Sunday, July 31, 2011

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Copyrighted to WLC website
It was summer of 1998. I was at Wisconsin Lion's Camp for two weeks during the Deaf Retreat with two of my dearest friends, Sharon and T. We were quickly dubbed by many as the "Three Musketeers" because we were always in the group of three. Everything we did were together. Everybody wanted to be a part of our group and it elevated our status to the "popular cool girls" of the camp. Yeah, we were that cool! Or at least we were in our own teenage world....remember your teenage days and how cool you thought you were? Yeah, that. 

Anyway, the week went on rather ordinarily....until we were informed that we had an opportunity to experience true camping. So with our unit, we hiked several miles into the deep forest until we reached our destination. Our camping area was in a spacious flat area scattered by many pine tree needles everywhere. The pine trees huddled over the wide spacious area. The campers quickly claimed their spots.

T, Sharon, and I opted to erect our small tent nearby the lake. We were convinced it was an ideal camping spot because we felt that this area guaranteed less bugs. We hauled our tent that happened to be very similar to this:

As we drove the pegs into the ground to hold our tent, Nicole walked up to us and asked if she was able to join us. We gave that question a pause before answering. The tent we had was really designated for only 3 people, and Nicole was a bit of a tag-a-long. Despite all this, we decided it was not a big deal to include Nicole. 

As the night fell, with our stomachs full from dinner; our unit leaders ushered us campers into our own tents, and told us to have a great night sleep.

Bedtime at 10 pm? Please! We were thirteen years old, thankyouverymuch, and we had a lot to discuss about! 

Luckily, T secretly brought a flash light even though we were told that flash lights were not allowed to be included on our trip. Sharon hooked the flash light on the ceiling of our tent. Pronto! We had a makeshift light in our tent. Nicole announced that she was getting rather tired and wanted to get some sleep. She crawled into her sleeping bag and disappeared under hefty covers. 

I, always the storyteller, wanted to tell T and Sharon a scary story. I began to tell a story of a murder with the hook. I knew I had their full attention when I saw their eyes widen, their heads still, and bodies unmoving. I was nearing the part about teenagers making out in the car, suddenly hearing odd scraping noise outside, and the girl asked the guy to bring her home. The guy, disappointed that he was losing some action, took her home....

"And...they got to the girl's home. She tried to get out of the car, but the door won't open. The boy was like oh whatever, stop being so dramatic, but he was nice enough to get out of the car to go over by her side. It was when his jaws fell open in great horror.......because he found a hook lodged in the door handle!" 

As I signed the last few words in large gestures and let out of a chilling scream to add an effect to the story; T, the only person with some hearing left, heard me scream. She jolted against the tent wall. Sharon rolled her eyes and said with an obvious sarcasm, "Wow!" 

At the very same moment, when Sharon signed, the very same moment as T fell against the tent the very same moment as the flash light began swaying in sweeping started raining...SPIDERS!

Well, to be more specifically... It rained Daddy Long-Legs. 

Sharon shrieked as a peeping tom spider fell into her cleavage. She started slapping herself on the chest. T leaned forward and started brushing fanatically at her hair. I rolled backward, throwing up my hands in front of my face then over my head. We bumped and fell onto each other, shrieking, and hollering. The lump in the corner that belonged to Nicole remained motionless. 

Suddenly, a cold rush of air entered our little torture chamber, and we all looked at the dark figure in front of the tent. I shrieked, partly to surprise and partly due to fear. For a moment, I imagined (yes, here goes my imagination once again) that it was a man with the hook after us. 

The man poked his head in and hunched his body. We recognized his face. He turned out to be one of the unit counselors. 

Hey ladies, mind to be quiet? Here's bunch of Hershey bars and Mountain Dew pop cans for you. 

We looked at each other; free candies and soda?! SURE!

We all grabbed the soda and candies, spiders all forgotten, and signed thank you to the counselor. He smiled and nodded once then closed the tent entrance. We gobbled down our candies and drank our pops. Needless to say, we became extremely hyper. We signed maddeningly fast, shrieked with giggles, exchanged our opinions on who was hot and who was not hot, and gossiped for most part of the night.

Now, was it wise of that guy to give soda and candies to three already very energetic teenager girls at 10:30 PM in the night? Most likely not. But it was certainly one of the most memorable nights for us three musketeers.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Continuing The Changes

So the changes continues. The title to my blog and the HTML link address to my blog are new. I feel that it is a good time to implement new additions to our blog. I am a bit miffed because I realize that my previous posts under "As You Wish" cannot be seen on Facebook, but fear not, my posts are STILL here under my new title. You can look it up on the right column of my blog. 

The reason for new title and link to our blog is simple. I want to personalize our blog into something uniquely ours. As You Wish title is cute, but it is not really "ours". It represent the very beginning of our relationship, but its meaning does not really carry into our marriage. I want something more suitable and meaningful to fit our theme for the blog. As my blog continues to progress, I notice that I like to throw in varying issues to write about, and share what I have learned from my life. This also includes updates regarding our married life. 

In fact, this blog is about life. 

Life is composed of little beautiful pieces (moments). When we look back at those little moments; it is when we realize that the little moments are really the big things, and it makes up for what we call life. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Best Prank I Have Ever Pulled On Stu

For those do not know my husband, Stu; let me tell you this....he does not like scary movies. Stu mainly tolerates  my love for scary movies.

More often than not, Stu winced and shuddered at scary parts in the movie while I was at the edge of my seat in anticipation to catch the glimpse of blood, gore or the monster. 

One night, I managed to convince Stu to watch the movie, Exorcism of Emily Rose:


For you guys who have not seen this movie; here's the is about a girl named Emily who was possessed by multiple demons. The priest came in to exorcise Emily and she ended up dead. The priest went on the trail since he was indicted of Emily's death. 

There was a recurring theme in the movie when demons often came to possess Emily or caused chaos to occur at 3 AM.

It was when the most amazing idea ever came to me. I waited for Stu to use the bathroom. I grabbed Stu's cellphone and set his alarm for 3 AM and put it back on the beside drawer. Stu returned with no idea that I had messed with his phone. We finished watching the movie. 

Stu turned to me, wow, a good thing it was not real, right?

I replied, no; demon possessions are real. 3 AM thing is real. It is when the witching hour begins. It means the gate between the living world and the spiritual world is weak. So that allows demons, spirits, or ghosts or whatever to pass through. Good night. I love you.

I turned over to my side and fell asleep with a smile on my face.

On the following morning, Stu told me that his phone had gone off at 3 AM and it scared him deeply. He was unable to sleep for rest of the night. He asked me if I touched his phone. I feigned confusion and said, what the heck are you talking about? You know I don't mess around with your phone. What for, you know? 

Stu eyed me warily for a few moments then decided I was telling the truth after all.

From time to time for the next few months, I continued to set alarm to go off at 3 AM on Stu's phone. Stu ended up being terrified and stayed up all night long. 

One day, I decided I had to come clean. I was torturing this poor guy and started to feel guilty. 

On the sofa, I turned my head to Stu and said, you know the phone thing. It was me.

Stu opened his mouth a few times and tried to say something, but was unable to do so. He narrowed his eyes and frowned.

You evil woman! He shouted, half angry, and half laughing. I am going to get back to you! 

Even was still the most awesome prank I have ever pulled on him. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Must Make A Confession......

I decided to face my nemesis this morning. This had been looming over my head ever since we decided to move. The pile designated for Goodwill grew bigger, and bigger. It was time to haul things over to Goodwill. However, there was still one space that needed to be sorted closet! 

Armed and ready, I entered "No Woman's Land". Getting rid of clothes was semi-difficult, but I managed to toss away items that were no longer in my taste. I felt pretty good with my progression when I turned to the shoes.  

Suddenly, I was bombarded by polka dots high heels, colored high heels, plaid high heels, solid colored high heels, high-knee boots, ankle boots, fuzzy purple slippers, monkey slippers, rainbow slippers, strappy high heels, strappy flats, solid flats, high heeled flats, gym shoes, shape-ups, and oh so many more.

I began the pernicious task by determining which had to go and which stayed. I sorted my shoes into two piles. To my dismay, the pile that had to go to Goodwill was small compared to the mountain of shoes that I wanted to keep. 

So here is my confession............

I am utterly, sadly, desperately, frightfully, unfortunately, incurably, appallingly, and utterly ADDICTED to shoes. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Our Yellow Place

So...the moving day commences! 

Stu absolutely likes this house partly because it's yellow!
And we also have a private backyard which is pretty nice.....
it means a dog in our future!

Our bathroom; it is one of my favorite places already

I absolutely love the living room because of the bay windows!

Our bedroom; it is slightly smaller than our old bedroom, but...
it has windows! 

2nd bedroom that we will probably convert into the office
I am stressed, excited, and overwhelmed all at once. We are still staying at our old place and packing things up. Our cats are beyond antsy because they know something is up but does not understand what is going on just yet. Yeah, I am absolutely looking forward to the day when I have to stuff Mr. Jinxy into the cat carrier. For those do not know Mr. Jinxy.....he has an intense hatred for cat carrier and it represents all bad things for him. I'll have to wear long thick carpenter gloves to just put Mr. J into the cat carrier, and no, I am not kidding. 

On the other hand, Missy will be thrilled to explore the new place, but she might throw up on the way down. She has motion sickness. Fun. One angry cat and other sick cat on the trip down for next week sounds so exciting, doesn't it? 

In our new place, we will have to buy some things to make more room especially in our bathroom. There's no "true" vanity and you know what, I have gazillion lotions that I need to place somewhere! Thankfully, we have a lot of gift cards to Bed, Bath and Beyond! 

I am very excited to decorate our place with adult furniture. I am ready to say good-bye to our dorm type of furniture. I am sick of them, for reals! 

I absolutely love decorating and unpacking so I can organize, organize, and organize the hell out of our things! 

Right now, with the process of packing and all that jazz; we have accumulated over 10 bags that will be going directly to Goodwill or My Best Friend's Closet. We honestly don't need them and we know there are people out there who would put them to a very good use. Some of our old stuff will be going to our friends who needs certain things. So I am quite glad to be getting rid of unnecessary things and replace them with NEW stuff! 

We are hoping to be completely moved in within 2 weeks before Stu start coaching. For next few days, we will be just busy packing, cleaning, and making trips to unload our things. It will be crazy! And it's a good thing that I love craziness!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spread The Word: HIV

I was watching Extreme Home Makeover the other day. TY Pennington blabbered on in his extremely annoying voice as he ran across the yard of a lucky family whose house was about to be made over. Ty Pennington shouted, Broadbent family, we are here! The family members ran out of their crumbling home with huge smiles on their faces. A few minutes later, it was shown to the TV audience that some children in that family were living with HIV. 

TY mistakenly said, "It is terrible to be living with AIDS." Repeatedly throughout the show, several cast-mates continued to make the same mistake by referring HIV as AIDS. I threw up my hands in frustration.

From living in DC for 2 years,  I became aware what AIDS was all about, and often felt slightly annoyed when people misused AIDS to refer to those living with HIV. But I was not the one to blame them. After all, I used to make the very same mistake. 

In reality, AIDS continues to be a terribly misunderstood virus. More often than not, when I bring up the topic of HIV, I am often met with answers such as these:

Oh that's gay man's disease. Straight people can't get them. 

AIDS is  a death sentence.

Only Africans get AIDS. 

You can't really live with AIDS. 

Only lesbians get AIDS.

I can't get AIDS.  I use protection.

You can get AIDS from sharing a drink.

What is HIV? 

Wow. HIV is considered to be a problem only found in GLBT community? HIV is only found among blacks? Only the poor get HIV? If you use protection, then you can't get HIV. Once you get HIV, you are finished, right? 

Let me tell you. All the assumptions I have heard.....are terribly off and wrong. Let me explain quickly what terminologies are. HIV is an abbreviation for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. In layman term, it just means you are infected with the virus. The person living with this virus is the person living with HIV not AIDS. A person can have absolutely no symptoms of HIV for up to ten years before becoming diagnosed. Just think of Jenny from Forrest Gump the movie.  

AIDS is an abbreviation for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Now People, listen up! THIS IS WHEN YOU ARE IN YOUR FINAL STAGE OF LIVING WITH HIV. Okay? It occurs when you are on your death bed, and dying of opportunistic infection. Even so, you really don't die from HIV virus itself. You die of complications since your immune system is so compromised and weak. You are mostly likely to die from an opportunistic infection. Now, what does that mean? An opportunistic infection is caused by a pathogen (bacterial; pneumonia, viral; cold, fungal; ringworm, or protozoan; E-Coli). The right time you can say a person is afflicted with AIDS when the person is actually dying of it.

To clarify some assumptions......

Straight people can get HIV. 
Gay people can get HIV.
Kids can get HIV.
Mothers can get HIV. 
Grandfathers can get HIV.
Your neighbor can get HIV.
A christian, A muslim, an atheist, or a Jew can get HIV. 
Hearing or Deaf people can get HIV.
You don't just get HIV through sexual contact.
It AFFECTS everyone regardless your sexual orientation, religion, intelligence, color, or disability. 

There are 3 ways that you can get HIV: 

1) SEXUAL contact (Oral, Anal, or vaginal sex)
2) Blood (Transfusion albeit extremely rare these days now or needle sharing) 
3) Mother to child (breastfeeding infected milk, or sharing blood circulation in the womb)

Testing Result:

If you suspect that you have HIV then please get yourself tested through your doctor's office. If you are not comfortable with getting tested at such familiar area then go to Planned Parenthood, or AIDS Resource Center (every state do have one).

When you are positive; it means you HAVE the virus.
If you get negative result then it means you DO NOT have the virus.

Once you have the virus, then you are living with HIV and you must take steps to maintain your T-cells. T-cells are the white cells that "fights off" your everyday bugs and keep you healthy. It DOES NOT mean you are living with a death sentence. It does not mean end of your sex life. It does not mean you are doomed.

Communicate with your doctors. Use protection. Be honest with your sexual partner. Inform your previous sexual partners so they can also get themselves tested. Take your medication. Participate in support group. Get clean if you are using. Participate in NA/AA group to stay clean. Get a therapist to work out your emotional struggles. Keep your true friends close to your heart. Inform your family members. Educate. With today's technology and medical advancements, you are able to live a long life with HIV.

You CAN'T GET HIV by: 

A hug. Holding hands. Being a friend. Causal contact. Everyday contact. A kiss. A public pool. A mosquito bite. Dancing together. Sharing food. Sitting on toilet. Touching items that are previously touched by an infected person. Touching a doorknob. Washing on the same towel. Shaking a hand with an infected person. A haircut. A cat scratch. Someone being different from you.

It seems that, to me, these days HIV is often put aside out of sight, and out of the mind. AIDS continues to be misused to describe HIV. Despite medical advancements and education, I still meet people who are misinformed, or afraid of those living with HIV. When I explain to folks about HIV, I am often asked by them:

Do you have HIV?

While it's a legitimate question, my answer is no. You don't have to be HIV positive to give voice to HIV community. You can become an ally. Stand up. Spread the word. Help to reduce or even abolish stigma for those living with HIV.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Freaky Tale of Frank

As a child, I developed a fanatical love for horror, and science fiction films and books. My first horror film was Alien with Sigourney Weaver as Ripley. At tender age of six, my love for anything that oozed slime, spat acid, ate flesh, roared, screeched, and morphed into unworldly creature was born. I constantly read horror books. Remember R.L. Stine's Goosebumps? I watched scary movies. I fantasized that I was Ripley fighting off acid-spitting creatures. I dreamed that I fought zombies. I imagined Chupacabra with the glowing red eyes in the middle of the night. When X-Files premiered on TV, it was only natural that I became fascinated with the show, and often loved to watch Scully working with Mulder to investigate freakish incidents. Nothing scared me.......Until I saw Frank.

Alex and I were sitting on the sofa, munching on the popcorn, and X-File show came on. I tapped Alex on his shoulder to ensure he was really paying attention. Mulder and Scully appeared on the screen. Scully, as a dubious agent, and Mulder, as a fanatical believer in anything supernatural, went to a sewerage facility to chase after some hideous creature of the day. Suddenly, this creature appeared: 

The creature itself did not scare me. HOWEVER, what scared me shitless, as a child, was the fact that this creature loomed in sewerage. Soon, it was time for us to go to bed. Dad tucked us in and kissed us good-night. As I laid on the top of the bunk, my overactive imagination began to whirl into thousand possibilities. I imagined that this creature swam up to our toilet, climbed out of it, and crawled to us in our bedroom. I took a brief luxury at the fact I was laying on the top of the bunk which meant it was harder for the creature to get to me. Relief washed over me for a moment. Then guilt set in. 

What's about Alex? I certainly did not want Alex to be eaten by this creature! I bit my lower lip and wrung my fingers. Oh, what to do! In the darkness, I swore I saw glistering eyes that belonged to this sewer monster. My heart beat faster. Heat washed over my face and body. I felt itchy. No way, I was letting this monster eat Alex! But...oh, I was so afraid. 

With partial sheer madness and partial bravery, I climbed down the bunk and allowed my toes touch the carpet. I tensed up for a moment, waiting for an attack, but nothing came. It affirmed my bravery. I crept to Alex. For a moment, I thought about crawling into the bottom bunk and to snuggle next to Alex. After all, two was better than one. It made harder for the monster to attack us. But the idea of snuggling with Alex was not appealing especially at the fact that he drooled and kicked in his sleep. After all, I was the oldest. He was supposed to be afraid! Not me! Angry at myself for being so frightened, I crossed my arms and furrowed my eyebrows in determination. 

I stepped out into the dark living room. For a moment, I swore I saw a figure limping across the dining room. I imagined it was growling at me: 

My heart pounded. I curled my hands into fists. My throat began to burn. I trembled slightly. My bladder felt...full. I had to pee! In order to pee, I had to go into Fluke-man's territory.... toilet. The idea of sitting on the crapper, leaving my butt vulnerable to be bitten didn't sound appealing to me. But I had to pee. Badly. Oh, what to do! I wrestled with my fear and frustration. My full bladder shouted at me. I had tears in my eyes from such a terrible conflict. 

I crept slowly, oh ever so slowly, across the living room. I had to be extremely quiet. I kept my eyes peeled and wide. I slouched, ready to pounce or run in case if I had met Fluke-man. I thought about returning to bedroom to wake Alex up so he was able to stand guard when I went to bathroom, but quickly dismissed that thought. After all, I was the oldest, thankyouverymuch. I entered the bathroom......the evil area where Fluke-man resided. 

My fingers scrambled to find light switch. It felt like an eternity. I twirled around constantly to lessen my vulnerability. No way in hell I was going to let my back to be exposed for an attack. Of course, by twirling around every 2 seconds increased my time in the darkness because I kept losing my spot to find the light switch. Deaf and blind, I was extremely vulnerable. I did not like it. With an act of Divine blessing, I found light switch. To my horror, the toilet seat was up! 

I grabbed the toilet brush and held it across my chest. Fluke-Man was somewhere! Perhaps, he was behind the shower curtain. I was going to be damned if it attacked me while I was on the toilet! At the arm length, I prodded the toilet brush against the shower curtain. Nothing pushed back. But I was not convinced. Using the toilet brush, I opened the curtain to find....nothing. 

My bladder was about to burst. I really had to go. Don't let me get sucked into the toilet! Don't let me get bitten! Don't let me get attacked! I chanted while sitting on the toilet. I peed as fast as I could. Looking back, I probably broke the record time in Guinness World Record book. Feeling pretty relieved, I jumped off the toilet and flushed. I dropped the toilet brush, and washed my hands as quickly as I could. 

My heart was still pounding against my chest as soon as I realized I had to return in the darkness to the bedroom. No way, no hows, and no ifs I was planning on turning off the bathroom light! 

With a courage I didn't think I had, I decided to stay up all night to stand guard, and that meant sitting on the sofa in the living room with a clear view to the bathroom. I grabbed a warm blanket and wrapped around myself then sat on the sofa. To my right, I had a view to the bedroom where Alex slumbered on. He was safe. To my right, there was a view to the bathroom where evil Fluke-Man resided.

Suddenly, Dad appeared. For a moment, I thought he was a Fluke-man! I was prepared to attack, but saw it was Dad. Relief flooded over me. Dad asked, what are you doing up?

I replied, There is a monster! 

Dad laughed and said, well, I'll be on look out for the monster. But it's time for you to go back to bed, okay? 

So Dad tucked me in. I felt better, knowing Dad was on the look out. Nonetheless, I was still afraid. I had no idea how I fell asleep that night. Every time I used toilet, I was on watch out for the fluke-man. I often flushed 4-5 times to ensure it was not coming up. I kept the toilet lid close to prevent it from crawling out. 

A few weeks later; Alex and I shared our fear of Fluke-Man. Dad said, you know, it does have a name. We sat back with wide eyes. It had a name?! 

Yes, his name is Frank. 

So Frank was born.

And it lost its power.

I was no longer afraid of Frank. How can you be afraid of a creature named Frank?!

And I am happy to report that I am no longer afraid of toilets after that. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What Is Magical To You?

I am quite excited to announce that we are.... *drum rolls*.... officially moving

We got a phone call from our landlord yesterday and he informed us that we were approved to move into the duplex that we applied to. Awesome!

While moving to a new place is exciting and I'm looking forward to decorating our new place....I must make a small confession, I hate packing! I absolutely hate it. How on the earth do I pack up everything in boxes? We have way too much stuff, I tell you. 

Fortunately, I have already started packing. I sorted everything into three neat piles: one pile to our new place, one pile to goodwill, and one pile to Stu's younger brother, Spencer. I felt like a hoarder from Hoarding: Buried Alive on TLC. Nonetheless, our cats have found zillion places to hide especially Missy. 

Missy is infamous on my Facebook wall. I post pictures of her hiding in the most random places ever. I know people really like seeing them because once I stopped posting pictures of her for awhile and I got bunch of private messages asking about the pictures. Ever since, I have been posting the pictures up mainly because it's funny and I like to share good cheer with people! 

An example of what I mean by "Infamous Missy's Hiding Spot" photo
I am itching to get back in the job market. So I am working on updating my resume which is oh joy, so much fun. Meanwhile, it is also so much joy to look through advertising online for job positions. All I have been telling myself is that it will pay off.

We are not the only ones who are brother, Alex, and his fiancee, Girl Alex just bought a house! I am so excited for them! They are also in the process of adopting Boston's "brother" (Boston is a Bulldog; too cute). Boston's "brother" will be a pit mix named Ajax. It sounds like things are going really well for both of them and I am pumped for them. I love good news, don't you? 

Stu and I are planning on going to our local fair and I'm absolutely excited. I love small town fairs. It has this magical feeling to it. It brings out the little kid in me. I don't know. There's something about smelling popcorn, funnel cakes, and hot dogs in the air. The music wafting through the air. The clicks, whirls, zooms, and whooshing from the rides. The smell of barn animals. The cows mooing as they walk through the barn to be shown off by 4-H club kids. Horses stamping their mighty hooves in their stalls. Feeling the hay crunching under my flip-flops. Sinking my fingers into a soft fur of sheep and telling Stu, we gotta get a sheep someday! Hearing pigs squealing (this always make Stu laugh that I can hear the pigs so he takes me there as much as possible because he gets so much joy from watching me saying OMG, did it just snort?!) Eating corn on the cob. Smiling at the young love; young teenagers steal kisses behind the trees. Savoring the cheese curds because oh come on, it's good! Riding Ferris Wheel with Stu at the night. Feeling the music beats as I dance to the evening country songs. 

How can you say that it is not magical...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Have You Thought About Your Racism? (Part 2)

I was having a coffee with a friend, Dan (name changed for privacy) at Starbucks. I savored my Frappuccino drink when Dan suddenly signed, "I'm no racist, but...."

I furrowed my eyebrows and interrupted him, "Dan, it is curious how you have to deny your racism in the first part of your sentence? Why do you feel a need to do that? After all, what you are about to say is probably racist." 

Let me tell you, Dan was not happy with me, and he chewed me out. He rattled on how he had black friends, black coworkers, and black neighbors. I finished my coffee with half smile on my face. Finally, he said that I have changed ever since I returned from Washington DC. I shook my head and corrected Dan, "No. I just became aware, that's all."

"We learn to be racist, therefore we can learn not to be racist. Racism is not genetic. It has everything to do with power." -Jane Elliot

For those who do know who Jane Elliot is; she is well-known for a study that she conducted in her grade school classroom to teach her students about racism. She divided her students based on their eye colors (Brown and Blue) and said, "Okay, children with blue eyes are now better than children with brown eyes." The result was stunning. The children with blue eyes acted superior to those with brown eyes. BE (blue eyes) children taunted, ignored, rejected, and turned up their noses to children with brown eyes. Jane Elliot was curious if she had reversed the eye colors then would brown eyes behave in such way that blue eyed children did? On the following day, she reversed the roles by stating, "Okay, now children with brown eyes are better than children with blue eyes." Again, the finding was stunning. The children with brown eyes taunted, ignored, and rejected those with blue eyes. (You can watch this study on Youtube: Experiment Part 1

The bottom line? This sense of superiority, both covert and overt, is a learned behavior through social conditioning. 

I have always prided in treating people equally because of my Deafness. Silly me, right? After taking Multicultural class, and taking workshops on racism, I became more cognizant of how I treat people of color in subtle ways, and opened my eyes to how others spread Racism. 

Locking car doors while driving through "ghetto". A woman clutching the purse close to her side as she walks upward to person of color. Hearing "black" jokes. Referring certain restaurants/food to be a black thing.  A white person going first in the line to purchase items at the food store. A black mother apologizing for her child bumping into a white person (yet a white mother does not apologize if her child bumps onto a stranger). A teacher picking a white student to answer a question over a black student. Reading a history textbook that has very little or no experiences with people of color. Dismissing experiences from a person of color. A waitress taking an order from white people first then a person of color last at the table. Telling a black girl to "talk right". Labeling a Native American as a drunken gambler. Laughing at a joke involving a Chinese person. Sitting at a table with white people; subtly giving off a message that a person of color is not able to join them for lunch.

The examples I just called COVERT racist behavior. Covert is a term that describes a set of hidden behaviors that is not openly recognized or acknowledged. This behavior is often practiced by well-abiding folks with good intentions that happened to be inadvertently taught by our society to behave in racist manner. 

Copyrighted to:
The problem with many people in this country is when we think of a term, racist, we immediately think of those who practices OVERT racist behavior. An overt behavior is when a person openly acknowledges and displays their racist beliefs: 

Picture copyrighted to dw-world scholarly article
A few days after the coffee incident, Dan emailed me and wanted to meet for a lunch to "talk things over". I agreed. 

The first thing Dan said when we sat down was this, "Ash, it really bothered me that you called me a racist. I felt that I was being blamed for being white. I didn't think it was fair that all white people should be blamed and labeled as racists. Hell, even blacks can be racists."

I mulled my answer for a while and allowed Dan's words to be absorbed for a few minutes. Then I answered, "You know, Dan, nobody are born racists. No one wants to be a racist. The word, racism, does trigger a lot of negativity because it does seem to put all the blame on the white folks. Let me use my Deafness as an example to help you understand this whole matter.

As a Deaf person, I have encountered a lot of prejudices...some obvious and some not. It did make me angry. I did blame ALL hearing people. There was a time when I even hated them because of hurt I experienced. I felt all hearing people should have been held accountable. Was that prejudice? Oh, absolutely! I wasn't entirely innocent in this fiasco. I did make jokes about hearing people. I did insult them. I did look down at them.

We Deaf people can't be oppressors because we have no power at all. We don't have a voice in this society. We are constantly mocked, ignored, and told by doctors that we must be fixed. Our history of Deaf culture is marred by genocide, sterilization, experimentation, forced speech therapy, being labeled as mentally retarded, and so many more. We have been told that our language is worthless and unauthentic. Yet our history as Deaf people is excluded from history textbooks. Hearing people are told that Deaf people have no culture. Hearing folks are taught that to be Deaf is a terrible thing....that being Deaf is a disability. We have to fight our way up. We have to fight to get the same rights as you do, Dan, even to this day. Oh, you wouldn't have imagined what I have gone through just because I am Deaf.

Fortunately, my prejudice did change because I met several hearing people, who sincerely wanted to learn about my culture and supported what Deaf culture was all about. The very same hearing people who have accepted that they have spread Audism (an oppression of Deaf people) unintentionally. They've accepted that they have been ingrained with Audist attitude because it was how our society had taught them. By recognizing this, they worked on eliminating Audism within themselves and in our society.

That made me respect them. That validated my experiences as a Deaf person going through a series of oppression. That made me feel less angry, alone, sad, and hurt because I had allies.

By having allies, they help us to have a voice in our society. They help us to prevent Audism and Audist attitude that most hearing people unintentionally continue to spread.

Now.....with Racism, you see, by accepting your own racism tendencies doesn't mean that you are at a fault for being white. It means you are becoming accountable for preventing Racism. You are acknowledging that Racism is a problem, and the problem won't be going away unless if you spread awareness about this. It's our society that is very sick and we can't allow this sickness to continue. This needs to be addressed and talked about. The key is education. Do you understand, Dan?"

Dan slowly nodded his head, "I still don't like the idea of being a racist ...but I get where you are coming from. It is something I need to think about."

I smiled and said, "That's a start."

Have You Thought About Your Racism? (Part 1)

Picture copyrighted to:

From time to time, I will find myself itching to write about an issue that is irrelevant to our "married life" blog. It is the writer in me that has a need to write about issues that I am passionate about and want to discuss about. A true writer does not hold herself back or censor her words in hope to gain approval and love from the readers. No, that's not me. I write because I want to share what I have learned. Ideas are meant to be planted in form of seeds and only to be hatched into a full-fledged discussions among people. 

I want to talk about an issue that is pressing, grave , and critical to our country. This topic is often brushed aside due to pride, embarrassment and anger. More often than not, this topic ends under the rug. It is not right. It is not fair. It has to be talked about. It needs to be out in the open. We need to face our history, our regrets, our mistakes, and our fears to fix what has been continuing to happen in our country. This is a difficult topic especially for white people.

The issue is about admitting to your own racism.

Picutre copyrighted to:
Before I can proceed, I want to share a quote by Buddhists. Buddhists said once, "It is not experiences that we learn from, but the willingness to experience things."

I attended a workshop once about Racism and met this man from Nigerian. He had beautiful espresso skin that gave a blue tint under the light. He watched as I signed about my own experience about oppression. My interpreter voiced what I signed:

"I always have to dress nicely. I have to. If I don't then hearing folks--you guys who can hear just fine--would assume that I am lazy and uneducated. When I say that I have Master's in counseling, hearing folks always compliment on how smart I am as if being Deaf means you have to equate your intelligence with your hearing loss. Just because I don't speak, so many people assume that I am uneducated or 'dumb' and they feel sorry for me. I've been also told that I am a snob because I am a hard person to get to know. In reality, I may give that impression of being a snob because I've had to develop a thick skin and it's hard for me to open up to just anybody."

The Nigerian man nodded his head slowly and replied, "You have had a taste of what it is like to be black. To be a black man in America is difficult. I have had to develop a thick skin because of what I had to go through as a black man."

An American woman, also black, chimed in, "I have to look good constantly. I have to dress up to get the recognition as a professional woman. If I don't then I am perceived by all the negative stereotypes that women in my culture normally gets."

I left the workshop with a lot of thoughts in my head. Why hasn't Racism been addressed in our schools? Why isn't it discussed more often? Why is that this topic is often met with fear and shame?

I read cards provided by the workshop a few days later and some questions touched me:

Will it ever be possible for a black person to look at a white person without resentment and for a white person to look at a black person without guilt?

Does white people fear the physical presence of Blacks or do they fear the anguish they have kept within themselves for centuries?

How can you judge me as a white person for the way I act and say when you do same thing? (This may seem a bit off-putting. The keynote speaker at the workshop, Lee Muh, encouraged raw honesty among people of color and white folks to get the heart of racism and share feelings no matter how unpleasant those feelings may become). 

Have you ever been conscious of being white? (That I can really understand because of my Deafness; you'll be surprised how awkward it can be standing in a room full of hearing folks talking and you have no clue what they are talking about. Suddenly, they look at you and they know that you are different.)

Will a white person ever say this one day, On behalf of all white people, would you accept my apology for all that we have done to you?

I have accepted my racism. My being Deaf has certainly helped contributed to my  understanding the people of color. While I cannot understand what it is like to be "black", "yellow", or "brown" and certainly don't live in their shoes...I do know how it feels like to be brushed aside, neglected, and rejected judged upon how well I can speak and hear.

Bottom line, Racism hurts both ways. 

Racism is an ugly topic that has to be openly discussed and shared with everybody regardless what color they are. It's time to speak up, be honest, and educate yourself and others."You don't fight racism with racism, the best way to fight racism is with solidarity." -Bobby Seale

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Sign Of A LadyBug

I normally don't write twice in a day, but sometimes that happens.

Anyway, remember the post that I talked about Labyrinth briefly? I figured today is a good day as any to finally talk about Labyrinth. One of my close friends is a certified Labyrinth facilitator and she is very passionate about teaching people about using labyrinths for a variety of purposes, including mediation or de-stressor tool. In short, walking Labyrinth is a form of mediation widely practiced by many folks.

She took Stu and I to walk the Labyrinth when we stopped to stay with her toward the end of our honeymoon trip. It turned out to be a very spiritual experience that I have had in a long while.

(All of the pictures shown here are copyrighted to J.D.)


Before I can proceed with the story, I must give you a quick background to help you, as a reader, to truly understand where I am going with this.

My grandma, who was dubbed as Sweet Mama, was dying. I held her hand, marveling at how paper-thin her skin had become, and a sense of sadness washed over me. Here she was, once a charming, strong, beautiful and animated woman, slowly letting go of life. As I whispered a silent farewell to her, a ladybug landed on her limp arm, and crawled its way across her chest to our interlocked hands. The ladybug sat briefly then spread its wings and fluttered away. Unknowingly to me at that very moment, the ladybug had become a sign for me from Sweet Mama.

Only a few times since Sweet Mama's death, I have always been blessed with a visit from a ladybug. Now, I didn't get to be "touched" by a ladybug very often. I was not in any of places where ladybugs often frequented when every incident occurred. So, when that happened, I knew it was Sweet Mama saying I love you and I'm here for you.

Now back to the story.

I was walking the Labyrinth. I thought about Sweet Mama. Would Sweet Mama have enjoyed our wedding? Would she have liked Stu if she had met him? I wished she would have been there in the person. My heart ached at the absence of Sweet Mama. Suddenly, I felt tickling on my thigh. I looked down, about to brush at my thigh at whatever was tickling my thigh, and saw a circular dot of red bug. Before I could scoop it up, it flew directly up onto my arm and crawled as I curled my fingers into a cup. To my amazement, it was a ladybug. It sat in my cupped hand for a minute then flew away.

I knew right there. I knew it was Sweet Mama telling me she had loved me. It was wonderful and beautiful. And she certainly had approved of Stu.

It was when this line entered into my mind, "Sometimes you have to let go of things so there's room for better things to come into your life."

Some people may dismiss this as a fantasy, yearning, or seeing a connection that is not quite there. Some people seek for signs in the wrong places. Some people continue to pine for signs from their deity without realizing that the answer is right in front of their eyes all along.

It doesn't require you to be a clairvoyant, a rocket scientist, or a mathematical genius to find answers. You don't have to be in a 'right' religion to find answers in your life. 

All you have to do is open your eyes.

Live Deeply, Laugh Fully, and Love Deeply

Our cats are quite happy. The AC is running for the first time since the summer began. I do not like using AC and prefer the alternative--having breezes coming into our little apartment supplied by our own Mother Nature. Unfortunately, we are experiencing a heat wave. With the heat wave, it brings dense humidity and mugginess. For past few days, we have been finding tufts of cat fur here and there. So it is time to reluctantly turn on the AC. By watching our cats' whiskers sway in the air, their eyes half-closed in reckless pleasure, their chins resting on their crossed paws and their tails swaying softly, I can tell that our cats are quite content with our decision, and to add, my husband is also glad to have the AC on.

It's one of those moments when I sit back and smile because I feel so blessed at where I am at in my life right now. I am reminded by this quote in a book called, "I'm Spiritual, Dammit!" By Jennifer Weigel. The quote is: You are where you are supposed to be in every moment. I do quite agree with the saying. Life has a purpose no matter how insignificant, little, or silly a moment seems to be. It will eventually make sense....all of those moments ties in and brings a purpose to your life.

Meanwhile, Live deeply, laugh fully, and love widely!

Missy Girl has found her new hiding spot....
And so did Mr. Jinxy!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Enjoying The Small Things.....

Stu and I attended a wedding for the first time as a husband and a wife. We had a really wonderful time! The weather turned out to be beautiful (no rain at all). The bride and groom looked beautiful. I had tears in my eyes while watching the ceremony because all of the feelings I had during my wedding came back flooding in me.

After experiencing my own wedding, I realized that I preferred wedding ceremony over the reception because it was when you witness the most romantic part of the wedding....seeing a couple exchanging their love for each other, and entering marriage together with such love in their eyes for each other.

Overall, It was just a perfect wedding.

Stu and I had so much fun dancing. Stu spun me around, dipped me, and floated around the room with me. I liked seeing my dress flaring at the bottom as Stu spun me around. I felt like a graceful dancer instead of a "Fender-Bender" as my dear friends so affectionately like to call me.

We saw some old and new faces at the wedding. It was amazing to see how much everybody had "grown up" since college.

As Stu drove on the way back home, I thought to myself how much fun I had with Stu and realized that it was small things that made life worth living for.....

So do take your time to stop and enjoy small things in your life. :)

My outfit for the night.

My hot date for the night; Mr. Russ!

Beautiful bride; handsome groom!
It was a beautiful wedding!

I like this picture because it was probably how my dress had flared out
while I danced with my husband :)


Friday, July 15, 2011

Una Bella Vita

Changing my last name is not really a fun process. I have been told that I need to go to DMV first to obtain a new driver's license under my new last surname.

However, I had to do some looking up online first to see what I needed to bring to DMV because the idea of showing up at DMV just to be told I had to do something else first prior getting my license renewed did not sound very appealing. It was a good thing I looked up online because it turned out that I had to go to Social Security Office FIRST before going to DMV then rest of everything.

Stu and I already took care of our bank accounts. It was really easy to decide. We kept our personal checking and our joint accounts. The only change we did to our joint account was adding the saving account to it. We wanted to start saving up for a house. It was all good with the bank. Nothing major in that department.
Stu and I mailed our application along with our security deposit for the duplex!

As soon we get the confirmation that it is ours, then I can officially announce that we are moving. Yes, I am superstitious.....and don't want to jinx myself by announcing too prematurely!

Honestly, our married life is not very much different than our "engaged" life. The only change I have noticed is...

is that I have a strange feeling....I feel like I am finally an adult. 

Not that I did not feel like an "adult" before.... I moved out of my home at age of 22 and lived in Washington DC. Then I moved back to Wisconsin, got engaged, and got our first place together. We got through our first year of living together which was filled with ups and downs. It was probably what a lot of people referred as "First year of married life" except the fact of us not being married back then. At least we got it out of the way, ha ha.

I suppose seeing MRS. with my name and having people to call me, Mrs. Ashley Russ made it different somehow.

I have pointed this out to Stu. To my surprise, he said the very same thing while looking at his wedding ring. Like me, he struggled to come up with WHY it is so.

It's hard to explain. If you can explain it better than I can then do share with me!

On a lighter note, I am very excited to announce that Adam (our wedding photographer) has sent us a link to "preview" our wedding pictures! They all look amazing and beautiful. I am so excited to show them off on Facebook once Adam is done with our pictures.

And to add....tomorrow, my little sister (via sorority), Jordan will be getting married, at the very same place where Stu and I got married, at Botantical Gardens. I am so excited to go there and have an "audience" perspective of the wedding there! Of course, I am also excited to see Jordan and Dave and to celebrate their wedding!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Changes Prevents Us From Stifling

As you may have noticed; I have changed the blog a bit regarding its background and style. It helps to make this blog become uniquely mine. I plan on adding a few more unique touches to this blog as time goes by. Keep coming back and you may notice some changes! :) 

Stu and I have "unofficially" decided that we wanted a duplex house that we looked at two days ago. We had a better "feeling" about the duplex and it also gave a home feeling. It also helped that there was a lot more space in the living room, both bedrooms, and the bathroom was remodeled. Stu really appreciated storage space in the basement. He also really liked the idea of having a private yard, and garage. 

Stu had a chat with the landlord last night. It was a positive talk and led to us discussing about our "unofficial" decision to move into that place. The landlord (name withheld for privacy) told us that he has been planning on moving out of downstairs duplex and informed us that we can have the first "dibs" on moving downstairs. It was exciting to think about the possibility of owning a dog because we have been wanting a dog for a year. 

I got the nicest message yesterday from one of my friends about a post I wrote. It made me feel good to know that I had inspired someone to also "take a plunge" into something new, scary, and exciting experience. It made me think a lot about my feelings regarding to the move. 

At first, I'm not going to lie, it was hard to think about moving to a new area. I've made new friends, gotten familiar with the area, and felt like it was starting to be a home for us. I contributed all of this mixed feelings to the fact that there was so many things happening at once (events surrounding the wedding, seeing new and old faces at the reception, honeymoon, and Stu getting a new job during the wedding chaos). 

Going away from everything for our honeymoon helped a lot. I was able to process my feelings and made peace with the move. 

Do not get me wrong, I was never against the move to start with. I encouraged Stu to take the job and supported his decision. I knew it was also going to benefit me (better and wider job markets in several different locations, closer of a drive for my family, and more opportunities in general). I just struggled with accepting new changes in my life...mostly because I was afraid of what to come. 

I was presented with an opportunity to walk Labyrinth (will explain it more down the road). After walking the Labyrinth, a thought occurred to me: "Sometimes you have to let things go so there's room for better things to come into your life."

That thought reminded me of a Buddhist teaching that I read once a few years ago. 

Buddhists believe that changes are mini rebirths in our lives. If we are resistant or afraid of changes, then we are unable to be "reborn" to better things yet to come in our lives. We are unable to emotionally, mentally, and spiritually grow if we continue to miss out on life experiences just because we are afraid. Buddhists readily encourage changes because it prevents us from stifling.