21.8.14

Just Want to Say Hello


Wow! It's been so long since I've visited my blog or did any blogging at all.  Sorry, friends and readers. I missed all of you. I apologize for not visiting your blogs as well. Please forgive me.

I'm still alive, I've just been busy with work, family, and other things like, camping. Hehehe. I'm also trying to start my eBay business and hope to expand beyond eBay in the future. Trying to learn all the ropes in e-commerce is intricate and time consuming, but I'm learning a great deal.

Anyway, I thought I'd post and share some photos I've taken during my absence.









3.12.12

Chapter One

Sandy and her husband, Steve, were having lunch at the Officers’ Club on this Monday, March 8, 1999. Even though there was plenty of activity around them - people walking past them, others talking at their tables, and silverware and plates clanking together - neither of them was talking. There was a palpable tension between them.

After a major argument a month ago, Sandy was determined to spend more time with Steve. She hoped that joining him for lunch at least once a month would help get them better connected again.

At the moment, the painful, prolonged silence between them was just too much for Sandy to bear. So, she started talking. “We got our new Chemistry analyzers delivered at work today,” she said, forcing a smile and infusing some enthusiasm in her voice, trying to engage Steve in some form of conversation. “They look more streamlined than the ones we have now. They can do BMPs in 42 seconds and CMPs in 90 seconds, which the E.R. doctors will definitely like.” For Steve, being a doctor, Sandy thought the topic would interest him. “The best thing about them is that they require very little maintenance,” she continued, and all the while observing him for any signs of being the least bit receptive to her. What Sandy saw, instead, were Steve’s openly unresponsive and expressionless face and a general stiffness in his overall posture. He grudgingly uttered the absolute minimum of words in response to her statements, until they had finished with their lunch and were getting up to leave the club.

“By the way, I’ll be a little late coming home today. The hospital commander has scheduled a meeting at 1700 hours.”

“Why?”

“Don’t know. It’s probably our usual monthly meeting, except that we’re doing it today rather than on Friday.”

Sandy was suspicious, but she brushed it off. She was all too familiar with the unpredictable nature of military life.

Since Steve was going to be getting home a bit late, Sandy and the children went ahead and ate their dinner. It was almost 7pm when she recognized the sound of Steve’s Toyota SR5 pickup’s engine in the carport outside, followed by the sudden silence of the engine being shut off. She heard the vehicle’s door open and close. As she looked towards the kitchen door, she saw the doorknob turn. The door opened slowly and Steve walked in.

“How did the meeting go?” Sandy asked as she met him at the door. Steve didn’t answer right away. He put his briefcase down on the floor before giving her a hug and a peck on the lips. He looked disturbed and very distracted. He picked up his briefcase and went to their bedroom. Sandy followed him. Still waiting for his response, Sandy faced Steve with a questioning look and said impatiently, “Well, are you just gonna ignore me?”

Steve sighed heavily (the kind of sigh that told her he'd like to say something, but was finding it difficult to get it out). “You’re not gonna like what I’m gonna say,’’ he finally said and then paused. And more pause. He removed his shoes and socks, tossing his socks in the hamper. Sandy’s facial expression changed from questioning to worrisome. “I hate to tell you this,” he added and then paused again while busily changing his uniform into his shorts and t-shirt.

Sandy’s heart jumped to her throat. She wasn’t sure she wanted to hear the rest of it. With the way Steve had been acting towards her within the last three years—becoming more aloof, unloving, and less caring, she was afraid that the day had finally arrived for him to say that they were through. She tried to prepare herself for the worse, but it wasn’t helping.

“… but I’ve got orders to go to Kosovo this Saturday. That’s what the meeting was about. It’s not all a secret, but it’s not something we want to be advertising or necessarily be telling people about either. NATO has agreed to get involved in Kosovo. My group and I will be assigned there for medical support.”

“What?!” Sandy exclaimed, even though she was relieved to know that Steve wasn’t asking for a divorce. Panic soon followed with the realization that Steve was going off to another country and would be leaving her and the children behind. Sandy would just die if something bad were to happen to Steve in Kosovo - or anywhere else in the world. “How long will you be gone?” she asked when her nerves finally settled a bit.

“Don’t know for sure. I was told to get all my personal affairs in order before shipping out. One thing they assured me was that this deployment would be for at least twelve months.”

Hearing the news, Sandy didn’t know whether she could survive without Steve that long. It would mean that she had to do everything while Steve was away. They’d been married almost thirteen years and had never been apart for any length of time throughout their entire married life. After dinner, she cleared the table and started the dishwasher.

After she took a shower, she sat down on the sofa next to Steve and started massaging his neck and back. It was something she did gladly and routinely. Steve was more talkative and social this time, which made Sandy very happy. They talked and wondered how the kids would handle the news and whether she could handle work and the whole household all by herself.

“I’m sure Carrie doesn’t mind moving from the dorm to come live with us for a while until you come back. I’ll call her tonight and also call Mom to see if she could stay with us until Carrie comes back from Florida.” Carrie, her baby sister, was off to Florida with her class, attending a two-week study of the Florida Everglades' Ecosystem.

Sandy said goodnight to Steve and then to the children who were playing with their toys in Sheyenne’s bedroom. In bed, after she set her alarm clock, she made her calls to Carrie and to her Mom. The news earlier had been dropped on her like a bomb. She had a difficult time falling asleep, so she tossed and turned. Sleep finally came to her, but it was seemingly just in time for the alarm clock to sound off.

Taking her lunch break that night, she ordered a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich with a large-sized Coke. (No matter what time of day or night it was, all of the shift workers at the hospital called their meal in the middle of their shifts, LUNCH.) She took a seat and started to eat. Besides her, there were only two other people sitting and eating in the entire cafeteria. The three of them were seated alone, each to their own table. The other two were busy reading paperback books while they ate.

The lighting there was somewhat dim. There was a spooky, ghostly feeling she experienced each time she ate there, but tonight she didn’t feel it. Her mind was preoccupied with the thoughts of Steve going to Kosovo and about her and the kids getting by without him. It was a good thing Carrie agreed to move in with them until Steve came back, and for her mom to come over also for a short while. Otherwise, she didn’t know what she would do. Steve had never been close to his aunt and uncle. Therefore, Sandy didn’t feel right asking them for their assistance now that she needed it.

***
Orphaned at twelve when his mother died in a car accident, Steve went to live with his aunt Molly and her husband, Rick. Rick was a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, stationed in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Steve never got along with them very well. So, when he turned sixteen, he left them and went to live with his friend, Tony, and his family when they moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. That was how Steve ended up in Minnesota. And that was where he met Sandy.

9.9.12

My First Solo Road Trip!

I’m inspired to write this post after reading my friend, Lilly’s post. I encourage everyone who reads this to visit her blog because she’s one funny lady. Her posts always make me laugh.

When my husband and I lived in Bellevue, Nebraska, I learned how to drive there and got my driver's license a couple months before my husband left for Officer's Training School in Texas. On Memorial Day, a few months after my husband left, I had a three-day weekend off. I decided I to go on a road trip. I didn't plan for it. It’s just that when I woke up in the morning and saw that the weather was nice, I told myself that I didn't want to just stay at home. I called my sister here in Cheyenne and told her I was going to visit them. She was worried about me making the long trip alone, but I assured her that I’d be okay. I packed a small suitcase, packed a few snacks and drinks, stopped at a gas station to fill up my gas tank, bought a map, and off I went.

The drive from Omaha to Cheyenne is the most boring ever. Okay, that’s not entirely true because from Omaha to Lincoln and a few miles past Lincoln is scenic. But, definitely, after that it's the most boring ever. The landscape is very flat and the highway is very straight. Straight is, however, good for this newbie driver. I don’t think I would have been able to follow so many twists and turns of diversionary roads. Unfortunately, the flat and straight highway was very hypnotic, to the point that I became very sleepy. At one point, I caught myself dozing off momentarily. I knew this because I was driving on the right side of the 2-way, four- lane interstate 80. When I opened my eyes, my car was about to go into the grass median grass, left of the passing lane. Fortunately, in those days, the traffic on that highway was pretty sparse. I got quite startled and was alert after that. My fear was that if I didn’t wake up in time, I could have easily driven into the oncoming traffic on the other side of the interstate. God had to have been watching me that day.

I stopped once for gas in Pine Bluff, at the Nebraska/Wyoming border, about an hour’s drive away from Cheyenne. In 1983, the highway speed limit was still 55 miles per hour. So, to drive 495 miles, it took 9 hrs. Now that the speed limit is 75 miles per hour, it only takes 7.5 hrs. Come to think of it now, my little 1968 Honda car was very fuel efficient. I think my car could only hold 6 or 7 gallons of gas?

 
I arrived at my sister’s around dinner time. My sister was in awe that I had made the trip alone after getting my driver’s license only a few months before. We had a really good visit that evening. The next day, we went hiking and picnicking up in Vedauwoo.
 
                                                      Courtesy of skipharper.com
 
                                                      Courtesy of pumpfactoryroad.com

Kentucky Fried Chicken was our choice of picnic food at that time. I still love Kentucky Fried Chicken. This is why I can never lose weight. I love greasy, fried foods. But, lets not talk too much about my weight right now. That will be for another post.

On Monday, when I had to leave, my car wouldn’t start. My brother-in-law checked my car over and found my oil dipstick reading empty. He was amazed that I made it all the way to Cheyenne with little or no oil at all! He shook his head at the situation and at my ignorance. All I can say was that God knew I was na├»ve and ignorant; he had watched over me.

My car didn’t have the lights that came on when the oil level was low, you know? Unlike nowadays, there’s a light to alert you about almost everything. When your tires are low on air, there’s even an alert light for that. Every so often your engine light comes on and you think that something is wrong with the engine, right? So, you take it to the shop, only to be told that you needed a scheduled oil change after 30,000 miles of driving. I guess that’s a lot better news that actually having an engine problem.

Car technologies have come a long way. I’m thankful that the car makers had taken into account for ignorant drivers like me when they made the improvements.

I made it back to Omaha safe and sound. I’ve made solo trips since then, from North Dakota and back, when I was still living there while my husband was stationed here in Cheyenne. The drive in that part of the country is more interesting and much more scenic.

16.4.12

Journey Band Update

For those of you, Journey fans, in and around Cheyenne, Wyoming, have I got great news for you!

My hottest blog post, according to Google Statistics is "My Life and Times as a Nudist." My next hottest blog post is "Journey Band." People don't leave comments, which is very sad to me because I really would like to know what they have to say about my posts, you know?

No, this is not my great news that I've mentioned in the opening sentence. I just merely wanted to share a bit about my two hottest blog posts.

This is my great news. The two opening acts for Journey on July 16 at Cheyenne Frontier Days are: Lover Boy and Pat Benatar! I haven't seen all three groups on live concert in their days of glory, but now I'm going to see all of them in one concert. I'm pretty stoked about this and can't wait.

From what I've seen from Journey's concerts in Manila and in MGM Las Vegas, even though I've only watched them on blue-ray, they're awesome. Arnel Pineda has (okay, almost) Steve Perry's legendary voice and has lots of energy on stage. Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory, and Deen Castronovo are also amazing at what they can do with their musical instruments. Lots of feeling, emotion, and energy from them as well.  

Yes, Lover Boy and Pat Benatar might not be what they used to be in their latest concerts when I checked them out on You Tube, but that's okay. I'm sure I'll still enjoy their concerts.

Hey, if anybody reading this and know how I can get in contact personally with Journey and the other two bands, let me know. Our Filipino community would really like to give them a welcome party the day before their concert.  

By the way, Lover Boy and Pat Benatar will not only be opening for Journey on this particular concert, they'll be  opening for the entire 2012 Journey Concert Tour. So, even if you can't be at the Cheyenne Frontier Days concert, you'll still have a chance to see them at their concerts near you.

I'm sure I'll be writing a review on Journey, Pat Benatar, and Love Boy after the concert.

That's all folks,
Tasha

8.1.12

Journey Band

Journey is one of my favorite rock bands. However, I haven't kept up with the band since we moved to Wyoming. Wyoming turned me into a country music fan! Needless to say, the last I’ve heard of Journey was that Steve Perry, the lead singer, had left the band. Then, the band hired another lead singer named Steve Augeri.


It was only three weeks ago that I learned of the band’s fate when Cheyenne Frontier Days, the largest outdoor rodeo event in the world (and located here, in Cheyenne, Wyoming), announced that one of the upcoming night shows will be Journey. I told my husband that I’d like to see a Journey concert. I was shocked to learn from him that the current lead singer for Journey is Filipino, straight from the Philippines. Perhaps, this is old news to all of you, but for me, it was quite a surprise!

Anyway, the skeptic in me told me to check Journey and their new front man out on YouTube. I have to say, the lead vocalist amazed me. When I closed my eyes and listened, all I could see was Steve Perry singing. My heart melted when I watched the video of one of the band’s newer songs, After All These Years. The song is so beautiful and powerful; it gave me goose bumps the first few times I listened to it.

While reading an article on YouTube about the band, I found out that there was another front man for Journey after Steve Augeri left and before the current lead singer came along. His name is Jeff Sotto. According to the article, he didn’t stay with the band for very long.

Neal Schon, the band's lead guitarist, recruited Arnel Pineda, the current lead singer, based on performances he saw on YouTtube! How cool is that? Neal said in an interview that in his desperation to find a lead singer for Journey, he checked out YouTube. After two days of watching YouTtube videos, he was about to give up when he clicked on a Survivor video. That was when he discovered Arnel Pineda. This guy blew him away. He blew me away, too. Here he is. Check him out for yourselves.

Posted by Superjoster on YouTube



Posted by Nocturnalism on YouTube

16.1.11

CANCER

Cancer is such an ugly word to me. It connotes everything that’s bad. It devastates a person’s life and devours his or her financial assets. The family is also adversely impacted and suffers right along with the afflicted one. With all the modern treatments available these days, we are given hope to combat this terrible disease. We become even more hopeful when we see people surviving after receiving treatment.

I mourn the loss of one of my friends, whose funeral service I attended yesterday. As much as I tried hard to convince myself that it was better for him to go than to live and suffer through all the different treatments, I didn’t succeed. I still felt so very sad and cried uncontrollably anyway. Seeing him resting peacefully in his coffin comforted me somewhat. That, of course, didn’t take away the great sense of sadness in losing him. I’d so much rather see him still alive and well, enjoying life and doing the things he loved doing.

He battled Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cancer since January of last year. His doctors gave him six months to live, but with aggressive experimental drugs they had given him, he lived for another year. I’m glad that our coworkers and I were able to recently visit and spend some time with him several times while he was still alive. Since he couldn’t drive anymore, I’d pick him up and drop him off at his place when our coworkers and I took him out to lunch or dinner.

I’ve met his beautiful and amazing mother. I’ve often thought about her since I met her. It must have been absolute torture for her to watch her son, even though he’s a grown man, go through the ups and downs of battling cancer. When I gave her a hug after the service yesterday, she thanked me very much for attending. She thanked me again for the times I took her son out of the house to socialize with the others.

Four years ago, I lost another friend to cancer. It started out as a melanoma. She received treatment for it and was in remission for three years. Then she started noticing unusual things happening to her. She’d stop and stare blankly at things. When she came to, she’d feel very disoriented and would feel her right hand losing its grip on things. An MRI soon revealed a huge cyst in her brain.

A biopsy confirmed it to be cancerous. She had surgery soon after, along with radiation treatments. She recovered well enough to go back to work after regaining the proper use of her right hand. Everyone in her many circles was ecstatic to hear her play piano again during a concert she gave at her church. Unfortunately, the flicker of hope that we held onto was just that—a flicker.

Three months after her concert, she was right back to square one again. Only, this time, there were more masses and they appeared to have been growing more rapidly. She opted not to receive any more treatment after that.

I was awestruck to learn from her husband after the service that she was the one who planned her own funeral service. She planned it exactly the way she wanted it to be. It was the most elaborate service I’ve ever witnessed. She even planned to have two services to accommodate everyone—one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Just fifteen months before that, another friend died of cancer, as well. I befriended her when she came to the clinic where I used to work. Moving from New York, she was only in our city eight months when she felt lumps in her breast. She took the most aggressive treatment. She had both her breasts removed. She also received both radiation and chemotherapy. She felt well for four months after her treatment. Then she started having debilitating headaches, had difficulty standing up, and often times was talking nonsense.

Since her only son lived in Boston and she had no family around, I took it upon myself to keep an eye on her. When she couldn’t drive anymore, I’d take her to her appointments, bought her groceries, and helped keep her apartment clean and tidy. Because she was unemployed and depended solely on what her son sent her every month, I went ahead and paid for her groceries. Another friend and I helped her get Social Security benefits. It took a while but she eventually received them. Unfortunately, she didn’t live very long after that to really benefit from it.

One day, she called me to take her to the emergency room. Even though I’m not her relative, but was the only one the doctor could discuss her illness with, he showed me the MRI of my friend’s brain. He and I counted seven masses. With the MRI, her history with cancer, and the presented symptoms, the doctor was sure she had brain cancer.

I notified my friend’s son and told him about the findings and what was suggested for her. After a few days at the hospital, she was moved to a nursing home. She was not at all happy with this. It just so happened that I was going on a vacation to the Philippines, so I told her that she would get the help and care she needed at the nursing home while I was away. Her son was okay with it when I talked to him again on the phone.

When I came back from vacation, I found her at another nursing home. In just the two weeks I was away, she had lost a lot of weight—she was nothing but skin and bones. I felt a tremendous guilt for leaving her and was sick to my stomach to see this once beautiful, lively lady in a diaper. She must have kicked off her blanket while squirming incessantly to get comfortable from the pain. She didn’t even recognize me anymore. I immediately put the blanket back on her. I also tried to feed her the food that had been delivered, but she resisted my every attempt. Instead, she wailed like a hyena because of the pain. I’m very sure it was pain because each time I asked what was wrong, she pointed to the back of her head. Her son arrived the next day, just in time to visit with her before she passed away a few hours later.

I hope that one day soon, a for-sure-cure for cancer will be discovered. I hope it’s soon enough to save the lives of those who are suffering right now.

Thanks, everyone, for your time.

19.12.10

Merry Christmas from Afghanistan




Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you from me as well.

Tasha