Monday, March 14, 2011

Getting back on a farm

Inspiring video

I've taken some time today to prepare a cover letter for a job opening at that organization.

Relatedly, I can't wait for Spring to really arrive so I can get my hands in the dirt!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Memories of 2010

We began 2010 in our upstairs apartment in Brentwood. We were probably wearing yellow underwear.

 I was on a flight to Guatemala on New Years' Day. It was my second trip with the Farmer Solidarity Project. 

I quit my job and took up non-profit pursuits.

I planned and executed (with the help of many, many generous people) a fundraiser for the Farmer Solidarity Project, to help fund a third trip to Guatemala.

I went to Washington, D.C. for the first time.

Brentwood experienced a peak period of violence and residents finally had enough. I witnessed the birth of a movement to fight violence and hold local politicians accountable, which will hopefully continue to grow in 2011.

My cousin Michael made his First Holy Communion.

The immigration debate heated up with Arizona's SB1070, and I witnessed two crowds on opposite sides of the street (and the debate) yell at each other.

We celebrated my cousin Matias' baptism.

I led a student delegation to Guatemala, my third trip with the Farmer Solidarity Project.

My Dad's childhood friend came to visit, and I spent a wonderful day with him in NYC.

I went to Detroit for the U.S. Social Forum and participated in the biggest activist march I've seen.

The family went camping for the 4th of July.

My Dad and I harvested vegetables from our first backyard garden.

I attended a farewell party for a pair of coworkers, and a few months later resumed employment at the law firm I had left at the end of January.

I helped my cousin Camilo move to New Orleans to start his PhD.

My cousin Max was baptized.

I saw K'Naan live in concert with my sis and Rachael.

The very next day, my "seestas" and I went to the So You Think You Can Dance live tour at Radio City Music Hall.

I bought a car.

At my Mom's behest, we started going to a holistic doctors' office, and began a serious effort to achieve health.

I contracted a parasite (maybe) from my cat, and my parents took him to a shelter. He caused a lot of stress, with his fleas and tail-biting issues, and tendency to harass guests. But he was sweet and I miss him.

I went to a bubble show with Maya, Lorenzo, Ana and Steve. (That's Maya's hand in the front row.) Over the summer, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my "babiez" and I was proud to play the part of "Super-Titi" for a while. My bond with my cousin Ana also grew stronger.

We checked off a few NYC bucket list items by seeing the Rockettes in the Christmas Spectacular and taking pictures in Rockefeller Center by the tree.

The day after Christmas, we drove down to New Orleans to spend New Years' with Camilo. An ancient bartender with a young man's spirit and sense of humor invited us behind the bar for a picture.

2010 was a year filled with lots and lots of joy, in large part because of the wonderful babies that have joined our family.

Of course, there are important events and moments that were not captured in photographs or videos. There were peaks and valleys, but most days just flew right past me. Yet this year has been immensely memorable. 

Turning 25 was huge. It forced me to reflect and judge myself. Sometimes I judged harshly. Other times I let myself off too easily. Now I know that I need to:

- visualize my goals (thank you, Fredo); 
- ask for help when I need it (thank you, Rachael); 
- encourage creativity (thank you, Teresa);
- chill out, relax and be patient with people (thank you, Mom); 
- extend the olive-branch and move on (thank you, Jess); 
- remember that there are people who will never judge me (thank you, Joey);
- do what I say I'm going to do (thank you, Dad);
- mejorar el Español, carajo! (gracias, Ivancho);
- try, even if I am sure I'll fail (thank you, Camilo);
- know that there is one person who can always make me laugh (thank you, Steph); and
- love and forgive myself (thank you, Grecia).

I'm ready for 2011.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Leaving New York to spend New Years in New Orleans

We beat the blizzard and drove down to spend this week with our dear Camilo. This morning we took a walk around the block, and took some photos. You can definitely tell we're in NOLA.

We saw a tree branch that looks like a reindeer. Or a moose. But it's Christmas, so let's say reindeer.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rock Bottom

Friday night I hit rock bottom.

Friday morning I went to my 9:30 kickboxing class. I was very proud of myself for making it, because the night before I went out (drinking) and got home late. After the class, I spent way too long looking for the final piece of the 3-part gift for my New York Cares Winter Wishes letter. Then I showered, got dressed, and drove to Westbury for my hair appointment. I was an hour late to the appointment and I had to wait at the salon. I paid for my cut and the receptionist gave me a custom-made chocolate bar with the name of the salon on the wrapper.

That was the only thing I ate the whole day.

I rushed home, wrapped my gift, put on makeup and drove to the LIRR train station. The plan was to take the train into work, drop off the gift, and then make it to the company holiday party.

At Jamaica station, I had the choice of getting off the train and switching to an express train to Penn Station. I hesitated. The doors closed, and I missed that opportunity.

That was my first mistake.

Two men in orange vests walked swiftly down the aisle of the train. Announcements were made that the train was having equipment problems. An hour and a half later, we had switched to another train and made it to Penn Station. I had the thought of quickly getting a slice of pizza to calm my hunger, but I figured I was almost at the party and there would be food there, so I just got straight on the subway.

That was my second mistake.

I got off the E train at 53rd and 5th, and dropped off the gift. Then I got back on the train and spent way too long trying to find the hotel where the party was being held. I bought a Santa hat for the party. I had armpit stains from the stress.

I finally found the party and immediately ordered a drink. I mingled, received compliments for my Santa hat, and drank more. Everywhere I turned I found someone to say something to, and I would leave them to get refills. I started many conversations, and I wonder if I finished any.

At some point I saw that people were lining up for food. My best friend and colleague said she was getting pasta from a different line, and asked if I wanted to get some. I said I didn't want pasta.

That was my third mistake.

Very shortly after that I began to black out. I don't remember leaving the company party, but I remember walking to the after-party. My memory is spotty, but there are flashes of events. Talking to a man dressed in all black. Ordering three sambuca shots. Frantically looking for my wallet. Going into a bathroom stall. Waking up in Long Island, hearing my sister's voice and feeling her hold me by the arm, taking me to the car where my parents were waiting. The next day my pajamas were on backwards.

It was incredibly stupid to drink without a party...with my coworkers/bosses/future references. I'm so ashamed.

So many questions left unanswered.

What did I do? What did I say?

Who saw me? Who heard me?

What do people think of me now?

I've never wanted a rewind button so badly before.

And what happened to my Santa hat?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Self-Therapy, Session Two: What I Hate To Do

I hate admitting I'm wrong, so I hate apologizing - really apologizing.

I hate fighting with my Dad...who also hates apologizing. We never really make up. No resolution, no progress. No lessons learned. Time passes and eventually we move on. I hate the time between our fight and when we realize things are back to normal. I hate the cold way we greet each other during this phase. We're never rude, just completely unaffectionate. Minimal eye contact. Awkward silences. Closed doors.

I hate feeling guilty after I eat compulsively.
I hate that I read slowly and can't remember exactly what I read. "I remember concepts, not so much details," I say to make myself feel better.

I hate waiting in line.
I hate when I snore on the train and everyone sees through that cough I just faked to disguise the snore.
I hate that I can never, ever own up to a fart.

I hate that I'm not enough of a feminist to stop shaving.
I hate that I need to drink copious amounts of alcohol to feel comfortable dancing.
I hate that I stopped taking piano lessons.
I hate that I forgot all the French I ever learned.

My parents once told me a story about my childhood. When I was about 6 years old, my parents bought me a whole matching bedroom set at Sears. Excited, they cleaned and organized my room and surprised me. When they opened the door, my reaction was: "This isn't the one I wanted." I didn't say it with an angry or bratty tone, but the damage had been done. I broke their hearts, perhaps for the first time. I hate that I did that. Sure, I was young and too honest and "pure" to tell a lie, even a noble one. I've never forgiven myself for that.

I hate owing someone a phone call.
I hate that I scored below 1200 on my SATs.
I hate that I'm terrible at estimating, measuring, budgeting, and making time.
I hate 69.

I hate that I spend more time talking about myself and not enough time with my sister.
I hate that I am weak-willed and lack discipline.
I hate my acne and stretch marks.
I hate that I have such little patience with my sister.
I hate that I fear looking stupid so much that I miss out on countless opportunities.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Self-Therapy, Phase One: Who Am I?

The theme song.

A good friend recently explained to me that her confidence stemmed from knowing exactly who she is. When she asked what I love to do, I couldn't answer. Because my spirits were low, I felt that I wasn't good at anything, and therefore could not love to do anything. This exercise in self-therapy - identifying what I love to do, and doing it - is my first step towards achieving clarity and peace. It was originally meant to be private, but I believe I can benefit from opening up and sharing.

December 5, 2010: Day One. Task: Figure out what I love to do.
`I love to organize and clean things. I love doing yoga. I love kickboxing. I love getting massages. I love watching slam poetry performances. I love watching great movies. I love making love. I love eating delicious food. I love hiking and being outside. I love spending quality time with my family. I love reading and discussing books. I love to figure out puzzles and people. I love playing House of the Dead. I love to laugh. I love when people talk to me. I love playing with babies and kids. I love learning about Latin America. I love going in a sauna and then taking a shower. I love deep conversations that come effortlessly. I love to feel things deeply, which probably means that I love to cry. I love those rare moments when I think I'm pretty. I love making connections with people and becoming friends. I love tickling. I love kissing. I love hearing serious people laugh. I love finding the perfect gift for someone. I still love to color. I love listening to stories. I love taking Maya into my garden and watching her pick tomatoes and devour them. I love making babies smile at me. I love noticing things few people do.

Next: What I hate to do, but must. What I hate to do, and must stop doing.

The first step is identifying the problem.

Caught in a bad romance

Ashamed of my lack of confidence.
Ashamed that I care this much what men think.
Ashamed that I have become superficial.
Ashamed that I've abandoned my activism and volunteerism.
(Although I feel they've abandoned and rejected me, too.)
Ashamed that I'm so vulnerable to rejection.

Longing to be tougher, more resilient, less willing to take everything lying down.

Where is my fiery spirit?
When did I become this fragile?


It feels like I'm on the cusp of normalcy, at a crossroads where I can either choose a normal life with semi-respectable hobbies, or an adventurous life that is uncertain, unpredictable, and exhilarating.

But is choice an illusion? My application can either be approved or denied, and that would change my journey. Does that mean someone else is deciding my path? Does thinking that it's out of my hands make me a coward?

As days continue to pass without a single call from the places where I have applied, I feel closer to a life where I continue to live on Long Island, help start a day care, waitress on the weekends, meet a normal guy with similar frustrated ambitions, and marriage baby carriage. We'd make tax-deductible donations and plan "adventurous" vacations.

I could be happy that way. Right?