I’m a Lover, Not a Fighter

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post or two, this semester was extremely difficult for me.  I cut back my hours at work a bit, working twenty-four hours per week while taking nine credits at school (the minimum load for graduate students at my University is eight credits).  Still, this did not seem like enough.

I spent my entire weekend studying and doing my readings, only to get to class armed with my notes and not fully comprehend what I had read, despite how many times I had gone over it.  Seminars aren’t my favorite, and all of my classes this semester were seminars.  I had two in Museum Studies — “Museums and Education” and “Public History and Commemoration” — and a World History research seminar (my field is WH).  My Museum Studies classes were problematic because I had no experience with Museum Studies prior to registering for these courses; my advisor had recommended I take those classes in order to get a feel of the department and program, and to apply for my University’s Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies, offered through the American Studies department, if I felt it was appropriate.  My WH research seminar was something totally different.  There was only one other student enrolled for the course, so there was never a class session where I was not put on the spot.  I can’t speak on the spot; I realize this is something expected of me in graduate school, but I really like to have time to mull things over.  I did not have that privilege in that class, so I always left wanting to cry.  In fact, I left class almost every day wanting to cry.  Between January and mid-March I was pretty much just having a mental breakdown.  My official academic advisor was gone as he was in India on a research sabbatical, and my undergraduate history advisor was also gone, as she  had obtained a year-long fellowship in California.  I ended up talking to one of my past professors from the Religion department (my BAs are in History and Religion), and as I spoke to him choking back tears — visibly — he just said, “Can I ask you something?  If you already have a job you like, why are you in graduate school?  Most graduate students aren’t in the same boat as you, and they’re in school to get a job they like.  But you already have that.  So why are you in school right now?”  He didn’t mean that in a mean way, as to question my intentions.  He knew that I had been working at my credit union for over five years and that I loved working there.  I just said, “I don’t know.”  He said his door was always open if I needed to talk.

His comment has stuck with me since then.

In May, I quit my job.  My position was “Office Assistant.”  Basically, I was hired in because my mom was the Teller Supervisor at the time (she’s now the Branch Manager) and she has a good rapport with the President, and she’s known to be an extremely good worker — starts work early and leaves late, comes in when she’s sick, very strict with attendance and balancing, etc.  At the time,  I had just quit my job at a crack seed store at my local mall (if you don’t live in Hawai’i or don’t know what it is in general, crack seed is dried plums, cherries, lemons, etc.; despite working there, I’m very bad at explaining this).  The President asked my mom to extend a job to me, and I took it.  I first started out in Marketing but was later moved to the Loan department when they needed a receptionist.  I was in the Loan department for four years.  During my summer and winter breaks, I would adopt full time hours just to make some extra money.  During these times, I would help other departments every other day, like Accounting, HR/Admin, and mostly New Accounts.  Last year in May, I was sent down to New Accounts permanently until I left for India because they needed help.  I hated it.

As a student, I really love learning, and I wasn’t learning anything in New Accounts.  I was scanning for eight hours straight and they didn’t trust me enough to do actual meaningful work, like opening accounts, address changes, etc. (i.e., the help they actually needed).  Eventually I left for India and came back right before Christmas.  I asked the HR VP if I could go back to Loans, and she arranged for me to work half the week in Loans and half the week in New Accounts.  Since I was a part timer, I was administratively under Admin, not Loans, so she had the final say about my scheduling.  She felt New Accounts needed the help, so that’s just where I had to go.

In addition to hating the “bullshit” work I was doing down there,  I also didn’t get along with the supervisor.  The supervisor of that department is close to my mother, and she has made negative comments to my own mother about me (in 2015 a guy worked in her department that she couldn’t stand; we were close, and at one point she said to my own mother, “She has a boyfriend, right?  Because people are, you know, starting to talk about her and C”).  My mother was obviously outraged, but my mom is very good at keeping her personal and work lives separate, and I admire that about her.  I actually would have been upset and more embarrassed had my mom taken it upon herself to say something to that supervisor or any of the other managers.  Anyway, she made that comment about me and I just know she does not like me.  It’s understandable, because I am also indifferent about her.  I’m the kind of person where I either really like you or I’m indifferent; there was just no interaction, no quality about her that made me like her.  I may just be thinking this, but I think her indifference, probable dislike for me comes from that fact: I’m close to a lot of people around her, but unlike the rest of her staff who treat her like a mother, I just interact with her when work requires me to.  I can go the entire day without saying more than “Good morning” and “Bye, have a good evening” to her.

In May I asked the HR VP if I could adopt my full time summer hours.  She said okay.  I then asked, nervously, if there was any chance I could go back to Loans.  She said, verbatim, “I’m sorry, but with the way staffing is, that isn’t your decision to make.”  I said I knew that and that I was just asking, not demanding, but she just repeated, “It isn’t your decision to make” and walked away.  I was upset and insulted.  Why would she think I thought it was my decision to make?  I would never harbor that kind of entitlement toward a company that had done so much for me.  And on top of that, I just felt that the tone in which she spoke was completely inappropriate for a Vice President of Human Resources.  The straw that broke the camel’s back that day was when she went into the lunch room and told my manager, in front of another manager, a mortgage officer, a mortgage assistant, a teller, and a loan officer — my manager being the only relevant person in there — that I had requested full time hours, but only in Loans.  I felt that that was an inappropriate environment for such a discussion.  I quit the next day.

The week of my last day, the mortgage officer that was sitting in the lunch room the day the HR VP talked to my manager about my hours came to me and asked me why I was quitting.  He said, “I heard her say that you wanted more hours, and then a few days later your memo came out, saying you were leaving.  Why?”  I just shrugged at him with a grin and said I didn’t know.

In March I had acquired an internship at a local National Park Service monument.  Since quitting my job, I’ve been going there about twenty hours a week.  I really like the people with whom I work, and I enjoy the work I do there, but I’ve still really missed my old coworkers.  I’ve seen them regularly at things like Trivia Night, dinners, and just when I’ve stopped by.  I also can’t see myself getting used to the structure at the Park.  It’s the opposite of micromanaging, just as my boss said, but there’s too much freedom for me.  I don’t really ever need to be in the office except when students from contact schools are visiting; other than that, my work can be done from home.  I just choose to physically be in the office every day to make sure I get my work done.  At my old job, I worked a strict 8:00 – 4:15 day with a set lunch and no work to take home.  I knew what I was supposed to be doing every minute of the day, and if I ran out of work at the moment, I knew more would always come.  At the Park, once I’m done, I’m really done for the day.  I don’t like that feeling.  My boss at my internship entrusted me with a lot of things, and I’m extremely grateful, but I was told by the coworker whose position I’m prime to fill, that the position is classified as “Temporary,” meaning it ranges from one to five years.  Five years, especially as a maximum, will come and go quickly.  It also rubs me the wrong way a bit that I was promised a paycheck by the end of April.  It’s July and I still haven’t been paid once.  The experience there is more important to me than the money, but considering I haven’t received a paycheck in over six weeks, this is a major issue now.

About two weeks ago, a mortgage officer from my old work place, with whom I am close, asked me if I would come back to the company if I knew I would be permanently placed in Loans and never sent out to another department to help like I used to.  I thought he was joking because earlier in the night, the President, from across the table at which we were sitting, said to him, “It’s your job to get her to come back!” and I just smiled.  That same night, my old manager asked me, “Why didn’t you like New Accounts?” I just said, “It isn’t that I didn’t like it…” and he said, “No.  Don’t give me an amiable answer.  Be honest with me.”  I said, “Well, I wasn’t fan of being there,” to which he chuckled and said, “That’s still an amiable answer.  Be honest: if you hadn’t been sent downstairs to work with them, would you still be upstairs with us?” and I just rolled my eyes, smiled, and nodded.  He said okay and walked away.  The week prior, the President pulled me to the side and said, “Let me know whenever you want to come back.  We like you.  If you get bored there, let us know and we’ll be glad to have you back.”  I thought he was being playful.  He wasn’t.

A week ago I had lunch with the mortgage officer, and he said, “We all knew you didn’t want to leave.  We knew something must have happened since you left so abruptly, but that you just weren’t telling us.  I had a hunch that we pushed you out, and that’s why you left.  I told [the President and our manager] that, and they said ‘We believe you, now it’s your job to get her to come back.'”  I fought it until he had me in a corner, and I finally told him everything about why I quit: the boring work downstairs, the feeling of my brain rotting, and the conversation I had with the HR VP (I omitted my beef with the New Accounts supervisor only because I feel this is now a personal thing, not a work thing).  At the end of our lunch, he said that he, our manager, and the President agreed that they wanted me to come back and at a different capacity (a promotion), and that if I did come back, I would permanently hold a Loans position, which would transition to consumer or home lending when I felt I was ready.  I would be under the management only of our Loan manager, and HR would no longer have a say in my scheduling.  I agreed immediately.  At the lunch, when he proposed this, my professors voice rang in my head: “If you like your job, why are you in school?

I loved working there and I loved nearly everyone I worked with, save a handful of people.  There was never a day I didn’t want to go to work (okay, save those days in New Accounts).  The company had done so much for me and I really never wanted to leave in the first place.  I quit because I was unhappy, and I wanted to quit before I really began to hate the company.

When everyone asked why I never said anything, I just said I didn’t want to say anything that would reflect negatively on another department (turns out, another supervisor’s daughter is working in that department for the summer and said the exact same things as I had).  HR also questioned my mom and manager, asking if I was being forced back.  My mom had no idea what was happening since she doesn’t meddle in my work life, as I am her coworker more than her daughter at work, and my manager retorted, “No, she is not being forced.  She is an adult and we gave her options, and we told her to make her own decision after hearing what we needed to say.”  Apparently, my manager was not happy about such an accusation…

As a result of this, I’ve decided to take an indefinite break from school.  To be honest, I was in graduate school out of obligation.  I felt like I needed to be there because I knew I couldn’t do anything with a BA in Religion or in History.  I felt like I needed to be there because my advisors expected me to be there.  I felt like I needed to be there because I had broken out of my shell and gone to India.  I felt liked I needed to be there because my mom wanted me to be there.  In order to succeed in graduate school, especially in a field like Humanities, you need to be passionate and clearly driven — I am only one of these things.  I love my area of study.  I get so giddy talking about history, but I’ve lost my direction.  My proposals for my thesis have been shot down by my professors, saying they’ve been too general.  August would be the start of my second year, the generally expected date of completion for my MA.  I’m not even close.  I don’t even have a topic.  I was already shutting down between January and March.  I don’t want to keep taking out loans for almost $20,000 a year for schooling I feel I need but am fumbling through.  I love school and school has shaped a large part of who I am.  If it weren’t for my graduate program, I would have never gone to India.  But thinking about my thesis gives me this odd feeling, as if I were sitting in a dim root, lit only by a dull lamp with a crooked light shade, as the walls cave in.  Graduate school is done out of passion, not obligation.  I’ll return when and if I’m ready.

As for now, I’m ready to work and learn about loan processing, then slowly move on to decisioning and lending.  My manager chuckled when I said I would be happy to come back because I really like the company and people.  He added, “…and because it’s safe.”  It is, I won’t deny that.  On of my major personality flaws is that I’m always looking for confirmation, a guarantee, definite answers.  The credit union is a safe place:  I know I like the company and the way it works; I know I like my coworkers — Hell, I love them more than I love some of my own family; I know what I’m supposed to be doing every minute of the day; I know I can’t lose my job unless I embezzle money or make a huge mistake.  People applaud me for taking a huge step out of my comfort zone by going to a foreign country for almost half a year and living with a family I’d never met, but that’s different.  I’m tired of living paycheck-to-paycheck because I need to dedicate so much time to my studies while also trying to pay for my phone, car, credit card, food, and other miscellaneous things.  I think traveling and a job are different.  Maybe I’m rationalizing.  But even if I did complete my MA and graduate certificate, who’s to say  I would get a job in my field?  I would probably need to leave Hawai’i, that’s almost guaranteed, but what if I don’t get a job right away and my student loan repayment begins on top of all of my other financial obligations?  What if I do get a job but it isn’t anything that I had prepared for in school?  What if I do end up in a museum, but I feel unfulfilled and burnt out from the creativity needed that I can’t produce?  At this moment in my life, graduate school is a series of “what ifs” while this job is a stable income, a company I like, a job I know I’ll do well, and almost a hundred people I love.

It’s embarrassing to me that I couldn’t pull through this, but I know I can’t force a thesis.  My professors have told me I cannot do this.  I know I cannot do that.  Since my job is a set 40-hour-a-week schedule, Monday – Friday, I know I’l always have time after work and on the weekends to start research and to start thinking about my thesis.  My professors know me well, and they know that although I love academia, I’m also finicky and need approval, and that I’m hard on myself.  I imagine they will be disappointed but not surprised, but will expect that I will continue to do research outside of my program.  I don’t feel like a failure exactly, though I am disappointed that I couldn’t finish this the way I expected to.  Working in the Loan department for five years has also taught me, though, that loans snowball and two more years at $10,000 per semester will be a huge burden in a few years, especially if I don’t have a sufficient income shortly after I graduate.  I am taking the safe route and I know this.  But I’m willing to sacrifice adventure for safety that I know and love.  Fighting for something I’m unsure about is tiring and terrifying, and for now, I just want to do things at my own pace and to give myself time to figure out what I really want.



Happy Belated Father’s Day

As a child, we were extremely close.  You’d take me fishing in the harbor behind the Ilikai.  Once when we went fishing, I was playing too close to the ledge and despite your scoldings, I liked to play by the ledge, hovering just above the water.  I slipped once and you caught me by one belt loop, keeping me from falling in.  Every weekend you would take me to Fun Factory and I’d burn through all of your money playing those crane machines, which, to this day, I still love and play whenever I have loose change.  In elementary you were always the one who would come to my after school performances for A-Plus, and you would aways show up at my May Day performances while mom had to work.

When I was in middle school you changed your work schedule so you could pick me up from school every day.  You also got me my first cell phone while I was in seventh grade so I could contact you in case something happened.  We stopped going fishing and to Fun Factory, but you would buy me whatever I wanted, though within reason.

In high school, as through elementary and middle school, you would always buy me a rose for both Valentine’s Day and Girl’s Day.  You were nice to my boyfriend when you met him, and you both came with me the day  I had to pick up my prom dress.  You bought both of my prom dresses for me.  After I had convinced mom to let me enroll in Driver’s Ed, which was a difficult feat, you were the one who taught me how to drive because we drove each other nuts while I was driving and you also paid for it.

When I got caught with a boy in my closet when I was fifteen, mom kicked me out of her house and made me live with you since grandma and grandpa lived with you and there would be more “structure” at your house.  A week or two after I was kicked out, I crawled out of my bedroom window and ran to the bus stop to meet my friends to go to a Chiodos concert.  I got caught just as I was about to get back to my room, and you just said, “Fuck you,” and made mom drive all the way to your house the next morning because you didn’t want to discipline me.  A few weeks later I skipped school and you found out because I carelessly left the receipt on my desk.  You just said you found it, got mad, and avoided disciplining me because you neither wanted to discipline me nor call mom again.

After I started dating my now fiancé, you hated him right off the bat because he is older than me.  Eleven years is a stretch, but we get along so well and he treats me well.  We treat each other well.  At first, you refused to meet him and kept talking about how a man interested in a woman eleven years his junior is sick.  Did you forget you tried to date someone well over eleven years younger than you?

Your wife worked with someone who knew my fiancé and according to everyone around us, she liked to “talk” and had a big mouth.  For God knows why, she said my fiancé sold drugs and you ran an ultra marathon with it.  Nobody believed you, not even your parents — my grandparents — and they just told me to ignore you because you were being “crazy.”  You confiscated my car and made me sign the title after I had forgotten to get the safety check.  I was the one who did drugs and I was the one who left that empty roll bag in my car, but you assumed it was my drug dealer boyfriend, so you went off and called mom.  She argued with you and said I needed to make my own mistakes.  If I got caught with an expired safety check, I needed to eat the ticket.  If I got caught rolling, I needed to deal with it.  I was 18, and I was an adult.  She yelled at you and accused you of forgetting you had a daughter when you got remarried.  I was always the center of mom’s world, even after she got remarried, but your wife did take precedent over me.  And you did become more distant and “crazy” after you got remarried.  Mom told you that, if your wife was so important to you and if you thought I was such a lazy person who made bad decisions, and that your love for me was conditional, to remove yourself from my life completely.  I agreed with her.

After mom yelled at you, you needed to talk to me.  You sat me down and asked me if I was sleeping with my boyfriend for drugs.  I was taken aback and just stared at you.  I said, “…what?” and you just repeated your question.  I said “No” and stormed off.  What kind of father asks their daughter that kind of question?

I told my boyfriend to stop.  I commanded him to stop trying to get you to like him because he didn’t deserve the abuse he got from you.  Why should he try to get you to like him after you told everyone around us that he sold drugs?  But he was persistent because he said it was important that you and he at least be on good terms since he really loved me and couldn’t have his girlfriend’s father hating him.  I just said, “whatever, good luck.  I don’t care about him.”

Over the next few years we saw each other on holidays and birthdays, and that’s about it.  You would always say, “I’ll call you for lunch” and you never did, yet you would complain to grandma and grandpa that I never saw you, that I never made time for my family.  I did, just not you.  I saw mom every day since we worked together, and I always spent at least one weekend day with her.  If I didn’t call her first, she would call me.  You never did.  Instead, you helped your wife at the bakery, did things for and with her nieces and nephews, and never called, but would tell your family I never saw you.  I tell them it’s because you never call.  My cousins would always ask if I was coming to the annual family reunion in Vegas.  I know you go, but I’ve never even had the opportunity to go since I don’t know when it since as you do not and never have told me.

Your wife is a whole other issue.  The first day we met, it was fine.  But after that, she came on too strong.  My stepdad had a stepmom so he knew how it was.  He never tried to raise me and he never told mom what he thought she should do in terms of her parenting of me.  But she, on the other hand, always gave her opinion about everything, she believed her employee and said that my boyfriend sold drugs before ever even meeting him.  Her birthday one year fell on Mother’s Day so I didn’t tell her happy birthday because I was with my mother.  You called, angry, and asked profusely why I did not wish your wife a happy birthday.  I said I was with mom, and you said, “That isn’t how I raised you.  You should have called to tell her happy birthday.  This is so embarrassing for me.”  I couldn’t have cared less about your wife’s birthday, it was Mother’s Day and I dedicated that entire day to my mother.  A year or two later you then had the audacity to insinuate that you and your wife wanted me to call her “mom.”  I flat out said no, and then you suggested I call her “aunty.”  I’ve never called her anything but her first name because that is who she is to me.  I call my stepdad by his first name and he has never cared.  I think your wife thought she was getting a family with you and me; it’s unfortunate that she biologically cannot have children, but she came on way too strong and is two-faced, and that is not how you gain a “daughter.”  She also made you stop talking to one of your oldest friends because in middle school — what, some thirty years ago? — you dumped your wife for her.  Even your ex-friend tells me, “That was so long ago, we were in middle school.  Who cares?  He’s remarried and I’m remarried and have a daughter.  I just want my friend back.”  I cannot fathom why she even still cares about you.  I went to her stepdaughter’s graduation party since we were in the same classes, and have known each other since we were six years old, and I never told you I saw her.  That was last summer.

Quite honestly, the biggest reason behind me not being able to stand you is what you said about my mother.  After your argument with her and your continued arguing with me about my boyfriend and our age difference, you asked me how mom felt about him.  I said, “She was cordial to him from day one.  She likes him and my aunty and cousin like him.   It’s you.”  To which you said, “Well your mother is like that.  You know why we got divorced right?  She cheated on me.”  I’ve known that mom cheated on you since I was in middle school.  She told me herself.  Yet you felt that you needed to air your dirty laundry to me, out of spite, because you were upset with the both of us.  I don’t care that she cheated on you.  I remember the both of you fighting when I was little, it was better for you two to be apart.  You had a good relationship post-divorce until you confiscated my car and told me that I was lazy, irresponsible, and a poor-decision maker, and she defended me.  She ripped your head off because you ripped off mine, to her.

You said I was lazy, irresponsible, and so, so spoiled.  Who made me spoiled?  You gave me everything I asked for and bought me whatever I wanted, yet you got mad at me for being spoiled at eighteen years old.  Mom was the one who disciplined me.  She signed all of my failing reports from school, she signed my poor report cards, she got the phone calls about me not being in class, she found the boy in my closet, she found the cigarettes in my bag, she found out I was doing ecstasy.  She never talked to me in the way you did.  She dealt with my poor behavior all throughout high school since I lived with her and you got the “good” parts of me.  Yet you had the nerve to tell the both of us how horrible I was, how difficult it was to be my parent, when she dealt with it more than you did.  You then had the nerve to tell me that mom didn’t love me because she told me to move out of the house when I was twenty-four or to start paying rent.  She made that rule so I wouldn’t end up living at home until I was forty years old like everyone else in Hawaii.  You also insinuated that mom probably did not care about me as much now since she had a younger child.  What kind of parent says that?  I was almost sixteen when my brother was born, so I obviously understood how the family dynamic would change.  He gets more attention because he is a child and I have never felt less loved by mom.  Our needs are different — he needs more attention, all I need from mom is lunch and conversation.  Is that your guilty conscience projecting?

Mom loved me through every single bad thing I did, and you stopped when you realized I would do things you didn’t always agree with.  She put up with my mistakes, you never did.  You condemned me for them but she always scolded me but said, “you need to learn from your own mistakes.”  You tried to enable me, she tried to help me.  She has helped me.

I love my mother more than anything.  I cannot go a day without thinking about her, and I tell her I love her every single time I see her or when we speak on the phone.  I see her at least once a week and spend an entire day with her.  I cried when I was in India because my host mother was so kind and loving, but she was not my mother.  I cannot imagine what I will do the day my mother dies.  She told me that when her mom died when she was twenty-nine, she felt like her world ended and like she was utterly lost, and that she couldn’t imagine things ever getting better.  That’s how I feel when I think about her dying.  When I think about you dying, I think about just not seeing you at grandma’s house for the holidays.  It isn’t much different than it is now.  I’m never happy to see you.  I’m either irritated or indifferent.  I love my mother with all my heart.  As a child I thought I loved you more because you never yelled at me or hit me (like a parent hits a child, not abusively), but she loved me through every bad thing I did.  As I grew older I realized how much I put her through and how much she loved me despite all of my mistakes and imperfections, and I love her more every day for that.  I cannot put into words how much I love my mother.  When my anxiety and depression were really bad and I constantly thought about killing myself, it was the thought of her and my brother that kept me from it.  I could not cheat myself out of time with her and my brother.  You never once crossed my mind.

I’m getting married next year and I do not want you there.  I need to invite you out of obligation, but you will not walk me down the aisle.  If we go through with getting married in Seattle at my cousin’s house, one of my best friends will do it.  If I get married here, I will ask my past coworker with whom I am incredibly close.  It is not to punish you, it is because I do not want to make my own wedding day uncomfortable by including you out of obligation.  You haven’t wanted to be part of my life for easily five years now, and now I do not want you in it at all.  Remember, losing your relationship with me means losing your relationship with your only child.  Losing my relationship with you means I have more time to dedicate to my mother and less stress about feigning happiness to see you.  You lose more than I do.  Even now, my fiancé constantly tells me I need to patch things up with you because I will regret it if I don’t.  See how he still considers you while you could not care less about him?  Yes, I am spiteful and I am petty, but this is something different.  It isn’t like you forgot my birthday so I happened to “forget” yours, you spread rumors about my boyfriend, you made me the black sheep of your side of the family, you said nasty things about my mother to my face, you accused me of sleeping with someone for drugs, you let your wife turn you into a robot.  Who in their right mind would want to fix a relationship like this?

Happy Father’s Day again.  I said it to you on Father’s Day at grandma’s house but you probably didn’t process it as you were watching baseball the entire time while I talked to your brother and sister-in-law since they had actual questions about my work, school, time in India, etc. and said all about three words to me.  You had one daughter — one child — and you seem to have forgotten that a bit.

History, New Orleans, and World War II

The semester is almost done!  I couldn’t be happier.  Tomorrow I’m turning in my final paper for my World History Research Seminar, and after that I have two final papers and that’s it (also two ten-minute and fifteen-minute presentations on them).

This evening was the last meeting of the semester for our PAT chapter.  At the closing of the meeting we discussed the 2018 Biennial which will be hosted in New Orleans.  The 2016 Biennial was at Disneyland but it came at the beginning of my graduating semester, so months before my senior thesis would be completed.  I’m in better shape now to speak at a conference, and the pres said that they may be working on a World War II panel at the Biennial and my heart leaped when he said that.  They especially want Asia/Pacific content, which is what my recent research has been on.  I haven’t presented at any conferences yet so I know that’s something I need to start doing.  I’m hoping I don’t lose the courage to apply when the application deadline actually rolls around (October).

I’ve also started interning at a historic site near my neighborhood.  I’m part of the education team and I just do research for program content and will be given to choice to work with school groups that come to the park or to go to school visits (I’m going on one next Thursday to a private school near my university).  Right now my current homework is to do primary source research, looking at the Japanese perspective on Pearl Harbor and plantation immigration.  Things are going great. 🙂

Me Vs. Food

It’s been about a month since my last bulimic episode.  That’s a long time considering I suffered from it for about two and a half years.

This time last year was awful because of it.  Everyone everywhere knows how much eating takes place during the holidays.  First it’s Thanksgiving, a few weeks later it’s Christmas, and one week later, it’s New Years.  And favorite foods in Hawaii are so unhealthy, but just as delicious.  My dad’s family always has a full roast pork on New Years Day and the skin is so unhealthy but so, so, so tasty and crispy freshly cut.

Surprisingly, though, the thought of gaining weight hasn’t been weighing too heavily on my mind.  I can tell that I have gained weight (or lost muscle mass), but it isn’t bothering me nearly as much as I had imagined.  We ran the marathon on the 8th and since then, we haven’t really run.  I started doing pilates but I don’t have as much time for it now that I work full-time until I start school again.  I need to find time for it; I really enjoyed it and since I went off of Cassey Ho’s Blogilates videos, it’s easier because she talks during all of her videos.

But anyway, I think I’m doing well.  I don’t count calories anymore and I’m a lot happier eating whatever I want.  I still stay away from fast food meals (not the fries though!) and greasy foods in general.  Last week my friends, boyfriend, and I went to Hooter’s for our early Christmas dinner and I felt so sick for days after that.  I ate a plate of tater tots and one and a half parmesan garlic chicken sliders.  So.  Much.  Oil.  But, I love tater tots way too much and I still don’t really regret it.

I don’t know what clicked in my head.  This time last year, my eating disorder did get a little better because on Christmas Eve, I came down with the stomach flu and spent the entire night tossing and turning with body aches, and if not that, then in the bathroom throwing up or, you know.  And that entire night being spent throwing up until my stomach hurt because nothing else would come out made me realize that I did that on a daily basis.  I made myself throw up vital food intake on a daily basis because I had been made fun of for being fat in high school.  I weighed 98lbs around that time.  It got worse again, and got a little better after I got back from Washington in July.  And since mid-November or so, I haven’t made myself do it.  I threw up once last Sunday, but that was because I tried so hard to eat $62 worth of crab at Hoku’s breakfast brunch that my body just couldn’t take it.  As much as I love king crab legs, there’s only so much I can eat comfortably.

But, I am a lot happier.  Counting calories is a waste of time.  Two and a half years of bulimia naturally did make my appetite smaller, so it’s easier for me to control how much I eat now.  Bread and pasta were my deadly enemies before but since then, I’ve learned that eating them in small portions is fine, and I’ve even learned how to make no-knead bread (it’s pretty good if I do say so myself).  I can’t even explain how much I love bread.  I love the smell of freshly-baked bread, I love making it, I love the texture, I love its versatility.  Pasta, eh.  I can do without it.  I also used to eat A LOT of rice, as most Hawaii residents do.  I’ve learned to substitute rice for vegetables in most cases; however, spam, eggs, and rice or eggs, vienna sausage, and rice CANNOT be subbed for anything.  They need to be eaten with rice, I’m sorry.  It’s a breakfast staple here!  I also love waffles and I’ve learned that one waffle won’t kill me.  In fact, I ate a Belgian waffle for breakfast today.  I woke up craving one, so I drove to Aiea to get a strawberries & whip waffle from Koa Pancake House and I ate it in less than ten minutes.  Like the tater tots, I love waffles way too much and I don’t regret it one bit.

I think, though, I’ve learned that being stick-thin doesn’t make me pretty, and being a little thicker doesn’t make me ugly.  My boyfriend knew about my eating disorder a year in, but at the time, I had told him that I had gotten better.  So for a year and a half, I just hid it better.  Deceitful, yes, but I thought he’d be happier if I became thinner.  Let me say, he is not like that at all.  From the day we met, he’s constantly told me how beautiful, pretty, cute, sexy, adorable, witty, funny, intelligent, and kind I am (or that he thinks I am, anyway!).  He tells me on a daily basis that I’m pretty and he has for the two and a half years we’ve been together.  I just never believed him.  Maybe now I do.  We wake up in the morning and he’ll roll over, look at me, and tell me that he feels lucky to wake up next to me every morning.  This has happened for two and a half years, and I still thought I was fat and ugly.  How could I think that, right?  I’m not sure.

I’m not scared of gaining weight anymore and it feels so wonderful.  I don’t eat whatever I want, whenever I want, but I’ve just learned to eat in a smarter way and that sometimes, I’m not hungry, but simply bored.  I’ve learned to love running and exercising in general, and I’ve grown to love fruits (I’ve always loved veggies).  A chocolate cake is a chocolate cake, I don’t need to try one from five different restaurants.

The hardest part about my eating habits these days is being at work.  My work place is full of closet chefs and bakers.  In fact, my coworker is the one who gave me the recipe for the no-knead bread.  He’s a wonderful cook and makes fresh bread at work weekly.  I work in an office and there are always snacks, especially in my department.  There’s a desk designated solely for snacks.  One of the loan officer’s wives makes brownies all the time and gives us the brownie edges.  BROWNIE EDGES, the BEST part of the brownie!  He knows I like brownie edges so he’ll always give me the first pick.  Members are always bringing us malasadas, coco puffs, manapua, cake, pie, etc.  Not to mention staff just baking and bringing things to work.  Sometimes I’ll flat out say “No, I do not want cake” and I’ll get up to grab something and ONE minute later, there will be two slices of cake on my desk.  It’s my fault, everyone there knows I have a sweet tooth. 😛

I also really love cotton candy.  This is the one food my mom told me I cannot eat.  I’m 20 and she tells me I CANNOT eat cotton candy.  I’m 20, I can eat whatever I want!  Including tons and tons and tons of cotton candy.