Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Tag: family

ROW80: Refreshed and Ready to Rock

As some of you know, I celebrated my twenty-fifth birthday by taking a road trip down to Los Angeles to visit my good friend and colleague, Nicki, along with my not-so-little sister, Jaymie, who will be turning twenty in May. I don’t think I realized how badly I needed a short get-away, but now that I’ve had a couple of days to do absolutely nothing but enjoy myself, I feel like I’m ready to get back to work.

I had a short work week and a long weekend, so the progress I’ve made towards my goals reflects that. Here’s how the last week turned out:

Writing: Last Monday was basically a day of writing: lots of brainstorming, lots of editing, and a couple of new scenes planned out for TELL ME NO LIES. I’m starting to wonder, though, if I am going to be able to have a complete draft by the end of this round, which was my ultimate goal. In the weeks to come, I’m going to need to figure out the game-plan for pulling things together, and trying to get it finished.

Day Job: Oh boy, people, things are moving as far as the day job is concerned. I’ve filled out all the paperwork and set the date for the oral defense for my MA thesis. The official date is Thursday, March 1st, and I will be freaking out prepping industriously for the next week and a half. I only need to make a 5-10 minute presentation on my findings and conclusions, and brave the Q&A segment, but I am trying to remind myself that I know this project inside and out, and that committees don’t schedule defenses for students who aren’t deemed ready.

In other news I’ve signed up for the last two courses I will ever take as a graduate student (thrilling, frightening, exciting). One of them will be a directed study with my advisor, which will hopefully help me to gear up for the dissertation proposal that I need to write and defend by the end of the summer. No pressure, right? 😉

Social Time: There were a lot of good times over the past week: a fantastically awesome Valentine’s celebration with two of my besties that involved a hilarious movie (This Means War), cocktails, and cheesecake; an overnight visit with Nicki, complete with gabbing and tasty cupcakes; and a couple of days worth of shopping and hanging out with this kid:

She is, of course, way older these days and approaching adulthood, but I’m really grateful that we got to spend some time together one-on-one. My sister and I are nothing alike, and because we’re 5 years apart in age, and 6 years apart in school, finding common ground is even harder (I think there’s a blog post in this). But the older she gets, the more we have to talk about. I’m looking forward to this becoming an ongoing trend.

Exercise: Exercise and nutrition are always a major challenge around my birthday, because I am very good at justifying excesses, like this cupcake. Just look at it, will you? It clearly was something that was just begging to be eaten.

I managed to work out 3 days last week, and tried to balance out all the tasty desserts and eating out I did with extra servings of veggies. My jeans still button and I don’t feel like I’m busting out of my clothes (yet?), so I suppose I haven’t failed too terribly.

50/50 Challenge: Okay, I basically took Thursday to do nothing but read, and I devoured DARK CURRENTS and DEADLY GAMES, books 2 and 3 in Lindsay Buroker‘s THE EMPEROR’S EDGE series. I pretty much love everything Lindsay has written, and these two weren’t any different. If you like steampunk and fantasy, check them out.

I also hit the movies twice this week and caught This Means War and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for a double dose of Tom Hardy. This Means War was a lot funnier than I thought it would be, and even though I was irked by the ending, I really enjoyed it. And wow, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was amazing… though I will say that it was definitely worth my $9.75 to watch Colin Firth ooze and smarm his way around in the background (Gary Oldman is pretty spectacular as well).

Zemanta is encouraging me to give you all a picture of the wondrous Tom Hardy, so who am I to disagree?

English: Tom Hardy

Image via Wikipedia

Thanks to everyone for all the fantastic birthday wishes! I have to say, twenty-five feels pretty darn good. 😀 I’ll be working through all the comments and posts that I’ve missed over the last few days, and hopefully I’ll get caught up on bloggy things sometime this week.

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Celebrating Valentine’s Day with Real Life Love Stories

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and because I am a die-hard hopeless romantic, I thought I’d dedicate today’s post to love, that most noble sentiment.

I dabble with romance in my writing, and a good romance book or film can always boost my spirits. But as much as I enjoy the love stories that Hollywood and my favorite novelists can create, it’s the love stories from real life that affect me the most.

Cupid by Michelangelo, Musee du Louvre

Cupid and Psyche | Image via Wikipedia

I didn’t always feel this way, but after my first (and, to date, last) relationship ended, I found myself looking at love in a completely different light. If there’s anything that I’ve learned, it’s that maintaining a relationship is really damn hard… but that it’s worth the effort, if the person you’re with is also willing to put in the work.

My parents on their wedding day, July 1986

The older I get, the more I come to admire and understand the nuance of my parents’ relationship. As a child, I idolized their love story, the tale of a man and a woman from two different parts of the world meeting by chance in San Francisco, falling in love, getting married, and having a couple of kids.

I spent a lot of time looking at my atlas back in the day, tracing myself an imaginary line from the Philippines, where my dad was born and raised, to San Francisco, where he and his family moved when he was 15; from Ohio, where my mom was born, to Los Angeles, where she grew up, and up the coast to SF, where she moved in her early 20s. Add in the fact that my mom claims to have day-dreamed of marrying “a boy from an island” when she was 5, and you have the recipe for little Lena thinking that her parents’ relationship was written in the stars.

My parents worked in the same office in San Francisco, where dad was the chauffeur for the company president. As my mom tells the story, all of the ladies in the office had crushes on him, including all the fancy-pants executive secretaries… but somehow, he fell for her, the lowly receptionist. It almost reads like a romance novel: the plain Jane who wins the cute guy over all the other ladies. It was a story that I loved.

And yet, I knew very well the darker side of their relationship. Both of my parents came to their relationship saddled with their fair share of baggage, emotional and otherwise. To top it off, my dad had a nasty addiction to drugs and alcohol, which contributed to the fights and arguments, the cycle of making up, breaking up, and making up again.

The early years of their relationship were turbulent, and those problems only continued after they married and I was born. In my early memories, it was just my mom and me — dad was off elsewhere, carousing with the guys, too busy getting drunk and high to come home. And I even remember the day when everything changed, the terrible fight when my mom called the cops and had my dad arrested because his temper got so out of hand.

This is a story that, for so many reasons, shouldn’t have a happy ending. It’s a story that should have ended with a divorce… but it didn’t. Mom decided that she wasn’t going to take it anymore, kicked dad out the house, and told him he couldn’t come back till he was clean. And my dad hit rock bottom, decided that his life, his job, and his family were more important than anything else, and came back to us. My little sister was born shortly afterwards, when I was 5, and slowly but surely, we became a family.

The whole family together, Christmas 2010

Watching my parents grow together over the years has taught me that love is never easy, that it requires constant maintenance and cultivation, like a garden that must be tended each season in order for fruit to ripen and flowers to bloom. They have their ups and downs, the occasional argument and misunderstanding, but they are on solid ground with one another.

Now that my sister and I are both grown and more or less living on our own, it’s exciting for me to seem them enter a new phase in their relationship: two empty nesters who go out on impromptu dates, who have been together long enough to overcome some of the hardest challenges in their relationship and who now know each other so very well.

I think my proudest moment came last summer, when I watched them renew their vows for their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Their story is still in the process of being written, but it is one that reminds me that real life love is rarely as simple or straightforward as in the movies.

My parents on their 25th wedding anniversary, July 2011

I remember them today, especially because they have another anniversary coming up — the 28th anniversary of their first date, which, in a strange twist of coincidence, falls on February 18th, my 25th birthday. Congrats, Mom and Dad!

-oOo-

Because I am a music fiend, I had to give you all a couple of my favorite love songs to go along with today’s theme of “real life love stories.” These two, in my mind, capture the poignancy and uncertainty of love.

The first song, “Kissing You” by Des’ree, will be familiar to any of you who have seen the 1997 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Baz Luhrman and starring Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s bittersweet and beautiful, and Des’ree’s voice never fails to send chills down my spine.

The second comes from John Legend’s first album, Get Lifted. No matter how many times I hear this song, I’ll never get sick of it. John Legend tells the story of the love that “ordinary people” face, one that is far more complex and nuanced than any Hollywood fairy tale can portray.

What are your favorite “real life” love stories? Any romantic songs that you can’t stop listening to?

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ROW80 Social Media Roundup + Progress Update

Over on the homepage for A Round of Words in 80 Days, Kait Nolan has invited participants to share our Twitter accounts and Google+ pages.  I’m trying to get back into the swing of Twitter, and I’ve just picked up a Google+ account that I don’t quite know what to do with (currently poking at it with a stick to see what it will do), but I’ve posted mine over there nonetheless.  I love connecting with my fellow writers in all ways possible, so add me on G+ and/or follow me on Twitter.  😀  Better yet, check out the rest of the lovelies from ROW80! They’re listing Google+ accounts, as well as Twitter accounts.

In other news, the whole family made it to Nevada in one piece.  We all came together in a rather circuitous way, with Dad leaving San Francisco a day early to drive down (he has to take off a day early to get back to work), Mom and Rowena, my sister, flying from San Francisco on Wednesday, and me flying from Santa Barbara on Wednesday as well.  But we’re relaxing at my grandfather’s gorgeously wonderful retirement house, and although the heat is more than our thin-skinned, Pacific Coast-selves can handle, it’s fun for everyone to be together.

On the writing front: On Wednesday night I hammered out 594 words of a new scene for Strange Bedfellows, along with 1379 words worth of brainstorming.  I also started drafting a blog post (currently at 704 words) for Sunday’s ROW80 check-in, since I’ll be on the road to Vegas and potentially without internet access until next Wednesday morning. And then yesterday I suffered through a migraine and forced myself to edit twenty pages worth of thesis.  I’m not finished with rewrites, sadly, but I abandoned ship to head off and catch the midnight showing of Harry Potter (infinitely more important that limping through edits, I think).  Hopefully I can pull things together by tomorrow morning so I can send it off to my advisor.

Anyway, the family is slowly dressing (one thing that I always forget — how long it takes to get four people showered, dressed, and out of the house) so we can drive into Utah for breakfast, and then onwards to Zion National Park to poke around at nature.

Hope everyone has had a grand week!  Any exciting developments?  Who saw Harry Potter?

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