It is impossible for me to remember how many days or weeks went by in this way. Time is round, and it rolls quickly.
– Nikos Kazantzakis, Greek writer
Easter has come and gone, May Day has passed, and Mother’s Day is looming ahead of me. When my birthday in February was approaching, I knew my family and I wouldn’t be able to partake in our traditional birthday dinner. I was on deadline and would be until my company’s annual conference passed in mid April. Usually, the conference is in late February, but with the event being held in Chicago, we had to push it back to hopefully catch good weather, which we did. What squeezed me because of the late conference date was working simultaneously on the LUNAFEST film festival. Just as LUNAFEST closed, new projects required my immediate attention – fundraising drive for Jacob’s high school’s Investing in Academic Excellence and preparing my three readers for the 10 applications that were completed and submitted for a scholarship that my family and I established at the high school. We still haven’t celebrated my birthday with a dinner, and while at a certain point it seems pointless, I feel like I need that milestone acknowledged. Call it a continuation of my existential angst. I am still here, I am 53, etc.
At any rate, I feel that we’ll have that dinner sometime this month, when I don’t feel like cooking during the week. For now, I am forcing myself to slow down for a moment and reflect on what is almost half a year into being 53. The first thing that came to my mind was that I don’t remember much of January through April. So many work deadlines, so many stressful days and nights and weekends. If I just had that in my life, I would be very sad and not happy with myself. But thankfully that was not the case, even if it meant less hours of sleep to be able to do the things that make me happy.
For one thing, the East Bay LUNAFEST committee put on a really remarkable film festival this year. It was my second year. As was my responsibility last year, I handled the dessert circle. But this time around, I was able to contribute with my writing – interviewing and profiling our private chef who cheffed our VIP event, two of the filmmakers whose film was selected, two of our committee members, and the president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, and adding two more blog posts. We also had a larger crowd this year, and I had the honor of interviewing on-stage the two filmmakers. So I was very proud of our effort. Though I spent many weekends on these profiles, the outcome was worth it all.
Secondly, a good friend’s introduction to her father-in-law, a retired McClatchy journalist, and his retirement home neighbor, who is a local well-known Filipina writer, led to my novel finally finding a home in Eastwind Books of Berkeley (2066 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704, 510.548.2350). Eastwind is a bookseller, but owner Harvey Dong also publishes books that are aligned with the Asian-American themes that its shop carries. I’m overwhelmed with having to do a lot of the work, with Eastwind being an independent small press. I am learning a lot, which I’m grateful for, but we’ve also introduced added stress by condensing the publishing process in order to meet the early September date commemorating the 50th anniversary of when the mostly Filipino farm workers walked out of the vineyards in what became the Great Delano Grape Strikes.
Thirdly, I offered to help the Stockton chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society with the opening of the National FANHS Museum this summer and help the East Bay chapter with reading events in the summer and fall. I don’t have time to really do it all, but these are things that I am passionate about, and being passionate about a few things keeps one youthful and exuberant inside.
Giving up sleep and multitasking – things that are not healthy habits – are enabling me to keep pace with what I need to do not just in time to send everything to the printer but beyond my novel’s publication, when I need to do a full-court marketing press. Despite the stress of work deadlines, I had an enjoyable annual conference, getting together with colleagues and having a lot of fun moderating a really smart group of panelists for one of our clients. But I’m glad that event is done for the year.
So as I look back at the quarter mark of 2015, I see a lot of productivity and passion. I see exhaustion, but I see work to be proud of and work that will carry me through to the end of the year and beyond. I have a business trip to Orlando coming up. I asked David if we could have that birthday dinner the following week – and throw in Jacob getting his braces off and my novel getting accepted for publication as additional reasons to celebrate – three months late. I’ll take it. My 53rd year is promising, indeed. Why not continue the celebration.