Ordinary Miracle

Monday is Presidents Day (is it “President’s”, “Presidents'”, or “Presidents”? I can’t tell), so I get a rare three day weekend. This weekend is interesting for other reasons too. Besides President(‘s,s’,s) Day on Monday, the Vancouver Olympics started yesterday and both Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day are tomorrow! Celebrations all around!

I watched the opening ceremony to the Olympics last night. I love the Olympics (and Canada!). I might be naive, but I like the idea of the world coming together for a global event. The athletes may be competing against other countries, but at the end of the day, they are all taking part in an international symbol of unity. The whole idea seems to coincide with my recent optimistic perspective.

Meanwhile, my sister is coming over tomorrow to celebrate Chinese New Year with my parents and me! She got a new chihuahua puppy less than a month ago who I have yet to meet, and my sister said she would bring her puppy with her! So cute!

The opening ceremony included Sarah McLachlan singing a song called “Ordinary Miracle.” I did some research, and the song was actually from 2006 for the live-action movie remake of Charlotte’s Web. Sarah McLachlan is amazing, and I think the song has some great lyrics, so I’m posting the music video for it (even though it’s about the movie and not the Olympics). Hopefully the footage from the Olympics will be available someday, in which case I will update this. Enjoy!

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Brief Recap

Wow, it’s been a month since I last posted anything. That’s the longest hiatus I’ve had since I started this blog. I didn’t want to wait this long, but life has a way of becoming busy. A brief recap:

My Thanksgiving weekend was great! I went to my uncle’s house for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Growing up, I used to go to my uncle’s house for Thanksgiving every year, but I hadn’t been in nine years because I lived away from home for college and graduate school. The turkey was juicier than I remembered (I always thought turkey was dry), but the stuffing and biscuits were just as amazing as ever. I love stuffing. Besides the food, I also love the idea of Thanksgiving. It’s nice to have a day to reflect on what we often take for granted. We all need a little perspective sometimes.

A few days after Thanksgiving, my sister got married! She was the most beautiful bride ever (though I might be biased). I didn’t cry during the ceremony, but my eyes got a little watery during my sister and her husband’s first dance. It was just too cute. The whole wedding and reception were simply amazing (and I got to take a lot of cake home).

The weeks after Thanksgiving were beyond busy. I had a take home final exam for one of my classes, and I literally spent an entire weekend working on it, only stopping to eat and sleep. My finals were stressful, and every day was more tiring than the previous one, but I prevailed! I ended up getting over 100% in one of my classes (over the entire quarter) and almost 100% in another. All in all, I had an amazing return to school, and I hope it continues next year too.

After classes ended, I immediately had to work on my applications for graduate school. I hate writing essays, and some schools require two of them! I finished almost everything for the applications, but there are still things to be done. I have to set aside some time next week to work on those.

My brother came back from medical school for the holidays about a week ago. Usually when he comes back, I don’t have time to do anything on my own. Most of my week has been spent cleaning the house in preparation for Christmas and watching TV shows on Blu-ray with my brother. He got my addicted to Heroes last year, and now it’s Lost. I’m not complaining about spending time with my brother. I love my brother, but I barely have a spare moment to myself (I only have time now because I woke up a little earlier than him).

And here we are: Christmas Eve. The season (and the year in general) moves very quickly. My family has our huge dinner and family gathering tonight, so I still have lots of cleaning and preparing to do.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Caught In The Middle

My sister’s wedding is less than a month away. She sent out her invitations a few weeks ago. Because our grandfather lives with our uncle, she sent one invitation to our uncle and included our grandfather in the invitation. We have two aunts in Taiwan who already told my sister months ago that they will not be able to attend the wedding, so my sister didn’t send them invitations. Our grandfather will also be in Taiwan during the wedding, so he will not be attending either.

A few days ago, my mom got word (from our other aunt, I think) that our two aunts and our grandfather didn’t get invitations, so she called my sister to tell her to send invitations to them. For some reason (maybe a traditional Chinese culture thing), my grandfather is expected to have a separate invitation, and our two aunts are supposed to  receive invitations because they’re family.

Because wedding invitations are expensive, my sister didn’t order any extras. In order to send the additional invitations, she had to ask some of her close friends to give back their invitations and explain why. I don’t think my mom understands the huge hassle it is to send these invitations (even when they will definitely be declining).

If it was just a matter of family respect, then it’s almost understandable why they need to have invitations. It’s a hassle, but we all have family obligations. But there’s more to the story.

My sister’s dad is my mom’s first husband (so technically, my sister is my half-sister). My sister’s dad’s family hurt my grandfather’s pride many years ago (the story is far too long to discuss here), so our grandfather refuses to attend the wedding because my sister’s dad will be there.

Apparently, when my mom told my sister to send the additional invitations, she repeated that “your dad hurt your grandfather very badly” (in Chinese) at least ten times. It also seems like our two aunts in Taiwan are not attending for the same reason. If they can’t attend my sister’s wedding, that’s fine, but does she need to know that they’re not attending because of her dad?

My sister has been dwelling on her conversation with my mom for days. She told me this whole story online last night and said she couldn’t stop crying, so I called her to try and comfort her (not that there’s much I can do).

She feels bad for what happened, but she can’t change the past. She feels like she’s forever being punished for events that happened over thirty-five years ago that have nothing to do with her. Obviously, none of what happened is her fault; she’s just unfortunately caught in the middle.

She can’t understand why our grandfather and our aunts can’t put the past behind them to attend her wedding. After all, the wedding has nothing to do with her dad. The wedding is about her and her fiance. It’s a once in a lifetime event. My sister is the first grandchild and the first to get married, but she feels like she’s not worth making the sacrifice for. She made a very valid comparison: If she were to pass away (which won’t be for a long time, knock on wood), would they even attend her funeral if her dad is there?

She’s afraid that she’ll be thinking about all this during her wedding, which should be one of the happiest days of her life. Whenever she talks like this (which happens every so often after she talks to my mom), it breaks my heart. There’s nothing I can do. I can’t change the past either. Our family can’t let go of what happened, and the only person who suffers from the whole thing is her.

Bridal Shower

My sister’s bridal shower is today. I had previously mentioned to my sister that I thought it would be fun to go (I like participating in anything involved with my sister’s wedding), so she invited me, even though bridal showers are supposed to be “girls only.” She said I could be her photographer (to make it less awkward to be the only guy, though that doesn’t bother me).

Unfortunately, I can’t make it to her bridal shower. I’m beyond busy this weekend. I have two midterms next week (one Monday and one Thursday), and I have two homework assignments both due on Wednesday (they’re usually due on Fridays). The bridal shower would take all day (I’d have to drive two hours each way), and I just can’t afford the time.

My sister doesn’t mind; she understands that I’m really busy. I shouldn’t even be there anyway. But my sister texted me last night to tell me that my younger (male) cousin will be attending the shower instead and will be acting as the photographer. My cousin is in college and has midterms next week too, but he lives closer to my sister. It’s not as much of a time commitment for him to attend.

Even though I can’t make it, and my cousin is a much better photographer than me, I can’t help but feel (more than) a bit jealous. This is just another sacrifice I have to make to do well in school. I was supposed to visit my best friend from elementary school last weekend for Oktoberfest, but I couldn’t make that either.

Sigh.

My Two Sisters

I spent the weekend with my sister in Irvine. We haven’t spent much time together since I came out to her, which is why I made it a point to go visit her by myself. As expected, my sister treated me no differently than she always has (which is good). Occasionally over the weekend, my sexuality was brought up, but it was never uncomfortable. She asked me about my recent dates and whether I’ve had my first kiss yet (a valid question, since I’ve never had a boyfriend), and we talked about how much we both like Paul Rudd and Bradley Cooper (and other cute/hot actors)! The weekend was great!

On a separate topic, my sister mentioned that she’s considering going to nursing school. She is currently in sales and hates her job, even more than I hate mine (from what I’ve heard, her boss is worse). She wants to go back to school because she wants a “career,” not just a “job.” My sister has her condo’s mortgage to pay, so quitting her job and going back to school full time (even for a few months) would definitely be a challenge, especially since she’s planning on either being a mom or mom-to-be in a year from now (she’s getting married in three months). Still, if nursing is the career she wants to pursue, I think she should go for it. It’s never too late.

Interestingly, my big sister from work had a similar conversation with me last week. She has decided to go to culinary school starting next month! She wanted to go ten years ago, but she took the safe route of holding onto a secure job with our company instead (which is what her mom wanted). Now that she doesn’t work for us (besides these three weeks she’s been back) and she doesn’t have the financial burdens from when she was younger (she lives with her lawyer boyfriend and has no kids), there’s no reason for her not to pursue her dream career.

Even though their situations are different, my two sisters (my real sister and my big sister from work) both hate their jobs and want to make bold changes in their careers. I’m about ten years younger than both of them (they are one year apart from each other), but I’m at a somewhat parallel stage in my life. I don’t want to work for ten years at a job I hate before ultimately deciding to make a change and do something that I should have done now. The time for change is coming.

Here Goes Nothing

I attended my grandfather’s 90th birthday dinner party on Saturday. All my aunts, uncles, and cousins (on my mom’s side) were there. Some of my relatives flew in from Taiwan specifically for the celebration. We booked a room at a nice Chinese restaurant and split our party across four large tables.

I sat at the “kids’ table” with all of my cousins. I’m considered one of the older cousins; most of them are either in high school or college. At some point during the dinner conversations, the topic of gay people came up (I really don’t know how that discussion started, I certainly didn’t initiate it). During discussions about gay people, I generally stay quiet and listen closely to what people say to gauge their comfortability with the topic. This was no exception.

One of my cousins asked the table if anyone was anti-gay. I didn’t hear anyone say they were. Then my sister said she wasn’t anti-gay, but “they should at least tell their family.” I felt my face immediately become flushed. She knows.

I never came out to my extended family, not even to my sister. There were so many times over the years when I desperately wanted to tell her but I never could bring myself to actually do it (I wrote a post about this almost two years ago). But after my sister made the comment on Saturday, I obsessed about it for the rest of the weekend. The time to tell her finally had come. I couldn’t wait to tell her the next time I saw her, and there was no way I would have the courage to call her on the phone. I had to send an email.

Yesterday morning, after two days of convincing myself that it was time, I wrote the email. I used the subject title “Here Goes Nothing.”

Hi (sister’s name),

I was always waiting for the perfect opportunity to tell you, but I don’t think such a moment exists for this, so here it goes: I’m gay.

After the brief discussion among the cousins about gay people and Prop 8 on Saturday, you said something (I forget the exact words) that made me feel like you already knew, but you wanted me to tell you. I guess I’m pretty obvious in a lot of ways.

I’m really sorry I never told you sooner. There were probably lots of times to tell you, but I always chickened out. Even now, my hands are frozen cold and I can’t think of what to write, but I’ve been dying to tell you. I’m sorry if an email feels impersonal, but I didn’t want to wait until the next time we see each other.

I told (brother’s name) a long time ago, but we haven’t really talked about it since. I wasn’t really ready to tell him when I did. I told (our mom) and (our dad) over the phone once, but they didn’t believe me; they said I was too young to know and I haven’t met the right girl. They act like it never happened. I brought it up again with (our dad) after discussing Prop 8 with him last October, but he’s definitely against gay marriage and against me marrying a man. He acts like that never happened either.

Obviously, I’m still the same (normalboy) you’ve always known, I’m just confirming what you already know. I’ve always wanted to be a closer brother to you; I hope this will help.

I need to press send before I chicken out again.

Love,
(normalboy)

I was freaking out both before and after I sent the email. I couldn’t relax until I heard back from my sister. I had already mustered the courage to tell her by email, so I decided to call her on my lunch break.

My sister hadn’t checked her email when I called her; she actually opened it while I was on the line. Right after she saw the key words, she said how incredibly happy she was that I told her. She was actually crying. She is “100% supportive” and reassured me that she was available to talk about anything, no matter what. I was so relieved that I couldn’t stop smiling.

She said that she had suspected for a while but never got the nerve to ask, fearing that she would offend me. I felt bad that I had waited so long to tell her, but she was just very glad that I had told my friends already. She didn’t want me to feel alone in my struggles.

I’ve always been afraid to come out to people who have known me since childhood (I assume their image of me is still of an innocent kid when sexuality wasn’t an issue), yet I came out to two close people in one week! I wonder when I started being so bold?

I have the best sister ever!

Like In Entourage

Over the weekend, I went to a club in Hollywood with my sister to celebrate her birthday. She invited a large group of her friends and invited me to come too. I’m not a big clubber (and I’m usually against parties where I don’t know anyone), but I said yes because I’m trying to hang out with my sister more.

The club we went to was very fancy. It was like I was in an episode of Entourage, except that I didn’t see any celebrities. I had told my sister that I don’t really dance, so she made me her photographer for the evening. It worked out: I didn’t know anyone anyway, so being a photographer was less awkward than just standing around being a quiet observer.

I ended up drinking more than I was planning to (partly to save my sister from drinking all the drinks that people kept buying for her), but I think that helped loosen me up as the night wore on. I had a good time. We stayed at the club until closing (2am), and I went home with my sister; I zonked out on her couch around 4am.

As fun as the club was, I was exhausted from it. I didn’t have a hangover (I’ve never had one actually), but I felt tired all day Sunday and even Monday. I don’t know how party people do it; I can barely handle one night, let alone every weekend.

By the way, Happy Square Root Day! I had to throw that in to show off my nerdy math side. Square Root Day only happens nine times every century!