Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
You can find seitan at some health food stores, but this week I am experimenting with making my own. Wish me luck!
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
I will continue to blog here. I like Blogger and I like its simplicity and flexibility.
I have not found a template that satisfies me, and my knowledge of HTML is not so deep that will allow me to create a template from scratch. So I will continue to play with the layout and tweak whatever templates I find until I find something I am comfortable with. Thanks for putting up with it.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
There are days when homesickness hits me with such intensity it takes me by surprise. I miss the island. I don’t miss the present-day island now, mind you. Or I do, but not as much. For starters, I could take a plane and go visit, it is not out of my reach. Plus, I don't miss the crime, the insufferable traffic and the obsession with politics that only rivals the obsession with celebrities I see around here. No, I miss the island back then, back when I was a child. I miss my life growing up. Sometimes the knowledge that my daughters are growing up in a world so diverse from mine breaks my heart. Not for them, I think they are actually going to be better off, but I mourn my receding memories, my fading childhood. How are they going to understand me when they know nothing about me? There is no one here who shares my history, and I feel like an orphan sometimes.
There are days when it amazes me that I am already 38, and there are days when I struggle to remember some detail of my younger years.
I wish I was sitting on the rocks near La Puerta de San Juan, watching the cargo ships enter San Juan Bay. Some of my happiest memories involve sitting on those rocks watching the sun come down. Many of my favorite memories involve walking in Old San Juan, at different times in my life. As a young child, taking the ferry to Cataño was the highlight of a family outing. For most of my life I have lived with water around me, but for the last seven years I have been practically landlocked. Galveston is not that far. But it is at least a one-hour drive, and it is not the ocean I grew up with. I don’t know the ways of the Gulf. I don’t trust these waters.
Sometimes I wonder, if I had the power to go back in time and be 20 years old again, would I do it? Would I take a chance and do things differently? Would I risk losing what I have now, losing who I am?
I’m walking down the hall, empty cubicles on either side of me. It’s lunchtime. I have a call at 1:00, so I decided to eat lunch at my desk. But I am restless, so I decide to go for a short walk. I end up pacing up and down the maze of cubicles, like a rat on one of those lab experiments that scientists were so fond of decades ago. Only not as smart as a rat. The rat would know exactly what it was going for and how to get through the maze.
I don’t belong here, but damned if I know how to get out of here.
I feel so different from these people who work with me. One of these days they are going to find out I am just bluffing and they’ll throw me out of here. I have a career by sheer accident. I do my best to keep it because my family needs me to.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Thursday, February 08, 2007
From where I am sitting, I can see Paula playing outside on the driveway. It’s 5:24 PM on Sunday afternoon, and I am finding it really hard to begin writing. Isabel is wandering around the house with a sippy cup in her hand and a pacifier in her mouth. Gabe is watching an inane movie on cable TV. It’s a nice, lazy, run of the mill afternoon.
The only thing throwing a damper in this idyllic scene is that this morning I was immersed in one of my intense anger episodes. Or, as Gabe graciously put it, I was being a little monster. “Little” is his way of softening the blow. The truth is I was a gynormous monster. Or, as someone else would say, I was being a total bitch.
But now I am in much better spirits. Why, you ask? I am excited because I have found an outlet. I will spend the month of November writing, attempting to write a 50,000-word novel. I wish I could say that it was my original idea, but it is not. It’s nothing new either. Apparently this national initiative has been going on for a few years. A friend mentioned it on one of my Mommy Boards, and now I am hooked. I am scared and thrilled at the same time.
If I am going to make it to the end of this challenge, I will have to write approximately 1,667 words daily. I did not find out about this until today, so I have some catching up to do. Today is November 5, 2006.
Well, so much for the infinite bliss. I can’t come up with anything to write about! What the hell am I going to do??
There is something very particular about myself as a writer. I have to be either pissed off to no end, or extremely depressed. I was happy because I had enrolled in this writing challenge, and my happiness equals zero output. I sit here contentedly in front of the computer, the white of the blank page burning my retina.
I guess in order to write, I am going to have to pick a fight with Gabe, or break-out my gloom and doom music CD’s. I hate to be a downer, but if I want to be a prolific writer, I am going to have to be a royal bitch.
I am about as edgy as a butter knife. Has it always been this way? Have I gotten complacent with age?
There was a time when I was a bit more uncompromising than I am now. Have I been spoon-fed crap for so long that I can’t distinguish the good from sheer mediocrity? Do I settle too easily?
And what the hell has brought on this whole meditation on my approach to life? I watched a movie last night. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but I connected to it on an emotional level, so I liked it. I check movie reviews today and it’s been panned. So I start to wonder if my crap radar has been ruined. I thought I had more sophisticated taste. I thought I was Miss Intellectual, Miss Anti-Establishment Extraordinaire. Well, it turns out I am a 38 year-old married mother of two who lives in the suburbs in Texas and drives her daughter to volleyball practice in an SUV.
Sometimes I can’t sleep at night. I wake up, look at my sweet baby sleeping, I look at my husband, also sleeping (and snoring), and I wonder how the hell I got here.
Great, I am living a Talking Heads song.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
This is my second attempt, a doll for Paula. I cut it bigger and decided to follow the instructions and tie the arms, legs and head to close them, instead of stitching (which rendered the first doll flat). This one took me a lot less time to make. I finished it less than an hour ago and Paula loves it.
I wanted these boys from school to know of my affections, so I always told my friends, but never once did I tell them directly. I was so afraid of rejection. In fact, I avoided talking to them, and when I did I was a smartass. Of course, none of my little daydreams ever came true. Guys hooked up with more popular girls, prettier girls, shorter girls, girls not as dorky as me. Girls who gave them an opening. I was so clueless that I gave off a vibe of being unattainable myself. I had lots of guy friends, but usually I was the friend of the girl they were dating, the girl who gave them advice and a shoulder to cry on. Or so I thought. One of my friends did confess to me afterwards that he had a crush on me once, but did not dare tell me.
When I was in a junior in high school there was a Cuban boy in the sophomore class who was crazy about me and pursued me relentlessly for two years. He was a bad boy, kinda cute, and I loved the attention. I loved to tease him, but did not take him seriously. For one, he was younger than me, and I did not want to be a cradle robber. I also found him slightly obnoxious and not the brightest bulb in the Christmas tree. Plus, there was an undercurrent of danger attached to his attention. This guy was intense, and I did not think he was worth the effort. I hated the idea of putting myself at a disadvantage. Besides, I was Miss Goody Two Shoes at school, so I could not openly hang out with the likes of him. Well, compared with some of my classmates, I was a saint. I had good grades without trying, and behaved well in class. The teachers all liked me. But at lunch time I loved to sneak out with my friends and go to the bar/pool hall not far from where our school was. We did not get to drink, but we would order sandwiches, play pool, and smoke.
No, it was better to flirt with Juan in the basketball court and sit with him on the back stairs, letting our knees touch, but no further than that. Looking back on it, I know I led him on and it was wrong. But back then I enjoyed immensely the power trip it gave me, and it brought me some relief from feeling like an unattractive dork all the time.
There was another one, a guy who was my dearest friend, and whom I liked but never acted on because I knew my best friend liked him. They ended up dating, but always hung out with me at school. It was like they were incapable of being alone. We would go up to the College classrooms and sit inside one amphitheater style room that was always empty during lunch time. There, we smoked away and talked about inane stuff. I did get tired of being a third wheel though, and once told Manny about it. He understood. Anita did not. She got very upset with me and acted all offended, like I was shunning her or something. I had to apologize profusely to her, and we ended up hanging out together again, the three of us. But it was never the same. There was weirdness between us now, things left unsaid. Manny and Anita broke up shortly after the end of the school year.
Manny changed schools, but came once to visit us during our senior year. When he saw me, he gave a big, long hug and said that I still smelled the same, like the Nenuco baby cologne I always wore. I was happy to see him, but also a bit confused, and so I pulled back a little and asked him if he had seen Anita. We joined her and went out to have lunch and some cigarrettes, just like old times. Then he left, and I never saw him again. I heard he had joined the military. I don’t even remember his last name.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Friday, February 02, 2007
But it did not. The year 1990 had started with a bang, the death of my father, and ended with another bang, another death. In all the abortion debates I had seen back then, absolutely no one talked about the aftermath, about what comes next once the choice has been made. The people at the abortion clinic just told you how to take care of your body until it recovered. Nobody told me how to take care of my mind, what to expect or whether I was ever going to recover from my decision. Nobody told me that the machine they hooked up to me was going to suck so much out of me. I saw the reddish tinge on the inside of the hose, and right at that moment I crossed a line from which there was no turning back.
So when the storm started raging, I just battened down the hatches and got ready to wait it out. But all my experience in surviving hurricanes did not prepare me for this.
In my black or white world, God (Destiny, the Universe, The Fates, or whoever keeps order in the chaos) had punished me for having sex, had tested me to see what I was made of. And I had failed miserably.
On my way back home, I would drive by one of the first controlled access subdivisions in my town. It consisted of a series of duplexes or town homes, barricaded by a freakishly tall cement wall. No trees anywhere to be seen, small lots with teeny tiny backyards, a total claustrophobic nightmare. Why would someone want to pay a premium for that? The back of the subdivision faced Iturregui Avenue, and graffiti artists loved to decorate the concrete wall. As I drove every day, I could see the graffiti evolve. Some were trivial proclamations of coupledom (Yaya y Tito, Luisín y Lucy), but there was more elaborate stuff, lots of intricate artwork and recurring tags.
I was obsessed with that wall. It beckoned me, its maze of scribbles and explosions of color a welcome change from the drab, dull surroundings of my daily commute to and from law school. As my world plummeted into darkness and despair, the wall shined brighter and brighter. The slightest turn of the steering wheel while driving at high speed, and everything would be over. Every day, as I passed it, I would dare myself to do it. Sometimes I let go of the steering wheel for a fleeting second, just to see if the car would careen into the wall by fate. But I was too chicken to attempt suicide, too afraid of pain to have the guts to do it.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
The house is always so quiet when I wake up. The cats are always waiting outside the door when I open it. Usually it is cold during the night. Gabe would scoff at this, as I consider anything below 75 F to be cold, and to him anything above 60 F is hot. We have reached a truce and keep the house at 70 F.
Gabe is my second husband. Isabel is my youngest daughter. I have another daughter, Paula. She is 8 years old and the product of my first marriage.
What? I have kids? I got married, divorced and then married again? What? When did all this happen? How did I get here? In my mind I am closer to twenty than forty. Reality begs to differ.
I lost a decade of my life to depression. I lived from 1990 to 2000 in an existential fog. There were good times, things that are salvageable, but most of my time was spent adrift at sea, so to speak.
During these ten years I lost my father, graduated from college, started law school, got my first boyfriend, had an abortion, dropped out of law school, started graduate school, dropped out of graduate school, got a series of jobs at bookstores, got a job at a newspaper, quit my job, got married, moved far from home to a very cold non-tropical place, came back after a year, lived at my mother-in-law’s, collected unemployment, got a job, moved into a house, got pregnant, had a baby, got divorced, started law school again, dropped out of law school again. And through it all I floated like in a daze. Or at least it feels that way now as I look at my past from a comfortable distance. The truth is I was desperately unhappy, and did not understand why. Or rather, I felt like it was my lot in life to be miserable. It was my price to pay for disappointing everybody. It took a few years of anti-depressants and psychotherapy for me to come to terms with some personality traits, with the effects of growing up with an alcoholic parent, and to finally put the past where it belongs. I am sorry for my younger self, I wish I could have gained this self-awareness sooner and saved myself a lot of grief.
Even now I still wonder if I am not half sleep-walking through my present life. Motherhood is a wonderfully rewarding experience, but we can very easily lose touch with our non-parental selves in the bargain. Marriage should be our most intimate partnership, but when you and your husband work all day and are exhausted by the time you get home, and have zero time alone together, it can be hard to maintain a connection. Our modern way of life is not necessarily conducive to journeys of self-discovery. Not when you have to work to live.
What then? I, for one, have chosen to write. People may or may not read it. I hope they do, by the way.