Monday, March 31, 2008

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Scribblings- Out of this World

For today's Sunday Scribblings prompt, and a list of respondents, click here.

When it comes to life, how can there still be people around who seriously believe we are all there is to it in this vast Universe of ours? We are such a small part, it would be a total waste if ours was the only planet where this experiment of life took place. The idea is also hard to swallow, statistically speaking.

Some people are highly offended by such thoughts. Some people steadfastly maintain that Earth is it, that there is nothing more. We are God's creation. Why? On what grounds do they assert this with such ferocity?

Why do we need to feel like we are the center of the Universe? Why do we need to feel so unique, so special? Isn't the wonder of life special enough in and of itself? Why do we need to warp what is large and unfathomable? Why do we need to hammer it down so it fits into the small mold of our mind?

I don't know if there is a creator or not. There are lots of arguments pitting evolution against religion. Who says the two need to be mutually exclusive? Science is not concerned with spirituality or morals. Why should religion concern itself with explaining the physical realm?

Science doesn't have all the answers. Science seeks to explain the tangible, the physical. It changes; theories are revised in light of new discoveries. Scientists seek to deepen our understanding every day. What is wrong with that? What is wrong with trying to learn more about everything? Why is pushing the boundaries of what we know so anathema to some people? Why are some people incapable of seeking answers outside the confines of a Book?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Why I love working for a computer company

Overheard in the hallway first thing in the morning:

Geeky guy #1, in his thirties, dressed in casual Friday shorts and t-shirt: "... and, of course, we are only days away from Galactica!"

Geeky guy #2, close in age and also attired in shorts, wearing glasses: "That's next Friday?"

Geeky guy #1: "Yeah."

Geeky guy #2: "Cool!!!"

Before you think I am bashing them, you should know I am anxiously awaiting the return of Battlestar Galactica myself.

(Non)Fiction Friday # 48

I am trying to jump back in the Fiction Friday bandwagon. Baby steps are necessary. This week's prompt is:

Describe a time your character was wronged; even though it was insignificant to the one who wronged them, your character never got over it.

My motto in life is "forgive and forget." Sure, I don't literally forget. But I do not hold a grudge. I try really hard to put myself in the other person's shoes; not to justify them, but to understand why they do what they do. I forgive because it is the right thing for me. I have enough stress dealing with my daily life and current obligations; I do not want to burden my soul with the additional weight of hating someone for their transgressions.

So why is it that I can't get over a stupid incident that happened twenty-seven years ago?

I was 12 years old, in seventh grade. I was at a new school, where I hardly knew anybody. The place was so big and had so many people. I felt out of place, and much of my first year I spent it roaming around the school fields, alone or with one or two new friends. I had a crush on a boy. He had the prettiest smile. I was too shy to even speak to him, so I adored him from afar.

One day, another boy I knew from riding in the school bus asked me to be his girlfriend. This boy was mildly amusing, although quite pretentious and slightly dumb. He wasn't my first choice, but I was flattered, so I said yes. The next day, he paraded me through the school yard at lunchtime, only to dump me the next morning. I was confused by that, and kept wondering what had I done to make him not like me anymore.

It turned out he had made a bet with some other boys that he could make me his girlfriend. Within a week he was dating somebody else. All I could do was ask myself "why?" Why was I only good for a joke? What was it about me that made me a target of ridicule? I was so painfully shy back then; there was no way in hell I was going to ask him these questions. So I never knew why. I never confronted him. I never had closure.

I have gone through more significant and more painful things in my life. Yet, this is what I have never gotten over. How come the memory of this prank still bristles my ego so? Why have I allowed it to become such a defining element of my personality?

The person who snubbed me like that was so inconsequential, so meek. Maybe that is why it stings so hard after all these years. To be fooled and rejected by a popular boy would have been embarrassing. To be scorned by a third-tier loser was even worse, for what does it say about you when the lowest of the low rejects you?

Thursday, March 27, 2008



She's bored. Life these days leaves her numb. She's angry, so very angry. She hates the person she has to be at work, to survive. Lately she hates her job. She hopes this will pass.

More than anything, she is tense. In a few months she will officially be a middle-aged person. This is it. There is no escaping, no shortcuts. She is a grown-up, and there is no one to bail her out. It's the weight of the world that is wearing her down.

And yet she knows that, compared to others, she is doing so well. She has a job with a good salary and benefits. Never mind that the benefits keep on shrinking and the cost of life goes up faster than her salary can keep up with. At least she is getting a paycheck.

She can almost picture the comments on her blog. Be grateful for what you have. But grateful to whom, if not to herself? No one has given her any of this. She has worked hard for what she has, so if she wants to bitch a little bit, she should be entitled to.


Two new pictures from today. Just playing with texture

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New lens

I just got a new 55-200MM zoom lens for my camera.

Back to the grind

Well, it's back to the office today, and I could not be any less enthused.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Sunday Brunch Pictures

Monday Morning Dread

I was on vacation all of last week. Today is my first day back at work. My daughter is still off school until tomorrow, so today I am working from home.

As I log into the office netwrok and await for my e-mail inbox to be updated, I am filled with a sense of dread. I do not know what awaits me, what fires need to be put out.

I wonder how many people going back to work after Spring Break feel the same.

NOON UPDATE: Things are going along OK. There were no trainwrecks waiting for my return, thankfully. There is work to do, but no emergencies so far. I am catching up and doing conference calls.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday night

My new obsession, which I need to listen to over and over again, is the theme from the movie 3:10 to Yuma (the 2007 version). I watched the movie today on pay-per-view and I fell in love with the music. The soundtrack fits the movie so well that sometimes you are not even aware the music is there, setting the tone scene after scene.

I am not a fan of Westerns. Traditional Westerns are too testosterone-driven for my taste. But I liked 3:10 to Yuma, just as I liked Unforgiven when it came out sixteen years ago. Both films moved me and provoked a strong emotional reaction.


When I was little, growing up in Puerto Rico, there was no way of avoiding or ignoring Holy Week. Even if I did not go to church, even if I was being raised by an atheist, I knew what Easter was all about. You could not help it. Puerto Rico's culture is very much drenched in religious tradition. Holy Week is a big deal. Everybody goes to the church via crucis on Good Friday. Absolutely nothing else happened that day. There was no school, no work, no stores open, and the only thing playing endlessly on the 4 TV channels we had was old movies about Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. My favorite was El Martir del Calvario, which I watched over and over (and rolled my eyes at) throughout my formative years. I don't recall much of it now, other than the fact that it was incredibly cheesy and over the top melodramatic.

I do not go to church by choice. I do not consider myself a Christian, although I was baptized Catholic and attended both Baptist and Catholic schools. I do not believe in Heaven and Hell. Sure, there is good and evil in this world, but not due to the influence of angels and demons. I don't believe we need a book to tells us what is wrong and what is right. I am grateful I am in this world, and I intend to make the best of this life I have, because once it is over, that's it for me. My role in life is to live the best way I can, without hurting others or taking advantage of them. I guess you could say I believe in secular spirituality.

Consistent with this is the way I am raising my children. I am trying to teach them to treat others with respect and compassion, to not be greedy, to look inside them for the light and to appreciate the wonders of life. They do not need to have the fear of a Christian God in them to be good people.

My daughter, Paula, does not know much about Easter, or about the story of Jesus. She vaguely knows that Jesus is the son of God, but she does not know the details of his story. I found out about this last night, as Gabe and I were watching some History Channel documentary on the life of Jesus, and Paula started asking questions about how he died and what had been done to him. I realized my daughter was blissfully ignorant about his plight, and that has been on my mind since. Is it my duty to teach her about this? Should she be aware of the basic tenets of Christianity, as a strong element of the culture we are immersed in? Should I teach her so that she has the right framework to understand the cultural waters we are navigating?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Test of the day

Which animal totem best suits you?
created with
You scored as Wolf

You are the Wolf. When you are with someone, your allegience never falters. Your family is very important to you and you will protect that family with all you have, no matter what.





























Tent Cities

Why is it that the US media is not all over this?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Visit to the Houston Zoo

I took Paula, her friend Ashley, and Isabel to the Houston Zoo yesterday. We had good time. Here are some pictures from our day among animals.

Flamingos, Houston Zoo

Baby Giraffe, Houston Zoo

What you looking at?



Girl and Elephant

Baby Elephant, Houston Zoo


Paula, Ashlee and Meerkats

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Music Time Warp

Two songs from 1996 got stuck in my head this morning. Funny, I don't remember much from that year. It is one of those that my memory has fast-forwarded. I love the songs, though.

Three Word Wednesday #78

Everyone keeps asking, what’s it all about?
I used to be so certain and I can’t figure out

Barely Breathing- Duncan Sheik

I have not done Three Word Wednesday in such a long time. Let's see how it goes. This week's words are Money, Tangled and Understood.

Isabel's whimpers and cries for her bobo (pacifier) woke me up at 5:30 this morning. After looking for her bobo all over the bed, I found it all tangled up in the knitted blanket from Nana. I gave it to her, and in an instant she was back to sleep. Meanwhile, I was up and alert. Way too alert, almost jumpy. Gabe got up and went to the bathroom. He saw me sitting up in bed, asked if I was OK. I was not. An unexplained sadness was oozing from me. It wasn't due to a dream, since the last I remember before waking up was this SNL skit playing in my head. Was it hormones affecting my mood, perhaps? The feminist in me hates that explanation as it reeks of determinism and can be used to dismiss valid concerns. The woman in me knows there is a lot of truth to the statement that hormone fluctuations can wreak havoc in your psyche.

Gabe came back to bed. He touched my hand and said he hoped I could get back to sleep. By then I was looking for the TV remote control, and crawling out of my skin. How can you go from a funny dream to extreme anxiety in a matter of minutes? All I could think of was money. Have I already spent too much this Spring Break week? Will we have enough money to last us through the end of the month? In this economic climate, what will happen if I were to lose my job? Will I be able to find another job that would pay enough to cover our household expenses?

Gabriel complained of nasal congestion and asked me if we had any medicines to help with that. I mentioned he could either take an allergy pill or a non-drowsy decongestant. But then I thought about the fact that non-drowsy meds can accelerate the heart, and my mind went off on another tangent. What will happen to us if Gabriel dies? Will I be able to carry on and support my kids on my own? Will I lose my house? What will happen to my family?

A wave of anxiety hit me and I started to cry. I felt so lost, so helpless and alone. I begged Gabe to take care of himself and not die, as I did not have anybody else here to help me carry on. My family is all back home. My father has been dead for 18 years. My mom is nearing 70; she's had cancer and she suffers from high blood pressure. When she dies, I surely will lose my moorings.

Normally I am confident, strong, self-reliant. Insecure, clingy people annoy me, yet that was exactly what I had been reduced to at that moment. Gabe got up and came over to my side of the bed. He gave me a hug and told me he understood how I felt. He said if his mother died he would have a hard time coping too, as she is the only inmediate family he has left. He then went back to bed and asked me to try and get some rest, that it was still early. But I was wide awake by then, so I got up and went outside the room. I listened to some music and decided to tackle the Three Word Wednesday challenge.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Meleah tagged me for a meme called Look at this stuff. The rules are:

A- Find five things around your house that say something about the person you are and take a picture of them.

B- Post the pictures and tell us about them.

I took more than five pictures, but I will try to group them in five areas in a way that makes sense.

1- My bookcase shelves.

Not only do I love the little flower vase, which I painted myself in one of my rare forays into crafting, but some of my favorite books are on the shelves pictured here. Among others, there are Shirley Jackson and Roald Dahl short story collections, plus Cat's Eye and Alias Grace by Marget Atwood; there's In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez and Separate Checks by Marianne Wiggins; last, there's Wide Sargasso Sea, Quartet and Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys.

The shelves also have pictures of my two biggest loves, Paula (right, at 8 months old) and Isabel (at 1.5 years old), and a little memento from Puerto Rico (a ceramic replica of a colonial-style building from Old San Juan). Looking at this particular shelf makes me happy.

Other shelves contain pictures and the photo albums of my wedding to Gabe. I treasure these, as they remind me of what a great day that was, and how happy we were when we took our vows. Sometimes, when the stresses of daily life get to be too much, I look at them and remember how cool it is to have someone on your corner.

2- My pets

I am not the kind of person that fawns over pets much. This is why I have cats and not dogs. I adopted them from the Houston SPCA a year after moving to Houston from Puerto Rico. I did it because I felt Paula, who was 3 at the time, was lonely and needed someone other than me to love on a daily basis. We had no family living nearby.

My cats are a pain in the ass, but I love them.

Mister was 2.5 years old when I adopted him in July 2001. That means he is around 9 years old now. Mister eats too much and can't be bothered to play with cat toys much. He is also a love junkie, and will sit on your lap when you are watching TV.

Lola was an 8 week-old kitten when I adopted her. That makes her 7 years old now. She has no clue she is considered a "senior" cat. And you would not think it either from looking at her. Lola is the dynamo, the whirlwind, the one who runs like crazy, chews cables, sneaks into my bedroom if we so much as crack the door open, and jumps on top of the highest shelves. She is the reason why I have a quilt covering the new living room couch, so she doesn't shred it to pieces with her claws.

Speaking of declawing, when we bought the couch last December we talked about declawing the cats so they would not destroy the new furniture. Then I did some research online, and we decided not to subject them to that procedure.

3- My bedroom

In January I used my bonus from work to buy some furniture for the master bedroom. This is my vanity table. I love it, but I don't use it nearly as much as I would like, at least during the week. I am always running late, putting my hair in ponytails and applying make up (if any) on the drive to work.

If you look closely, you will see dust bunnies on the floor. I suck at housekeeping (more to come on that).

I love this picture. It's a peaceful corner of the bedroom. I love the chest of drawers; I think it encompasses very well the style of furniture I like. The bathroom door is open, and so you get a peek of the bathtub, very inviting.

4- Art on the walls

My favorite piece of artwork on the walls is not even an original. It's my reproduction of Paul Klee's Senecio, pictured above. My favorite art movements are from the early 20th century, specifically the Modern Art movements that arose between the first and second world wars.

I also love art from Puerto Rico. This is an original lithograph I bought from an artisan back home. It depicts the Three Kings (or Wise Men) riding horses on the Puerto Rican countryside. The Three Kings and all sorts of Catholic Saints play a huge part in our artisan traditions. The practice of making wooden carvings of the saints goes as far back as the 1500's. You can see some examples or Puerto Rican arts and crafts here. I tried to find a non-commercial site to share with you, but could find none. Hopefully someday that will change.

5- The ever-present mess.

As I said before, I am not a good housekeeper. I work full-time and when I get home at 6:30 PM every day, I need to cook dinner and take care of the kids. Often, I don't have time to do housework or I am too tired. Plus, I do have issues with organization. And we have way too much crap. So I get overwhelmed quite easily. Oh, how I wish I had a simpler, sparser life.

Piles of laundry.

Boxes of crap that were in storage until recently and have yet to be put back where they belong.

And more, much more.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Out of words

Every day I get these reports that show how many visitors and page views my blog gets. For a while now I have been watching my stats dwindle due to lack of posting and not participating in the weekly writing projects I frequently partook of in the past. I have never had much readers, but there was a time when I got between 30 and 45 readers daily. Nowadays I am lucky if I get 7 or 8. I am still not sure how I feel about it.

Yesterday I saw a goodbye post from somebody whose blog I used to love. She had not been active since December, and yesterday she wrote to say goodbye.

Ebb and flow. Peaks and valleys. Is that it? Am I stuck in the valley with nowhere to go? Is this a phase as I suspected before from looking at the previous year's trending? Or has blogging lost its appeal to me?

For years I have had an uneasy relationship with writing. When I was in college I was an avid writer. Then I lost the drive, the fire inside, and I have never been able to recover it. For years I chastised myself. I used to think I should be writing. I would ask myself, why am I not doing it? Am I lazy? Do I not have anything to say?

I don't consider myself a writer anymore, not in the literary sense. But I used to love blogging. And now I feel like the well is dry. Is this just a phase or have I run out of words? I really don't know. All I know is that my heart is not in it right now.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Gender Guesser

This is interesting. I saw on Jezebel a link to a tool called Gender Guesser. You copy and paste a piece of text, and the tool analyzes it and returns a guess on what is the gender of the writer.

Just for fun I ran some of my blog posts through the Gender Guesser. Below are the results:

Post: Celibacy
Total words: 896
Genre: Informal
Female = 1327
Male = 1251
Difference = -76; 48.52%
Verdict: Weak FEMALE
Weak emphasis could indicate European.

Post: Oh to be a work of art
Total words: 1073
Genre: Informal
Female = 1529
Male = 1365
Difference = -164; 47.16%
Verdict: Weak FEMALE
Weak emphasis could indicate European.

Post: End of an era
Total words: 383
Genre: Informal
Female = 671
Male = 726
Difference = 55; 51.96%
Verdict: Weak MALE
Weak emphasis could indicate European.

I wonder if this "weak emphasis" thing may have anything to do with the fact that I learned English as a foreign language.

I would love to find out what the Gender Guesser says about my fellow bloggers. Care to share?

Monday, March 03, 2008

A case of the Mondays

Ugh. Since my diminished mental capacity has already been depleted by the ten thousand number crunching scenarios I had to do this morning, here are someecards that encapsulate my mood and great love/loyalty for my job: