Thursday, June 25, 2009

Strange Days

It's been a really strange week. Houston is having record temperatures (heat emergency alert issued today). I have not left the house in two days, and since Tuesday I spend my days alternating between asthma treatments, tending to a sick 4 year-old and working remotely from home.

The news outlets reported that Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson have died today. There was some confusion in the media for a while over whether Michael was dead or in a coma, which will no doubt be the starting point of myriad conspiracy theories, another Elvis in the making.

They always die in threes... I found myself wondering who the next one will be. Until I realized I had totally forgotten that Ed McMahon died two days ago. A old college friend replied to my Facebook comment: "Poor Ed, he died like he lived, in the shadow of bigger stars." Very true, poor guy.

I spend some time reading reviews and blog posts about the stupid Transformers movie in Movieline, Gawker, io9 and The Awl. They are good for a chuckle, especially the vitriol coming from the peanut gallery, but after a while the posts and the websites all blur together and I forget where I read what.

The swine flu is still around. Since it did not prove to be the next bubonic plague, the media has moved to more salacious matters. And yet, those of us with asthma and other respiratory diseases still need to be careful. This is the third or fourth bout of bronchitis I have this year, so I am a bit concerned.

I got a jury summons today, for mid-July. I have never served in a jury. I can't get out of it. It says clearly that business reasons are not lawful excuses. So it does not matter that my summons falls smack in the middle of a very busy period at work. I will have to go. And I am interested, I have always wanted to serve in a jury. I know I will be dismissed if it's a capital case, though. I live in Texas and I do not believe in the death penalty, so go figure.

Above all this, the situation in Iran and the North Korean nuke threats loom large.

Inspired by my previous post...

Taking It All Too Hard (2007 Remastered Album Version) - Genesis

Health matters

We have been sick for a few days now, my 4 year-old and I. This has not been a good year for me in terms of respiratory ailments. I have been through at least 3 episodes of bronchitis so far.

More heartbreaking is that my poor Isabel has had to take breathing treatments with albuterol for the first time in her life. She had been coughing for a few days, and the Mucinex was not making it better, but I was quite shocked when the doctor said she was wheezing and needed a treatment. Now she has to do one every four hours for a few days, and take oral steroids too. My poor baby. I asked the doctor if this meant she was asthmatic, and he said "once is an incident, twice it's a trend." So there is no label for now, thankfully. But I will have to watch her closely and learn to tell the symptoms. The doctor also cracked a joke: Welcome to Houston, would you like some air with your smog? Don't I know it well.

Taking Isabel to the doctor was easy. Trying to see my own family doctor was a bust. I like my doctor very much. She is close to me in age, and as a woman I think she has empathy for the things her female patients experience. Plus, she listens to her patients and values their opinions. She had been in practice with another doctor and left to establish her own practice. I followed her and was one of the first batch of patients she saw in her new office. I have seen things evolve as her practice grows, and that is a good thing. But on Tuesday I had a bad experience with one of her employees. I called to say I was sick and ask if it was possible to be seen that day. In the past, when I called I was always able to get in, no matter what time and how long I had to wait.

This time, the lady who answered the phone did not even give me that chance. She put me on hold several times, said they were booked through July 6th, could not care less that I am asthmatic and said I should go to the hospital if I needed attention immediately. I was so offended. WTF? Isn't the whole point of a family doctor that you can come in to see them when you are sick? If I want to be ignored and wait for months to get an appointment, I go to a specialist. Now I need to make plans in advance to catch a cold? And WTF is this about telling me to go to an emergency room? Emergency rooms should be a last recourse for people bleeding, with broken bones, suffering from a heart attack. You know, a real emergency. I am not going to go to an emergency room and pay a high insurance deductible for the kind of ailment that my family doctor should treat.

Before I hung up on the indifferent idiot on the other end of the line, I told her I wanted the doctor to call me. The doctor is usually very good at calling back. She never did, so I guess the idiot never gave her the message. I ended up going to a doctor I have seen before who takes walk-ins. I only go to him when I am pretty sure I know what I have and I want a prescription. Sure enough, he took a listen to my lungs, said it was pretty bad and gave me a prescription for oral steroids.

I am very, very disappointed. Stupid employees can ruin a practice and I am now wondering if I shouldn't switch doctors. I sent my family doctor a letter yesterday, who knows if she'll get to read it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Immigrant Tales

Two days ago I had a meeting with a colleague at work. He is someone I have worked with before, who is moving to a new position where he will have more contact with me during the planning cycle. So he paid me a visit at my cubicle, and we both struggled to fit an extra chair into close quarters so I could explain to him my main duties and show him my menagerie of charts and reports.

My coworker is from India, but has been living in the US for 25 years. He went to high school and college here. He has a son whom he has taken back to India to visit. He asked me where I was from and how long I had been here. I explained to him that, even though I was spared from dealing with INS when I moved here nine years ago on account of being born a US citizen, in reality I was very much a first generation immigrant. He had no problem understanding or accepting that. We talked about English language education in India and Puerto Rico. I told him my oldest daughter spends the summer on the island. He said his son doesn't like going to California to spend time with his aunts. It was a pleasant conversation and I think we both felt a sort of kinship forming.

I have been told by people that since Texas has such large numbers of Hispanics, that I should feel right at home here. How do I explain to them (if they do not get it already) that it is not quite the same, that Latin Americans are not some sort of homogeneous mass, that Mexicans, people from Central America and people from the Caribbean are not interchangeable?

When Gabe and I planned to get married, the wife of one of his friends warned him that I may just be marrying him to get a green card. Naturally I was pissed, not just at the assumption of dishonesty on my part, but at the woman's sheer ignorance about Puerto Rico. I teased Gabe that I was ready to walk down the aisle on our wedding day with my US passport pinned to my dress, so everybody would know my intentions were pure. I was only half joking.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

So many outlets, so little to say...

I have this blog. I have a Facebook page. I have a Twitter account. I am mostly silent, preferring to post pictures more than anything else.

Presently, I lack a burning desire to communicate heartfelt memories. I have no scintillating confessions to share with the world, no deep thoughts to regale you with.

There's lot going on in the world, as always. Fraudulent elections and popular protests. Rogue nations threatening nuclear war. Thousands upon thousands of people losing their jobs. All of this is discussed in various digital outlets, bypassing established media constrictions and, in the case of Iran, government censorship. All of that is more interesting than whether I had a bagel or an English muffin for breakfast, and what are my plans for the weekend.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Gaviota en Galveston

Gaviota en Galveston, originally uploaded by boricuaintexas.


Gliding, originally uploaded by boricuaintexas.

Friday, June 05, 2009


There may be an opportunity in the near future for me to write some texts in Spanish on a recurrent basis. This is still very preliminary and I have no idea if it will ever come to fruition, but it has stirred all kinds of conflicting feelings inside me. On one hand, I am excited at the possibility of writing on a regular basis. I seem to be the kind of person who needs prompts and deadlines to get something going. It seems ironic, but boundaries of form, content and time seem to fuel creativity rather than stifle it, provided those boundaries can be trespassed.

On the other hand, I am terrified. It has been quite a long time since I have written regularly in Spanish. At work almost everything is written in English, and when I have written exchanges in Spanish with my Latin America counterparts they are conversational and quite short. What if I start writing in Spanish again and it turns out I suck? After years of working in Corporate America and writing mostly in English, my writing style (if it can be called that) is direct, minimalist and devoid of sophisticated flourishes. This works in a business context and in this blog, but it may handicap me.