Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I have built my ark

Photograped by Mila Zinkova in September of 2004
"For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land--a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills." ~ Deuteronomy 8:7 

Last night, I watched a video of Bishop TD Jakes' message "This is Your Year to See The Vision." I was encouraged by what he said: What you visualize will materialize in this season.

I have grown in my relationship with God in the last couple of months, and I'm finally beginning to understand what it means when they say that sometimes, you need to have the faith of a fool: to speak of rain in a season of drought, to talk about abundance in a period of lack, and to build an ark when the idea of flooding was still unheard of. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The journey is itself the destination

It's been more than half a year since my last post, and the counter says 8 months to Hawai'i. It has been quite a journey--the last 11 months.

If my friends had known about this blog, they wouldn't have believed I'd pull through. They'd root for me, of course, but they know me well enough to believe that somewhere along the way, I'd be able to come up with a valid justification why I won't be filing an application for admission to the University of Hawai'i.

Today, I decided to give myself a little credit:
- for actually submitting an application, and for doing so ahead of the deadline. (Hurray! 10 essay questions!)
- for scoring 113/120 in my TOEFL iBT

All my transactions related to the application went smoothly... almost as if God's hand was literally above me. We'll see what will happen next.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." - Hebrews 10:23

Friday, May 27, 2011

The state of "slow panic" (?)

Panic is defined as "a sudden sensation of fear..." characterized by anxiety so strong that it hinders logic and oftentimes action. If so, I feel exactly that except for the "sudden" part. The anxiety eats me up painfully slow.

Have you experienced feeling like there's so much to do (that you don't know where to start, in fact), so little time to do everything, and yet, you can't bring yourself to get started?

I've been working on my essay for weeks. I had a good head start, but somewhere in the middle I felt stuck. And soon, the semester is going to start. There will be even less time for me to focus on my applications. Oh my God. I think I'm having another attack!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A New Beginning

One year, 4 months, and 4 days until Hawai'i. That's what my blog timer says today. The pressure is building up. I feel overwhelmed, and there are moments when I ask myself, "What if I'm not good enough for the scholarship?"

Fortunately, I can't afford to entertain doubts right now. Welcome to Anatomy of an Aloha "Hello": Oh the dear moment of giddy enthusiasm. The heart palpitates at the thought of a dream becoming a reality. It's like back in high school again, when my crush would cast a smile in my direction, and I'd mull it over for nights: Was he smiling when he happened to turn his head, or did he turn his head and then smiled? If the latter were true, did he smile at me out of courtesy, or did he like me?

The feeling is like that at the moment. During Lent, I resolved to free myself of clutter... to let go. So, I started with my dusty bookshelf. I wanted to declutter my closet, too, but being a girl, I had decided against it. Lent is simply too short a season for THAT.  It turned out to be a sound decision, because not only did I manage to put some order in my home office a.k.a bedroom, but more importantly, I found something spring up from inside me once there was room enough for it--HOPE.

My bookshelf still looks a bit too crowded for my taste, but it's no longer dusty. It's more organized now, too. I know I'll get to do the same for my closet. Decompartmentalize and liberate.

Today, I started on a health and fitness program (My body should be buff enough when I hula my way out the  plane). Also, I got to work on my application essay. I've been brainstorming for days now, and I know that I will have to start writing my draft--the first of many drafts to be revised until it's time to say: THIS IS IT. I actually wrote a paragraph comprising of 3-4 sentences. Yay! And that's just for one essay question... When I'm done with it, there'll be 7 more to go.

So what if I don't make it to Hawai'i? Well, I'll be slimmer, and my muscles well-toned. It reminds me of a quote by W. Clement Stone, "Aim for the moon; that way, if you miss, you'll still land among the stars." I will also have worked on 8 essays, which I can frame as a reminder that there's always something to keep me going in life. There will always be a new hope. Something to look forward to. A new beginning.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The End

I picked up one of the books in my dusty shelf this morning: a copy of Mitch Albom's "The Five People You Meet in Heaven." I was reading it to my sister in Maryland via Skype, because I wanted to make a point in our discussion. I've read this book a long time ago, but my current life conditions have given me fresh eyes as they glided fluidly over Albom's words.

The first chapter is called The End. The following words seemed to leap right out at me: "It might seem strange to start a story with an ending. But all endings are also beginnings. We just don't know it at the time."

He's right, you know. I wonder whether I'd have given myself a chance to dream again had my then-boyfriend proposed to me instead of giving me the exhausted "It's not you, it's me" cliché. Looking back, I think I'd still continue dreaming about attending grad school in Hawai'i, but that would be all there is to it--a dream.

This has only been my second real relationship, and it lasted 5 years. The first one lasted 3 years. I don't think that I can handle one more failed relationship (is what I said the first time), so I guess I'll have to stop right about... here (I said that the first time, too!). I believe that it's about time I finally focus on just myself. Now, THIS is something I'm saying FOR the first time now.

The End is often sad. However, if I look at it as a chance to a new beginning, then it can be exciting, too. I know I'll be happy again. One day at a time. One day at a time.

"Lost love is still love. It takes a different form, that's all. You can't see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those senses weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory  becomes your  partner. You nurture it . You hold it. You dance with it."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Emotional Seesaw

Photo credit:
Remember the first time you've ever wanted something so bad? How did it feel when you finally got it? Wasn't it phenomenal? Whether it's your college crush asking you out inside the library--carrying a bouquet of red roses, no less--or getting a call for your dream job, there's that sudden rush of happiness. Oh JOY! It feels like you can kiss even your enemies, but since you don't want to... you settle for complimenting a stranger for her fabulous shoes.

What about the first time you had to let go, voluntarily or involuntarily, of that very reason that made you happy? Bummer, huh? What about the time you feel like you're getting it back? Yes! Yes! YES! And then things turn anticlimactic?

Some people call it a rollercoaster ride. Usher calls it U Got It Bad. I simply call it riding an emotional seesaw. There are no loops. It's just up and down, up and down, up....and...down... God, I hate feeling that way! I'm 31 years old! It's antediluvian--it should be illegal--and worse, it's coming face to face with the truth that something or someone else has so much control over you.

Today, I'm going to start brainstorming for my applications essay. That should take my mind off things. Or at least, it should steer my head toward a different, more promising direction. God... ♪ I know you're theeeere... ♫ Don't think, for one second, that I'm thinking you can't hear meeee ♫

U got, u got it bad
When you're on the phone
Hang up and you call right back
U got, u got it bad
If you miss a day without your friend
Your whole life's off track
You know you got it bad when you're stuck in the house
You don't wanna have fun
It's all you think about...


Sunday, April 10, 2011

1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back

Photo credit:
Love in the time of Internet. Uh-huh. That's what this is all about. Boy meets Girl online. They click. Boy flies halfway around the globe to find Girl. They hook up. Eventually. That's when real life happens. They make plans. Still. Boy's got his plans, and Girl has hers. This sounds okay, except for the part where girl runs across Boy's ex's blog. From the time that THEY were still together. Big mistake. You want to hear, er, read an even bigger one? Girl actually reads every single entry.

Now, instead of trying to draft the applications essay, I'm caught in this tsunami of insecurity. Did they do the same things that we did? Did they have life talks, too?  What movies did they watch together? Were these movies better and their scripts more profound than the ones we've seen? Aaarrgh! This is so not Aloha Hello!

Focus! I'm watching My Life in Ruins. Oh, wow, I'm living dangerously and vicariously.

Poupi Kakas: What was his name?
Georgia: Who?

Poupi: When it's over, some women cut their hair. Some women run away to Greece. So...

Georgia: I did not move to Greece because of some man. 

That's right, Poupi Kakas. Women don't move to Greece because of some man. Some women want to move to Hawai'i.

Is anyone out there? Do you relate?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Conspiring to Dream

Photo credit:
I can't believe what happened today. It's Friday, and my Korean student, who never comes in late, didn't show up for class. (Since the University that I'm teaching at can only hire me as a lecturer, I teach ESL on the side.) Thirty minutes into what should have been our class, my mobile rang. Unregistered number. My heart started doing its little rain dance again.


"This is... (static)... from... Foundation..." Robocop was on the other end of the line. (Oh my God. I think I just dated myself right there.)

"I'm sorry, but I can hardly hear you. You sound... robotic." Gulp. This call, for sure, is an important one. I think it could be a dot on the giant connect-the-dot sheet of my personal and professional journey... and I didn't sound the least bit scholarly.

After a few more lines, Robocop hung up on me.


My phone rang again, and this time, I modulated my voice the way my elementary school Music teacher taught us how.

"Can you hear me now?" Robocop said in his -cop voice.

Loud and clear.

"Good. Well, I won't beat around the bush. We were looking through our database and found your CV. I believe you have the competencies that we need. When can you come for an interview?"

Sadly, I'm not in that city anymore.

"Will you be visiting the metro within the next couple of months?"

In June, I suppose.

"Good. Call us then. I think that we'd still be needing a researcher around that time."

That was it. This is all surreal. That organization is like "The Pink Palace" of research and development work! It's going to give me exposure and add "weight" to my application for scholarship.

This reminds me of a line from Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist: "When you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true."

Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Waiting to wait

Photo credit: pepe on Flickr Creative Commons

Today, my ex is leaving for his home country. Don't worry, it's nowhere near Hawaii. Soon, he'll land and begin a life that I'll no longer be a part of. I might as well wipe my own slate clean.

It's been seven days since I sent my letter of inquiry. The days seemed to drag by, and I would refresh my webmail page every now and then to see whether new mail has gotten through. I thought, "Oh...'kay... so this is what waiting feels like." I once read a text message which goes like this: Staying in love with someone who doesn't love you back is like standing in the subway platform, waiting to hail a cab.

I don't want to wait like that.

And then at 9:30 this morning, I was refreshing the page--with ritualistic reverence, if I may add--my eyes flitting down the page, when something in the Subject column made me catch my breath: "RE: Letter of Inquiry."

The pointer hovered over the link for a while. What's it going to say? Should I read it now, or would it be better to open this when I'm no longer in that I'm-okay-but-I-get-teary-eyed-easily mood? What the... All this  drama on waiting, and now I can't even manage to read the ultimatum?

I closed my eyes. Heart running a marathon in my ribcage, I double-clicked the link. I pulled my head back as far from the display as possible. I squinted at those 3 short paragraphs which would determine the life of this blog, and read through my eyelashes.

"Thank you for your interest in the ... Scholarship Program."

Uh-oh. The calm before the storm. The last meal before the chamber. I half-expected the next line to read: However, we regret to inform you that...

Still reading through dark, veiled eyes, I realized that the next line didn't start with an H, and it was much too short to be "However."

My hope bubble began to grow in that moment, giving me enough courage to read the succeeding paragraphs starting from "Yes, the scholarship is offered in support of most programs in the University, including your field of interest... If you are interested in applying for scholarship to begin a program in Fall... please submit..."

My ride may not be here yet, but at least I know I'm waiting on the right stop.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Making the First Baby Step

At exactly 11:53 this morning, I sent an inquiry letter to an organization that awards international student scholarships. In my letter, I wrote about my intention to study in Hawaii and asked whether the program that I'd like to pursue is covered by such grants. After giving the organization an overview of my academic and professional goals, I muttered a breath prayer, crossed fingers and toes, and hit "Send."

Drafting the e-mail was easy. I've always known what I've always wanted to do. My motivation is valid. Of course, I left off the part where I could have said that I'm finally acting on my plans, because my boyfriend broke up with me 2 days after our 5th anniversary.

Now, the difficult part will be waiting for the answer. Will the reply pop that tiny bubble of hope slowly growing within? Will they even respond? I've always wondered which one would be tougher to handle: Getting an outright NO? Or waiting a long time for an answer that you're not even sure would come?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Anatomy Means Structure

Reality Check:

How do I get there?

I'm not poor, but I'm not rich either. I look forward to an adventure, though. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I've got good grades from college and even better grades in grad school.


When I was working for a research organization a couple of years ago, I knew someone who was granted full scholarship to Hawaii. She is smart and talented. She takes calculated risks and has a penchant for "structured  priorities"--as what she calls it. She deferred her scholarship, though, because she got married. She said that once she decides to push through with it, the good thing is that she can take her husband with her. That was three or four years ago. They now have a toddler, and she is very happy. She's been promoted as head of her department. She also hasn't left for Hawaii yet.

Maybe, just maybe, I can have a go at this. Since I'm single, and my own structured priorities are not as major as hers, the opportunity is worth way above the risk.