Sunday, February 25, 2007

Celebrating the women in my life....,
As I end my week off from work, one thing comes to mind and that is how very blessed I am to have such wonderful, smart, sassy and funny women in my life.

A quick note of the picture on the left....this is me (I did not know how to post it in my profile) as I typically look. You might ask yourself why the need to portray myself in this fashion? Well, as you read on and I explain about my adult sleepover at my frien
d Paula's home it will become clear. Going back to my girl I look at my life it is very clear how these incredible women have been in my life longer than my child, my husband and even my loving dog. They have been there through all of my adventures, misadventures, tragedies, joys and growth as a human being. They are my allies, my sisters, my therapists, my personal librarians, my sounding boards but above all they are are my spiritual soul mates. The connections are not just chance happenings, these connections are deeply bound in the soul of our earthly existence. In the book, "Many Lives, Many Masters", it is said that no relationship that we currently have is coincidental, most people in our lives are intrinsically woven together through our past lives. I am a deep believer in this.

This week, I got very sad but optimistic news that my friend Patti ( also my son's god-mother) was diagnosed with bladder cancer. She went in for what she believed was a simple removal of a cyst on her bladder, later to be told that it was a cancerous tumor. Patti lives in Florida and it was difficult not to get on the next airplane to be by her side. She being who she is assured me that she is ok and that it was not invasive. Patti is an incredibly strong and bright woman wh
o has handled her life with humor and hope. I know that she will be alright. By the way, when discussing how and why.... it turns out that smoking (which she does a lot) is an absolute way to getting bladder cancer (this I did not know). So for all, be well informed and pass it on.

On Thursday, my son had a sleepover at his friends house. Luckily for me their mother is one of my dearest friends. Paula and I have habitually over the years provided deep caring for each other through many of our crisis. So when our boys have a sleep over we ask ourselves why not have a grown up sleepover. It entailed eating (of course), drinking of wine (of course), and not ever a word of criticism only praise (of course). Being with your girl friends is a free for all love fest. No one is more generous with compliments (i.e. God you look great, you are so funny, that color is great for you, I miss you, I love you, you are so wonderful) and so the evening moves along like a long embrace that fills you with warmth an
d smells like potpourri. The evening ended with a heating pad (for my bad back), a shoulder pillow that was heated through with herbs (for stress) and cold compresses for my eyes ( to relief my headache).

Can Anyone say "Alien" - if that is not the worse picture I have ever seen (Big Lie - there is a worse one but out of vanity I could not display). A girl has to keep some dignity. My son walked in and screamed, said I looked like a dead alien. He kindly took the picture.

We did manage to get some sleep and as we parted the next day we realize that we don't have enough sleepovers or time together and felt very blessed for our friendship. My dear girl friends are busy, hard working women, mothers and wives. Each one representing so many valued human traits. I am lucky......

So to all my girl friends and you all know who you are, I'd like to say thank you so very much for the wonderful, full hearted, soul quenching gift of you.
I want to take a moment to honor someone special, since I just realized todays date. My beautiful niece Annabelle died 5 years ago today after complications from Gastro by-pass surgery. She was 27 years old, my brothers first born. She had struggled her whole life with obesity and thought this would be her chance to start a new life. When we talked about it, she often spoke with great sadness about the looks she got on the subway, in the market, on the streets. She had many friends, was a poet and writer, but sadly she knew that people judged her by her looks. Some not ever knowing how brilliant she was......

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Where is the simplicity I search for...."

I am off from work this week and I've been trying to stay focused and get stuff done. This stuff (which is neither this nor that) is very overwhelming to me. The harder I try the more unfocused I get. So today I endeavor a trip to Lens Crafter (at the mall - which in itself can send me into a tailspin), to get my reading glasses prescription filled. It takes me five minutes to pick a pair and pay the sales women (an amount which was ludicrous). The woman assured me that I had chosen the most fairly priced ones. I pay for them and am to come back in an hour. When I come back the place is packed, so I patiently (not so) sit and wait for the glasses that I paid too much for, and I wait and wait. While waiting I notice that there is a clearance rack which I had not been shown and there are a very similar pair of glasses but half the price. So I take a deep a breathe and mutter to myself "it is what it is".

An hour and ten minutes later the women comes, hands me my glasses and says cheerfully "you are all set". There was to be no fine tuning, looking in the mirror, nothing. So off I go back into the mall, where masses of teens and their moms shop vigorously for the perfect (very expensive) handbag, jeans, underwear etc....I am amazed at how young girls (11 - 13) are shopping at Victoria's Secret. At that age, I only bought white cotton (maybe some florals) undees from Woolworth. What is wrong with this society?
Glumly, I come home and I look yearningly at pictures of my home in rural PA, where I long to be full-time. The house is a old mess of a house that needs much TLC, but I love it. I love all critters large and small and even the neighbors chocolate lab that takes enormous poops on my property. I don't even mind the squirrels that reside in my attic, rolling there nuts about the floor in what sounds like bowling. I love the smell of country air and watching the birds on the feeder. This is the place that provides the most sincere simplicity to me. No one cares what you wear since most people live on farms and fashion is not of great concern. It is a simple living style where the world seems to slow down and my blood pressure immediately stabilizes.

I count the weeks until we open our home and I am able to truly go home. I know that all the critters await and the wild turkeys will once again be seen crossing the road in wild abandonment. I will find nuts in baskets, window sills, the bathroom and even on my if to say "Welcome Home"

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Friday, February 16, 2007

Of Chocolate and Friendship - "It is easy to love someone at their best, love, is being able to love them at their worse"

As I spent yet another Valentine's Day pondering if I should fore go the fact that I have recently felt like a stuffed sausage or indulge in purchasing my own valentines chocolates as a reward for being a half way decent (or as my son often states) annoying mom and a loving and supportive wife, I am left with no purchase and wondering why it is that I am buying my own chocolate. My husband is not a romantic fellow but can be guilted into small gifts such as my latest Nora Jones CD. My dearest son Jon being a most typical teenager, I don't believe has a moment ( and I mean it ) of thinking of anyone other than himself. He is a lovely, sweet boy who feels badly after the fact, but not for too long. I think if Buster my dog could make purchases I'd be drowning in chocolate, for truly no one loves me as much as my dog (even if my husband says its impossible for dogs to feel love).

Truth be told, my husband and I have made a pact (way after the new year, so that if we fail, its not another failed resolution), to lose the several pounds we have put on since our marriage. I am guilty of being an emotional eater, not just the sad emotions but all, including happiness, joy, sorrow, sickness and death. Food is the one thing I never give up, even with a stomach virus lurking. I am not considered fat by most, but naked, lets just say there are doubles of many things and I am not speaking of my breasts.

Women in their forties can be such compassionate friends to each other. My friend Lisa is honest, funny and never delusional about our bodies. As we are very honest about this bizarre and very annoying take over by fat. The other day as I stood getting ready for work I starred and found to my dismay the many doubles taking over but yet even a most alarming of my cheeks (not facial) appears to be drooping slightly lower than the other. What!!!! I ask myself, "the heck is that"? And now I am relieved that I decided against the lovely dark chocolate box. Lisa is truly understanding for she also shares my discoveries as we whisper to each other on the phone about our current findings. Whispering so, as if in doing so, no one but us will know this little secret.
Both of us disturbed, yet comforted by the fact that its happening to the two of us and we are not alone.

I dare say, that Valentines in my forties has taken a new look. Forget the gorgeous boxes of delicious chocolate varieties. Valentine's Day will be a time to reflect with good friends about how we use to be able to indulge in chocolate without any thought to bloating, drooping, or sagging and how one small delicious bite is better than eating the entire box. True I cannot promise that I am giving up chocolate for good, that would be ridiculous, really, but not getting that card board, red, heart shaped box will not devastate me.

So here I am in my forties, not so thin and maybe a little droopy, but I am many. Thank goodness.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"A Spoon is not a Spoon, it is a tool to be reckoned with"

My current husband and I decided to pursue counseling, (we've been married a year and a half) to help us communicate, understand and basically stop bickering. Recently one of our most memorable bickerings (is that a word) entailed a serving spoon with a wooden handle. My husband, being a mid-westerner and a farmer, is rather frugal, practical, orderly and at times a little Obsessive Compulsive. I, having lived on Long Island for 20 years am not as, lets say, practiced in the art of over thinking. On one particular morning as I am getting ready to go to work, I was cleaning the kitchen and put the said spoon in the sink. My husband was very taken back by my actions and told me that I really should not do that, as the spoon will warp and be destroyed (he brought this spoon into our marriage). I looked at him, thinking "are you kidding me". My husband then spent some time telling me how he has kept very few things from the past and he really takes care of all these things in a most delicate manner. I, trying to keep my patience, told him that though I think he's over the top, I will respect his love for the spoon and never just leave it in the sink. I vowed to clean it and put it away immediately. My husband then got upset and said, "what's the point, I might as well throw it in the garbage" (and he does)
because if I cannot respect the tool for all its purpose then there is no point in keeping it.

As we sit on the couch in our therapists office and I retell this story, as one of those things we argue about. Our therapist who is a kindly man in his 60's turns to my husband Allen and asks him how he views my reciting of the story. Allen then proceeds to explain his outlook on my side of the story explaining the meaningfulness of the spoon. The therapist nods and listens, nods again while saying aha, aha, aha. He then tries to analyze the connection between the spoon and our marriage and what we as partners are seeking. I sit quietly, but then it happens I look at the therapist and I start to giggle, then it becomes uncontrollable and I bury my face in the couch as Allen is still trying to keep the therapists' attention to his theory on the spoon. The laughter erupts out of me so out of control and when the therapist turns to me and ask, "and what are you feeling?" - I laughed so hard that I could not speak, it was like the time when I was in 6th grade and someone said the word "Nostril" - I laughed so hard that the teacher asked me to leave the room. This time though no one asked me to leave, the therapist and Allen just stared at me as if I'd lost it. Needless to say our session ended and I still could not regroup myself, I laughed even as we got in the car to go home and thought to myself if this is what we fight about I think we are going to be just fine.

The spoon was rescued from a terrible fate in the garbage and now sits in its place of honor. For those of us who are challenged in marriage (who isn't) and life for that matter, let us celebrate our inner laughter.

Monday, February 05, 2007

"A continuation of my whereabouts during and after The Bronx."

The Bronx to me, not knowing any better, was a place that provided many opportunities for personal growth. It is truly where I learned much resiliency and a good reality check even though I was not aware that it was happening. My Mother worked in a vegetable factory as a packer. She endured many years of working with ice to the point of crippling her hands with arthritis. She was gone very early and came home very late at night. This giving me a great opportunity to explore my independence and freedom from a watchful eye - which trust me I often needed, a watchful eye that is. My sister lived at home (she was 10 years older but certainly not wiser), and for the most part was in charge of my care. My sister hated this job more than she disliked me. Most of the time she disengaged herself from me (age 10) to go meet with her friends or boyfriends. This worked out very nicely for the two of us. The only time she took her charge of me seriously was when she needed to put me to child labor (i.e. ironing, doing dishes etc.).

During the times when I was left on my own I escaped into my world of books. I remember the RIF (Reading is Fundamental) van coming to the neighborhood. I believe that this RIF
program was designed to get children in lower income neighborhoods reading. This was my dream come true, since there was no nearby library and it gave me something else to do other than hang out with the kids on the block. Back then playing jacks, hopscotch, and Mod Squad (I played Julie the blond cop even though I had olive skin, dark hair and my English was still on the ESL level) and double dutch (something that I never perfected, well in all honesty I tripped so often I gave up) were the entertainment of choice. I feel sorry for the kids today who wouldn't know or recognize the value of playing these games or the joy of reading.

Reading was my escape, my hope and vision to all the possibilities of a world that was so much greater than my small world in The Bronx. I learned to desire, yearn, and envision through reading. Even now it is my favorite escape.

Years later, when I first married at the age of 24, I moved to the suburbs of Long Island. Never did I believe that I would be left with a longing for a place which I believed everyone left. I thought that The Bronx was just a stepping stone to a greater leap, yet, what I realized after many years on Long Island, was that the Bronx was the the great rock foundation of my journey. A place where I would return over and over again when I needed to find my center and solid ground. It was the very foundation of who I was, who I am and who I will be tomorrow.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

February 4th, 2007

My title ", how did I get here?" evolved mostly from my ever changing life. It seems to me, in all of my 44 years, that I am always grasping at the complexity or simplicity of my own life. Starting with my own birth at home in Puerto Rico, where my mother (age 45 at the time) went into labor rather quickly with no opportunity to get to the nearest hospital ( which really in those days was probably 3 hours away). As the story would have it, or as my brother likes to tell it, my mother gave birth to me at home with the help of a midwife, who my brother states jokingly, "had put a few away" prior to coming to help my mother with my new life. So there goes my beginning, brought into this world by a half drunk woman into the very home where my maternal grandmother had passed away. A home made of stone with a tin roof - which made the most wonderful music to my ears when it rained. A very humble bare home where my mother found love, hope and a new beginning with my father.

My parents moved to New Jersey when I was 4 as was typical of many latino's back then seeking a better life and work. We lived with my aunts, uncles and cousins so that my father could save money. By the time I turned 5 my father had met someone much younger than my mother and left. I need to say on my fathers behalf that my mother and he had been together many years before I was born and that my mother was 20 years his senior. My mother, sister and I then moved to the Bronx where some of my older half siblings lived.

For those of us who come from the Bronx, especially in the 60's and 70's, we can say that it was a great and adventurous time. My mother worked and struggled - always. Life was hard, but let me tell you, it was fun. Looking back at my youth I have no regrets, well maybe a few (like when I hid a boy in the closet and my mother almost had a heart attack when she bumped into his leg.....ooops). I have been incredibly blessed even when times were challenging and difficult. My mother just celebrated her 90th birthday and is in good health. She is funny, smart and insightful. Having my mother is an extraordinary gift. She has seen so much changes in our world - through technology, the environment, politics and in the lessons that she has learned via her own life and that of her children. She is my inspiration to continue seeking, learning and being hopeful.