Sunday, December 30, 2007

Last stretch

The year 2007 is coming to an end, and like many others I am looking back on the year. I do not want to go into much detail, but I have to say I am grateful because it has been a good year for me and my family. I got a promotion and a raise, and a good end of year review. I traded in my lease and got a new car. The whole family packed the car and drove to South Padre Island for summer vacation. We were able to get new wood floors for the house, a closet system and a new couch. I fixed other things around the house, got a new trash disposal for the kitchen sink and (my favorite) a new digital SLR camera.

Gabriel and I celebrated three years of marriage in June and continue to settle into a married life with kids rythym. We are getting along well. I have been able to see my girls grow up and blossom this year. My oldest keeps getting better at volleyball, and my youngest is very, very advanced in her verbal skills.

In what was one of the most joyous highlights of the year, my parents and my brother spent Christmas with us. So far the only really bad thing I can think of is when I was hospitalized and had my gall bladder taken out, and that was not even that terrible.

Sure, there are things that could be better. I gained weight this year and I am not too happy with my looks. I could be more active (I am not active at all at present). I am often very tired from work and feel like I have no time for myself. Sometimes I am short-tempered and fight with my kids (well, my oldest kid) too much. There is always money concerns in the background. We certainly do not have a perfect life, but there is a lot of love in this family and the good outweighs the bad. By far.

From Sweeney Todd

We saw Sweeney Tood Friday night. I wish Johnny Depp's singing sounded like this version, from the 2005 Broadway Revival.

Here is the Wikipedia entry on Sweeney Todd.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


I woke up this morning with this song from my youth stuck to my head. The song is an homage to Salvador Dali. I am not a huge fan of his art, but I like the song.

I do not quite know why, but I am feeling old and a little fuzzy around the edges this morning. I have been reflecting a lot lately on identity and how shifty it can be. I possess not one, but many identities, elements of which may or may not align to each other: family identity, cultural identity, professional identity, national identity even. The presence of my family brought out a dormant side of me and constant use of my native language. Now that they are gone, and as I prepare to get back to work next week, I see the shift back to my usual Houston-dwelling self.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas is not over

At least not for my family. We celebrate Three Kings' Day on January 6. Paula will not be home, but she will still get presents from Los Reyes. January 6 is Isabel's birthday, so she will get extra special presents.

We will celebrate the day by going to a Three Kings' Day party organized by the Sociedad de Puertorriqueños en Houston. There will be typical Puerto Rican food and music. Also, the Three Kings will be there; we can bring a present for Isabel and the they will hand it out to her.

Friday, December 21, 2007

On comments

Lately I have seen several blog posts on the subject of comments. While I have never received any comments as virulent as the one recently posted on Cafe Leone, yesterday afternoon I received my first negative comment, on the post titled Talking about others. The comment, and my response, are reproduced below:

Anonymous said...

I'm impress by the maturity of your 9 years old. Also, I put my self in her shoes and wonder how devastating it is for a 9 years old to hear you talking like that about her. If you refer to her behavior, perhaps you need to make that clear. For example, if you do somethig neurotic, I will not say that you are neurotic, that is labeling you.

Children internalize what we say about them in a deeper way. Also, she should have NO ACCESS to your blog. That is personal and perhaps you need to look at the boundaries in your relationship.

Concerning, very concerning.

Ingrid said...

Anonymous, I would have appreciated it if you had identified yourself. If you really want to get a dialogue going, don't do it anonymously. It strikes me as cowardly.

I was only venting in my post, after an extremely overwhelming week, and I don't think anything in my post was out of line.

I also completely disagree with your dictum that she should have "NO ACCESS" to what I write. My daughter already has very limited Internet access, and hardly ever sees my page. But if my browser is open, and she happens to take a peek into a faily innocuous page, it doesn't send me into a tailspin. In my house we talk a lot and are very open when it comes to expressing our feelings. Paula told me how she felt, we talked about it and she asked me if she could comment on the blog. I helped her do it.

I don't subscribe to a "repress your feelings mentality." Of course, some things are private and not shared with the children, and others are phrased in a way that is age-appropriate. But I definitely do not believe that children need to be kept completely in the dark about what grown-ups are going through. If I am exhausted and stretched too thin, they will know about it. To hide it is just plain stupid, and the denial of something that is obviously going on may confuse and affect them even more.

So, anonymous, while I can't change your mentality that it is "concerning, very concerning" (nice alliteration, did you come up with that all by yourself?), I can disagree with you, and I do.

To a certain extent, I can't help but think that there is a cultural issue at sake here. In my culture, this would not be seen as concerning at all. I did not see an issue with boundaries here. I just posted about being overwhelmed and being challenged by my kids, as kids tend to do.

While the comment is not that terrible, it has made me wonder if I should share anything at all about my family in the blog. I don't need random idiots from the web telling me how concerned they are about my child rearing. Yes, you read right, random, cowardly idiots.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I got mad skillz

My dear friend, fellow mommy board dweller and hyper-cool mom Lori, gave this award for my "mad writing skillz." Thanks, Lori!

I love this award, and I am immediately passing it forward to these bloggers, who are all madly skilled in their respective realms:

Greg (blogworld domination), Olga, the Traveling Bra (globetrotting with humor), MPJ (self-awareness and honesty), Maria (vivid writing), Corey (engaging storytelling through photos), Paisley (raw, uncompromising writing).

Saturday, December 15, 2007





Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Crazy 8's

Both Olga, the Traveling Bra, and Meleah tagged me for the Crazy 8's meme. Great minds think alike, right? So here I go.

8 Things I’m Passionate About:
My family
Cultural Identity
Freedom of Choice

8 Things I Say Often:
I love you
I'm here
I'm tired
I'm hungry

8 Books I’ve Read Recently:
Lately, I have started many books, and not finished any of them. The last books I remember reading from cover to cover were the first five novels in The Dresden Files series, The Tipping Point and Stumbling on Happiness. And I am halfway through The Dew Breaker.

8 Things I want To Do Before I Die:
Visit the ruins of Pompeii
Travel to Buenos Aires
Write a book of short stories
Go back to school for fun
Do pottery
Take a road trip across the continental US
Learn Catalan

8 Songs I can listen to over and over again:
Ten Years Go By
Beast of Burden
Boricua en la luna
Ahora me despido
Plany al Mar
Periodico de ayer

8 things that attract me to my friends:
A dry sense of humor
An open mind
A sense of adventure

8 things I learned in the last year:
I am fickle, and that's OK
I like blogging
There is a lot of pervs out there
When in doubt, it's better to take a risk than do nothing at all
Home improvement projects are a colossal source of stress
I really, really hate wall-to-wall carpets
I am not invincible (go ahead, laugh)
My move to Texas, seven and a half years ago, has changed me. I sometimes don't know if I fit anywhere.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


At work they love me. I am so efficient, so quick, so supportive. I always, always have a good attitude. I get things done. I take "ownership" of projects, instead of merely doing tasks. I strive to be firm, but conciliatory, and to not get too personal. I have earned the flexibility to work from home when I need to, because my bosses know it is quite easy to reach me if they have to.

Lately it has been a harder struggle than usual to be the model employee that I am. I am juggling multiple projects with conflicting deadlines. I have been managing crucial projects and it has been quite complex to coordinate deliverables with such a large group of people who need to be involved. People come out of the woodwork asking for things, and I often find it hard to say no, because what they are asking for is part of the services I am supposed to provide, and they need them now. My boss told me yesterday to send all my internal clients an e-mail letting them know what my priorities are this week, so they know where they stand. In the past I have found it easier to just do what they want, but I may have to do as he suggests, because the requests keep growing in number. It is an understatement to say that my stress levels at work have gone up. When the work day is over, I feel spent and mentally depleted.

Throw in a screaming toddler, a fickle and defiant nine year-old girl, a house in disarray, and sleep deprivation into the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster. If my parents were not here, I am sure Gabriel and I would have been at each other's throats during this whole flooring project. Lately all Paula and I do is fight. She is in a very challenging stage right now, and is relentlessly pushing me to the limit.

I really need my two weeks vacation. I don't want to be this stressed out, angry and melodramatic person that I become when I am home. I can't wait to have some time to regroup and spend quality time with my family.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bragging rights?

I saw this first on MPJ's blog (who got the same rating I did, deservedly so in her case) and decided to test my blog's readability level.

cash advance

Fancy that. English is not even my native language. I guess reading all those books has really paid off. While I enjoy an ego stroke every bit as much as the next person, I am curious as to what are their parameters to assign reading levels. I tested several of my favorite blogs, and the responses surprised me. I am not sure how accurate a representation this is.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I'd like to thank the Academy...

Two of my favorite bloggers have given me awards lately, and I want to give them thanks, if a little late, and send them a virtual hug.

First, the fabulous Meleah of Momma Mia, Mea Culpa gave me this Friendship Badge. Thanks, Meleah! You are an awesome blogosphere buddy too!

Also, Olga, the Traveling Bra, gave me the Winning Attitude Award, mainly because of my Tetas de Cayey picture, published both on my blog and hers. Thanks, Olga, for being so supportive! ;)

Thanks to my friends for considering me worthy of these awards.

You're it!

I got tagged for memes simultaneously by the wonderful Olga, the Traveling Bra and clever blogger Rich. I will try to comply with both requests in subsequent posts, starting with Rich's.

Rich tagged me for the "7 weird/random things about myself" meme. This is actually the third time I get tagged for this one. The first time I answered; the second time I rehashed my first post. This time around, I gave it some thought and came up with new answers, just because Rich seems like a nice guy and it was lame to recycle the same post again. So here they are, seven random facts about your favorite Boricua in Texas:

1- My grammar pet peeves vary by language. In English, it royally pisses me off to see people confuse affect and effect, both in writing and verbally. It really isn't that hard, people! Go here or here for help sorting it out if you can't do it by yourself.

In Spanish, people who do not follow the rules regarding accents drive me nuts.

2- When I was twenty years old, I voted in my first election. I also worked in that election. As the secretary of my particular area, I helped count votes. Voting college members are trained by and represent one of the three political parties on the island. Each area had one person from each party to ensure all three were represented. We counted paper ballots (which they still use in Puerto Rico) and kept an eye out for errors that would invalidate a vote. Of course, there was always some bickering, and each party's rep tried to get as many of their opponent's votes eliminated as they could. I was an idealist, so I strove for impartiality and tried to look at all votes the same way, no matter what party they were for. Sadly, not everybody behaved in the same way.

3- As a kid, my method of cleaning my room was to shove everything under the bed and make sure the bedspread was long enough to hide it.

4- At age 8 or 9, my parents gave me a tape recorder as a Christmas present. Along with my brother, sister and friends, we used it to record parodies of radio shows. We did soap operas, game shows and mistery hour. What I would give to still have those tapes.

5- I am fickle. Moreover, I am convinced most people are fickle, maybe to varying degrees. It used to bother me that I would fall in love with something, become obsessed with it, then get tired of it. Surely it was my fault that X song, Y website or Z blog no longer interested me. They were still the same I have cherished before, why wasn't I excited anymore? I no longer waste time worrying about this and have come to accept it as normal.

6- I can talk while I burp. My siblings and I used to have competitions to see who could talk the most or the clearest while burping. I beat them often.

7- I am a big believer in massage therapy. Regular massage therapy sessions with a trained and certified professional can help reduce the risk of muscle injuries, lower stress levels and promote a sense of well being. I think these benefits should not be restricted to the people who can afford to pay out of their pocket. Instead, massage therapy should be part of everybody's health maintenance program, covered by health insurance.

And there you have it. Olga's tag requires a longer response, and I need more time to prepare my response.

Friday, December 07, 2007

I am getting old

In a week it will be my birthday, yikes.

Friday Photos

Here are a few pictures taken during Paula's school's Christmas program last night. It was a bit dark, and I do not have a zoom lens, so they are not the best, but you get the idea.

The floors are finished. Now we start the clean-up/organizing process. Craziness will ensue.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Progress Report

This is how our master bedroom looked on Monday, after they tore the carpet out. Gabe and I started painting, and were horrified when we saw our color choice plastered on the walls. It does not look at all like the paint swatch at the store. Called Summer, it was supposed to be a light, peachy color, not the retina-burning hue you see in the picture.
Immediately we started to plan our next visit to the hardware store, and how many shades lighter the color needs to be in order for me to be able to fall asleep in the room. Isabel, on the other hand, loved it. "I like the orange in the bedroom, daddy!"- she screamed delightedly.

This is how the room looks now, with the new wood floor in. I love the floor, it almost makes the color on the walls look normal.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bye bye, carpet

Hallway, carpet out, originally uploaded by icruzbonilla.

Living room mess

Living room mess, originally uploaded by icruzbonilla.

The flooring project is underway!

Monday, December 03, 2007

What number are you

Josie did this test (she's a 4) and I thought it would be fun to check it out.

You Are 5: The Investigator

You're independent - and a logical analytical thinker.
You love learning and ideas... and know things no one else does.

Bored by small talk, you refuse to participate in boring conversations.
You are open minded. A visionary. You understand the world and may change it.

At Your Best: You are sharp, inventive, and creative. You have the skills to lead the world.

At Your Worst: You are reclusive, weird, and a bit paranoid.

Your Fixation: Greed

Your Primary Fear: Being useless or incompetent

Your Primary Desire: Being competent and needed

Other Number 5's: Bill Gates, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Bjork, and Stephen Hawking.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

House in flux

There is so much done, but so much left to do!

Friday, November 30, 2007

In the clouds

I am back in Houston. It's foggy this morning.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Autumn Leaves, by koalie

I am in California, and will be here in meetings until Thursday. On my way to campus this morning I saw beautiful fall leaves on the trees lining the streets. The morning was nice and crisp and the meeting has been very productive this morning. So I am in a good mood right now.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bad timing

Fenómeno, by Remedios Varo

Lately my stress levels are off the charts. There is too much to do, too little time. We finally closed on the home improvement loan, but do not get a first payment until Wednesday. The contractor did order the wood and we will not be charged until then. We are nowhere near done with the packing, and we need to figure out where to get the money to rent a storage facility and possibly a U-Haul. We have next weekend to move everything out. And we have not figured out where are we all staying (including my parents) while they do the floors.

I leave for California today. The timing of this trip is so bad for my personal life. And it is not so great for my work life either. I also am in the middle of projects at work that I will have to work on while I am in meetings. I get back Thursday night and Friday in the morning I meet with our Senior VP to review the results of a project. It just sucks.

I also feel bad about leaving the girls. I had nightmares last night, about bad things happening to them, or to me. I haven't even left and already I can't wait to be back home. And that is what sucks the most. I do not travel much for work, and every trip is usually something highly anticipated, a rare treat to be savored. And unfortunately, the stress and hectic pace of work/home have robbed me of that enjoyment.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday Scribblings- Youth

Sunday Scribblings topic for today was "mis-spent youth." They asked the following questions:

Did you "mis-spend" your youth? What kind of kid were you? Worrisome to your folks? Mature beyond your years? Wild? Shy? How did you spend you time? Out of curiosity, how many of you knew "what you wanted to be when you grew up" and accomplished it? How many times did you change your mind? Do you think your kid self would approve of you now?

I have an issue with the concept of mis-spent youth. What does that even mean? Are we supposed to be on a fast track to adulthood from the day we were born? Was my youth mis-spent because I was not taking part of myriad extra-curricular activities?

Our youth is a time of formation, of experimentation. It's a stage of life. The labels, the expectations, the timelines of youth are, just like those of adulthood, artificial constructs. There is not a recipe or template of how the perfect youth should be. Of course, there would probably be a consensus that a kid who breaks the law, gets mixed up in dangerous situations and/or ends up in juvie may be taking their life down the wrong path. But even instances like that can be learning experiences, and people can definitely rise above them.


As you could see by yesterday's posted photo, while we clear the rooms for the floors to be installed, we are also painting. The living room is halfway done. As I pack rooms today, do laundry and prepare for tomorrow's trip, Gabe will be painting.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thursday Morning

I always wake up early on Thanksgiving Day. I enjoy my private time.

It's 6:30 AM. The turkey is out of the refrigerator to thaw for 1.5 hrs before putting it in the oven at 8:00 AM. It will cook 5 hours in an oven bag and be ready around 1:00 PM. Yesterday morning I seasoned the turkey and it has had close to 24 hours marinating so it can get that nice, garlicky, pork-like flavor I like. This is what I used for seasoning it:

1 small head of garlic, peeled and crushed with a mortar and pestle

lemon juice
olive oil
black pepper
sazón with coriander and annato

The turkey will be stuffed with meat. I browned a mix of ground sirloin, pork and sausage, threw in some sliced olives and cubed potatoes, seasoned it with sofrito and a touch of adobo.

My mother-in-law is making green bean casserole and mashed potatoes. She is also bringing pumpkin pie for dessert. Since Gabriel likes stuffing (yuck) I will be making some for him. I will also make my arroz con gandules, and a little bit of mashed cauliflower and steamed brocoli. I am trying to keep the portions small, but I am sure it will still be a ridiculous amount of food, and we will be eating through the weekend.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Blast from the past

Boricua on the island, circa 1995, with las Tetas de Cayey in the background.

Tetas de Cayey, 1995

Maybe Olga, the Traveling Bra would like to make a stop in Puerto Rico on her next visit to the Caribbean...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Junk Mail from an e-mail account I have given up as lost

My very first e-mail account was with Yahoo, back in 1997 when I first started surfing the Internet. Back then I was naive and made the mistake of giving out my e-mail on some website where I was signing up for some information newsletter or other. My address was sold and sold and sold and I started getting spam in alarmingly large numbers.

These days I don't use that e-mail address anymore, but every once in a while I log into my account to check the 2,500 or so spam messages I get every month. Here are two of my most recent messages. Does this crap work on anybody? Who replies to these messages?

1- Tremendous Sav-ings Generous Selections Pharmacology. Acquire a humungous reduction on your pillstrustworthy characters, uppermost quality.monumental variety, including Hard to find drugs No RX due.

2- Alert: can't keep up with horny women family. Lenghten yer pen1s up to 3 supplementary cm!!

Blogger's Choice Awards

I am curious. How many of you are aware of the Blogger's Choice Awards? Have you ever nominated any blogs? Have you ever voted for any blogs? Has your blog ever been nominated?

Today I nominated a bunch of my favorite blogs. I have never done so before, and I did not ask the bloggers if it was OK to nominate them. I hope they do not mind. I figured as a fan it was my prerrogative to celebrate the blogs I enjoy reading, so others can enjoy them too. Here are my nominees:

1- Momma Mia Mea Culpa

2- Greg's Brain

3- Just eat your cupcake

4- Murketing

5- El Ñame

6- Legión Miope

Monday, November 19, 2007

My first boyfriend

I just discovered Soap Opera Sunday though Patois' blog, and I want to play too, so I don't care that it's not Sunday.

When I was in seventh grade my parents enrolled me in a new school. This school was bigger than my old, tiny school where there were maybe 20-25 kids in my whole class. There were probably 20 to 25 kids in each of the 5 groups that comprised our seventh grade class. I did not know anybody. I rode the bus, and there was this boy who sat in front of me and whom I found pretentious and annoying, but kinda liked at the same time, in that "I'm bored and have nothing better to do" kind of way.

One day he asked me, through someone else, if I wanted to be his girlfriend. I remember the tingle I felt inside. He likes me! I was thrilled and sent back reply that yes, I wanted to be his girlfriend.

We spent one lunch break together as boyfriend and girlfriend. We went around the school grounds, chatted with some of our schoolmates, briefly held hands. I felt all self-conscious and awkward. I was a tall girl, taller than him and than many of my schoolmates. I had never before had a boyfriend, and I really hardly knew these kids. He had the advantage over me on that; he had been at the school longer. I desperately wanted to fit in.

The next day, he sent word with the same envoy that our relationship was over. He was sorry, but we could not be together. It never occurred to me to question why he did not communicate these things to me directly if we sat so close together in the bus. I was so naïve, so ignorant of the evil that boys do. I don't think I talked to him about it either.

I forget how I found out it was all a ruse. Someone must have told me, surely to revel in my humiliation. It turned out that he had made a money bet with some other boys that he could make me his girlfriend. After parading me through school to make sure his buddies saw, he dropped me like a hot potato, and did not even bother to do the deed himself. Shortly after that he started dating a girl. They lasted for months.

I do not know why this still bothers me so profoundly. The guy was a second-tier weasel, and I did not even like him that much. But I made the mistake of opening up to him, and he trampled on me. Never again did I give someone at school that kind of power over me.

Monday morning

Over the weekend, in the middle of the freakout I have been experiencing, I also got bitten by the bug that's infected so many bloggers. I started to wonder why am I doing this and whether there is any value in the exercise of keeping a blog, especially lately when all I have been doing is moping.

I am well aware that, unless you suffer from the same kind of impairment, reading about someone's rotten mood gets tired real soon. I know there are people who used to visit me often and have now moved on to more chemically balanced bloggers. And I do not blame them. Most people who do not suffer from mood disorders feel sorry for those of us who do. And they can only take so much before they either get impatient with the sad person who can't get out of their mood, or just lose interest. I know I have little patience for people who seem stuck in a rut, even though often I am in the same situation.

I have said it before and I will say it again: when I write about my mood I am not looking for pity; I don't want it and I don't think I am deserving of it. I worry sometimes that people may read the blog and think that I am a complete emotional wreck. And yes, sometimes I am a wreck. I get very sensible and get angry or cry for the slightest reason. But most of the time, even when I feel emotionally on edge, I behave like a normal person. I go to my job and perform all my duties. I take care of my family. In fact, sometimes I feel this curse gives my life depth, but that may just be something I tell myself to see the value in everything.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I'm carrying (Sunday Scribblings)

Ouch I have lost myself again
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found,
Yeah I think that I might break
I've lost myself again and I feel unsafe

Sia, "Breathe Me"

I am carrying a family curse. It runs through my veins and I will never be rid of it. I have written about it before, many times before. I live with it every day. It informs my every action, colors my perception of life.

Sometimes I think I am a loser; others I realize I am the lucky one. Yes, I inherited my father's dark moods, the pervasive sadness, that anger that never really goes away, but crouches inside waiting to strike when you least expect it. But unlike my father and grandfather, I am not an alcoholic. And unlike my great-grandmother, I have not maimed and mutilated anybody. My biggest addiction was cigarettes, which I started smoking when I was fifteen. It took me twenty years to beat the nicotine habit, and on nights like this, it takes all the effort in the world not to jump in my car and buy a pack at the corner drugstore.

It has been said to me that pain is what reminds us that we are alive, that without pain we would not know when we are happy. That may be true, but it does not make it any easier to carry this load.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday night dumb quiz

Which Disney Character is your Alter Ego?
created with
You scored as Donald Duck

Your alter ego is Donald Duck! Try as you might, you have a nasty temper that is hard to control. But you try hard to please, and you arn't one to go down without a fight.

Donald Duck


Peter Pan




The Beast






Sleeping Beauty




Snow White


Cruella De Ville


Fiction Friday- Nickname

They called him Long John Silver, I wonder why...

Writer's Island: Friendship

Writer's Island prompt was "friendship."

She was my best friend in high school. We met junior year, both of us new students at our school. We bonded right away, although now I can't remember what we had in common, what brought us together. I was a nerd, tall and gangly. She was an average student, short and her hair was dyed blonde. She was flirty and popular. I was awkward around boys, well known but not part of the "in" crowd. We both loved to sneak out to smoke cigarrettes.

The first year we were schoolmates, we both liked the same boy. I never told her, but I think she knew. When I found out she liked him, and that he may reciprocate, I stepped aside and let her take him. You can click on the link above if you are interested on how that story went

Our senior year of high school, I had a huge crush on a boy. I guess that was my thing. I was obsessed with him, and daydreamed all the time about us getting together. He probably knew, it was so freaking obvious. I always got all goofy and smartassy around him. I became good friends with his younger brother, who was a funny guy. But Clyde liked other girls, not me.

I told Anita about my feelings for Clyde. And do you know what she did? She made out with him. And then went out of her way to ensure I knew. She tried to make it seem like it was no big deal, just something she did on a whim, just because she could. The stab in the back hurt, and our friendship was never again the same. After school, it faded away. I never made active efforts to keep in touch with her, or any of my high school classmates. At the time I could not care less about them.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


My birthday is sometime next month. I will be closer to forty. A decade ago I would have considered my current self ancient. Now I consider the words of my forty-something friends. Are the forties really the best time of their lives? For some of them, it appears to be true. They seem established and prosperous. For others, I am not sure.

I can honestly say that I am not exactly where I expected to be at my age. I spent years of my life in limbo (personal and professional), so I am still playing catch-up, I have not lived up to my full potential just yet. After a divorce and a new marriage, I am still in relationship and family building mode. There are people my age who have kids in high school, and Gabe and I are still debating whether we should have another kid. Aren't I too old for this, I wonder. Won't I be too tired? I know there are some women my age and older who have put off having their first child until now. Is that a wise choice?

It is true that I have made up for lost time at work. In my ten-year career at Big Computer my salary and responsibilities have increased exponentially. I am quite happy with how it has evolved. Still, I can't help but think that I could be further along if I had started to build a career at a much younger age, as opposed to the choices I made in life. But is there anything constructive about that kind of thinking? Isn't that stepping into regret-land? I don't believe in regrets because it is pointless to obsess over stuff we can't change. And I am not sure that I want my career to move faster than it has. I have children, and I don't want more responsibilities if they require more time and/or increased travel, or if the stress will not allow me to sleep at night. Still, my mind sometimes tries to pull a fast one on me with that kind of thinking.

I can't assert that I have life figured out, honestly. I am still learning, still making mistakes. We are still struggling, building, developing. And I guess that is what surprises me. I expected people nearing their forties to have all their ducks in a row, to be in a cushy position and know exactly what they wanted in life and how to get it. I have a general idea of what I want for my future, and a sketch of a plan, but nothing definitive. And even though I have a good salary compared to my 1997 self, I don't have a safety net, and I still struggle sometimes to make ends meet. People I know talk about their retirement plans, how they are looking into foreign countries where the cost of living is lower than in the US. I have friends from Latin America who plan to go back to their countries to retire. At this point I have no clue if we will ever be able to retire, or if I will ever be able to go back home. Maybe I will, maybe I will not. I thought in my late thirties I would have an idea. I guess I'll have to wait another decade to find out.


As I mentioned sometime ago, we had plans to ripping out the carpet and putting wood floors in our home. Our house has about 60% of its area covered in carpet right now, and it's dingy and stained and frayed in parts where the cats have gone to town with their claws. We suffer from allergies and the carpets are no help. So we just got approved for a home improvement loan. We have a quote from our contractor, now we need to order the wood (it takes some time to get here) and schedule the install based on that and on the contractor's availability. We also need to find boxes, pack up and get a place to store our stuff while they install the floors. I don't think our garage will be able to store everything, so we may need to get a storage facility. There is carpet in the front room, the living room, all 4 bedrooms and the hallway. Packing the bedrooms alone will be an ordeal, as there is so much mess everywhere. My parents will be hre in the middle of all this, but hopefully by the time my brother gets here (December 21st) it will be all done.

I need to start getting ready for this, at least mentally, and I am not there yet. I still have not fully comprehended what is in store for the next few weeks, but just writing about it now has made it more real. Holy crap, I better get cracking.

We are getting bamboo floors. I did not want to feel guilty about chopping down trees so I could have a pretty walking surface. At least bamboo grows back. Plus, it's cheaper than other kinds of wood, and I love myself a bargain. Supposedly bamboo is not most homebuyers' cup of tea, but I could care less. I don't plan to sell this house anytime soon, and by the time we move, if we do, it might be trendy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

3WW- November 14

This week's Three Word Wednesday words are:


First, let me start by encouraging you to check out Paisley's 3WW entry today. It was quite witty, naughty a total hoot. I can't top that, so I will do what I usually do (use the words as prompts to write whatever random thing pops into my head).

Icy: Prior to moving to Wisconsin in 1993, I had no experience of snow or of Winter cold. Sure, I had traveled to Orlando in late Winter/early Spring, and to NYC in the Fall, and both times I required jackets, scarfs, even gloves in one case. He he he, little did I know when I complained so much back then that there would come a time during my sojourn in Madison when I would experience a week of temperatures above 10F as warm times. Prior to moving to Wisconsin, I had no concept of driving on icy roads, and no cause for concern. During my year in Madison we did not have a car, so we did not have to experience firsthand the joys of driving on ice, but I saw plenty of cars slipping on my regular walks to the nearby supermarket.

Pause: I just took one of these, so I could record the girls. Isabel was playing by herself and singing. It was impossibly cute, and I stopped writing, grabbed my digital recorder and tried to capture her voice. I did not have luck, as once she saw me she stopped singing, but I did record the girls talking, sending greetings to my mom and being goofy. I tried uploading them to Putfile, but for some reason it's nor working well. I need to figure out how/where to post a WAVE audio file from my digital recorder.

Train: I left Puerto Rico before they were done with the first phase of the Tren Urbano (the Urban Train). It's part elevated, part subway. I have visited a few times since then, but I have never been on the train. The last time I traveled back home was December 2005, so I am due for a visit, although it will not be this Holiday season. Paula has been on the train with her daddy and loved it. Below is a picture.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Be the Blog

One of my favorite bloggers, kickass Meleah, has given me this award:

Thanks, Meleah!!! If you have not visited Meleah's blog, Momma Mia, Mea Culpa, I suggest you pay her a visit. She is a great blogger.

This award was created by Mark at Me and My Drum, and it is for bloggers who make their blogs their own, stay with it, are interactive with their readers, and just plain have fun.

I am passing this award to:

Josie at Picking up Pieces (who is unrivaled when it comes to interacting with and caring for the bloggers in her circle)

Maria at Just Eat your Cupcake (one of the best blog writers around, period)

MPJ at A Room of Mama's Own (like Meleah, MPJ is one of my favorite bloggers)

Pen and the Sword at The Grass is Always Greener (because she is cool and a great writer too)

I love you all, girls!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Some basic blogging statistics

On a previous post this morning I was posing some questions about blogging trends. Just now I took some time to do a search and found some basic statistics from the Pew Institute. These were published in January 2005, and judging by how exponentially all things Internet grow, are probably very outdated by now. But it is still interesting to check out these trends.

• 7% of the 120 million U.S. adults who use the internet say they have created a blog or web-based diary. That represents more than 8 million people.

• 27% of internet users say they read blogs, a 58% jump from the 17% who told us they were blog readers in February. This means that by the end of 2004 32 million Americans were blog readers. Much of the attention to blogs focused on those that covered the recent political campaign and the media. And at least some of the overall growth in blog readership is attributable to political blogs. Some 9% of internet users said they read political blogs “frequently” or “sometimes” during the campaign.

• 5% of internet users say they use RSS aggregators or XML readers to get the news and other information delivered from blogs and content-rich Web sites as it is posted online. This is a first-time measurement from our surveys and is an indicator that this application is gaining an impressive foothold.

• The interactive features of many blogs are also catching on: 12% of internet users have posted comments or other material on blogs.

• At the same time, for all the excitement about blogs and the media coverage of them, blogs have not yet become recognized by a majority of internet users. Only 38% of all internet users know what a blog is. The rest are not sure what the term “blog” means.

Monday- Double Tag (updated)

Good morning. My new blog comrade, Lesley, tagged me for the 7 random/weird things about myself meme. I have done this meme before, so if you want, go read about how I eat raw spaghetti and other weird things.

Go pay a visit to Lesley's blog as well, if you are interested. Lesley is a fellow Sunday Scribblings/Three Word Wednesday writer, who hails from Fife, in the United Kingdom.

UPDATE: It turns out I have also been tagged today by Michelle for the 7 random things meme. I now feel that I should repost here my previous post in answer to this meme (from May 2007), for the benefit of my friends.

7 weird things about me, by Ingrid

1- Never, never in a window seat- I am claustrophobic. I am not kidding about it. I really am. It's not a mild "cramped places inconvenience me" claustrophobia. It's a "put me in a window seat on a plane by accident and I will absolutely freak out" brand of phobia. When I was at the hospital I had to be heavily sedated before they did the HIDA testing, because it entailed me being stuck in the same position for over an hour, with a ginormous nuclear medicine testing machine hovering just inches above my body (too close to my head for comfort). And that was not going to happen if I was awake and in full possession of my senses. I mean, if I had to get an MRI I don't know what I would do.

2- I like to eat raw spaghetti. Need I say more?

3- I wear size 11 shoes.

4- Sometimes I have a hard time opening up to people. If you know me in person, you would not think it. In social situations I am generally pretty friendly, I like to engage people in conversation and make them feel welcome. But left to my own devices I tend to keep to myself. I have old friends who are pissed off at me because I never call, and new friends, especially from the mommie boards, who may not know how much I care about them for the same reason. It's not that I don't care. It's that I am spacey often. I had not even realized that Amanda P had a blog and she is not only an online friend but a real life one!

5- I have an unusual aversion to skirts, much to the chagrin of both my mother and my husband, who think I should just get over pants already and show off some leg once in a while.

6- I hate mayo with a passion. I can't even smell it. It makes me want to throw up. Nothing I eat can touch mayo or I will simply not eat it.

7- If I tweeze my eyebrows I start sneezing uncontrollably, which is why (among other things) I would much rather shave them.

I'm sorry you are sad

inspirational spam, originally uploaded by Linzie Hunter.

Judging by the activity (or lack thereof) on my Google Reader list of blogs, there seems to be so many people hurting lately. Several bloggers I follow have expressed that they are taking a break or pondering shutting down their blogs. Is it a seasonal thing? I have read somewhere that the holiday season is a time of depression for many. Is it a blogging lifecycle trend, is it normal? Lots of people open blogs and never go beyond one post. Others keep going, but stop updating after a while. Still others are a flurry of activity and then disappear overnight. I wonder if there are any seasonal patters to this phenomenom. Is it constant throughout the year or do we get flare-ups at specific times of the year?

I would like to know more about trends in personal blogging, but I do not know if there is anything out there measuring non-professional blog trends. Does anybody know?

In the meantime, to all the bloggers I follow who are hurting, I hope things get better soon.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Fiction Friday- November 9, 2007

[Fiction] Friday Challenge for November, 9 2007:
Your character met their love in a unique way. How?

Normally, the first time you go on a date you have your game face on. You are on your best behavior. You show yourself in the best possible light. You don't talk about politics and change the subject when religion is mentioned. In that first meeting, it is all about the niceties and physical attraction. There will be time later to determine if you two are a fit.

In light of this, it was truly surprising how things developed with your beloved. The first thing he did when you met in person was ask you about your native island. Tricky territory (pun intended), discussing Puerto Rican politics with a gringo, especially one that says the solution was making the island the 51st state. Why were you not in his face when he said that, Mrs. Independence, Mrs. It's a country not a state, goddammit? Why did you rationally present your point and try to understand his view, instead of blowing him off? Was it his smile when he was talking?

As if that wasn't enough, the two of you wound up telling each other the worst possible things to talk about on a first date. Abortions, suicide attempts, financial ruin. And instead of being grossed out, or put off by all the tragedy and the mess, you felt right at home. You had found the one person who would not judge you or find you weird. There was no need for masks, for elaborate dances of mating. It was instant recognition.

At the end of the night, you made out in the car, and then each one drove to your respective homes, as the next day was a workday. And you have been together ever since, putting the worst of the dysfunction behind you, and building a future together.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Snapping out of it

Today is a much better day. For starters, I am back in the office. Being out of the house and in the company of other humans does go a long way towards getting me out of the funk. I don't even have to force myself to snap out of it; it's automatic. And even though my cubicle is tiny, I like claiming the space and getting settled in. Second, Gabe and I had lunch together. I love it when we have the opportunity to do that, which is not that often. Third, it's Thursday, always a good day. The promise of the weekend looms in the horizon.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's one of those nights

I am in a funk. I can't shake it. Plans we had, things we wanted to do will not come to fruition, for reasons beyond our control. Oh, well.

Everybody is sleeping, but me. I sit and listen obsessively to the same song from this morning. At times it's only me and Ryan Adams' haunting melody.

Said maybe
You're gonna be the one that saves me
You're gonna be the one that saves me
You're gonna be the one that saves me

I am not writing my story tonight. I am caught up in the mood. There is nothing fabricated about this mood; this one is very real. I feel very lonely tonight. Invisible. Dislocated, like I have just been dropped from a plane into this strange place.

Where the hell am I? For a moment the house feels alien, cold. I long to go home, but I don't know where that is. Home is a place in my past, a place that is no longer.

I wipe away the tears and remind myself that I am home. My family is asleep in their bedrooms. I fight the urge to wake up Gabriel. I need some comfort, as I am truly crawling out of my skin right now. But he was exhausted, and he needs to get up early tomorrow. I'll just have to cry it out and get some sleep. Damn it! Why do I have to be so reasonable? Why do I have to be so emotional?

Sometimes I hate feeling everything so strongly. I have learned to keep this trait in check while I work and interact with the outside world, but once I am home it needs to be unleashed.

Well, my rambling is over. I am not looking for pity, please. I will be alright come tomorrow, I always am. I just wanted to chart my mood tonight.

What I am listening to this morning

Office move

Meleah, who was recently sick, got back to work yesterday, only to find herself drowning in a sea of paper and e-mails. She says "... I am *waving* and sending ‘kisses’ to all my people that are hanging out here (having fun in bloggville) while I am suffocated, inundated, and struggling to accept way too much change in my life at once."

Many, many hugs to Meleah. She is dealing with a lot of stuff right now. She's a strong cookie, so I have confidence that she'll be alright, but it still sucks. Even the strongest need some love.

Oh, how I wish I could say I was having fun, however. I was in one of my moods yesterday, fighting back tears on my way home. Our team moved buildings last Friday, part of a workplace transformation effort to cut down costs. I worked from home Friday, so yesterday I was unpacking and getting settled. I went from having an office to a cubicle smaller than any I had ever been in. I have spent most of my 10-year career at Big Computer inside a cubicle, but it was still hard to go from windowless, decent-size office to tiniest workspace ever. I had trouble getting all my stuff to fit in the cramped space. I got lost finding the new parking garage. I am all alone because my boss is traveling, my coworker is out due to surgery and the rest of the bigger group is sitting in another section.

I am now adrift in a sea of hundreds of cubicles, with people I do not know, or know barely, who have been there before me. I did find someone I knew from before, someone I had worked with on a project, and she looked at me and asked me if I was pregnant. She is very sweet and I know she meant well, but gee, no, I guess I am still fat from my last pregnancy. I am never wearing that outfit again.

In short, I was feeling quite like the drone yesterday, and I did not like it. I guess I do not handle change that well. The reaction took me by surprise, as I have worked most of my time here in cubicles, but when I was in the Latin America group it felt quite different. Perhaps with time I will feel at home here, but right now I feel like a misfit, cramped in my little box.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Happy birthday, Boricua in Texas

My blog is a year old as of last Saturday. I wrote my very first blog post on November 3, 2006. Now, one year and 434 posts later, I look back and I can honestly say I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and I am so glad I did. I started my blog to force myself to write, and in a year I have started to get more comfortable with my writing and make some progress, although I have a long, long way to go. I have also found a great little group of bloggers whose pages I read every day, a place where I fit in.

Because I have a limited amount of time, and I am spending so much of it blogging or reading blogs, I have neglected some of the baby boards I was a part of through my second pregnancy and the birth of Isabel. I am not too happy about that, but I am able to keep in touch with some of them who keep blogs like me.

Will I still be here next year, writing about my second blog anniversary? I very much hope so. I have learned not to make categorical statements, because you never know where life takes you, but I very much intend to continue my blog. It has been an enriching first year.

A search led you here

Like some of the bloggers whose blogs I frequent, I am fond of looking at my blog's traffic statistics. I have been holding off on writing a post on how some people find their way into my blog, but today is the day.

A while ago I wrote this post on the practice of rickrolling. Ever since I used the words ASS and WARM on the title of that post, I get visits from sickos that do google searches at night for "warm ass" or "boricua ass." WTF!? Go away! This is not a porn site for ethnic fetishists. News flash, not all Puerto Ricans have big J-Lo type asses. And what is up with the warm ass thing? Who does that kind of search and how can they assess the warmth of an ass over this medium?

Moving on.

Being a boricua on the web, I get traffic hits by all kinds of people searching for boricuas, not just the smut-focused ones. People search the term boricua by itself, I assume to find the meaning or origin of the word. Others are looking for boricua blogs. To those people, Puerto Blogs, the Puerto Rican blog community, is a great place to visit. People also search for boricua pictures, boricuas in Texas (and how can they not get here through that), and also not so nice things (the pervs that look up "boricua girls pictures" have made me consider not posting pictures of my daughters anymore) .

Another search topic that leads people here is the playground game Chequi Morena, about which I wrote one of my favorite Fiction Friday entries a month ago. I love it when I see this, because I did the same search when getting ready to write my piece, and there is not much on the web on it. You can find the lyrics of the song and a link to a CD of childhood songs, but I was not able to find any personal accounts of how the game is played. So in that sense, I hope my little post helps.

I wrote about the Puerto Rico pet massacre when it happened last month. Some searches for those keywords have led people here. I have not read any new developments on that, but will post when I do.

Someone wanted to know how far is Puerto Rico from Texas. It's roughly 2,000 miles, by plane, when you take the direct flight.

Someone did a search with the key words "upset with Silverleaf timeshare" and found this post. I once was a sucker and fell for their scam, and I am stuck with a crappy timeshare that someday I hope I will be able to get rid of.

Ocassionally people searching for translations of the works of Alfonsina Storni or Julia de Burgos find their way to my dead poets collection post.

And that's it, for the most part. It pisses me off a little that most of the searches are for porn, but what can I do. It's human nature, I guess.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunday Scribblings- Money

This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is "money."

I recently wrote about my happy place, for MPJ's group writing project. The Sunday Scribblings prompt got me thinking of my happy place again. I have decided that in my happy place money has a limited place, if it exists at all. I haven't figured out how to work that yet. My happy place is very retro in that there are lots of small agricultural cooperatives and artisans, and corporations still exist, but are also organized on a coop model. So there will be a lot of bartering going on.

Playing with emotions

I admit it. Often, intense emotions drive my writing efforts. It is not always the case, but frequently I can't seem to get going unless an uneven mood is enticed. I deliberately coax out dormant feelings or generate new ones through repetitive playing of a certain kind of music. Yes, my writing has a soundtrack.

Sure, I am not the only one who listens to music while writing, or who gets inspired by a song. But as opposed to having pleasant background music filler to keep me company, playing the music is an active part of the process. In essence, by listening to the same song or set of songs repeteadly, I believe I am putting myself in a trance of sorts, a state of mind where I can experience deep emotions that may not necessarily be connected to anything in my life other than the moment I am writing. These emotions, instead of derailing me, turn my focus razor-sharp. Welcome to creative writing for adults with ADD.

As opposed to what has been called method writing (I googled the term because I just knew someone would try to give writing the Stanislavsky treatment), I can't really say that I am drawing upon past memories. I think it's more a matter of suggestion than remembrance.

Regardless of how it comes to light, it remains to be seen if the product of all these efforts is any good.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Passing on Fiction Friday this week

I have been so incredibly busy with work and our domestic life the last few days that I have missed several of my favorite writing prompts. I am a fraid I will pass on this week's Fiction Friday challenge again. I don't have much time available, and I don't want to force the prompts into my Nanowrimo manuscript.

Nanowrimo started yesterday. I was not a horse running off the gate at 12:01 AM on november 1st. I have my outline ready and will start writing tonight. I am not following the rules to the letter anyway, in that my aim is to write a collection of short stories, not a novel.

I don't know what's going to happen. Will I be done by the end of November? Will I have written enough words to comply with their established word count goal? I'm not sure. I have a very modest personal goal. Instead of a whole book, if by the end of November I have one of my stories ready, one story I am proud of, something good enough that I could actually see myself submitting it for publishing, then I will feel like I have accomplished something. It may sound too minimal when compared to the idea of cranking out a 50,000-word manuscript, but crafting a good story is no easy task. I would much rather take my time to to get down the right words, and give me a chance to edit and rewrite, than just keep on puking words on a page with my eye on the word counter.

Is this self-defeating? Why am I second guessing myself? I joined the challenge because I needed a structural parameter to help me get started. The idea of a whole bunch of people writing during the same period appealed to me. Also, since signing up for the challenge I have been able to organize myself. I spent some time pondering what I wanted to do, I wrote an outline of the book, with the number of stories in the collection, their working titles, main plot points and what they are about. I had never done that before, so I can say that there is something I have gained already, regardless of my final outcome on Nanowrimo.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

More pictures

Halloween recap

Halloween was a lot of fun for everybody.

Paula went trick-or-treating with her best friend Ashley and her mom.
They had a blast. After going around our neighborhood and meeting some of their friends in the process, Ashley's mom took them to a nearby church where they had a celebration as well.

Isabel, Gabe and I joined a group of our neighbors and went trick-or-treating with them.

My mother-in-law stayed at our house and handed out candy to the kids who came. Our neighborhood was packed. This year there was more people than before, which I liked.

Isabel had so much fun in her pretty blue dress. That little girl sure loves her dresses. She was supposed to be a fairy (my mother-in-law bought the wings and everything), but Isabel had other ideas in mind. She refused to wear the wings. She wanted to be a princess instead, and spent all night telling everybody she was Cinderella.
It was very cute.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Alphameme: A-Z

Greg from Greg's Brain just tagged me for this meme. It requires a post with one entry or comment for every letter of the alphabet. The rules are:

Each player starts with some random facts/habits about himself/herself. As you are tagged you need to post the rules and your responses on your own blog. At the end of your post, you need to choose some people to tag, list their names and, of course, leave them a comment, telling they have been tagged and they need to read your blog for more information.

Greg's interpretation of this meme is very much in his style, and is a great read. Go check it out.
I will do my best to complete the meme in a way that reflects who I am, so it will inevitably turn bilingual. For instance, you will notice my alphabet has 27 letters, as opposed to the 26 you are used to. That is because I am using the Spanish alphabet, which is what I learned when I was growing up.

1- A: Awareness is key. I start off with a cliche, but it is one I truly, deeply subscribe to. One of my goals in life is to learn better what makes me tick; to understand the patterns of my behavior, the triggers to my moods (both high and low). By stepping outside myself and examining my behavior, I get more attuned to my perception of the world. It helps ground me.

I am not necessarily as interested in finding out the why of my behaviors. It is something I may never know. Some people are fond of going back in time and analyzing their personal history. I say memory is a construct, often unreliable, and the significance of a small, trivial occurrence may escape the adult mind obsessed with finding the great markers of the past. Also, two people may go through similar life experiences and react in completely different ways, so the past is not necessarily a guarantee of present behavior.

2- B: Boricua. I am a proud boricua and always will be. But although it may have points in common with other people's, my definition of what a boricua is applies only to myself. My experience as a Puerto Rican growing up middle class on the island, with college educated, liberal arts oriented folks, is very different from that of someone who grew up in New York or Chicago, different from contemporaries of mine who grew up poor, wealthy or Christian; and different from my daughters' experience growing up middle class in Texas. It is also different to the experience of my nieces, who both grew up and still live on the island. The differences are due in part to location, economics, and moment in time. Also, to a certain extent, to personality.
I can't claim to have a stronger boricua identity than someone who was born and grew up outside the island. By the same token, I should not be seen as less authentic because I write a blog in English and married a gringo.

3- C: Cámara, por favor. When I was growing up in Puerto Rico in the 1970's, every afternoon after school I would watch Cine Recreo con Pacheco on WAPA TV, channel 4. Pacheco (real name Joaquín Monserrat) was originally from Barcelona, Cataluña. He came to Puerto Rico by way of Cuba and remained on the island to become a popular children's TV personality. He was Puerto Rican TV's closest thing to Mr. Rogers, someone warm and kind to the children, beloved by generations. He basically acted as an MC for the afternoon cartoon hour, but he had kids as guests of the show, and every day he read letters and showed pictures mailed to him by audience members, taking the opportunity to impart some lessons in the process, like on this clip, where he cautions kids to not fly kites near power lines. At the end of the clip you'll hear Pacheco say his catchphrase cámara, por favor, which was the cue to segue into either commercials or cartoons.

4- Dios (God). I don't believe in God, such as the major religions portray him. I am not presumptuous enough as to assume there is absolutely nothing. The most I can do is accept that I can't possibly know with certainty whether there is a divinity or not, and try to develop a sense of spirituality that is grounded (pun intended) in this world.

5- E: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of my favorite movies. Every time I stumble upon it on TV, I stop whatever it is I am doing and sit down to watch it. I always cry, and I always cherish that bittersweet ending, the sense that it is better to go for it and take a chance at love, even if it's almost guaranteed to end in heartache, than to not take a risk at all.

6- F: Fuck. Fuck, fuck fuck fuck. Fuck! There is no point to this opening, other than to show I am quite fond of saying fuck. It's my blog and I'll curse if I want to. The truth is curse words serve a function as a means of expression that no watered down version can substitute. It is important to learn what are the appropriate environments to use the various kinds of jargon we speak. I don't use curse words at work, for example. But outside of work it's every mouth for itself.

7- G: Gabriel. He's my husband, my partner, my equal.

8- H: Home improvements. We are currently getting quotes and applying for a home improvement loan so we can rip out the carpets and replace them with bamboo floors. We have been warned by some people that the percentage of home buyers in our area that like bamboo floors is not very high (depending on who you listen to, it's either 10% or 35%). Still, I will not consider any other wood. At least bamboo grows faster and regenerates; the same can't be said for the trees they cut down to make those beautiful wood floors home buyers are so fond of.

9- I: Isla del Encanto/Isla del Espanto. Puerto Rico is also known as la isla del encanto, or the Island of Enchantment. I don't know where it originated, although I want to say it came from a song. I am sure one of my readers from the island will know. If I am not wrong, la isla del encanto is also the official slogan of the government, used in tourism ads and on local license plates.

Isla del Espanto (Dreadful Island or Frightening Island), on the other hand, is the way locals turned the official slogan on its head. A play on the similarity of the sound of the words encanto and espanto, it is used to highlight the many ills and things that go wrong on the island.

10- J: Jello. The girls love it. I have always hated it. What is the point of Jello? Don't even get me started on the ones with fruit stuck inside. Fochi (Yuck).

11- K: Kangaroo. The kangaroo is one of my favorite animals. Some day I hope to go to Australia and see kangaroos in the wild.

12- L: Lili. My sister's name is Liliana. Her nickname is Lili. My sister and I are not as close as I would like. I know I should seek her out more, and I feel bad that I don't.

13- M: Mallorca. Besides being the common name of a popular pastry in Puerto Rico and one of my favorites ever, Mallorca (English spelling Majorca) is also the biggest of the Balearic islands in the Mediterranean, a part of Spain. The pastry I so adore is original from the island from which it borrows the name we know it by in Puerto Rico.

It is believed that most of the Spanish immigrants who came to Puerto Rico were from Cataluña, Asturias, Galicia, the Balearic islands, the Canary Islands, and the Andalucía region in Southern Spain; this last region in particular has a very strong Arab heritage. Together with immigrants from other countries, as well as the large African slave population (most of which came from from the Gold Coast, Nigeria and Dahomey); and the Taíno Indians (who seemed to stick around longer than traditional historical narrations suggest), they comprise our genetic makeup.

In short, the majority of Puerto Ricans are mutts, very mixed and mostly unable to trace back our ancestry (at least beyond the 19th-20th century) the way Americans are so fond of doing, because of scarce, poor or nonexistent demographic records.

14- N: Nanowrimo. It starts tomorrow. Yikes! What have I gotten myself into?

15- Ñ (sounds like GN): El Ñame is my favorite fake news site (in Spanish, from Puerto Rico).

16- O: Oprah. I am at work, so I don't watch. But even if I was at home, I would not watch her show. Just because everybody else does. I refuse.

17- P: Plany al mar (lamento al mar). In the early seventies, years before it became fashionable to speak of global warming or being ecologically conscious, the magnificent Joan Manuel Serrat wrote this very beautiful, sad song. Sung in his native Catalan, it is a lament on the state of his beloved, increasingly depleted and polluted Mediterranean Sea. On a separate clip prior to the song, Serrat translates the lyrics of the song into Spanish and speaks about the inspiration to write it. I listened to this song growing up, its haunting melody never failing to move me to tears.

18- Q: Queso de Bola. A large number of Puerto Ricans (on the island at least) are quite fond of aged Edam cheese from Holland. I am sure it's a Spanish heritage thing. Back home you can walk into any supermarket and buy Edam, but in Texas I can never find it. When I find Edam cheese it is not from Holland, it is not aged, or both. People here seem to be more fond of Gouda, and you can find aged Gouda here. But I don't like it as much.

19- R: ROI. I hope when I am old and infirm my daughters will take care of me.

20- S: Sonia. My mother's name is Sonia. She turns 68 next month. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that fact. In my mental image of my mom, she is stuck in age sometime around the early nineties, not long after my father's passing.

21- T: Toño. My brother's name is Antonio. His nickname is Toño (pronounced Togno). My brother is going through a bit of a hard time lately. After 20-something years of marriage, his wife and him have separated. The relationship is over, but they are on good terms and have not gone ahead with divorce plans yet. Although it will come. Lately I have been in touch with him to express my love and to let him know I am there for him no matter what.

22- U: UPR (la iupi). I am a proud alum of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus, class of 1990. I very much enjoyed my college years. It was a time of awakening and exposure to mind opening ideas and people. Sure, not everything was perfect. But the good outweighed the bad by far.

23- V: Volatile. Although in English the term volatile seems to be mostly used in the realms of science and economics, in Spanish we use the term volátil to designate someone who has quite the mutable character. It is not quite exactly the same as saying someone is unstable, though. It's more like being quick-tempered.

24- W: Working. It's what I should have been doing instead of writing this. Deadlines keep looming, people!

25- X. Xenophobia. When people try to justify xenophobia by saying it's an evolutionary trait, it kinda sickens me.

26- Y: Yoruba. The development of the Santeria religion is generally attributed to the Yoruba people of Southwestern Nigeria and Benin, who co-opted important figures of the Catholic religion they were imposed, and syncretized them to represent the main attributes of the gods they believed in. This allowed them to practice their religion right under the noses of their owners and the priests of the Catholic Church.

It is generally accepted that Santeria originated in Cuba and came to Puerto Rico by way of immigrants, especially after the Cuban Revolution. Or at least that is the common belief among many Puerto Ricans, especially those who look down upon Santeria as primitive or the realm of the uneducated, refusing to accept a part of their cultural heritage. Personally, I have a hard time believing that the slaves in Puerto Rico did not hit upon the same idea as the ones in Cuba. After all, the ones in Haiti and the Dominican Republic did.

27- Z: Zoologist. It's what Paula says she wants to be when she grows up. She loves animals. When Flower died on Meerkat Manor, Paula was inconsolable. By the way, those meerkats are dropping life flies lately. As soon as Paula came to me crying last Friday evening, I knew something was wrong. "Who died now?"- I asked. "Mozart"- said Paula between sobs. Flower, Kinkajou, and now Mozart. Kinkajou's death did not affect Paula much, but she was as attached to Mozart, the survivor, as she was to Flower. She sure is learning a lot about the reality of life in the wild.

I had a lot of fun answering this meme and I am now tagging Pen and the Sword, Paisley and MPJ. Should they choose to accept the challenge, I think each of them can do a great interpretation of the A-Z parameter.