When Life Gives You Onions


I actually like lemons. They’re bright yellow and add acidity to meals, but onions—yuck! I know some of you out there love onions, but not me. Especially right now in my pregnancy. Just one whiff of an onion and I bolt the other way. I don’t even like cute little green spring onions. I will spend 10 minutes picking them all off a meal if I have to. I just can’t stand the smell. My poor fiancé, a lover of onions, not only has to brush his teeth to kiss me after eating them, but he’s had to wash his nose. The smell just gets everywhere.

And so what was the lesson when life gives you lemons? You make lemonade! Well, you can’t actually add some water and sugar to onions and make “onionade”, can you? That sounds like a horrific drink. There are such thing as caramelized onions, but that’s besides my point now.

Back to life—my life has recently given me some metaphorical onions. Some unpleasant smelling and tear-jerking events that have led to me trying to figure out if there is something I can do to turn things around. I’ll enumerate my current unfortunate circumstances:

1. I’m stuck in Manila. To make a long story short, I grew up in Los Angeles with no proper papers. I was able to get a tourist visa which I used to mainly visit my immediate family and friends there, but a few months ago, I was denied an extension due to several factors which are too embarrassing and/or boring to go into detail here. I also can’t go to a more pleasant place in the Philippines like Cebu (the island I’m really from), because I’m five and a half months pregnant and live two blocks away from a decent hospital. But the problem with Manila besides the horrific traffic and turtle-speed internet is that I desperately need to escape the last 16 years I’ve spent here. I’m no longer performing, I can’t go out and socialize (#preggyprobs), and the only thing I have here besides a few good friends are my business suppliers, who are sadly not enough for me to feel content about life about. So now I’m lonely, heavier than I’ve ever been, and crave to see the blue ocean. Yes, I’m not craving random stuff like bacon on ice cream. I’m craving the salty air and the pleasure of calm ocean blues in front of my eyes.

2. I’m confused what to do with my life. I have a thriving e-commerce store, but sadly, it was always Plan B. I pursued singing, dancing, and other performing arts for most of my life as Plan A. Now, I can’t stand continuing to do so. Manila traffic is too much to deal with when getting to gigs, rehearsals, and other commitments; the music industry is pretty much more passion than profit (which I can’t get my logical business-minded brain to accept); and I’ve come to realize I spent my prime years in the wrong country. No regrets—I just had to move on. So now, besides keeping up with business duties, I’m writing. From fiction to blog articles, I’m working on my craft and reaching out to literary agents and joining competitions, but with millions of competition around the world, I don’t just feel like a needle in a haystack, I feel more like a blunt paperclip in a room full of needles. I have no idea if anything I’m doing is right. I’ve read countless how-to books, spent thousands of dollars on editing services and writers’ conferences, spent countless hours writing and self-editing, made writer friends, and have entered random competitions, but writing stories is not like singing and songwriting. Making songs takes 1/100th of the time it takes to write a novel, is less costly to mix/master than edit, and I can share easily to friends and fans, which in turn boosts my motivation to do more. With writing stories and entering competitions, I wait for weeks on end to mostly get rejections from strangers. At least with dancing before, it kept me in shape and gave me an endorphin rush. I didn’t sit at home alone in my house dress all day ruining my eyesight with the blue screen and OD’ing on coffee, which now I can only have one cup a day of due to my pregnancy.

3. My fiancé is living across the other side of the world. Right now, I need help like I’ve never needed help before. And not only are my mother, father, sister, and closest relatives hundreds of miles away, the father of my child is too. He’s trying his best to visit as much as he can, but I’m pretty much alone for months at a time when he’s not here. So our child will be born in the Philippines. Luckily, she’ll still be an automatic US citizen. But that does me no good immigration-wise. He’s now hired a legit immigration lawyer in LA to help with our fiancé visa application for me, but with the current US immigration events, there is a definite chance I will be denied again. I have an actual trauma of going to the US Embassy in Manila. I have been denied there three times already, and I could feel an onion growing at the bottom of my stomach every time I go near the place.

4. I’m pretty much allergic to Manila. In my current second trimester, my mild eczema before has turned into very not-mild. Besides face, my skin looks like a pinkish-red war zone. It has to be the polluted air, city dust, heat, and humidity. Or I’m allergic to something else and my pregnancy is exacerbating my symptoms. I can’t go and get an allergy test, because it’s probably not safe for the baby so I just have to mildly scratch and apply hydrocortisone all day.

So, to sum it up, I’m stuck, confused, alone and itchy. They’re all smelly layers of the proverbial onion life has thrown at me. So what does one do when life chucks an onion at one’s face?


My fiancé suggested I make salsa. With some diced tomatoes, a dash of cumin, and other spicy ingredients, you can make a dish with onions that aren’t so “oniony”. Top on a tortilla chip and I can actually tolerate the dish. There are also countless onion recipes online claiming to be delicious and worth the time of making. But…onion-hater-me is still not buying it.

How about I just take out every onion out of the dish, or in my life’s case, how about I take out every unpleasant part of my life? Easier written than done, but let’s see if possible:

1. I move out of Manila as soon as possible. After the baby’s born and I still can’t go back to the US, I can move to Cebu. I can start over there. It would be hard, but if I find a nice condo by the ocean, it might not be so bad. What I need: patience and money.

2. I continue with writing and business. I can do both from anywhere. I can no longer be a music superstar, but I do enjoy both writing and having a good business that pays my bills. And who knows? I might get published someday and/or I might build my business bigger and better. What I need: patience, good old-fashioned hard work, and decent internet.

3. My fiancé comes to me or I go to him. Well, this one onion piece is hard to remove. It’s a stuck-at-the-bottom-of-the-dish-and-I-have-to-use-my-fingers-to get-it-out-thing. Actually it’s more like it has been cooked into the main course and is irremovable. Only the immigration gods have control over this one. We already did everything on our end.

4. There’s also not much more I can do about my allergy right now. I just have to wait it out and keep applying ointment and lotions.

Hence, I can’t remove all the onions. Maybe I just need to learn to like eating them and accept that they are a part of all of life’s dishes. Well at the very least, they’re healthy.

How about you? How will you make your onionade?


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