Monday, January 09, 2012

Kuwang gihapon

Way pulos ang gakos
og dili matimbang ang halok
Pag-abot sa panahong
Imo na lang hinumdomon
ang giangkong kagahapon

Auntie Letty, Mama and me on my first
visit to Maripipi (Daddy's hometown).
It was my 6th birthday and boy was I
a great show-off!
TODAY, I woke up with a soundless scream. Last thing I remember about my dream was of me talking with my Mom and suddenly realized with finality that this was just a dream and will never happen again. At least not in this lifetime.

Working in a country 360 degrees different from where I was born is obviously a challenge. First to come to mind are the cultural differences. How subtle societal signals have to be relearned and assimilated into your arsenal of coping mechanisms. Factor in also that you are as far away from your normal support system. True, technology has made the world smaller and my Mom just always a phone call away. Yet, those fleeting (though frequent) exchanges could never substitute for the times we sat in the garden after work, Mama in her hammock and me on my favorite white garden chair going over family gossip and dreams of success.

On moving to Iceland, I used to call Mama after work. It would be almost midnight here and just before breakfast in the tropics. She would be sitting down to a cup of hot chocolate made from home-roasted cacao beans, maybe making meal plans with my cousine while waiting for whoever was to drive her to work. You see, Mama still saw patients until 2 months before she died. Her days were always full and challenging. She had her garden where she trained her bonsai, her beloved dogs and a mid-afternoon snack where everyone in the house would gather for coffee and bread.

Mama was everything to me and my sisters. She was and always be an ideal that I will always strive to become. Even now, I find that I cannot continue writing because the loss is still heavy in my heart.

I have always heard people say...remember to tell your Mom that you love her everyday. Well, I did and that was not enough. The truth is, however many hugs you give her, however many kisses you share, however you try to make her life as comfortable as it can be. IT CAN NEVER BE ENOUGH.

I love you Mama. See you soon.


Saturday, January 07, 2012

Last day of Christmas

TODAY is þrettándinn in Iceland. More popularly known as the last day of Christmas, it is also thought to be an acknowledgment of Old Christmas mainly because in the old days this is the date that Christ's birthday was marked before Rome formally moved it to the 25th of December.

I don't really know what happens on þrettándinn, except that the last of the 13 Icelandic Santa Clauses is supposed to be visiting happy kids (incidentally this Santa Claus is also known as the candle thief) and that all right-thinking Icelandic housewives should be taking down all things Christmasy. Since I am not Icelandic (nor a housewife),  is enough of an excuse to be lazy and leave the "taking down all things Christmasy" until I feel like it...which means not until February.

Coming from a country like the Philippines where Christmas starts right after Nov. 2 (some even say from September) and ends just before February, taking down Christmas lights and Christmas trees before January is done seems like a very un-Christian thing to do. Add to the package the Scandinavian darkness outside my windows, it just does not compute. So, laziness+darkness=Christmas decor up until the end of January (hopefully).

However, I am told that here in Reykjavik, trolls, elves and locals are expected to party around a bonfire while Santa Claus bids everyone goodbye. Meanwhile, I stay at work communing with the trolls, elves and locals of the psychiatric ward.

Happy New Year everyone and cheers!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Life in Iceland

Well, 2012 is here and Ihave decided to be a lot more diligent with blogging. This will be a short post...just a heads up that from now on it will be more interactive and current. So, here´s to a more productive blogging year ahead. Cheers!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

15 Books

The rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your 15 picks, and tag people in the note.)

1. "Dandelion Wine" by Ray Bradbury
2. "The Mist" by Stephen King
3. "Robots of Dawn" series by Isaac Asimov
4. "Murphy´s Boy" by Torey Hayden
5. "New Testament" multiple authors...not because of the religion but because I remember going through the short stories particularly The Good Samaritan.
6. "The Good Earth" by Pearl Buck
7. "Like Water for Chocolate" by Laura Esquivel
8. "The House of the Spirits" by Isabelle Allende
9. "The Hobbit" by JRR Tolkien
10."Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair" by Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto
11. "The Good Omen" by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
12. "Amina Among the Angels" by Merlie Alunan
13. "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
14. " A Question of Heroes" by Nick Joaquin...repeatedly checked out this book from the STC main library so many times.
15."The Happy Hustler" by Grant Tracy Saxon

Monday, September 06, 2010

Let´s talk about the elephant in the room

UP UNTIL the fourth grade, Mama would wrap my head in a towel before going to sleep. Doing this helped me avoid the effects of dawn temperature changes. On days when this ritual was forgotten, I would wake up sneezing, teary-eyed and runny-nosed until about 8am when the sun was high in the sky and the temperature stable. Allergic rhinitis is in fact is how Mama eventually declared me as her living barometer.

It was not surprising then that in moving to Iceland (where you could expect four seasons in one day) I encountered difficulties in adjusting to the weather. This peaked a few months ago when it became so bad that I had to sleep sitting up. It scared me enough to make an appointment with a doctor.

Two weeks later, there I was twiddling my thumbs and trying to compose in my head a litany of symptoms (half of them already gone in the two weeks waiting to see the doctor) in Icelandic. When I walked into the examination room, greeting me was a framed "American Academy of Physicians" certificate so off went the carefully researched  Icelandic medical terms and I happily rattled off medicalese in English. So satisfying...but I digress. 

My fifty-ish doctor ( age being a good thing otherwise I would´ve walked out) promptly scribbled off a  prescription for a nasal corticosteroid spray. Everything all clear and well-diagnosed. Or so, we thought until on my way out I happened to mention if it would be alright if he checked this probable lump on my throat. I was half-embarrassed about it because it could just very well be an advancing second chin. Except that, with sonogram in hand he turns around and says, "Yes, there seems to be a well-defined mass."

Uh, okay. 

Since then, I have been to blood tests, ultrasounds and biopsies which in summation arrived at an unsatisfactory conclusion: thyroid carcinoma. It is supposed to be papillary, the curable kind, but the biopsy report also mentioned undefined cellular mutations which can only be classified and identified by an actual specimen (and not through cells sucked out by a thin, abnormally long needle). 

The Big C is a family thing and more than a few in every generation gets initiated into the club. I just never thought that I would be the first in my batch.

Well, there it is. The elephant in the room that I have never as yet publicly discussed except with the few who I thought ought to know directly from me. It could be that I cannot call everyone who matters seeing that overseas calls are expensive and everyone´s just spread out all over the world. So, I blog instead. 

On September 8 (which happens to be a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics and Mother Mary´s birthday) I will for the first time go under the knife. After that auspicious date I will go on sick leave. Time on my hands and hopefully enough blogging hours will allow me to add to the meager first-person information on thyroid cancer in the internet. It will also be my self-purging, a therapeutic addition to my post-op recovery. Besides, writing has always been my life and allows me to connect from the old world, cold world. 

I hope you keep me company in this new adventure, another fork in the path.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Blowing kisses

The distance
from sunset to sunrise
is forever, except
when your smile´s a kiss
and then it spans, a hand

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Palpitations (Hjartsláttarköst)

There is nothing about me
where fires simmer
unseen, unheard
except for heartbeats

Ekkert er til um mig
hvar eldarnir malla
ósýnilegur, óheyrður
nema hjartsláttur

*apologies for this rough Icelandic translation. It will come, I promise.