oh, fine."
Awkward silence.
"Well, it is nice seeing you," while walking away.
"You too.," feeling relieved.
As the party continues, inhibition waned and I started making better conversation like this:
"You've lost a lot of weight!" I should not have said this.
"About 40 pounds since January."
"How did you do it?"
"Eat differently and exercise 3x a week."
"We should be doing that."
Then the conversation changed to his son in Iraq and I became a better listener as I felt empathetic. I talked to many people there learning more about Jason's grandparents' earlier years. At the end of the day, I was glad I was there.

Iowans in my experience are reserve and careful people. I noticed that in parties they seldom have games. Mostly, get-together is about food and conversation. They know how to pace themselves and not get too excited with strangers (which I do). I will say compared to Filipino gatherings, Iowan gatherings will be considered boring but the longer I live here, I am starting to understand that it is about people and being comfortable in their presence by not trying too hard to please others and not losing yourself.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

On Being 30 something part 3

We seldom go to the mall these days. It was 7 mos since the last time. However, today after our early morning dental appointment and due to the fact I was just paid yesterday, I finally gave in to my shopping craving. We were in the mall for couple of hours but I came out empty handed. What happened? Well, aside from having more self- control, I found out that my size has increased and clothes just do not fit me well. I am actually thinking of liposuction, just in my midsection. Also, I found out that I am more picky with materials. I want clothes to be made of natural fibers and those clothes can cost you tons of money. I have no nerve to buy new clothes made of natural fiber in this new size because I am still hoping to lose weight (don't trump my hopes please).

I also found out that I read more the ingredients of processed foods and cosmetic products. I have conversation like this with my husband in store:
"What is this BHT?"
" Better not buy it if you don't know it."
"I found out that DMDM Hydantoin is made of formaldehyde. They use it in lotions and soaps as a preservative"
" Don't buy it then. We can get cancer from it."

To make long story short, we are limited on what we can buy from normal stores. We spend more money now as we are very particular in using natural products. We used to buy generic brand products but they do not suffice anymore. Is it because we have more buying power in our 30's or just more pretentious?

Our Dentist

Today, Jason and I had our 6 month dental appointment. Jason was not excited about it but I don't mind going to our dentist. I think we have one of the best dentist in the world. His name is Boyd Nordmark DDS. He is probably in his late 70's to early 80's but very much in tuned with new technology. He colors his hair blond and is fond of jazz. The clinic also serves as their residence. It is an older house built probably sometime in 1920's and located in not-so-nice neighborhood in Des Moines. The neighborhood which was established probably in the early 20th century is called Highland Park. I like the houses there as I have fondness for houses built in the 1920's and 1930's. I think the woodwork in those houses are spectacular and you cannot see it anymore in the current era of cookie-cutter subdivisions. However, in the last couple of decades, older residents of that neigborhood started dying or moving out and people who do not maintain their houses and yards moved in and this cause the value of houses to drop, therefore people with questionable characters were able to move in too.

Aside from his wife Shirley who is the office manager, he is the sole dentist in the clinic. There is no hygienist at all. We've known him for 4 years now since we moved back in Iowa. Our managed care insurance listed him as the only provider in our area. When I learned where he was located I was skeptical because when we were living in Dallas metro, TX , we went to this dentist who was on the list given by our insurance and it was like an assembly line as they scheduled patients very closely. I did not have much good expectation about Boyd. Driving through an alley just to get to his place did not really help my apprehension. Before getting out of the car in that very first visit, I told Jason, "You have to go first and if you think it is unsanitary there just turn around and go back to the car. I don't want to get any blood-borne diseases." To make long story short, I was impressed by his cleanliness and thoroughness That was the very best teeth cleaning I have had. I am stuck with him. He did several procedures for me already in the past 4 years -- had my unaligned molar pulled and re-done 4 of my fillings. He taught me the proper way to floss and encouraged me to be a dentist. Okay, he is not that perfect. I expect my gums to hurt for couple of days after my prophylactic cleaning and he makes Jason gag but with his care my mouth is in its healthiest state ever. Believe me, I have seen many dentists in my 34 years of life as I wore braces when I was younger. Jason, on the other hand, has perfect teeth with no cavities nor misalignment. He attributed it from drinking milk and fluoride in water. He did not go to the dentist regularly until we got married when I prodded him to do so. . The dentist said that he probably flosses and brushes his teeth regularly. The truth is he does not floss at all. When, I told Boyd that, he cannot believe it!

Anyway, now, we do not have any dental insurance but we decided to stay with Boyd. We could have moved to any dentist in town but I could not bear the thought of not having him as a dentist. We made another 6 month appointment which will be in January and I just wish and pray that Boyd will be there for several years and be our dental angel.

Monday, July 7, 2008

On Being 30 something Part 2

What should I do next to advance myself? I can go back to school to get a graduate degree but "of what?" is the big question. To go for my Doctorate degree for Physical Therapy is not really practical. It will not get me anywhere in terms of pay and position. Perhaps I could go to Public Health as I am both a nurse and a physical therapist, but I don't know if there is any opportunity for that kind of education. To go back to be a medical doctor? Forget about it as it requires me to be a full-time student and I would probably need to get some prerequisites, and it will take several years before it pays off. I found out that it is not that easy anymore to just drop my job and head back to school. I am not getting any younger and it is time to be serious about retirement. It would be difficult to make up for those years of no income. I could probably go to school part-time and still work. Do I really need that stress when I am trying to have a child? Everything changes when you reach this almost mid-thirty age. There is your biological clock ticking reminding you that it is now or never to pro-create. Time is not on my side. Women cannot really have it all at the same time.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

On Being 30 something

I am exhausted!

We spent our 4th of July weekend trying to finish our master bathroom remodelling project. Our goal was to do as much as we could, so we could enjoy the next weekend. We sanded the drywall, tiled, painted, installed a new toilet and put on trim. We did not really finish everything. The toilet is still leaking and we cannot figure out what's causing it. We tightened every nut and bolt and checked all the washers but we cannot figure out where it is coming from. Thank God that the leak is small and we could probably wait another day to figure that out. I am actually tempted to call a plumber but Jason told me to hold off.

It seems like my body gives out more easily now that I am in my thirties. I don't have the stamina that I used to have when I was younger. Then, when we first bought our house, we painted and installed a parquet wood floor in one bedroom on weekends and weekdays after work. Now, I could only do it during the weekend. This bathroom project will probably be the only project this year. I used to be more ambitious (or probably foolish) in planning projects. Reality sets in eventually! This year is the most physically active year for both of us since we got married but this is also the heaviest I've ever been in my life! Metabolism is slowing down but my appetite continues to be horse-like. I am also noticing a few wrinkles at the outer side of my eyes when I smile. They call it crow's feet. I am actually considering to have botox injection if it gets worse.

I am not in my best physical state in my 30's compared to my 20's. The good thing is that I am less conscious on how I look and I am more aware of what I want. I also feel more comfortable in my own skin and more confident which I lacked when I was younger. It is probably from experience. My life has not been easy but whose life is. Those hardships make me stronger, wiser and more interesting. I assume less frequently, accepting whatever gets in my way and act accordingly. I am more at peace to know that I am not special! Each one experiences success and trials. We are equal. I used to say "It sucks to be average." I thought if only I am extraordinarily intelligent or creative like Bill Gates or angelically kind like Mother Teresa, my life would be more fulfilling. Now, I think being average is good. There is less expectation. I don't mean mediocrity but just knowing my limits and being realistic on what I can do. Having no pretention is peaceful.

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July

Fourth of July is my second favorite American holiday after Thanksgiving, especially when it falls on Friday or Monday which gives us 3-day weekend. Hurray!

This July 4th, we did not go for a picnic or a trip. We did not even see the firework which is almost in our backyard due to the fact that we live close to a casino and amusement park. Instead, we are inside the house and working in our bathroom. Our plan is to finish this lingering project this weekend, so, we could be free on Labor Day weekend (hopefully). We heard the loud explosions of the firework and at one time, caught the glimpse of the multicolored display of lights outside our window, but we were just too tired to go out and watch it. Our normally quiet street is lined by parked cars and we can hear laughter and jolly voices of people. And I am jealous!

"Next year, we will try to enjoy the 4th," I murmured to Jason when our eyes met while resting from vigorous sanding of drywalls.