Meditations

Primero De Septiembre – Ode to Venezuela

 

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Caracas 2015

Friend of the blog, Maria V Agelvis, Mari as I affectionately call her, shares her poignant and yet hopeful poem…amazing how one can leave home but it never leaves you.

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Entre nervios hoy escribo,

aquello que pienso y no digo

 

A donde fuimos? presentes y distantes

Venezuela Hermosa y Unida, te quiero así ahora, como eras antes

 

Malandros, burgueses, opositores y chavistas

Basta ya de divisiones y de discursos populistas

Cuando veremos que el “rolo e’ vivo” no es más que un oportunista

 

Mientras tanto aprendo que el cambio viene de adentro

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Caracas

Que cosas valoramos? Que nos pone contentos?

Joropos, aguinaldos, tradiciones y gaitas

Tripones en el colegio en actos con alpargatas

Chamos viendo el amanecer entre panas y pepitos

Es que extrañar a Venezuela es mango bajito

 

Los Roques, el Salto Ángel y el ruminate Orinoco

Los llanos, Mérida Y Margarita son apenas unos pocos

De los paisajes naturales que Venezuela comprende

Es que hablando de mi país, uno se pica y se extiende

 

Y al describir una tierra, cómo no hablar de su gente

Con panas, compinches y costillas: Quien no la pasa excelente?

En la casa o en la calle de nada se forma una rumba,

Con aguardiente, Polar o Zulia, Hasta el arrocero se encurda

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Mari’s Sister in El Hatillo 2012

Aquellos que han degustado una reina pepiada

Los tequeños, las cachapas  o de gallina la ensalada

Sabe que mis recuerdos no son ningunas bobadas

Mucho menos si incluimos pabellones y empanadas

 

Es un baúl lleno de cuentos, comidas y música divina

pero es que quien no mueve los pies oyendo Caballo Viejo o Madera Fina?

choroni

Choroni 2009

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Barquisimeto 2016

Asi es la Venezuela que admiro y añoro

No me importa sonar cursi pues, es la tierra que adoro

Y aunque mi cuerpo hoy día está en otro lugar

El guayabo por mi país no se los puedo ocultar

 

Sueño con un futuro con medicinas, seguridad y alimentos

Con paz, libertad y casa de nuevos talentos

Construyendo nuevas memorias para aquellos que están adentro

Y para todos los que llevamos el tricolor en nuestro pensamiento.

 

Seamos Maracuchos, Caraqueños, Barquisimetanos

Margariteños, Andinos, Llaneros o Amazonianos

Juntos debemos pensar:

Naguará mi Venezuela, como te recuperamos?

– Maria V Agelvis

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Caracas

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Parque Nacional Mochima 2016

 

What to listen to in the car! TED Talk Recs for Improving your Communication

So it seems I am getting older for pop radio. I really never thought this would happen. I am one of those people who never, ever gets tired of a song I love. I can listen on repeat and fashion myself on American Idol as I belt out whatever tune is in vogue. At times I feel bad for my daughter, as she is my prisoner/ captive audience for my impromptu performances. However, these days I have caught myself thinking it is always the same three songs on the radio. Then, I put on Pandora or watch out, pop in a CD and take myself back to 90’s hip hop, Marc Anthony (past and present), Foo Fighters or my Mariah Carey station. Don’t knock it; I have liked and unliked my way to the optimal Pandora song list for her station.

With not enough hours in the day, however, when I feel intellectual and want to optimize my time in the car, I listen to TED Talks or other podcasts. Hello Serial Season 1!

***Below are D & D’s TED Talk Recommendations for improving your communication.

SAY WHAT YOU MEAN

1.Economist Tyler Cowen discusses the innate human need to tell and to organize one’s life around stories. As a person who loves the act of storytelling in almost any genre, I was compelled to rethink how we organize our lives through the comforting yet limiting standard plot lines. He maps out the pitfalls of narrating one’s life versus the scary yet more honest messiness that is living.

2. Robert Waldinger is the fourth Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development which is a 75-year-old study, following about 600 men throughout their adult life. Along with archiving personal, medical and professional statistics, they have focused on how to measure happiness and fulfillment. One major take away is that happiness is directly linked to the quality of the relationships one nurtures. In an age where we want more likes and hearts, a high quantity of casual connections, this talk refocuses priorities to the qualitative aspect of our relationships.

 

3. A talk everyone needs to listen to. Celeste Headlee on 10 Ways to improve your conversations.

 

 

 

On Education from the “Uneducated.”

Ishaan_PSMont1

Courtesy of www.haleyshawphoto.com

Four years ago, I sat down to have dinner with my husband and two of his friends. It was my first time meeting them. We had not yet ordered, when one of them asked, “Where did you graduate from?” When I told them I had not finished college, their eyes widened as they turned to each other and whispered something in Hindi. In the Indian culture, if you don’t have a college degree, it’s code red.

I come from a background where education wasn’t the first priority. Independence and learning to make the buck was. And though I’m grateful to have been inculcated with these virtues, I am taking a different path in my role as a Mother. I’m making a generational change for my family. Moving away from one paradigm to the other end of the spectrum is not necessarily anxiety free.  Therefore, my son’s education will be one of my biggest investments. And I don’t necessarily mean financially, but my time, my support.

I have been called, “uneducated,” “lazy,” and was once told, “You’ll never finish school.” But in spite of the irony, I am completely devoted to my son’s education. And yes, I’m sure my own personal failures are part of the drive, but this isn’t a do-over for me. This is not me putting pressure on my son to give me a second chance. I want him to have his best most fulfilled first chance. And, I do admit, a college degree is not everything. (Says the girl with no college degree, huh?) However, I want my son to have one. I don’t want my son to follow my path, I want him to finish college and continue a life of the mind. But not for the sake of saying he has one, not for the pedigree it provides, but for a deeper meaning. I don’t want him to get a degree for the diploma and pretty frame but rather for the journey and hopefully for the lesson that what one learns in college is but a fraction of what one should learn throughout one’s lifetime. What college affords is a block of time in life where your priority is to better yourself and by extension your society through intellect, curiosity, ingenuity. There are college and graduate school alum who use their experiences to just check a box. (Many people have college degrees and do nothing with their lives, or are very successful individuals but never take a step back and enjoy the journey, always obsessing on what is next) …”The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know” (Wagner, Forbes Magazine).  So with that in mind, I don’t want him to go to school to be stuffed with knowledge and memorization, I want him to gain knowledge, sure, but with that knowledge become an innovator. Do something with it. To be curious and let that curiosity propel his imagination. And learn to see multiple perspectives. I will allow him the space to learn to be, himself, a thoughtful citizen of this increasingly divided country and world, someone who will chart his own path even if I may not be on board with all of his choices, he will learn they are his choices to make.  

And I may not have graduated but I read critically, I write and organize my world in a thoughtful conscientious manner. Isn’t that being an educated person in the world despite what a diploma says or doesn’t say?

 

Five kind of Cuban practices I will continue with my daughter.

Five kind of Cuban practices I will continue with my daughter.

  1. Every NYE we will go outside with suitcases and walk around in circles so that we guarantee to travel that upcoming year. Works every time.
  2. I will dip her chupete (pacifier) in Cuban coffee to build up caffeine tolerance. Actually, my husband does not approve, so I won’t confirm or deny this one.
  3. An azabache is a must. She is the only Gymboree kid I see with the azabache on or on her baby bag…gotta fend off that evil eye; it’s a 24-7 gig!
  4. Versailles – Before Lebron James and every politician who makes a stop in Miami made this a must tourist destination, this has been the go to spot. After a concert or my ballet recitals, we would end up there. My aunt says it feels like the open air restaurants in Havana and my fave Gustavo Pérez Firmat has an amazing analysis of all the mirrors inside; how Cubans see themselves in those mirrors.
  5. The loteria game – It’s like BINGO with no letters and you bet money. The bets range from a few cents to $1 if you’re feeling lucky. I learned the game when I was four or five, but despite your age you better bring a few cents to join the pot. It was our version of family game night, and I don’t remember any phones on the table!!!

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Dinner Party Conversations: on the menu awkward

Last night we went to a dinner party after taking a walk on The High Line. Most of the people were married with children, some were single with no kids. I was drawn to a couple, his wife in particular, who reminded me so much of Ellen DeGeneres’ ingenious humor and honesty. I wanted to sit next to her all night, be a part of her world for a little while. She was radiating. I should have made it a priority to exchange phone numbers, but I didn’t, and now wish I had. While I sipped on a glass of Va de Vi sparkling wine, one woman, she must have been in her early 30’s, said, “I can’t have kids.” “I’m sorry to hear that,” I said. “Oh no. Noooooo. It’s not like that. I don’t WANT to have kids.” “I just can’t imagine having a little leech sticking to me all day, because that’s what they are. Leeches. Sucking the life out of you.” She spoke with an assumed air of importance as she said this matter of factly and everyone remained quiet. I think some people were stunned at her unsophisticated commentary. It took me a while to process it. Was the comment rude? There was an unmannered taste to it. She seemed not to have noticed the thick silence that enveloped as she kept talking: “My sister has 3 kids and she came to visit me last weekend. She lives in Boston. And all she could do was tell me how much she missed her children. That it was her first time being away from them. She has twins and a 4.5 year old and she missed her husband and the ‘chaos,’” adding air quotes to chaos. She meant to be funny, but no one laughed. “After two days of that, I had to tell her to stop it. Snap out of it. My god! You are human!” “What do you mean she’s human,” I asked her. She responded lacking all kinds of reasoning, “She’s human. She shouldn’t forget she’s human, too.” She said this almost equivalent to a “Duhhhh.”  “She just went on and on about her kids and at one point she cried. Can you believe that?” “Actually I can believe it,” I said with warmth, sympathizing with her sister. “And I’m sorry, I still don’t understand your comment about reminding her that she’s human. Is it not human to express that?” I asked genuinely confused. I really did want to understand. I had listened to her, listened with depth, to an unrefined rant, and I felt it was fair that I understood. She sparked curiosity in me. “Well it’s just not normal. Right,?” and I was going to answer, “No”, but I realized her question was rhetorical. It’s not normal to her. It was not normal to her that her sister missed her children, her husband, her life. And that she missed them so much she had to speak about it incessantly. “I think it’s perfectly normal.” I said. And after that, I no longer wanted to be a part of this conversation with someone, who I realized, perhaps a little later than others, was a bit insensitive. I could romanticize this by calling her fearless, but her graceless monologue proved to be nothing more than pointless. Perhaps, one could argue, she knows what she did not want in her life, and that’s a valuable thing. To know. To know what you want and don’t. It’s better than being confused or pretend. But the leech analogy is something that I have heard before. So I found her to be inauthentic and that bored me. I continued sipping my wine, looked at my husband and he gave me a wink and a smile. “No more wine for her,” exclaimed the the Ellen DeGeneres-wish-I-got-her- digits-could-have-been-a-friend-lady. Everyone started talking again at this point, cheerfully about their children, their lives, and of course their careers. But most spoke about the tribulations of parenthood while drinking more wine, which then turned into some pretty hilarious stories. Especially when we started talking about Ryan Reynolds’ parenting tweets. Have you read them?

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The Dance of Anger – Book Reflections

doubts & desires

doubts & desires

 

I have a confession to make.

There are days, sometimes weeks, where I feel I have conquered my anger. Where I feel, ok…I’ve got this. I know how to manage my anger because I know where it’s coming from. But then, when you’re wrapped with a blanket of serenity, BAM! There it is again. Even if you did what you felt you needed to do to cope with it, to ease it. Even if you did listen to your voice and said what you wanted to say and how you wanted to say it. The opposition at times is stronger and then the anxiety returns. Slowly forming like a wave, until it hits the shore knocking the air right out of me, my breathing becomes rapid, and oh no…here comes the panic attack…my chest hurts…I’m trembling. “Why? Why? Why!” And then I begin to wage a war against myself because I feel I have lost. I feel I have failed myself. I’m supposed to have it together. Two steps forward, one step back. It’s a process.

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A Baby Blogger or a Blogger with a Baby?

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doubts & desires

A Baby Blogger or a Blogger with a Baby?

I am beginning to get a bit more comfortable with the whole blogging situation. At first, I was like gasp, hand on chest, I think I missed a comma…Everyone will see this and think I’m an idiot. Now it’s more like I have this friend who is a really good listener and he or she never really interrupts my stories with their own. At times my very polite friend will drop a comment, but it is always directly related to me and my stories, so it is obviously important.

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“A Heart Lives in New York”

doubtsanddesires

doubtsandesires

doubtsanddesires

doubtsanddesires

doubtsanddesires

doubtsanddesires

March 12 marked six years of me living in New York. And so much has changed since I arrived. I went from “crayons to perfume…”  New York is where  I became a whole person.  Where I became an adult? A MOM, a wife, a writer. That’s what the city does to you. Makes you grow up. But I still wear a pair of my white chuck taylor’s with a dress.  You’ll still hear me rapping with brush in hand to my all time favorite, Renee

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Musings at 35

doubtsandesires

doubtsandesires

That’s it. Tomorrow I’m officially 35. And that number sounds so small yet so big all at the same time. It’s painted with maturity and faith that makes me trust this adult life so much more. I understand women who say they feel more comfortable with themselves as they age (is this what I’m doing? Aging? It doesn’t feel like it.) because I feel more mature especially when I think back to 30, but change has really come to be in the last two years. I have evolved into this almost entirely new person. Don’t you think that’s a pretty big deal? And I’ve worked on me a lot. I’m going to continue to grow into this new me. I intend to. Isn’t that youth? Perhaps retaining youth somehow? To be the person you want to be. I’ve got this penchant for big changes, and this is one of them. We’re always growing, morphing, changing, dying, as we are then reborn, and moving more to becoming our own.

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And you calling me colored?

link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/4613540568/in/photolist-82FASU-8EVhxf-nLtGt5-8pBHwu-7uePtF-6G1UqA-5EBYpm-a19fN7-z9swfA-pUJ8Ns-bK38Gp-pEnTta-deopzs-49J1FQ-qpnG7T-5S52nF-rYBbgs-oiAVt-65VDM7-4XVwNq-4j42D3-4Hsx3B-qdE5uE-7Lm5st-HydpR-HydpH-fMR14a-dwcdCb-7nBKXH-7nFEv9-qgQCP9-fyDsEY-f79RdZ-tNSCbv-ynbBcz-6ic8XM-5Mjr9o-7wF8TV-dWmf6N-a5L6iG-2TQPt9-8f2YS1-8eYPwD-8f358G-8eYFGF-4bBixt-8DsYYv-7uePuT-fx8Nyt-w77qry

photo via Steven Depolo (https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/4613540568/in/photolist-82FASU-8EVhxf-nLtGt5-8pBHwu-7uePtF-6G1UqA-5EBYpm-a19fN7-z9swfA-pUJ8Ns-bK38Gp-pEnTta-deopzs-49J1FQ-qpnG7T-5S52nF-rYBbgs-oiAVt-65VDM7-4XVwNq-4j42D3-4Hsx3B-qdE5uE-7Lm5st-HydpR-HydpH-fMR14a-dwcdCb-7nBKXH-7nFEv9-qgQCP9-fyDsEY-f79RdZ-tNSCbv-ynbBcz-6ic8XM-5Mjr9o-7wF8TV-dWmf6N-a5L6iG-2TQPt9-8f2YS1-8eYPwD-8f358G-8eYFGF-4bBixt-8DsYYv-7uePuT-fx8Nyt-w77qry)

 

We’re several days late on this post, but this means so much to us we’re going with it! Therefore, in honor of Black History Month we share this poem with you. Because of its underlying depth. Because of it’s innocence and unvarnished honesty. Because of it’s controversy, as some people find this to be “racism in reverse”, we hear the poet speaker grappling with how to transform observation into knowledge.

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When a liftetime is not enough

 

Located at Barcelona’s Poblenou Cemetery, this magnificent sculpture, titled El Beso de la Muerte (Kiss of Death) in Spanish, depicts death (in the form of a winged skeleton) planting a kiss on a young man’s forehead.

Located at Barcelona’s Poblenou Cemetery, this magnificent sculpture, titled El Beso de la Muerte (Kiss of Death) in Spanish, depicts death (in the form of a winged skeleton) planting a kiss on a young man’s forehead.

In Spanish there’s a word; desahogar. It means to release your feelings, in whatever form you choose, speaking, writing, singing, painting, in order to be alleviated by them. The following is just that. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

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When you’re a kid, you picture the life you want for yourself

Little girls dreams big

Recently, I was asked what kind of life did I want for myself when I was young? What did I picture my life would be like? I stayed quiet for a moment  in search of that little girl. She was so far away. Sadly, I don’t remember much about her. And whatever I am able to recall of her, I can tell you only two things with certainty. In her eyes, everyone was the same. Everyone was equal. And that little girl, had a big task at hand, a self-imposed pursuit: she wanted to save the world.

So I said…

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You’re Still Here

Primitive writing in my 20s

 

Last night, as everyone slept, I went through my archives and came across a handful of primitive forms of what was once my writing. (My back-in-the-day writing.) In hindsight, a lot of what I wrote was very amateur-like, but filled with raw emotions, nonetheless. I was not surprised to find a constant theme in those pages: sorrow. Most of my writing then was inspired by a mean-spirited poignance. But, I had an unusual morose disposition then. Today, that theme has changed. However, there is something about this poem that I have always been drawn to.  Maybe it’s because I know where my heart had fallen while writing it. Maybe it’s because I actually do feel at one moment in time it was a work of art. Would I write it differently now? I will not deny there are parts I would change and I thought about making those changes before sharing this with all of you. However, I decided against it because it wouldn’t be authentic. It wouldn’t be the drawn unfiltered voice of that 26 year old girl. This was/is a part of my many plateaus during my 20s. (I wrote about those years here) Hence, the poem remains untouched. And for whatever it’s worth, during those years, I wrote completely and truly unguarded. So here she is, the freehearted me.

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Bumpy road ahead, but I will breathe again

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After two weeks of an unwarranted hiatus, I’m writing. I’m back.

I have been MIA these past two weeks. Life threw me in for a loop (or maybe it came to a screeching halt) and we all know how that can be. Right? And I’m not going to call them curve balls. These were downright strikeouts. I’m still not one hundred percent recovered from the hit, but adversity is not foreign to me. (Like I said here,Happiness never really taught me much) Let’s put it this way, at this point, hard times have just become an unbearable ennui, but I’m still standing. Perhaps psychologically, emotionally injured, but it didn’t knock me down. Isn’t that something? It’s true what they say. The more hardships you experience in life, the stronger you undeniably become. I have always been a strong person, but my strength sometimes catches even me by surprise.

So what’s up?

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Raw Confessions of a New Dad! My husband shares his lessons on his first year of Daddyhood.

 

Silly faces with my son

Silly faces with my son

Several days ago I posted the lessons Motherhood had instilled in me this past year. When I saw how many people were reading it and sending me e-mails, a thought occurred. What did being a first time Father teach my husband, Tapas? After all, it wasn’t just me who became a parent. I wasn’t alone in this trajectory. And so I asked him. 

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Happy New Year! Which means another 365 days with my son, husband, and writing!

Happy New YearWhile many were out celebrating last night, and toasting with champagne, we stayed in and shared a glass of Malbec. We didn’t even see the ball drop. (Honestly, the countdown gives me a great deal of anxiety.) It’s no secret. We pushed our over exhausted bodies to stay up. Therefore, we laid in our sofa with our legs crossing each other, gave a deep and long exhale, and turned to our most reliable companion, Netflix! We haven’t slept! It just felt nice to lay down without a sense of urgency.

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Why I embrace the winters

Foliage at Finger Lakes several years ago.

Foliage at Finger Lakes several years ago.

 Fall is almost over as the wintertide begins to settle in. I am embracing it the way I do every year, with thrill and excitement. You know? The way people welcome the Spring and Summer. Contrary to most, I love Winters. I love the very cold and tough winters especially. I look forward to snowy days because it’s absolutely breathtaking to see untainted snow on tree tops and sidewalks. I love that days are shorter because that just means I get to turn on my Christmas lights that much earlier. Although fall’s departure is several weeks away, I realize I did not relish in it the way I have before. The only reminder and memory I have of this year’s foliage is the giant tree on the other side of the street. Which now is beginning to look barren. Isn’t it something? Now that Autumn is here we begin to layer ourselves up, while the leaves begin to fall disrobing the trees, leaving nothing but exposed branches to good ol’ Jack Frost. That the last vestige of life on that tree is now gone, is something that makes many people depressed as winter for most is a metaphor for death. Especially for those on The Wall. Have you seen Game of Thrones? They don’t fear their enemies swords, especially the White Walkers, they fear the Winter. However, I refuse to heed to their warning, “Winter is coming.” The season symbolizes the new and fresh. Snow falls, the air is crisp and I see hope. So while everyone is walking around jaded, I’m dancing around my Christmas tree. Literally!

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Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time where many people yearn for home. To be with family. It’s a time where people take a moment, a pause, to reflect on life and say their thank yous. I embrace this holiday because of the memories I have made alongside my family. Now it’s my turn to carry forward the tradition so when my son grows up, he’ll have real warm stories of his childhood.

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Re-Cognized

I  should begin with the proposition that my writing has no merit akin to traditional blogs/literature. I am an amateur. A stubborn and unconventional novice.  But I’d like to think of myself as a coherent dilettante, and one who writes for herself. My writing is a reflection of my perception of the world and personal experiences, and is influenced as such to a large extent.

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It’s MY turn

I am exhausted at being everyone’s sounding board.

Writing in the Hamptons, working on a story.

Writing in the Hamptons, working on a story.

It’s my turn to speak. Now listen.

Writing is not a childhood pastime. Nor is it a hobby that I have impulsively taken up to fill my days. It’s not on a forsaken to-do list either.

Are you listening? Or have I lost your attention to your superficiality of what to wear tonight to Skybar?

(Sometimes I can’t believe that these are the kind of people I choose to divulge my feelings to)

I’m frazzled by the forty five minute conversation we just had about you. You are conscious of what you’re saying, but oddly distant from your own self-absorption. You forgot to ask, “How are you?” Your selfishness is not surprising. The incredulity is provoked by the height of it.

Focus. Please.

I was lucky. I had the good fortune to have been given the opportunity (all credit to my husband) to resign last year from a life sucking J-O-B, leaving behind the envenomed Corporate America. It’s a slow withering death.

I had that kind of boss, the one who never appreciates you, but greet with a smile and when given a task, it was always, “With pleasure, ” or, “I’ll get right on it.” (I played this game like a pro) When what you really wanted to say was “Kiss my ass and then f@#! off.” Maybe even spitting inside his /her Starbucks coffee was a thought that crossed your mind. Once? Twice? Ok. So I never did stoop down to that level, but I wanted to. In fact, my very existence didn’t even leave a small mark on the work and institution to which I had so naively plead my loyalty for more than 8 hours a day. And yes, I suppose I have been fortunate to no longer have to listen to the constant mind-blowing girl banter and being everyone’s therapist. (I must have an invisible sign on my forehead that reads, “Free therapy sessions all around the clock, everyday.”) So on Monday mornings, when I begrudgingly walked into work and dragged my feet to my desk, turned on my computer, realized that I have 100 e-mails to read and you come, pull the chair next to me and ask, “Do you think it’s weird my boyfriend says he only wants to have sex on Saturdays?”, then you cannot question, not even for a moment, (as a matter of fact you are forbidden to do so) why I flirted with the edge of that cliff.

Have I lost you? Is the topic of me quite the bummer? Are you itching for me to finish so we can get to what’s important, you.

Ah. I see. You think somewhere, deep down inside, I miss it. The way one misses their childhood, with a subtle nostalgia?

Which part? Having to get up in the mornings? Being assigned a new role in hopes of a promotion you will never have? And all this is compounded by the clock that does not tick fast enough.  Having only 2 day weekends to regain some sanity?  -That’s if you have managed to do so before jumping off the cliff.

Do I rest my case?

Although the stupefaction was gratifying, in that it confirmed the felt gravity of my decision, the truth is, my decision did not come without apprehension. But who said making leaps was easy?

The fear factor: I have been working since I was 16 years old. Financially reliant on three people: Me…myself…and I.

However, if I didn’t take this chance, the chance to write full-time, then I did not learn anything in my 20’s. (The indolent years) And I do not understand what it takes to reach a dream much less do I understand what my dream means to me. So I took the chance! Bid a good riddance! And I have never looked back. It’s my turn to sing my song and not at the beat of your drum. Capiche?

Now let’s come to the present and let’s work on getting rid of misconceptions, assumptions, and your ego.

As a stay at home writer, I do not struggle with guilt, boredom, and feeling overwhelmed. I’m doing what I have always wanted to do. Write. And this happiness is coupled with moments of intense gratitude towards the fact that I will have the opportunity to be there for my child.

What you fail to realize is that when I say, “I have to write,” or, “I am writing,” it’s not a burden, or like saying something as banal as “I have to go to the supermarket.” No. It’s a lot more complex, stimulating, and colorful. Me expressing that, as many times I do, it’s me letting you know that I need to breathe, as writing for me foremost is an escape. Or, because I came up with an idea which deserves to be on paper, worked and dissected. Writing is Freedom, a Privilege, and a journey, an interminable trajectory. It’s my chance at stripping away all reservations and revealing to my reader the authentic me, and that is accompanied by Fear and Sacrifice. In this exhilarating quest, I have epiphanies, breakthroughs, and at the conclusion, some clarity. It’s undoubtedly therapeutic, as I hone each word, each sentence. There’s Pain too. After all, I have always believed that most artists are tormented one way or another, which is why we plunge our souls in these different forms of art (writing is that too). Whether you’re a singer, composer, photographer, painter, we are perceiving and living the world isolated by some definition from the rest. It’s mostly our pain that compels us to submerge ourselves in art form with the hopes of finding the connection to this world.

Writing is power. With that power I am able to create another realm, and allow the readers to disengage perhaps almost as much as I, the writer. With every passing word, different emotions are evoked, some strike chords, as the reader either smiles, recoils, or becomes enraged.

And in spite of being home, it does not mean that you can call me and disturb my time with your problems or issues. I don’t want to hear it. Do I call you while you’re at work? So why do you feel that only because I am home you have that right? Who gave you that right?

And yes, I’m home. But I’m involved. Engaged. My fingers will not stop typing to pick up your call. Leave a message.

Your e-mail can wait and will wait. My dream cannot.

I’m a hermit and a stubborn one at that.

And so I write in spite of the condescending comments and looks of naysayers, and the jeers of those who doubt my ability or think I’m wasting my time.

Although I did not think I would be dedicating anything in my blog to anyone, even if they did it deserve it, as I want to stay away from that, I think I need to do it.

It’s time.

Here’s to two people who fully understand the path that I’m on, the hardships I have faced while writing, who are always eager to read not only my first, second, and and third draft, but my final one too. Who tear apart and critique it word by word, sentence by sentence. Who aren’t afraid to tell me it’s “rubbish.” But at the same time, aren’t too proud to be amazed and happy if they came across a good sentence or point I made. They read it with no biases, eyes open, heart untainted, and learn something about me. They hear my voice, even if they don’t agree. They are doing what you are incapable of, and that is this, they listen. These two people set aside time for something that is not required of them and they don’t get paid for it either. I am not sure why they do it with such enthusiasm and arms wide open, but I’d like to think it’s because they deeply understand my ultimate destination and want to be a part of this journey I’m on. They not only share their lives with me, but in return, ask me to share with them mine, especially my writing.

So a profound thank you, I could not do this without you, and the journey would not be what it is if it weren’t for the both of you. My husband and my friend, Josie.

New Version of Me

Windows are wide open as the petrichor (smell of rain) perfumes my humble abode.

Windows are wide open as the petrichor (smell of rain) perfumes my humble abode.

It’s a rainy day; subtle, but windy. Umbrellas are a nightmare at this point.

I’m sitting here on my sofa, accompanied by the gloom that has ascended outside my window. I have left behind the swooshing of tires, the incessant honking, screeching breaks; and the occasional “fuck yous”; it was the unruliness of 3rd Avenue. And although many would find that familiarity dull, I was comforted.

Pandemonium stage of 3rd Avenue (outside our old apartment)

Pandemonium stage of 3rd Avenue (outside our old apartment)

My thoughts are rampant. Though my heart is calmed, like the rain that falls now.

The rustling of leaves distracts me, as they engage in whispers. I watch as their dance begins, swaying in a harmonious methodical rhythm, moving to the tunes of the raindrops. Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop. And though their waltz-like dance lasted only a moment, I was moved.

“This is home”, I say with peace in my voice and a quiet joy in my soul. This is home.

1-IMG_5228I am remembering a conversation, as a summer scented, soft-blowing, breeze brushes through my white curtains, ruffles the pages of my book of poems, which sits on my rusted looking coffee table, and caresses my long bare legs. I lose my self in retrospection.

Life has been full, far from the barren days.

I trace my ever-growing belly with my fingertips. Its egg shaped and hard like shell are scattered with light chocolate and strawberry colored freckles. I find a quiet liking to them.  My belly button is almost flat, leveling with my stomach. I’m somewhat intrigued by this phenomenon, although it looks foreign to me. Everything about me seems alien-like. Someone has unequivocally invaded my body. It’s difficult to marvel at this change, find the “beauty” in it, as my skin stretches, expanding in places I vainly wish it wouldn’t. The image obsession of our society is not to be blamed. It’s me. I’m comfortable in my old skin, the old version of me, the one with small jaunty breasts, which now resemble two large inflated balloons. I don’t want them. Then I feel our baby kick, preparing for the daily somersault show, and I’m reminded of the whys of this transformation, understanding its purpose and finding ways to embrace it. Once that knowledge sets in, I relish in it all. But because of those reasons. Because of the whys. It’s a profound erudition that marks me with an irreversible perspective.

The inevitable physical transformation is only a part of the journey. (Who is that person staring back at me in the mirror?) However, there’s a deeper metamorphosis taking place mentally and emotionally too. Since I found out I was pregnant my thought pattern has undeniably changed. I feel like a book of encyclopedia for mom’s-to-be. Ok. So that’s awfully exaggerated, but there is more knowledge. I am a little wiser. A little more cautious, more responsible, little less foolish. A bit more calm. And then a warm thought surfaces, I know I’m going to coddle my baby. A. Lot.

I recall my childhood from the eyes of a mother-to-be, no longer as the absent-minded young girl I was. She has taken leave. There’s a new layer of myself to be exposed and shared. And the most surprising revelation I will make to you is that, I am beginning to feel like a mother. Though I still don’t know what it’s all about.

Motherhood weighs me with questions, but with the same intensity fills me with light.

My thoughts turn to my Mother.

I draw the silhouette of her soul. Finding the woes of Motherhood permanently engraved, I begin to smear it with streaks of black lines, creating dark shades from where her heart is, to her mind, then to her fingertips and right down to her toes.  I then pick up a blue crayon, and then a yellow, green, (her favorites) and start coloring everywhere, her lips, her nose, her eyes, retracing her heart and mind, reflecting on the euphoric moments of her trajectory. Sure there were those rainbow filled days, where she triumphantly arrived home with more energy than usual, after an eight hour work day, cooked our favorite meal, as we all sat at the dinner table, devouring the food and each of us obediently responding to, “How was school today?” (I was always first to speak. Not because I am the eldest, but because I was eager to speak to my mom, and did, still do, love sharing my life with her.) But there were also the unbearable wretched times. The days I did not want to be told what to do, and I spoke back. The days my brother was asked to take out the garbage, not once, not twice, not thrice, but ten times before he begrudgingly did as he was told. The day my sister called 911 and pretended there was a fire in the house, there wasn’t. These are only morsels of her story. My sketch does not encapsulate her journey, nor does it exhibit her extraordinary vitality.

(I do not walk alone. I have my husband. Though my strength allows me to stand on my own two feet as we hold hands, there are moments where he carries me.)

Am I entering my glory days? I don’t know. What I do know, is that I don’t want to be molded into someone entirely different. Otherwise, I may as well be “dust in the wind,” as Kansas once sang. I don’t want to lose myself as many mothers do in the process of becoming a mom.  If I fear anything at all, it’s that. Though I can definitely list a litany of small fears that supersede. Forgetting who I am, what I am, what I love, like my writing. My husband and I not having time to ourselves. I assume like with everything else in life, I have to find my balance. But I have realized the following in just 5 and a half months of pregnancy. Having a baby does change you someway or another. I mean, that is if you plan on being any kind of mom at all. And instead of fearing that change, whatever that change will be, I am learning to take pride in it and find confidence in that other woman I am undeniably becoming. She’ll still love writing and she will write, and if it’s not as much as she was able to before, that’s ok. She’ll still be left in enchantment when her husband speaks and laughs until her stomach hurts. They’ll find their moments to kiss too. She’ll still love to pop in her Beatles CDs, and perhaps one day share this with her child, explain how The Beatles are the best rock band that ever existed, but especially how their music, helped her through hard times and duplicated the good ones. She’ll still dance, but now she won’t dance alone. She’ll have a dancing partner, her child. And she’ll get to see her husband become the amazing father she knows he will be. So here’s a warm hello to this new self, a new version of me. A I-think-we’ll–get-along–just- great. A I-think-we’ll-be-the-best-of friends.

And though pregnancy is not this breathtaking ride as many would see it, it has its moments of bliss. Like now, when the baby kicks and pokes me on my left side. I stop to write just for these moments.

From my book of poems

From my book of poems

While Religion remains a cynosure for some…

Your thoughts, words, and deeds will shape others and theirs will shape you.

Saibaba temple in Queens, NY

I do not know much about Saibaba. Who is the man who has an entire temple dedicated solely to him, his philosophy, and beliefs? A prophet? A saint? What made him stand apart? Was he a façade? Did he deceive his followers who acknowledged his benevolences to the community? You know, like those preachers you see on T.V. who live lavish lifestyles, flaunting their Ferraris and manipulating you into believing that by placing their hand on your head you will be purified of all sin. I thought only God had that kind of power. But, if my husband prays to him, then I believe there must be something good and respectable in him.  Hence, I join my husband as we raise our hands in a reverent prayer. Om Sai Ram.

I have passions, things that I’m devoted to. I do. And with an appetite for them so immense, that on my days where I have been disassembled by Life, I turn to them, and in haste, they put me back together. That’s pretty miraculous if you ask me.

Religion is not one of them.

Nor is it a compass, much less a moral guide for me, at least not all of the time. After all, I never have walked the straight line.

My very first memory of God was during my First Communion classes, though I’m certain He was embedded in me long before that (I was baptized) whence God was still, “Papa Dios.” However, the concept of an omnipotent Being and what that Being meant to me were and remain vastly different. God existed, or so I was told, but, if He did, what did that symbolize? What does He have to do with me? What role does He play in my life? (Questions that I can only truthfully answer now. It’s called profound introspection in my 30’s.)

On the day of my First Communion I remember wearing a white knee length lace dress, with a matching lace white veil and gloves. Not the beautiful Spanish lace. I’m talking about the el cheapo kind one would find in a Hialeah store called Catholica Eh-shop. To my dismay, I resembled a tacky young bride at 12 years old. (Is this some subliminal message to young girls about marriage?)  And if that was not enough, your royal highness, wore a crown. Yes! A crown! It’s more painful than I remembered it. But living in a non-Dominican culture, my Mother’s option of a beateous mantilla was obsolete.

A Christmas gift from my sister

A Christmas gift from my sister, placed at the top of the entrance door to my home.

In spite of my weekly Communion classes, I had no genuine interest in the subject and remained rather ignorant on the matter. Instead, I was doodling on my black and white composition notebook, (remember those?) sitting in back of the class, as I did in most subjects.  It was 8am on a Saturday morning!  Can you blame me? I mean, that was torture and B-O-R-I-N-G! I would have much rather be home, in my room, absorbed in the latest Babysitter’s Club book, pretending I too lived in Stonybrook.  What can I say? I mean, “one God in three persons?” Forgive me for being obtuse, but can you please explain that to me again? Or better yet, may I go home now? I of course said all this in my mind. Instead, I sat there and completed the class as expected. It was merely tradition, nothing more, nothing less. Communion was something I had to do and not understanding or really caring about it, I held no opposition and felt no closer of a bond with Jesus.

As I entered my teenage years, I had a selfish and somewhat perturbed interest in proceeding with Catholicism. At 13, the Cinderella story had to be my destiny. If I was to ever marry in a Catholic church, I had to get confirmed. In retrospect, I’m not certain why that was consequential at that point in my life. Why did I feel the need to take the step to secure my path in such a fickle institution, where I would soon have no faith in?

I received my confirmation at 14 and adopted my Mother’s name. Though the practice is to adopt the name of a Saint, the only protector and guide for me was my Mother. And even after all that, I still felt no closer to Jesus nor did it render my bond with the Church. How could it? I did not understand what Jesus wanted from me. How could I have a substantial relationship with someone I could not see, hear? In other words, I did not comprehend the concept of Faith. Rules after rules were inculcated in me with fear that if I was to go astray from these commandments, I would be punished by God and would only have atonement if I prayed at the very least ten Hail Marys.  But that did not rattle me because I was very comfortable at not following the rules.  I was a deviant, the one that did not walk the straight line. Remember? So when reading these rules, some, not all, were…well..a little over the top to say the least. What if I didn’t agree with all of them? What if I still don’t? “You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,” (huh? I thought jealousy was bad for healthy relationships) but I pray and bow my head to the Virgen de Altagracia (Dominican Republic’s avatar of the Virgin Mary, the patron Saint), Kali, Ganesha, and when I see Them, the day I finally make my way to Greece,  I will pray to Aphrodite and Athena too. As a matter of fact, I pray to any form of God/Goddess in any religion. Be it Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, etc. This is not confusion. Each religious relic has a sense of sacredness. So why not respect that and if possible, open your heart and embrace it all.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALate in my teenage years, I walked away from it all.  And it did not start with the sound of a trumpet cuing some kind of announcement, or banners that read, “I quit!” Nor did I engage in the bell, book, and candle ceremony. I didn’t take drastic measures like succumb to blasphemy or throw away my religious relics. I loved the Cross too much and still do.  I did not steal, lie, or cheat. After all, I did have an innate moral compass. I didn’t make a stance against the church by relinquishing my visitation rights. Actually, I never attended church. I didn’t attend church on Sundays, or on Christmas Eve. Nor did I ring in the New Year at church, simply because that was not how we were raised. My decision was personal as well as subtle. -And not that it was a secret either. It was simple, when asked what religion I belonged to, I no longer said Catholic. It was nothing personal against the religion, it was about me. I cannot deny how great it felt to make such an adult-like decision at that age. I felt like the shackles were removed from my feet.

It’s okay to change your long held strong beliefs.

In those years I questioned God’s existence. I am sure many of us have trodden on this walk of doubt. I am feeling somewhat grotesque admitting that to you, the one reading this, mostly out of shame. (Forgive me God for I was lost as a Bitter seed started to grow inside my heart)  I didn’t understand Him and I was averse to all the man-made rules the Catholic Church had, (as do all religions). –Actually I still am. Although my Communion teachers and Confirmation teachers praised Him, I was unable to just because I was told to do so. I suppose, in hindsight, I wanted to love a God not because I was conditioned to do so, but out of my own will and faith. I wanted to believe independently. I wanted to really believe in Him without the influence of those around me. So I bade a good riddance to Catholicism and everything and anything that came with it.

On that path I neglected to do anything that would bring me closer to Him. Though when He did come to mind, I questioned if He was actually a She. – And why not? I’m sure this causes some discordance in the hearts of the devout. And the next revelation may rattle you further, causing you to lose sleep tonight. Even now, I continue to believe that God may just well be a Goddess. So what does that mean for the misogynistic preaching? Well gentlemen, your all powerful deity is a Woman. How’s that for a myocardial infarction? Though whether God or Goddess, bears no influence on my love and loyalty to whoever is up there.

It was many years before I found Faith again and it was all due to the Buddha.

My Buddha:

My Buddha

However, it was not an easy journey. It was filled with misconceptions and questions, while observing religious and moral contradictions. -And I wasn’t necessarily in search of it either. It sort of just found me. Things just did not coincide with my perception of religion or a religion. Did you know that the Catholic Church is the wealthiest institution on earth? Hey Vatican! Wasn’t the founder, Jesus, the poorest of the poor and remained content with it? This was a display of true humility. That says a lot about the person who is up there, while all the while the Pope and Bishops walk around adorned in gold. However, the Dalai Lama, wears a simple robe, which is a reflection of his vow to a simple life, but he’s been caught on camera wearing a yellow gold rolex. Hmmm. These aren’t necessarily higher spiritual ideals. Isn’t the primary idea of Buddhism based on denouncement of material pleasures? Buddha was a king who left everything!

Today if you asked me what religion I belong to, I would say that I do not belong to any particular religion and I don’t want to either. I have never had that in me. I lack the discipline and patience. Bowing down and being on my knees for longer than a few seconds makes me restless. Too much labeling and restrictions come with organized religion.

My Catholic Rosary, Hindu Beads, and Buddhist Beads

My collection of prayer beads: Catholic Rosary, Hindu,and Buddhist.

I believe and or embrace too many things to belong and be constrained to just one. I believe in the Buddhist philosophy, while simultaneously having a personal and close relationship with a Goddess/God or Goddesses/Gods, which personify a multitude of religions . Those relationships are a work in progress. I seek spiritual depth, inherent Truth. And I don’t think that’s a sense of ambiguity on my behalf or lack of identity. It’s all a part of my spiritual growth. I believe in Saints, Buddha, Jesus, Ram, Shiva, Krishna, and Allah, along with the several hundred thousand avatars in Hinduism. The Muslim prayer, Kalima provides me an incommunicable sense of peace. The Star of David I find mystical and hypnotic. So you see, I can’t make an unconditional commitment and submit to an established Religion. I choose free will instead. In my heart of hearts, I believe in co-existing of all religions.

While religion remains a cynosure for some, the North Star which guides them, I’m in search for my constellation of spirituality.

What I learned in my 20s: The monochromatic years

With very little sanity left in me, I unceremoniously left hum-drum Miami. I was barely alive. No. Hold on a second. I’m not going to sugar coat this nor will I add rainbows to my experiences. There’s no burying the hatchet. You want the truth? Well here it is. I was psychologically and emotionally bruised. Yada. Yada. Yada. Same old story. Right? I’m not trying to sound original. I was exhausted of trying to breathe in a culture which I could not relate to and I harbored profound and genuine animosity towards. Miami was and still remains the very anti-thesis of my Soul. It eviscerated me.

Desperately crawling into my 30s I never looked back at that cataclysmal period. Why? Those years were a creation of incessant havoc, to say the least, where happiness deserted me and betrayal was like Judas’ kiss.

However, having lived through all that, I will never underestimate life again. It’s one bitch of a teacher. Now, in speaking to those who are in the “roaring” years, I listen to their life experiences and cannot help to think, Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt.

What I learned in my 20s:

Leave high school where it belongs. In the past.

Girl talk was not really that fun.

You’ll blindly make decisions and fall flat on your face because of it. Learning nothing from it, you’ll make the same mistake over and over again.

Never be someone’s doormat.

Celebrating your 21st birthday is more exciting for those around you. While you’re just going along with it, wishing the night would end.

You’ll never fancy your roommates. And they do come from hell.

People will only speak to me. Never listen.

You will outgrow certain people and feel guilty about it.

If you stay long enough in Miami, a part of you will inevitably die. And you won’t even know it happened.

You’ll tread the walk of shame often.

Hanging with the boys is a lot more therapeutic.

If you want to have a career, this is the time to work towards it.

I found comfort living in recluse.

You’ll put yourself in situations that are bad for you.

Everyone has a purpose, if you are a means to that purpose, then people will show interest.

The more the friends, the not the merrier!

You’ll lose sight of things and gain perspective in others.

Your reality will change your dreams.

Cynicism will blind you.

You’ll learn to make $20 last you a whole week because you’ve decided to spend your entire paycheck on non-essentials. Most of the time, you won’t even remember where all your money went.

Don’t lose your smile. Once it’s lost, it’s difficult to find.

I’ll continue to want to save the world.

My mother is my soulmate.

You’ll betray your convictions.

High school really was not all it seemed to be.

Not attending my 10 year high school reunion was a phenomenal idea. Why would anyone subject themselves to high school again, even if just for a night?

You’ll take someone’s feelings for granted and spend the rest of your 20s feeling sorry.

Being married is not equivalent to being monogamous.

Hypocrisy is a shameful exercise.

You’ll realize many relationships/friendships can be toxic, and although it may take time, you’ll rid yourself of them.

University of Miami was just a dream.

You will lose faith in people.

South Beach is tacky and that’s putting it mildly.

You’ll continue to be everyone’s shoulder to cry on.

I don’t belong. I don’t need to. I don’t want to.

In your times of wanting to escape, you’ll find yourself pretending you were a werewolf, actually made sense.

Integrity is an endangered species. So is loyalty.

Dominican Republic was to open my eyes leaving my Soul con Alas (soul with wings).

You’ll question Catholicism and the concept of religion, finding yourself walking away from it all.

You’ll realize you are too liberal to be Catholic.

Religion does not define me or identify me.

Don’t pretend to be in love.

The cohesion of books, movies, and music are a growing investment in keeping me alive.

You’ll begin to lose the common thread in old friendships.

Men will always be infantile.

Since these are the narcissistic years, you’ll find people thinking they are better than you and taking you for some kind of idiot.

You’ll lose all faith in life.

People will call you naive just because you believe others are kind.

Pain.

Pain.

And more pain.

Family can at times let you down. –And when they do, you’ll always forgive, but you’ll never fully recover from it.

Your feet will always touch the ground. There’s no time to fly.

Bitterness is a seed that persistently grows, if you let it.

Struggle is repetitive, inescapable, and powerful, especially with no lifeboat nearby.

What I wanted in a man and did not want.

Vanity. Like Carly Simon said, “You’re so vain. You probably think this song is about you. Don’t you?” – An inflated view of yourself will blind you from rational decisions because you’re thinking of your own best interest.

Learn to forgive.

I fell more in love with my roots and agonizingly yearned to see my country.

People will have no problem using you.

Friendship in itself took a step down. Several steps down.

Wanting to escape and finding ways will become a constant.

There are people who do want to hurt you and they will.

In the absence of a boyfriend, you have self-discovery. It’s a special ride you’ll be on. Dive right into it!

Listen to your heart. People have their own agendas.

Living on my own was one of the best decisions I made. It brought equilibrium and solace.

Don’t settle. You’ll only resent yourself for it.

There’s a whole other person inside of my mother. A person I admire.

Love is not the one that makes you feel bad about yourself.

I enjoyed my solitude more than I ever thought I could. I passionately desired it.

The term best friend is used loosely, and as a result, everyone will call you their best friend.

Wake up and smell the coffee.

Miami’s jargon will become more repugnant. Hence, speak well.

Life is always an uphill battle.

Keep the pretty little liar friends away!

You’ll finally understand the old adage, “When it rains, it pours.”

Those you love most, will devastate you.

You’ll find peace and answers in the most unexpected places. For me, that was the Buddhist Temple.

My sister will surprise me. She’ll demonstrate courage and loyalty at a time and age, when I never even knew she had it in her. I’ll always admire her for it.

Friendships are not forever.

I’m not always ok.

Friends can really suck.

Marriage is an institution I do not want to be a part of.

There is a difference between feeling lonely and being alone. (I never felt lonely)

My brother was my first friend in life.

You can expect the unexpected from my father.

My uncle can also be my friend. A great one.

Leaving Miami was the best decision I ever made. It was the start of a trajectory that will save my Soul.

Muddled Thoughts

Negligence can leave one remorseful, though the bitch was never invited.

I have abandoned my writing this past month. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have been writing. It’s just that it’s all a flaming pile of shit. Hence, why I see it as a month of absolute deterioration in my routine. Each word I utter, each sentence I create are reflections of desperation and a dearth of passion.  It’s like the stories from Dick and Jane, “Look, said Dick. See it go. See it go up. Jane said, Oh look! See it go. See it go up. Up, up, said Sally. Go up, up, up.” I mean c’mon! Those sentences are complete and arrant stupidity. So where is inspiration? I expected her to remain loyal. (I’m too optimistic for my own good) But!- And I ask. Who can write without inspiration? And come to think of it, do I only write when I’m inspired? Ok. So I need to give in to introspection. Anyway, where was I? Ah yes. I have lost my flow darn it! I should start reciting incantations to save myself! And I know what you’re thinking. It can’t be that bad right? Oh it is. And I’m not talking second class either. That would still be a-ok in my standards of crappy writing days.  No. My writing has become like India’s Bhangis, the lowest of the Untouchable castes. – And let’s not kid ourselves here. This is not progress. I am just at the point where even if it is crap, to hell with it. I’m writing and posting. I will admit there have been some distractions, and nothing noteworthy either. Well that’s not entirely true either. I’m in the process of a personal transformation. A big one! One of those that challenge paradigms and alter them completely. However, I still resent myself for it. For being Authorial incapacitated. –And I make the attempt. I sit on my bed with my laptop and block out the fucking noise that resides right outside my window. I hear taxis honking their horns, MTA buses screeching their tires as they come to a stop, the homeless man with a plastic cup in his hand, who stands right in front of Starbucks and sings for several hours his one word song. What’s the word? I could not tell you for the life of me. But if you ever do hear him, please tell me. He may just be saying the word scratch, but there is undoubtedly intense passion in his voice. “Scraaaaaaaaaatch! Scuuuuuu-araaaaaaaatch!” Was that necessary? And then there’s the construction work going on across the street, in front of the ConEdison building, as the men in their bright yellow uniforms begin their drilling with no consideration to the quiet I need. With that being said, the daily hullabaloo on 3rd Avenue has never really impeded me from writing. I’m not encumbered by personal baggage. If only I can summon my thoughts! Let’s face it. When I want to say something, I will and I’ll lose myself in the process as well, blocking out everyone and everything. The sound of my phone is always off and my fingers are delicately placed on my keyboard while I pound each letter as I become more indignant. So in the middle of this juvenile rant, all I’m able to conjure is this: Muddled Thoughts

I had a dream that I was in Miami. (Let me rephrase that. That’s a nightmare.)

Don’t forget to omit the honey. It’s a bit sour, but I’ll survive.

Let me see. What time is it? 9:24am. I should write until 12pm. Then go to Yoga and run after that.

Should I make the Kale smoothie before?

I need to buy garlic and green chili. I don’t need the green chili until next week. I’ll just by the garlic.

I want an apron from Anthropologie. I don’t care if that sounds archaic.

I have to walk to Lexington. Seems like it’s a nice day. I should enjoy the walk.

Need to build the food processor today before I cook. Where’s the manual? I loathe reading manuals. I’ll try without the manual first.

My best friend is pregnant with her first child. I need to buy her a gift.  Should I buy what I found on Etsy? I don’t think she’ll like it.

My brother said he’d call at 4pm today after work to catch up.  Should I text him to confirm?

My sister hasn’t responded to my text. She’s probably in class. It’s not important anyway.

Abby leaves on Friday. I should write her the e-mail before she leaves.

I need to buy the frame for my great-grandmother’s picture. She was so beautiful. I see so much of my mother in her.

The floors are shining! So happy the cleaning woman came yesterday.

I should go down and give the homeless man some money.

I’m getting hungry. Or am I? Need to learn not to confuse emotional hunger for being actually hungry.

I should call the general practitioner today and ask if they can test me on Candida. I hope they can.

How is the baby doing?

So many idiots in NYU Hospital’s billing department.

Why can’t I write? Where’s my story? Am I lost?

This is bullshit.

 

Where are the Dominican authors?


Dominican Authors 3 Where are the Dominican – American authors?

 I love to read. Though the word love does not really encapsulate what I feel. In the words of Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) from the movie Annie Hall, “I luuurve, you know, I loave, I luff” reading. It feeds my soul. It’s the escape from reality that I enjoy most, entering a world of the unknown and seeing it through someone else’s eyes, or coming across a metaphor that is unique and really conjures an image. Those are the great ones. And it’s the original stories that leave an imprint. I’ve read A Thousand Splendid Suns from Khaled Hosseini and was able to get a peek into the Afghan society. I read the The White Tiger which gave me a second hand experience in the daily life of an Indian servant.  I read Living to Tell a Tale as I journeyed through different cities/towns in Colombia, such as Bogotá and Cataca. However, where are those stories closest to my heart?Dominican Authors 4

There aren’t many renowned Dominican writers recognized in today’s Latin American literature classes or mentioned amongst current literary giants. Yes, we have Junot Diaz (Pulitzer Prize winner) and Julia Alvarez but both have an American education and write in English. It really makes no difference to me where they were educated. Don’t miss my point. I’m talking about writers who are educated in Dominican Republic, literary masters in the country’s language; Spanish.  I’m talking about writer’s whose work is recognized outside of the island. It would of course take a literary genius but where is he/she? There was Joaquin Balaguer and Juan Bosch, both former presidents of DR, but they’re dead. And unless you live in the Dominican Republic you really don’t read about Pedro Mir whose only novel, Cuando Amaban Las Tierras Comuneras (When They Loved the Communal Land) is highly regarded internationally. Then there was Salomé Ureña, a poet and a pioneer for women’s education in DR, but where is the modern voice? A voice of today that can appeal and represent not only the country’s literary array but internationally as well.

Dominican Authors 6Balaguer, Bosh, Mir, and Ureña are all in the past. Dominican Authors 5Where are today’s literary works? I don’t want to just hear about those who have already assimilated. I’m far too familiar with that story, though not personally. I want to hear about those who lived there for a big part of their lives. Someone who can share a story on how they spent their Sunday afternoons walking around El Malecón with their family after a movie and buying candy from el paletero. Take a look at Colombia’s Gabriel Garcia Marquez Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude), and Chile’s Pablo Neruda (Nobel Prize winner) whose Veinte Poemas de Amor y Una Cancion Desesperada, (Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair) is his most highly acclaimed book of poetry, or Isabel Allende who wrote La Casa de Los Espíritus, (The House of Spirits).  So what’s going on with the Dominicans who seem to have been stigmatized for having success in American Baseball Dominican Authors 2
and for their shameless debauchery such as crime, violence, and drugs? Unless we’re talking about Baseball, Dominicans don’t really hold a positive light in the American eye. Is it a fault of the education system? Anti-literacy in the popular culture?  Maybe because we’re too small of a country, and hence have a very small market for publishing? I don’t know, but can’t help to ask.

Mother Nature’s Wrath

While some of it is now a haze, it’s her scream I remember most; a high -pitched scream filled with terror. I never heard my mother scream that way before. I looked at my sister whose face was nestled on my shoulder as she continued to sleep soundly. I turned to my brother who was standing right beside me and I remember the look on his face, it was as if Death had just summoned him. I realize now there’s no more a powerful force than the wrath of Mother Nature.

Hurricane AndrewI was 10 years old when Hurricane Andrew hit. 22 years later, I’m still afraid of the
howling of the wind, always looking outside as my eyes seek the nearest tree. How violently the branches fold against the wind is my indication of what’s coming. It may seem friendly or mysterious to most, but to me it looks and sounds like the beginning of something bad. Wind

Natural disasters are inevitable and through the years I have heard of many that remind me of Andrew, though the survivor’s experiences and situations may be vastly different. Many even make my story sound microscopic. There’s the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Katrina (2005) and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which killed over 230,000
Tsunami 2004people and affected 14 countries. A wave that, according to sources, travelled as much as 3,000 miles. So is surviving the earth’s most deadliest phenomena, “The Impossible” (now a major motion picture starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor) miraculous? Yes.

Here’s the real life story of the family who inspired the new film. It’s a remarkable tale of survival, dread, grief and loss. A story which encompasses the indestructible strength of the human soul.

Have you ever experienced a natural disaster? I would love to hear your story. Please feel free to comment.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/real_life/4727569/boxing-day-tsunami-maria-alvarez-the-impossible.html …

More than words

Sometimes pictures can speak volumes. Some pictures can open up a whole new world kumbhfor you. At times, they have the power to penetrate deeply, leaving you speechless. Pictures can leave you in Wonder and depending how extraordinary they are, some of them can at times help restore your faith in the world.

Here are some staggering pictures. India’s Kumb Mela, coined as “the bigest gathering on Earth.” Where millions of people took a holy dip in the Sangam.

It’s quite a spectacle. Ready?

http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-lakhs-look-for-redemption-at-kumbhs-last-shahi-snan/20130215.htm#1

 

A small step of devotion

Although I have no memories of Lent from my childhood as I was no “Lentian,” I cannot help but to recognize that today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. (Observed mainly by Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Anglican and Eastern Orthodox denominations) Families will begin abstaining from meat as they turn to Mom’s best fish recipes. But giving up meat is not the only sacrifice made during this period. Many also relinquish sweets, caffeine, or give up the snooze button on their alarm clock. (It’s a lot more difficult than it sounds) While some of us are forfeiting, others are attending Yoga class once a week, or “learning to listen more.” I believe it’s a time of deep and spiritual reflection. At least that’s how I perceive it. Though my only question is, and this is some deep head scratching, why make the sacrifice solely for 40 days? I know the religious/biblical reasons. Those are sacred scripted verses. What I’m trying to say is that why not make that specific sacrifice and apply it to our daily lives? Though I am well aware that a small step of devotion/change can leave a big impact that lasts well beyond the observance.

May the fasting begin! On this 40 day observance, what will you be abstaining from? Whatever it is, I hope it helps you turn towards what you believe in.

God Bless You.

ash wednesday 2

“Biggest gathering on Earth.”

How many of us have longed to go on a pilgrimage to seek some spiritual enlightenment? Or to visit a shrine in hopes of atonement? Millions of Hindus are heading to Allahabad, for the Kumbh Mela, the “biggest gathering on Earth.” (Not just religious) This religious assembly happens every 12 years at the curent location, where two days ago a 30 million Hindus dipped themselves into a confluence of three rivers, one of those rivers being the Mother Ganges, as they rid themselves of their sins. (I suppose it is similar to a Baptism) 30 million people. Did you get that? That’s not just overcrowded. In my eyes that’s claustrophobia, but hey, it’s all in good faith. With that being said, and not much of a surprise considering the amount of people, a stampede happened two days ago, killing 37 and injuring 39. Yet, that does not stop anyone from attending. It’s too big of a spiritual attraction!

So to all my Hindu comrades: God Bless you.

hindu_devotees_0115

The world’s religion is Love

You can see the representation of our beliefs: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity. On the side are the following prayer beads: Hindu, Buddhist, and a Christian wooden rosary.Our Temple

Contrary to popular belief two different cultures, from two very different religions, can be together and fall in love. One of the secrets is not only respecting the other’s beliefs, but embracing it as well.

Today I woke up, cleaned, and dusted the temple. I saw Maa do it while in India. She does it with such care, such patience that you can’t help but to stand by and admire her routine. We have a small Temple compared to her, she has a designated room just for their Temple, but as we continue to grow in our marriage so does our Temple. Seeking to add the Star of David too.

Thanks to my husband, who has instilled in me so many beautiful and positive things, I pray with him every morning. At least I make it a point to. I find peace and love as we stand side by side, he sings his prayers, and I begin with “Lord hear our prayers.” After sending my prayers to all of you, all my family, and saying personal prayers for our marriage, he touches with the tip of his fingers, the edges of the Temple, a symbolic routine of touching the feet of God(s). I stand silently as I watch him enchanted, even if I have seen it a thousand times. He then places the palm of his hand on top of my head blessing me, and plants a kiss on my forehead.

And people are out there declaring wars against each other over religion and what is right or what is wrong. Here, we make it work through Love.