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Venting

Very personal post incoming. It’ll also be very long. You have been warned lol.

When I was in 6th or 7th grade, I remember coming home to a very unfamiliar atmosphere. My grandma was there and my mom was laying in bed too drunk to even notice I came home. I have never seen my mom drunk and that was the one and only time I witnessed it. I don’t remember where my siblings were but I remember my dad wasn’t home. I also don’t remember what was exactly spoken at the time. All I remember is that I had never seen my mom in such a state. When I grew a little older and had gotten into high school, I was told the truth about what happened. My mom had her heart broken and didn’t know where to go and so resorted to the bottle. I found out my dad had been cheating on her and the fights at home were probably more common than in any other healthy relationship. Sadly, that was what my siblings and I were taught through witnessing it over several years. The lesson that excessive fighting in a relationship is normal. It’s not, we know that now but we still think it’s weird family members and friends hug. Expressing feelings any other than anger is weird to us.

I remember my dad once brought my sister and I over to a friend of his on his day off. It was just a normal day and he said this friend had a daughter around our age that we could play with. We didn’t think much of it and tagged along. I still remember where she lived. She was a single mom with a little daughter named Shelley (not sure I spelled it right though). Again, we didn’t think much of it and probably thought it was nice to play with another kid. What didn’t occur to us was that our dad just walked in like it was his home and straight into the bedroom. I remember the adults leaving us in the living room. I don’t remember exactly how old I was at the time, but I was old enough to babysit for one kid. There I was, with two kids. Of course, we eventually got into a fight and we had to leave. It never occurred to me that this was the woman my dad was with while being married to my mom.

Many years after and up until the day my grandmother passed away, I was asked frequently by my grandmother if my dad was still “fiddling on the side”. I didn’t know, and I made sure to say so. My grandmother kept telling me I have siblings somewhere out there as a result of my dad’s affair. I know I resented my dad for doing that, for not being brave enough to face an end with my mom and move on. I absolutely despised it and it showed during my high school years. I know for sure my mom never forgave my dad for it and in all honesty, who would?

Sometime during my first year of high school, when the fights were most intense, my parents spoke of divorce. I didn’t fully understand at the time, it was all beyond me and I was a confused teenager. I do remember choosing to be with my mom because it made no sense to me to live with my dad because of various reasons. He’d yell at us kids for no apparent reason and was in a really dark place himself drowning in alcohol. To this day, I still have a hard time hearing the sound of a can opening because it brings back horrible memories. Violent memories. I still hate being unable to open a bathroom door. If a bathroom door lock doesn’t open, I’d panic. No amount of therapy has gotten me over it and sometimes I hate it. Most the time I think of it as a scar that is there to remind me never to repeat that to anyone in my proximity and to always be alert of such unnecessary behavior. If anything, it has made me wiser. The talks of divorce died and it all settled down. That year, my parents stopped sharing the same bedroom.

Let’s fast forward to this year. My mom decides she wants to live up to a promise she made to my cousin about attending said cousin’s wedding. The small issue is that the wedding is in Vietnam and my mom is first reluctant to go but us kids persuade her to go. She needs the vacation and what would be more fitting than to attend my cousin’s wedding and be with people that would cater her every need? She, if anyone, deserved it. My mom finally makes the decision to go and suddenly, my dad wants to tag along. Reluctantly, my mom agrees and I tell her to be careful because when dad is hangry, I kid you not, he would murder a cow. Nervously, I take them to the airport and see them off.

Three weeks go by and as I talk to my mother everyday (as per normal), I notice her increasing anxiety. I go to pick them up at the same airport I saw them off at and I pick up one anxious parent and a very angry parent. I try my best to coordinate and we make it back to their apartment. This was in May. Since, the fights have picked up like they did when I was in high school. This time, they actually managed to get worse. Threats were thrown left and right. Threats of humiliation and violence. It’s abusive and I ask my mom and brother to leave, even if temporary to just get out for a little while. They declined and things just got worse.

Finally, a new proposal of a divorce got on the table. I have, from day one, said that I will not believe it this time unless I see them both sign it and I’ll post the damn thing myself. Today, I am doing that. It feels good but there’s this part of me that keeps thinking. I’m a very emphatic person and at times, it’s difficult to handle. I’d rather just be sympathetic instead but it is what it is. For all that is going on, I’m once again with my mom on this. I don’t mean to paint my dad as the culprit here, even if he’s done many things wrong. I’m sure, that like the first time, I am missing out on a lot of the full story. However, I can’t bring myself to forgive what he has done, not in the past and not in the present. I actually want a genuine apology but I know that is not likely to happen because my dad is a very proud and righteous man. He’d never admit fault, ever. Despite knowing this and knowing that he won’t ever change his stupid and deranged vision of “my way or the highway” (the highway meaning being on the receiving end of his abuse), I still care. I still fucking care. I worry that he might not make it on his own. He doesn’t know how to pay bills. He doesn’t know where to go if he’s really injured or sick. I worry that he might not be able to care for himself having instant noodles for dinner, shoving it down with beer. It’s destructive, not only for him but for the people around him. I know that. I know his behavior is destructive, yet I care. I bloody care. I hate that. The voice in my head keeps telling me it makes me a better person for caring but then there’s another, smaller voice that tells me that I shouldn’t because in the end, letting such a destructive person have greater influence of your life is horrible. It’s a bad move. I’ve done it before and I’ve gotten burned several times. Yet I still care. I still fucking care.

//c_Cae; making sense of this emotional turmoil.

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A divided decision

3 weeks have passed since Serah came to us. Training has paid off, she listens whenever we tell her no, knows her commands and has improved a great deal when walking on the leash. She does turn deaf when she plays with other dogs, though. That’s alright, she’s still a pup. She’s very sneaky, too. She’s not allowed on the couch and she knows it, yet she seizes every opportunity to jump up on it and then look all innocent when we catch her. Most the time, we don’t need to tell her off, she’d jump off on her own and then give you the saddest puppy face on the planet before laying down in her own bed.

During the time Serah’s been here, I have loved 90% of it. Finally having a dog feels amazing. Actually, it feels more than amazing even though it didn’t really turn out the way I wanted (I want a shiba, remember?). I haven’t felt any anger when I’m bored since Serah came. I’ve always had something to do. Zoe is very independent, so a dog fills the gaps where I feel I really want to do something. Whenever I’m bored, I could just train with Serah. She’s very eager to please, which has made our training sessions very easy.

However, I can’t say the same about my family. Patience have been shortened and there haven’t been much understanding to the fact that Serah is a puppy. Zoe has a few phrases on repeat whenever Serah’s around.
I’m scared of Serah. Does she have to live here? Can Haylee live here instead? Haylee can sleep in my bed. Serah’s too big. I love small dogs, like Haylee. 

Haylee is a chihuahua our beloved friends have. She’s indeed adorable, but a wee bit too small for my taste. I understand Zoe, though. It is intimidating to have a dog that’s about twice your body size and it isn’t very helpful knowing the dog will only grow bigger and much faster than Zoe does.
For two and a half weeks, the Dutchman and I have sat down every day, several times a day, with Zoe and Serah and have them become more accustomed to each other. We’ve put up a gate to Zoe’s room to help the progress. Serah keeps laying outside said gate, wagging her tail, hoping Zoe will come play. But Zoe just ignores or teases from the other side. We’ve also tried walking Serah with Zoe, playing out- and indoors with everyone involved and tried doing simple tricks. None of these work and what has happened is that Zoe even more repeats her phrases.

Now, we feel like we have two options. Either return Serah to the adoption bureau, in which case she will again go to a foster family, or keep her and try to make the best of it. Chances are, though, that Zoe will forever emphasise the size of the dog. I’m very divided. I’m a mother, first hand and that makes me feel like I need to listen to my child no matter what. That includes if I have to take the fall (of feeling bad for giving up the dog) if it means Zoe will feel better. The Dutchman seem to have little problem with this aspect, less than I do at least. An equal part of me does not want to give up Serah. She’s amazing. And the voice echoes but you have to think of your child. I don’t know what to do and it just feels awful.

//c_Cae; adulting is hard, parenting is sometimes harder.

Mother daughter time

Zoe and I didn’t do a lot while the Dutchman was away. Mostly, we’d just head out to the parks nearby and played at the playgrounds, hunted Pokémon together and went to see my mom. Other than that, we just had some quality time together. It was great.

I had intended to head for a BBQ as well as an art exhibition with Zoe, but the exhaustion and an ill-timed headache put an end to all that. It sucked, most definitely but at least Zoe had a lot of fun at the playgrounds. We did however drop by the Aquatic Ecology unit on the Friday and hung out with the people there. Marie showed Zoe pictures of her hens and guess who now wants hens?

So now we gotta buy a house with a yard and raise hens.

//c_Cae; any houses for sale? :P 

The last day

The days Frank were here went by so fast, it’s what happens when you have fun, I guess. I forgot to mention that the previous day, I had a pho dinner as a goodbye dinner for Frank.

I’d never done pho on my own before but it turned out alright, not quiet as the one my mom does but I’m close. I also invited La Familia. I knew they’d get along with Frank, and guess what? They did. They got so well along, Max asked me where I had hidden this gem :) Sometimes I wish distance wasn’t such an issue. I have so many good friends, and I really want them all to come together. This dinner was one step closer of getting them all (no, I don’t treat my friends like Pokemon).

The dinner was a success, as usual when food is involved. I also realised that I can handle two girlfriends, which is nice because I have never really gotten along well with girls, but these two are <3 (looking at you Vera and Jenny).

The next day came, and Frank was bound to leave. It was a slow morning, and Zoe was playing with Frank as usual. The two got along so well, and Zoe was clearly not ready for Frank to leave just yet. We all decided to see Frank off, with me going all the way to the airport while the Dutchman and Zoe stay behind after the train station.

Once Frank and I got on the train to the airport, Zoe started crying and hearts were broken. It sucked to see her cry. Damn ID-controls over the Danish/Swedish border. At the airport, we bumped into a Chinese couple, who turned out to be siblings, and asked us for help. My Mandarin is crap, I understand a little but I can’t not for the life of me speak it. They were asking us for help as their carryon was way to heavy for the lady of the two to carry. Of course we help, even though some things were left unsaid because of it. At the gate, there was a quick goodbye and a long hug before Frank took off to Amsterdam to continue his Euro-trip.

It was short, but a great visit. Hopefully, we can meet soon, after all, it was only a temporary goodbye.

Jetlag day

On the third day of Frank’s visit, my intention was to get him and my brother out while I was at a meeting at the university. Plans quickly changed though as Frank’s jet lag took the best of him.

I didn’t mind, travelling east is always painful and it was better for him to feel the worst with the lag here at my place than somewhere else. While he rested up at home, I took off to my meeting.

The unit was kind of empty. Barely anyone was there, so I just put my stuff at the office and headed for the meeting. I was asked to TA earlier this summer and this was an introductory meeting for the class I was going to help out at. I love to TA and so I said yes, thinking maybe I would have less on my plate at the time. I was wrong, but that’s for later. My tasks as TA seem fairly easy, guide students and encourage them to keep up the good mood. I’m pretty good at that, I’d say, so off we go and I head home.

Once home, Frank’s feeling better, which was great because I had made reservations at Bastard, one of the most renown restaurants in town. I had a reservation for three, but since my brother fell ill, it was just Frank and I.

The menu wasn’t huge, but it had enough choices for us to become indecisive about things. It later became obvious we’d order different things and just share it all. Once the food came, we were taken to foodie heaven.

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The Bastard Plank (right to left); serrano (or was it prosciutto?), cornichons, lard, liver paté, duck breast, chorizo. It was amazing.

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My drink of the night: Left Lane, English tea with some kind of peach infusion, I can’t really remember but it was a 10/10. Non-alcoholic.

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Look at the photographer feeding the camera before feeding himself.

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We really showed who was boss.

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Oxcheek with potato mash and roasted onions. Perfect blend of texture and fall tastes.

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Left: Oxcheek. Right: Pork collar with roasted vegetables and plum mustard. The plum mustard was clearly the star of this dish.

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My semifreddo with raspberries and pistachios. Not as much of a highlight as the entrée but good enough to wrap up the dinner. 

I didn’t take a pic of Frank’s desert, but he had a dulce de leche with caramel and coffee. It tasted better than mine, I was just too overwhelmed by the raspberries and pistachios.

Overall, it was definitely a 9/10 experience and I’ll go there again once my thesis is defended. There’s a lot at stake here, so I better finish it. Anyway, we basically rolled home after that. Full and satisfied as we were.

//c_Cae; still missing that glorious dinner

lvl 30

Oh yeah! I also turned 30 about a month ago. It feels great being 30. I’ve had a lot of people telling me stupid things like “you’re old now”, “your life is over”, “hello midlife crisis”. Whenever I hear them, I feel like they are way more insecure about their ages than I am. They kind of have to be. To me, turning 30 feels AMAZING. Why? Because I’m no longer in my 20s. Because I now have 30 years of life experience that no one else has (no one lives my life, only I do). Because people might take me a little bit more seriously now that I’m 30, although I’m still a child at heart). Because I’m 30 and I’m still laughing.

There are way too many reasons to be happy about it, than to feel anxious because of it. And it’s not just a number. Your age tells others a lot. I look up to older people because they have stories I have never heard. I look up to younger ones because they too, have stories I have never heard. Yes, listening to stories teaches you so much. If told right, they’ll be your experiences too. Experiences that you can apply to your life. There’s no shame in getting older, you just get more of that precious XP and SP (skill points, speaking like a gamer here). Use them wisely, because we don’t have any save points.

//c_Cae; always try to see things from a different angle, you’ll be surprised how much you’d learn…

Good things

come to those who wait, they say. I say good things come to those who work for it. Last Friday, I had a meeting with my supervisor to discuss the results of my thesis. I really want to finish, but I keep on stumbling upon problems. The good thing is that my supervisor has a lot of faith in me. He told me I’ve done a good job so far (in my head, I still haven’t done smack). He also told me to interpret my results, write them down and send them to him.

Instead of blowing his mind, he blew mine. I’m actually pretty stunned he believes in me that much. I remember when I was doing my bachelor’s thesis, my then-supervisor and I actually sat down and looked at the results and discussed what they could mean. Now, it’s like I’m all grown up and ready to fly. I felt like he pushed me off a cliff, yelling You can do it. I’m not so sure I’m ready to fly solo yet. I am however struggling to get those damned prediction intervals to my normal quantile-quantile plots. Not going very well if I may say so myself.

Anyhow, a great thing happened even though it’s small. One of the reasons I wanted to become a marine biologist was because of Jacque-Yves Cousteau. His exploring of the oceans had me falling in love with the ocean like never before. I was 8 at the time. Now, his family continues his legacy and the ones that stand out the most to me are his grandson Phillipe and his youngest son Pierre-Yves. So the other night, I was on Instagram and saw a notification. I thought to myself that it’s probably some random person following me, but it turned out to be Pierre-Yves Cousteau. I nearly fainted and then got so excited I couldn’t sleep.

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So uhm, that’s a life goal I didn’t knew I had, haha.
Back to work, write you folks later.

//c_Cae; damn those prediction intervals.