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Monday, February 25, 2008

The Heart Grows Fonder

We ate well, we shared well, we laughed well, we travelled well, we loved phenomenally.

It never fails to amaze me, my capacity for loving this man. When my heart feels full, fuller than it ever has before, full to the point of bursting, something happens and I'm able to love him a little more. Maybe this first-time-love-as-it-should-be-love is stretching my ability to love and be loved.

We had such an amazing trip together. I finally saw his home town and where I will be living one day. It felt good. It felt comfortable. It felt like somewhere I can see myself living. And I met some of his family, too. Which pretty much sealed the deal. Especially his grandma. She might be in her late 80's but nothing keeps her down. What an awesome woman. She embraced me not only physically, but emotionally as well. She shared her home, her table and her heart with me. She spoke of the great love of her life, her beloved late husband. And in her words I could see my love and I. We have that kind of love and she sees that too. I'm envious of only one thing she had with her husband which I won't have with my future husband. The gift of time. They shared over 50 years together and we won't have that time, but we will have all the time we are fortunate enough to have.

Now onto the sharing with you: We had a pie in Chicago (de rigueur I believe, but I refused the deep pan, I don't like pizza cake!) Look at all the topping on that, and it's the thin crust.
We had steak and an excellent bottle of cab (I now drink on occasion) our first night there, before diving into Borders for a good hour and coming out with some wonderful finds for him. I just enjoyed the browsing, I'm not a very serious book browser, I merely revel in being surrounded by them. My love on the other hand is a true bookaholic and I love to see the pleasure they bring to him. Another evening, we shared a wonderful Chinese meal (not overly Americanised) of cod, chicken, veggies and seafood rice, with a lovely bottle of Cloudy Bay chardonnay.

And so many firsts:

First time I've been as cold as I was in Chicago. It was -2F (-19C) on the Sunday we were there, dropping to -28F (-33C) with the wind chill - and trust me there was wind! My face and head and especially my ears were so sore after only a couple of minutes in the cold wind and my eyes were tearing. I think the cold was being conducted through the metal posts of my pierced earrings (I have three in each ear) and freezing my ears from the inside!

First time I watched a hockey game. I wasn't really SO looking forward to it but in the end I did enjoy it. I got us good seats, row 5 and right behind the home team's bench but because I couldn't see too well, man that puck becomes invisible at times, we moved up to the peanut gallery where it was a lot easier to see everything on the ice. Before we moved, the guy next to me, obviously hearing all the explanations my love was having to give me as we watched, asked if this was my first time. I started to talk with him and he latched on to my accent, asking where I was from. When I told him Hong Kong he punched me on my shoulder and said "no way". Then told his wife about me but she definitely wasn't that interested in the fact her husband was talking to this woman to his left ;)

First time I sat in a car being driven at 20mph with hazard lights flashing during a whiteout and on ice-encrusted interstates. It was pretty hairy to say the least, we passed at least a dozen cars off the road, some with people still inside and at one point, the car directly in front of us spun round several times and ended up going down the ditch at the side of the road, backend first.

First time I saw so much falling snow, turning the ground completely white and making everything just so pretty. Even the driveway at the hotel looked picture-perfect all covered in snow. Plus I loved finding virgin snow to crunch my boots into, it's the sound it makes, I can't resist!!

First time I've had a Ghirardelli sundae, we had the hot fudge butterscotch and it was so yummy. Pure madness as we were eating it in Chicago on that really, really cold day. Notice the empty cafe! This made up for missing Ghirardelli on the way through San Francisco during our California trip.

First time I've eaten meatloaf. His grandma made it for me on my special request. It was yummy, really good. With mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts. She's such a gem, going to so much trouble to let me experience something new.

We spent an afternoon at the Art Institute of Chicago, totally stunned by the beauty of everything we saw. After touring the entire upper floor, we rested a while to have a late lunch and a drink and were so consumed by having seen so many incredible works of art, we were almost completely silenced. It really is a moving experience to be in the presence of such masterpieces.

Some of my favourites:

Millennium park was on the way back and we just loved the 'bean'. We were laughing like children at our reflections! By standing back and looking not at the people but at the backdrop, there was a wonderful reflection of the skyline, giving an interesting and unique perspective of the city.

We walked just over a mile back to the hotel from the Art Institute and it started to snow which was so lovely. I think I looked a bit odd, constantly turning my face towards the falling flakes to feel them on my skin. One of my favourite buildings, The Carbide & Carbon Building, in the middle of the picture, is an incredible art deco tower, which is now the Hard Rock Hotel. They have preserved its original exterior and though we didn't go inside, I am hoping they also were respectful there and kept the interior faithful to the period. And P.S. No, that's not my guy in the brown jacket!

One of my favourite Chicago characters was this anatomically-correct metal moose. You can only see part of his 'moose manhood' in this picture but rest assured it was all present and accounted for!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Quick Update

I'm back, all is good! Well, apart from more health issues it seems. Apparently the Year of the Rat isn't too hot on the health side for we Dogs:

Dog Health - Be alert for signs of increased stress or burnout. This will be an active year for you, which means you are at an increased risk for physical injury. Always be sure to exercise proper caution when out and about and you should be just fine. Your health, in general, should be good as long as you avoid stress related issues.

I managed to contract the flu on the plane trip back. Two days into it, I now also have viral conjunctivitis. Am battling it all with pharmaceutical assistance and hope to be fighting fit again soon.

We had an awesome time, lots to tell about the trip - many firsts for me :) It needs time for a full post with some pics. It's on my list.

I hope you are all well and happy.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly ... and Happy Year of the Rat

Good - I had my annual performance review and all I'm saying is "wow". I hit the max on most categories and almost the max on the remainder. I've had a promotion to the official number two in the department and a very fine bonus rating for this year. Ka-chinggggggg!!

Bad - the asshole husband of a friend of my mother's, to whom she lent money, seems to think he doesn't have to repay the loan. I'm going for his throat when I get back. Can't decide whether to threaten a lawsuit, report it as extortion to the constabulary or as undeclared income to the tax department, or perhaps just kneecap the bastard!

Ugly - since Sunday and a day of what I can only describe as obscene abdominal cramps, every time I eat I end up with my upper tummy area looking and feeling like I swallowed a bowling ball. Or about six months' pregnant - and NO I'm not!! Without putting too fine an edge on it, digestion is proving to be something that is needing a bit of ummm 'help' right now. I don't know what's wrong and will see about it when I'm back because...

I'm in the air in 17 hours' time, flying east to the extreme cold of the weather and the extreme warmth of his embrace (and so much more!)

So I bid you a short adieu and wish you all



Friday, February 01, 2008

I Lost It Today

I was in with my boss, discussing (disagreeing about) something and I felt my eyes start to well up. I felt that little prickling in my nose and the tightening of my throat. My voice started to waver. I tried so hard to keep it together, I tried willing the building tears back into my tearducts, but I couldn't stop their flow and the first hot, heavy tear fell from my eye. Then a tear from the other eye and before I knew it, both were draining the pain from my body.

I was angry with myself. Angry because truthfully, nothing that bad was being said to warrant such a display of emotion. We were just talking about staffing levels and workloads. I had started to tell her that I'm feeling overwhelmed and instead of talking through my work in hand to try to explain it, I sat there with big salty tears running down my cheeks. She asked if it was really so bad - and she was being sympathetic and understanding, she truly was. I said yes, it is right now, I feel I'm not gaining ground any more and you keep dishing it out to me and for the first time in my career I feel that I'm not performing to expectation. I said that it had been a really hard six weeks.

I think I realised then, just what I've been bravely pushing myself through, being the one to handle everything, being the one my mother confided in, being the one to insist her final wishes are respected and carried out, being the one cooking meals for the family as they grieved. It just all seemed to hit me, and what hit me most of all is that I haven't felt any loss until today. Not real loss.

But the last thing I wanted was to be like this at work, in a place where too many eyes watch and more questions than I'm ready to answer, will be asked. I need to be in my love's arms, where I belong, so I can just let it out quietly and safely. I need to be in that place where understanding and love wrap me up and pull me into their core. I need to be in that place where I'm cherished. I need to be in that place where I can be me, all of me. Even the sad and hurt and lost me.

Soon. Very, very soon.


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