Friday, February 27, 2009


A week from today, we will be on a plane on our way to San Juan. I am excited, and hopeful. Also overwhelmed. I am sure that once I am there, I will spend the first few days complaining about everything, but by the end of my stay I will cry and dread the trip back.

Bird of prey

A couple of days ago I was getting the girls in the car to take them to school, when we noticed a bunch of feathers on the lawn. Maybe a neighborhood cat caught a bird. I did not give it much thought.

At that moment, my next door neighbor came out to tell me that the day before she had seen a hawk on our front lawn, with a bloody, dead dove in its claws. When it saw her, the hawk quickly took flight, leaving behind the feathers I had seen, evidence of its carnage. It was quite a large bird and my neighbor was shocked to see it in our neighborhood.

I was surprised too, but upon further thought I should not be. There are patches of undeveloped land in our area. Just as there are deer grazing across the street from my daughter's school and in the patch of trees next to my youngest's daycare center, there are hawks preying on the denizens of our front yard birdfeeder.

My oldest daughter was upset that a dove had been killed. Stupid hawk! - she said.

Circle of life - is all I said. Circle of life indeed. When we put a bird feeder out there, the idea of our front lawn being turned into a buffet for the local bird of prey was far from our minds. But you can't hold it against the poor hawk. He needs to eat too.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Like many others out there, I have gone through life considering myself a good person. But lately I have been wondering if all that confidence is misplaced. Am I really a good person? Or am I a raving lunatic with antisocial tendencies? Is not breaking the law the same as being a good person? What about being faithful, is that enough to put me on the "Nice" list? What if I yell when I get angry? What if I never want to do chores? Or hate talking on the phone? What if I don't recycle? What if I avoid activism like the plague? Do all those things render me bad?

What exactly constitutes goodness? I really want to know. Comments are encouraged.

A flor de piel

I woke up on edge, surely from a bad dream that was forgotten as soon as I opened my eyes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Breaking the habit

I have been working from home for the last two weeks. I have been sick with bronchitis, but could not miss work due to multiple deadlines. It was a lot easier to just sit at home and connect to my company's network than drive to the office. The problem is that I very easily get used to the convenience of telecommuting, and this morning I find it quite daunting to get ready and drive back to my cubicle on campus.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Houston Zoo

I had the day off from work and decided to visit the zoo to take some pictures.





Mellow Yellow Monday: Bookshelf

Today's Mellow Yellow Monday entry.


An old friend posted on his Facebook status that he is discovering Bruce Springsteen. It reminded me of one of my favorite songs, Tunnel of Love. As I listened to the song my skin crawled and the world around me blurred. I felt as if I was back in the early years of my college sojourn, the happiest time of my life before all the pain, love and loss came into it.

You've got to learn to live with what you can't rise above
If you want to ride on down in through this tunnel of love

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

When I was in middle school and high school I used to love it when Valentine's Day came around. The school administration and the student council organized the sale of carnations as a fundraising opportunity. We would bring our money, buy single flowers, fill cards with the name of our friends, and leave it to the various student messengers to deliver the flowers to the intended recipients. It was fun when they would barge in right in the middle of class to deliver red blooms to everybody. Everybody wanted to see who gave a flower to whom, and who had the most flowers.

I wasn't one of the popular kids, and I did not have a boyfriend, so I could not compete with the girls that had armloads of flowers, but I had enough friends (boys and girls) in school that I always received flowers. When I changed schools my junior year of high school, I missed this greatly. I can't remember what we did for Valentine's Day at my new school, which probably means that nothing was done, or nothing that was memorable to me.

My last year of college, in a pathetic attempt to get my best friend/unrequited crush to pay attention to me, I gave myself a bouquet of yellow marigolds for Valentine's Day. What's more, I did not even pretend they were from someone else. I dialed up the pathos by letting everyone know I had bought them from a vendor at the Río Piedras market.

I don't know what I was trying to accomplish with this stunt, tantamount to yelling "love me, damn it" at the top of my lungs. My friend ignored me. Try as I might, he would not have been responsive. He was gay, still in the closet at the time. In the back of my mind I knew this from the first time I met him, yet chose to ignore it as we became close friends and he pulled me into his orbit. He revelled in the ambiguity of our relationship, he loved it when people wondered if we were together. For two years we were inseparable. He was my best friend. I was his sidekick. We wrote each other letters, handwritten on paper. Well, I wrote mostly, and he would say he was saving my letters to publish them when I became a famous writer.

The marigold fiasco happened about a month after my father died, and after that I started to pull away emotionally. Shortly after that, the man who would become my ex-husband saw me at the plaza by the University clock tower, burning my copies of the letters I had written to my friend. I had quite a flair for drama in my youth. We had been introduced by a mutual friend, but I did not remember him. He remembered me, though. But that's another story for another time.

To get back to the topic of Valentine's Day and flowers, I could write that I am jaded and appalled by what the holiday has been reduced to thanks to the dictates of our consumerist culture. But I would be lying if I did. The truth is, I like to get flowers. I like outward gestures of affection. But they have to be sincere. Buying flowers and candy for Valentine's Day can either be an opportunity to give a gift to someone you love, or something that you do only because it is expected of you. If it's the latter, it rings hollow.

As much as I like flowers, pragmatism wins in the end. Instead of spending on gifts, Gabe and I are going out for good meal at a nice restaurant tonight. Valentine's Day is an excuse for us to go out by ourselves. Most of the time we are either at work or at home with the girls. Dinner for two is a much needed a respite.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


For the last two or three days I have been sick. I had been sick about two weeks ago, but thought I had gotten over it. Maybe it never went away.

My chest hurts, my throat hurts. It's hard to breathe with all the congestion. I am chilled to the bone. I hope it's not bronchitis, but it would not surprise me if it is. I always get sick this time of the year.

I have a lot of work today, some deadlines to meet, but tomorrow I will have to go to the doctor.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The view from my front window

This is why I like to work from home. Today, my friend the Cardinal came back, and brought friends with him.

Cardinal closeup

House Finch, Male

Carpodacus mexicanus

Eurasian Collared-Dove


House Sparrow, Male

Monday, February 09, 2009

RIP, Karen

I just got an e-mail from somebody I went to high school with. Last night a small Cessna plane crashed off the coast of Quebradillas back in Puerto Rico. One of the six passengers aboard the chartered plane was a classmate. She leaves behind family and friends, including a son. This is very sad. She will be missed.

A touch of red


I am working from home today, and there was a Cardinal right outside my window just a few minutes ago. The cats were fascinated by it. I managed to quickly grab my camera and take a few pictures. Enjoy!




Mellow Yellow Monday: Fun at the playground


This post is part of the Mellow Yellow Monday blog meme.

I have posted this pic before on the blog, but I found it perfect for the meme, so I am posting it again.

Twenty-five day countdown

Twenty-five days from now we will be on a flight to San Juan. Gabe has been counting down the days since we bought the tickets. Paula is excited about seeing her dad. Isabel can't wait to seePuerto Rico. Everybody is excited. Everybody but me, that is. All I can think of is everything I have to do before we leave, all the packing and laundry loads and preparations. It makes me tired just to think of it.

Oh, but it will all be worth it, especially when I get to go here.


We had a rather unpleasant thing happen to us at the supermarket yesterday afternoon.

We went to our local HEB with the girls. As we entered the store we passed the pharmacy area, minding our own business, talking to the kids. A couple was about to exit the aisle right by us, but stopped. Gabe heard the woman say: "Wait, let them pass. Those people scare me." I did not hear it. Immediately he told me, but he thought maybe he had misunderstood what she said or that she was referring to someone else.

We were talking about this and trying to figure it out when we entered an aisle as the same woman and man are leaving it. This time we both heard it loud and clear as she turned her back on us: "there's those people again!"

WTF??? My Puerto Rican blood boiled. I lost it and said "what a bitch" two times, loud enough for her to hear it (as loud as she had spoken before) as she quickly walked away. Gabe and Paula had to calm me down, because I was ready to go and give her something to really be scared about.

I was quite angry and confused. THOSE PEOPLE??? What the hell does she mean by that? What the hell was her problem? What did WE ever do to HER?

Was it because we had kids with us? She was alone with the man and looked to be in her mid to late twenties.

Was it because I am Hispanic, or because we all have dark hair and dark eyes? She was Caucasian, and a bottle blonde.

Was it because both Gabe and I are big and tall? She was no skinny type herself.

Whatever it was, it was based on our appearance. We had never seen that person before. It was absolutely gratuitous, and it totally ruined my afternoon.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Keene Act

Monday, February 02, 2009


My mood has improved somewhat from this morning. I am very grateful to have Gabriel in my life. When I go through these dark periods, he stands by my side and takes cares of me. He is truly an awesome person, understanding, flexible, caring and very giving. He is smart and funny and very handsome, although he does not think so. I could not ask for a better life partner. I am looking forward to growing old with him, two crotchety old people terrorizing the neighborhood kids.

These songs make me think of Gabe and our marriage.

Pity Party

Yes, my friends. It's time for a recurring feature on this blog. It's the Monday morning pity party!!!!

An ex-boss from one of my first jobs (back in college) found me on Facebook and tagged me on an old picture of the store staff. I absolutely loved that job and seeing the picture brought back good memories from a time before my father died and I made a mess of my life. The picture also reminded me of a good friend and coworker whom I lost track of after college. He was quite the brain, studying Physics in college and very much into Astronomy. Well, I looked him up on the Internet and it turns out he got his PhD in Astronomy, is quite an accomplished professional, artist and even appears on TV on a weekly astronomy segment.

I read about all his accomplishments with much pride. He was an awesome person and it is amazing to see how much he has succeeded in life. Good things come to those who work hard for what they want, and it is good to see that this proved true in his case.

At the same time, after reading his profile I can't help but feel like a loser (once again). I wondered how would I tell such a person the story of what I have done the last twenty years of my life without sounding like a screwup.

Um, yeah. I dropped out of graduate school three times (including two stints in law school). I spent my twenties in a haze of depression, unhappily married, working office jobs that did not require to push myself too hard in matters academic. Even today, after having some success in the business world, I still hesitate and am uncertain about pushing for more power/responsibility. I have been divorced. I gave up on my dream of writing after publishing a few mediocre stories. I keep a blog, but it is lame and I only have a handful of readers. I can't even get hate comments. I am lazy and fat and a bad mother.

God, I am hating this midlife crisis with a passion...