Friday, May 30, 2014


     Reina is here! 
     We went to the airport with Sonny and Roberta to pick her up . Taka, her uncle, said that he is too busy at work and can't take off even for a few hours. 
     So, we printed Reina's name in Japanese on pieces of paper and stood by the doors, where lucky visitors to the U.S. exit into the airport lobby.
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Reina is on the right.
     Reina is a small young lady of the same age as Hanah. I expected her to be a little bit heftier, I guess! She is very polite, quick-witted and pleasant. Her English is not that bad: she understands almost everything that we talk about!
    As we came home, we showed Reina her room and the amenities. Roberta took initiative and told my niece that she can use the bathroom in her room also. A couple of hours after her 
arrival, I and Roberta began our bad influence. We invited her for a Poker game! She was very fast in learning everything about it and
Alas, the smallest pile of winnings is mine!
won a few hands. We laughed and played until Taka came home. Then he took us to a Vietnamese restaurant. Since we already went to a crepes' place earlier that day, I and Sonny didn't feel very hungry. Sonny hardly had any of his Pho soup, and I ate only half of my cold vermicelli with pork. Roberta surprised me: she declared that she could eat and polished off most of her food!

jpeg (200×150)     On the way back we stopped and got a strawberry pie. As I told Roberta, "Good luck losing weight with this sort of diet!" 
     At home, Reina went here and there, looking for something. I hope, she will feel comfortable telling us what she needs.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

ADAM I VS ADAM II - 5 minute talk by David Brooks


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That's Reina in front of the picture.
       Minus two days until Reina, Taka's niece from Japan, arrives to the U.S. I am in a kind of a limbo, sure that the state of the house and our preparations are not adequate, but also not sure, what I can do about it. I am still very limited in my abilities to work physically, and pushing Sonny to do everything seems just unfair. Although, why can't he make an effort on behalf of his family and mom?!
b6ee7661-34e1-42cf-8408-192577296e05.jpg (980×459)     Today, around one o'clock, the phone rang. It was Mr. P. "Dina," - he said - "I have a surprise for you!" I was excited to hear that he wanted to invite myself and some other of his clients and members of his Al Anon group to a ritzy Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, to celebrate his birthday! 
     The plan was to get there together in one or two cars, listen to jazz in the Laurel Hall of the hotel,                                                                                                                9b09f993-6935-4b68-850f-12d4256f161e.jpg (980×459)                                                                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                                    13ffa1e3-0c07-452d-8081-d2a59f774075.jpg (980×459)                                                                                                                                                       and then go for a hamburger in some nice place in Downtown San Francisco. 
     I was excited, yes, ... and frightened! He called me just a couple of hours before we were supposed to meet, and I needed to make dinner, get a gift, take shower and find something appropriate to wear. Fairmont Hotel is a place where rich folks go: it wouldn't do to visit it in my everyday's clothes!
     After discussing things with Doris, my confusion didn't abate. I quickly cooked miso soup, salmon and potatoes for dinner, dragged Sonny out of his room and made him start Bisseling carpet in the living room's corner, which the cats decided to turn into an alternate litter box for themselves. He is still about it even now!
     I called a bike store in Alameda and purchased a gift certificate there for Mr. P. He is an avid bike rider and will find something to use that certificate for. 
     What to wear? I was trying to wrap my mind around that question, when Taka e-mailed me. My problems with getting ready for a fun filled evening were over: at eight o'clock tonight my sister-in-law from Japan, whose daughter will will come to stay with us in a few days, will be calling on Skype to talk over some details. 
     Mr. P., if you'll be reading this post, don't read this next part! I am very grateful to be included in the invitation and realize, how wonderful this opportunity to break the usual monotony of my days is. I, probably, should have just told Taka that I have something else to do this evening and go to Fairmont, but, even disregarding my duties as a wife and a hostess, I felt relieved that I didn't have to leave my comfort zone! Stupid, huh?!
     Sorry, Mr. P.! The fact is: I can't miss that talk with my sister-in-law. If it was only for my fear of stepping out into the glitzy world, I would've overcome it and gone to San Francisco. As it is, I have an additional reason to stay home. 
     When will such a chance present itself to me again? 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


She Had No Idea What Was Coming… And Now I’m Crying Like A Baby Watching Her Reaction.


     Sitting in front of a white page... 
     Yesterday, Sonny and I worked on the living room. We
vacuumed and pulled the rug to lie in the right place and straight. It took some doing: the rug is twelve years old and has a mind of it's own. It seems to twist and get all bumpy on it's own accord!
     This morning Sonny came out of his room early (for him). His first words to me and Roberta were: "You, guys, both have some interesting hair!" We looked, pointed fingers at each other tumblr_m6x2lb0A2b1r70twro1_r1_500.gif (500×270)           and laughed 'till it hurt! Roberta's hair stood in wispy white bunches on her head, like on those troll toys, popular in the nineties! I can only guess, what my hair was doing. Judging by Roberta's and Sonny's reaction - nothing good! I did take a nap before making breakfast for Roberta and didn't bother with brushing my head. I think, Sonny will be quite a tolerant man, thanks to his life with me!
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Monday, May 26, 2014


     From around 9 o'clock in the morning, I heard Taka's voice droning in Sonny's room. Sonny studied in Berkeley City College, a community college, for two years  in order to transfer to Berkeley University. After High School he was accepted to Santa Cruz UC, but decided against going there. Now he thinks that, he should go to another college, may be a State University, instead of Berkeley.
   This would've been the year for him to transfer, but he didn't have enough credits. His reasons: the City College didn't have enough classes. Of course, he could have taken classes online or at another community school in out vicinity, but - he didn't!
     I found out about it before Taka. Sonny avoided telling his dad about it for as long as it was possible, then I did it. Taka was shocked! He deals with it by constantly talking at Sonny concerning that situation. 
     Everything he says is correct. Sonny should have been more serious and dedicated to his study goals. He should find a job and behave like an adult. But the way Taka talks would prevent anyone from absorbing the wisdom and righteousness of his words! 
     First of all, he can be at it for a couple of hours! Sonny says that, after a while, he forgets the purpose of Taka's speech. Second, his English is not perfect, and it tumblr_inline_mjttokYfX31qz4rgp.gif (245×138)    can be hard to understand him
     And, most of all, he heats up during his, largely, monolog (Sonny has no chance to answer anything), and starts losing his temper. He expresses it by punching or kicking the wall or Sonny's bed, if Sonny is still in it.
     I don't want Sonny to feel like he is all alone, and that I support his dad's methods. Over the years, I tried to interfere and say something, but it looked like Sonny also resents my actions! Now I only interject something when I hear Taka becoming more aggressive. 
     Today was a bit different. After a while, Taka and Sonny came to the dining room table, where I could be a part of the conversation. I told Sonny that I agree with his dad's meaning, namely, with the part where he told Sonny to get more serious and find a job, or move out of the house and learn to support himself on his own. I also said that, we try to influence Sonny out of love and concern for his future. 
     For the longest time Sonny didn't respond to anything. He looked annoyed and upset. Taka eventually withdrew to his office, and Sonny and I continued without him.
tumblr_mza0tdbtjO1tpfpcvo1_500.gif (500×281)     I think, Sonny wants to hang on to his childhood a little bit longer. That's the main reason, why he doesn't focus on his studies and building his future. He told me as much, when I told him that he was an adult. "I am, literally, just half a year older than 18!" - he said. I responded to it, of course, but in my heart I understand him. People are all different: some can't wait to start their adult lives and some dread the unknown and continue to live their safe, predictable routines. 
     As you noticed, I managed to draw Sonny out of the stony silence. We talked about his goals for taking the missing classes next year, and he told me at first that it was all set for the first semester, then admitted that he had to wait for his grades to be posted to take one other class. I urged him to create a system that would help him focus and talk to a counsel. 
     I suspect that Sonny is depressed. Sure, he loves gaming and watching internet videos and doesn't fulfill his responsibilities because of that. But an underlying reason for him spending most of the free time in his room and in his bed is that, he is not sure of his role as an adult or a child and of our love for him
     How do we push him out of that rut? I only hope that, he will agree to meet with Mr. P. and respond to a reasonable counselling. Hope! Herein lies the pain and the cure!

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Sunday, May 25, 2014


     I and Roberta decided to have breakfast at Starbucks. Well, it was more like I deciding it, and Roberta going along!
jpeg (275×183)     We had a nice cup of coffee, then I had to go to the bank's ATM to get money for 
images (300×168)grocery shopping. We drove up to the bank's drive-through. We were talking and laughing, and so I didn't right away realize that, there was a problem. People in a car in front of us didn't seem to be doing anything about using ATM. They, or rather a woman in the driver's seat, were talking! In a few minutes, she put her card in, turned back to her partner and started talking to him again. She would push one button or another and take a long break for a conversation. 
     I waited, then used my horn. The woman shouted back: "I have a sick child in the car! I need to get money for gas!" That didn't explain, why she was using ATM drive-through for a place to have a talk, and I yelled back: "It's OK, I just wanted to see if everything was alright!"
2vu.gif (265×149)     The man got out of the car and began walking toward us. I didn't know, what to expect. Will he attack us for honking at them? Does he need help? It was a tense moment!
     The Latino man came to my window. He told us that, his wife was mentally ill, and he needed help. Can he, please, have my phone number? You can imagine the thoughts that were running through my mind! Is it a scam? Is he just at the end of his rope and asks help from the first person that he sees? 
     As I was sitting there, blinking at him and deciding, what to do, his wife came over too. She said in an agitated voice that, her boy was sick and the husband ("who refuses to pay for anything!" - as she put it) needed to get in the car for them to leave. Her eyes were  unfocused and strangely whirling in their sockets. The man replied to her that, we were some people that he knew, and, as I wrote my number, told me (to cover the real reason why he talked to us): "I will send you the estimate soon, OK?" 
     You might think, I am making it up... I assure you that I am not! Things like that just keep happening to me, that's all!
     The man and his wife drove away. I finished my transaction and went to the store. On the way, I told Roberta that, we are lucky people! It could be so much worse: we could have something crazy like that in our lives! She wholeheartedly agreed with me.
     As I was walking up and down the store's aisles, I noticed the same man, pushing a cart with a small boy in it! I think, the wife was there too, because, when I beckoned for him to come, he looked around, as if to make sure that she didn't see him. I asked him: "What kind of help do you need?" He answered that, he needed his wife to have some mental health assessment. I am paraphrasing: his accent was pretty strong, and in the middle of telling me how she almost hit a woman with a car and is a dangerous driver, not caring for their safety, he suddenly walked away. She must've been nearby. I called at him: "We can talk when you call me!" - and that was it.
     I have no idea, if it was a genuine call for help or an attempt to scam me. For now, I don't think, that's important. The point to that whole story for me is: things could be so much worse! It seems like an answer to my earlier bellyaching, doesn't it? 
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     When I tried to use my camera yesterday, the images that I saw through the viewer were blurry. Nothing helped to change that. We could hear small whirring noises coming from it, even when we did not push any buttons. Today, I turned it on, saw the blurriness again, tried to turn the camera off - and nothing happened! It's dead, with the zooming part still extended.
images (259×194)     Poor thing, I thought, we were having fun, looking at and capturing the details of life that would've been lost to our memory otherwise. Was it too much activity for my little Kodak? 
     It reminds me myself. How, you ask?
     More often than not, as soon as I start doing something to change my life for the better or to be more useful for my family and community, my body fails me. I get sick and have to stop all activity. I should take better care of myself? I try, but even that backfires. How is that fair? Wouldn't you be frustrated if all your attempts at doing the right thing came to nothing?! 
    Yes, I am frustrated and desperate. Not desperate to do something. I despair at the thought of my every step being a failure. I try to cover it up with smiles and humor, but it's there. 
     I feel like, somebody is standing behind my back and puts a stopping hand on everything that might alter the status quo. What's the use of hoping and trying? 

Saturday, May 24, 2014


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     For the last couple of hours, I'm enduring the cries of frustration from Sonny. I guess, it's my fault for buying cheap furniture with inadequate instructions and stupid assembly. I guess...
     We went to buy a shelf for the living room, and found one that can double as a table for my stuff. Sonny was very helpful in analyzing the available furniture as by it's usefulness to our purpose. He was the muscles that carried shelf to the house. Then, his patience came to an end!
     Right away we made a mistake and had to redo the steps that we finished. It happened again and again. I stopped giving advice or comment on Sonny's progress, because then his anger turned to me. I am telling myself that, this is good, he will learn from his mistakes and emotional anguish. And he will.
    images (250×202) He put some nice music on in an attempt to ease his labors. I ordered him Chinese food delivery, to provide some comfort. Just now he turned the table over, and the shelf that he managed to finally screw in fell down. A small comment escaped me then, and Sonny glared at me. I mimed locking my lips and throwing away the key. That seemed to make him happier.
deanwinchester_wink.gif (500×281)     Taka came to ask if there was any food to eat. I told him that, it was coming, and he replied that I am draining the family finances. I bet, if I didn't order food, he would've done it, even if there was dinner prepared tonight.
     Sylvie slinked around the room, alarmed by all these  new smells and frantic activity. Her bright green eyes searched our faces, and she went sniffing the floor, checking out the parts of the table lying there. She tried to jump on my lap, but, alas, her fat little body is not very agile: she failed, attempted to hold on to my dress with her claws, heard my anguished screams (her claws raked my thigh) and scrambled over my chest and shoulder to the top of the couch. I immediately forgot pain and began to scratch her under the chin to comfort yet another member of my family.
tell-the-truth.gif (350×350)     In Al Anon, we hear that, we do not always have to try and placate others to avoid conflict. At least I now know, that being a goody-too-shoes and lower than the grass when it comes to dealing with others' negative emotions, does not solve problems. Mr. P. keeps repeating it: "Being authentic in a relationship sometimes means disagreeing with each other, and that gives rise to better intimacy".tell-the-truth.gif (350×350)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


     The house seems especially empty today. Lera is gone back to Denmark, and ... I'm sad!
     She was brave to travel by herself. It's not a simple matter to manage a long flight, heavy luggage, the lack of English and the transfers between planes. It's no wonder, she felt nervous before the return journey! It didn't help that I felt crabby yesterday morning, and we kept snapping at each other!
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     The initial plan was to go to the airport together with Sonny and Roberta. I wouldn't have been able to walk the required
distances on my painful feet, so Sonny had to push me in a wheel chair. Yes, it's that bad! 
     Roberta loves to tag along, even though she also has trouble walking and uses a fancy walker, which she calls Mercedes. Now she had an added reason to want to come with us: she was afraid to face Park alone, if he decided to show up, and we were all gone. Upon thinking things through, though (wow, - four "th" words in a row!), we realized that, there was no way for us to fit everything: the luggage, the wheelchair and Roberta's Mercedes - in a van with the four of us. I got my nerve together and asked Roberta to stay home. And it's a good thing that I did!
jpeg (259×194)     Everything went smoothly at the airport, until we realized that we went to the International Terminal instead of the Domestic one. Now we had to go some ways to take an Airtrain to bring us to a right place. 
images (320×157)     Sonny said that it was not too difficult to push me, so  I was quite enjoying the thoughts of how great it was that I could just sit in the wheelchair, instead of hobbling all those hallways on my own! We came upon the place with a moving path, and decided to get on it. I was a little concerned about people stuck behind us (they couldn't pass my wheelchair), but remembered Mr. P.'s words of being kind to myself and stopped worrying. The moving path came to an end and... the wheelchair got stuck! Sonny could not push it out! My feet were on the foot-rests, I needed time to fold them up to get off the chair, and people behind us began to run in place, because they had no other way to keep from running into Sonny! Imagine, if Roberta was there too! She and Mercedes would've have to do a moonwalk, like Michael Jackson, to stay on her feet!
michael-jackson-moonwalk-gif.gif (400×300)     I don't know, how amazed the poor fellows in the back were to see a previously disabled-looking person (myself) suddenly spring off the chair, when I finally was able to do it. I was too embarrassed to look back!
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     We continued on, trying to keep up to Lera, who was pushing a luggage cart. Sonny, who watches too much Anime, had a thought and asked me if the airport was a good place to run away from zombies. We chatted about that for a while, then got scared when we came to a totally deserted place with sliding doors which stood ajar. It was an eerie feeling, like there really was a zombie attack at the airport! That's what we get for thinking about those silly things!
     jpeg (342×147)
images (259×194)  The Airtrain took us to the right 
terminal (it took turns so fast that I
 had to hold on to a pole to keep from rolling around the wagon. Sonny forgot to set the  wheelchairs breaks). I did another "It's a miracle, I can walk!" show for the passers by: got off the chair and went to the counter to help Lera get checked in. 
Lera said, these are Danish design chairs!
     It was another couple of hours yet until boarding. Sonny, who lugged his laptop all that way, discovered that there was no internet available.
                                  He gave up and did what he does best: fell asleep. Lera and I talked and laughed, she drunk her Starbucks'
coffee which I got for her (I foolishly didn't check the prices. Taka will have my hide for spending so much money on treating
Lera. No matter, she deserves much more!). 

     When the time came for Lera to go through the security checkpoint, we were both sad. She began to cry, which set me off. Who knows, when or if we will see each other again! Even so, Lera's tears were a balm to my soul. She cares. I am not alone.